Join 3,425 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Bush Administration fears war crimes trials
July 28, 2006 7:56 AM   Subscribe

Gonzalez seeks "protection" from War Crimes Act of 1996 Ten years ago, the Republican Congress passed the War Crimes Act, which makes violations of the Geneva Convention by Americans criminal acts. Now, the Attorney General is urging the current Republican Congress to "shield" those who participate in the War On Terror from the Act.
posted by Kirth Gerson (68 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Why should he and his buddies go through all that effort, just to embarass themselves? Bush will be handing out presidential pardons left and right, soon enough.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:02 AM on July 28, 2006


Well, the prosecutions might only come when he's out of office.
posted by grobstein at 8:03 AM on July 28, 2006


smh
posted by milarepa at 8:03 AM on July 28, 2006


Unbelievable.
posted by dobbs at 8:05 AM on July 28, 2006


That, and such immunity could be used to embolden people not important enough to be sure of getting a pardon to use crueler interrogation tactics.
posted by grobstein at 8:05 AM on July 28, 2006


Welcome to Judge Judy Justice.
posted by Unregistered User at 8:05 AM on July 28, 2006


AVE CAESER
posted by zouhair at 8:07 AM on July 28, 2006


Call me Krazy... how about not doing things that might be not legal under the War Crimes Act?
posted by rough ashlar at 8:07 AM on July 28, 2006


Krazy
posted by grobstein at 8:08 AM on July 28, 2006


I can't help but wonder about the timing of this.
posted by Unregistered User at 8:11 AM on July 28, 2006


Can the Attorney General prosecute himself? hee hee
posted by caddis at 8:14 AM on July 28, 2006


Can anyone point me in the direction of the discussion that I believe was mentioned on mefi about Bush already having to consider restricting his post-presidential travel in case he ends up in a country where he could be indicted for war crimes?
posted by Divine_Wino at 8:17 AM on July 28, 2006


The only countries he could visit after he left would be to dictatorships.
posted by empath at 8:19 AM on July 28, 2006


It's nice to see the AG admit, by seeking immunity and impunity, that these guys are a bunch of crooks. That's satisfying, a little. I do miss Condy's knee-high, patent-leather, Prada Gestapo boots.
posted by Il Furioso at 8:23 AM on July 28, 2006


That's okay, Divine Wino, before he was elected President, George had never travelled outside the United States, so he's probably not going to turn into much of a world traveller even with protection.
posted by briank at 8:26 AM on July 28, 2006 [2 favorites]


Obliquely, Walter B. Jones is the "freedom fries" guy.
posted by clearlynuts at 8:26 AM on July 28, 2006


Well, the prosecutions might only come when he's out of office.

Can the president issue a "just-in-case/future" pardon, in case AG is indicted after GWB is out of office?
posted by LordSludge at 8:35 AM on July 28, 2006


I wonder if the fact that the AG is asking for protection from the war crimes act (all inclusive for the administration as well as those outside the administration commiting the acts) could be used as evidence to prosecute him in the future?

After all, if he didn't feel guilty, why ask for protection from it?

I hope they all finish out their days in maximum security lockdown. Perhaps Germany could re-build Spandau to hold them?
posted by mk1gti at 8:41 AM on July 28, 2006


TIMSF.
posted by StrasbourgSecaucus at 8:45 AM on July 28, 2006


But he added that prosecutions are improbable because the Justice Department -- which has consistently asserted that such rough interrogations are legal -- is unlikely to bring them. U.S. officials could argue in any event, Ratner said, that they were following policies they believed to be legal, and "a judge would most likely say that is a decent defense."

First of all, ignorance of the law is usually not an excuse. In fact, it's especially not an excuse when it's the executive doing the incorrect interpreting. Typically, ignorance is only an excuse if a judge incorrectly says something is legal.

Second, if crimes have been committed, and the Justice Department fails to bring prosecutions, then I think every rational person in the country would have to say that the President will have failed in his constitutional duty to "take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed."
posted by jedicus at 8:46 AM on July 28, 2006


After all, if he didn't feel guilty, why ask for protection from it?

Heheh...turnabout is fair play I guess, for an administration that has consistently argued variations of "if you're not a terrorist, you have nothing to worry about" when defending domestic surveillance, the Patriot Act, and other misdeeds.
posted by jedicus at 8:47 AM on July 28, 2006 [1 favorite]


My fear is that any subsequent president, Dem or Rep, will issue the same pardons to "save us" from the pain of self-examination. (Same goes for toothless congressional hearings, and declinations to prosecute.) It's why we -- the American electorate -- make the same mistakes over and over and over again.
posted by turducken at 8:48 AM on July 28, 2006 [1 favorite]


Well, the prosecutions might only come when he's out of office.

I meant Jeb Bush, not Dubya.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:57 AM on July 28, 2006 [1 favorite]


If I had one final dream in life before this nation fell apart and took me with it, I think that dream would be to see at least one major Bush Regime official sentenced to PMIA prison for the rest of his or her life. Gonzalez would be an acceptable choice.
posted by bshock at 9:02 AM on July 28, 2006


If I had one final dream in life before this nation fell apart and took me with it, I think that dream would be to see at least one major Bush Regime official sentenced to PMIA prison for the rest of his or her life. Gonzalez would be an acceptable choice.

They all need to be prosecuted and never allowed back into public influence again. If that was done for everyone associated with Watergate and Iran Contra we wouldn't have 1/10th of the players involved in this Bush administration. It's not enough to get criminals out of office you have to make sure they are never allowed to return to any position of influence again. That includes convicted felons like G. Gordon Liddy doing a radio talk show.
posted by any major dude at 9:38 AM on July 28, 2006


Can the president issue a "just-in-case/future" pardon, in case AG is indicted after GWB is out of office?

Yes: "I, Gerald R. Ford, ... do grant a full, free, and absolute pardon unto Richard Nixon for all offenses against the United States which he, Richard Nixon, has committed or may have committed..." (emph mine)
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 9:48 AM on July 28, 2006


"Well, the prosecutions might only come when he's out of office."

He's planning to respect term limits?! That's awesome news! :-)
posted by -harlequin- at 9:49 AM on July 28, 2006 [1 favorite]


Surely this...
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 9:53 AM on July 28, 2006


You know, following the usual retort to questions about warrantless wiretapping -- namely, that if you didn't do anything wrong you don't have anything to worry about -- it seems the AG is quite conscious that there are, in fact, war crimes relating to the war in Iraq and the "War on Terror"(tm) which he and his fellow executive branch members have now started worrying about.

So, it's less a "just in case" and more a "given time" kind of issue.
posted by clevershark at 10:09 AM on July 28, 2006


any major dude writes "They all need to be prosecuted and never allowed back into public influence again."

Interestingly enough following the investigation on the Shatila massacre it was recommended that Ariel Sharon never hold an official post in the state of Israel again... we've seen how well that worked out.
posted by clevershark at 10:11 AM on July 28, 2006


“Gonzales told the lawmakers that a shield is needed for actions taken by U.S. personnel under a 2002 presidential order, which the Supreme Court declared illegal, and under Justice Department legal opinions that have been withdrawn under fire, the source said.”
Laughable. ‘Only following orders’ as codified law. Except they always sacrifice the rank and files to cover their asses. It’s a “we had to give them these orders, so let’s cover them and by extension we’re covered” sorta b.s. Meanwhile our guys get branded as torturers and get met with commensurate resistance (big difference between fighting someone who thinks they’ll be well treated if they surrender and someone who thinks they’ll be tortured).
I can’t imagine something more damaging to our own troops short of Stalin style leadership (Order 227 et.al).

There’s a simple way around these human rights violations. Have detainees declared non-humans.
posted by Smedleyman at 10:17 AM on July 28, 2006


Previously in MF, the blogger fired for discussing Geneva Convention violations by the CIA, who have already been shielded as "those who participate in the War On Terror", while committing torture/waterboarding.
posted by nickyskye at 10:22 AM on July 28, 2006


I should probably have linked to the Geneva Conventions in the OP. In particular, Article 3 (specifically mentioned in the War Crimes Act), Section 1.(c) prohibits:
Outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment;

I would worry, too ,if I were Gonzalez
posted by Kirth Gerson at 10:24 AM on July 28, 2006 [1 favorite]


slightly off topic

File under, the wtf (?) dept: Major powers postpone meeting to discuss Iran's nuclear program
UNITED NATIONS: Six major powers Thursday postponed a meeting on Iran's nuclear program, with diplomats linking it to the UN Security Council's failure to pass a statement on the deaths of four UN peacekeepers this week. No official reason was given for the postponement of the meeting by the five UN Security Council permanent members - Britain, China, France, Russia and US - and Germany to discuss a resolution against Iran.

But the postponement came one day after the Security Council failed to agree a statement on the killing of four UN peacekeepers during an Israeli attack in Lebanon.

Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin announced the meeting had been postponed and that no new date had been set.

Diplomats said earlier this week that progress was being made in agreeing a resolution that would state that Iran must suspend all enrichment-related activities that could be linked to making a nuclear weapon.

But there has been a dramatic change of atmosphere after the failure to condemn the deaths of Austrian, Canadian, Chinese and Finnish soldiers in Lebanon Tuesday.

The United States blocked attempts to pass a strong statement condemning the attack or Israel. And China's envoy Wang Guangya warned Wednesday there could be an impact on efforts to agree other key issues such as Iran's nuclear program.

"I hope not, but I think that somehow it will have an impact, because if we want the unity of the council on this issue we also want the unity of the council on other issues," he said.

Questioned specifically about the Iran dispute, where China and Russia have resisted US calls for sanctions, the Chinese ambassador said: "I think all members will reflect on what lessons there are to be learned from this episode."
posted by Unregistered User at 10:44 AM on July 28, 2006


Gonzales told the lawmakers that a shield is needed for actions taken by U.S. personnel under a 2002 presidential order...

The Attourney General and the President's own lawyer is saying that the President has ordered people to do illegal things. Things that were illegal at the time they were ordered.

Why aren't we impeaching this guy, again?
posted by Western Infidels at 10:47 AM on July 28, 2006


Doesn't ex post facto cut both ways? Clemency / pardons / what-have-you are already out there so why not just go that route if'n someone [finally | deservedly | hopefully] drops the boot on this crew? Is it that necessary to diffuse responsibility in this administration?

Oh, wait, that last question was pretty stupid.
posted by Fezboy! at 10:52 AM on July 28, 2006


Western Infidels writes "Why aren't we impeaching this guy, again?"

His party controls congress.
posted by Mitheral at 10:52 AM on July 28, 2006


(a) Offense.— Whoever, whether inside or outside the United States, commits a war crime, in any of the circumstances described in subsection (b), shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for life or any term of years, or both, and if death results to the victim, shall also be subject to the penalty of death. (emphasis mine)

Oh, snap! Visions of BushCo firing squads dance in my head...

Kidding aside, it looks to me that this law only covers the actual person doing the torturing, not necessarily the person who gave the order -- or the one who gave the order to give the order, etc.
posted by LordSludge at 10:55 AM on July 28, 2006


His party controls congress.

Actually, Nancy Peloci has stated that the democrats Will Not Impeach the president if the democrats regain control of the house. Not that we would not impeach based on current evidence, that we simply will not no matter what.

Btw, is it possible to do a 'two fer' impeachment and get rid of Dick Cheney and Bush at the same time, leaving Condi in charge?
posted by delmoi at 11:01 AM on July 28, 2006


is it possible to do a 'two fer' impeachment and get rid of Dick Cheney and Bush at the same time, leaving Condi in charge?

Denny Hastert and Ted Stevens are up before Condi.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:06 AM on July 28, 2006


Your Presidential Order of Succession.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 11:19 AM on July 28, 2006


"“Gonzales told the lawmakers that a shield is needed for actions taken by U.S. personnel under a 2002 presidential order, which the Supreme Court declared illegal, and under Justice Department legal opinions that have been withdrawn under fire, the source said.”"

So they're admitting, on the record, that the President ordered people to commit war crimes? Really?

I should think that makes the President a war criminal, and a premeditated one. We're not going to try Saddam for actually personally torturing and killing people and oppressing the Iraqi people, but for giving others the orders to do so. How is our president any different?

I think I'll be sending Ms. Pelosi a letter, and probably dropping by my own House rep's office which happens to be about a mile from my house. All our "representatives" are doing a pretty piss-poor job of representing us constituents.
posted by zoogleplex at 11:23 AM on July 28, 2006 [1 favorite]


Hmm, somehow I thought the Sec. State was before the speaker. Still, if the dems did take power, and impeached the prez and the VP and installed a democrat as president, it might raze some eyebrows. Having a weak president like Condi would help in 2008. Of course she might pardon her "Husband"...
posted by delmoi at 11:24 AM on July 28, 2006


Exactly how does impeachment not become obstruction of justice? The President is not above the Constitution.
posted by rzklkng at 11:26 AM on July 28, 2006


"The President is not above the Constitution."

This president has claimed repeatedly that he is. And Gonzalez has been his mouthpiece for many of his claims. So far, the President is getting away with un-Constitutional acts because nobody's going after him about it.

This bears directly on the matter; Bush, believing the laws don't apply to him as War President, gave orders to commit war crimes - this is what Gonzales has admitted above. Gonzales asking for this "shield" is just another statement from the Oval Office that he believes he's still above the law, disguised as "hey, let's be nice and immunize the guys I gave orders to because they were just doing what I told them."

It's been very clearly established that "I was following orders" is not a valid defense, especially for military officers, who swear to defend the Constitution. Officers are bound to refuse un-Constitutional and other illegal orders.
posted by zoogleplex at 11:58 AM on July 28, 2006


...it might raze some eyebrows.

Condi's are already well-manicured, so I wouldn't know where to start...
posted by peeedro at 12:11 PM on July 28, 2006


delmoi writes "Actually, Nancy Peloci has stated that the democrats Will Not Impeach the president if the democrats regain control of the house. Not that we would not impeach based on current evidence, that we simply will not no matter what. "

There are less than two years before the new Congress is sworn in and the next Presidential election. It's just not enough time. Unless someone catches Bush in bed with a dead woman... or a live boy, as the saying goes.
posted by clevershark at 12:24 PM on July 28, 2006


A Beltline "short" in one act:

Attorney General Gonzales's "actions" translated into plain English, announced over an old PA system: "Who are you to question the government? What do you think this is, a democracy?

Cut to the Senate floor. The dems nod in agreement.

Cut to an underground bunker. VP Cheney is just finishing a late lunch of sauteed fetuses and Iraqi body parts. He also is nodding in agreement.

Cut to the Oval Office. President Bush is nodding off to sleep.
posted by Il Furioso at 12:26 PM on July 28, 2006


Er, I didn't mean impeachment, I meant the use of a pardon to escape prosecution.
posted by rzklkng at 12:40 PM on July 28, 2006


rzklkng, that - probably sort of unfortunately - is Constitutional.
posted by zoogleplex at 1:09 PM on July 28, 2006


I'm saddened.
posted by FormlessOne at 1:43 PM on July 28, 2006


rzklkng, that - probably sort of unfortunately - is Constitutional.

out of idle curiosity, just what is the constitutional basis for executive pardons? anybody got some cites?
posted by saulgoodman at 1:45 PM on July 28, 2006


The President's pardon power is established under the United States Constitution, Article II, Section 2:

The President ... shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment.


BushCo belongs in jail, yesterday. I suppose our congress will keep them from it.
posted by taosbat at 1:59 PM on July 28, 2006


Saul, try some googling! :)

From this article:
The presidential power to pardon is granted under Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution.

"The President ... shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment."

No standards, and only one limitation -- no pardons for the impeached.
posted by zoogleplex at 1:59 PM on July 28, 2006


argh, taosbat! :)
posted by zoogleplex at 2:00 PM on July 28, 2006


;)
posted by taosbat at 2:48 PM on July 28, 2006


Saul, try some googling! :)

sorry about not doing for myself there--i'm just lazy today.

wow. didn't realize it was such a low standard. it figures hamilton approved.
posted by saulgoodman at 3:06 PM on July 28, 2006


Perhaps it's time to bring back the "head on a pike" statement of disapproval. It is a most convincing demonstration that corruption is not tolerated.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:45 PM on July 28, 2006


Bush will pardon everyone involved in everything before he leaves office, and that will be that. There won't be justice for any of the shit they've already done, nor for the shit they have yet to do in the 2+ years remaining.
posted by amberglow at 12:28 AM on July 29, 2006


And i bet they pass something locking down all their papertrails (and phone logs and emails, etc) forever--or just destroy them.
posted by amberglow at 12:30 AM on July 29, 2006


The pilot and Vietnam POW -- a staunch Republican -- who pushed through the War Crimes Act of 1996 is appalled that the Bush administration, facing possible prosecution for war crimes, is devising a legal escape hatch.
posted by homunculus at 11:49 PM on August 1, 2006


He's shocked - shocked, he tells us - and appalled to learn that members of the Bush Administration want to escape being tried for war crimes. They've always been such a stand-up, accountable, moral bunch of guys 'n gals.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 11:19 AM on August 2, 2006


US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said the US government could "indefinitely" hold foreign 'enemy combatants' at sites like the US naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
"We can detain any combatants for the duration of the hostilities," said Gonzales, speaking to the
Senate Armed Services Committee.
"If we choose to try them, that's great. If we don't choose to try them, we can continue to hold them," he said. ...The Washington Post, quoting anonymous Bush administration officials, reported Wednesday that the White House also hopes to allow the secretary of defense to add crimes at will to the military court's jurisdiction.
Senators did not question Gonzales directly about this, though the attorney general gave assurances that no US citizen would face these courts. ...

posted by amberglow at 12:00 PM on August 3, 2006


War Crimes Act Changes Would Reduce Threat Of Prosecution

By R. Jeffrey Smith
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, August 9, 2006; Page A01

...

The draft U.S. amendments to the War Crimes Act would narrow the scope of potential criminal prosecutions to 10 specific categories of illegal acts against detainees during a war, including torture, murder, rape and hostage-taking.

Left off the list would be what the Geneva Conventions refer to as "outrages upon [the] personal dignity" of a prisoner and deliberately humiliating acts -- such as the forced nakedness, use of dog leashes and wearing of women's underwear seen at the U.S.-run Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq -- that fall short of torture...
posted by taosbat at 8:15 AM on August 9, 2006


From the same article:

"People have gotten worried, thinking that it's quite likely they might be under a microscope," said a U.S. official.

Good. I hope they never sleep again.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 9:30 AM on August 9, 2006


i always thought you had to have a heart and soul to be worried about stuff.
posted by amberglow at 4:38 PM on August 9, 2006


No amberglow, the "worry" is that pathetic gnawing fear that all weasely evil people have of being exposed and punished, nothing more. They're not worried about anything but their own skins.
posted by zoogleplex at 5:25 PM on August 9, 2006


ah..that makes much more sense. : >
posted by amberglow at 5:47 PM on August 10, 2006


« Older Remember Infocom?...  |  787 pieces of clip art, in a l... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments