It’s always the little Preznits who suffer most!

“There are international standards that civilized regimes adhere to and then there are regimes like Saddam Hussein[‘s]…” U.S. Sec’y of Defense Rumsfeld, 03/23/03 CNN

“We expect [US POWs] to be treated humanely, just like we’ll treat any prisoners of theirs that we capture humanely … If not, the people who mistreat the prisoners will be treated as war criminals.” – GWB 03/23/03 WH

Weirdly, GW Bush didn’t apologize to the people of Iraq or to the tortured Abu Ghaibri prisoners, but to King Abdullah II of Jordan, who cancelled their previous meeting in protest of events in Iraq and had the misfortune of standing next to him at this photo op. The weak apology was the diplomatic equivalent of attacking an uninvolved, irrelevant country — say, Iraq — to “avenge” the 9/11 attacks. It would be like an Arabic-speaking country lumping all English-speaking countries together and sending the envoy for the US to Scotland, another English-speaking predominately Protestant country, and heck, saving a bit on air fare. I loved the look on King Abdullah’s face as he watched the diplomatic non sequitur: Why doesn’t he apologize to Luxembourg? Qatar? Trinidad and Tobago? combined with Aw crap, talk about a photo trail that will haunt my career.

[King Abdullah and I] also talked about what has been on the TV screens recently, not only in our own country, but overseas — the images of cruelty and humiliation. I told His Majesty as plainly as I could that the wrongdoers will be brought to justice, and that the actions of those folks in Iraq do not represent the values of the United States of America.

I told him I was sorry for the humiliation suffered by the Iraqi prisoners, and the humiliation suffered by their families. I told him I was equally sorry that people who have been seeing those pictures didn’t understand the true nature and heart of America. I assured him Americans, like me, didn’t appreciate what we saw, that it made us sick to our stomachs. I also made it clear to His Majesty that the troops we have in Iraq, who are there for security and peace and freedom, are the finest of the fine, fantastic United States citizens, who represent the very best qualities of America: courage, love of freedom, compassion, and decency. – (GWB 05/06/03)

Grrr, no wonder the Preznit’s steamed … if only that self-avowed champion of justice and puppies could get in touch with the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the United States and give that asshole a piece of his mind! (Where is that guy, anyway? America could really use a disciplined commander of the nation’s military right about now.)

And in what other nation now or at any time in history could a world leader get away with “explaining” that he couldn’t even fathom the possibility of torture EXCEPT FROM WHAT HE HAPPENED TO SEE ON TV??? What, did Barney sit on the remote, surfing away from Davey and Goliath for a second to 60 Minutes II?

Excuses that appear to satisfy the White House Press Corpse just wouldn’t fly anywhere else, especially with the abundant examples of illegal detentions and a hinky human rights record starting from, oh, 9/12. Are there no journalists at the Emperor’s court with the huevos or huevaries (aside from primieval journalistic natural force Helen Thomas) to ask questions like, “Mr. President, do you have anything less ridiculous and insulting than that utter crock of shit you just said?” or “Mr. President, your latest accountability dodge is that your intel to marshall the world’s most powerful military comes to you through accidental tv-viewing. As we’re in wartime, aren’t you worried voters might choose a leader who’d mix the occasional Frontline documentary in with their animated religious vegetables?”


But remember, no matter what horrible fate befalls people and nations from another one of the Preznit’s Miserable Failures, once he swiftly passes the buck (and only after the public has demanded accountability), no one suffers more than he does, or is more indignant over witnessing clear wrongdoing:

The acts were abhorrent, Steve. They sickened my stomach. I know they sickened yours, too. You’re a decent American. Any decent soul doesn’t want a human being treated that way. And it is — it’s a stain on our country’s honor and our country’s reputation. I full understand that. And that’s why it’s important that justice be done. (GWB 05/06/03)

And we’ll find out the truth. We’ll take a good look at the whole system to determine — to make sure this doesn’t happen again. But I am — I am — I am sickened by what I saw, and sickened that somebody gets the wrong impression of people who are serving this country and this world with such dignity. (GWB 05/06/03)

Phew! At least this will take his mind off the shock that someone, damn if only he could figure out who, on his staff put the hit on Joseph Wilson’s wife! Or ordered ugly attacks on other critics of the president and administration! Or ignored 911 warnings! Or who pressured various parties to hide budgetary and intelligence information from Congress! But all of that combined isn’t remotely as distressingly urgent as finding the person or persons responsible for hyping those scary non-existent Iraqi WMDs on every available media outlet! (If only he could get his hands on video or transcripts of some sort!) Adding to his discomfit is the realization that some will use these torture “images” as propaganda, if you can imagine! (It’s always only the spin of an issue that concerns this administration, and they say it!)

I think people in the Middle East who want to dislike America will use this as an excuse to remind people about their dislike. – GWB on Arab TV05/05/05

The Preznit and his war party have been obliterating human rights conventions and stonewalling human rights groups since 9/11. If the Preznit didn’t know specifically about Abu Ghaibri prison in Iraq, he must have known about abuses in Afghanistan and Guantanamo, since he personally did a lot of tap-dancing and semantic-twisting to dodge human rights codes. (Relevant quotes in the extension.)

Here’s another enthralling exchange from the US Department of Hooey:

Q Isn’t [the President] upset that he was the last to know, in effect, how bad this was?

MR. McCLELLAN: He is not happy about what occurred in these images that people saw last week. And he wants to make sure that strong steps are taken to stop that from happening again, and that those responsible are held accountable. And that’s what the military is doing. And that’s where the President’s focus is.

Q … [H]as he issued a worldwide alert that all military prisons under U.S. control are not participating in such abuse? And does he know — how about Guantanamo? Is it clean?

MR. McCLELLAN: Helen, our military adheres to high standards of conduct. And when — and when there is a bad behavior —

Q We don’t need that lecture. We know that. We believe in our country.

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, the way you phrased your question doesn’t make it sound like you do — 05/05/04 WH Briefing

Now there’s an administration that lives up to its billing (below) that “America is a country of justice and law and freedom and treating people with respect“. The abuses that have come to light are just the tip of the iceberg:

U.S. soldiers who detained an elderly Iraqi woman last year placed a harness on her, made her crawl on all fours and rode her like a donkey, Prime Minister Tony Blair’s personal human rights envoy to Iraq said Wednesday. The envoy, legislator Ann Clwyd, said she had investigated the claims of the woman in her 70s and believed they were true. During five visits to Iraq in the past 18 months, Clwyd said, she had stopped at British and U.S. jails, including the notorious Abu Ghraib Prison in Baghdad, and questioned everyone she could about the woman’s claims. (05/06/04 UK Herald)

Indeed. Apparently, troops tortured the elderly and adolescents too, and given the lack of camera shyness among the war criminals, there will probably be new, and possibly worse pictures.

All of that makes the script he used on US-friendly Arab TV media outlets sound even more ridiculous. (BushCo’s own Al Hurra network — pure croney-pork that Kerry voted against and the fact being used by the Bush campaign to label him weak on defense — is watched by a whopping 6% of Iraqis.) These comments (strung together like beads) have Karen “dozens of weapons of mass destruction program related activities” Hughes light touch:

I talked to the Secretary of Defense this morning, by the way. I said, find the truth, and then tell the Iraqi people and the world the truth. … We stand side-by-side with the Iraqis that love freedom. … America is a country of justice and law and freedom and treating people with respect. … [W]e believe the Iraqi people have got the capacity to take care of people who are willing to terrorize innocent Iraqi citizens. … The people of Iraq must understand, sovereignty will be transferred on June 30th. And there’s a process now in place to make sure that there’s an entity to which we transfer sovereignty. And then there will be elections. (GWB 05/05/04)

There’s no evidence connecting Iraq with the 9/11 attacks or with al Qaeda. GWB has repeatedly admitted there is no evidence, yet continues to use 9/11 to justify actions in Iraq. (He’s like the protagonist in Memento.) And if there’s any sliver of Iraqi being not already fulminating with rage, yakking up some well-chewed 9/11 cud that all but his most rabid supporters find disgusting ought to do it:

Q Mr. President, critics are saying that by your action in Iraq actually invited al Qaeda and other terrorists to do business with you over there. Could you address that?

THE PRESIDENT: Sure. Do you remember September the 11th, 2001? Al Qaeda attacked the United States. They killed thousands of our citizens. I will never forget what they have done to us. They declared war on us. And the United States will pursue them. And so long as I’m the President, we will be determined, steadfast, and strong as we pursue those people who kill innocent lives because they hate freedom.)

THE PRESIDENT: But the truth of the matter is, they [al Qaeda] hate us, and they hate freedom, and they hate people who embrace freedom. (GWB 05/05/05)

The nation of Iraq: So why don’t you fucking bomb and torture them, then????

More and more extensive quotes in the extension, particularly relating to the administration’s attitude towards earlier reports of prisoner abuse. Update: corrected some citations and smoothed out some rocky passages.

US Department of Hooey 05/05/04 Briefing on the torture at Abu Ghaibri prison:

Q How does the President feel about the fact that he has to sit down in interviews and sort of make the case, the moral distinction between the United States and Saddam Hussein, which he did in two separate interviews today?

MR. McCLELLAN: [A]s he pointed out in one of those interviews, as well, he said there are some that will use any excuse, those who are enemies of freedom and democracy, those who want to see what we are working to achieve in Iraq fail.

Q Why didn’t he hear about it until it became public with a television broadcast? …

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, as I said, Bill, obviously, as the investigation process moves forward, more information is going to come to light. … The Pentagon takes this very seriously, as you’ve heard from our military leaders —

Q I’m asking about the President

MR. McCLELLAN: — General Sanchez took immediate steps to address the matter in Iraq when it came to light. And now we’ve been learning more over the last couple of months about the nature of what occurred.

Q Isn’t [the President] upset that he was the last to know, in effect, how bad this was?

MR. McCLELLAN: He is not happy about what occurred in these images that people saw last week. And he wants to make sure that strong steps are taken to stop that from happening again, and that those responsible are held accountable. And that’s what the military is doing. And that’s where the President’s focus is.

Q … [H]as he issued a worldwide alert that all military prisons under U.S. control are not participating in such abuse? And does he know — how about Guantanamo? Is it clean?

MR. McCLELLAN: Helen, our military adheres to high standards of conduct. And when — and when there is a bad behavior —

Q We don’t need that lecture. We know that. We believe in our country.

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, the way you phrased your question doesn’t make it sound like you do —

Q Scott, if the President was so disgusted and disturbed by what he saw in these pictures when they became public last Wednesday, why did it take him until Monday to go to Rumsfeld and say, you need to take strong action to correct this?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, he’s in constant contact with his military leaders. I would remind you that I think over the weekend this classified report came to light, as well. That is something that is still, from my understanding, working its way through the chain of command at the military. It’s part of this overall effort to investigate matters and take steps to prevent this from happening again. And the President is asking these questions and making sure that the Pentagon is working to find answers and find the facts.

Q But why shouldn’t we conclude that he only began to take a more aggressive stance on this after the diplomatic and political ramifications became clear?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, when it first came to light, the President made sure that we were investigating these matters. We have learned more information since that time, and the President is going to continue asking his military leaders what they are doing to address this issue and the steps that they are taking to prevent it from happening again.

Q You’re suggesting the President is satisfied with the approach Secretary Rumsfeld —

MR. McCLELLAN: He’s going to continue asking them where things stand and what is happening in terms of the investigations. The President wants to know the facts. He wants to know the truth. So he will continue asking those questions, as he did earlier today with Secretary Rumsfeld.

Q You didn’t answer that question at all.

Q We can agree you didn’t say “yes”?

MR. McCLELLAN: No, no, go — ask your question again.

Q Is the President satisfied with the specific steps that Secretary Rumsfeld has taken in dealing with this matter?

MR. McCLELLAN: He believes that they are taking appropriate action to address the matter and that they are looking fully at whether or not there’s a systemic problem beyond the actions of a few that we have already been made aware of.

Q What about up until now, though?

Q The President said today, “The first time I saw or heard about pictures was on TV.” We know that General Abizaid, we know that the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Richard Myers, both knew weeks before that, A, these pictures existed, and, B, that they would be broadcast. In light of the fact of the impact these pictures have had on U.S. credibility, is the President disturbed that he was not notified of the existence of these pictures, or that they would be broadcast?

MR. McCLELLAN: Again, I think this question was — is mentioned in David’s question earlier today, and we discussed it earlier this morning, as well. The President’s focus is on making sure that our military is taking this matter seriously, that they’re taking steps to address it, and that they’re holding people accountable who are responsible for these appalling acts, because it does not represent what America stands for. It does not represent American values. And the President wants to make sure that this kind of activity doesn’t happen again. And he appreciates the fact that there are a series of investigations going on now by our military leaders, and that when it came to their attention, they immediately took steps to look into these issues and work to address them.

Q But does the President believe that he was informed by Rumsfeld in a timely manner about these photos?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I pointed out to you that after Secretary Rumsfeld became aware of it, he informed the President about it at a later time. And so the President —

Q When was —

MR. McCLELLAN: It was sometime after Secretary Rumsfeld became aware of it. As I mentioned to Terry earlier, I don’t have the exact time period, but can you go back and look at the time line that the Pentagon outlined. All this came to light really in the month of January and rose up through the chain of command to higher level officials.

Q When the President today said that General Kimmitt made people aware that there was allegations of abuse in early January, was the President saying that he was aware of those allegations, either through Kimmitt or someone else, in early January?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, again, like I said, I don’t have the exact time period, but it was sometime after Secretary Rumsfeld became aware of it, because he’s the one who informed the President about these matters.

Q Which would have been after January 16th, when the Coalition Provisional Authority put out a release saying that the allegations —

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I don’t know the exact time when Secretary Rumsfeld became aware of it, you can direct that question to him, but it was sometime after that.

Q So we’ll ask Secretary Rumsfeld when Rumsfeld knew, and then that will give us a clue as to when the President knew, because the President doesn’t know?

MR. McCLELLAN: It was some time after that, at a later time after that. And the President, like I said, wanted to make sure that action was being taken, that they were investigating the matter and that the appropriate steps were being taken to address it; he was told that they were. As the investigation has moved forward, more information has come to light. We’ve learned more about the precise nature of what occurred. And the President is continuing to ask questions and make sure that our military is taking this matter seriously.

Q The President would have been informed, though, before January 16th, before the Coalition Authority puts out a press release — I mean, is that fair to say, that the President was informed before the press release came out?

MR. McCLELLAN: Again, I mean, there were charges — I’m not sure — no, I’m not sure that I would make that assumption, because I’m not sure when Secretary Rumsfeld first became aware of it.

Q Scott, let me ask you two questions on the details that are related. Number one, when Secretary Rumsfeld told the President that there are allegations of prisoner abuse, was that as detailed as Secretary Rumsfeld got with the President?

MR. McCLELLAN: It was a general sense, at that point, and that —

Q So it was no more than that?

MR. McCLELLAN: — they were investigating the matter. The President wanted to make sure that they were investigating it. And, again, as the investigations or series of investigations have been moving forward, more information is coming to light.

Q And part two is, since that briefing by Secretary Rumsfeld to the President, the President knew or heard, was told nothing more until he saw the television and the pictures of the prison and prisoners?

MR. McCLELLAN: He was aware that investigations were underway looking into this matter. He learned more about the precise nature through some of the media reports, and that’s when he started asking some additional questions of Secretary Rumsfeld. And he has been informed about some of the additional steps that they have been taking more recently.

Q So the only information he got after the first Rumsfeld briefing was from the media?

MR. McCLELLAN: Ed, I don’t — he’s in contact with our military leaders on a regular basis, and he’s briefed on matters in Iraq. But I think that if you go back, yes, he was aware of a general sense that there were allegations of prisoner abuse, that it was being investigated, and when more information came to light and the precise nature — more about the precise nature of what occurred was learned, the President wanted to know additional information. And he will continue to ask questions as these investigations move forward.

Q Scott, was the President aware before he saw the reports on television that there were pictures of this abuse —

MR. McCLELLAN: He already addressed that. He actually got asked that in his interview.

Q — pictures that were likely to have an impact on the Arab world?

MR. McCLELLAN: He actually addressed that in his interview; that question came up. In terms of what this does to us in the Arab world, it certainly does not help. It does hurt our efforts. But that’s why the President went on these networks earlier today to assure people in the Arab world that what America stands for is treating everybody with dignity and respect, and treating people in a humane way. And that’s what we are committed to doing when it comes to prisoners. [!]

Q Has the President discussed any steps, creating any steps that would avoid not having to learn about photos like this by watching it on TV again? Something down the chain of command to ensure that something like this doesn’t happen again?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, again, the President’s focus right now is on making sure that the military is taking the steps necessary to address this matter; that people are being held accountable for this kind of behavior that is abhorrent; that action is being taken to make sure that we prevent something like this from happening again; and to make sure that we are taking a broad look at what is going on in our prison system so that we can be assured that it is not a systemic problem. And that’s where the President’s focus is. Obviously, he was informed that there were.

I don’t think people recognize the magnitude of the precedent Rummy and the Idiot in Chief have set with Guantanamo, Afghanistan and the US. The people who have suffered and will suffer for it for years to come have no recourse yet to address their treatment.

[George W. Bush] has unleashed the greatest onslaught against international law of any U.S. president in living memory. He has torn up arms-control agreements and worked to sabotage the International Criminal Court. In his campaign against terrorism, he has not only flouted the venerable Geneva accords but sought to deny suspects the benefits of the law he is sworn to uphold.

Extensive U.S. press reports — challenged only in the most general terms by the Bush administration — have revealed that U.S. interrogators are using borderline torture techniques against suspected terrorists. The toughest methods are used at Bagram air force base in Afghanistan and on the Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia. There, “stress and duress” tactics include sleep deprivation, questioning under pain and subjecting the suspects to extremes of cold or heat.

More disturbingly, U.S. officials acknowledge that some terror suspects have been turned over to countries such as Pakistan and Jordan, which Washington’s own annual human-rights reports accuse of practising torture. “We don’t kick the [expletive] out of them,” one official told The Washington Post. “We send them to other countries so they can kick the [expletive] out of them.” This despite the fact that the U.S. is a party, along with 131 other countries, to the 1987 convention against torture.

Mr. Bush insists on calling his counterterrorism campaign a war — yet the hundreds of prisoners rounded up since September of 2001 are not accorded the status of prisoners of war under the Geneva Conventions. Hundreds have been held, incognito and without charge, for more than a year. The U.S. government says they are “unlawful combatants,” subject to no laws whatsoever because they are neither U.S. citizens nor held on U.S. soil. It says it can hold them for as long as it wants, with no access to lawyers or judicial oversight. Shamefully, U.S. courts appear to agree. …

[Released prisoner] Salaiman Shah, told Agence France-Presse that he’d been picked up in northern Afghanistan by forces of the savage warlord Abdul Rashid Dostum. He said he was tortured and kept for days without food before being turned over to U.S. forces, eventually spending 18 months in a two-metre-square cell at Guantanamo. Mr. Shah said he had no connection to the former Taliban regime or al-Qaeda, and apparently his U.S. interrogators eventually came to believe him.

Another prisoner, identified only as Bismillah, spent more than a year at Guantanamo. His crime was failing to answer when asked by U.S. interrogators in Afghanistan about the location of Taliban units. He’s deaf, he said; he couldn’t understand them. ((03/26/03 Globe&Mail Canada/Knox)

This is the kind of stuff that gave “aid and comfort” to the enemy. Your basic terra:

Would you want your life to be in the hands of the United States secretary of defence Donald Rumsfeld? Hundreds of captured Taliban and al-Qaida fighters don’t have a choice. … Since Guantanamo Bay is technically foreign territory, the detainees have no rights under the US constitution and cannot appeal to US federal courts. Any rights they might have under international law have been firmly denied. According to Rumsfeld, the detainees “will be handled not as prisoners of war, because they are not, but as unlawful combatants”.

This unilateral determination of the detainees’ status is highly convenient, since the 1949 Geneva convention on the treatment of prisoners of war stipulates that PoWs can only be tried by “the same courts according to the same procedure as in the case of members of the armed forces of the detaining power”.

The Geneva convention also makes it clear that it isn’t for Rumsfeld to decide whether the detainees are ordinary criminal suspects rather than PoWs. Anyone detained in the course of an armed conflict is presumed to be a PoW until a competent court or tribunal determines otherwise.

The authorities at Guantanamo Bay have prohibited journalists from filming the arrival of the detainees on the basis that the convention stipulates PoWs “must at all times be protected against insults and public curiosity”. The hypocrisy undermines the position on PoW status: you can’t have your cake and eat it. (01/17/02 Guardian/Byers Prisoners on our conscience)

The torture may be directly tied to the administration’s desperation to find WMDs:

High-ranking Iraqi prisoners are uniformly denying Saddam Hussein’s government had any weapons of mass destruction before the war, U.S. officials familiar with their interrogations said Tuesday. The officials said they believe many of the prisoners are lying to protect themselves.

Still, the denials are hampering U.S. forces’ search for evidence of alleged chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programs in Iraq, as the prisoners are not providing locations or other details interrogators are seeking. By denying Iraq had weapons, the prisoners may be trying to distance themselves from Saddam’s rule, one official said.

American officials stand by their belief that Iraq possessed prohibited weapons and the means to make more, although none have turned up since the war started on March 19. … Officials now say the weapons are either well hidden or were destroyed in the run-up to the war. There is no firm evidence they were moved to other countries, they say. … Secretary of State Colin Powell, under questioning before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Tuesday, predicted prisoners would yet help U.S. forces find the alleged weapons. “They will be found,” he said. …

Alleged Iraqi ties to terrorism was another of the Bush administration’s justifications for the war. (04/29/03 AP/LUMPKIN)

Bush had to have been aware of the numerous complaints about prisoner torture going on under his watch. If he wasn’t, in what way exactly is he a wartime preznit? Is he Commander in Chief or just a logo for a conglomerate of ideologies?

Amnesty International’s Norwegian unit is asking local authorities to investigate claims that the US is torturing prisoners of war in Cuba and Afghanistan. Some POWs are believed to have been killed. [AI-Norway] wants Norwegian government officials to question their American counterparts about the claims. “We have had indications that prisoners actually have died at the Bagram airbase in Afghanistan after being tortured,” Eide [AI-Norway spokesman] said on national radio. … Amnesty is demanding that the US issue a statement promising that it will respect an international ban on the use of torture. – 04/25/03 Aftenposten Nettutgaven

In a letter to Secretary of State Colin Powell and chief delegate to the U.N. Human Rights Commission Jeane Kirkpatrick, Human Rights Watch said it would be deeply concerned about any U.S. moves to curtail future work by the U.N. Human Rights Special Investigator for Iraq, Andreas Mavromattis of Cyprus. The letter was obtained by Reuters. … Human Rights Watch Executive Director Kenneth Roth said the investigator’s role would remain vital. A strong U.N. human rights presence was necessary “…to ensure that there is no victimization, no revenge killings and that the seeds are sown safely for respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the future.” – (04/22/03 Reuters Geneva)

Bush’s human rights hypocrisy, Salon Opinion 03/27/03

[660 foreign nationals imprisoned in Guant?namo] come from more than 40 countries. Most were taken into custody during the international armed conflict in Afghanistan. Some have been held in Guant?namo, without charge or trial, and without access to lawyers, relatives or the courts, for more than a year. Their treatment has flouted international standards.

From the outset, the U.S. government refused to grant any of the Guant?namo detainees prisoner of war (POW) status or to have any disputed status determined by a “competent tribunal” as required under Article 5 of the Third Geneva Convention. In April 2002, Amnesty International warned the U.S. administration that its selective approach to the Geneva Conventions threatened to undermine the effectiveness of international humanitarian law protections for any U.S. or other combatants captured in the future.(6) The organization received no reply to this or other concerns it raised about the detainees.

On the 9 February 2002, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the most authoritative body on the provisions of the Geneva Conventions, revealed that there were “divergent views between the United States and the ICRC on the procedures which apply on how to determine that the persons detained are not entitled to prisoner of war status.” … The United States has ignored not only the ICRC on this issue, but also the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. More recently, on 16 December 2002, the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention noted that “the authority which is competent to determine prisoner-of-war status is not the executive power, but the judicial power,” as specified under article 5 of the Third Geneva Convention. …

In a letter to President Bush on 10 March 2003, Amnesty International called for a full, impartial inquiry into allegations of torture and ill-treatment by U.S. personnel against alleged al-Qaida and Taliban detainees held in the U.S. Air Base in Bagram, Afghanistan. Autopsies revealed that two prisoners who died in the Bagram detention facility in December 2002 had sustained “blunt force injuries.” …

The repeated assertions by members of the current U.S. administration that they remain committed to international human rights standards rings hollow as U.S. officials flout those very same standards. This may not be a new phenomenon — Amnesty International has for many years been concerned with the U.S.A.’s pick-and-choose approach to international standards. …

In a recent letter to Secretary of State Colin Powell resigning from the Foreign Service of the United States, U.S. diplomat John Brady Kiesling wrote: “We are straining beyond its limits an international system we built with such toil and treasure, a web of laws, treaties, organizations, and shared values that sets limits on our foes far more effectively than it ever constrained America’s ability to defend its interests.”

The UN Security Council didn’t authorize an invasion and occupation of Iraq, and BushCo was outraged when Kofi Annan referred to the “coalition” as an occupying force, rather than the self-flattering “liberating” force category (non-existent in international law).

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan called today on the U.S.-led coalition to respect international law as the “occupying power” in Iraq, drawing immediate ire from U.S. officials. “I hope the coalition will set an example by making clear that they intend to act strictly within the rules” governing occupations, Annan told the UN Human Rights Commission. … Annan cited the 1949 Geneva Conventions and the 1907 Hague Convention, accords that set down the responsibilities of occupiers ? ranging from maintaining public order to collecting taxes. …

“We’ve not only made that clear by our words – we’ve made it clear from day one of this conflict through our actions,” U.S. envoy Kevin Moley told reporters. “We find it – at best – odd that the secretary general chose to bring this to our attention. … “We’re simply saying that the issue of an occupying power has not yet been dealt with,” Moley said.”We’ll come to that and we’ll presumably come to that quickly,” he said, adding that in the meantime, the coalition was conforming with international accords. … Moley also said he was angered that Annan cited “the decision to go to war without specific authorization by the UN Security Council.”This is an egregious misstatement of the facts of our going to war in Iraq,” the U.S. envoy said. …

Last week, Brig.-Gen. Vincent Brooks, deputy operations director at U.S. Central Command, said the United States did not currently consider itself an occupying power in Iraq. Rather, he described the coalition as a “liberating force” ? a category that does not exist in the Geneva or Hague conventions. “While there may be a number of similarities to what the Geneva Convention describes, that’s not a category that we have stated publicly at this point,” Brooks said. “Whether that changes over time needs to be seen.”

The United States and Britain said they could legally go to war against Iraq under UN resolutions dating from 1991 ordering Saddam to disarm. They also noted that Resolution 1441, adopted in November, required Iraq to co-operate with UN arms inspectors or face “serious consequences.” Washington also said Saddam’s presumed weapons arsenal amounted to an imminent threat and therefore justified pre-emptive strikes. Despite the invasion, no such weapons have yet been found. (04/24/03 AP/FOWLER)


Comments: 3


That picture, of the hooded guy with the wires…

Isn’t there a famous Jesus pose that’s like that?


Great post! If only the SCLM did this sort of analysis of Bush’s crap.


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