Ministry of Love

Retroactive war crime protection drafted

WASHINGTON - The Bush administration drafted amendments to the War Crimes Act that would retroactively protect policymakers from possible criminal charges for authorizing any humiliating and degrading treatment of detainees, according to lawyers who have seen the proposal.

"I think what this bill can do is in effect immunize past crimes. That's why it's so dangerous," said attorney Eugene Fidell, president of the National Institute of Military Justice. Fidell said the initiative is "not just protection of political appointees, but also CIA personnel who led interrogations."

Interrogation practices "follow from policies that were formed at the highest levels of the administration," said attorney Scott Horton, who has followed detainee issues closely. "The administration is trying to insulate policymakers under the War Crimes Act."

Larry Cox, Amnesty International USA's executive director, said that "President Bush is looking to limit the War Crimes Act through legislation" now that the Supreme Court has embraced Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions. In June, the court ruled that Bush's plan to try Guantanamo Bay detainees in military tribunals violates Article 3.

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13 Responses:

  1. strspn says:

    Who do otherwise apparently intelligent (if not exactly sane) officials keep ignoring the ex post facto provissions of the Constitution?

    Don't they realize it's like admitting their guilt in bright, flashing neon. Boggle.

    • c9 says:

      If everyone ignores it, then it might as well not be there. The entire legislative branch is equally guilty of ignoring it. Scary.

    • dojothemouse says:

      There are already caveats to the prohibition of ex post facto laws, and they have the weight to get a few more.

      Are there any precedents for prohibiting of ex post facto laws being used to retroactively legalize something, rather than illegalize?

      Wikipedia says:

      A law may have an ex post facto effect without being technically ex post facto. For example, when a law repeals a previous law, the repealed legislation no longer applies to the situations it once did, even if such situations arose before the law was repealed. The principle of prohibiting the continued application of these kinds of laws is also known as Nullum crimen, nulla poena sine praevia lege poenali.

      I bet they'd be able to rely on ex post facto if the law changed again, though.

  2. myth says:

    This is a step forward. It paves the way for eventual legislation which will retroactively revoke George Bush's entire presidency.

  3. baconmonkey says:

    can we just put cheyney in the black breathing-impaired cybord costume and be done with it?

    • xenogram says:

      It's important to get the colours right after all. Navy and Army grey, Marines white, Air Force and Hallibuton in black.

      Blue, white and green is so 20th Century. If you want the 21st to be The American Century you're going to have to coordinate.

  4. volkris says:

    Of course if you talk to people on the other side of the argument you'll hear that what these amendments do is actually make it possible to successfully prosecute more people for their actions.

    It's not a one sided issue, and this time the other side is not just a bunch of religious nutjobs. The War Crimes Act is often criticized as being somewhat uninforcable, and groups more level headed than Amnesty International are supportive of the changes because they see it as a way to implement the spirit of the act.

    • dr_memory says:

      groups more level headed than Amnesty International are supportive of the changes because they see it as a way to implement the spirit of the act

      ...and these groups are named?

  5. "I want to say one other thing about this – these horrible pictures and what we've seen. In a free society, we will find out the truth, and everybody will see the truth. In a society that is a free society, there will be transparency in the process. People will testify; there will be fair trials, if there are trials; the truth will be known. In societies run by tyrants, you never see the truth. You never find out the truth. This country honors every individual. We believe in human rights and human dignity. And the example we will set for the world will confirm that." (Emphasis mine.) – President George W. Bush, May 7, 2004

    • phoenixredux says:

      Which is precisely why, after the first images surfaced from Abu Gharib, the Pentagon banned all cameras at these sites, and continued to do what they had been doing. Now we embrace the "quaint" Geneva Conventions, so long as we're immune from prosecution under them. And certainly, they know that, as things presently stand, they could be tried for war crimes. If I were in charge of this mess and had made these same mistakes, it would look like a perfectly reasonable thing to do. To everyone else, it smacks of pathetic desperation to avoid international law. What a bunch of rotten crooks. If ever an administration deserved impeachment and recall, it would be this one.

  6. xenogram says:

    Yeah Pinochet tried that one too. The only sure way to remain immune is to die.

  7. lemonkey says:

    Pretty sneaky 'sis. -- barfs --