Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Bush Continues to Ignore Congress

The Los Angeles Times reported yesterday that the Bush Administration continues on the wrong track insofar how the US deals with prisoners in our so-called War on Terrorism (WOT). Of course I continue to mention that this conflict is a "so-called" WOT because it’s quite clear that terrorism is a tactic and not a philosophy; countries do not go to war against tactics per se.

According to the Times article a recent United Nations inquiry states that the treatment of detainees at Guantanamo Bay very often amounts to torture and violates all sorts of international laws like the Geneva Convention where the US is a signatory.

There was a saying used during the 1960’s that captured the spirit the US should use when dealing with Third World countries and their battle with communism. The US should win their hearts and minds was the oft-used phrase. Well, how the US is currently dealing with prisoners is not the way to win the hearts and minds of the Arab and Muslim street.

The Bush Administration should heed the words of Sen. John McCain. Last year he took a strong stance against such abuses and distanced himself from such policies. Earlier in the month McCain attended the Munich Conference on Security Policy in Germany and was applauded by the audience for his stance against torture.

Of course the subject of the "unitary executive" seems to pop up again and again with the Bush Administration. After all Bush signed into law this year's Defense Appropriations Bill and it included the McCain Amendment forbidding the torture of detainees by all US personnel. Since Bush cares little about the separation of powers, he included a "signing statement" which is the official Bush Administration position pronouncing his interpretation of the new law. In this specific instance, Bush's signing statement declared that he views the new torture law to be limited by his "inherent authority" as commander-in-chief to protect the national security of America. In short, he could do want he wants, certainly not the intent of Congress.

The report, compiled by five UN envoys, interviewed former prisoners, detainees’ lawyers and family, and US officials. It strongly urges US policymakers to close Guntanamo and bring all captives to trial in the US.

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