17 October 2006

Bush Signs Torture Bill

George W. Bush today signed the Military Commissions Act which was supported by all of the Republicans in Colorado's Congressional delegation, and Democrats Ken Salazar and John Salazar.

The bill eliminates recourse to the courts for torture and other violations of the Geneva Conventions, pardons U.S. government employees who violated the Geneva Conventions, ends all penalties for some violations of the Geneva Conventions, and suspends the writ of habeas corpus for non-citizens declared to be enemy combatants by the President. It changes none of the flawed procedures for determining if someone is an enemy combatant, and allows people so detained to be tried before military tribunals and sentenced to death based on hearsay and information obtained through torture after 9-11 and before 2006, on charges that have never previously been recognized as war crimes. The bill can only hurt the war on terrorism by undermining the moral authority of the United States and by emboldening people who hate freedom to act likewise.

No one expected that the President would fail to sign the bill, which he pushed hard to win. John Salazar now says he will fight to restore the elimination of habeas corpus which he voted for, and also says he hopes that the courts will overturn parts of the law he voted for. Ken Salazar's statements have been even less satisfactory.

When the history books look back to see how America could do evil things and call it legal, they can point at George W. Bush, Wayne Allard, Ken Salazar, John Salazar, Marilyn Musgrave, Joel Hefley, Tom Tancredo, and Bob Beauprez. Without their express assent to this regime of horrors and rollback of the constitution, which their constitutents urged them to reject in advance, it wouldn't have been possible.

4 comments:

Jon W. said...

I find the phrase, "people who hate freedom," curious--ironic, even--but the point is interesting. From a purely practical standpoint, are Americans safer if we observe international protocol? I don't think the Viet Cong, Somali warlords, or Republican Guard ever took it into consideration.

Andrew Oh-Willeke said...

War are more often won with alliances than any individual country's military power. Convincing someone to aid you, or even simply convincing them not to aid an enemy is often pivotal.

When you play dirty, you fight alone. When you have moral authority and keep the distinctions between you and them clear, the whole world has your back.

The power that comes from having allies and maintaining an international sense of accountability instills fear in nations and in individuals that consider committing horrors, and permits swift retaliation towards those that do so.

Muddy the waters and it is hard to summon people to take on the depots of the world, and the leaders in those movements will assume that they will never pay a price for their decisions. And it isn't just the leaders that matter. If a lowly interrogation officer thinks he'll likely pay a high price for his acts, he may think twice.

Dex said...

indeed, an informed and reasonable person may conclude that "americans" - who, exactly? american soldiers? walmart cashiers? who? - would be plenty safe had we not first invaded any the aforementioned countries.

it is heartening to see such concern about "safety" and rights meted out to "americans," and not the many millions killed by falling "american" bombs. kudos, and all that, about having your priorities in order, jon w.

Kyle said...

I'm a firm believer that responsibility for a governments actions rests essentially with the people. Some, like yourself, are responsible citizens and do take action to try and change government. A few support the administrations torture policy. An even larger number do nothing at all.

I'm afraid the history books may have something to say about all of us, regardless.

Great post, by the way.