The Political/Legal Thread

Joined: August 1st, 2006, 4:26 am

August 14th, 2006, 5:24 am #1

WASHINGTON — President George W. Bush's administration drafted amendments to the War Crimes Act that would retroactively protect policymakers from criminal charges for authorizing any humiliating or degrading treatment of prisoners, lawyers who have seen the proposal said.

The move by the administration is the latest effort to deal with treatment of those taken into custody in the war on terror.

At issue are interrogations carried out by the CIA and the degree to which harsh tactics such as water-boarding were authorized by administration officials. A separate law, the Uniform Code of Military Justice, applies to the military.

The Washington Post newspaper first reported on the War Crimes Act amendments Wednesday

One section of the draft would outlaw torture and inhuman or cruel treatment but it does not contain prohibitions from Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions against “outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment.”

A copy of the section of the draft was obtained by The Associated Press.

Another section would apply the legislation retroactively, said two lawyers who have seen the contents of the section and who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The White House, without elaboration, said in a statement the bill “will apply to any conduct by any U.S. personnel, whether committed before or after the law is enacted.”

One of the two lawyers said the draft is in the revision stage but the administration seems intent on pushing forward the draft's major points in Congress after Labour Day.

“I think what this bill can do is in effect immunize past crimes. That's why it's so dangerous,” said a third lawyer, Eugene Fidell, president of the National Institute of Military Justice.

Mr. Fidell said the initiative is “not just protection of political appointees but also CIA personnel who led interrogations.”

Interrogation practices “follow from policies that were formed at the highest levels of the administration,” said a fourth lawyer, Scott Horton, who has followed detainee issues closely.

“The administration is trying to insulate policymakers under the War Crimes Act.”

A White House spokesman said Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions includes a number of “vague terms” that are susceptible to different interpretations.

The administration believes it is very important to bring clarity to the War Crimes Act so those on the frontlines in the war on terror “have clear rules that are defined in law,” said the White House spokesman.

Extreme interrogation practices have been a flash-point for criticism of the administration.

When interrogators engage in waterboarding, prisoners are strapped to a plank and dunked in water until nearly drowning.
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Darryl The Hitman
Darryl The Hitman

August 14th, 2006, 5:35 am #2

It sounds like the way they used to decide if someone was a witch or not at Salem's lot.

When in doubt, CYA, I guess.

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Joined: August 1st, 2006, 4:26 am

August 16th, 2006, 8:03 pm #3

BRITISH officials are furious with the US Administration for “jumping the gun” by declaring that al-Qaeda was behind the airline terror plot, The Times has learnt.
Although the capture yesterday of seven people in Pakistan is being seen as further evidence of an “Afghanistan al-Qaeda connection”, the UK remains deeply wary of crediting the terror network with the plan.



It is understood that Britain asked the US to avoid making any such assertion, but diplomats believe that the request was ignored by Michael Chertoff, the Homeland Security chief. There is suspicion that the speed with which the US linked al-Qaeda to the plot was motivated by political considerations because, before the November mid-term Congressional elections, Republicans are keen to stem voter anger against the Iraq war by focusing on national security.

One senior UK source said that with the fifth anniversary of the September 11 attacks approaching, “al-Qaeda is a term which is understood by swing voters”. He added: “We regard this as simplistic.”

On Thursday morning Mr Chertoff, the Homeland Security Secretary, used a press conference to point the finger of blame directly at al-Qaeda. Initially, he picked his words carefully, saying that the sophistication of the operation was “suggestive of alQaeda”, while acknowledging this was a “sensitive area for the British legal system”.

He later said that the plan was reminiscent of that “hatched by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed [the al-Qaeda mastermind behind 9/11] in the 1990s” to blow up aircraft travelling over the Pacific.

American television stations have been broadcasting a tape made by bin Laden this year in which he gave a warning that preparations were under way for another attack “in the heart of your land”.

The remarks in the US were in sharp contrast to statements by the Home Office and the Metropolitan Police.

“We don’t deal with hypothesis,” said a Met spokeswoman, “and we don’t discuss matters of intelligence — we never have and never will.”
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Darryl The Hitman
Darryl The Hitman

August 17th, 2006, 2:10 am #4

Bush simplistic? Nooo, of course not. Double J
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Dark Lord
Dark Lord

August 17th, 2006, 3:59 am #5

It was purely politically motivated.
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