Saturday, August 25, 2007

JAG officers say Bush order legalizes torture

Detail from a mural in Leon, Nicaragua that depicts treatment of prisoners under the U.S.-backed Somoza dictatorship.

Charlie Savage at the Boston Globe caught this story, as he has many during the Bush regime:

The Judge Advocates General of all branches of the military told [three Republican] senators that a July 20 executive order establishing rules for the treatment of CIA prisoners appeared to be carefully worded to allow humiliating or degrading interrogation techniques when the interrogators' objective is to protect national security rather than to satisfy sadistic impulses. ...

... the JAGs told the senators that a key part of the order opens the door to violations of the section of the Geneva Conventions that outlaws "cruel treatment and torture" and "outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment," officials familiar with the discussion said.

The JAGs cited language in the executive order in which Bush said CIA interrogators may not use "willful and outrageous acts of personal abuse done for the purpose of humiliating or degrading the individual." As an example, it lists "sexual or sexually indecent acts undertaken for the purpose of humiliation."

Among lawyers, "for the purpose" language is often used to mean that a person must specifically intend to do something, such as causing humiliation, in order to violate a statute. The JAGs said Bush's wording appears to make it legal for interrogators to undertake that same abusive action if they had some other motive, such as gaining information. ...

[Robert S.] Turner, who is now a University of Virginia law professor, said the Justice Department was "playing games," and called its explanation "a con." He said "the only reasonable interpretation of that language is that if your purpose in doing this is not to humiliate and degrade the guy, then that clause doesn't apply."

Turner's vehement criticism is particularly significant because he has been a rare and outspoken defender of the Bush administration in other controversies related to presidential power and the war on terrorism. ...

In addition to the offense against humanity Bush is perpetrating here, since when did we allow Presidents to declare what is legal by executive fiat? Since GWB, I guess.

1 comment:

Nell said...

It saddens me that the JAGs took their concerns only to the Republican senators. But then it sickens and saddens me even more that they wouldn't get any more effective pushback to the ruling regime if they included Levin and other Dems on the Armed Services committee.