Thursday, September 14, 2006

Colin Powell Against Bush Tribunals

Colin Powell has developed a spine and publicly denounced President Bush's tribunals in a letter to Senator John McCain.


Dear Senator McCain,

I just returned to town and learned about the debate taking place in Congress to redefine Common Article 3 of the Geneva Convention. I do not support such a step and believe it would be inconsistent with the McCain amendment on torture which I supported last year.

I have read the powerful and eloquent letter sent to you by one my [sic] distinguished predecessors as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Jack Vessey. I fully endorse in tone and tint his powerful argument. The world is beginning to doubt the moral basis of our fight against terrorism. To redefine Common Article 3 would add to those doubts. Furthermore, it would put our own troops at risk.

I am as familiar with The Armed Forces Officer as is Jack Vessey. It was written after all the horrors of World War II and General George C. Marshall, then Secretary of Defense, used it to tell the world and to remind our soldiers of our moral obligations with respect to those in our custody.


Article 3 of Geneva Convention is very clear about torture.


(1) Persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms and those placed ' hors de combat ' by sickness, wounds, detention, or any other cause, shall in all circumstances be treated humanely, without any adverse distinction founded on race, colour, religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth, or any other similar criteria.
To this end, the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above-mentioned persons:

(a) violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture;

(b) taking of hostages;

(c) outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment;

(d) the passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court, affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.

(2) The wounded and sick shall be collected and cared for.

An impartial humanitarian body, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross, may offer its services to the Parties to the conflict.
The Parties to the conflict should further endeavour to bring into force, by means of special agreements, all or part of the other provisions of the present Convention.
The application of the preceding provisions shall not affect the legal status of the Parties to the conflict.


The Red Cross is not able to monitor the detainees in the secret prisons. Rush Limbaugh continues to say the Abu Ghraib photos are much to do about nothing. He even compared them to "anything you'd see Madonna, or Britney Spears do on stage." Do these photos of a dog bite injury look like childish pranks?

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Bush is pushing for the tribunals. He said he would "resist any bill that does not enable this program to go forward with legal clarity." Short answer: he wants Congress to give him and the CIA permission to break international law. The problem with CIA interrogations is that detainees are beaten to death. This is Manadel al-Jamadi after the CIA questioned him.

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Bush falsely claimed, "There's all kinds of letters coming out. And today, by the way, active duty personnel in the Pentagon, the JAG, supported the concept that I have just outlined to you." JAG has not been supportive of the President's policy.


At a Senate hearing yesterday, the judge advocate generals, or JAGs, for the Army, Air Force and Marines said they expressed their concerns as the policy was being hashed out at the Pentagon in March and April 2003.

Though their letters to the Defense Department's general counsel are classified, sources familiar with them said the lawyers worried that broadly defined, tough interrogation tactics would not only contravene long-standing military doctrine -- leaving too much room for interpretation by interrogators -- but also would cause public outrage if the tactics became known.


The State Department legal advisor also objected. Bush keeps saying this stuff and gets busted for lying. Members of his own party are against his interrogation because they don't believe he has respect for human rights. Nobody buys the sale pitch, anymore.

"You Have To Keep Repeating Things To Catapult The Propaganda."

George W. Bush

Update: CNN video on the Powell letter.



Sen. Lindsay Graham asked Tony Snow if the White House forced JAG to sign a letter approving the administration's policy. The JAG officers spent five hours in the office getting their arms twisted. Snow tells the prss corp that he doesn't know if there was a meeting or who asked JAG to sign the letter.

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