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Saturday, September 16, 2006

American Values

When did torture become an American value?

The Bush administration (and their hard-core supporters in Congress) are pushing for a law to redefine the Geneva Convention, an international treaty the USA is a signatory to. They wish to change the definition of what, exactly, constitutes torture, and to legitimize Bush's "military tribunals," secret courts* outside the purview of the American judicial system.

Why? They claim that Article 3 is too vague and non-specific. Alberto Gonzales, our Attorney General, thinks the entire Geneva Convention is "quaint."

Here is Article 3, reproduced in its entirety:
In the case of armed conflict not of an international character occurring in the territory of one of the High Contracting Parties, each party to the conflict shall be bound to apply, as a minimum, the following provisions:

1. Persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms and those placed hors de combat by sickness, wounds, detention, or any other cause, shall in all circumstances be treated humanely, without any adverse distinction founded on race, colour, religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth, or any other similar criteria.

To this end the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above-mentioned persons:

(a) Violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture;

(b) Taking of hostages;

(c) Outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment;

(d) The passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.

2. The wounded and sick shall be collected and cared for.

An impartial humanitarian body, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross, may offer its services to the Parties to the conflict.

The Parties to the conflict should further endeavour to bring into force, by means of special agreements, all or part of the other provisions of the present Convention.

The application of the preceding provisions shall not affect the legal status of the Parties to the conflict.
It seems pretty straightforward to me.

This convention has been in place since 1947. It resulted, among other thing, from the cruelties imposed on Allied POWs during WWII.

Our guys.

We were the good guys once.

And now we're taking the side of Mengele and his ilk? Redefining torture, as our AG did, to include ONLY acts which cause "organ failure, (permanent) impairment of bodily function, or even death?"

Who could possibly think that this would be allowed under the Geneva Convention:

Or this:

Horrible as it was, Abu Ghraib was just the public side, the one we've managed to catch a glimpse of.

No one knows what went on in the SECRET prisons that Bush has only recently admitted exist.

Why would the Bush administration want to redefine torture? Is it to give clear guidelines to torturers..........or a CYA move, an attempt to legitimize past actions and meant to avoid future trips to the Hague?

* These courts would be able to use secret evidence which the defendant would not be allowed to see, and would be able to execute people based on such evidence. This directly contravenes our constitution–which is, it appears, is just another quaint old document.


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