Art Pottery, Politics and Food
Friday, August 11, 2006

From Wednesday’s Washington Post:

The Bush administration has drafted amendments to a war crimes law that would eliminate the risk of prosecution for political appointees, CIA officers and former military personnel…

The Bush maladministration tellingly wants to eliminate provisions within the War Crimes Act of 1996 that domestically criminalized “outrages upon personal dignity” committed by civilians, including CIA officers and high government officials, and current and former U.S. military personnel.
Again, from the Washington Post:

"People have gotten worried, thinking that it's quite likely they might be under a microscope," said a U.S. official.

Bush representatives are most concerned with Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, commonly considered the minimum standard of treatment for “persons taking no active part in the hostilities”:

The following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever…
(a) mutilation, cruel treatment and torture;
(c) outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment;
(d) the passing of sentences…without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court, affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.

In a July 7th memo to Senator Susan Collins the Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England said that the terms “degrading” and “humiliating” are relative:

“What is degrading in one society may not be degrading in another…”

However, retired Army legal expert Lt. Col. Geoffrey S. Corn, former chief of the war law branch of the Army's Office of the Judge Advocate General, has an interesting take on the, some might say, broad prohibitions against mistreating human beings:

[Article 3 was] left deliberately vague because efforts to define it would invariably lead to wrongdoers identifying 'exceptions,' and because the meaning was plain -- treat people like humans and not animals or objects.”

“Wrongdoers” tend to nit pick exceptions to the rules.
No wonder history is verboten.

Image:, sean
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