Is It Really a “War On Terror”? Part 11


Deanna Spingola
December 28, 2005

War crimes and their perpetrators are as ancient as war itself. War criminals have typically received punishment because responsible moral people have responded appropriately to the reprehensible actions of a few. Not all tribunals, official or otherwise, receive press attention, especially in a media controlled environment. Tribunals are convened against individuals who violate International Laws which encompass the Geneva Conventions, the United Nations Charter, the Nuremburg Charter and the Hague Convention of 1907. The United States signed each of these treaties and are morally bound by them. Then there is our own War Crimes Act of 1996 which prohibits Americans, including officials, from committing war crimes known as “grave breaches” of the Geneva Conventions.[1]

Considering our own War Crimes Act of 1996 and the International Treaties how can we justify our questionable invasion and alleged occupation actions? In an internal White House memo dated 25 January 2002 Alberto R. Gonzales, currently our Attorney General, warned Bush that members of his administration could possibly be prosecuted for war crimes as a result of the innovative techniques used in the war on terror. The Bush administration was also warned by a group of attorneys before the Iraqi invasion.[2] Therefore, given that the punishments for violations of the Geneva Conventions could include the death penalty, Gonzales urged Bush to “declare the war in Afghanistan, including the detention of Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters, exempt from the provisions of the Geneva Convention.”

Gonzales stated that it would be difficult to determine how future Department of Justice prosecutors would apply the War Crimes Act of 1996. He also reminded the president that he, Bush, had already assumed the Constitutional authority to “make the determination you made on 18 January 2002 that the GPW (Geneva Convention III on the Treatment of Prisoners of War) does not apply to al Qaeda and the Taliban.” “Your determination would create a reasonable basis in law that (the War Crimes Act) does not apply which would provide a solid defense to any future prosecution.” Gonzales wrote.[3] He further stated in his memo: “As I discussed with you, the grounds for such a determination may include: A determination that Afghanistan was a failed state because the Taliban did not exercise full control over the territory and people, was not recognized by the international community, and was not capable of fulfilling its international obligations. A determination that the Taliban and its forces were, in fact, not a government, but a militant, terrorist-like group.”[4]

I don’t recall any expressions in the Constitution that give the executive branch of government the authority to arbitrarily determine the status of foreign leaders or the internal affairs of another country based on some self-serving agenda. Nor does it promote exemption from benevolent moral behavior. This is powerful commentary on presidential presumption of power which places every citizen, not just foreigners, in jeopardy. Anyone may easily, for expediency, be labeled as enemy combatants, terrorists, communists, liberals, leftists, useless eaters, insurgents, fetuses or unresponsive brain damaged defenseless people. And the penalty ascribed is open to the interpretation of a trained conditioned practitioner, foreign or native born, and there are no injunctions against torture or worse and total disregard for humanitarian treatment. Unfortunately, because of presidential privilege, though immoral, precedents have been established! Special operations are in place and regularly followed but denied if questioned by congress (like Dick Durbin), the alternative press or others.[5]

Read the complete PART 11 here.


~ by swfreedomlover on February 1, 2008.

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