The Bush administration has drafted amendments to a war crimes law that would eliminate the risk of prosecution for political appointees, CIA officers and former military personnel for humiliating or degrading war prisoners, according to U.S. officials and a copy of the amendments.Although 26 detainees have already died in custody from what investigators say was mistreatment and torture - there have yet to be any prosecutions under the War Crimes Act 18 USC § 2441. Make no mistake, prosecutions under the Uniform Code of Military Justice - which also includes the Geneva Conventions as part of it's struction have taken place against "low-level" grunts, but as pointed out by The Nation, Administration officials who are not part of the miliatary are not subject to the UCMJ, hence the War Crimes Act was created to make thier level of responsibility and culpability the same as those in uniform. This change to the current law would open a fissure and in all likelyhood allow even more of these types of deaths to occur, certainly not less - and would help to ensure that those not in uniform have an "escape hatch" to avoid responsibilty for the consequences of their actions and orders.
The draft U.S. amendments to the War Crimes Act would narrow the scope of potential criminal prosecutions to 10 specific categories of illegal acts against detainees during a war, including torture, murder, rape and hostage-taking.
Left off the list would be what the Geneva Conventions refer to as "outrages upon [the] personal dignity" of a prisoner and deliberately humiliating acts -- such as the forced nakedness, use of dog leashes and wearing of women's underwear seen at the U.S.-run Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq -- that fall short of torture.
The Bush Administration long been fully aware of those consequences has already shown Malice of Forethought when Alberto Gonzales originally attempted in 2002 to circumvent the WCA by having detainees declared as exempt from the Geneva Conventions as revealed Michael Isikoff for Newsweek.
The concern about possible future prosecution for war crimes—and that it might even apply to Bush adminstration officials themselves— is contained in a crucial portion of an internal January 25, 2002, memo by White House counsel Alberto Gonzales obtained by NEWSWEEK. It urges President George Bush declare the war in Afghanistan, including the detention of Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters, exempt from the provisions of the Geneva Convention.The fact is that both the Supreme Court and other Federal Judges have made judicial determinations which indicate that Bush has violated this act. In Hamdan v Rumsfeld Justice Kennedy stated:
Article 3 of the Geneva Convention (III)Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War,Aug. 12,1949, [1955 ] 6 U..S.T.3316,3318,T.I.A.S.No.3364. The provision is part of a treaty the United States has ratified and thus accepted as binding law.See id.,at 3316. By Act of Congress, moreover, violations of Common Article 3 are considered “war crimes,” punishable as federal offenses,when committed by or against United States nationals and military personnel. See 18 U.S.C.§2441. There should be no doubt,then,that Common Article 3 is part of the law of war as that term is used in §821Thisi dig was followed by a total smackdown of Bush's Unitary Executive Theory last month when Federal Judge Anna Diggs Taylor ruled that the Administration Domestic Spying program was Unconstitutional, violating the 4th Amendment, 1st Admentment and the criminal statutes of the FISA law itself.
It's just fortunate for Bush that his primary co-defendant for any formal charges happens to be the Attorney General of the United States.
If Bush manages to makes technical changes in the War Crimes Act before the Congress turns Democratic and gains Subpeona power - he just might squirm out of this, unless.... we have another replay of the filibuster follies of earlier this year in the Senate.
I've always enjoyed reruns of my favorite programs, haven't you?