Monday, August 14, 2006

Retroactive War Crime Protection Proposed

The Bush administration drafted amendments to the War Crimes Act that would retroactively protect policymakers from possible criminal charges for authorizing any humiliating and degrading treatment of detainees, according to lawyers who have seen the proposal.





The move by the administration is the latest effort to deal with treatment of those taken into custody in the war on terror.

At issue are interrogations carried out by the CIA, and the degree to which harsh tactics such as water-boarding were authorized by administration officials. A separate law, the Uniform Code of Military Justice, applies to the military.

The Washington Post first reported on the War Crimes Act amendments Wednesday.

One section of the draft would outlaw torture and inhuman or cruel treatment, but it does not contain prohibitions from Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions against "outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment." A copy of the section of the draft was obtained by The Associated Press.

Another section would apply the legislation retroactively, according to two lawyers who have seen the contents of the section and who spoke on condition of anonymity because their sources did not authorize them to release the information.

One of the two attorneys said that the draft is in the revision stage but that the administration seems intent on pushing forward the draft's major points in Congress after Labor Day.

"I think what this bill can do is in effect immunize past crimes. That's why it's so dangerous," said a third attorney, Eugene Fidell, president of the National Institute of Military Justice.

Fidell said the initiative is "not just protection of political appointees, but also CIA personnel who led interrogations."

Source

Of course this type of legislation would have no bearing on the US obligations under international law. But it still comes as no surprise that they would attempt to create a pseudo legal defence to their acts of terrorism.

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