Bush Admin. Proposes Retroactive Protections Against War Crimes Prosecutions
Pete Yost, writing in the Associated Press , notes that the Bush administration is trying to get Congressional approval for amendments to the U.S. War Crimes Act that would protect administration figures and CIA interrogators from prosecutions under Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions. This is clearly in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Hamdan v. Rumsfield. (2006) that Common Article 3 applies to “detainees” in Guantanemo Bay and elsewhere who were captured in the open-ended, ill-defined “war on terror.” Hmm. Why would they seek such retroactive protection unless they realized that CIA interrogators and administration officials are guilty of war crimes under Common Article 3?
The administration is right to be afraid. Attorney General Gonzalez, back when he was simply White House Chief Counsel, wrote legal minutes to the president and to the Secretary of Defense claiming that the Geneva Conventions were “quaint,” and “outmoded,” and didn’t apply to fighters in Afghanistan or suspected terrorists because such “detainees,” were not soldiers and therefore could not be “prisoners of war.” Now that the Supreme Court has struck down that ludicrous opinion, Gonzalez is vulnerable as an accessory and anyone who gave orders to torture or treat in an inhumane manner, including even Sec. Rumsfeld, VP Cheney, or Pres. Bush, if any of them were involved, is equally vulnerable. Congress would be foolish to make such amendments, which undermine the very purpose of the War Crimes Act.
Since the Constitution itself claims that treaties share with the Constitution equal status as “supreme law of the land,” it also seems highly dubious that any such amendments that sought to shield people from the consequences of violations of the Geneva Conventions would be considered Constitutional.
On a theological note: What are we to make of a president who loudly proclaims his Christian faith, but seeks path after path of avoiding laws against torture? Has no one explained to him that torture is not part of his much ballyhooed “culture of life?”
If you are willing to take a stand against torture, no matter who commits it, against whom, for whatever reason, click here.
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