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Bush Claim of Unlimited Power « Thread Started on Jun 20, 20

Daily newsbrief journal for June 2004, also see for a global 100-page perpetual brief and follow twitter @usdemocrats

Bush Claim of Unlimited Power « Thread Started on Jun 20, 20

Postby admin » Thu Jan 26, 2012 8:08 am

Bush Claim of Unlimited Power « Thread Started on Jun 20, 2004, 7:03pm »--------------------------------------------------------------------------------the power of the people and society of a nation should always retain the power of governance over a willful dictator. this may be the lesson of the people of the world that it is their personal responsibility to participate and guard the balance of power in their nations through participatin in free elections as neglecting their responsibility by ignoring an election by default hands over the reigns and power over themselves to an ambitious and cunning dictator who will gladly take the power from you to rule, control and exploit you. people need to be aware that ignoring or neglecting their duties as citizens of a free democratic nation without participating in the democratic free electoral process are risking leaving their collective futures and the control of their families to those who have no other interest from you rather than to exploit your energies, your tax dollars and through clever calculated maneuvering funnel your future currencies into the pockets of those energy companies who are enlightened to the various dynamics of money, currency and human energy is important to maintain a proper course and balance for society and the good leaders of society continue to be brave and fight for those in society and speak out and educate where there is ignorance and injustice and build america again to a nation of virtues and honor and bring to light the crookedness of the current administration to exploit the core foundations of america's citizenry.The power remains with the population. The populous can materialize that power by being brave, speaking out and leading others to speak out against dark agendas and crooked governmental dynamics and pressing forth with attaching and charging responsibility to reckless, corrupt and irresponsible choices and actions by officials of society and governance. Subject: Bush Claim of Unlimited Power View: Complete Thread (14 articles) Original Format Newsgroups: alt.current-events.clinton.whitewater,, alt.impeach.bush, alt.politics, alt.politics.bush, alt.politics.liberalism, alt.society.liberalism, talk.politics.miscDate: 2004-06-16 12:43:03 PST ... .comBush's 'Apex' of Unlimited PowerBy Nat ParryJune 15, 2004George W. Bush is asserting presidential authority that in theory covers thelives and liberties of everyone, everywhere, U.S. citizens and foreignersalike, a claim of power so sweeping that it permits him to imprison, tortureand kill at his choice without legal constraint anywhere in the world.Bush's belief in his unlimited authority is implicit in a series ofadministration legal opinions. They include Bush's declaration that he hasthe power to arrest and indefinitely imprison anyone he deems an "enemycombatant," no need for charges or a trial. Bush's lawyers also are claimingfor him the right to order the torturing of anyone in U.S. governmentcustody and the power to kill his international enemies whenever he judgesthat necessary, even if civilian bystanders also must die.It's not so much that Bush is saying that he is above the law or even thathe - regally - is the law. He is claiming that no law can infringe on hisinherent power to do whatever he wishes as commander in chief. It is adeclaration of personal authority unprecedented in scope and contemptuous ofAmerican constitutional checks and balances. Ultimately, this Bush Doctrineof Presidential Power is what's at stake in the Nov. 2 elections.While elements of Bush's grand self-vision have been known for months, thefull picture has only slowly come into focus. In June 2002, Bush orderedU.S. citizen Jose Padilla detained indefinitely, incommunicado, withoutformal charges and without constitutional rights, simply on Bush's assertionthat the alleged al-Qaeda operative was an "enemy combatant."In August 2002, the Justice Department asserted that international lawsagainst torture don't apply to interrogations of al-Qaeda suspects. Aroundthe same time, White House lawyers asserted that the President has the rightto wage war without authorization from Congress. And during the early daysof the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, Bush authorized the bombings ofcivilian targets, including a restaurant, merely on the belief that Iraqidictator Saddam Hussein or other Iraqi leaders might be there.The latest piece of the picture became apparent in Attorney General JohnAshcroft's appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee on June 8, whenAshcroft refused to show Congress the administration's memos arguing thatBush has the inherent authority to order torture whenever he deems thatnecessary.Torture MemoThe Wall Street Journal, which obtained a draft of the torture memo,summarized its contents this way: "The president, despite domestic andinternational laws constraining the use of torture, has the authority ascommander in chief to approve almost any physical or psychological actionsduring interrogation, up to and including torture."The Journal also reported that "a military lawyer who helped prepare thereport said that political appointees heading the working group sought toassign to the president virtually unlimited authority on matters oftorture - to assert 'presidential power at its absolute apex,' the lawyersaid." [WSJ, June 7, 2004]Though administration lawyers have written legal opinions asserting Bush'sunfettered powers, the concept of "presidential power at its absolute apex"isn't really about law; it's about lawlessness. It's about all powerinvested in the hands of one man with the law made irrelevant in the wake ofthe Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. Essentially Bush is saying that themurderous attacks have required the de facto partial suspension of the U.S.Constitution and the abrogation of international law.While the U.S. Supreme Court and the U.S. Congress could theoreticallyrepudiate this Bush Doctrine, it is not clear whether Bush would respect anycommands from the two other constitutional branches. It's also conceivablethat the Supreme Court and Congress - given their conservative majorities -will either accede to Bush's theories about his own powers or duck thecentral issues, allowing Bush to continue his activities for the foreseeablefuture.That was the significance of Ashcroft's haughty refusal to give Congress thetorture memo. Ashcroft rebuffed the request from the Senate JudiciaryCommittee without even asserting a legal rationale, such as the concept of"executive privilege." His refusal amounted to telling the Congress "I-don't-wanna." Though angry Democratic senators warned Ashcroft that he could becharged with contempt of Congress, the chances of such charges in theRepublican-controlled legislature are extremely remote.The real challenge against Bush is more likely to come from anonymousfederal bureaucrats who have been so shocked at Bush's decisions to castaside traditional constitutional and humanitarian standards that they areleaking details of the secret policies to the news media, which itself hasperformed more professionally in reporting this news than it has in severalyears.Word GamesStill, the media analysis of this Bush Doctrine has focused on its parts,not its larger meaning. Putting those pieces together creates a troublingmosaic of a leader who disdains legal limits, trusts his personal instinctsand considers himself guided by the Almighty.In his "gut" decision-making, Bush has assumed power over life and death forforeign opponents as well as civilians who get in the way. The New YorkTimes, for instance, reported on June 13 that senior U.S. military andintelligence officials have disclosed that Bush's orders to attack Iraq ledto "many more failed airstrikes on a far broader array of senior Iraqileaders during the early days of the war last year than has previously beenacknowledged and some caused significant civilian casualties." The Timesreported that all 50 airstrikes were unsuccessful in killing the targetedIraqi leaders, but did inflict dozens of civilian casualties."The broad scope of the campaign and its failures, along with the civiliancasualties, have not been acknowledged by the Bush administration," theTimes reported.One of the attacks aimed at killing Saddam Hussein instead blew up patronsat a Baghdad restaurant, killing 14 civilians, including seven children. Onemother collapsed when rescue workers pulled the severed head of her daughterout of the rubble. Bush has offered no apology for the carnage. Link to Post - Back to Top botAdministratormember is offline Joined: Nov 2004Posts: 4,324Re: Subject: Bush Claim of Unlimited Power « Reply #1 on Jun 20, 2004, 7:03pm »--------------------------------------------------------------------------------During the Iraq invasion, the U.S. news media and political Establishmentraised few questions about the killing of Iraqi civilians, presumablybelieving that Bush had the right to target Iraqi leaders because theysupposedly were threatening the United States with weapons of massdestruction, the principal rationale cited by Bush for the invasion.But the failure to find the alleged stockpiles of unconventional weapons -after having ignored the United Nations appeals for more time to search forthe WMD - suggests that Bush's self-defense argument was a bogus pretext forwar. In other words, Bush was asserting a right to kill foreign leaders andcivilians even if their countries were not threatening the United States.Their deaths could be ordered simply on Bush's say-so.Bush did win passage of a war resolution from Congress in fall 2002, but hisadministration argued that he already possessed the necessary war-makingauthority without any action by Congress. Indeed, in retrospect, the warresolution a month before the November elections was probably more apolitical device to create Democratic divisions and win more Republicanseats than a sincere recognition of the power to declare war that theFounding Fathers invested in the Legislature, not the Executive.Beyond simply overriding laws, Bush has sought to unilaterally redefinetheir meanings. The torture memo, for instance, argues that torture is nottorture if the brutality doesn't cause "serious physical injury, such asorgan failure, impairment of bodily function or even death," or in the caseof psychological abuse, if it doesn't last "months or even years."White House assurances that Bush's behavior is within the law must be takenwith a grain of salt, since Bush's view of the law is that he gets to definethe terms and then he gets to decide if the law applies to him.So, what should a listener make of White House spokesman Scott McClellan'sassurance that when prisoner interrogations are undertaken, "the Presidentexpects that we do so in a way that is consistent with our laws"? Does thatmean "consistent" with Bush's interpretation of the laws? Should there beany comfort from Ashcroft's statement that he knows of no presidential orderthat would allow terror suspects to be tortured? Does an all-powerfulPresident even have to express a decision in a formal order? Wouldn't apresidential nod of the head be enough?Coming to LightThe possibility of torture being approved by the White House was raised indisclosures of the March 2003 memorandum obtained by the Wall StreetJournal. In it, administration lawyers offered legal doctrines "that couldrender specific conduct, otherwise criminal, not unlawful."They argued that the president, and anyone acting at the president's orders,are not bound by U.S. laws or international treaties prohibiting torture,asserting that the need for "obtaining intelligence vital to the protectionof untold thousands of American citizens" supersedes any obligations theadministration has under domestic or international law. [WSJ, June 7, 2004]"In order to respect the President's inherent constitutional authority tomanage a military campaign," the memo states, U.S. prohibitions againsttorture "must be construed as inapplicable to interrogations undertakenpursuant to his Commander-in-Chief authority."It also doesn't seem that these considerations were simply academic. Recentdisclosures about U.S.-run prisons for captives in the Afghan and Iraq warssuggest that torture has been used extensively in "intelligence gathering."Investigative journalist Seymour Hersh disclosed in The New Yorker's May 10issue that a 53-page classified Army report written by Gen. Antonio Tagubaconcluded that Abu Ghraib prison's military police were urged on byintelligence officers seeking to break down the Iraqis before interrogation.The abuses, occurring from October to December 2003, included use of achemical light or broomstick to sexually assault one Iraqi, the report said.Witnesses also told Army investigators that prisoners were beaten andthreatened with rape, electrocution and dog attacks. Other abuses documentedin photographs include an Iraqi standing naked covered in excrement and U.S.soldiers beating helpless prisoners."Numerous incidents of sadistic, blatant and wanton criminal abuses wereinflicted on several detainees," wrote Taguba.It is also clear that high-ranking military officials were directly involvedin some of the abuses. Lt. Col. Steven L. Jordan, an Army reservist who tookcontrol of the Joint Interrogation and Debriefing Center at Abu Ghraib inSeptember 2003, is reported to have played a key role at Abu Ghraib inoverseeing interrogations. Other military personnel have described him asbeing intimately involved in an incident on Nov. 24, 2003, when a detaineewas confronted in his cell by snarling military dogs. [Washington Post, June9, 2004]Jordan told Taguba during the Army investigation that a superior militaryintelligence officer had said that the White House was requestinginformation concerning "any anti-coalition issues, foreign fighters, andterrorist issues."A former senior administration official told the Washington Post that Bush"felt very keenly that his primary responsibility was to do everythingwithin his power to keep the country safe, and he was not concerned withappearances or politics or hiding behind lower-level officials." [WashingtonPost, June 9, 2004]At best, it seems that by placing the highest emphasis on obtaininginformation, regardless of the rules of interrogation, Bush created theatmosphere in which the Abu Ghraib torture was allowed to take place. AsKenneth Roth, the executive director of Human Rights Watch, put it, "Thehorrors of Abu Ghraib were not simply the acts of individual soldiers. AbuGhraib resulted from decisions made by the Bush administration to cast therules aside."International LawProhibition of torture is enshrined in a range of international treaties aswell as U.S. law such as the Torture Act. The U.S. Code defines torture as"an act committed by a person acting under the color of law specificallyintended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering ... uponanother person within his custody or physical control." The code assumesjurisdiction over anyone who is "a national of the United States," with nomention of whether he or she is acting on behalf of the commander in chief.International law includes the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, whichmakes it clear that "No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel,inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment." Although the Covenantprovides that states may "in time of public emergency which threatens thelife of the nation . take measures derogating from their obligations" underthe Covenant, it specifically states that there are a number of obligationsthat cannot be abrogated, including the prohibitions against torture andother ill treatment.Link to Post - Back to Top botAdministratormember is offline Joined: Nov 2004Posts: 4,324Re: Subject: Bush Claim of Unlimited Power « Reply #2 on Jun 20, 2004, 7:03pm »--------------------------------------------------------------------------------The UN Convention Against Torture defines torture as, "any act by whichsevere pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionallyinflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a thirdperson information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a thirdperson has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating orcoercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination ofany kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigationof or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other personacting in an official capacity."It requires each state party - including the U.S., which is a signatory - totake effective measures to prevent acts of torture in any territory underits jurisdiction. "No exceptional circumstances whatsoever," the Conventionreads, "whether a state of war or a threat or war, internal politicalinstability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justificationof torture."The Geneva Convention provides that prisoners of war must "in allcircumstances be treated humanely." More specifically, certain acts "are andshall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever." These actsinclude "violence to life and person, in particular . mutilation, crueltreatment and torture," as well as "outrages upon personal dignity, inparticular, humiliating and degrading treatment."Potential DefensesThe Bush administration's memo, however, asserts that these rules don'tapply to anyone carrying out Bush's instructions. The March 2003 legalmemorandum argues that those accused of torture need not worry aboutprosecution for war crimes. Violators have several potential defenses,according to the memo, including the "necessity" of using such methods toextract information to head off an attack, or because they were following"superior orders."The superior orders claim is also known as the Nuremberg defense. It is thedefense used by the Nazis charged after World War II, namely that theaccused were acting pursuant to an order. The Nuremberg tribunal rejectedthis argument, however, stating, "The fact that a person acted pursuant toorder of his Government or of a superior does not relieve him fromresponsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in factpossible to him."A Pentagon official told the Wall Street Journal that some military lawyersobjected to some of the proposed interrogation methods as "different thanwhat our people had been trained to do under the Geneva Conventions."Regardless, they all signed on to the final report in April 2003, just asthe U.S. occupation of Iraq was beginning.Following the legal memorandum, Donald Rumsfeld revised Pentagoninterrogation procedures. Pentagon officials claim that the March report hadno effect on the revisions of interrogation practices. But the reportclearly intended to provide a legal "out" for the torture that traced backto Rumsfeld's revisions.There have been warnings over the past couple of years about torture inU.S.-run prisons. One soldier, Camilo Mejia, tried to blow the whistle onthe abuses and then went to jail for refusing to fight in Iraq. Butincontrovertible evidence of abuse came with the Abu Ghraib photos.Bush's GulagHuman Rights Watch traces the Abu Ghraib prison scandal back to the earliestdays of the "war on terror." The group documents how the administrationadopted a deliberate policy of permitting illegal interrogation techniques -and then spent two years covering up or ignoring reports of torture andother abuse by U.S. troops. [See the Human Rights Watch report.]When the Bush administration sent detainees to Camp X-Ray at Guantanamo Bayin Cuba in January 2002, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld declared the prisonersto be "unlawful combatants" undeserving of the protections laid out in theGeneva Conventions. There was an international outcry when the livingconditions of the prisoners were revealed, and particularly afterphotographs were released showing the detainees in open-air cages beingsubjected to what looked like sensory deprivation techniques.European leaders and human rights groups objected to the treatment with someof the sharpest criticism coming from the staunchest U.S. ally, the UnitedKingdom. Three British cabinet ministers - Robin Cook, Patricia Hewitt andJack Straw - expressed concern that the prisoners were not being treatedwell and that international agreements about the treatment of prisoners ofwar were being breached.The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, also objected tothe treatment of the detainees and called on the Bush administration tofollow the Geneva Conventions. In a Jan. 19, 2002 column in the BritishIndependent, Robinson argued that because the Afghanistan conflict was of aninternational nature, "the law of international armed conflict applies." Shetook issue with the administration's assertion that the prisoners were"unlawful combatants" and thus outside the protections of the GenevaConventions.In defending the U.S. dismissal of the Geneva Convention's jurisdiction, andas a response to the international criticism of Camp X-Ray, White Housespokesman Ari Fleischer argued that "the war on terrorism is a war notenvisaged when the Geneva Convention was signed in 1949." The White Housesaid, "the Convention simply does not cover every situation in which peoplemay be captured or detained by military forces."Legal experts rejected this position, pointing to language in the GenevaConvention that clearly intends it to be all-encompassing regardinginternational conflict. As the Red Cross stated itself upon the signing ofthe Geneva Convention in 1949, "no possible loophole is left; there can beno excuse, no attenuating circumstances." [For more on the internationaldebate regarding Guantanamo Bay and the Geneva Conventions,'s "Bush's Return to Unilateralism."]The Bush administration rejected those arguments and has insisted thatGuantanamo Bay falls outside the parameters of either U.S. or internationallaw. The Justice Department argued in a Jan. 22, 2002, memo that U.S.officials could not be charged with war crimes for the way prisoners weredetained and interrogated. The argument boiled down to assertions that thewar on terror is not covered by the Geneva Conventions and that because alQaeda fighters do not follow the laws of war, they are not protected byinternational law.Wrong Place, Wrong TimeBut it is now clear that even if the Justice Department's legal argumentabout al-Qaeda held water, it wouldn't pertain to many of the captives atGuantanamo Bay, because many of them do not appear to be terrorists. As someforeign nationals are being released, it is becoming apparent that many weresimply in the wrong place at the wrong time.After five British citizens were released from Guantanamo, the Observerwrote a long article on March 14, 2004, based on interviews with theso-called Tipton Three, who had been held for two years. They had enteredAfghanistan, they said, solely to help provide humanitarian aid, and had nointention of fighting the U.S. forces.Although they had not carried arms, the Bush administration labelled them"unlawful combatants" and sent them to the prison camp at Guantanamo. Twoyears later, the American authorities accepted their claims that they werenever members of the Taliban, al-Qaeda or any other militant group, andreleased them. [The Observer, March 14, 2004]The Mirror carried an article based on interviews with other formerGuantanamo prisoners called "My Hell in Camp X-Ray." Both the Mirror andObserver articles detailed systematic abuses of the prisoners inAfghanistan, on the 20-hour plane trip to Cuba, and within the GuantanamoBay prison.These abuses included being kept in tight chains on the flight toGuantanamo, not permitted to even use the bathroom. The chains were sotight, claimed Shafik Rasul, that he lost feeling in his hands for the nextsix months. At Guantanamo, there were beatings and solitary confinement fortrivial violations of arbitrary rules, endless interrogations under austereconditions, and disrespect for detainees' religious beliefs. Sleepdeprivation techniques were also used, with prisoners kept in tiny cellswith bright lights left on, and the cells freezing at night and very hotduring the day.Link to Post - Back to Top botAdministratormember is offline Joined: Nov 2004Posts: 4,324Re: Subject: Bush Claim of Unlimited Power « Reply #3 on Jun 20, 2004, 7:04pm »--------------------------------------------------------------------------------Alarm BellsAs the Guantanamo prison was being opened, leaders from around the worldsounded alarm bells, warning that by refusing to adhere to the GenevaConventions, the U.S. was heading down a slippery slope in which greaterabuses were sure to follow. Some argued that the detainees must be accordedrights on basic humanitarian grounds, while other world leaders pointed outthat once international standards are weakened, they become much moredifficult to enforce, including situations in which U.S. soldiers arecaptured in battle.But neither the Bush administration nor the U.S. news media appeared alarmedby such concerns. That remained the case even as U.S. officials wereadmitting to newly adopted interrogation methods that resembled torture. TheWashington Post reported in December 2002 that terrorist suspects were beingsubjected to "stress and duress" tactics, which in some cases could beconsidered torture. [Washington Post, Dec. 26, 2002]U.S. officials admitted to the use of sleep deprivation in theirinterrogations of prisoners, a practice with ambiguous status ininternational law. The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights has saidthat, when used for the purpose of breaking a prisoner's will, sleepdeprivation "may in some cases constitute torture."Senior U.S. officials defended these tactics, with one official maintainingthat, "If you don't violate someone's human rights some of the time, youprobably aren't doing your job." He elaborated that the U.S. shouldn't be"promoting a view of zero tolerance on this. That was the whole problem fora long time with the CIA."Virtually confirming the new U.S. policy of using torture in itsinterrogation techniques, Cofer Black, former head of the CIACounterterrorist Center, told a joint hearing of the House and Senateintelligence committees on Sept. 26, 2002, that there was a new "operationalflexibility" in dealing with suspected terrorists. He said that "There was abefore 9/11, and there was an after 9/11. After 9/11 the gloves come off."In response to the Washington Post article, Human Rights Watch's KennethRoth reminded the U.S. that "torture is always prohibited under anycircumstances." He also warned that, "U.S. officials who take part intorture, authorize it, or even close their eyes to it, can be prosecuted bycourts anywhere in the world." The rights organization also called on theadministration to investigate and condemn allegations of torture and othercruel and inhuman treatment.In response, a Defense Department lawyer said, "United States policycondemns torture," but didn't say whether the U.S. has a legal obligation torefrain from cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.Guantanamo to Abu GhraibThe direct link between the shunning of the Geneva Conventions at GuantanamoBay and the abuses at Abu Ghraib was made plain by Ashcroft's testimony onJune 8. Appearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Ashcroft used manyof the same arguments that were made in early 2002 in deflecting criticismof Guantanamo Bay."The only people who are accorded the protections of the Geneva Convention,"Ashcroft said, are "those nations that are high-contracting parties to theconvention. Al-Qaeda is not a high-contracting party to the GenevaConvention. It repudiates the rules of war. It operates against civilians,it doesn't wear uniforms, and it has never sought to be a high-contractingparty. The Geneva Conventions do not apply as it relates to al-Qaeda. Andthey are not intended to apply as it relates to al-Qaeda."Not only did Ashcroft ignore the fact that those tortured in Iraq hadnothing to do with al-Qaeda, but the argument itself has been thoroughlydebunked by experts on the Geneva Conventions. Central to thecounter-argument is the fact that to determine a prisoner's status under theConvention, a "competent tribunal" must be established.In the case of Guantanamo, a tribunal never was established. Rather, Bushunilaterally decided which prisoners would qualify for protections, andwhich protections they would receive. Plus, those technicalities cited byAshcroft do not pertain to the use of torture which is fully andunambiguously prohibited in numerous treaties.The Supreme Court is now considering the Padilla case and Bush's claim ofhis singular right to imprison even American citizens while denying themtheir constitutional rights.Justice Ruth Bader-Ginsburg questioned White House lawyers about whetherBush also could authorize torture. She asked, "If the law is what theExecutive says it is, whatever is necessary and appropriate in theExecutive's judgment, that's the resolution you gave us that Congress passedand leaves it up to the Executive, unchecked by the Judiciary. So, what isit that would be a check against torture?"Government lawyer Paul Clement answered, "Well, first of all there aretreaty obligations, but the primary check is that just as in every otherwar, if a U.S. military person commits a war crime, by creating someatrocity on a harmless detained enemy combatant or a prisoner of war, thatviolates our own conception of what's a war crime and we'll put that U.S.Military officer on trial in a Court Martial."So, in other words, the primary - and perhaps only - check on torture andhuman rights violations is the Executive Branch's "own conception" of whatdoes or does not constitute a war crime. Again the decision is entirely Bush's. If he is personally disgusted by behavior like the photographed sexualabuse at Abu Ghraib, individual soldiers can be prosecuted. If he is nottroubled, they won't be.It is also now known that in at least one case, Secretary Rumsfeld orderedintelligence officers to "take the gloves off" in questioning a U.S.citizen, the so-called "American Taliban" John Walker Lindh. Following theorder, Lindh was stripped naked and tied to a stretcher in questioning byCIA operatives. [See]Link to Post - Back to Top botAdministratormember is offline Joined: Nov 2004Posts: 4,324Re: Subject: Bush Claim of Unlimited Power « Reply #4 on Jun 20, 2004, 7:04pm »--------------------------------------------------------------------------------While some would argue that tough interrogation methods were justified inpursuit of intelligence on Osama bin Laden and other al-Qaeda leaders, thefact that the Secretary of Defense potentially approved the torture of anAmerican citizen should alert other citizens that the Bush administrationmight choose to expand the practice.Defining TerrorismThis possibility is particularly disconcerting considering how broadly"terrorism" is defined in the USA Patriot Act, and how protesters ofgovernment policy have in recent years been equated implicitly andexplicitly with terrorists. In the Patriot Act, terrorism is defined in sucha way that a wide range of legitimate political protest and civildisobedience could fall under it.Section 802 of the Patriot Act defines domestic terrorism as activities that"appear to be intended to influence policy of a government by intimidationor coercion"Groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union and the American BarAssociation have objected to this definition. The prohibition againstseeking to influence government policy by "intimidation" is so vague and sosubjective that virtually any act of civil disobedience or confrontationalprotest could fit under the definition, the critics say.There is also quite a bit of anecdotal evidence that law enforcement isincreasingly looking at demonstrators as the equivalents of terrorists.Prior to an October demonstration against the Iraq War in Washington, D.C.,the FBI instructed local law enforcement agencies to report suspiciousprotesters to the FBI's counterterrorism squad. In anticipation of theprotests against the G8 economic summit in Georgia, there were unusualsecurity measures taken, with the military augmenting local law enforcementin dealing with protests. Authorities brought in 2,000 body bags and arefrigerated lorry to take away potential corpses.With the hardened stance toward political dissent, and the legal argumentson torture, there is reason for concern over what the future holds if thepresent course is maintained.For his part, George W. Bush has tried to draw comparisons between theSecond World War and the global war against terrorism. Bush, who keeps abust of Winston Churchill in the Oval Office and who has referred to Iraqisuicide bombers as "kamikazes," kicked off this theme-building project inhis speech to the Air Force Academy on June 2. In that speech, he said,"Like the Second World War, our present conflict began with a ruthless,surprise attack on the United States. ... This is the greatest challenge ofour time, the storm in which we fly."Secretary of State Colin Powell elaborated on the theme, telling France 3Television, "I think we can compare the fight against the Nazis and thefight against communism with the fight that we are now all engaged inagainst terrorism. And Iraq is a part of that battlefield."National security adviser Condoleezza Rice offered some of her owncomparisons, claiming that George W. Bush will go down in history as a worldleader on par with Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Winston Churchill. "Whenyou think of statesmen," Rice said, "you think of people who seized historicopportunities to change the world for the better, people like Roosevelt,people like Churchill, and people like Truman, who understood the challengesof communism. And this president has been an agent of change for thebetter -- historic change for the better."However, Europeans, especially those for whom memories of Nazism and thebarbarity of World War II are still fresh, might object to the comparisonswith the heroes of World War II. Indeed, the Bush administration's debateabout loosening the rules on torture is more likely to bring back memoriesof Adolf Hitler than Roosevelt and Churchill, since it was Hitler who isblamed for reviving the practice in Europe.In Europe, the use of torture to extract confessions had been condemnedsince the Enlightenment when rationality and the rule of law replaced thedivine right of kings. The practice was resurrected in Germany when theNazis rose to power and legitimized "third degree" interrogations. The Nazisused torture extensively, particularly in the nations Germany had invadedand occupied, in order to obtain information about anti-occupationresistance activities.At the end of World War II, as the atrocities of war were reviewed, torturewas perceived to be an aberration that must not be allowed to recur. In theofficial commentary on the text of the Geneva Conventions, the InternationalCommittee of the Red Cross wrote that the motivation was to prevent "actswhich world public opinion finds particularly revolting - acts which werecommitted frequently in the Second World War." [See The Treatment ofPrisoners Under International Law, by Nigel Rodley]These sentiments led directly to the international conventions prohibitingtorture, conventions that the Bush administration now claims do not apply tothe United States.By re-legitimizing torture, declaring international law irrelevant andrewriting the rules to justify whatever actions Bush sees fit, theadministration is leading the United States down a dark and dangerous road.The next - and possibly last - checkpoint for changing direction will be theNov. 2 elections, which now loom not only as a choice between thepresidential candidates but as a referendum on whether the American peoplewill endorse Bush's concept of an all-powerful Executive and follow himtoward what looks like a very different form of government. -- --FAIR USE NOTICE: This post contains copyrighted material the use of whichhas not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. I ammaking such material available in an effort to advance understanding ofenvironmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, andsocial justice issues, etc. I believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of anysuch copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US CopyrightLaw. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107"If this were a dictatorship, it'd be a heck of a lot easier, just solong as I'm the dictator." - GW Bush 12/18/2000."To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or thatwe are to stand by the president right or wrong, is not only unpatrioticand servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public."---Theodore Roosevelt"For us to get bogged down in the quagmireof an Iraqi civil war would be the height of foolishness."---Defense Secretary Dick Cheney, 1991
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