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A Senate Mystery Keeps Torture Alive — and Its Practitioners Free [View All]

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L. Coyote Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-27-07 11:51 AM
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A Senate Mystery Keeps Torture Alive — and Its Practitioners Free
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The history of how torture issues were dealt with before the tapes scandal emerged now needs review with the benefit of hindsight.

What is revealed about "Who knew what when?" may shed light on more than one mystery.

Nov. 22, 2006 – 7:08 p.m. -
A Senate Mystery Keeps Torture Alive — and Its Practitioners Free
By Jeff Stein, CQ National Security Editor

With all the lawsuits over kidnapping and torture marching toward the Bush administration, you might think the top officials running the global war on terror would be worried just a little about the prospect that some day they might end up in court — if not having nightmares about getting measured for orange jumpsuits at Danbury Federal Prison.

Alas, no. Thanks to the legerdemain of Bush administration lawyers, a provision quietly tucked into the Military Commissions Act (PL 109-366) just before it was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Bush on Oct. 17, would ease any worries they might’ve had. It not only redefines torture upward, removing the harshest, most controversial techniques from the definition of war crimes, it also exempts the perpetrators — interrogators and their bosses — from punishment all the way back to Nov. 1997.

The deft wording is the Bush administration’s attempt at bringing the United States’ criteria for defining a war crime into line with the Geneva Convention’s interpretation of torture.

The Supreme Court in June had declared the administration’s hastily assembled military commissions unconstitutional, saying all prisoners in U.S. custody had to be held in accordance with the Geneva Convention’s Article 3, which prohibits “outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment.”

Renegotiating the Geneva Convention was out of the question. So the administration’s lawyers took what the president’s counselor, Dan Bartlett, later called “the scenic route.”

By way of the new Military Commissions Act, they effectively rewrote the U.S. enforcement mechanism .............
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