From the White House to the Big House?

September 7, 2006
A Fear of War Crimes Tribunals and Impeachment
Why Bush Really Came Clean About the CIA's Secret Torture Prisons

Congress enacted the War Crimes Act in 1996. That act defines violations of Geneva's Common Article 3 as war crimes. Those convicted face life imprisonment or even the death penalty if the victim dies.

The President is undoubtedly familiar with the doctrine of command responsibility, where commanders, all the way up the chain of command to the commander in chief, can be held liable for war crimes their inferiors commit if the commander knew or should have known they might be committed and did nothing to stop or prevent them.


Indeed, Congress passed the Detainee Treatment Act in December, which codifies the prohibition in United States law against cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment of prisoners in U.S. custody. In his speech yesterday, Bush took credit for working with Senator John McCain to pass the DTA.

In fact, Bush fought the McCain "anti-torture" amendment tooth-and-nail, at times threatening to veto the entire appropriations bill to which it was appended. At one point, Bush sent Dick Cheney to convince McCain to exempt the CIA from the prohibition on cruel treatment, but McCain refused.

Bush signed the bill, but attached a "signing statement" where he reserved the right to violate the DTA if, as commander-in-chief, he thought it necessary.


By challenging Congress to focus on legislation about treatment of terrorists - which he called "urgent" - Bush seeks to divert the election discourse away from his disastrous war on Iraq.
This cruel and degrading treatment of prisoners, which is a policy that is obviously handed down from the nation's highest office is inappropriate to the USA in the 21st century. How do we expect to gain the respect of people around the world, when the president dictates torturous treatment?


  1. As we were trying to find our way in Moscow today, an American couple stopped to offer aid. He lives here and works for a construction company. In the ensuing conversation, he said he had served in VietNam in the mid-sixties. Dad took the opportunity to opine that that was a bad war and that Iraq was in the same category. E&J rather gulped when Dad put himself out there, but these two strangers readily agreed with him. Who are the 28% who still approve of Bush's behavior? Unfortunately, we know some of them. Just can't understand it. We all must keep talking about our views. You do a good job, Rob.

  2. GO DAD!

    Both Rob and Dad are on to it.


Aldo Leopold: "We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect."

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