President Bush had a press conference yesterday. The first thing that struck me about it was the angry, hectoring tone that he took. What was Bush so angry about?
WASHINGTON (CNN) — Questioning of suspected terrorists “won’t go forward” unless Congress clarifies a U.S. standard for the treatment and interrogation of detainees, President Bush warned Friday.
The remarks appeared to be an attempt to put Congress on the spot about the future of a program that Bush says has helped thwart terrorism.
Yes, friends, Bush was saying, in almost so many words, “If you don’t make torture legal, I’m going to stop torturing people!”
Personally, I don’t see a down side to that.
I’m going to quote myself from an earlier thread now:
Back during WWII, resistance fighters were taught to avoid answering the Gestapo’s questions for 24 hours (and you can generally do this, even under frightful torture, which the Gestapo was fully able and willing to deliver). After that, they were allowed to say anything they pleased — because by then any plans they might have been aware of would be changed. Any operations they were engaged in would have been canceled. Any codes they knew would have been scrapped. Any people they knew would be living somewhere else under new names.
Which makes me wonder: Exactly what kind of useful information do we think we’re going to get from someone four years after they were captured?
Later in the same thread:
First: 29 Retired Admirals and Generals, Military Leaders and Former DOD Officials Urge Congress to Preserve the Geneva Conventions
Second: GOP split as Senate panel bucks Bush on terror tribunals (includes as a subhead “Powell breaks with adminsitration”)
Now: action. Everyone, tonight, write a letter to your senators and congressmen urging them to hold fast on the Geneva Conventions. Express your disgust with the thought of Americans torturing prisoners. It doesn’t matter if your representative is the biggest right-winger in congress; write anyway. I’m told that faxes get through better than streetmail.
Do it tonight before you go to bed.
A nice letter to the editor of your local paper wouldn’t go amiss.
It’s a small action, but it’s an action. Take it.
“If you have people in the field trying to question terrorists, if you do not have clear legal definitions, they themselves will be subject to the whims and the differing interpretations given by foreign courts, foreign judges and foreign tribunals,” [White House spokesman Tony] Snow said. “And we don’t think that’s appropriate.”
Let’s turn to the Geneva Convention itself:
Article 3 prohibits nations engaged in combat not of “an international character” from, among other things, “violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture” and “outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment.”
Seems pretty straightforward to me. I don’t recall any confusion anywhere in the world about exactly what it means up to this moment. So why is it suddenly unclear now?
Back to Georgie’s press conference (and again, I hope everyone listens, to hear his tone of voice, to see the raw hatred and fear on his face):
“You cannot ask a young intelligence officer to violate the law,” Bush said. “If Congress passes a law that does not clarify the rules … the program is not going forward.”
Hey, George, tell you what: if any of those young intelligence officers have any questions they can call me on the phone. I’ll be happy to clarify it for them.
Now more of the Recycled material, the letter I sent to my congressman and senators:
Mr. Bush is pushing for legislation that would weaken the United States’ adherance to the Geneva Convention. This would put our own troops in peril if they were captured, and would certainly weaken our moral leadership in the world, now and in the future.
Please don’t go along wtih this so-called “terrorist tribunal” measure the President is supporting.
Ask yourself if you, personally, would like to be interrogated and tried by a foreign power that had adopted an identical law. Ask yourself exactly what’s wrong with the Federal courts that have served us so well for the past two hundred years, and the Geneva Conventions that have guided us for the past century.
Vote your conscience.
Add to the list of folks who should have letters of support: