Friday, December 31, 2004

The New York Times Op/Ed : Legal Breach: The Government's Attorneys and Abu Ghraib

The New York Times > Opinion > Editorial Observer: Legal Breach: The Government's Attorneys and Abu Ghraib:

America: We are not who we believe we are. We are not who we want to be. We are not who we used to be. We are not who we ought to be.

This opinion article by Andrew Rosenthal should be read by every American, as dispassionately as possible, as objectively as possible, without prejudice. It is really frightening and, at the same time, heartening.

The constitution of the United States has come under assault by an Executive Branch in the thrall of the Project for the New American Century. But our uniformed servicemen and women have fought as hard as they can to protect us from this internal threat to our liberty.

Please read this opinion article. Some excerpts follow:

"When Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld approved the initial list of interrogation methods for Guantanamo Bay in late 2002 - methods that clearly violated the Geneva Conventions and anti-torture statutes - there were no protests from the legal counsels for the secretary of defense, the attorney general, the president, the Central Intelligence Agency or any of the civilian secretaries of the armed services...

It took an internal protest by uniformed lawyers from the Navy to force the Pentagon to review the Guantanamo rules and restrict them a bit. But the military lawyers' concerns were largely shoved aside by a team of civilian lawyers, led by Mary Walker, the Air Force general counsel. The group reaffirmed the notion that Mr. Bush could choose when to apply the Geneva Conventions.
...

If it had not been for a group of uniformed lawyers, the nation might never have learned of the torture and detention memos. In May 2003, soon after Ms. Walker's group produced its rationalization for prisoner abuse, a half-dozen military lawyers went to Scott Horton, who was chairman of the human rights committee of the City Bar Association in New York.

That led to a bar report on the administration's policies, a report that was published around the same time the Abu Ghraib atrocities came into public view. Those lawyers had to do their duty anonymously to avoid having their careers savaged. Meanwhile, the Justice Department official who signed the memo on torturing prisoners, Jay Bybee, was elevated by Mr. Bush to the federal bench.

This month, several former high-ranking military lawyers came out publicly against the nomination of the White House counsel, Alberto Gonzales, to be attorney general. They noted that it was Mr. Gonzales who had supervised the legal assault on the Geneva Conventions.

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