On Thursday, House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers quietly released the final draft of an extensive report he first unveiled in January documenting the Bush administration’s “unreviewable war powers” and the possible crimes committed in implementing those policies.
In order to determine whether Bush officials broke laws, Conyers has recommended that Attorney General Eric Holder appoint a special prosecutor to launch a criminal inquiry to investigate, among other things, whether “enhanced interrogation techniques” used against alleged terrorist detainees violated international and federal laws against torture.
It's about TIME!
Following the dismal failure of the Leahy Truth Commission simply because Republicans insisted on covering their ears and eyes to the truth we now - finally -
have a congressional call for the Special Prosecutor.
We know now that the claim "extreme interrogation" of subjects such as Abu Zubaidah - produced ZERO usable or accurate intelligence.
We know now that several high ranking Generals lied to Congress about their knowledge of torture taking place at Gitmo.
On the question of whether the was or wasn't actual torture taking place, that has been settled by the International Red Cross.
WASHINGTON, Nov. 29 - The International Committee of the Red Cross has charged in confidential reports to the United States government that the American military has intentionally used psychological and sometimes physical coercion "tantamount to torture" on prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.
The finding that the handling of prisoners detained and interrogated at Guantánamo amounted to torture came after a visit by a Red Cross inspection team that spent most of last June in Guantánamo.
BTW the organization which makes the determination under Geneva as to whether torture has occures - happens to be the International Red Cross.
We have always known - or should have - that the UN Convention Against Torture (signed by Ronald Reagan) leaves NO EXCUSES for the use of use of torture. None.
No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political in stability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture. An order from a superior officer or a public authority may not be invoked as a justification of torture.M
Excepted from the Conyers Report.
The Bush Administration’s approach to power is, at its core, little more than a restatement of Mr. Nixon’s famous rationalization of presidential misdeeds: “When the president does it, that means it’s not illegal.” Under this view, laws that forbid torturing or degrading prisoners cannot constrain the president because, if the president ordered such acts as Commander in Chief, “that means it’s not illegal.” Under this view, it is not the courts that decide the reach of the law – it is the president – and neither the judiciary nor Congress can constrain him. And where statutory law or the Constitution itself appear to impose obstacles to presidential whim, creative counselors can be relied upon to reach whatever result the president desires.
This dismissive approach to our system of checks and balances was exemplified when the Vice President’s Chief of Staff, David Addington, appeared before the House Judiciary Committee on June 26, 2008. As much as any individual in the Bush Administration, David Addington is considered the architect of the concept of unchecked and unreviewable presidential powers known as the “unitary executive” (in a New Yorker profile, a former Pentagon attorney, Richard Schiffrin, said that he left one meeting with Mr. Addington with the impression that he “doesn’t believe there should be co-equal branches”). Yet when I questioned Mr. Addington about the unitary executive theory of government during our Judiciary Committee hearing, he responded, “I frankly, don’t know what you mean by unitary theory of government.”
It's understandable that some in congress, and even President Obama may be reluctant to repeat the Clinton Snipe Hunts of the 90's with something that appears to be a nothing more than "criminalizing policy differences" - but this is far more than just a differences, it really genuinely IS a War Crime and should be handled as such.
Hopefully this will only be the start of the heat turning up on this issue.
Update: 6:36 pm: For those who are skeptical of Conyers ability to accomplish this - please remember that HJC has reached a deal to receive sworn depositions from Rove and Harriet Miers in the DOJ Firing Case. The Bolton subpeona is still making it's way through the courts, but it hasn't "gone away" by a long shot.
Click below to sign the Petition on Democrats.com to support a Special Prosecutor for BushCo.