Trying To Maintain Rationality

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Gov't Torture, Gov't Accountability

Former U.S. Congresswoman Elizabeth Holtzman wrote a fantastic article about these issues for The Nation magazine; oddly enough, the article is titled Torture and Accountability. Here's a -snip- from the story:

In a memo to President Bush, dated January 25, 2002, Gonzales urged that the United States opt out of the Geneva Conventions for the Afghanistan war--despite Secretary of State Colin Powell's objections. One of the two reasons he gave the President was that opting out "substantially reduces the likelihood of prosecution under the War Crimes Act."

Then-Attorney General Ashcroft sent a memo to President Bush making a similar argument. Opting out of the Geneva Conventions, Ashcroft argued, would give the "highest assurance" that there would be no prosecutions under the War Crimes Act of "military officers, intelligence officials, or law enforcement officials" for their misconduct during interrogations or detention.

Plainly, both Gonzales and Ashcroft were so concerned about preventing War Crimes Act prosecutions that they were willing to assume the risks--including the likelihood of severe international criticism as well as the exposure of our own captured troops to mistreatment--of opting out of Geneva.

The specter of prosecution was particularly worrisome because the Conventions use broad terminology. Noting that violations may consist of "outrages upon personal dignity" and "inhuman treatment," Gonzales advised the President in his memo that it would be "difficult to predict with confidence" which actions would violate the War Crimes Act and which would not.

Well, well... how about that? Holtzman also notes that plenty of these folks are going to have to stay on their toes for the rest of their lives since "...there would be no statute of limitations on War Crimes Act prosecutions in cases where the victim died." No rest for the wicked... =)

I highly recommend that you read this article... and I sincerely recommend that you *always* check out the weekly, thought-provoking articles provided by The Nation. I'm a subscriber (it's freakin' cheap as hell) and you should be, too. It's the most cost-effective conduit for today's most important information and ideas that I've ever found... great stuff.

*jesus i sound like one of their radio ads*


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