Friday, July 27, 2007

The Emperor's New Tools

Because he isn't getting much cooperation from Congress anymore, the President has just taken to passing his own laws. The most recent is an executive order giving the CIA expanded authority to detain and not-exactly-torture anyone in the world if the Director thinks it's necessary. In her latest column for the Los Angeles Times, Rosa Brooks takes a look at the latest walk on the dark side by this administration.

...On July 20, President Bush issued an executive order "interpreting" Common Article 3 of the Geneva Convention, as applied to secret CIA detention facilities. On its face, the order bans torture -- but as an editorial in this paper noted Thursday, it does so using language so vague it appears designed to create loopholes for the CIA.

Just as bad, though barely noted by the media, last week's executive order breaks new ground by outlining the category of people who can be detained secretly and indefinitely by the CIA -- in a way that's broad enough to include a hefty chunk of the global population. Under its terms, a non-U.S. citizen may be secretly detained and interrogated by the CIA -- with no access to counsel and no independent monitoring -- as long as the CIA director believes the person "to be a member or part of or supporting Al Qaeda, the Taliban or associated organizations; and likely to be in possession of information that could assist in detecting, mitigating or preventing terrorist attacks [or] in locating the senior leadership of Al Qaeda, the Taliban or associated forces."

Got that? The president of the United States just issued a public pronouncement declaring, as a matter of U.S. policy, that a single man has the authority to detain any person anyplace in the world and subject him or her to secret interrogation techniques that aren't torture but that nonetheless can't be revealed, as long as that person is thought to be a "supporter" of an organization "associated" in some unspecified way with the Taliban or Al Qaeda, and as long he thinks that person might know something that could "assist" us. ...

I was going to suggest that this latest edict was reminiscent of the Argentinian policies of 'disappearing' people, but the analogy isn't quite accurate. The generals there just disappeared their own people. Our Commander-in-Chief has decided to disappear citizens of all the other nations. In fact, he already has, as Ms. Brooks points out:

This isn't just hypothetical. The U.S. has already detained people based on little more. According to media reports, the CIA has even held children, including the 7- and 9-year-old sons of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. In 2006, Mohammed was transferred from a secret CIA facility to Guantanamo, but the whereabouts of his children are unknown.

Somehow I don't think those other sovereign nations are going to be happy with this latest edict from the boy who would be emperor. Not happy at all.

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Anonymous Nora said...

So let's see. He doesn't have any responsibility to enforce laws he doesn't like, according to him, and now he gets to make his own laws?

Did this man ever learn anything about the Constitution?

And WHY aren't more people paying attention to this? In my mind, the cancer at the heart of the American government is the lawless Executive branch -- as I wrote to Nancy Pelosi and to my rep, John Hall, yesterday.

We have to get these people out of office. And then prosecuted for their crimes.

6:00 AM  
Blogger shrimplate said...

A few months after Hillary Clinton assumes the Presidency, Bush and Cheney travel to Peru for a vacation, where they are apprehended by CIA operatives.

The evil pair are then rendered to Guantanamo where they are held for questioning. Without access to legal assistance. Forever.

But hey, they get chicken.

10:12 AM  

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