Tuesday, June 9, 2009

A Nation of Laws?

        The right wing crusade to remove civics from the public school's curriculum is paying off.   The belief that upholding US and international law, and respecting human rights is optional seems to be widespread in America today.
    For those who were not taught the US Constitution in school, due to its wishy-washy liberal tenets, here are some relevant points.
    Article V1 states:"This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Persuance thereof: and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, ... shall be the supreme Law of the Land".   Amendment VIII states  that cruel and unusual punishment shall not be inflicted.
   The United States is a signatory to the following relevant Treaties: the Geneva Conventions, the UN Charter, the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.   Contrary to prevailing American opinion, the US is not a law unto itself, unbound by decent respect for the opinions of the rest of the planet.  We are bound to follow the agreements which we have signed, which forbid aggressive war,  foreign occupations, torture and inhumane treatment of prisoners.  It doesn't matter if the prisoners were tortured to obtain information, to force them to lie to order to further Bush administration plans, or simply to entertain sadistic guards.  It's all illegal.
   Relevant US law includes the War Crimes Act and the Torture Stature. 
   The US Army Field Manual states that: "Military commanders may be responsible for war crimes committed by subordinate members of the armed forces, or other persons subject to their control.  Thus, for instance, when troops commit massacres and atrocities against the civilian population of occupied territory or against prisoners of war, the responsibility may rest not only with the actual perpetrators but also with the commander."
     The Field Manual clearly expects that the actual perpetrators will be held accountable.  It then makes clear that the commanders will ALSO be held responsible.  But President Obama has been declaring that the actual perpetrators will NOT be held accountable, and  implying that the commanders may also get away scot free.  This "only following orders" excuse was rejected in the Nuremberg Trials, and is not legal in US law. 
   Obama is as bad as Bush in believing that he is King of the USA and can pick and choose which laws are to be followed.  It is not optional to choose to ignore the laws against torture.  If Obama refuses to prosecute, then he himself is breaking the law.  The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Manfred Nowak, stated that prosecution is not optional, it is mandatory.  If the US doesn't prosecute, the UN should, although I wouldn't hold  my breath on that. The US literally gets away with murder, mass murder, and the UN is helpless to stop it.
    Now we have Cheney openly bragging about committing war crimes on TV, while Obama scuttles to court to cover up the written evidence.  
    America, "land of the free", has more people in prison than any other country.  To point to the abuse of American prisoners as justification for the abuse of prisoners of war is outrageous.  We must uphold human rights in our prisons as well as in the prisons we maintain around the world.  


Anonymous said...

I just finished reading a book I think was entitled "A Question of Torture". Much of the early studies done by psychologists and psychiatrists for the CIA showed that sensory deprivation, loud noises, temperature extremes, disrupting time, etc were more effective and faster than beatings for breaking down victims. Like Cheney says, it is like fraternity hazing.

I wonder what the transportation bill for Obama's continual travels is? Don't you think the American people could sublet the Oval Office since he never uses it?


wagelaborer said...

Yeah, that was written by Alfred McCoy. He actually came to my town for a book signing and hung out with my crowd for breakfast. He's pretty cool.

Great idea about the subletting. Or maybe the homeless in DC could use it. There sure are a lot of them.