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This is about a year old, but still worth revisiting because it never got enough press last year: Deep within the "Terrorist Tribunal" Act is a provision retroactively pardoning the President, Vice President, and their subordinates for violations of the War Crimes Act committed since September 11, 2001.
Btw this bill was part of the Military Commissions Act of 2006, which passed and is now law.
It's not just that the "Terror Tribunals" Act creates the foundation for an executive dictatorship and the basis for destroying nearly 800 years of Anglo-Saxon common law protections. That measure also contains one of the most blatant acts of self-serving corruption in the history of our country.
CNN's Jack Cafferty explains:
"President Bush is trying to pardon himself. Here’s the deal: Under the War Crimes Act, violations of the Geneva Conventions are felonies, in some cases punishable by death. When the Supreme Court ruled that the Geneva Convention applied to al Qaeda and Taliban detainees, President Bush and his boys were suddenly in big trouble. They’ve been working these prisoners over pretty good. In an effort to avoid possible prosecution they’re trying to cram this bill through Congress before the end of the week before Congress adjourns. The reason there’s such a rush to do this? If the Democrats get control of the House in November this kind of legislation probably wouldn’t pass."
"You wanna know the real disgrace about what these people are about to do or are in the process of doing?" Cafferty concludes. "Senator Bill Frist and Congressman Dennis Hastert and their Republican stooges apparently don’t see anything wrong with this. I really do wonder sometimes what we’re becoming in this country."
The Bush administration drafted amendments to the War Crimes Act that would retroactively protect policy makers from possible criminal charges for authorizing any humiliating and degrading treatment of detainees, according to lawyers who have seen the proposal.
The move by the administration is the latest effort to deal with the treatment of those taken into custody in the war on terror.
At issue are interrogations carried out by the CIA and the degree to which harsh tactics such as water-boarding were authorized by administration officials. A separate law, the Uniform Code of Military Justice, applies to the military. When interrogators engage in waterboarding, prisoners are strapped to a plank and dunked in water until nearly drowning.
One section of the draft would outlaw torture and inhuman or cruel treatment, but it does not contain prohibitions from Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions against ``outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment."
Another section would apply the legislation retroactively, according to two lawyers who have seen the contents of the section and who spoke on the condition of anonymity because their sources did not authorize them to release the information.
One of the two lawyers said that the draft is in the revision stage, but that the administration seems intent on pushing forward the draft's major points in Congress after Labor Day.
``I think what this bill can do is in effect immunize past crimes. That's why it's so dangerous," said a third lawyer, Eugene Fidell, president of the National Institute of Military Justice.
Fidell said the initiative is ``not just protection of political appointees, but also CIA personnel who led interrogations."
Military Commissions Act of 2006
SEC. 8. REVISIONS TO DETAINEE TREATMENT ACT OF 2005 RELATING TO PROTECTION OF CERTAIN UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT PERSONNEL.
(a) Counsel and Investigations- Section 1004(b) of the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 (42 U.S.C. 2000dd-1(b)) is amended--
(1) by striking may provide' and insertingshall provide';
(2) by inserting or investigation' aftercriminal prosecution'; and
(3) by inserting whether before United States courts or agencies, foreign courts or agencies, or international courts or agencies,' afterdescribed in that subsection'.
(b) Protection of Personnel- Section 1004 of the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 (42 U.S.C. 2000dd-1) shall apply with respect to any criminal prosecution that--
(1) relates to the detention and interrogation of aliens described in such section;
(2) is grounded in section 2441(c)(3) of title 18, United States Code; and
(3) relates to actions occurring between September 11, 2001, and December 30, 2005.
42 U.S.C. § 2000dd-1 - Protection of United States Government personnel engaged in authorized interrogations
(a) Protection of United States Government personnel
In any civil action or criminal prosecution against an officer, employee, member of the Armed Forces, or other agent of the United States Government who is a United States person, arising out of the officer, employee, member of the Armed Forces, or other agent's engaging in specific operational practices, that involve detention and interrogation of aliens who the President or his designees have determined are believed to be engaged in or associated with international terrorist activity that poses a serious, continuing threat to the United States, its interests, or its allies, and that were officially authorized and determined to be lawful at the time that they were conducted, it shall be a defense that such officer, employee, member of the Armed Forces, or other agent did not know that the practices were unlawful and a person of ordinary sense and understanding would not know the practices were unlawful. Good faith reliance on advice of counsel should be an important factor, among others, to consider in assessing whether a person of ordinary sense and understanding would have known the practices to be unlawful. Nothing in this section shall be construed to limit or extinguish any defense or protection otherwise available to any person or entity from suit, civil or criminal liability, or damages, or to provide immunity from prosecution for any criminal offense by the proper authorities.
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