Monday, September 11, 2006

The Truth About Torture: Part Six

This is the final installment of The Truth About Torture series. This video clip is a brief one that outlines President Bush’s request for Congress to clarify what constitutes torture. There are three main talking points in this video, so play the clip and we’ll review them one by one.

"First, I'm asking Congress to list the specific, recognizable offense that would be considered crimes under the War Crimes Act so our personnel could know clearly what is prohibited in the handling of terrorist enemies."

Think about this scenario. We are at war with either a foreign country or a terrorist group and they take American soldiers hostage. If Congress outlines what is considered torture, then our enemies could turn around and perform acts of torture not listed in their legislation and argue that we believe it’s acceptable. You don’t want that to happen, do you?

"Second, I'm asking that Congress make explicit that by following the standards of the Detainee Treatment Act that our personnel are fulfilling America's obligations under Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions."

He's asking for this because the Graham-Levin Amendment would deny Guantanamo Bay detainees the ability to bring legal action seeking relief from the use of torture or cruel and inhumane treatment. It implicitly authorizes the Department of Defense to consider evidence obtained through the use of torture or other inhumane treatment in assessing the status of detainees held in Guantanamo Bay. Finally, it redefines the United States to explicitly exclude Guantanamo Bay to ensure that constitutional protections do not extend to detainees held at the facility. The original intention of the McCain Detainee Treatment Act did not contain those provisions.

In other words, there’s no reason to have secret prisons throughout Europe anymore if we can have protections against war crimes right here in our own backyard.

"Third, I'm asking that Congress make it clear that captured terrorist cannot use the Geneva Conventions as a basis to sue our personnel in courts --in U.S. courts. The men and women who protect us should not have to fear lawsuits filed by terrorists because their doing their jobs."

Translation: Please modify the War Crimes Act of 1996 so our personnel all the way up the chain of command are not subjected to penalties, including life imprisonment or death.

As you can tell, President Bush’s speech was more than just a rallying cry to whip up the conservatives in time for the midterm elections. Wednesday’s speech was also a ploy designed to absolve the Bush administration from responsibility for its actions in the war on terror. Don’t let these war criminals put the lives of our troops in danger by letting them get a free pass.

What you can do about it:

  • Amnesty International USA has a letter-writing campaign underway. Click here to participate and feel free to incorporate any of the talking point I've used during the past five days.

  • Write your elected officials and tell them not to vote in favor of President Bush's military commissions

  • Tell a friend. The portion of the general public that does not go online to get their news needs to know all the facts about President Bush's military commissions before forming an opinion.

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Blogger The Heathlander said...

Cheers for doing this series, Robbie - very helpful and informative.

2:16 PM  
Blogger El Mas Chingón said...

You're welcome. Now I can get ready for the NHL and midterm elections.

2:14 AM  
Blogger Patrick and Meg said...

This is a great summary of an important topic. I just wanted to make sure you knew that a group called has a new action up on their web site making it easy for people to write to their senators before they vote on this:

Let's stand up against torture.

8:12 AM  

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