Bush seeks protection from War Crimes Act

Discussion in '2006 Archive' started by The Galatian, Jul 28, 2006.

  1. The Galatian

    The Galatian
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    Atty Gen. Gonzales has asked Congress to provide "protection" for US military personel who may have committed crimes punishable under the War Crimes Act. The act, passed to cover the sort of abuse and mistreatment POWs in received at the hands of the North Vietnamese during the Vietnam war, apparently would cover some actions sanctioned by the Administration. Ironically, it was passed to allow prosecution of those who abused US military personnel, by making them accountable to US civilian courts, no matter where the abuse occured. At the time, no one imagined that any American administration would tolderate such abuse of prisoners held by the US.
    http://msnbc.msn.com/id/14067214/

    Another measure of how far this nation has fallen in a generation.
     
  2. Mark Fesco

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    I too would do anything in my power to avoid such a fiasco.
     
  3. The Galatian

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    Too late, I think. We got outraged about the treatment our guys got from the North Vietnamese, and now we're doing some of the same things.

    And we defined them as war crimes, even made it possible for soldiers to be tried in civilian courts no matter where the crimes took place.

    They can't even say that they were just following orders. (that defiense was put away after the Civil War)
     
  4. El_Guero

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    Are we? That is news to me.
     
  5. The Galatian

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    Maybe so. But not to the AG; he says we need to get Congress to write an exception for our own troops, or they could be indicted.



    § 2441. War crimes
    (a) Offense.— Whoever, whether inside or outside the United States, commits a war crime, in any of the circumstances described in subsection (b), shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for life or any term of years, or both, and if death results to the victim, shall also be subject to the penalty of death.
    (b) Circumstances.— The circumstances referred to in subsection (a) are that the person committing such war crime or the victim of such war crime is a member of the Armed Forces of the United States or a national of the United States (as defined in section 101 of the Immigration and Nationality Act).
    (c) Definition.— As used in this section the term “war crime” means any conduct— (1) defined as a grave breach in any of the international conventions signed at Geneva 12 August 1949, or any protocol to such convention to which the United States is a party;
    (2) prohibited by Article 23, 25, 27, or 28 of the Annex to the Hague Convention IV, Respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land, signed 18 October 1907;
    (3) which constitutes a violation of common Article 3 of the international conventions signed at Geneva, 12 August 1949, or any protocol to such convention to which the United States is a party and which deals with non-international armed conflict; or
    (4) of a person who, in relation to an armed conflict and contrary to the provisions of the Protocol on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Mines, Booby-Traps and Other Devices as amended at Geneva on 3 May 1996 (Protocol II as amended on 3 May 1996), when the United States is a party to such Protocol, willfully kills or causes serious injury to civilians.


    It's not clear whether administration officials can be held accountable for ordering troops to violate the act, the GOP congressman who sponsored the Bill intended it to be so.
     
  6. Martin

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    Are we really doing the "same things" that were done to our troops in Vietnam or are you using some hyperbole there? Btw the people we are fighting now are not soilders, they are terrorists. They should not be given the same "rights" as soilders from another army. My personal view is that each of them should be tried before a military tribunal. Those found guilty of actual terrorist activity should be executed, those found guilty of helping terrorists should be kept in prison at Gitmo or sent to their home country, those found not guilty should be released where they were picked up.
     
  7. The Galatian

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    In fact, the Bush administration has admitted that they did not follow the Geneva convention. The use of "physical duress" (the North Vietnamese used that phrase, too) on prisioners is prohibited. The very reason that the administration says we need to make an exception to the War Crimes Act, is to protect US personnel who violated it. Keep in mind the specific provisions of the War Crimes Act were written to address the very things the North Vietnamese were doing to our servicemen.

    That was also the North Vietnamese argument. Since they were accused of being evil terrorists ("air pirates", I believe they said) they felt no reason to treat them humanely. That we have accepted those values ourselves is deeply embarassing to Americans.

    A final observation:
    We treat prisioners humanely (at least until recently) not because they deserve it, but because people who don't become degraded and evil in the process. We avoid torture because we do not want to become like them. Until recently.

    And make no mistake. The people who feel entitled to torture enemy combatants will generalize that to anyone they don't like. That is human nature. If a man will steal from his boss, he will steal from you.

    It is a measure of how far we have fallen in the past few years.
     
  8. Martin

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    Sorry but you did not answer my question.

    Are we really doing the "same things" that were done to our troops in Vietnam or are you using some hyperbole there?

    Saying that "the North Vietnamese used that phrase" proves nothing since anyone can say or claim almost anything. I am not concerned with what phrases are used, I am concerned with the actual actions. Is the United States doing the same things to our prisoners that were done to our troops in Vietnam? Yes or no, with specific examples. Or are you using hyperbole?
     
  9. The Galatian

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    Why do you think the administration wants legislation to exempt US troops from being held accountable for the sort of things done by the North Vietnamiese?

    Did they violate the Geneva Convention? Yes. Did we? Yes, the administration has admitted that they did not follow the Geneva convention in dealing with prisioners.

    Did they torture prisoners? Yes, they did. Did we? Yes we have, according to the Red Cross.


    The Times said the Red Cross investigators had found a system devised to break the will of prisoners through "humiliating acts, solitary confinement, temperature extremes, use of forced positions."
    "The construction of such a system, whose stated purpose is the production of intelligence, cannot be considered other than an intentional system of cruel, unusual and degrading treatment and a form of torture," the Times quoted the report as saying.
    Beatrice Megevand-Roggo, the committee's delegate-general for Europe and the Americas, told the newspaper the ICRC could not comment on the report submitted to the U.S. government. The ICRC has agreed to keep its findings confidential.
    Reuters report

    Again, why do you think they want Congress to exempt US personnel from the War Crimes Act? Why don't they want their people accountable for what they have done?

    No one seems to care that this action puts every US soldier in danger. If we don't follow the Geneva Convention, it provides justification for future enemes to deny our prisoners the same rights.

    The War Crimes Act is a good law, and should be enforced regardless of who committed the crimes.

    Gonzales told the lawmakers that a shield is needed for actions taken by U.S. personnel under a 2002 presidential order, which the Supreme Court declared illegal, and under Justice Department legal opinions that have been withdrawn under fire, said the source. A spokeswoman for Gonzales, Tasia Scolinos, declined to comment on Gonzales's remarks.
    http://freeinternetpress.com/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=7796

    The Supreme Court has already declared torture of these prisoners to be illegal, rebuking the Bush assertion that it was O.K. for some prisoners. The issue is not if it happened.
     
    #9 The Galatian, Jul 29, 2006
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 29, 2006
  10. LadyEagle

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    People who torture and behead don't usually afford our prisoners the "same rights" as we afford them. Seriously doubt there will be any "future" enemies who will be humane under the rules of the Geneva Convention.
     
  11. The Galatian

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    The North Vietnamese admitted that they did not put Americans on trial because they feared the condemnation of the rest of the world. Will the world support our POWs in the future, if we have ourselves tortured others?
     
  12. Martin

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    ==Thats not an answer to my question. Again, "Are we really doing the "same things" that were done to our troops in Vietnam or are you using some hyperbole there?" Yes or no, with examples. You made the statement and now I am asking you to back it up with facts.



    ==Since I don't trust the ICRC you will have to come to the table with a less anti-US, anti-Israel organization than that. They cry about anything the US does.

    ==None of that is torture. We use solitary confinement in civil prisons (etc). While certain "humiliating acts" are over the line, and while there should be no bodily or emotional harm, there is nothing wrong with making someone uncomfortable. This is a perfect example of what I mean when I say that the "t" word is being thrown around too lightly by the left.


    ==I think the actions taken against soldiers who have comitted crimes are a clear refutation to that statement. For crying out loud they had one US soldier in solitary confinement simply because he was suspected of a murder in Iraq (in the news just a few weeks ago). I did not see the ICRC, the ACLU, or any of those "rights" groups raising cain about that. I wonder why? Maybe because he is an American? I don't know but it is sure interesting.

    Our soldiers should not be bound by ANY foreign laws (etc). That is a position in perfect agreement with President George Washington.

    ==No. What denies future enemies the "justification" of treating our soldiers badly is the threat of destruction. I believe in a strong military and I believe in using it to its fullest when needed.

    I assure you we treat prisoners (terrorist or soilder) better than most other countries do. O, and I do make a distinction between soldier and terrorist. A soldier fights for, and is employed by a country, under a national flag, in uniform. A terrorist is a criminal who willfully targets and kills innocent civilians, does not represent a country, is not part of a army, and does not have a national uniform (etc).
     
  13. The Galatian

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    Barbarian asks:
    Why do you think the administration wants legislation to exempt US troops from being held accountable for the sort of things done by the North Vietnamiese?

    (declines to say)

    OK, I'll tell you. It's because the Attorney General says that in some cases, our people couild be charged and found guilty under the War Crimes Act. He's the highest law enforcemnt officer in the land, and in his opinion, they have done things that could result in their prosecution under the act.


    Did they torture prisoners? Yes, they did. Did we? Yes we have, according to the Red Cross.
    Doesn't matter. The Red Cross has a considerably better record for accurately reporting on this than the Bush administration. Do you trust them?

    Especially torture. And "they are antiamerican liars" isn't going to help you. Especially given AG Gonzales' opinion.


    The Times said the Red Cross investigators had found a system devised to break the will of prisoners through "humiliating acts, solitary confinement, temperature extremes, use of forced positions."
    That's what Ho Chi Minh said. We passed laws to make that sort of thing punishable.

    Hey, what the heck, the North Vietnamese did it....


    Again, why do you think they want Congress to exempt US personnel from the War Crimes Act? Why don't they want their people accountable for what they have done?
    Um, sorry, can't do that to someone accused. Against the Constitution. He can be locked up by himself, but he has to have access to others, such as his lawyer, when he wants. Of course, Bush claims the Patriot act can suspend such rights, but still...

    Probably because not having a cellmate isn't torture.

    It's not a foreign law. It's an American law. Sponsored by conservatives. Back when conservatives were opposed to torture.

    Somehow, I can't picture Washington forcing prisoners to maintain painful postures, or sexually humiliating them, or any of the other tortures that the administration allowed to happen.


    No one seems to care that this action puts every US soldier in danger. If we don't follow the Geneva Convention, it provides justification for future enemes to deny our prisoners the same rights.
    I don't know how to explain this in a way that won't be insulting, but if they were impressed with about ability to destroy them, they wouldn't be fighting us in the first place.

    I don't think our military is at its best, torturing helpless prisioners.

    Better than some. But any violation of the Geneva convention is unamerican, and a failure to observe American values.

    That's what Ho Chi Minh said, too. We weren't at war with Vietnam, so technically, our POWs weren't under the Geneva Convention. Or so he argued. As I pointed out to you, the NVA threated to put them on trial, and were deterred only by the outcry from our friends around the world. Now that Bush has assured that we have few friends, who will do that for us, next time?

    In the Revolutionary war, British commanders and sometimes American tories used that argument to hang captured Continental soldiers. Was that right?

    We avoid viciousness to captured enemy, not for them, but to avoid becoming them. You are evidence that they have already won a victory against us.
     
    #13 The Galatian, Jul 29, 2006
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 29, 2006
  14. KenH

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    I agree that we should.
     
  15. Martin

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    ==To be honest I don't trust any of them. I have found that most of the people at that level in politics (etc) are liars and not worthy of my trust.

    ==The ICRC opposes America at every single turn. Their actions speak louder than any words I can type.

    ==They did it. I think the guy was being held in South Carolina on a military base. I don't recall all the details but I know there was a contraversy about it in conservative circles.

    ==Fine. Since you agree that solitary confinement is not torture we should continue to use it in civil prisons, at Gitmo, or at any other location it is needed.


    ==That's nice but I think, in reality, everyone is opposed to actual torture. The problem here is how one defines torture. Solitary confinement is not torture.

    ==Maybe you did not read what I said. Or maybe you just chose to ignore it? I don't know but I will repeat myself here...

    "While certain "humiliating acts" are over the line, and while there should be no bodily or emotional harm, there is nothing wrong with making someone uncomfortable."

    Let's deal with the actual position of the other person and not create strawmen. Deal?

    ==Two things. First our soldiers are not given their Geneva rights when captured anyway (mainly by terrorists). Second our following the Geneva convention does not make the situation any better for our soldiers who are captured.

    ==In the current situation you are correct. I am talking about a situation under which they know we will destroy them, no questions asked. Of course they are not impressed with our ability if we never use it or if we use it in a wishy washy way. We have to be 100% firm.
     
  16. The Galatian

    The Galatian
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    Originally Posted by The Galatian
    Especially torture. And "they are antiamerican liars" isn't going to help you. Especially given AG Gonzales' opinion.


    In other words, they object to Bush violating the Geneva Convention. They aren't alone.

    THE SUPREME Court on Thursday dealt the Bush administration a stinging rebuke, declaring in Hamdan vs. Rumsfeld that military commissions for trying terrorist suspects violate both U.S. military law and the Geneva Convention.

    But the real blockbuster in the Hamdan decision is the court's holding that Common Article 3 of the Geneva Convention applies to the conflict with Al Qaeda — a holding that makes high-ranking Bush administration officials potentially subject to prosecution under the federal War Crimes Act.

    http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-brooks30jun30,0,339573.column?coll=la-news-comment-opinions

    Is it any surprise that Gonzales is looking for a way to protect the administration after the fact?

    Darn, who would have guessed the Supreme Court was antiAmerican? :confused:


    Originally Posted by The Galatian
    Um, sorry, can't do that to someone accused. Against the Constitution. He can be locked up by himself, but he has to have access to others, such as his lawyer, when he wants. Of course, Bush claims the Patriot act can suspend such rights, but still...


    You may have noticed that Bush thinks he can set aside the Constitution when necessary. That doesn't make it right. This is why Gonzales is asking Congress to provide some cover.


    Originally Posted by The Galatian
    Probably because not having a cellmate isn't torture.

    Didn't say that. I'm pointing out that putting a person in a single cell is not solitary confinement.


    Originally Posted by The Galatian
    It's not a foreign law. It's an American law. Sponsored by conservatives. Back when conservatives were opposed to torture.


    That's the problem. You see, the War Crimes Act defines what torture is, using the North Vietnamese practices as a guide. Gonzales says by that definition, people in the government and military could be charged.


    Originally Posted by The Galatian
    Somehow, I can't picture Washington forcing prisoners to maintain painful postures, or sexually humiliating them, or any of the other tortures that the administration allowed to happen.

    You mentioned that George Washington wanted us not to be under foreign laws. I pointed out that it was an American law. I also pointed out the unlikelihood that Washington would have accepted torture.

    No, I explained that this was an American law, passed by Congress, back when that kind of thing was opposed by all, even conservatives.

    So said Uncle Ho. We are better than that. "Making someone uncomfortable" is a euphemism, one that we didn't like when it was being done to our people. Bush has greatly increased the likelihood that it will happen again.


    Originally Posted by The Galatian
    No one seems to care that this action puts every US soldier in danger. If we don't follow the Geneva Convention, it provides justification for future enemes to deny our prisoners the same rights.


    [quiote]Two things. First our soldiers are not given their Geneva rights when captured anyway (mainly by terrorists). [/quote]

    We are not terrorists. Or we shouldn't be.

    Mistreating captives will make it worse, however.

    Originally Posted by The Galatian
    I don't know how to explain this in a way that won't be insulting, but if they were impressed with about ability to destroy them, they wouldn't be fighting us in the first place.

    Again, if they know that, there won't be a war. So it's no deterrent at all.
     

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