USA – Still better than North Vietnam. Just less so.
Center for American Progress, Fool Me Twice: The letter of the Conventions was certainly preserved: the bill refuses the president’s demand that Congress rewrite the law to reinterpret U.S. obligations under the Geneva Conventions.
But their integrity and spirit is another matter.
Instead of reinterpreting the Conventions directly, the bill does so indirectly, granting the president the authority to issue his own interpretations and making them virtually unchallengeable in court. The bill strips detainees of the ability to challenge the factual and legal basis for their confinement. And it confers retroactive immunity on government officials responsible for serious human rights violations by permitting prosecutions under the War Crimes Act of only the grossest abuses.
What this means is that instead of curbing the secret detention and abuse of terrorist suspects, the bill would authorize the president to continue these practices. While certain “grave breaches”� of the Geneva Conventions would be outlawed, the bill leaves ambiguous which of the catalogue of “alternative interrogation procedures” employed by the CIA would be prohibited.
And, of course, Marty Lederman, Oh, Well, That Explains It:
Courtesy of the New York Times, here’s your very own handy-dandy pocket-sized flow chart for understanding what the “compromise” legislation would, and would not, prohibit.
And now, just for kicks, compare that to this alternative description of what the law forbids:
“[T]he following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to [detainees]: violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture.”
Which statement of the law is more “vague” and ambiguous?
Trainwreck in slow motion. Right before your eyes.
We have to do something — but what?