Friday, December 05, 2008

History As Quaint

The Constitution, that ol' Rule of Law, Geneva Conventions, oh, get over it. We now have the revised facts according to the occupied White House. In this new and updated version of history, the intelligence failure made us go to war with Iraq, and those dear folks who wanted to keep us safe from the GWOT are innocent of torture, since they did it for U n' Me.

The Gonzales memo which followed pressure on the executive branch to keep torture perpetrators from any penalty for their atrocities has now become credo for the Attorney General.

US Attorney General Michael Mukasey yesterday indicated that President George W. Bush would not be issuing pre-emptive pardons in the case of officials implicated in torture or other abuses in the "war on terror". If so, this is welcome news. Amnesty International was among a number of organizations that sent a joint letter to President Bush on 3 December opposing resort to any such pardons.1

Welcome though such news would be, the Attorney General's reasoning gives cause for concern. There is "absolutely no evidence", he said, that "anybody who rendered a legal opinion" on interrogation policies "did so for any reason other than to protect the security in the country and in the belief that he or she was doing something lawful. In those circumstances, there is no occasion to consider prosecution and there is no occasion to consider pardon."

Given what we now know about US conduct in the "war on terror", and the previously secret legal opinions, to accept the Attorney General's reasoning would be to allow the government to perpetrate human rights violations with impunity, so long as they are carried out in the name of national security and the perpetrators claim they did not realise what they were doing was unlawful. Arguments excusing gross human rights violations in the name of national security are historically familiar. Indeed, the inclusion in various treaties of the obligation to bring all perpetrators of torture and similar violations to justice was intended to reject such arguments categorically.

Further, ignorance of the law is generally no excuse or defence for criminal charges. After the incidents of torture and other detainee abuses became widely known, however, the administration and congress enacted a special statutory 'ignorance of the law' defence, seeking to immunize US personnel from the criminal responsibility they otherwise would have faced, to which the Attorney General was likely referring. Yet to the extent this defence further contributes to impunity for crimes under international law such as torture and certain other acts of ill-treatment of detainees, it constitutes a further violation of the USA's international obligations and must be immediately reversed.
The USA is required by international law to respect and ensure human rights, to thoroughly investigate every violation of those rights, and to bring perpetrators to justice, no matter their level of office or former level of office. Victims of human rights violations have the right under international law to effective access to remedy and reparation. (Emphasis added.)

Sadly, there has been increasing familiarity with the crimes, to the point that some diminution has occurred. We need reminding that torture is not acceptable, and that excuses are not reasons. The Attorney General was put in a place where for awhile he can block the law, but he will never do away with it entirely. Legal manipulation and vocal quibbling is not adequate to erase crimes.

The feeling of being above the law has gained ground in this White House much as it did in the Nixon years, when the then executive declared that if he did it, it was not a crime. Documents relating to the war on Iraq have shown to have been altered and we can be sure those public documents destined for incarceration in the SMU Liebury will not be trustworthy, either.

Instead of the White House Web site maintaining an updated list while preserving copies of the old ones or issuing revised lists in addition to the original posts, the White House removed original documents, altered them and replaced them with backdated modifications that only appear to be originals.

The littlest minds that are presently at the helm in this country have deluded themselves into thinking they can choose their own facts, and when the facts don't serve their purposes make up some they like. The bubble is about to burst. Facts are still the same here in the real world.

Outrage and indignation are the only reaction possible to the horrors the occupied White House has committed. This bloody legacy should never be regarded with complaisance.

Labels: , , , ,


Blogger Meander said...

My outrage meter spiked and broke years ago.

Now I'm just running on a constant flow of low-level disgust and fury.

9:07 AM  
Blogger Ruth said...

46 more days. Hold on.

9:26 AM  
Blogger Woody (Tokin Librul/Rogue Scholar/ Helluvafella!) said...

There aren't going to be any pardons because the Bushies intuit, correctly, there isn't going to be any reason to grant them. There's not gonna be any investigations, there's not gonna be any convictions, there's not gonna be any consequences.

They have 'plausible' deniability (plus a bunch of 'legal opinions' behind which they can and will hide).

Scott Horton in his piece this month in Harper's on why and how to prosecute these wretched criminals actually does nothing more than to demonstrate why no such consequences for the bushies will ever ensue...

4:58 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home