Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Let The Eagle Soar

Alberto Gonzales, who penned a
January 2002 memo claiming that the war on terrorism "renders obsolete Geneva's strict limitations on questioning of enemy prisoners and renders quaint some of its provisions," has now been nominated by President Bush to replace John Ashcroft as Attorney General.

Let's make this clear: a man who advised the President on how to best skirt the rules of the Geneva Convention as to allow torture of captured Al Qaeda fighters is now the choice to become head prosecutor of The Untied States.

Here's more from the memo:

"It is difficult to predict the motives of prosecutors and independent counsels who may in the future decide to pursue unwarranted charges based on Section 2441 (of the US code, the War Crimes Act). Your determination [to bypass the Geneva Conventions] would create a reasonable basis in law that Section 2441 does not apply, which would provide a solid defense to any future prosecution."

The essential thrust of the memo is that the President creates law and, therefore, if he orders that Geneva be ignored, it absolves those who subsequently ignore Geneva from prosecution.

response to the memo, from Secretary of State Colin Powell, was drafted a day later.

"It [declaring Geneva does not apply] will reverse over a century of U.S. policy and practice in supporting the Geneva conventions and undermine the protections of the law of war for our troops, both in this specific conflict and in general."

back in May, Rear Admiral John Hutson (ret.) -- the Navy Judge Advocate General from 1997 to 2000 -- went so far as to partially blame the Gonzales memo for the abuses at Abu Ghraib.

"When you say something down the chain of command like, 'The Geneva conventions don't apply,' that sets the stage for the kind of chaos that we've seen."