Thursday, October 28, 2004

Travel Plans

Reductio has speculated in his postings and comments that Rumsfeld and other Bush administration officials might want to watch their backs in foreign nations, since any government has the right to prosecute crimes against humanity. It seems like the first salvo was fired today, in a civil filing in Great Britain:
The action was brought by the so-called Tipton three -- Shafiq Rasul, Asif Iqbal and Rhuhel Ahmed -- and Jamal al-Harith from Manchester, England. All deny links or involvement in terrorism. The lawsuit alleges that the Britons were "repeatedly struck with rifle butts, punched, kicked and slapped. They were short-shackled in painful stress positions for many hours ... causing deep flesh wounds and permanent scarring. Plaintiffs were also threatened with unmuzzled dogs, forced to strip naked, subjected to repeated forced body-cavity searches, intentionally subjected to extremes of heat and cold for the purpose of causing suffering."

The lawsuit claims the mistreatment was "in plain violation" of the U.S. Constitution, federal law and its international treaty obligations. The Britons say the highest levels of the U.S. government are to blame for their torture: "It was the result of deliberate and foreseeable action taken by defendant Rumsfeld and senior officers to flout or evade the U.S. Constitution ... law ... treaty obligations and long established norms of customary international law."
The expected the defense against these charges is sickeningly misguided:
The U.S. government is expected to try to get the case thrown out or to argue that the actions of senior officials are immune from prosecution because the U.S. was "at war" after the Sept. 11 attacks.
Under no circumstances -- repeat, NONE -- is torture legal. None, kids. Zero, zip, nada. That's not my opinion, that's the law:
No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat or war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.
I know the Bushies have only the faintest idea that the United States HAS a constitution (deigning to notice only when they want to amend it to score political points with the Religious Right) but if they ever get around to reading the document, they might find out that Congress declares war, not the President. And they haven't. The "War on Terror" isn't a war, it's a metaphor, and where that metaphor might play well in Peoria, I suspect foreign courts will take a dim view when lawyers try to claim this duck is an eagle.

Memo to the Bush crowd: Augusto Pinchet cooled his heels in a British jail for months when Spain indicted him for crimes against humanity. The Spanish? Not your friends right now. You might want to reconsider any post-election travel plans to anywhere not ruled by a puppet thug.

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