Tuesday, October 17, 2006

America As We Knew It: RIP

That was then:
It's Only A Crime When Foreigners Do It

According to this morning's Washington Post, the US has in the past prosecuted waterboarding as a war crime:
...in 1947, the United States charged a Japanese officer, Yukio Asano, with war crimes for carrying out another form of waterboarding on a U.S. civilian. The subject was strapped on a stretcher that was tilted so that his feet were in the air and head near the floor, and small amounts of water were poured over his face, leaving him gasping for air until he agreed to talk.

"Asano was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor," Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) told his colleagues last Thursday during the debate on military commissions legislation. "We punished people with 15 years of hard labor when waterboarding was used against Americans in World War II," he said.

More at Alex's blog.

This is now:
Power to detain indefinitely and torture

On this issue, Amnesty international notes that the Act will:
Fail to provide any guarantee that trials will be conducted within a reasonable time.
Permit the executive to convene military commissions to try “alien unlawful enemy combatants”, as determined by the executive under a dangerously broad definition, in trials that would provide foreign nationals so labeled with a lower standard of justice than US citizens accused of the same crimes. This would violate the prohibition on the discriminatory application of fair trial rights.
Establish military commissions whose impartiality, independence and competence would be in doubt, due to the overarching role that the executive, primarily the Secretary of Defense, would play in procedures and in appointments of military judges and military officers.
Permit, in violation of international law, the use of evidence extracted under cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, or as a result of “outrages upon personal dignity, particularly humiliating or degrading treatment”, as defined under international law.
Permit the use of classified evidence against a defendant, without the defendant necessarily being able effectively to challenge the “sources, methods or activities” by which the government acquired the evidence.
Give the military commissions the power to hand down death sentences, in contravention of international standards.

More at ZNet

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