Monday, September 18, 2006

Doing the right thing..not letting BushCo off the hook.

From The Pen:

There is an apocryphal tale about a child who, having failed to perform an assigned task, invented the most outlandish excuse for why he could not produce the required finished work. We cannot say if there ever was an actual child who claimed that the dog had eaten his homework. But we have its equivalent now in the current president of the United States.

The incredible world spectacle we have is this. First, the president demands that the War Crimes Act, the law of the land, be changed to accommodate the crimes that have ALREADY been committed at his direction, specifically to authorize methods of torture previously and rightfully considered verboten. If this is not a naked admission that he has broken the law in the most hideous way we don't know what is.

Second, and at the same time, he is demanding that new laws enacted be to hotrod the prosecution of those he personally deems enemies of the state. What is he trying to tell the world, that those people CANNOT be convicted of an offense under our current law, but that he himself cannot ESCAPE conviction under that same law for what he has done?

Shame on any member of Congress who signs on to any of this in any part. Let us address each of these two points in turnTHE WAR CRIMES ACT MUST NOT BE CHANGED AT ALLACTION PAGE 1:

If there was an Olympic event for hypocritical lying, the Bush administration would have no peer anywhere. But perhaps the biggest honking lie of all is that the torture of our detainees has given us any intelligence to make us safer. Indeed, it was information extracted by torture (of Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi) that was used as an EXCUSE by the Bush and Cheney that it was so drop dead critical to attack and occupy Iraq, now recognized by all with an honest bone left in their body as the greatest strategic blunder in our nation's military history. It is all contained in the Phase 2 Senate Intelligence Committee Report, which Cheney claims not to have read himself.

Those who really know interrogation know that information extracted by such means is BAD intelligence, notwithstanding the most extreme "ticking time bomb" scenario the Bush regime constantly throws in our faces. But just as they have systematically done in every other policy area without exception, those who actually know what they are talking about have here again been muscled out of government decision making. We are told for example that the military JAG attorneys were held for hours in a meeting and not allowed to leave until they signed on to the president's demands.

And now Bush directly threatens the American people by saying if they will not rubberstamp his torture program as is, he will scuttle it. That's exactly akin to a bank robber threatening to stop robbing banks unless we change the laws to his specifications. Of course it has to stop. When we have a program that is so destructive to our REAL national security it absolutely MUST stop. Maybe then, just maybe, we could get back to obtaining good intelligence of actual value. But Bush in his patented flim-flam way would make it sound like his critics would have us stop all intelligence operations to protect our families.

They have their talking point, that the law needs to be "clarified", and they are going to keep repeating it like a broken record until we all run screaming from the room. The problem is that they KNEW they were breaking international and U.S. law when they did it, in the most premeditated way, and were so warned in advance by their own attorney general in no uncertain terms. Part of the language they would now unilaterally and retroactively excise from Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions refers to "outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating . . . " At Abu Ghraib, Bush administration henchmen DESIGNED methods of treatment with the deliberate intent of being maximally offensive to their Muslim victims, most of whom were innocent of any crime whatsoever.

If war itself were not enough of an atrocity, when the depth of the horrors of World War II came to light some to the greatest legal minds ever labored to define in words what civilized people must forever proscribe, even in war. And in the Geneva Conventions they succeeded. Any who dare to violate these mutually accepted definitions of despicable behavior are guilty of war crimes on their face. We need NOT behave as monsters ourselves to protect our people. Such acts only lead to the remaining civilized people in the world shunning us as pariahs, to never again volunteer the good intelligence we really need to thwart those who mean us harm.

In fact, the Bush administration has repeatedly jeopardized intelligence operations of REAL value to score media propaganda points. The British were furious two years ago when they outed a very valuable mole in Al Qaeda, thereby doing incalculable damage to our ability to stop the bad guys. And they did it again by pressuring the British to move prematurely on the recent airline plot, related to so-called "liquid explosives" which had no chemical possibility of ever being operational. The case against those plotters and their associates is accordingly weaker than it would have been otherwise.

Keep in mind that in both the above situations informants were gained by winning people to our side. Such intelligence losses cannot be compensated for by stooping to torture methods which have the exact OPPOSITE effect.


The fact that the detainees HAVE been tortured is precisely the reason why the Bush administration is so determined to deny them any rights they have under current law to see the evidence against them, or to have any other protections thereunder. Secret evidence means keeping also secret their own war crimes. Either we are a nation of laws or we are not. And to butcher the law "ex post facto" (after the fact) anytime the result will not be as we would like is to render our entire legal system of no force and effect. It is to tell the world that we have laws of convenience only, and that they are subject to change without notice.

There are disreputable precedents in world history, the Star Chamber, kangaroo courts and show trials. The Supreme Court, even stacked as it is already is with Bush beholden appointees, has ruled that the military tribunals proposed are contrary to the Constitution itself, let alone statutory law. The solution is not to enact further Constitutional outrages in the Congress, perhaps in hopes of stacking a contrary deciding fifth additional vote by the time it arrives back at the Supreme Court.

The detainees must be prosecuted under existing law. To do otherwise is to send the loudest message possible to the entire world that we believe THEY HAVE COMMITTED NO CRIME FOR WHICH THEY CAN BE PROSECUTED. Some who were irrefutably innocent have already been released after years of torture, and with no apology or compensation for their ordeal. If the truly guilty cannot be found so under current law, we have no moral standing in the world left at all.

There's a ticking time bomb all right, but unfortunately it's our own current president of the United States. Day by day he becomes more pugnacious and more defiant. It is just a matter of time before he commits an atrocity in our name so heinous that no American will ever be safe ever again anywhere in the world, unless he is peacefully and swiftly removed from office.

And if a dog did eat his homework, it would have been a dog of war.

This alert is brought to you through the activism of James Wright, running for the U.S. House in the 8th Congressional district, and one of the leading progressive voices in the state of Texas. Follow the other links on the action page for Jim's own proposals of bills to REALLY protect us.

When a brave candidate steps forward in such a district as Texas 8th, shall we do anything to show him our support? If so, please also consider making a donation to Jim's campaign so he can spread the call to action message on impeachment, starting to bring our troops home from Iraq, and on so many other issues.



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