Tuesday, April 15, 2008

War Criminals R Us

Our President, and many of his top advisers and officials, should be tried for war crimes. Period.

I can't believe I didn't hear about this story until yesterday, especially since it originally broke on Friday. But instead of reporting on this massively important revelation, the news media seem content to go nuts with the "Obama said some stuff about small town America!" line that Clinton and McCain are currently trumpeting.

George W. Bush, President of these United States, admitted to being fully aware of and supporting top level meetings held to discuss torture policy and techniques. If the Watergate break-in and cover-up was enough to start impeachment proceedings against Nixon, how is this not enough to do, at the very least, the same thing to Bush? Beyond impeachment, these admitted torture techniques are illegal under international law. They're called war crimes.

From the ABC article:

President Bush says he knew his top national security advisers discussed and approved specific details about how high-value al Qaeda suspects would be interrogated by the Central Intelligence Agency, according to an exclusive interview with ABC News Friday.

"Well, we started to connect the dots in order to protect the American people." Bush told ABC News White House correspondent Martha Raddatz. "And yes, I'm aware our national security team met on this issue. And I approved."
The reason the administration is so cocky about all of this is that they lined up several crony lawyers to justify the policies. John Yoo would be case-and-point. Yoo is the charming fellow who apparently failed to pay attention while in law school, as he went on to author several memos, on behalf of the Justice Department, that made extremely shaky, fallacious arguments in favor of the torture techniques so desperately desired by the CIA and the Bush administration.

It should be noted that these memos were later rescinded by the Justice Department (after Yoo departed), but not before countless detainees were subjected to the harsh methods approved by them. Several of these detainees died as a direct result.

But Bush will happily defend things like waterboarding, even though it was for this same offense that Japanese and German officers were tried and convicted after World War II, and even though the United States has long been a signatory to the Third Geneva Convention, which explicitly forbids the torture of POWs.

In the interview with ABC News Friday, Bush defended the waterboarding technique used against KSM.

"We had legal opinions that enabled us to do it," Bush said. "And no, I didn't have any problem at all trying to find out what Khalid Sheikh Mohammed knew."

The president said, "I think it's very important for the American people to understand who Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was. He was the person who ordered the suicide attack -- I mean, the 9/11 attacks."

Those "legal opinions that enabled" them to do those things were memos like the one authored by Yoo, memos so egregious in scope that they were later rescinded and roundly criticized by legal scholars the world over.
Jack Goldsmith, who took over the Office of Legal Counsel after Yoo departed, writes that the two memos "stood out" for "the unusual lack of care and sobriety in their legal analysis."
Apparently, though, the president desired and got unlimited powers in "time of war" - something that has always been and should remain completely unconstitutional.

The counter argument usually goes something like this: "What if there's a bomb about to go off in the middle of a crowded city in about an hour, and we have the person responsible for it in custody? We need to know where it is so we can disarm it, but the suspect won't talk unless we use some of these techniques."

Outside of the television show "24", though, when does this ever actually happen? Pretty much never. Beyond that, the validity of confessions obtained through torture has been questioned and debunked time and time again. When someone's subjecting you to unimaginably horrible mental and physical pain, you're extremely prone to telling them what you think they want to hear in order to have that pain end.

These forced and often false confessions sometimes lead to the unfounded imprisonment, torture and even death of innocent people.

In the end, my main question is this: when did the climate in this country change to such a degree that we're even debating something like this? Torture is torture is torture. We, as a country, are supposed to be well above such methods. There should be no excuse, no loophole, no explaining away of the terrible shit we've been pulling in the name of "national security." Smarter, more experienced and well-trained people than I will tell you, and have been telling us for quite some time, that there are better, more humane and more effective means of gathering valuable intelligence and protecting our citizens.

Yet these voices go relatively unheard and ignored by an administration that has clearly demonstrated, time and time again, that it has no regard for national or international law, human rights, or even basic human decency.

War criminals.

These people and their disgusting ideas are a blight on our nation. How we can be more focused on some perceived Obama gaffe instead of the admission by Bush that he knew about and approved of these torture strategy meetings, I simply don't understand. I am offended as an American citizen and as a human being.

It's time to buy some plane tickets to the Hague.

(h/t Letter from Here)


The CDP. said...

You rock.

Emily said...

Thanks. I'd be more inclined to agree with you, though, if I felt like I could actually do something about this. I'm at a loss. :(

The CDP. said...

I know how you feel. It sucks to know that you're probably not going to make a Global difference in regards to something so completely evil and wrong, but I've found that whiskey tends to dull the pain.

The Lost Albatross