Dismissal of Abu Ghraib Conviction Ends Inquiry

Discussion in 'Et Cetera, Et Cetera' started by Bbucko, Jan 13, 2008.

  1. Bbucko

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    I'm a few days late, but saw this in Friday's paper. For anyone who doubts the veracity of The Huffington Post, it's an AP story.

    Here's a video from YouTube outlining the ACLU's attempt to get additional, much more explicit photos (previously seen only by government officials) of the horrors committed by US military personnel released to the press under the Freedom of Information Act.
     
  2. Principessa

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    So he got a slap on the wrist for torturing POW's. Lovely.:12: This pretty much nullifies the Third Geneva Convention of 1949. :mad:

    Yet Martha Stewart went to prison for 5 months because someone gave her a heads up on some stock that was about to tank. :rolleyes::confused:
    .
     
  3. dong20

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    No, not really and in this instance you're really using the wrong convention and thus (from the perspective of the US administration's standpoint playing into their hands). Have you read the conventions, or did you just cite a link?

    Why? - Because the US doesn't consider them POWs.

    This is based on its convenient interpretation of article 4.1 most especially 4.1.2. It does this while ignoring Article 5 of course which states that anyone held should be treated in accordance with article 4 until their status is confirmed).

    This intransigence, combined with its (perhaps, slightly) more plausible reading of articles 4 and 5 of the Fourth makes your argument(to the current US administration, of course) irrelevant.

    However a commentary on the fourth by the ICRC stated that any person in enemy hands should be considered either a POW or a civilian, there being no 'intermediate' status such as the awfully convenient - 'unlawful enemy combatant'. In either case they are protected persons under the convention.

    Article 5 of the fourth convention states (note the red):

    "Where in the territory of a Party to the conflict, the latter is satisfied that an individual protected person is definitely suspected of or engaged in activities hostile to the security of the State, such individual person shall not be entitled to claim such rights and privileges under the present Convention as would, if exercised in the favour of such individual person, be prejudicial to the security of such State.

    Where in occupied territory an individual protected person is detained as a spy or saboteur, or as a person under definite suspicion of activity hostile to the security of the Occupying Power, such person shall, in those cases where absolute military security so requires, be regarded as having forfeited rights of communication under the present Convention.

    In each case, such persons shall nevertheless be treated with humanity and, in case of trial, shall not be deprived of the rights of fair and regular trial prescribed by the present Convention. They shall also be granted the full rights and privileges of a protected person under the present Convention at the earliest date consistent with the security of the State or Occupying Power, as the case may be."

    Read in conjunction with 3rd article 4 and 4th articles 4 (esp Para 2) - it's surely clear where the US stance is rooted.

    Not that I agree with the blatant (mis) treatment and prolonged detention without trial but Third convention violations is surely a futile argument, after so many years I'm amazed it's still being tried. It's time to move on. Problem is, no nation in the position to apply meaningful pressure, is willing to do so, or is an accomplice.

    That said, regardless of the Geneva Conventions, acts of torture perpetrated by US citizens are punishable under 18 USC 2340-A which is enforceable extra-territorially. Will it happen...dream on.
     
  4. SpeedoGuy

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    Definitions or not, this administration, as like others before it, feels free to muddle or redefine circumstances in any manner expedient to its purposes. Who are we accountable to? We have the most powerful military in the world. :rolleyes:

    Yup. Who's gonna force prosecution? We make our own reality. We have the most powerful military in the world. :rolleyes:

    ..oh..and besides... no crime was committed anyway. Right wing apologists say the so-called "abuse" and "torture" at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere was no more serious than college hazing pranks.
     
  5. dong20

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    Oh quite so. But my argument was simply that at least one side of this argument should be making charges based on a valid premise. The US is unquestionably guilty of human rights violations, quite possibly war crimes (at least technically) but is right now as you say quite correctly able to use brute force, and an upcoming election to escape (or at least defer) any meaningful consequences.

    If a republican administration is returned to office in 2009 it will be clear that the American people have learned little or nothing, don't understand what's happening (and it's national and global consequences) or worse they have and yet don't care enough to try to avert would would surely be a resultant very unpalatable outlook.

    Right now I'd say the only ones who can are you the electorate. In perhaps 25 years the Chinese may be in a position to have a go. Not that they are lacking an ample supply of skeletons of their own of course but that's never stopped the US from playing the moral world cop role has it.
     
  6. SpeedoGuy

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    Yes. We can change things if we want to and I sincerely hope we do. But sometimes I still despair.

    Here's why:

    Don't underestimate the power of distraction and the even more formidable information spin machine here. It wasn't by accident that a majority of the US population wanted to, and did, believe Saddam Hussein had stockpiles of operable nuclear and chemical weapons as well as having a hand in the 9/11 attacks.
     
  7. dong20

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    It worked here too. A little less well perhaps but we're learning.

    Right now the spin machine can work for you, and right now (well soon) you will have tremendous power and opportunity to demand and (hopefully) effect change, quite literally in your hands.

    The question is; do enough of you have the desire to use it?:rolleyes:
     
  8. jason_els

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    Definitions are what they are. They're written by lawyers to state law in (what should be) the most explicit language possible. The problem is that the atrocities at Abu Ghraib spectacularly fail the duck test:

    The Unites States invaded a sovereign nation with armed forces. Our armed forces, not civil authorities, have imprisoned people alleged to have attacked our armed forces. When the armed forces of a foreign nation invade the sovereign territory of another nation, those armed forces are very likely to be violently met. That's why they are armed to begin with. The expectation that they will meet a violent reception is so high that it is assumed in every context of the actions of those armed forces. The Iraqis, who may or may not have been legitimate members of the Iraqi military, attacked our armed forces which, it may be argued, were well within their rights to do as a sovereign nation facing uninvited invasion and control by a foreign power.

    In other circumstances the prisoners of Abu Ghraib might well be considered partisans, freedom fighters, guerrillas, or civilian militia; people who are resisting foreign occupation in an armed manner the only way they can. Iraq is their nation, their territory. If, as the United States likes to enshrine in various marble monuments around its capital; as enshrined in the United States' Declaration of Independence and constitution, true power and law devolves from the right of the people to self determination, then
    the will of the Iraqi people to resist American forces is legal in any manner they choose. There is no sovereign Iraqi government to represent the people in the Geneva Conventions. The United States destroyed that government. What is in place is a puppet government akin to Vichy France. If the people of Iraq are the true sovereigns of their nation, then how they choose to conduct war is what is naturally legal (in the Enlightenment sense) in Iraq, not what the US-recognized government of Iraq states is legal.

    This concept is not foreign to the United States as it is how the United States largely conducted its own revolution and is reflected in the support of various un-uniformed combatants in other international conflicts ranging from the revolution to occupied countries in Europe during World War II, Vietnam, El Salvador, Cuba, and many others. In each of these cases we justified our support of covert, un-uniformed, guerrilla, armed forces on the very concept of the natural right of sovereign nations to resist tyranny via any means available.
     
  9. Bbucko

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    Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney, among others, will probably never leave the borders of the US again; certainly not if McCain or any Democrat is elected in November. They are considered war criminals (and rightfully so, in my opinion).

    I have a strong hope that the US will return to the civilized community of nations and come to terms with the fact that the current administration has turned away from over 200 years of precedent and enshrined torture in its foreign policy. This will probably not happen immediately, but will happen eventually. I have to believe this or would be forced to emigrate.

    And not just right-wing pundits, you know, who took the abuses at Abu Ghraib (and elsewhere) in stride. Anyone else remember Gaytanimo?
     
  10. Elmer Gantry

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    4.1.1 Members of the armed forces of a Party to the conflict and members of militias of such armed forces



    "No Jail Time for Officer Convicted of Killing Iraqi General

    By JON SARCHE, AP

    FORT CARSON, Colo. (Jan. 24) - A military jury recommended a
    simple reprimand Monday for an Army officer who killed an
    Iraqi general by stuffing him headfirst into a sleeping bag
    and sitting on his chest during an interrogation.

    As soldiers applauded in the courtroom, Chief Warrant Officer
    Lewis Welshofer Jr. hugged his wife after hearing the
    surprisingly light sentence, which will be reviewed by Fort
    Carson's commander, Maj. Gen. Robert W. Mixon.

    The commander cannot order a harsher sentence, defense
    attorney Frank Spinner said.

    Welshofer, 43, was charged with murder, but was convicted
    over the weekend of negligent homicide and negligent
    dereliction of duty that carried a penalty of up to three
    years and three months in prison, a dishonorable discharge,
    loss of pension and other penalties.

    The murder charge carried a potential sentence of life in
    prison. Instead, Welshofer faces no jail time, the forfeiture
    of $6,000 in salary and what amounts largely to a restriction
    to his barracks for 60 days.

    "I have the utmost respect for the decision the panel members
    came to tonight," Welshofer said. "I'm sure it was difficult
    for them."

    Welshofer was convicted of putting a sleeping bag over the
    head of Iraqi Maj. Gen. Abed Hamed Mowhoush, sitting on his
    chest and using his hand to cover the general's mouth while
    asking him questions at a detention camp in 2003 in al Qaim,
    Iraq.

    The defense argued that a heart condition caused Mowhoush's
    death, and that Welshofer's commanders had approved the
    interrogation technique. Spinner also argued that
    interrogators were under pressure to extract information from
    detainees and to find a way to replace techniques that hadn't
    been working.

    Spinner said Mixon can order a lighter sentence and that he
    might ask the general to set aside the verdict entirely. He
    contends his client should never have been charged.

    After the sentencing, Spinner said the six-member jury
    apparently accepted his argument that Welshofer did what he
    thought was right without clear guidance from his commanders
    during a chaotic time.

    "When you send our men and women over there to fight, and to
    put their lives on the line, you've got to back them up,
    you've got to give them clear rules, and you've got to give
    them enough room to make mistakes without treating them like
    criminals," Spinner said.

    During the sentencing hearing, Welshofer fought back tears as
    he apologized and asked the jury not to separate him from his
    wife and children by sending him to prison.

    "I deeply apologize if my actions tarnished the soldiers
    serving in Iraq," Welshofer said. "It was never my intent to
    cast aspersions on their tremendous accomplishments."

    After his testimony, Welshofer mouthed "I love you" to his
    wife, Barbara, who was seated in the gallery. She told the
    jury she was worried about providing for their three children
    without her husband, but was proud of him for contesting the
    case.

    "I love him more for fighting this," she said, tears welling
    up in her eyes. "He's always said that you need to do the
    right thing, and sometimes the right thing is the hardest
    thing to do."

    Lt. Col. Paul Calvert, testifying on Welshofer's behalf, said
    attacks by Iraqi insurgents around al Qaim, the area where
    Mowhoush was taken into custody, "went to practically none"
    when Mowhoush died.

    Prosecutor Maj. Tiernan Dolan suggested Mowhoush's death
    likely denied coalition forces valuable information. He did
    not call any witnesses at the sentencing hearing.

    Prosecutors described Welshofer as a rogue interrogator who
    became frustrated with Mowhoush's refusal to answer questions
    and escalated his techniques from simple interviews to
    beatings to simulating drowning, and finally, to death.

    Spinner admitted that Welshofer sat on Mowhoush while the
    general's face was covered by the sleeping bag. But he said
    Welshofer did nothing illegal, and claimed Army headquarters
    had told interrogators it was "time to take the gloves off"
    during questioning because of a need to gather information
    about an increasingly lethal insurgency.

    The weeklong court-martial included dramatic testimony from
    secret witnesses. One man spoke from behind a green cloak and
    recalled Welshofer saying rules about interrogation
    techniques were probably being broken in Iraq "every day."

    In the background of the trial was whether the CIA played a
    role in the attempts to get Mowhoush to talk. The CIA said
    last year that one of its officers may have been involved in
    the death, but the agency refused additional comment despite
    reports that documents said Mowhoush had been beaten by a
    paramilitary Iraqi group sponsored by the CIA two days before
    he died.

    Chief Warrant Officer Todd Sonnek testified that Mowhoush had
    been beaten by Iraqis, but he did not identify the civilian
    interrogators he said were responsible."



    That one is a pretty cut and dried offense and the guy gets a $6000 fine for it?!? For unlawfully killing (polite term for murder) a senior officer of an enemy combatants army?

    Dream all you want about visions of Obama or Clinton leading you back to the light. The reality is, this is who you have become.
     
  11. Bbucko

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    Clinton, Obama or McCain, if elected, will change this mess- by executive order if necessary.

    Romney, Huckabee or Guiliani will continue the de facto use of torture if elected.
     
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