You’re always pointing out my negative qualities

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For someone that the press and supporters keep insisting is direct and plain spoken Bush seems to do quite a dance around actual truth telling, President Discusses Creation of Military Commissions to Try Suspected Terrorists

We knew that Zubaydah had more information that could save innocent lives, but he stopped talking. As his questioning proceeded, it became clear that he had received training on how to resist interrogation. And so the CIA used an alternative set of procedures. These procedures were designed to be safe, to comply with our laws, our Constitution, and our treaty obligations. The Department of Justice reviewed the authorized methods extensively and determined them to be lawful. I cannot describe the specific methods used — I think you understand why — if I did, it would help the terrorists learn how to resist questioning, and to keep information from us that we need to prevent new attacks on our country. But I can say the procedures were tough, and they were safe, and lawful, and necessary.

An alternative set of procedures leaves enough rooms for a truckload of conjecture and on a fundamental level doesn’t square with this,

Some may ask: Why are you acknowledging this program now? There are two reasons why I’m making these limited disclosures today. First, we have largely completed our questioning of the men — and to start the process for bringing them to trial, we must bring them into the open. Second, the Supreme Court’s recent decision has impaired our ability to prosecute terrorists through military commissions, and has put in question the future of the CIA program. In its ruling on military commissions, the Court determined that a provision of the Geneva Conventions known as “Common Article Three” applies to our war with al Qaeda. This article includes provisions that prohibit “outrages upon personal dignity” and “humiliating and degrading treatment.” The problem is that these and other provisions of Common Article Three are vague and undefined, and each could be interpreted in different ways by American or foreign judges. And some believe our military and intelligence personnel involved in capturing and questioning terrorists could now be at risk of prosecution under the War Crimes Act — simply for doing their jobs in a thorough and professional way.

Military and intelligence personnel may or may not be at risk of prosecution because of violations involving Article Three, if they are it is because as Bush stated he and his hand picked legal eagles at the justice department decided to interpret the law in a vague and undefined way. When he says there has not been torture, how are we to believe that when he attached a signing statement to the McCain bill to make it clear that he would ignore said bill if he so choose

Article 3 applies to all four Geneva Conventions and is often referred to as Common Article 3. Article 3 prohibits “at any time and in any place whatsoever” the use of specific acts on persons taking no active part in hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms, or who have become sick, wounded, or detained. The acts are violence to life and person, including murder, mutilation, cruel treatment, and torture, and outrages upon personal dignity, such as humiliating and degrading treatment. Protected persons must be treated humanely at all times.

By its terms, Article 3 explicitly protects persons during an internal armed conflict, such as a civil war. However, it is now well established that Common Article 3 also applies to international conflicts. The International Court of Justice, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda all consider the protections of Common Article 3 to apply to international conflicts. Article 3 is also considered to be part of customary international law. This means that countries are bound to follow the protections of Common Article 3, unless a country has expressly disapproved of those protections during their development..

Reviewed By:
Marjorie Cohn, B.A., J.D.
Professor of Law, Thomas Jefferson School of Law, San Diego, California; coauthor, Cameras in the Courtroom: Television and the Pursuit of Justice (1998); executive vice president, National Lawyers Guild; U.S. representative, Association of American Jurists; and contributing editor, Jurist, Guild Practitioner, and truthout.org

Geneva Conventions,” Microsoft® Encarta® Online Encyclopedia 2005

I’m not crazy about analogies, but one way to think of the concerns about secret prisons, torture, renditions, and very secretive tribunals where there is minimal chance for a real defense, is to think of the John Mark Karr and the murder of JonBenet Ramsey. As I write this Karr is off the hook, but last week we had a confessed child killer on his way to having a fair trial, a lawyer, and all without torture. If we as a nation can be concerned enough with justice that we would afford those elements of justice to a supposed child killer we should be capable of abiding by our treaties in regards to those captured and suspected of terrorism or conspiracy to committ terrorist acts. Staying on the straight and narrow when it comes to protecting the rights of even the most cold hearted wanton members of humanity isn’t an easy path to follow, but it is the right one. Capable wise leaders would know that and embrace it, not dance around it with finely tuned phrases meant to offer more empty platitudes then a substantive stand on what is moral and legal. Carolyn O’Hara writing at Foreign Policy,

Invoking the fifth anniversary of 9/11 as a good time to prosecute some of those involved is a brilliant political move. But let’s be clear about what the Congress will establish if, in their haste to look patriotic and tough on national security ahead of the November midterms, they allow these tribunals to sail into law. Anyone deemed an enemy combatant will still disappear to be interrogated. When we’re through with our “tough” methods, we’ll prosecute them in a manner that affords them zero rights. (Bush mentioned counsel; but will the counsel even be allowed to participate in the tribunals or will they simply have a one-off opportunity to meet with detainees? He says attorneys “will help [detainees] prepare their defense.) I have absolutely no doubt that, in many cases, we are dealing with dangerous men guilty of terrible crimes. But perhaps just as dangerous is our eagerness to legally enshrine tribunals such as these. Bush says that the terrorists want to destroy our values and our freedoms. We shouldn’t hand them a Pyrrhic victory. 

The WaPo likes to tease us with the wild idea that there may be some of those mysterious creatures occasionally spotted in forest clearings sometimes called moderate conservatives, Republican Rift Over Wiretapping Widens

“You need checks and balances in place to make sure future administrations or even civil servants don’t get out of line,” said Rep. Heather A. Wilson (R-N.M.), sponsor of the main House surveillance bill. Unlike Specter’s bill, she added, “my bill was not authorized by the White House.”

At issue is the balance between congressional oversight and executive- branch latitude. In July, Specter announced what he called “a major breakthrough” when he presented legislation backed by the White House that would allow the administration to submit the NSA’s warrantless wiretapping program to a secret intelligence court for review of its legality. Under the bill, the secret court that now administers surveillance under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act would be permitted to review the legality of the program as a whole and not individual wiretaps, which could continue without warrants.

Republican leaders rallied around the deal, apparently believing they could portray Democratic opposition as evidence that their opponents are soft on terrorism. But since then, some Republicans have moved to toughen the terms of the agreement.

They’re not called Cons for nothing. When we get a vote that reaffirms that FISA is the law and the Whitehouse has no constitutional authority whatsoever to violate FISA then I’ll believe that there are a few moderate conservatives left that care more about America and the constitution then they do about political opportunism.

DANIEL
(to Raymond)
You know what makes a good get away
driver?
(controlled anger)
Being able to get away!

RAYMOND
You’re always pointing out my negative
qualities. My analyst says positive
reinforcement is a much more productive
way of relating with people.

JULIEN
Fine. Raymond, we’d like to commend you
on how well you fucked up tonight.

from CRIME SPREE Written by Brad Mirman