Obama Should Protest Bush Arrest Threat

February 7th, 2011 at 5:01 pm David Frum | 181 Comments |

| Print

CNN International is reporting that George Bush canceled a trip to Switzerland after – and possibly because – a so-called human rights group filed with a Swiss court a request for the ex-president’s arrest.

Here’s the Guardian’s version of the story:

Human rights groups have vowed to track George W Bush round the world after their success in forcing him to cancel a trip to Switzerland amid concerns over protests and a threatened arrest warrant. …

Since the arrest of the late Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet in London in 1998 over alleged murders, senior politicians linked to war, internal conflict and oppression have had to be more careful in their travel plans.

The Centre for Constitutional Rights, backed by other human rights organizations, has published a 2,500-word “indictment for torture” against Bush. It was to have been filed with a Swiss court today, but that plan had to be dropped when Bush cancelled a visit to Geneva on Saturday to deliver a speech. Under the original plan, a criminal complaint would have been brought on behalf of two former Guantánamo prisoners who claim they were tortured.

It’s hard to know how much of this story is true, and how much is fundraising bluster. But if even a small portion of the news is true, President Obama has a duty to speak up and to warn foreign governments that further indulgence of this kind of nonsense by their court systems will be viewed as an unfriendly act by the United States. It is one more reminder of why the concept of an International Criminal Court is such an invitation to mischief.

And for those inclined to enjoy the mischief: Just wait until somebody serves an arrest warrant in Luxembourg on ex-President Obama for ordering all those drone strikes on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.


Recent Posts by David Frum



181 Comments so far ↓

  • talkradiosucks.com

    Reasoning isn’t simple. Some of the people who try to do it are.

    Demanding that our officials follow our laws is not “3rd world propaganda”. The more you say stuff like that, the more you illustrate that you are either incapable of understanding the issues here, or uninterested in being honest.

  • armstp

    This is an interesting read. This is what was actually done and said by the CCR. These people are serious and I think Bush and other Bush Adminstration officials should and likely are taking these groups seriously. This gives a little more detail to the discussion. Highlights are mine.

    CCR Announces Bush Indictment for Convention Against Torture Signatory States

    February 7, 2011, Geneva and New York – Today, two torture victims were to have filed criminal complaints, with more than 2,500-pages of supporting material, in Geneva against former U.S. President George W. Bush, who was due to speak at an event there on 12 February. Swiss law requires the presence of the torturer on Swiss soil before a preliminary investigation can be opened. When Bush cancelled his trip to avoid prosecution, the human rights groups who prepared the complaints made it public and announced that the Bush Torture Indictment would be waiting wherever he travels next. The Indictment serves as the basis on which to prepare country-specific, plaintiff-specific indictments, with additional evidence and updated information. According to international law experts at the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and the Berlin-based European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), former presidents do not enjoy special immunity under the Convention Against Torture (CAT).

    Waterboarding is torture, and Bush has admitted, without any sign of remorse, that he approved its use,” said Katherine Gallagher, Senior Staff Attorney at CCR and Vice President of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH). “The reach of the Convention Against Torture is wide – this case is prepared and will be waiting for him wherever he travels next. Torturers – even if they are former presidents of the United States – must be held to account and prosecuted. Impunity for Bush must end.”

    While the U.S. has thus far failed to comply with its obligations under the Convention Against Torture to prosecute and punish those who commit torture, all other signatories, too, are obligated to prosecute or extradite for prosecution anyone present in their territory they have a reasonable basis for believing has committed torture. If the evidence warrants, as the Bush Torture Indictment contends it does, and the U.S. fails to request the extradition of Bush and others to face charges of torture there, CAT signatories must, under law, prosecute them for torture.

    In a statement this weekend, the groups who organized the complaints said, “Whatever Bush or his hosts say, we have no doubt he cancelled his trip to avoid our case. The message from civil society is clear – If you’re a torturer, be careful in your travel plans.

    The complaints that had been scheduled to be filed on Monday asked that the General Prosecutor of the Canton of Geneva investigate allegations that men were tortured as part of the Bush administration’s well-documented torture program. Bush proudly recounted in his recently published memoir that when asked in 2002 to if it was permissible to waterboard a detainee – a recognized act of torture – he replied “damn right.”

    Monday, February 7, is the ninth anniversary of the day Bush decided the Geneva Conventions did not apply to ‘enemy combatants.’

    According to the Bush Indictment, which was written on behalf of torture victims by CCR and ECCHR, former President Bush bears individual and command responsibility for the acts of his subordinates which he ordered, authorized, condoned or otherwise aided and abetted, as well as for the violations committed by his subordinates which he failed to prevent or punish.

    Bush is a torturer and deserves to be remembered as such,” said Gavin Sullivan, Solicitor and Counterterrorism Program Manager, ECCHR. “He bears ultimate responsibility for authorizing the torture of thousands of individuals at places like Guantánamo and secret CIA ‘black sites’ around the world. As all states are obliged to prosecute such torturers, Bush has good reason to be very worried.”

    CCR, ECCHR and FIDH were joined by more than 60 human rights organizations and prominent individuals who signed on to support the call for George W. Bush’s prosecution, including former UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Theo van Boven, former UN Special Rapporteur on Independence of Judges and Lawyers, Leandro Despouy, and Nobel Peace Prize recipients Shirin Ebadi and Pérez Esquivel. A number of the human rights organizations which signed on are facing the on-going harms of the “counterterrorism” policies advanced under the Bush administration and then adopted or employed in their own countries.. The complaint included 2500 pages of supporting materials.

    Manfred Nowak, former UN Special Rapporteur on Torture (2004-2010), was to submit an expert opinion on the complaints concluding that the conduct to which both plaintiffs were subjected constitutes torture, that Switzerland had an obligation to open a preliminary investigation, and that George W. Bush enjoys no immunity.

    The Center for Constitutional Rights, in addition to filing the first cases representing men detained at Guantánamo, has filed universal jurisdiction cases seeking accountability for torture by Bush administration officials in Germany, France and submitted expert opinions and other documentation to ongoing cases in Spain in collaboration with ECCHR. The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.

    The European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) is an independent, non-profit legal organization that enforces human rights by holding state and non-state actors to account for egregious abuses through innovative strategic litigation.

    The International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH) is a non-governmental federation for 164 human rights organizations. FIDH’s core mandate is to promote respect for all the rights set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Its priority areas include protecting human rights defenders and fighting impunity.

    The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.

    http://ccrjustice.org/newsroom/press-releases/human-rights-groups-announce-bush-indictment-convention-against-torture-sign

    • Carney

      Blah blah blah.

      The proof that the motives here are anti-Americanism rather than a real concern about so-called “torture” is the deafening silence about the many regimes and their leaders around the world who really commit it.

  • COProgressive

    shediac wrote;
    “President Reagan signed a treaty banning torture. Bush and Cheney admit to torture….so…”

    You’re absolutely correct. Those who push the envelop of just how far they can go may have just found a limit. What happen 2001- 2009 was an abomination to most Americans.

    The United States participated actively and effectively in the negotiation of the Convention . It marks a significant step in the development during this century of international measures against torture and other inhuman treatment or punishment. Ratification of the Convention by the United States will clearly express United States opposition to torture, an abhorrent practice unfortunately still prevalent in the world today.” – Ronald Reagan

    Unless Mr. Bush and Cheney want to test the effectiveness of the Convention, I would suggest they enjoy the rest of their lives in the United States of America.

    “The coward wretch whose hand and heart
    Can bear to torture aught below,
    Is ever first to quail and start
    From the slightest pain or equal foe.” – Bertram Russell

    • abj

      I don’t think the Convention against Torture is the “cleanest” way to make a case against them under international law, because the U.S. made its ratification of the convention contingent upon numerous reservations (which is actually pretty common in international law – and the portions of the international treaty the reservations address generally don’t apply). Offhand I’m not sure what reservations the U.S. made when ratifying the treaty, but anything allowing for jurisdiction outside the U.S. would’ve been off the table.

      The easiest way to make the case is to allege a violation of Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions. http://www.icrc.org/ihl.nsf/WebART/375-590006

      Of particular relevance are “(a) violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture” and “(c) outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment.” That phrase is key because “inhuman and degrading” encompasses numerous acts that aren’t torture per se.

  • Emanuelle

    Before suggesting the WH should throw its weight around you should check what the facts really are. Obama won’t protest arrest threats because … there aren’t any.

    From your link:
    “Bush had been due to deliver a speech at a dinner in Geneva organised by the United Israel Appeal, a US-based organisation that helps Jews move to Israel. Robert Equey, the organisation’s lawyer, was quoted by the Swiss daily Tribune de Genève at the weekend saying that the decision to abandon the speech was because of concern that the protests might lead to violence, not fear of an arrest warrant.”

    A Swiss friend confirmed to me that this whole arrest threat business seems completely baloney. Protests were indeed planned and these plans were largely reported. But there is no lawsuit pending in front of any Swiss court neither has any action group made public an intention to file such a suit.

    • armstp

      Emmanuelle,

      “But there is no lawsuit pending in front of any Swiss court neither has any action group made public an intention to file such a suit.”

      What are you talking about? If you look at my post above, there was a 2,500 page criminal complaint that was going to be filed in Swiss court on Monday by some pretty serious groups, that represented between 100 and 150 human rights groups. I given you the press release put out by the groups, so there very much was many as you say action groups who very much made public their intention to file a criminal complaint on behalf of two victims.

      There have already been criminal complaints filed against Bush twice in Germany, one in Italy, one in Spain and with the larger International War Crimes Tribunal.

      I think it is safe to say that at this time George Bush and other Bush Adminstration officials will no longer be doing any international travel.

      • balconesfault

        I think armstp is correct here, to a certain extent.

        Bush and Cheney might be doing international travel – but it will be to places where the existing law would not allow a group like CCR to bring suit. Spain bad, China good.

        Even had Bush flown to Switzerland, I do agree however with an earlier poster that he (or Cheney, or any other figure under Secret Service Protection) would not be arrested. More likely, the country in question would inform him ahead of time that there was a suit filed that would require them to take him into custody upon arrival. At which point the Secret Service informs Bush that they’re not going to engage in a stand-off with government police in the country they’d be visiting, and Bush cancels the trip.

        If a country tried to “ambush” Bush with arrest without having informed the US about the warrant in advance, I do expect that the Secret Service would act to prevent the arrest. In which case it would get ugly in a hurry.

        Nope. Stick to China. Or Saudi Arabia. Or any number of non-democratic states which will be happy to have Bush as a visitor. Or America, where Bush having proudly declared that he’s a torturer carries no legal repercussions.

  • jakester

    Well, actual threats or not, it would look downright weak and partisan if Obama didn’t stand up for Bush. Are we going to have presidents set up rivals to have them arrested or killed in the future. Bush is one of us and agree with him or not, I am not going to let some spineless Swiss activists stick their noses into something that not only is not their business, but considering their country’s historical supine attitude of neutrality, more than ironic

    • Emanuelle

      I repeat, there are no lawsuits and therefore no reason for the WH to budge.

      As for protest, are you suggesting the Swiss should trample on the freedom of expression rights of their citizens to please Uncle Sam? Their country is neutral, the citizenry never was.

  • SpartacusIsNotDead

    abj: “Nonetheless I was a bit careless with the language I used in my original post – instead of “signed off on” I should have written “acquiesced to.”

    Neither Pelosi nor any other member of Congress had the power to acquiesce or withhold acquiescence. The briefing is for informational purposes. The Administration was not seeking consent or acquiescence; it was fulfilling its duty to inform.

    • abj

      SpartacusIsNotDead,

      Congress has the power of oversight and the power to restrict appropriations to the agency as it sees fit. Congress wasn’t an innocent bystander, and once the agency informed the Intelligence Committee the administration had approved “enhanced interrogation techniques,” it should have held extensive hearings, or, at the very least, individual members should have made their objections clear to the agency. Neither happened; therefore, Congress is complicit in the Bush administration’s use of “enhanced interrogation techniques.”

  • balconesfault

    nwahs I remember a bounty placed on all Americans by Saddam Hussein. This was before 9-11. $10,000 to the family of any who killed Americans – any Americans. Do you recall that?

    No – I don’t. And I’ll bet that nobody who hasn’t spent the last decade or so force fed a mile high stack of lies by Fox News, Limbaugh, Coulter, et al “remembers” it either.

    If you remember that, you’re far too delusional to have meaningful conversations with.

    • nwahs

      Google is your friend. But I know its much more fun swinging on the trapeze in your mind.

      • balconesfault

        If Google was your friend, you could provide a link from a reputable news source that would back up your claim.

        I’m guessing that Google is mocking you for trying.

        • nwahs

          loop de loop “Boooosh Boooosh!” loop de loop

        • balconesfault

          You realize you just illustrated my thesis:

          “you’re far too delusional to have meaningful conversations with.”

    • dugbru

      I think perhaps the reference was to the reward Saddam paid to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers ( a fact overlooked by the lefties who claimed Saddam had no connection to terrorism).

      Having said that is is interesting to see that the left has not given up on it’s hate for GW Bush. 10 years on from his election in 2010 we still here the whinning and wailing from the left.

      The solution to the problem Bush or any ex President might have while travelling abroad is to issue each one with a diplomatic passport. I wonder if Obama would do that?

  • midcon

    While I understand various conventions and treaties can legally encumber American citizens based on their actions. I continue to be troubled that acts committed in one country by an individual from a second country, could be prosecuted by a third country.

    Shouldn’t the act be prosecuted by the either country where the act was committed or by the country of the citizen who committed the act? What standing would a third country have to affect such a prosecution?

    I recognize that the US may have obligations to the World Court (Hague) but from what I can tell this a wholly separate “threat” of action in a country that had no direct interest concerning the alleged act.

    I also wonder, just for argument sakes, if the acts were legal in the U.S. or Iraq, but illegal in a third country, is the third country able to prosecute the act if the actor happens to be in the country? Would the U.S. be required to defend the individual and demand their release because they committed no crime in the U.S. or Iraq?

    I would look this up but I doubt this is a large body of case law to delve into.

  • talkradiosucks.com

    I don’t have a problem with people saying Bush should not be hauled in front of a foreign court.

    I DO have a problem with these same people ALSO saying he should not be hauled in front of one of OURS.

  • jcm433

    I’m not sure what Obama could do about this that wouldn’t make the situation worse or lead to embarrassment of himself and the country on the international stage. The very moral leadership of the United States – which was squandered so frivolously and irreversibly by Bush himself in his decision to invade Iraq – means that unfortunately we are no longer in a position to expect the benefit of the doubt in the court of world opinion.

  • urban

    It remains to be seen why Mr. Frum thinks only American leaders are not beholden to the rule of law. Mr. Bush is a war criminal. So is Mr. Obama. If you think that because we are the most powerful nation on earth, with the largest army, that we don’t need to follow the laws we expect everyone else to, then just say it. That seems to be your only reasoning.

    The fact is, America has slowly de-legitimized itself over the last few decades. We no longer can claim to be any moral or ethical authority. We break laws when it suits us

  • John

    @midcon – one of the reasons for signing an international treaty against torture is to facilitate prosecution of alleged violations. the ‘third country’s’ standing, so to speak, is as a signatory. without weighing in on mr. bush’s culpability or the appropriateness of the charges in general, i support the idea of a third country’s standing to bring legitimate charges under such a treaty. you wouldn’t need a treaty at all if there were a requirement that the act ‘be prosecuted by either the country where the act was committed or by the country of the citizen who committed the act.’

  • kindness

    Dude….bush43 ordered the rendition and the torture of innocents during his reign.

    He should spend the rest of his days in jail. Making excuses for a king who breaks the law means the law means squat. You can choose which universe you’d rather live in but you can’t have both.

  • Moe Lane » #rsrh QotD, …”DAVID FRUM?” edition.

    [...] David Frum. On the recent obnoxiousness where a Switzerland trip by former President Bush got canceled due to [...]

  • tommybones

    Seems there’s no shortage of opinions as to what constitutes torture around here, but seeing as the layman’s opinion of general citizen’s isn’t relevant to legal matters of this magnitude, I thought it would be helpful to provide a refresher course on the legal parameters of torture.

    The United States Constitution:
    Due process is guaranteed by the 5th Amendment (1791).
    “[C]ruel and unusual punishment” is outlawed in the 8th Amendment (1791).

    Torture is prohibited by federal law in Title 18 of the United States Code, Part I, Chapter 113C, § 2340A. Torture:
    (a) Offense.— Whoever outside the United States commits or attempts to commit torture shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both, and if death results to any person from conduct prohibited by this subsection, shall be punished by death or imprisoned for any term of years or for life. (b) Jurisdiction.— There is jurisdiction over the activity prohibited in subsection (a) if—
    (1) the alleged offender is a national of the United States; or
    (2) the alleged offender is present in the United States, irrespective of the nationality of the victim or alleged offender.
    Torture is defined in Title 18, Part I, Chapter 113C, § 2340. Definitions:
    “torture” means an act committed by a person acting under the color of law specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering (other than pain or suffering incidental to lawful sanctions) upon another person within his custody or physical control….
    A war crime is defined in Title 18, Part I, Chapter 118, § 2441. War crimes (c):
    (c) Definition.— As used in this section the term “war crime” means any conduct—
    (1) defined as a grave breach in any of the international conventions signed at Geneva 12 August 1949, or any protocol to such convention to which the United States is a party;
    (2) prohibited by Article 23, 25, 27, or 28 of the Annex to the Hague Convention IV, Respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land, signed 18 October 1907;
    (3) which constitutes a grave breach of common Article 3 (as defined in subsection (d)) when committed in the context of and in association with an armed conflict not of an international character; or
    (4) of a person who, in relation to an armed conflict and contrary to the provisions of the Protocol on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Mines, Booby-Traps and Other Devices as amended at Geneva on 3 May 1996 (Protocol II as amended on 3 May 1996), when the United States is a party to such Protocol, willfully kills or causes serious injury to civilians.

    (d) Common Article 3 Violations.—
    (1) Prohibited conduct.— In subsection (c)(3), the term “grave breach of common Article 3” means any conduct (such conduct constituting a grave breach of common Article 3 of the international conventions done at Geneva August 12, 1949), as follows:
    (A) Torture.— The act of a person who commits, or conspires or attempts to commit, an act specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering (other than pain or suffering incidental to lawful sanctions) upon another person within his custody or physical control for the purpose of obtaining information or a confession, punishment, intimidation, coercion, or any reason based on discrimination of any kind.
    (B) Cruel or inhuman treatment.— The act of a person who commits, or conspires or attempts to commit, an act intended to inflict severe or serious physical or mental pain or suffering (other than pain or suffering incidental to lawful sanctions), including serious physical abuse, upon another within his custody or control…
    (D) Murder.— The act of a person who intentionally kills, or conspires or attempts to kill, or kills whether intentionally or unintentionally in the course of committing any other offense under this subsection, one or more persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including those placed out of combat by sickness, wounds, detention, or any other cause…
    (G) Rape.— The act of a person who forcibly or with coercion or threat of force wrongfully invades, or conspires or attempts to invade, the body of a person by penetrating, however slightly, the anal or genital opening of the victim with any part of the body of the accused, or with any foreign object.
    (H) Sexual assault or abuse.— The act of a person who forcibly or with coercion or threat of force engages, or conspires or attempts to engage, in sexual contact with one or more persons, or causes, or conspires or attempts to cause, one or more persons to engage in sexual contact….
    Among other instruments and treaties of international law, the United States is party to:
    The Universal Declaration of Human Rights,
    The Geneva Conventions,
    The American Convention on Human Rights (signatory only),
    The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and
    The UN Convention Against Torture.
    One of the major pieces of international law, the The UN Convention Against Torture(1984/entered into force 1987) was signed by Ronald Reagan in April 1988 and ratified by the United States in October 1994. Ratification indicates a legally binding commitment by signatories to follow and uphold the content and spirit of the international law. Drawing out some relevant articles, the Convention states:
    Article 1.1:
    For the purposes of this Convention, the term ‘torture’ means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions…

    Articles 2.1, 2.2, 2.3:
    1. Each State Party shall take effective legislative, administrative, judicial or other measures to prevent acts of torture in any territory under its jurisdiction.
    2. No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political in stability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.
    3. An order from a superior officer or a public authority may not be invoked as a justification of torture…

    Articles 4.1 and 4.2:
    1. Each State Party shall ensure that all acts of torture are offences under its criminal law. The same shall apply to an attempt to commit torture and to an act by any person which constitutes complicity or participation in torture.
    2. Each State Party shall make these offences punishable by appropriate penalties which take into account their grave nature…

    Article 5.1:
    1. Each State Party shall take such measures as may be necessary to establish its jurisdiction over the offences referred to in article 4 in the following cases:
    (a) When the offences are committed in any territory under its jurisdiction or on board a ship or aircraft registered in that State;
    (b) When the alleged offender is a national of that State;
    (c) When the victim is a national of that State if that State considers it appropriate…

    Article 12:
    Each State Party shall ensure that its competent authorities proceed to a prompt and impartial investigation, wherever there is reasonable ground to believe that an act of torture has been committed in any territory under its jurisdiction.
    More international law on human rights can be found here, much of which has been promoted by the United States and to which the U.S. is party.

    The United States Declaration of Independence (1776) states that,
    “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness…” [my italics].
    This sentence, written by Thomas Jefferson, is a direct response to the absolutist notion of a Divine Right of Kings, of an executive power beholden to no authority, no law, and no people. The Declaration of Independence and the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen are considered the two founding political documents of human rights.

    U.S. Constitution, Article VI:
    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, anything in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding.
    What does this mean? Simply put, any international agreements signed by the U.S. government are to be considered the “Law of the Land,” governing the conduct of United States personnel. The moment we became a signatory to the Geneva Conventions and the Convention Against Torture, for example, those rules immediately became binding United States law, no different than any other laws put forth by acts of Congress.

    CONVENTION AGAINST TORTURE and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (signed by the U.S. under Ronald Reagan):
    Article 2
    1. Each State Party shall take effective legislative, administrative, judicial or other measures to prevent acts of torture in any territory under its jurisdiction.
    2. No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat or war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.
    3. An order from a superior officer or a public authority may not be invoked as a justification of torture. . .
    Article 4
    1. Each State Party shall ensure that all acts of torture are offences under its criminal law. The same shall apply to an attempt to commit torture and to an act by any person which constitutes complicity or participation in torture.
    Article 7
    1. The State Party in territory under whose jurisdiction a person alleged to have committed any offence referred to in article 4 is found, shall in the cases contemplated in article 5, if it does not extradite him, submit the case to its competent authorities for the purpose of prosecution.
    This convention was signed by Ronald Reagan, thus becoming U.S. Law.

    Ronald Reagan, 5/20/1988, transmitting Treaty to the U.S. Senate:
    “The United States participated actively and effectively in the negotiation of the Convention. It marks a significant step in the development during this century of international measures against torture and other inhuman treatment or punishment. Ratification of the Convention by the United States will clearly express United States opposition to torture, an abhorrent practice unfortunately still prevalent in the world today.”

    What does this mean? It simply means that United States citizens, whether military or civilian MUST abide by the Convention in their treatment of prisoners. Violations of the provisions within this Convention constitute violations of U.S. Law, and MUST be prosecuted to the fullest extent of said law.

    Principles of International Law Recognized in the Charter of the Nuremberg Tribunal and in the Judgment of the Nuremberg Tribunal. Adopted by the International Law Commission of the United Nations, 1950:
    Principle I
    Any person who commits an act which constitutes a crime under international law is responsible therefor and liable to punishment.
    Principle II
    The fact that internal law does not impose a penalty for an act which constitutes a crime under international law does not relieve the person who committed the act from responsibility under international law.
    Principle III
    The fact that a person who committed an act which constitutes a crime under international law acted as Head of State or responsible Government official does not relieve him from responsibility under international law.
    Principle IV
    The fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him.
    Charter of the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg, 1945:
    Section II, Article 8: “The fact that the Defendant acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior shall not free him from responsibility, but may be considered in mitigation of punishment if the Tribunal determines that justice so requires.”
    Robert Jackson, U.S. Attorney General and Chief Prosecutor at Nuremberg, Closing Address:
    One of the chief reasons the defendants say there was no conspiracy is the argument that conspiracy was impossible with a dictator. The argument runs that they all had to obey Hitler’s orders, which had the force of law in the German State, and hence obedience could not be made the basis of an original charge.In this way it is explained that while there have been wholesale killings, there have been no murderers.
    This argument is an effort to evade Article 8 of the Charter, which provides that the order of the Government or of a superior shall not free a defendant from responsibility but can only be considered in mitigation.
    What does this mean? Simply put, it asserts that lawbreakers cannot put forth a defense based on the concept that they were “following the orders of their superiors.” The fact that a lawbreaker was following orders does not excuse the lawbreaking, but can be only considered in the mitigation of punishment for the offenses. Additionally, and just as importantly, a defense cannot be put forth based on a State Law, if that law violates the international agreements. Hitler’s orders were considered “State Law,” in Germany, but those laws violated Germany’s international obligations and were therefore unlawful in their own right. This prevents a State from providing cover for its own lawbreaking.

    RECENT RELEVANT SUPREME COURT CASES:

    Boumediene v. Bush (2007): Invalidating Section 7 of the Military Commissions Act as unconstitutional because it purported to abolish the writ of habeas corpus and because the kangaroo Guantanamo process approved by Congress was an inadequate substitute.
    Hamdan v. Rumsfeld (2006): Declaring Guantanamo military tribunals to be both unconstitutional and illegal because the President lacked the authority to order them and because they violated the Geneva Conventions’ Common Article 3, the protections of which apply to all detainees.
    Special thanks to the indispensable defender of the Constitution, Glenn Greenwald, for compiling much of this information.

    ON WATERBOARDING

    I have also noticed their seems to be some confusion as to the legality of the interrogation technique known as “waterboarding.”

    The Honorable Evan Wallach, a judge on the U.S. Court of International Trade and a former JAG officer has an outstanding commentary on this practice:

    First, Judge Wallach clarifies the nature of what is called waterboarding:
    That term is used to describe several interrogation techniques. The victim may be immersed in water, have water forced into the nose and mouth, or have water poured onto material placed over the face so that the liquid is inhaled or swallowed. The media usually characterize the practice as “simulated drowning.” That’s incorrect. To be effective, waterboarding is usually real drowning that simulates death. That is,
    the victim experiences the sensations of drowning: struggle, panic, breath-holding, swallowing, vomiting, taking water into the lungs and, eventually, the same feeling of not being able to breathe that one experiences after being punched in the gut. The main difference is that the drowning process is halted. According to those who have studied waterboarding’s effects, it can cause severe psychological trauma, such as panic attacks, for years.
    This seems to be a textbook definition of torture.

    Second, Wallach makes it clear that the United States has traditionally punshied those who have engaged in waterboarding:
    The U.S. government — whether acting alone before domestic courts, commissions and courts-martial or as part of the world community — has not only condemned the use of water torture but has severely punished those who applied it.
    After World War II, we convicted several Japanese soldiers for waterboarding American and Allied prisoners of war. At the trial of his captors, then-Lt. Chase J. Nielsen, one of the 1942 Army Air Forcesofficers who flew in the Doolittle Raid and was captured by the Japanese, testified: “I was given several types of torture. . . . I was given what they call the water cure.” He was asked what he felt when the Japanese soldiers poured the water. “Well, I felt more or less like I was drowning,” he replied, “just gasping between life and death.”
    Nielsen’s experience was not unique. Nor was the prosecution of his captors. After Japan surrendered, the United States organized and participated in the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, generally called the Tokyo War Crimes Trials. Leading members of Japan’s military and government elite were charged, among their many other crimes, with torturing Allied military personnel and civilians. The principal proof upon which their torture convictions were based was conduct that we would now call waterboarding.
    After noting several other prosecutions, Judge Wallach continues:
    More recently, waterboarding cases have appeared in U.S. district courts. One was a civil action brought by several Filipinos seeking damages against the estate of former Philippine president Ferdinand Marcos. The plaintiffs claimed they had been subjected to torture, including water torture. The court awarded $766 million in damages, noting in its findings that “the plaintiffs experienced human rights violations including, but not limited to . . . the water cure, where a cloth was placed over the detainee’s mouth and nose, and water producing a drowning sensation.”
    In 1983, federal prosecutors charged a Texas sheriff and three of his deputies with violating prisoners’ civil rights by forcing confessions. The complaint alleged that the officers conspired to “subject prisoners to a suffocating water torture ordeal in order to coerce confessions. This generally included the placement of a towel over the nose and mouth of the prisoner and the pouring of water in the towel until the prisoner began to move, jerk, or otherwise indicate that he was suffocating and/or drowning.”

    The four defendants were convicted, and the sheriff was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
    Wallach concludes:
    We know that U.S. military tribunals and U.S. judges have examined certain types of water-based interrogation and found that they constituted torture. That’s a lesson worth learning. The study of law is, after all, largely the study of history. The law of war is no different. This history should be of value to those who seek to understand what the law is — as well as what it ought to be.

    OPINIONS OF NOTE:
    Brig. General James Cullen
    “Standing just behind President Obama in the Oval Office, I watched last week as the new President signed his name to three Executive Orders that will put our country in a stronger position to fight Al Qaeda.

    I was one of 16 retired Generals and Admirals the White House invited to a signing ceremony of orders that ban torture, close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, and end the CIA’s use of secret prisons.
    When I first learned of the abuses at Abu Ghraib I never thought it would take a new administration and several executive orders to put a stop to practices that were so obviously wrong and not in the United States’ interest.

    In 2004, I started to talk to other military officers about abuses – not just at Abu Ghraib but in Afghanistan, Guantanamo Bay and other parts of Iraq too. The officers I spoke to were universally opposed to the use of Gestapo tactics to get detainees to talk.

    History has shown repeatedly that torture does not work. It produces poor information; it weakens the morale of the forces that employ it; and it turns local populations against you.

    Though we were united in our opposition, we did not have a forum to express our concerns.

    In December of 2004, Human Rights First, a New York City-based human rights group, organized an extraordinary, closed-door meeting of retired Generals and Admirals to discuss the use of torture. The meeting brought together dozens of retired officers including a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, four star generals and other prominent military leaders.

    In my 27-year career, I had only met once with another four-star General. Now I was sitting in a room with several of them and all of us were opposed to the use of torture.”

    WASHINGTON – Former United States Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach, former FBI Director William Sessions and numerous former generals, admirals and diplomats joined the American Civil Liberties Union in urging the U.S. Supreme Court to reject the president’s authority to indefinitely imprison a legal resident of the U.S. without charge or trial. These and other top military and civilian leaders are expected to file friend-of-the-court briefs today in the ACLU case of Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri, who has been detained in solitary confinement at a Navy brig in South Carolina since June 2003.

    “Based on our professional experience in the diplomatic service of this country, American diplomatic credibility and effectiveness in many areas of international relations suffer from the widely shared perception that the U.S. has abandoned the rule of law. Indefinite detention without criminal charge or trial is, for most people, the essence of this abandonment,” argue former diplomats in their brief. “Accordingly, a decision upholding our government’s right to arrest and imprison anyone within its borders, without charge, will not only undercut our ability to convince dictatorial regimes to abandon similar practices, it will substantially undermine efforts to restore our international reputation and to obtain more cooperation from our allies in combating terrorism.”

    According to a former senior C.I.A. official, who read all the interrogation reports on K.S.M., “90 percent of it was total f*cking bullsh*t.” A former Pentagon analyst adds: “K.S.M. produced no actionable intelligence. He was trying to tell us how stupid we were.”

    Gen. David Petraeus, who unequivocally rejected torture last year:
    “Some may argue that we would be more effective if we sanctioned torture or other expedient methods to obtain information from the enemy. That would be wrong. Beyond the basic fact that such actions are illegal, history shows that they also are frequently neither useful nor necessary. Certainly, extreme physical action can make someone ‘talk;’ however, what the individual says may be of questionable value.”

    Special Forces Operative Matthew Alexander, the man whose techniques led to the neutralization of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, head of Al Qaeda In Iraq:
    “I learned in Iraq that the No. 1 reason foreign fighters flocked there to fight were the abuses carried out at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. Our policy of torture was directly and swiftly recruiting fighters for al-Qaeda in Iraq. The large majority of suicide bombings in Iraq are still carried out by these foreigners. They are also involved in most of the attacks on U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq. It’s no exaggeration to say that at least half of our losses and casualties in that country have come at the hands of foreigners who joined the fray because of our program of detainee abuse.

    I personally conducted more than 300 interrogations, and I supervised more than 1,000. The methods my team used are not classified (they’re listed in the unclassified Field Manual). I taught the members of my unit a new methodology — one based on building rapport with suspects, showing cultural understanding and using good old-fashioned brainpower to tease out information. It worked. Our efforts started a chain of successes that ultimately led to Zarqawi.”

    Ronald Reagan, 5/20/1988, transmitting Treaty to the U.S. Senate:
    “The United States participated actively and effectively in the negotiation of the Convention. It marks a significant step in the development during this century of international measures against torture and other inhuman treatment or punishment. Ratification of the Convention by the United States will clearly express United States opposition to torture, an abhorrent practice unfortunately still prevalent in the world today.”

    Fifteen former interrogators and intelligence officials with more than 350 years collective field experience have declared that torture is an “unlawful, ineffective and counterproductive” way to gather intelligence, in a statement of principles released today. The principles are based on the interrogators and intelligence officials’ experiences of what works and what does not in the field. Interrogation techniques that do not resort to torture yield more complete and accurate intelligence, they say. The principles call for the creation of a well-defined single standard of conduct in interrogation and detention practices across all U.S. agencies. At stake is the loss of critical intelligence and time, as well as the United States’ reputation abroad and its credibility in demanding the humane treatment of captured Americans. The principles below were developed by 15 individuals who served as senior interrogators, interviewers and intelligence officials in the United States military, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Central Intelligence Agency. The group met at a forum hosted by Human Rights First on June 17 and 18, 2008, in Washington, D.C. to discuss the most effective ways to obtain timely and credible information from suspected terrorists and other individuals who threaten the security of the United States.
    We believe:
    1. Non-coercive, traditional, rapport-based interviewing approaches provide the best possibility for obtaining accurate and complete intelligence.

    2. Torture and other inhumane and abusive interview techniques are unlawful, ineffective and counterproductive. We reject them unconditionally.

    3. The use of torture and other inhumane and abusive treatment results in false and misleading information, loss of critical intelligence, and has caused serious damage to the reputation and standing of the United States. The use of such techniques also facilitates enemy recruitment, misdirects or wastes scarce resources, and deprives the United States of the standing to demand humane treatment of captured Americans.

    4. There must be a single well-defined standard of conduct across all U.S. agencies to govern the detention and interrogation of people anywhere in U.S. custody, consistent with our values as a nation.

    5. There is no conflict between adhering to our nation’s essential values, including respect for inherent human dignity, and our ability to obtain the information we need to protect the nation.

    The bios of the former interrogators who wrote the report can be found at the link:

    http://www.humanrightsfirst.org/media/etn/2008/alert/313/

    Thomas Paine:
    “But where says some is the King of America? I’ll tell you Friend, he reigns above, and doth not make havoc of mankind like the Royal Brute of Britain. Yet that we may not appear to be defective even in earthly honors, let a day be solemnly set apart for proclaiming the charter; let it be brought forth placed on the divine law, the word of God; let a crown be placed thereon, by which the world may know, that so far as we approve as monarchy, that in America the law is King. For as in absolute governments the King is law, so in free countries the law ought to be King; and there ought to be no other.”

    John Adams: ” the very definition of a republic is an empire of laws, and not of men. . . . that form of government which is best contrived to secure an impartial and exact execution of law, is the best of republics.”

    Teddy Roosevelt: “No man is above the law and no man is below it; nor do we ask any man’s permission when we require him to obey it. Obedience to the law is demanded as a right; not asked as a favor.”

  • Carney

    I’d be much more impressed by the plethora of incredibly pompous and long-winded proclamations of strict and unbending devotion to the every jot and tittle of the rule of law, as written, being posted here if the posters involved were not overwhelmingly of the political faction that, in the context of the judiciary, dismisses written and binding law as a mere annoying obstacle to justice and equality, erected by dead white males, and best bent, twisted, broken, “re-defined”, or ignored as desired in order to continue its cherished “march of progress”.

    From abortion to religion to the death penalty to the “gay rights” agenda, we have witnessed the wholesale casting aside of the notion of a proper legal process, so tempting is the prospect of permanently imposing the Left’s policy preferences without having to undertake the messy, slow, and frustrating process of persuading one’s fellow citizens to change the text of statutes, let alone the text of the Constitution itself.

    It was not always this way. The progressive movement once was much more honest about the Constitution. That’s why it advocated and passed actual amendments, real changes to the TEXT of the Constitution in order to give women and 18 year olds the vote, ban poll taxes, enable direct (and progressive income) taxation, have a popularly elected Senate, etc. It did not, in order to accomplish these goals, merely sue in federal court to have those policies imposed on “due process” or “equal protection” grounds.

    Now it cheats to get its way.

    And yet it has the incredible gall to claim devotion to the law. Naturally, it only does so when such “devotion” serves as a useful weapon to advance the interests of our utterly savage enemies who operate far outside the bounds of all the laws of war.

  • Carney

    Also, for all you concern trolls here wringing your hands about whether so-called “torture” is less effective in helping us win the war, nobody is fooled. You do not wish our country well, you do not wish our war effort well, you do not wish our troops victory.

    You have have it made clear you agree with enemy propaganda that we are in the wrong to have liberated Afghanistan in response to 9/11 and Iraq in response to Saddam’s 12 years of cease-fire violations, that we are the villains in this story, that we are imperialist “aggressors”. So go to hell with your concern trolling.

    • medinnus

      And get off his lawn.

      Ranted like a true Right Winger who has lost the argument on merits.

      “Sure its the law, but you don’t care about the law, why should we?” is the last retort of someone who has no facts on their side (and fallacious as it stands). Abortion proponents are on the side of the law, which allows abortion.

      The law is a combination of legal procedure AND judicial precedent; that’s how bad laws, like the ones passed against racial equality in the South, get overturned.

      Poor loser.

      • Carney

        “Abortion proponents are on the side of the law, which allows abortion.”

        The Constitution is silent on abortion, so there’s nothing preventing states from having permissive abortion policies. The flip side of that coin, however, is that there is also nothing preventing states from completely banning abortions.

        There are some honest people who are “pro choice” on the policy issue of legalized abortion, who admit that Roe v. Wade was such a shabby, low, dishonest travesty of a decision, that it did and continues to do great damage to the integrity of the law.

        It is not merely “losing”, but being cheated, that contributes to the great bitterness of the abortion debate.

    • nwahs

      They are transparent. But when has the left turned away anyone? I guess that’s why the Amerihaters flock there. They get unrequited love.

  • Houndentenor

    @Carney
    “gay rights” agenda? By what Constitutional authority does the government have a right to regulate our sex lives?

    • Carney

      Houndentenor, do you know the meaning of the Constitution and its amendments better than those who wrote and ratified it? Unless you have delusions of grandeur, we then agree the answer is “no.”

      Can any remotely credible claim be made that said authors and ratifiers meant to impose today’s “gay rights” agenda on the federal and state governments? Unless you are utterly ignorant of history, we then agree that the answer is “no.”

      That history includes a universal presumption that marriage is exclusively and solely a union between one man and one woman, but even the insistence that Utah not be admitted until it incorporated such a policy in its constitution.

  • John

    carney – the constitution is also silent on segregated schools. a strict constructionist could make a compelling argument that the framers – to the extent that they could even contemplate educating black people in the first place – would have supported segregated schools. the beauty of the document, however, is that it adapts to the times. do you think ordering southern states to desegregate their schools was unconstitutional? or do you agree (fingers crossed) that one could read the document to guarantee rights to all people regardless or race or gender? shoud states be free to all things not explicitly barred by the constitution? c’mon now.

    • Carney

      “or do you agree (fingers crossed) that one could read the document to guarantee rights to all people regardless or race or gender?”

      Gender is a term of grammar, not biology. It’s funny how the cultural left avoids the word “sex” in its sole non-titillating definition, in a bizarre form of Puritan prudery. In event, the Constitution is silent on sex except in the 19th Amendment, which solely addresses voting rights.

      As for race, the Reconstruction Amendments banned slavery, and guaranteed equal treatment and voting rights for blacks.

      “shoud states be free to all things not explicitly barred by the constitution?”

      Read the 10th Amendment. That’s exactly what it says.

      • John

        carney – you’re such a jackass. what the f*** difference does it make to use ‘gender’ or ‘sex’? and how does my using one instead of the other make me a member of the ‘cultural left’? i consider them interchangeable and irrelevant to the points being made. i didn’t and don’t avoid ‘sex,’ and maybe you should start having it with someone/something other than your left hand.

        the constitution is silent on sex/gender except for an amendment passed specifically to address the FACT that people of a certain sex/gender were prohibited from voting. in much the same way, laws were passed to address the FACT that segregated schools/lunch counters, etc. prohibited certain people of a certain race access to the equal protections of the laws.

        the tenth amendment reads:
        “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

        let me clarify my point since you’re bent on being willfully oblivious: the constitution, under current interpretation, makes it unlawful to segregate schools on the basis of race. BUT, there is nothing in the constitution that says, “there shall be no segregation of schools.” my question was, should states be free to do all things that are not specifically forbidden by the constitution (like segregating schools).

        • Carney

          Sloppy language leads to sloppy thinking. Gender and sex are not indistinguishable. As I pointed out to you, one applies solely to grammar, the other to biology. The blurring of these terms is part of the far left’s project to re-define male and female as mere “social constructs” that can be blurred, and to introduce the idea of many “genders” to replace two sexes. If indeed you are not part of the left, then don’t go along with their project, which is clever in that it is slowly making people uncomfortable with using the word “sex” instead of the incorrect “gender”, taking advantage of a misguided propriety in order to ease the path for a socially revolutionary agenda.

          If you scoff, would not a supporter at the time of the 1964 Civil Rights Act have scoffed at the notion that the paradigm of the civil rights movement would someday soon be used to try to legitimize homosexuality, and redefine opposition to normalization of homosexuality as bigotry?

          To answer your question, federal laws banning state-mandated segregation are clearly legitimate and permissible under the 14th Amendment. A strong case can also be made that such state laws, such as forcibly segregating schools, could be legitimately be struck down by the federal courts on the basis that those laws were written, intended, and executed in order to create an unequal and inferior situation for blacks, regardless of “separate but equal” claims.

        • John

          since niether my language nor my thinking is sloppy, i’ll disregard your little rant. as you must be aware, words and their meanings are in a constant state of flux. go ahead and do a google or wikipedia search on ‘gender’ and you’ll see that my use was perfectly appropriate, your theories about leftist mind control conspiracies notwithstanding.

          “To answer your question, federal laws banning state-mandated segregation are clearly legitimate and permissible under the 14th Amendment. A strong case can also be made that such state laws, such as forcibly segregating schools, could be legitimately be struck down by the federal courts on the basis that those laws were written, intended, and executed in order to create an unequal and inferior situation for blacks, regardless of “separate but equal” claims.”

          now you’re making my original point for me. thanks. are you only convinced of an argument once you have made it for yourself?

      • Nanotek

        “As for race, the Reconstruction Amendments banned slavery, and guaranteed equal treatment and voting rights for blacks.”

        does the 14th Amendment say equal rights for only blacks or equal rights? do you really think we only have the rights enumerated in the US Constitution?? seriously?

        “should states be free to all things not explicitly barred by the constitution? Read the 10th Amendment. That’s exactly what it says.”

        That’s not what the 10th says … see the 9th, which proceeds it

        • Carney

          You’re the one who’s wrong. The 10th amendment specifically states that any powers not delegated by or denied to states are retained by the states, or the people. In other words, if a state isn’t forbidden, it’s permitted.

  • talkradiosucks.com

    “Also, for all you concern trolls here wringing your hands about whether so-called “torture” is less effective in helping us win the war, nobody is fooled. You do not wish our country well, you do not wish our war effort well, you do not wish our troops victory.

    You have have it made clear you agree with enemy propaganda that we are in the wrong to have liberated Afghanistan in response to 9/11 and Iraq in response to Saddam’s 12 years of cease-fire violations, that we are the villains in this story, that we are imperialist “aggressors”. So go to hell with your concern trolling.”

    Carney, with all due respect — and I say that as someone who has openly thanked you for a couple of excellent posts over the last two days — I deeply resent these comments. If you actually asked before jumping to conclusions, you’d probably find that nearly everyone here agrees with some of the issues you raised there and disagrees with others.

    That mountain of a straw man sure as hell doesn’t apply to me.

    And your willingness to lump the Afghanistan war and the Iraq war together does little for your own credibility.

    • Carney

      Let’s get specific then.

      Do you support the US and allied war effort in Iraq?

      Do you want us to impose our will on a broken and defeated enemy, that concludes that laying down its arms and accepting our wishes is preferable to continued fighting?

      Do you agree with the enemy that we are aggressors in Iraq?

  • LauraNo

    Two things. It is not clear to me if torture is in the same legal sphere as bombing in an undeclared war. Or which is worse. But this is one reason we should not let these unconscionable things occur in the first place, it’s nearly impossible to go back (read Vietnam, Iraq, extraordinary rendition, etc.).
    And secondly, all these examples prove the point that Nixon should have been arrested, Reagan should have been arrested and Bush should have been arrested. Since in all three cases they very clearly committed crimes (on the world stage, yet) and got away with it, there is no reason anyone should actually believe we as a country have moral standing of any kind. Republican presidents have impunity and now it looks like democrats might too.

    • Carney

      The Constitution does not ban military actions that happen without a Congressional declaration of war. Right from the beginning, in the Founding Era, US armed forces engaged various adversaries without any such declaration, to include Indian tribes (legally regarded in most respects as foreign nations), the Barbary pirates, the Revolutionary French navy, etc.

      And even if the Constitution did impose such a ban, no foreign nation has the authority to enforce it and punish its violators.

      You could, perhaps, make such a case about international law because of the binding nature of treaties. But the word “undeclared” has no legitimate place in this debate, among the well informed and well intentioned.

  • pnumi2

    Carney,

    Was it the intention of the authors and the ratifiers to allow the possession and carrying into large crowds of unarmed American citizens, automatic weapons capable of firing 8 to 12 rounds or more of ammunition in less then 10 seconds after which a second and third clip may be attatched for a second and third firing?

    The answer of course is “no.”

    • Carney

      Let’s presume your implied premise that unforeseen changes in technology change the meaning of the Constitution.

      But that does not affect most “culture war” issues. Homosexuality, polygamy, abortion, and school prayer, to name a few issues, existed and/or were known in the Founding Era. Thus, the presence of laws addressing these issues without constitutional challenge, or any sign that the authors and ratifiers intended to impose the modern Left’s agenda concerning those issues, constitutes a decisive and informative precedent. It does not necessarily mean that we are obligated to continue the Founding Era’s policy choices, but it DOES mean that we cannot pretend that the Constitution imposes the Left’s agenda.

      End presumption. If a change makes enough of a qualitative difference such that the Constitution needs to be revised in response, the people are free to do so via the amendment process.

      • pnumi2

        Carney

        Here’s a hypothetical; For argument’s sake, what if the 13th amendment had failed? And it might have if the Amnesty Act had preceded it.

        My point is that the amendment process isn’t the end all and be all.

        • Carney

          If the 13th Amendment had failed, then slavery would not have been banned by the US Constitution.

          The Constitution is not a guarantee of wise, prudent, effective, or just policies. But ignorant people think that a law or policy they dislike, or even an unfortunate event, “must be” unconstitutional.

          Like Donald Duck in a snowball fight with his nephews, starting at 5:45, here:

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ik91Ic-IIr4

        • pnumi2

          What I meant to say is that sometimes when the constitution has to be amended it becomes necessary for the states who want the amendment to disenfranchise the states who don’t want the amendment until such time as the amendment is passed.

          Granted, it has only happened once. But, hey, once is a precedence in the constitution of my beliefs.

    • Carney

      The Civil War and its aftermath were a unique situation. The fact that the Union took advantage of the arguably hazy and fluid status of states that had attempted to secede, in order to pass certain constitutional amendments, should not be seen as a precedent for future action.

  • SpartacusIsNotDead

    abj,

    I agree with your main point that Congress has some culpability for the “enhanced interrogation techniques” because of its oversight and spending responsibilities so I don’t want my comments to be viewed as picking at nits. Your initial post, however, suggested that the briefing by the Administration is an opportunity for Congress to give or withold its consent, which it clearly cannot do in that forum.

    I do recall members of that committee complaining that their confidentiality obligations prevented them from discussing the content of the briefing with anyone not on the committee and that was why they couldn’t speak up about the torture. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but even if it is true, they have the authority to change that rule to allow them to have hearings or change the law without hearings. And, as you said, they can cut off the money.

    • abj

      “Your initial post, however, suggested that the briefing by the Administration is an opportunity for Congress to give or withold its consent, which it clearly cannot do in that forum.”

      You’re right. In that specific context, they could not. In general, though, they certainly could have – and one would think the revelation that enhanced interrogation techniques might be used would spur Congress to hold hearings, issue subpoenas, make objections on the record, and/or threaten to withhold appropriations to the CIA. I was referring to Congress’ responsibility in general, not what it specifically could have done in the briefing, which was just that…a briefing.

      “I do recall members of that committee complaining that their confidentiality obligations prevented them from discussing the content of the briefing with anyone not on the committee and that was why they couldn’t speak up about the torture.”

      This is true. Had Pelosi, for example, disclosed the contents of the briefing memo the CIA provided to the Intelligence Committee in 2002 to the general public, she could have been prosecuted for disclosing classified information. I’m not suggesting that she or anyone else on the committee should have done this. Rather, what I’m saying is that if members of the committee had any specific objections to “enhanced interrogation techniques” at the time, there were things they could have done, such as hold hearings, issue letters to the agency objecting to EITs, etc (all of which would have been classified at the time, of course).

      As far as I’m aware, the only objection any member of the Intelligence Committee made at the time was a mildly-worded letter Jane Harman sent to Scott Muller, the CIA’s general counsel.

      Here is the text of the Harman letter, as well as Mueller’s response, if you’re interested: http://www.cfr.org/terrorism-and-the-law/representative-jane-harmans-letter-cia-general-counsel-muller/p15164

      • armstp

        abj,

        There is no conclusive proof that the CIA brought up waterboarding in their 2002 single meeting with Pelosi. In fact, the CIA says the first time they brought up water boarding was in 2004. The CIA withheld information from Congress on their assinations programs, so it is not a stretch to say they withheld info on that they were doing regarding waterboarding. There was nothing for Pelosi to complain about it she did not know they were doing waterboarding. This only came out well after the fact. It is a complete Republican smear to try and shift the blame from Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld to somehow to Pelosi. Complete BS. It was Bush’s CIA and he was responsible for its actions. Not a house leader who likely had no clue what was going on. It was not Pelosi’s responsibility to ensure that the CIA was following the law in all their secret dark locations all over the planet.

        • abj

          “It was not Pelosi’s responsibility to ensure that the CIA was following the law in all their secret dark locations all over the planet.”

          She was the ranking member on the committee tasked with oversight over the clandestine services! What are you talking about? Do you know what “oversight” means?

          “There is no conclusive proof that the CIA brought up waterboarding in their 2002 single meeting with Pelosi.”

          Waterboarding specifically? No, we don’t know that for sure, but we do know that the CIA mentioned that administration lawyers had approved “enhanced interrogation techniques.” We know this because Pelosi herself has said as much. Now, even if we buy Pelosi’s somewhat fishy explanation that she only knew these techniques had been “approved” and not actually “used,”wouldn’t that raise a whole host of questions itself? The mere possibility that the agency might employ techniques that may constitute torture should have been sufficient for Pelosi to have at least made some sort of objection, either in the form of committee hearings or by sending a letter to the agency like Harman. But she did nothing. Nor did anyone else on the committee for that matter, save Harman.

          “It is a complete Republican smear to try and shift the blame from Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld to somehow to Pelosi. Complete BS.”

          The extent to which you’re willing to carry Pelosi’s water is BS. I’m not arguing that Bush et al aren’t culpable. What I’m saying is that culpability doesn’t end with one party, or one branch of government. You’re trying to change the subject.

          Pelosi, as well as every other member of the Intelligence Committee, bears some culpability.

        • armstp

          Of course I know what oversight means, but oversight to a point. It is hard to do the oversight when the CIA is not telling you everything. The CIA even destroyed their own interrogation tapes for christ sake, when they were specifically told not to. It was Bush’s CIA, so the ultimate oversight responsiblity falls on the Bush Adminstration. But Bush did not need to do any oversight on the CIA, because it was his people (Cheney and Rumsfeld) who were actually telling the CIA what exactly to do with regard to torture. In fact, Bush himself probably also knew (as he basically admitted in his book) about waterboarding and signed-off on it. Bush fired all in the CIA who would not tow the party line, so there was no one inside the CIA who would be willing to work with Democrats on oversight or would have been whistleblowers. The problem was there was no oversight on Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld. They ran rough-shot over the law.

          There are several telling signs that the CIA is lying and was withholding information to Congress and Pelosi.

          (1) in the documentation they did not put Cheney’s name in there as an attendee, as he attend some of the meetings in the documentation. The documents therefore had incomplete information and therefore are untrustworthy.

          (2) the CIA has said the documents are largely based on “best recollections”. so who knows?

          (3) the dates and timing of the supposive meetings does jive with when Pelosi met in 2002 and when the CIA said they first talked about waterboarding (2004).

          (4) the CIA withheld information about their assassinations programs as the same time, so it makes sense that they would also not mention the very sensative “waterboarding” in those meetings, which was the only enhanced technique that mattered.

          Sure if all the balls line up you can say Pelosi was 1% responsible, but Bush was 99% responsible. Proportionality.

  • talkradiosucks.com

    “Let’s get specific then.”

    Happy to, as soon as you dispense with the loaded questions, like the one starting “Do you agree with the enemy that…”. This isn’t a Frank Luntz “focus group”, and I’m not an idiot.

    Kind of ironic that you do that and then shortly thereafter say “Sloppy language leads to sloppy thinking.” Indeed.

    You’re starting to sound utterly unhinged, and it’s making me wonder if I gave you too much credit earlier.

    • nwahs

      Not a “yes” or “no” but more 3rd world propaganda.

      Did you miss the questions?

      Carney asked:

      “Do you support the US and allied war effort in Iraq?

      Do you want us to impose our will on a broken and defeated enemy, that concludes that laying down its arms and accepting our wishes is preferable to continued fighting?

      Do you agree with the enemy that we are aggressors in Iraq?”

      Those aren’t loaded questions. They’re pointed questions that give no room for BS. Do you look at the United States as imperialists? At war for oil? Or do you think we are really trying to liberate people from tyranny? Its really simple. Do you think the United States is trying to do good or bad?

      • pnumi2

        So it was just a coincidence that the people we liberated from tyranny in Iraq are sitting on top of the world’s second largest deposit of oil.

        And all those people in South East Asia and Africa suffering under tyranny are on our “to do” list.

        We are not imperialists. We liberate people from tyranny. And if happens to do us some good, well, it’s just a coincidence.

        • Carney

          It’s ludicrous to claim we’re fighting “for oil”. If we wanted Saddam’s oil we’d have bought it from him cheap, as the Russians, Chinese, and bought-off French were begging us to do. Furthermore, we handed over Iraq’s oil wells and industry to the Iraqi government immediately upon transfer of sovereignty in June 2004, at which point Iraq’s oil policies and revenues have been under Iraqi government control.

          And it’s obviously a national security issue for us to have an enormous portion of the single source of world transportation fuel, and the attendant monopoly profits, to be under the control of either a pro-terrorist enemy regime, or a failed state in which terrorists have major sway.

  • Lizzie

    david frum

    You wrote : “Obama Should Protest Bush Arrest Threat”

    Why should he do it? Is a POTUS above the law?

  • talkradiosucks.com

    “Those aren’t loaded questions.”

    Yes, they are. And you added several more.

    I really don’t care if you want to think whatever you want. But the tone makes it immediately clear that you are not interested in honest conversation on this subject, and I have no desire to waste my time trying to present my viewpoints to people who are going to distort them.

    • nwahs

      Strange thing is you can present your view point and answer those questions. You can actually say how you believe the US is not the aggressor or imperialists or at war for oil, but has veered astray and how they veered astray. But that would detract from the Bush/Cheney demon plot idea.

  • KBKY

    First, a big thank you to all of the posters that brought up the lack of a real arrest threat, no need to get so heated for a non-issue.

    For debate’s sake, however, I’ve been trying to figure out why the idea bothers me so much. I think the reason is that President Bush, whether you liked him or not, was not a dictator by any stretch. He was a President elected by a fair, democratic election. I’m sure some will point to the 2000 election, which was indeed controversial, but it was still decided by Constitutional means and his election in 2004 was definite. This, for me, is a huge difference between Bush and a figure like Pinochet and why those making the comparison do a huge disservice to the American people. Not that America is above international law (but honestly, enough countries are that the idea doesn’t bother me), but that there are so many systems of checks and balances that there are far more people than Bush to blame. abj brought up some good examples, but it is important to note that Americans did not impeach Bush for issues related to torture. Not only that, but even though many of the torture memos came out by 2004, we still chose to reelect him. It would have to be an indictment of our entire government (including those citizens that urged Bush to pursue a pro-torture policy) at that time.

    I would feel similarly uncomfortable with Americans wanting to try Sarkozy or Tony Blair in an international court without the consent of their people, something about it just seems off.

    In terms of the issue of the United States’ reputation abroad, as someone who has lived abroad for a good deal of time, I couldn’t care less. There’s a great deal of hypocrisy inherent in a lot of the insults and frankly, I don’t see them going away any time soon, no matter what policies we pursue. I have never liked the argument that we should pursue certain policies so that other countries will look more favorably on us, we should pursue policies in line with our own ideals and that benefit our nation. The end policies may be the same, but the reasons behind them matter and influence future decisions.

    • balconesfault

      there are so many systems of checks and balances that there are far more people than Bush to blame

      Except Bush, and Bush alone, could have made sure that torture did not occur. If Bush decided torture should occur, there was no one individual who could override that decision.

      He is, if you believe torture to be a crime, guilty. Whether or not there are people below him who have some measure of guilt is immaterial … whether we as a people have collective guilt for electing him twice (although to be honest, in 2004 he was NOT admitting to the American people that he had been torturing, the way he has done since leaving office) is immaterial.

      He is guilty under treaty provisions the US is a signator to.

  • pnumi2

    Carney

    Yours are the honest, non-misleading comments on the Conservative side of this blog. So imagine my shock when I read the following:

    “That history includes a universal presumption that marriage is exclusively and solely a union between one man and one woman, but even the insistence that Utah not be admitted until it incorporated such a policy in its constitution.”

    Was Utah to be denied admission to the Union because it wasn’t clear that marriage was between one man and one woman and not between two men or was the real issue that marriage was a union between one man and one woman and not one man and a dozen women?

    Shame.

    • Carney

      Obviously the issue at stake for Utah wasn’t homosexual marriage. The very idea would have been repulsive to anyone in the 19th century. The point here is that governments “regulated sex lives” and had specific exclusive policies concerning marriage, without any constitutional challenge or anyone dreaming that it was unconstitutional, both in the Founding Era and in the shortly after 14th Amendment era.

      Thus, the notion that the government regulating sexual behavior, or defining marriage in an exclusive manner, is unconstitutional, including on equal protection grounds, is bogus.

      • pnumi2

        If the idea of homosexual marriage would have been “repulsive to anyone in the 19th century,” imagine what living next door to an African American family in Jackson, Miss.in the 1880s was.

        If we are to have laws based on both religious wisdom and religious intolerance, so be it. Let all the people decide if that’s what they want. Not just Pat Roberson, Lou Shelton, and the Pope’s Nuncio in D.C.

        “Thus, the notion that the government regulating sexual behavior, or defining marriage in an exclusive manner, is unconstitutional, including on equal protection grounds, is bogus.”

        What difference does it make why some law had been constitutional, if the SCOTUS finds that it is not or if the requisite number of states decided to amend the Federal Constitution to deny its continued application?

        Was “Separate but Equal” ever really constitutional? Even if it had been “Equal?”

        That’s a good debate.

        • Carney

          No doubt most whites in the 1880s, would have objected to living next door to a black family, but my point is that same-sex “marriage” would have been considered even more objectionable, to the point of being unspeakable, not just controversial. It may be hard for you to understand how homosexuality was viewed until recently.

          As just one small example see the novel “Advise and Consent” by Allen Drury, published in 1959. (Drury was a conservative.) In the novel a conservative Senator is chairing confirmation hearings of a Communist-appeaser as Secretary of State, and the far-left villain decides to blackmail or discredit the conservative with information about a homosexual fling the conservative had decades ago. The far-left type waxes indignant about the disgusting immorality, etc. etc., without any irony from him or in the narration. In other words, it was taken for granted by the author, and expected to be taken for granted by the entire readership, that the entire political spectrum from far-right to far-left held identically negative views of homosexuality.

          By contrast, the 14th Amendment was clearly intended to ban state-mandated racial discrimination. Controversial as that policy may have been, especially in the South, there was a substantial enough political faction supporting it to push it through, whereas nothing like that level of support existed on normalizing homosexuality.

          “What difference does it make why some law had been constitutional, if the SCOTUS finds that it is not or if the requisite number of states decided to amend the Federal Constitution to deny its continued application?”

          If the Supreme Court today decides that a law is unconstitutional that for 100 or 200 years had been seen as perfectly constitutional, EVEN BY THE MEN WHO HAD WRITTEN AND RATIFIED THE CONSTITUTION, OR THE AMENDMENT IN QUESTION, then the Court is perpetuating a legal fraud.

          That’s the whole point I was making in beginning his thread. Too many who go on and on about the rule of law in this matter about Bush have no problem with such extra-legal fraud, simply because they like the POLICY OUTCOME of that fraud. They have no problem with cheating if it means they win. That undermines their long-winded claims to oppose cheating on principle – what they are truly upset about and object to must be something else.

        • pnumi2

          “If the Supreme Court today decides that a law is unconstitutional that for 100 or 200 years had been seen as perfectly constitutional, EVEN BY THE MEN WHO HAD WRITTEN AND RATIFIED THE CONSTITUTION, OR THE AMENDMENT IN QUESTION, then the Court is perpetuating a legal fraud.”

          Let’s say the Supreme Court today decides that a law or action is constitutional that had for years been seen as unconstitutional EVEN BY THE MEN WHO HAD WRITTEN et cetera et cetera.

          Doesn’t that describe to a tee Citizens United?

          The Revolutionary War was fought not just against the Crown and Parliament, but against THE EAST INDIA COMPANY. And now comes this Supreme Court and says corporations have as many or more rights than citizens.

          The greatest democracy in history (ours) is only as good as the men who make its laws, enforce its laws and decide its laws. Where are the Washingtons, the Jeffersons, the Lincolns of today?

          We’re stuck with the politician and jurists we’ve got and it’s been that way for quite a while now.

          “Too many who go on and on about the rule of law in this matter about Bush have no problem with such extra-legal fraud, simply because they like the POLICY OUTCOME of that fraud. They have no problem with cheating if it means they win. That undermines their long-winded claims to oppose cheating on principle – what they are truly upset about and object to must be something else.”

          No one will tell you so, but we are in terra incognita now and we have been since the election of 2008. No one really knows what is happening with our economy. The way religion drove people in the 17th and 18th centuries to come to America, their descendants are driven by economic opportunity and security. And those, as you must be aware, are hanging by a thread.

          So now our politics are half the population blames Obama for not having gotten us out of this persistent recession and the other half blames Bush for having gotten us into it in the first place.

          Obama anger involves his birth certificate. Bush anger involves a warrant for his arrest.

  • talkradiosucks.com

    “Yours are the honest, non-misleading comments on the Conservative side of this blog.”

    Yeah, I thought so too until this thread. Maybe he/she is having a bad day — it happens to the best (and worst) of us.

    • balconesfault

      It might be an issue that Carney himself is having particular problems resolving in his own mind. He supported Bush heavily throughout the torture era … he even had to be aware that the torture was occurring, given how well informed he stays.

      So if Carney accepts that Bush is guilty … he has to accept some level of personal guilt. He cannot accept this. So his arguments move past the tone he generally takes here because he’s really not just defending Bush – he’s defending himself.

      • Carney

        I appreciate the positive words about how I seem to you generally.

        On the issue of the war, I am stern and uncompromising, and lack patience with those who agree with our enemies.

        If we’re going to psycho-analyze me, I’d turn the tables and ask why TalkRadioSucks doesn’t like to confront the reality that he agrees with our enemies.

  • Breakfast Scramble (Wednesday)

    [...] Evidently Barack Obama has no play to travel overseas after January 20, 2012h, from David Frum, Frum Forum: CNN International is reporting that George Bush canceled a trip to Switzerland after – and [...]

  • KBKY

    @balconesfault
    Bush could have made sure, so could Rumsfeld, Cheney, Gonzales, and a host of other figures. If anything, I would argue that one of those figures would be more appropriate to prosecute. We could also look to the lawyers who argued that we were legally within our rights to torture suspects (the judge that wrote the torture memo was promoted to a lifetime appointment). You can isolate Bush as a figurehead, but arresting him internationally, without the approval of the people, still doesn’t sit right with me.

    The investigation also feels overly political. France, the United Kingdom, and Germany have also been slammed by the UN for, if not using torture directly, than simply deporting terrorist suspects to a country that is not under a torture ban. It is not my intention to pose an “if everyone does it it’s ok” argument; we were wrong and we should investigate domestically what caused this breakdown in our national values. It just seems hypocritical to go into these investigations with an air that the United States and the United States alone broke faith. Terrorism was a new field for us as a nation and many will argue that we didn’t rise to the occasion, but that doesn’t mean that I want to see a former President arrested without our consent.

  • LauraNo

    …was not a dictator by any stretch. He was a President elected by a fair, democratic election. I’m sure some will point to the 2000 election, which was indeed controversial, but it was still decided by Constitutional means…
    No it wasn’t. SCOTUS said to ignore the decision and never refer to it again. (pretending they didn’t do what they just did.) Which says to anyone they were aware it was not Constitutional.

    • Gramps

      I’m with you Laura, Yes…!

      President George W…was and will remain the poster child for the “good olde boye’s club” forever…

      He served in the Texas Air Guard and avoided our War in Vietnam, due to his “father’s political connections”.

      He matriculated at bothe Harvard and Yale as a “legacy student”.

      He became one of only three, President’s of the United States of America that was not elected by the most popular votes of the citizens, of our great nation; due to the “intervention by the SCOTUS, in the popular vote count in the State of Florida where his “brother Jeb, was Governor”…

      Talk about a “silver spoon in yer mouth”…

      Texas Molly, you were “right on” honey…!

      • pnumi2

        Gramps

        When you have your finger on the pluse of wisdom and truth, you are irresistible. Your Misus probably finds you irresistible at other times as well.

        • Gramps

          Well thank you, p2…!

          SWMBO [She Who Must Be Obeyed] has tolerated my idiosyncrasies for almost half a century, to date…
          I have no pressing reason with respect to recent reports, that the situation on the ground has changed…?

          I’m not certain, “irresistible” is an adjective she might use on a regular basis…

          That’s in retrospect, when “tolerable” might suffice…
          Hehehe…!

          We luv yah, p2…!

  • 2-9-2011 | Drive Time Happy Hour

    [...] Obama Should Protest Bush Arrest Threat [...]

  • John Q

    Just wait until somebody serves an arrest warrant in Luxembourg on ex-President Obama for ordering all those drone strikes on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

    As I understand it, failure to prosecute war crimes of those under one’s jurisdiction is in itself a war crime. So Obama may be in jeopardy for more than the above.

  • A Completely Unofficial Blog About Eric Cantor » Morning Bits

    [...] International Criminal Court is still after Americans for “war crimes,” this time threatening to arrest George W. Bush. David [...]

  • Where Is Obama on Bush Arrest Threat? « Commentary Magazine

    [...] matter. As NGOs claim credit for thwarting Bush’s trip to Switzerland, President Obama has made no attempt to intervene on behalf of his beleaguered predecessor: It’s hard to know how much of this story is true, and [...]