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Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Torture! Torture! Torture! 

From the Guardian:
The Bush administration routinely bypassed or overruled Pentagon experts on international law and the Geneva convention to construct a sweeping legal justification for harsh tactics in the war on terror, the Guardian has learnt.

In one instance, President George Bush's military order of November 13 2001, which denies prisoner-of-war status to captives from Afghanistan and allows their detention without charge or access to a lawyer at Guantánamo, was issued without any consultations with Pentagon lawyers, a former Pentagon official said.

The revelation follows reports in the US press this week of a Pentagon memo that argued that Mr Bush was not bound by laws against torture, and that interrogators who torture detainees at Guantánamo cannot be prosecuted.

The military order issued by Mr Bush in November 2001 was the first such directive since the second world war, and the administration's failure to seek the Pentagon's advice on what would emerge as the entire system of detention at Guantánamo surprised Pentagon officials.

"That came like a bolt from the blue," the official said. "Neither I nor anyone I knew had any insight, any advance knowledge, or any opportunity to comment on the president's military order."
From Randy Paul of Beautiful Horizons:
Q: Are treaties law?

A: Yes. Article VI, Clause 2 of the US Constitution reads as follows:

This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.
Q: Is the Convention Against Torture (CAT) a treaty?

A: Yes.

Q: Did the president sign it?

A: Yes, President Reagan signed it on April 11, 1988 and the senate ratified it on October 21, 1994 . . . .

Q: Aren't there exceptions when torture can be justified?

A: No, Article 2 Paragraph 2 states "No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture" . . . .

Q: So given his role as chief law enforcement officer and given the fact that the Convention Against Torture is the law of the land and given the fact that the Convention Against Torture provides for ""No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture," why would the president's legal advisers say "The president, despite domestic and international laws constraining the use of torture, has the authority as commander in chief to approve almost any physical or psychological actions during interrogation, up to and including torture?"

A: I cannot possibly explain why.
From the New York Times:
The commander of American forces in the Middle East asked Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld this week to replace the general investigating suspected abuses by military intelligence soldiers at Abu Ghraib prison with a more senior officer, a step that would allow the inquiry to reach into the military's highest ranks in Iraq, Pentagon officials said Wednesday.

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