Sunday, October 1, 2006

GOP Congress Sneeks Bush Retroactive Presidential Immunity From War Crimes!

A June ruling by the Supreme Court defied President Bush in the Hamden case, and ruled that the treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay Cuba violated the Geneva Conventions, U.S. and International standards. President Bush, confident that the Republican Party would easily keep both houses of Congress after the November elections, was unconcerned about either house bringing up charges or investigating.

In an act that can only be described as arrogance, Bush moved to personally redefine the Geneva Conventions to suit his purposes by having both houses of the (then) Republican controlled Congress in effect change the rules for him.

The legislation should’ve sailed through Congress easily, but was delayed when several from the president's own party objected to his trying to re-write the Geneva Conventions, endangering U.S. soldiers as other countries might well follow Bush’s lead and rewrite their own rules too. With urgency, the President agreed to allow the Geneva Convention to stand as is, quickly settling to simply redefine the severity of the rules for questioning detainees.

However, now that the balance of power in both houses of Congress is uncertain, President Bush must now worry about The War Crimes Act, which states that it is a felony to violate the Geneva Conventions. What that means is that the Bush Administration could potentially be in real trouble unless that legislation is passed before the November elections, should a hostile committee initiate a Congressional investigation into his actions.

While watching Wolf Blitzer’s The Situation Room on CNN on Wednesday, off-hand comments during a conversation with Jack Cafferty took me by surprise:

Buried deep inside this legislation is a provision that will pardon President Bush and all the members of his administration of any possible crimes connected with the torture and mistreatment of detainees dated all the way back to September 11, 2001.

At least President Nixon had Gerald Ford to do his dirty work. President Bush is trying to pardon himself.

...Under the War Crimes Act, violations of the Geneva Conventions are felonies. In some cases, punishable by death. When the Supreme Court ruled the Geneva Conventions applied to al Qaeda and Taliban detainees,President Bush and his boys were suddenly in big trouble. They had been working these prisoners over pretty good.

In an effort to avoid possible prosecution, they're trying to cram this bill through Congress before the end of the week when Congress adjourns. The reason there's such a rush to do this, if the Democrats get control of the House (which they did) in November 2006, well, this kind of legislation probably wouldn't pass.

...The question is this: Should Congress pass a bill giving retroactive immunity to President Bush for possible war crimes?

For me, this raises several red flags immediately and raises the questions:
1....... Why does President Bush so urgently need pardon/blanket immunity for crimes dating back to September 11th 2001 that no one has proven that he’s committed yet?
2....... Why wasn’t/hasn't the presidential pardon section mentioned out in the open and above board?

While it’s understandable that protections would be put in place to provide immunity to CIA interrogators that are only following orders from the President, it is not reasonable to pardon the issuer of those dubious orders as well. So determined and so urgent is President Bush’s need, apparently, that Republican Congress members have begun vigorously attacking anyone who opposes the legislature as un-American and soft on terrorism.

As written, the bill also changes the definition of an enemy combatant to mean just about anything President Bush wants it to mean. This includes such vague terms as someone knowingly supporting terrorist groups with arms, money and other activities, but does not spell out how those definitions are determined or who is to make the distinctions. The legislation retains the illegality of such methods as induced hypothermia, biological experiments, and sleep deprivation, however Bush would still be free to create other methods of questioning as he sees fit whether they conflict with the Geneva Conventions or not.


(a) Counsel and Investigations- Section 1004(b) of the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 (42 U.S.C. 2000dd-1(b)) is amended--

(1) by striking `may provide' and inserting `shall provide';

(2) by inserting `or investigation' after `criminal prosecution'; and

(3) by inserting `whether before United States courts or agencies, foreign courts or agencies, or international courts or agencies,' after `described in that subsection'.

(b) Protection of Personnel- Section 1004 of the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 (42 U.S.C. 2000dd-1) shall apply with respect to any criminal prosecution that--

(1) relates to the detention and interrogation of aliens described in such section;

(2) is grounded in section 2441(c)(3) of title 18, United States Code; and

(3) relates to actions occurring between September 11, 2001, and December 30, 2005.


This Act shall take effect on the date of the enactment of this Act and shall apply retroactively, including--

(1) to any aspect of the detention, treatment, or trial of any person detained at any time since September 11, 2001; and

(2) to any claim or cause of action pending on or after the date of the enactment of this Act.


Section 2241 of title 28, United States Code, is amended by striking both the subsection (e) added by section 1005(e)(1) of Public Law 109-148 (119 Stat. 2742) and the subsection (e) added by section 1405(e)(1) of Public Law 109-163 (119 Stat. 3477) and inserting the following new subsection (e):

`(e)(1) Except as provided for in this subsection, and notwithstanding any other law, no court, justice, or judge shall have jurisdiction to hear or consider any claim or cause of action, including an application for a writ of habeas corpus, pending on or filed after the date of the enactment of the Military Commissions Act of 2006, against the United States or its agents, brought by or on behalf of any alien detained by the United States as an unlawful enemy combatant, relating to any aspect of the alien's detention, transfer, treatment, or conditions of confinement.

It is my opinion that President Bush and the Republican led Congress should be made to answer for this obvious misleading of the American voting public as to the actual motives of this legislation. An explanation of their urgency to get it passed before Congress recesses for the November elections might help too.

WARNING: Reproduction of this article is forbidden without the author's permission
© 2006 by Jet in Columbus

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