Bush’s Instructions on the Treatment of Political Commissars Enemy Combatants

What kind of craziness do you get when you combine a Reagan-appointed former commandant of the Marine Corps with a former lawyer in the Reagan White House and give them space in the Washington Post to commenting on George W. Bush’s recent Executive Order on detainee treatment?

Let’s begin with the title: War Crimes and the White House.

What the…?

And the subtitle: The Dishonor in a Tortured New ‘Interpretation’ of the Geneva Conventions.

Ouch!

It gets worse for Bush from there:

But we cannot in good conscience defend a decision that we believe has compromised our national honor and that may well promote the commission of war crimes by Americans and place at risk the welfare of captured American military forces for generations to come.
[…]

Last Friday, the White House issued an executive order attempting to “interpret” Common Article 3 [of the 1949 Geneva Conventions] with respect to a controversial CIA interrogation program. The order declares that the CIA program “fully complies with the obligations of the United States under Common Article 3,” provided that its interrogation techniques do not violate existing federal statutes (prohibiting such things as torture, mutilation or maiming) and do not constitute “willful and outrageous acts of personal abuse done for the purpose of humiliating or degrading the individual in a manner so serious that any reasonable person, considering the circumstances, would deem the acts to be beyond the bounds of human decency.”

In other words, as long as the intent of the abuse is to gather intelligence or to prevent future attacks, and the abuse is not “done for the purpose of humiliating or degrading the individual” — even if that is an inevitable consequence — the president has given the CIA carte blanche to engage in “willful and outrageous acts of personal abuse.”

It is firmly established in international law that treaties are to be interpreted in “good faith” in accordance with the ordinary meaning of their words and in light of their purpose. It is clear to us that the language in the executive order cannot even arguably be reconciled with America’s clear duty under Common Article 3 to treat all detainees humanely and to avoid any acts of violence against their person.

Clearly, the Bush administration is finding itself sitting off in its own isolated corner of Neoconlandia.

Bush’s Executive Order is worthless under two circumstances. First, it is meaningless in the Hague and 192 other countries. War crimes are war crimes, regardless of any “Executive Order” whether from George Bush or Adolph Hitler (about which, more later).

Policymakers should also keep in mind that violations of Common Article 3 are “war crimes” for which everyone involved — potentially up to and including the president of the United States — may be tried in any of the other 193 countries that are parties to the conventions.

Secondly, the Executive Order is meaningless if a U.S. court declares it unconstitutional. Torturers torture at their own risk. After all, there will eventually (most likely sooner rather than later) be a new administration that isn’t driving under the influence of Cheney. And some of us expect—and will demand—that war criminals be prosecuted whether at home or abroad.

But why must we even be debating the limits of torture in America? Why do we have a President who dishonors all Americans—who injures our national sense of honor, who trashes our moral standing with the rest of the world—by parsing the Geneva Conventions in order to justify inhumane treatment of prisoners?

We’ve seen this kind of thing before–dismissal of international law in the name of national security. On 6 June 1941, Adolph Hitler signed an “Executive Order” called Instructions on the Treatment of Political Commissars (my emphasis):

In the struggle against Bolshevism, we must not assume that the enemy’s conduct will be based on principles of humanity or of international law. In particular, hate-inspired, cruel and inhumane treatment of prisoners can be expected on the part of all grades of political commissars, who are the real leaders of resistance…To show consideration to these elements during this struggle, or to act in accordance with international rules of war, is wrong and endangers both our own security and the rapid pacification of conquered territory…Political commissars have initiated barbaric, Asiatic methods of warfare. Consequently, they will be dealt with immediately and with maximum severity. As a matter of principle, they will be shot at once, whether captured during operations or otherwise showing resistance.

So, replace Bolshevism with “Islamofascism,” replace political commissars with “enemy combatants,” replace Asiatic methods of warfare with “terrorism,” and you pretty much have a Bush stump speech. Of course, sometimes we ship ‘em to detention centers and torture them instead of immediately shooting them, but the parallels are stunning.

I find it disgusting that my President of my America is justifying the torture of prisoners using the same rationale that Hitler used to ignore international law.

Given today’s Washington Post commentary, it looks like there are some Righties with significant concerns, too.

Comments

  1. 1

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    I shed no tears for Al Qaeda terrorists, but torturing people to get information is just plain stupid, because they’ll tell you what they think you want to hear to make the pain stop. Then there’s the little matter of torturing innocent people because our Republican overlords are too fucking incompetent to tell the difference between a terrorist and a cab driver. You sure as hell wouldn’t want a Bush appointee on the jury if you were accused of a crime you didn’t commit! You don’t want to be around these guys when they’re waving loaded guns, either — the best you can hope for is they’ll shoot themselves instead of you.

  2. 4

    Mark spews:

    Torture schmorture – I would pay money to watch Kalid Sheik Muhammed and Company be lowered into a meat grinder, fed to a pool of sharks, be doused with gasoline and lit on fire, be hung upside down and beaten with baseball bats with nails sticking out of them, have his nut sack squeezed with a vice until they poppped, or other similar amusing acts. What a sight to behold that would be! The possibilities are endless!

  3. 5

    spews:

    Roger Rabbit @ 1,

    “Then there’s the little matter of torturing innocent people because our Republican overlords are too fucking incompetent to tell the difference between a terrorist and a cab driver.”

    Back in the good ‘ol days we had a pretty reliable method to tell the difference between a terrorist and a cab driver. We tried them in a court of law.

    But, I guess that is just so much “Pre-9-11 thinking.” Now we use Cheney’s 28 gauge divining rod to spot ‘em.

  4. 6

    SeattleJew spews:

    In the struggle against the Republicans, we must not assume that their nominee’s conduct will be based on principles of humanity or of international law.

    In particular, hate-inspired, cruel and inhumane treatment of our nominee’s record can be expected on the part of all grades of political agents of the GOP…To show consideration to these elements during this struggle, or to act in accordance with tradtional limits of tolerance and good will, is wrong and endangers both our own security and the rapid pacification of newly Democratic districts.

    Whatever we think about their nominee, GOP agents have initiated barbaric, even Racist methods of campaigning.
    Consequently, their nominee will be dealt with immediately and with maximum severity. As a matter of principle, he will be subjected to swift boat tactics, racial slurs, religous inuendoes, and have his manhood questioned.

    These policies will take effect at once, whether information is captured during normal campaign operations or needs to be generated by less visible means.

  5. 7

    spews:

    Mark @ 4,

    Yeah…well you Wingnuts were never much for the Constitution.

    Unless, of course, you ran out of toilet paper and needed something to wipe your ass with.

  6. 9

    ArtFart spews:

    The really scary part of this is that a large portion of the “liberally-biased” mainstream press reported that Bush’s order was actually a ban or restriction on the use of torture.

  7. 10

    ArtFart spews:

    “Secondly, the Executive Order is meaningless if a U.S. court declares it unconstitutional.”

    Courts, schmourts…you can bet Roberts/Alito/Scalia/Thomas are eagerly waiting for this one with rubber stamps in hand, and that someone has a thumbscrew or two waiting for Anthony Kennedy if he doesn’t play along.

  8. 11

    Mark spews:

    ArtFart says:

    Hey Mark…did you get your rocks off posting #4?

    Now that you mention it, yes I did.

  9. 12

    spews:

    re 11: You say you would pay to see it, but I don’t think you are truthful. Only a psychopath would want to see that.

    Anyway, once someone’s dead, their suffering is a moot point. If you want someone gone, just do it.

  10. 13

    FricknFrack, Seattle spews:

    Kinda still within topic (I hope) but it’s breaking news a few minutes ago, along similar lines. Why do folks take so lightly the loss of other U.S. citizens’ freedom?

    http://tinyurl.com/29a9y7
    U.S. must pay $101.7 million to men framed by FBI

    * Awarding $101.7 million in damages, judge calls government’s position “absurd”

    BOSTON, Massachusetts (AP) — A federal judge Thursday ordered the government to pay more than $101 million in the case of four men who spent decades in prison for a 1965 murder they didn’t commit after the FBI withheld evidence of their innocence. (see link for rest of story)

  11. 14

    Broadway Joe spews:

    Typical Bushit, ain’t it?

    tick tick tick tick tick tick tick tick tick tick tick tick tick tick……..

  12. 15

    FricknFrack, Seattle spews:

    Good & interesting find Darryl! Left me feeling a tiny bit more hopeful that there might be SOMETHING to alter this president’s mental instability and his burning desire to torpedo this country! THEN,

    @ #10, Art Fart’s reminder:
    “Courts, schmourts…you can bet Roberts/Alito/Scalia/Thomas are eagerly waiting for this one with rubber stamps in hand, and that someone has a thumbscrew or two waiting for Anthony Kennedy if he doesn’t play along.”

    Brought me back down to earth, but I think Art’s right on target. At least, it’s helpful to see that some on the right (such as these writers with “War Crimes and the White House.”) are beginning to sit up and smell the stinkyness surrounding this administration!

  13. 16

    Puddybud spews:

    FricknFrack: See what FBI Moonbat!s in a Moonbat! administration from a Moonbat! area of the US do? They were enemy combatants against whom? The FBI? The Mafia? The Boston Moonbat!s? Now where does the money come from? The LBJ/JEH estates?

    I really feel sorry for those men and their families, but the circumstances are the same crap you decry now. In this case they were incarcerated for 40+ years. No one has been sent to jail under these circumstances.

  14. 17

    RightEqualsStupid spews:

    We need to make sure that the Publicans we convict after we take back the White House get some torture. Then we’ll see how they feel about it.

  15. 18

    The sane Mark spews:

    I’m thinking Bush and co. will not do much overseas travelling after leaving office. Although I’d like to see a fair trial.

  16. 20

    Daddy Love spews:

    Wow.

    Mark says:

    Torture

    But who woulda thought, right?

    My fucking ass. Mark, fuck you and whatever perverted pain-fest you’d like to be party to for whatever twisted pleasure you would obtain therefrom.

    The US has signed and ratified both the Fourth Geneva Convention and the UN Convention Against Torture. They are, acording to the US Constitution, Article VI, and I fucking quote:

    This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the SUPREME LAW OF THE LAND; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding.

    What part of that is so fucking HARD TO UNDERSTAND?

    This lawwless fuck of a president needs to go. NOW.

    And Mark? You too. Sorry, bud.

  17. 22

    Mark spews:

    RightEqualsStupid says:

    We need to make sure that the Publicans we convict after we take back the White House get some torture. Then we’ll see how they feel about it.

    Its spelled REpublicans you illiterate fuck!!!!!

  18. 23

    Mark spews:

    headless lucy says:

    re 11: You say you would pay to see it, but I don’t think you are truthful. Only a psychopath would want to see that.

    Anyway, once someone’s dead, their suffering is a moot point. If you want someone gone, just do it.

    Wrongo Lucy that doesn’t give head – I would sincerely enjoy the shit out of it!

  19. 25

    proud leftist spews:

    Mark
    People like you need help. Let me know where you live so I can refer you to appropriate mental health therapy. I assume that the counseling will need to be free for you, as I’m confident you don’t have a pot to piss in. If you are what Republicans (actually, let’s spell it correctly–Refucklicans) are all about, then those of us who call ourselves Democrats don’t have anything to fear about the future of politics in this nation.

  20. 27

    Mark spews:

    proud leftist says:

    Mark
    People like you need help. Let me know where you live so I can refer you to appropriate mental health therapy. I assume that the counseling will need to be free for you, as I’m confident you don’t have a pot to piss in. If you are what Republicans (actually, let’s spell it correctly–Refucklicans) are all about, then those of us who call ourselves Democrats don’t have anything to fear about the future of politics in this nation.

    As you might expect, I wholeheartedly disagree. It is people like YOU who need help. This almost narcotic like obsession that people on the left have about the well being of al Qaeda members is nauseating to put it mildly. Trust me, our enemies are not impressed by what you like to view as being “civilized”. Quite the opposite. To them, this obsession over their rights is a morale booster for them. To them this is a sign of weakness. A sign that we are indeed a “paper tiger”.

  21. 28

    GBS spews:

    Mark @ 4 et al:

    Most likely, your false bravado is just meant to stir the pot on this liberal blog. If not, then you’re one of those men who thinks torturing our enemies somehow makes you manly.

    You are not a man’s man, you are, in fact, a weakling. You are weak of mind, character, morality and patriotism. You completely lack the understanding of what it means to be an American military fighting man. Regardless of any prior military service, if you have it.

    The tradition of treating our enemies humanely began with George Washington. He famously ordered his troops to treat the surrendering Hessian troops humanely, to quarter them, to feed them, and to treat their wounds. Even though their paymasters were the greatest military on earth; the Royal British Army.

    Washington said “Let them have no reason to complain of our copying the brutal example of the British army.”

    War is the application of extreme violence in unremorseful measures to be sure, but the difference between al Qeada and pre 9/11 America is how we treated prisoners once they were off the field of battle.

    We are a nation of laws and not men. To uphold democracy and follow the rules of law means we will, at all times, be required to fight with one hand tied behind our backs. Rest assured, however, to do so always gives us the upper hand in any battle and the humbleness to win with honor.

    You may want America to be more like al Qeada. Liberals do NOT share your radical, anti-American, neoconservative views of America. We defend and honor the wisdom and traditions of our Founding Fathers, our first Commander-in-Chief, and later on in the War of 1812, our political leaders who did not abandon the Bill of Rights even though the British were burning down the White House. They stood tall, and courageously did not deviate from the blessings of Liberty in the face of destruction.

    You, sir, cannot say the same of your character. It does not come from the mold of Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, and Adams like Liberals.

    Yours is born from Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Jack Abramoff, Tom DeLay, Duke Cunningham; Men of questionable honorable, character and above all loyalty to power and each other rather than the Constitution and the Rule of Law.

    This is what defines you. Copying al Qeada is not American.