Saturday, May 30, 2009

Military Commissions Act, Is there a Pardon in it?

When BushCo had Congress pass the War Crimes Act in Sept. 2006, was there a little known amendment in it about pardoning him and all the cronies of all crimes back to Sept. 11, 2001?

Watch this video then I will show you what I am talking about.

This is from Wikipedia:

Protections from criminal and civil prosecutions for previous instances of alleged torture
Two provisions of the MCA have been criticized for allegedly making it harder to prosecute and convict officers and employees of the US government for misconduct in office.
First, the MCA changed the definition of war crimes for which US government defendants can be prosecuted. Under the War Crimes Act of 1996, any violation of Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions was considered a war crime and could be criminally prosecuted. Section 6 of the Military Commissions Act amended the War Crimes Act so that only actions specifically defined as "grave breaches" of Common Article 3 could be the basis for a prosecution, and it made that definition retroactive to November 26, 1997. The specific actions defined in section 6 of the Military Commissions Act include torture, cruel or inhumane treatment, murder, mutilation or maiming, intentionally causing serious bodily harm, rape, sexual assault or abuse, and the taking of hostages. According to Mariner of Human Rights Watch, the effect is "that perpetrators of several categories of what were war crimes at the time they were committed, can no longer be punished under U.S. law."[32] The Center for Constitutional Rights adds:
The MCA’s restricted definitions arguably would exempt certain U.S. officials who have implemented or had command responsibility for coercive interrogation techniques from war crimes prosecutions.
. . . .
This amendment is designed to protect U.S. government perpetrators of abuses during the "war on terror" from prosecution.[33]
In 2005, a provision of the Detainee Treatment Act (section 1004(a)) had created a new defense as well as a provision to providing counsel for agents involved in the detention and interrogation of individuals “believed to be engaged in or associated with international terrorist activity”. The 2006 MCA amended section 1004(a) of the Detainee Treatment Act to guarantee free counsel in the event of civil or criminal prosecution and applied the above mentioned legal defense to prosecutions for conduct that occurred during the period September 11, 2001 to December 30, 2005. Although the provision recognizes the possibility of civil and or criminal proceedings, the Center for Constitutional Rights has criticised this claiming that "The MCA retroactively immunizes some U.S. officials who have engaged in illegal actions which have been authorized by the Executive."

I am not a lawyer, and not very smart.. and these things worry me. They were snuck in and not very many people were even aware of them. This happens in bills all the time and they get passed.

I think someone needs to really check into it and see what it means and if there is a real problem here or if I and others who have heard about this now are just being paranoid.

We were so totally screwed over the last 8 years of the Bush Mis-Administration, this just adds one more instance of it. This bill, also known as HR-6166 was signed into law on October 17, 2006.

I hope everyone reads the entire bill or law, and gives your opinion of it. I am really confused and would just like to know exactly where we stand on this.


D.K. Raed said...

well annette, I will weigh in with my total layman's opinion ... it doesn't matter what the MCA says! Whether what Bush authorized constitutes a regular breach of Geneva torture rules or a grave breach doesn't matter! I say that because contained in the very MCA itself is the remedy for future prosecutions ... that is the apparent ability the MCA gave itself to grant RETROACTIVE immunity. See, once you grant that some act can be retroactive, the door is open for some future act to retroactively reverse that very act!

Jonathan Turley is a lot smarter than me and he is saying that once the torture violations were publicized, it became encumbant on the Prez and/or the DoJ and/or Congress to investigate and prosecute. To not do so is a breach of their obligations for which they could be held accountable in some future investigation.

It's a real tangled web, that's for sure! But I've always thought best way out of a maze is to cut a straight path. I think that applies here, too. Cut a legal path straight to the top!

Annette said...

D.K., I hope you are correct.. Some have said that the Geneva Convention overweighed the law here in the states.. but I just don't know. I am not smart enough to know.. There are certainly parts of this that have Turley and HRC up in the air about it. So, I guess time will tell..

D.K. Raed said...

It's a tough subject. I think for me the key is that we elected a first-rate President and DoJ to do their duty. If they seem to be taking their time, I am willing to grant that they may have reasons or other more pressing things right now. It is a pleasant surprise that Obama has attempted to tackle so much right out of the gate. I certainly don't think he wakes up every morning plotting how he can screw us or the world like I suspect his incompetent predecessor & vp did. If the electorate is dissatisfied, it will show in the mid-term elections.

Silly Ratfaced Git said...

Firstly, thank you for staying on top of this Annette.

IANAL but I have already stated at BCAB, something similar to what D.K.R. has just said. I question the legality of a law that grant immunity for a criminal act that was a criminal act at the time it was committed. This law itself is probably in direct conflict with treaty obligations. This law does not prevent prosecution on international law grounds. I assume they thought the Europeans would be to pussyfied to push for prosecutions. I wouldn't count on that. Keep your eyes on Spain.

I want to see what a law scholar like Turley or someone with more treaty and international law knowledge has to say about this. I agree with D.K.R. but I am no expert in this field.

Annette said...

Yeah, I think it is bogus, but I can't find where anyone has addressed it directly. They have talked about other provisions in this bill, but not this amendment. That kinda bothers me. That's why I thought I would put this out there and see if anyone would at least make a stab at it.

Matt Osborne said...

Actually, immunity is not a terrible thing. Follow my logic before you react.

Whereas certain officials (ahem, Dick Cheney, ahem) may claim immunity under the act, they CAN be compelled to testify before a truth commission without being able to invoke their 5th Amendment rights. Furthermore, they can STILL be charged with perjury if they lie to a Congressional inquiry, just as some officials (ahem, Gonzales, ahem) can be charged with perjury if they've already lied to Congress.

We need to pressure Congress for hearings. We need to pressure Washington for a truth commission. Because ultimately it doesn't matter if Dick and George spend one day in jail -- as long as the 'legacy' of their administration becomes a clinic on what NOT to do.

Patricia said...

If I knew about this at the time, I don't recall. There were so many outrages, though, it was hard to keep track of them all. I will ask my sister as you asked, Annette, but I'll hazard an uneducated guess that this will be a real murky area if it comes into play.