22 September 2006

Torture Deal Still Bad.

What's wrong with the Congressional deal on torture:

• Prohibits "grave breaches" of the Geneva Convention. Defines grave breaches as acts such as torture, rape, biological experiments, and cruel and inhuman treatment. [Thus, allowing "minor" breaches of the Geneva Convention.]

• Notes the president has the authority to interpret "the meaning and application" of the Geneva Convention. [Given the President's track record, which found that water boarding and other forms of torture were O.K. and that the constitution doesn't apply in times of war, this is a problem.]

• Allows hearsay evidence. [In other words, executions can be authorized in trials by affidavit not subject to cross-examination.]

• Allows coerced testimony if the statement was acquired before a 2005 ban on cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and a judge finds it to be reliable. Bans coerced statements taken after the 2005 ban went into effect if constitutional definitions of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment were violated. [Statements obtained through torture can be used in trials that could result in death sentences.]

• Bars individuals from protesting violations of Geneva Convention standards in court. [There is no remedy for violations of the Geneva Convention unless those violating them choose to pursue it.]

This compromise is still fails to meet even the minimum obligations of the United States to adhere to our international treaty obligations and protect human and constitutional rights.

Shoplifters, people facing driver's license revokations, and people protesting their credit card bills have more legal protections, than these people who will routinely be facing lengthy prison sentences or executions.

People incarcerated or abused by any state government, local government, private person or foreign government have more rights to bring suit under this law, than someone whose rights are violated by the United States. Federal law allows those abused by state and local government recourse under the civil rights law. The common law protects people from abuse by private persons. Federal law allows those abused by foreign governments or persons to sue for damages in federal court. But, if our own government abuses people, something we can control and have a treaty obligation to control, there is no remedy.

Even if a U.S. soldier is proven to detain, rape, torture and/or kill a detainee out of person spite, causing lifelong harm to the detainee, this law prohibits the person harmed from suing either the soldier or the government, and eliminates any obligation of any kind to this person to provide compensation for the harm. Moreover, the U.S. soldier will face any punishment, only in the absolute discretion of his commanding officers and the U.S. military chain of command, and only if his military peers decide to impose it.

This scenario is not just some crazy obscure possibilty. U.S. soldiers, right now, are facing charges in their rape and murder of Iraqi civilians, and dozens of Iraqis have been killed through torture in CIA and military prisons, at times when they were helpless to harm U.S. soldiers and not trying to escape. Very few of those soldiers have been convicted of any offense. Many of their commanding officers have been promoted and commended.

1 comment:

Dex said...

as a lifelong trekker, i've always wanted to live a life as brutal and uncompromising as that of the cardassians.

under george w. bush, my wettest scifi fantasy has come true! to torture - and beyond!