Because freedom can't protect itself
Well put! I often wonder why Democrats and Republicans alike consider it inexpedient or impossible to put the administration to task for what seem to be (all innocent before proven guilty) its crimes against the American people and humanity. I think that as long as we allow these crimes to stand uninvestigated and unpunished, we have lost our identity as "Americans" due to such a far deviation from the spirit and the letter of The Constitution, and have become something else entirely... "Amerikkkans", perhaps.
@GG - maybe not torture per se, but did you see this?
The two things Congress should be grilled on the most regarding both torture and the Military Commissions Act are:
1) Specifically related to torture, the habeas corpus provision is not the most damaging. Far more damaging is the fact that the act eviscerates the War Crimes Act, and sharply narrows the Torture Act, the first of which implements Geneva, the second UNCAT, and makes these changes retroactive to 1997. That in itself is illegal under UNCAT, since it is a move by a government to protect people who it knows have tortured, and it is illegal under Geneva for the same reasons with respect to a grave breach.
2) Under UNCAT, the government is required to investigate, prosecute and punish on torture. Since the Congress is the body that does that with respect to the executive branch, they don't really have the liberty to move so slowly as to not prosecute at all, regardless of whether the Founders wanted significant hurdles or not. They are required to do so, and should obey the treaties, which are signed and ratified and thus the supreme law of the land.
The increasingly frantic scramble to justify impunity, and to legislate away basic rights, are essentially connected.
Before the invasion of Afghanistan, the Bush administration demanded that the Afghan government turn over Osama bin Laden. The Afghans replied, "show us an indictment, and an extradition request". Bush & Company simply repeated the bald demand for an individual. There was a good deal of a "Bill of Attainder" going on here; but the Afghan government insisted on the forms of law, so the U.S. invaded (and replaced the Taliban with a narco-Mafia).
After the Bill of Attainder, this administration has gone on to commit almost all the acts listed as the abuses which impelled the American Revolution; till finally embracing torture, repeal of Habeas Corpus, with the claim that any act of the "Commander in Chief" is by definition legal. Even King George had not gone quite that far.
Treaties have full force and effect of U.S. federal law - try having your business violate NAFTA rules, and find out. The Nuremberg Charter and the U.N. Charter list conspiracy to initiate aggressive war a "Crime against Peace". The U.S. decided this was a capital felony, and a bunch of German and Japanese officials were executed - by the U.S. - for Crimes against Peace, Crimes of War, and Crimes against Humanity.
And those are all still capital felonies under U.S. federal law.
What this administration and it's supporters have forgotten is that there is a rule of law - even if it grinds slow.
Do the crime, do the time, Mr. Bush.
Thanks, Glenn! I've been trying to make these points to my Congressman for more than a year. The best I can get out of him is that he signed Wexler's letter to start impeachment proceedings.
Speaker Pelosi must be replaced by someone with clean hands. Her otherwise progressive voting record is worthless besides her collusion with Bush & Cheney on torture.
Bob in HI
The only consolation I have been taking in all this mess is that history (yeah, that stuff!) has shown us that perpetrators of war crimes and the like are almost always brought to justice AFTER they are out of office. That has held true recently (Slobodan Milosevic) as well as in the past (Nazis and others). So, much as we would all like to see the current administration impeached and convicted right now - the wheels of justice do grind slowly. Hopefully, they are now grinding away and eventually we WILL get to the desired outcome - punishment of those primarily responsible, a recognition that this kind of stuff is ALWAYS AND FOREVER WRONG, and a reversal of our policies, including but not limited to passage of laws specifically prohibiting ALL of these so-called 'enhanced interrogation techniques' so there is no ambiguity, and repeal of the Patriot Act, The Warner Defense Authorization Act, and any other shameful piece of legislation passed within the last 8 years that has the effect of reversing centuries of prohibitions against torture and established legal guarantees and precedents.
lokywoky bitter hussein
It's been my opinion for some time that or national legislative body, on both sides of the isle, are far too indebted to corporate sponsorship. They seem more the gatekeepers and purveyors to public resources than serving in the interest of the public at large domestically and especially in regards to foreign policy. The looting of America as we are seeing now is far too lucrative to allow any law, even the most fundamental, to stand in the way. This cannot happen. We as citizens have to press hard to hold our Executive and Legislative officials culpable or we are less likely to hold this democracy together on anything other than a regional level. We have become a corporate state where profits are elevated above the health, welfare and freedom of our citizens as well as governments and people of other nations who stand in our way. We would do well also to hold corporate leadership under due process in regards to the war in Iraq. I for one would love to see Exxon-Mobil stand up for charges of crimes against humanity, as well Haliburton and the rest of the boys and girls who have made war for profit their game plan. Somehow a precedence has to be set after these miserable years of Mr. Bush, the man who stole the presidency, after all there should be no great mystery what ills the United States. Without prosecution the bar of justice will forever stay low for those who stand to profit by it.
Since the USA is still the biggest guy on the block, and we have no one in this country protecting us from these lawbreakers. It probably will be up to the international community to bring these criminals to justice some day. I hope that someone retains the list of voters who keep reelecting these war criminals. Because I believe, that not only the administration; the congress,the supreme court, the justice department,the media-especially the right wing media , should all be put on trial for war crimes.
Like many of you I've written letter after letter concerning America's torture policy. I've also made my views known to some of our Congressional leaders while visiting Washington. I even gave Senator McConnell a book that detailed the Bush administrations policy of torture in the hopes that he would be shamed into doing something.
Unfortunately, I think it's painfully obvious to all of us that so far each of our individual efforts have been far too easy to ignore. Perhaps it's time to develop a sustained, multi-pronged plan where all of us can band together to make it harder for our media, our leaders and our fellow citizens to ignore this issue. With that thought in mind I think this new blog is an excellent first step.
I do not want to detract from, or undermine, your message, because the need for practical action is paramount.
However, I do wonder whether you need to revisit and review one of your basic premises - namely, the question as to whether a lack of respect for the life and dignity of "others" is, and for some time has been, your country's "defining behavior" and one of your country's "basic national values".
To make my point in perhaps a less provocative way, what I'm trying to suggest is that the pre-eminent defining behavior of the USA over, say, the past 100 years, is to define, then pursue, its "national interest" in a manner that pays absolutely no respect for the lives, sovereignty or interests of others (i.e., non-Americans).
A country that, as a matter of policy, devalues the lives and fates of others, has to expect that such a policy will, from time to time, manifest more acutely, in the form of torture (e.g., the Philippines) and worse (e.g., acts of aggressive war, such as the invasion of Iraq).
The shorthand for what I'm describing is "exceptionalism", but this is too broad and vague a term, because it masks the core, defining principle in play, namely, a refusal to recognize the lives and interests of others as anything other than subordinate to the lives and interests of America and Americans.
For as long as this pertains, you can expect (indeed, guarantee) that your country will, in your name, commit atrocities. Unless and until America begins to respect human life regardless of ethnicity and citizenship, it is difficult to see how anything will change. After all, we've all seen America wring its collective hands over torture before...and we all know how that turned out. The reaction today is much the same as in 1902 --
"It sips its coffee and reads of its soldiers administering the “water cure” to rebels; of how water with handfuls of salt thrown in to make it more efficacious, is forced down the throats of the patients until their bodies become distended to the point of bursting; of how our soldiers then jump on the distended bodies to force the water out quickly so that the “treatment” can begin all over again. The American Public takes another sip of its coffee and remarks, “How very unpleasant!”
(April 16, 1902, edition of the New York World newspaper)
The world continues to watch and wonders: “Why will this time be any different?”
-- The Reality Kid
I saw the last election as collective action of the Bush Administration, where thorough investigations of 911, torture, and articles of impeachment were promised. After sipping her champagne, the new Speaker of the House declared: "Impeachment is off the table". This set the tone for this congress.
You say we now bear a "collective responsibility" for the crimes of this administration, yet it seems to me voters sought redress by their actions at the voting booth. What do you now suggest we do?
As with war advocacy, I believe that having advocated torture, or voted to enable it, such as for the Military Commissions Act, should be considered unforgiveable, regardless of the party affiliation of the politician. Sure, strategy matters, but over time, every single one of these people, Democrat and Republican alike, should be targeted for electoral challenge and eliminated from our government.
and to Oldionus' excellent paragraph after "eliminated from our government" ...i would append .. "indicted .. tried .. convicted ..and jailed for their crimes ..."
My basic concern has been that the lawlessness and torture affecting our country has not merely come to represent what we as Americans "stand for." There is a trickle down effect where the corruption of ideals communicates itself from the "ruling class" down to individuals in all social strata. When individual behavior begins to reflect enablement of lawlessness and torture it opens the door to human rights abuses by the entire society in the name of the "greater good" as defined by the administration and its operatives. This is basic sociology and to me represents the most frightening possibility fostered by the Bush era policies. The tide must be stopped.
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