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Tuesday, July 11, 2006 

Guantanamo Prisoners: US bound by the Geneva Conventions

Well, it's always special when the run amok President of the world's "sole remaining superpower" discovers that he is still bound by the Geneva Conventions. It's also special when George Bush is also forced to update his military policies so that they "more clearly rule out torture".

"Geneva protections applied to Gitmo detainees

The Pentagon acknowledged for the first time on Tuesday that all detainees held by the U.S. military, including those at Guantanamo Bay, are entitled to protections under the Geneva Conventions.

The White House announced the policy shift on Tuesday, almost two weeks after a U.S. Supreme Court decision struck down the military tribunal system set up by U.S. President George Bush because it did not obey international law."


"The instruction manuals used by the Department of Defense already meet the terms of the humane-treatment provisions of the Conventions' Article 3, Snow said.

They are currently being updated to reflect legislation to more clearly rule out torture."

Read the whole article here

Dear money bags...

I thought the U.S. and its President were supposed to be defending freedom and liberty. I thought that some of the fundamental tenets of conduct were to be held to a higher standard? To conduct oneself at a higher standard...

"Our unity, our union, is the serious work of leaders and citizens in every generation; and this is my solemn pledge, "I will work to build a single nation of justice and opportunity." I know this is in our reach because we are guided by a power larger than ourselves who creates us equal in His image and we are confident in principles that unite and lead us onward.

America has never been united by blood or birth or soil. We are bound by ideals that move us beyond our backgrounds, lift us above our interests and teach us what it means to be citizens. Every child must be taught these principles. Every citizen must uphold them; and every immigrant, by embracing these ideals, makes our country more, not less, American.

Today, we affirm a new commitment to live out our nation's promise through civility, courage, compassion and character. America, at its best, matches a commitment to principle with a concern for civility. A civil society demands from each of us good will and respect, fair dealing and forgiveness. Some seem to believe that our politics can afford to be petty because, in a time of peace, the stakes of our debates appear small. But the stakes for America are never small. If our country does not lead the cause of freedom, it will not be led. If we do not turn the hearts of children toward knowledge and character, we will lose their gifts and undermine their idealism. If we permit our economy to drift and decline, the vulnerable will suffer most. We must live up to the calling we share. Civility is not a tactic or a sentiment. It is the determined choice of trust over cynicism, of community over chaos."

"The enemies of liberty and our country should make no mistake, America remains engaged in the world by history and by choice, shaping a balance of power that favors freedom. We will defend our allies and our interests; we will show purpose without arrogance; we will meet aggression and bad faith with resolve and strength; and to all nations, we will speak for the values that gave our nation birth."

- Inaugural Address of George W. Bush; January 20, 2001

Dear money bags...

"until George W. Bush declared his war against evil wherever he finds it, the United States of America was not known for holding people captive without giving them access to the protections of the ordinary legal system (for criminal suspects) or to the looser yet at least standardized structures of the military legal system (for American soldiers accused of misconduct or for prisoners of war). Not since the internment of American citizens of Japanese ancestry during World War II have there been "detainees", people who are held captive by the United States government just because it feels like it."

Having flown the Afghan captives all the way from Afghanistan, why didn't the Bush administration shell out the few extra bucks to fly them a few more miles to the United States? It wasn't laziness, but a premeditated scheme on the part of George W. Bush and his generals to avoid having to follow the laws of the United States of America. I'm not making this up. Go ahead and ask a representitive of the Bush administration and they'll tell you as much. The Afghan captives are being imprisoned at an offshore military base in order to prevent anyone from forcing the Bush administration to follow domestic civil rights laws or international human rights laws like the Geneva Convention.

Now, the Bush administration, which a few months ago told us it was fighting a war for freedom against fear, is telling the rest of the world to shove off and mind its own beeswax. George W. Bush has pronounced that the United States doesn't have to follow the Geneva Convention if it doesn't want to. Furthermore, he has told the American people that he has the right to suspend certain articles of the United States Constitution and its amendments if they get in the way of his crusade against evil. Again, it sounds incredible, but I'm not making this up. Go check out the online archives of the New York Times if you don't believe me.

We're told by President Bush and his representatives that the "detainees" (they refuse to call them "prisoners of war") don't deserve the human rights that are provided to them by the Geneva Convention or by the United States Constitution (that's right, the Constitution of the United States of Americans does not just apply to Americans, but states that "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," (Article V, section 3)). The United States has signed the Geneva Convention, so it is now the law of the land. Now, President Bush may try to get around this constitutional obstacle by saying that the capitves in Cuba are not in any "state", but the fact is that American judges have jurisdiction over the military base at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. Therefore, the Constitution applies there just as much as it does in New Jersey.

The Bush administration says that it has the power to ignore such issues, but the fact is that no one, not even the President, has the power to over-ride the Constitution. Only Congress can change the Constitution by official amendment, and so far Congress has made no amendment to allow the Bush administration to hold people captive on U.S. territory without charging them with crimes. The Bush administration says that it is taking as much time to figure out what it wants to do with its captives. That sounds deliberate, but the fact is that it is illegal in the United States for the goverment to just hold people captive, keeping them outside of the legal system, until it decides what it wants to do with them. That's what tyrannies do. Arbitrary and complete imprisonment is not something that civilized republics are supposed to allow their governments to do."

"The Bush administration says that it has the authority to hold these captives without treating them according to internationally-recognized human rights laws such as the Geneva Convention because the captives are not prisoners of war, but "criminals" that threaten the safety of the United States. The problem with that argument is that no one knows for sure that the captives are indeed criminals. In order to have the legal status of a criminal, one has to be convicted of a crime. The United States military is punishing its captives before their conviction by taking depriving them of their human rights and treating them in a manner not allowed by international law, on the basis of nothing but its own claim that these people have committed crimes! In this Catch-22, a captive is not allowed the right to self-defense because he is a criminal and does not deserve such rights. By this logic, the United States government has the authority to declare any person to be a criminal, undeserving of legal representation or human rights! Let's not forget that one of the great pillars of American freedom is the presumption that a person is innocent until that person is proven guilty. It appears that George W. Bush and his followers just don't care about such formalities."

Dear money bags...

1) On the 2 days thing: I have a life (even if you do not), and do not spend all day every day blogging or checking out this site.

2) I think that the juxtiposition of W's words with an intelligent critique is answer enough. I hardly think it is efficient to write my own rebuttal when someone else already has written one.

Aren't you one of those "effiency" guys?

3) I am not comparing the Guantanamo prisoners to Mr. Armstrong - you are.

If you or W can prove to me that the people in those cells are the ones who did what they did to Mr. Armstrong, then they deserve an appropriate legal punishment.

The problem is, we have to take W and his cronies word for it. I trust no authority figure that has no oversight.

The whole point of due process is to ensure that there is no possibility of malfeasance.

money bags: would you let a Liberal (as in federal liberal) near government money without an auditor around? I doubt it. Would you let a Devine Tory do anything without an auditor? I doubt it.

Judges and due process are the auditors and comptrollers of the justice system.

W and anybody else must have due process.



Do not attribute motives to me like: "you probably figure he deserved it".


"There really is no atrocity against humanity that you are not ready to ignore, deflect or minimize"

That crosses a line. Don't cross it.

“Many conservatives, however, are simply entertained by reading conservative authors or hearing conservative talk show hosts rand about liberals. The exaggerated hostility also apparently satisfies a psychological need for antagonism toward the “out group,” reinforces the self-esteem of the conservative base and increases solidarity within the ranks.”
“Not surprisingly, the very conservatives who love to hurl invective against the ranks of their enemies prove to have the thinnest of skins when the same is done to them. Many of the examples are familiar: Ann Coulter, who can trash perceived liberals on national television but has been known to walk offstage when booed, or to start crying when she thinks she is being treated unfairly.”

- John W. Dean from his book “Conservatives Without Conscience”

(John W. Dean was White House legal counsel for President Richard Nixon for three years)

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