Also Wednesday, September 6, 2006, in a decisive retreat from practices made infamous by the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, the U.S. Army explicitly banned several interrogation techniques and required all members of the military to observe, "at a minimum," the code set out in the Geneva conventions to protect suspects.
The following acts were conducted, with the knowledge of our President: forced nudity or sexual acts, use of hoods or duct tape; beatings; electric shock; the simulated drowning known as "waterboarding," heat or temperature distress; withholding food or water; mock executions, and the use of dogs for intimidation. The American public has yet to absorb the consequences of this revelation.
However, within the CIA, CIA counterterrorism officers have signed up in growing numbers for a government-reimbursed, private insurance plan that would pay their civil judgments and legal expenses if they are sued or charged with criminal wrongdoing, according to current and former intelligence officials and others with knowledge of the program.
The new enrollments reflect heightened anxiety at the CIA that officers may be vulnerable to accusations they were involved in abuse, torture, human rights violations and other misconduct, including wrongdoing related to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. They worry that they will not have Justice Department representation in court or congressional inquiries, the officials said.
The anxieties stem partly from the revelation by our President that detainees were subjected to harsh interrogation methods, including temperature extremes and simulated drowning. The White House contends the methods were legal, but some CIA officers have worried privately that they may have violated international law or domestic criminal statutes.
Details of the rough interrogations could come to light if trials are held for any of the approximately 100 detainees who were held in the prisons. President Bush announced last week that he had transferred the last 14 detainees in the facilities to the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and had submitted a proposal to Congress for the rules under which the administration would like the suspects to be tried.
Terrorism suspects' defense attorneys are expected to argue that admissions made by their clients were illegally coerced as the result of policies set in Washington.
As part of the administration's efforts to protect intelligence officers from liability, Bush last week called for Congress to approve legislation drafted by the White House that would exempt CIA officers and other federal civilian officials from prosecution for humiliating and degrading terrorism suspects in U.S. custody. Its wording would keep prosecutors or courts from considering a wider definition of actions that constitute torture.
Bush also asked Congress to bar federal courts from considering lawsuits by detainees who were in CIA or military custody that allege violations of international treaties and laws governing treatment of detainees.
"There are no hereditary kings in America and no powers not created by the Constitution," wrote Judge Anna Diggs Taylor of the U.S. District Court in Detroit. Her decision was based on a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union when she ruled that spying on Americans is unconstitutional.
Bush has further problems, for his tactics of fear are not working; the war in Iraq is a disaster, and now Afghanistan is turning into another embarrassment for the administration. With a Democratic sweep of both Houses of Congress, he could easily be impeached.
The case for impeachment grew much stronger, with the US Supreme Court's powerful decision in Hamdan v Rumsfeld. In that decision, the justices didn't simply say that the President was wrong and in violation of U.S. and international law in arbitrarily claiming that the Guantánamo detainees were not subject to the Geneva Convention on Treatment of Prisoners of War. The five-justice majority, which included conservative Anthony Kennedy, declared the President's bogus claim to have "special powers" as commander in chief in "time of war" to be just that--bogus.
What has been missed in almost all the mainstream media coverage of this important ruling is that this slap-down of Bush's justification for his Guantanamo decision also undermines his justification for many of his other constitutional violations.
Let's look at the list of the president's High Crimes and Misdemeanors. They are:
1. "A Crime Against Peace." Initiating a war of aggression against a nation that posed no immediate threat to the U.S.--a war that has needlessly killed 2550 Americans and maimed and damaged over 20,000 more, while killing over 100,000 innocent Iraqi men, women and children, is the number one war crime according to the Nuremberg Charter, a document which was largely drawn up by American lawyers after World War II.
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