Ignoring the Supreme Court, the advice of top military lawyers, our nation’s laws, and the domestic and worldwide outcry against torture, the Bush Administration is aggressively fighting for the legal right to abuse detainees in U.S. custody.
This administration is currently polishing up an amendment to the War Crimes Act (Section 2441 of title 18 US Code) that would legally permit abusive interrogations. This would further undermine Common Article 3 in the Geneva Conventions, and try to evade the recent Hamdan v. Rumsfeld Supreme Court ruling. The amendment would not ban “outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment” (such as “waterboarding”), although such acts are specifically banned by the Geneva Conventions.
The White House also announced that the bill “will apply to any conduct by any U.S. personnel, whether committed before or after the law is enacted.” So, they want to grandfather in any previous criminal offenses – duh.
Passing this legislation would excuse the administration from current, past, or future criminal charges stemming from its treatment of prisoners in the “war against terror.” It looks to me as though it’s quite concerned with protecting its own policymakers from being prosecuted under the War Crimes Act. Yeah, I wonder why that would be.
The time-honored and (almost) universally-accepted Geneva Conventions help to protect our own troops. The Bush administration is not only willing to risk the lives of our soldiers – and further tarnish our reputation – so that it can engage in cruel and inhuman treatment with impugnity – but it also want to protect those who have authorized it from any accountability!
Outside of all the ethical and legal reasons to oppose torture (especially in our name), there is also the pragmatic reason not to torture: Expert interrogators have already said that good information comes not through torture, but rather by establishing relationships of trust. People who are tortured will say anything to make the torture stop. Read up on the Inquisitions. The Witch Hunts. Or something more recent. Take your pick. Torture doesn’t work.
Shall we go down as the first nation to retreat from the Geneva Conventions?
Shall we be known as the country who stood up to champion cruel and degrading treatment?
Is this what America has become? Is this what we stand for? Will Americans speak up?
The “good guys” don’t need to do this.
No more torture in America’s name!
No grandfathered protections for those who authorized it!
Read up on the issues. Then, please contact your representatives to tell them your views, and the position you would urge them to take on this matter.
- Supreme Court Strikes Fear: Reprimanded by the Supreme Court, the Bush administration rushes to evade punishment – Village Voice
- War Crimes Act Changes Would Reduce Threat Of Prosecution – Washington Post
- White House Wants to Amend War Crimes Act – National Public Radio
- No impunity for war crimes: US administration seeking to amend the War Crimes Act – Amnesty International
- Retroactive Laws Invoked to Protect Administration Officials from War Crimes Prosecution – Indybay
- A free pass on war crimes? – Salt Lake Tribune