...a blog by Richard Flowers

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Day 2347: Illegal Enemy Incompetents


The American Monkey-in-Chief has a problem. Well, actually he has a number of problems but specifically 385 of them, dressed in orange, are still to be found in Guantánamo Bay.

Except for the two that he might just have to let go. Because he was so busy trying to squeeze through LEGAL LOOPHOLES to avoid giving them a fair trial that he got the PAPERWORK wrong.

Obviously, he did TRY to pretend that the Guantánamo detainees weren't a problem at all, saying that since they were in Cuba they didn't count any more. This is called the "STICKING THEM UNDER A ROCK" solution.

Well, the US Supreme Court was having none of that and ruled that the Guantánamo prisoners could take their cases to US Courts.

It would HELP, of course, if the Monkey's administration was not so HELL BENT on insisting that the prisoners that they have taken in their War on Adjective are NOT Prisoners of War.

But Prisoners of War have all sorts of really inconvenient things like HUMAN RIGHTS all laid out in a big document called the THIRD GENEVA CONVENTION with America's SIGNATURE on the 8th August 1949 right down there at the bottom.

This is NO GOOD for the CIA as it means that they cannot very-nearly-but-not-quite-torture any of the prisoners there for information. Or even make them answer any questions other than name, rank and which Britney Song they would like to be deafened by for 23 hours a day (except on Sundays – wadda you mean you pray on Fridays?).

Fortunately for the Monkey, there is sort of a get out – prisoners only qualify as Prisoners of War if they are members of a proper army, or at least LOOK like they might be members of a proper army, i.e. they have a uniform on, or some distinctive sign, and carry their guns openly and follow the rules of warfare.

(No, we are NOT getting into whether the American army qualifies on those grounds.)

Actually, the Convention also lists "Inhabitants of a non-occupied territory, who on the approach of the enemy spontaneously take up arms to resist the invading forces" which might actually cover anyone in Afghanistan at the time of the US-led coalition's invasion.

You do have to wonder if that clause wasn't put in to cover, you know, a disparate bunch of poorly armed guerrillas conducting a running fight against a vastly superior army from a far-off country on a different continent over the ocean…

(But then the Americans tend to get uniquely TESTY when anyone compares the insurgencies in Afghanistan or Iraq with the glorious American Revolutionary War of Independence, so we're not going to go into THAT either.)

"Should any doubt arise" – says the convention – "as to whether persons, having committed a belligerent act and having fallen into the hands of the enemy, belong to any of the categories enumerated in Article 4, such persons shall enjoy the protection of the present Convention until such time as their status has been determined by a competent tribunal."

Okay, WHOOPS, the prisoners at Guantánamo SHOULD HAVE been treated as prisoners of war ANYWAY until a "competent tribunal" decided otherwise, so the Americans slightly BROKE THE CONVENTION after all.

Never mind, no-one was looking. (You know, except for EVERYONE!)

Quick as he could, then, the Monkey-in-Chief convenes a few military types and has them declare…

Hang on, the Convention rather assumes that anyone is either a member of the armed forces (or similar) and qualifies as a Prisoner of War, OR is a CIVILIAN and subject to the civilian laws… AND all the rights and protections that go with those too.

Well, the Monkey-in-Chief didn't want THAT either. That would have them all going directly to the US Court in Washington and demanding writs of Habeus Corpus. (You know, I TOLD YOU that was important!)

So instead, the Monkey has his crack military tribunal declare all the detainees "enemy combatants", thus placing them in a linguistic NO-PERSON'S LAND.

Without the legal protection of EITHER being a civilian OR being a prisoner of war, the detainees were at the Monkey's mercy and he set up a military commission to find them all guilty…

EXCEPT, the US Supreme Court wasn't having any of THAT either.

Despite being split on the subject, the court DID rule that "enemy combatants" basically meant SOLDIERS and that the Geneva Convention DID therefore apply.

Faced with the possibility of being BUSTED under the WAR CRIMES ACT (because it would be BAAAAAAD if one of the Administration went to the BIG HOUSE), the Monkey –in-Chief hastily got Congress to rush through some new legislation called the Let's Save Bush's Ass Act the War Commissions Act which would allow for a new military commission to try "terrorists" and "illegal enemy combatants". Spot the ILLEGAL bit to get around that ol' Geneva Convention again.

Although there has, in fact, only been ONE conviction under this scheme, and that was because the fellow pleaded GUILTY.

Now here's the part that REALLY got Daddy Alex crying with laughter seriously considering the legal implications.

The Military Commission Act 2006 includes a provision for the APPEAL procedure – it would have to or else it too would risk violating Human Rights laws. But the Monkey's administration has been DRAGGING ITS HEELS over setting up the review panel, presumably on the assumption that once their tame military types have carefully reviewed all the lack of evidence and found the detainees obviously guilty then they can go rot waiting for the Appeal Board that hasn't been set up yet.

What the Monkey-in-Chief WASN'T expecting was for his commission to say: "er, with respect sir, you said this trial was for 'ILLEGAL enemy combatants' but you did kind of have us declare them all to be just ordinary 'enemy combatants' and, er, that kind of means we can't try any of 'em. Case dismissed, Mr President Monkey, Sir."

What a GOOD thing that there is an APPEAL procedure for the Monkey to go to! Ah…

1 comment:

a radical writes said...

It's so sad how this has been allowed to continue, strange how Blair or Brown don't seem prepared to stand up to Bush on this but rather let him walk all over international law. Hope the dems get in and are able to sort this out. Oh, hang on, thats already happened :(. I f only there was some sort of third party in America to complain about these things...