Poor Founding Fathers. They had such high hopes for America. Though personally flawed, as students of the Liberal Age of Enlightenment, they at least grasped for better angles and hoped future Americans would do the same. They entrusted to us a nation of laws carefully crafted to help us live up to their example.
The American experiment sparked waves of democratic revolutions around the world. Over her first 230 plus years, the U.S. became the beacon other nations looked to for guidance and example… a reputation that only took 30 years of Republican governance to destroy by engaging in wars of aggression and torture.
“A top adviser to former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice warned the Bush administration that its use of “cruel, inhuman or degrading” interrogation techniques like waterboarding were ‘a felony war crime.’
What’s more, newly obtained documents reveal that State Department counselor Philip Zelikow told the Bush team in 2006 that using the controversial interrogation techniques were ‘prohibited’ under U.S. law — ‘even if there is a compelling state interest asserted to justify them.’
Zelikow argued that the Geneva conventions applied to al-Qaida — a position neither the Justice Department nor the White House shared at the time. That made waterboarding and the like a violation of the War Crimes statute and a ‘felony,’ Zelikow tells Danger Room. Asked explicitly if he believed the use of those interrogation techniques were a war crime, Zelikow replied, “Yes.”
Zelikow first revealed the existence of his secret memo, dated Feb. 15, 2006, in an April 2009 blog post, shortly after the Obama administration disclosed many of its predecessor’s legal opinions blessing torture. He brieflydescribed it (.pdf) in a contentious Senate hearing shortly thereafter, revealing then that ‘I later heard the memo was not considered appropriate for further discussion and that copies of my memo should be collected and destroyed.’
At least one copy survived in the files of the department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research. The State Department has now disclosed it to Danger Room, mostly without redactions — three years after this reporter filed an official request for it.”
So, though no elected “leader” is supposed to be above the law, rather than arresting the Bush Crime Family for unabashed war crimes, we allow them to appear on television and travel the nation on book tours.
Despite his lies claiming he believed waterboarding was legal and even morally defensible, we now know from the memos they tried desperately to destroy, the Bush Crime Family were clearly briefed that America did not engage in torture – but they did it anyway. Hey? What’s more lies when there’s profit to be made… and nations to plunder? After all… since Ford pardoned Nixon for his crimes, no President has been held accountable for abuses of power – a trend that needs to stop if America is to ever claim once again the mantle of being “a nation of laws.”
As in his revisionist history autobiography, “Decision Points,” the War Criminal in Chief, George W. Bush, likes to say that “history”will be his judge. As evidence mounts, (including the fact that the Bush Crime Family eagerly hung the justification of the invasion of Iraq – an invasion they began to concoct long before the September 11th terrorist attacks – on the lies of an informant known as “Curveball,”) it is getting clearer that history will indict him for his crimes – even if our current leadership chooses to “look forward, not behind.”
Brutality is Weakness / Mercy is Strength
If we were to “look behind,” we would find that treating prisoners with decency is not weakness, it is strength… and a concept as old as America herself.
Before Republican sociopaths got their boney fingers around the neck of power, the U.S. had a long history of humane treatment of persons captured in war. During the Revolutionary War, General George Washington decreed that American troops would never torture prisoners as the British had done. The “new country in the New World would distinguish itself by its humanity.”
Historian David Hackett Fischer wrote in “Washington’s Crossing (Pivotal Moments in American History),”
“American leaders believed it was not enough to win the war. They also had to win in a way that was consistent with the values of their society and the principles of their cause. One of their greatest achievements … was to manage the war in a manner that was true to the expanding humanitarian ideals of the American Revolution.”
Have United State’s personnel ever engaged in torture? Certainly… but … never has torture been officially ordered and sanctioned by the Commander-in-Chief and formally approved by Congress. Not until the Bush Crime Family.
“From the outset of their confrontation with the British monarchy, the Americans were labeled as traitors and insurgents. They were denied the status of honorable soldiers in arms and were treated shamefully. Even as Washington issued the order quoted at the outset, he knew that all 31 of the prisoners taken by the British at Bunker Hill had died in captivity, many under unsettling circumstances. Of the 2,607 Americans taken prisoner at the capitulation of Ft Washington, all but 800 had died in captivity by 1778. The continental press was filled with accounts of the brutal and inhuman treatment of Americans taken by the British throughout this period.
Against a loud public outcry of “eye for an eye,” George Washington stood fast. He made it a point of fundamental honor (and that was his word) that the Americans would not only hold dearly to the laws of war, they would define a new law of war that reflected the humanitarian principles for which the new Republic had risen. These principles required respect for the dignity and worth of every human being engaged in the conduct of the war, whether in the American cause or that of the nation’s oppressor. They also required respect for the religion and cultural values of foreign peoples. He wrote, “While we are contending for our own liberty, we should be very cautious of violating the rights of conscience in others, ever considering that God alone is the judge of the hearts of men, and to Him only in this case are they answerable.”
Following the Battle of Trenton in 1776, Washington set firm rules for the treatment of prisoners in American custody. “Treat them with humanity, and let them have no reason to complain of our copying the brutal example of the British Army in their treatment of our unfortunate brethren who have fallen into their hands,” he wrote. In all respects the prisoners were to be treated no worse than American soldiers; and in some respects, better. Through this approach, Washington sought to shame his British adversaries, and to demonstrate the moral superiority of the American cause. He also anticipated that the prisoners, treated with such attention and care, would reconsider their loyalties by the end of the war and embrace the American cause (his expectation was fulfilled – nearly all of the surviving prisoners of Trenton, for instance, settled in America and attained citizenship, many after US military service). But Washington makes clear that he took this approach in the end because of his experience in the wilderness, and the lesson he learned there: soldiers who mistreated prisoners, who took up cruel practices, were bad and unruly soldiers – the discipline and morale of the entire fighting force was undermined by such conduct. For Washington, the issues were clear on both a moral and practical level, and his guidance was given with firm conviction.
Washington’s rules on the treatment of prisoners were doctrine of the United States Army for 227 years. From Washington’s perspective, they were not marginal matters. Rather, they defined the United States in relationship to the rest of the world. As David Hackett Fischer writes in his Pulitzer Prize-winning account, Washington’s Crossing: “In a desperate struggle [he] found a way to defeat a formidable enemy… [He] reversed the momentum of the war. [He] improvised a new way of war that grew into an American tradition. And [he] chose a policy of humanity that aligned the conduct of the war with the values of the Revolution.” Read the rest of that article here.
General George Washington, in his charge to the Northern Expeditionary Force, Sept. 14, 1775, ordered,
“Should any American soldier be so base and infamous as to injure any [prisoner]. I do most earnestly enjoin you to bring him to such severe and exemplary punishment as the enormity of the crime may require. Should it extend to death itself, it will not be disproportional to its guilt at such a time and in such a cause… for by such conduct they bring shame, disgrace and ruin to themselves and their country.”
Shame and ruin, indeed. A shame that will not be cleansed until the war criminals are arrested at their book signing events and held accountable for their crimes.
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