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Bush/Rumsfeld's flat-out assault on the Geneva Convention

illumin8 (148082) writes | more than 9 years ago

United States 1

Wow. That's all I can say after reading this very informative article in Newsweek today.

Wow. That's all I can say after reading this very informative article in Newsweek today.

It looks like Bush and Rumsfeld were both complicit in authorizing the use of torture and interrogation techniques that are in direct violation of the Geneva Convention. Their logic? That terrorists are illegal, unlawful combatants and therefore the Geneve Convention does not apply. It appears that these methods were originally authorized only for Guantanamo Bay and Al Qaeda suspects, but in November of 2003 Rumsfeld authorized their use on Iraqi detainees as well, after getting frustrated with the lack of intelligence about WMDs and the insurgency.

It also appears that Colin Powell, the State Department, and military lawyers or JAG officers were the lone voices of protest against this policy. Of course Bush and Rumsfeld acted unilaterally on this and completely ignored their protests.

My question for you is this: Wouldn't authorizing the torture of prisoners and ignoring the Geneva Convention subject Bush and Rumsfeld to impeachment and possibly even trial for war crimes? As commander-in-chief, isn't Bush personally responsible for the war crimes committed by soldiers underneath him, especially if he personally authorized these techniques? I don't understand why there aren't a million US citizens camped out on the white house lawn right now demanding Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld be hauled away in shackles by UN peacekeepers to stand trial at the Hague.

Of course our "commander-in-chief" would probably never allow UN peacekeepers to step foot on US soil without launching WWIII.

Our country is so fucked...

1 comment

On impeachment of Bush for war crimes... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#9181603)

Wouldn't authorizing the torture of prisoners and ignoring the Geneva Convention subject Bush and Rumsfeld to impeachment and possibly even trial for war crimes?

There are two fairly questionable premises contained in your question. Before even answering the question 'yes- impeach!' or 'no', they'd need to be addressed.

The first premise is that Bush and Rumsfeld actually did order actions in violation of the Geneva Conventions. There are non-trivial questions here that involve the following issues not exactly settled by that Newsweek piece, notably A) what precisely did Bush/Rumsfeld order?, and B) do the Geneva conventions cover the persons who were allegedly mistreated?

(The Bush administration has argued, since the first discussions I can remember in Sept/Oct of 2001, that the third Geneva convention covers treatment of prisoners of war, basically defined as persons wearing the uniform/insignia of an opposing military, something not done by Al Qaeda, the Taliban, or Baathist Iraqi insurgents. The fourth Geneva convention does cover civilians, but to qualify, such persons must be "taking no active part in the hostilities".)

The second premise is that an international legal standard (of "war crimes") would apply to questions of national political process ("impeachment"). Now I'd acknowledge that as a point of law, the offense justifying Presidential impeachment proceedings is fairly vague: "Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors". But traditionally it has involved breaking US law, in implied opposition to US interests. Breaking international law in defense of US interests (for example, "saving American soldiers' lives via improved intelligence gathering") is both legally and politically different enough that it would probably require a higher degree of 'offense' to pragmatically occur, much less justify a million people in the streets.

As commander-in-chief, isn't Bush personally responsible for the war crimes committed by soldiers underneath him, especially if he personally authorized these techniques?

I would not hold Bush (nor Clinton, etc. etc.) responsible for war crimes committed by subordinates unless he either ordered them (malice), knew of specific violations that happened on his watch but ignored them (complicity), or knew of generalities of what happened on his watch but did excercise a reasonable standard of care to prevent such actions (negligence). I would also consider a President potentially worthy of impeachment if he or she violated her oath to "faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States" and to "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States". The Newsweek article to me does not cross any of those four thresholds, and while it absolutely merits further investigation, and while I am not familiar with the actual legal requirements involved, I suspect any legal proceedings would run into trouble on the grounds I have articulated unless a stronger case against Bush appears.

A Slashdot friend posting as AC to avoid personalizing the debate...
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