Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Should the US be facing war crimes investigation?

Some lawyers, very low down the chain, have been left vulnerable to prosecution for war crimes. One of them talks here about how she feels about the position the Bush regime have left her in.

To counter this, David Rivkin appears arguing that Bush was essentially right, as he also argued in this article in the WSJ:

What Mr. Obama's national security team will quickly discover is that the civilian criminal-justice system is an inadequate tool to deal with terrorists. President Bush's policies -- particularly treating captured terrorists as unlawful enemy combatants and employing a military court system to try them -- were dictated by the very real need to defend American citizens, not by disdain for the rule of law.
It is simply ludicrous to argue that a legal system which can deal with serial killers and murderers is somehow "inadequate" when it comes to dealing with terrorists.

Indeed, by his own admission, one of the reasons why Rivkin finds the civilian criminal justice system "inadequate" is because it denies the government what he defines as "maximum flexibility".

"Maximum flexibility" is another way of saying that no rules apply and that the gloves are off. It is a recipe for war crimes.

Rivken also appears to be arguing that there is no link whatsoever between big decisions like the one to suspend the application of the Geneva Conventions to al Qaeda detainees and the abuse which followed, which he continues to maintain were committed by "bad apples". Thankfully, his view is becoming - increasingly - an isolated one.

There are very few people who do not now believe that torture was official US policy. The real question now is what the Obama administration are prepared to do to investigate whether or not war crimes have taken place.

If Obama is not prepared to this, then the international community has an obligation to investigate any war crimes which the US is ignoring. Somewhere, however far down the line, the international community are going to have to acknowledge that what was done here was illegal and that it must not be allowed to stand unchallenged.


Katrina said...


Keep up the heat. It appears that the international media and blogosphere must continue this dicussion while the US is distracted by the economic stimulis bill presently in Congress. There cannot be two sets of laws in a democracy - one for those in power, and those for everyone else.

Kel said...

Absolutely Katrina. War crimes are war crimes no matter who commits them.

daveawayfromhome said...

What Republicans seem to fail to grasp is that democracy, and the rule of law, and freedom, and all those ideals that they seem to espouse can be dangerous. Sometimes, because a nation follows rules rather than the whims of a single person or group in charge, sometimes the bad guy gets away, or does something horrible. This is the price we pay for assuring that the wrongly accused dont simply get railroaded because the Authority takes a dislike to them.
The GOP doesnt seem to get that, whether because they dont truly believe in democracy, or because they are cowards, or fascists or what, I dont know.
The idea that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance refers to having unaccountable thugs with guns on hand to "enforce" said democracy is absurd, though.

Here's a good parallel for a country without the rule of law that I think most people can identify with: A nation without the rule of law will be run just like most people's jobs, i.e., the boss will do what he likes, and "if you dont like it, I'm sure there are plenty of people who'd love to have your job".

Kel said...

Democracy, and the rule of law, and freedom, and all those ideals that they seem to espouse can be dangerous.

They are especially dangerous to the last administration, but that's because they never truly believed in them.

Bush's first election - and they way they fought to stop the vote count - proved that they never really believed in democracy.

Their behaviour in Guanatanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib proved that they never respected the rule of law, especially international law.

They never believed in the ideals they espoused, they only espoused them in the hope of creating catchphrases which would silence dissent.

In the end the Bush regime believed in their own power and nothing else. And what disaster that led to.

I want to see them prosecuted. And this isn't about progressive versus conservative, this is about the rule of law. They committed war crimes and we need to put down a marker for future generations that what they did was wrong.