Saturday, July 29, 2006

War Crimes Act of 1996 -- Oops We Didn't Mean Us

My name is Marcella Chester and I blog over at As part of the Torture Awareness Month in June I wrote a post called Top 5 Reasons Why Torture Is Un-American

At the time I didn't realize that not only was it un-American, it was illegal according to U.S. law. Apparently some administration officials didn't realize it either.

From the Washington Post

An obscure law approved by a Republican-controlled Congress a decade ago has made the Bush administration nervous that officials and troops involved in handling detainee matters might be accused of committing war crimes, and prosecuted at some point in U.S. courts.

Senior officials have responded by drafting legislation that would grant U.S. personnel involved in the terrorism fight new protections against prosecution for past violations of the War Crimes Act of 1996. That law criminalizes violations of the Geneva Conventions governing conduct in war and threatens the death penalty if U.S.-held detainees die in custody from abusive treatment. (emphasis mine)

If this law is changed to pardon Americans, including officials who ordered others to violate the Geneva Conventions, it will send a message loud and clear to other countries around the world. And it won't be a good message. It tells the world that what really changed after 9/11 is our ethics.

How long will it take for "Give us your poor and huddled masses, yearning to be free." to turn into:

Give us your poor and huddled masses, yearning to be free -- and we'll interrogate (torture) them to find out how they are planning to destroy our country.



Blogger El Mas Chingón said...

Good post...I was going to write about that. No worries, I'll be adding to it in 30 minutes.

7:05 AM  
Blogger The Heathlander said...

Well done marcella! The legal side of it is always what perplexes me most - damn lawyers, can't say anything straightforwardly. The moral side I'm clear on.

So cheers for the englightenment!

7:10 AM  
Blogger Marcella Chester said...

Robbie, I'll look forward to your take on the subject.

7:11 AM  
Blogger Dr. Strangelove said...

hmm..Marcella, there are a few traffic laws I'd like changed to help me out on some of my youthful indiscretions. Who do I talk to, the White House?

I like this idea of changing the law to fix the crime. It's's so...what's the word...hmm...Un-American.

7:13 AM  
Blogger The Heathlander said...

It's so goddamn stupid, that's what it is. It's like if we change the law to make burglary acceptable, so we can then all dance on the streets at the incredibly low crime rate.

It's cause and effect all mixed up - torture is illegal because it's wrong, it's not wrong because it's illegal, finding loopholes and issuing 'signing statements' ain't gonna change that.

7:21 AM  
Blogger bodda said...

good job marcella !!!

7:22 AM  
Blogger Ingrid said...

You know..with all that torture memo running around (which I am hoping to write about in a bit..) and lawyers in the gov't trying to make sure that it's toMAHtoes not toMAtoes..a tomato is still a tomato and they all have known that they were culpable, they just needed to find a way to do the US legal justice thing where it's all in the technicality that you can get away with murder..literally!

7:25 AM  
Blogger El Mas Chingón said...

I'm just about ready to post. Give me a couple of minutes.

7:29 AM  
Blogger The Heathlander said...

Ingrid: exactly.

Looking forward to it Robbie!

Cyberotter, is it your turn after robbie?

7:31 AM  
Blogger El Mas Chingón said...

My post is up.

7:33 AM  
Blogger Holly Desimone said...

Great article and arguments Marcella, good luck with blogging! Wonderful cause, I want to add I admire your personal convictions! All the best, your blogging friend Holly

9:44 AM  
Blogger thegris said...

I think that even if the bill passes, it's not constitutional. Only the President can pardon criminal activity, not the legislature.

10:49 AM  
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12:36 AM  

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