Constant's pations

If it's more than 30 minutes old, it's not news. It's a blog.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Presidential Impeachment for War crimes: Bush memo shows President willfuly aware of decision

How many more crimes will he get away with; and are you next?


Is it not surprising how long it took the President to respond to the questions about Guantanamo and the Energy Commission. All the while denying there was a problem, and refusing to release information.

Yet, we see a curious contrast. Seemingly "out of the blue" the White House has "made a decision" abut the Geneva Convention relative to combatants in Afghanistan, Guantanamo, and Iraq.

The memos were written in 2002, well before the start of combat operations. What is clear is that despite the many refusals to provide information to the public about the Energy Task Force, the White House was "all too willing" to release this information about the Gevena Convention.

Don't be fooled. What has actually happened is the White House was well aware of misconduct and abuses in late 2001; this information was what was the catalyst for a mad scramble. Rather than put a clamp on the abuse, the White House chose another path: Publicly proclaim the policy [in the form of the memos] so as to assertively state in writing [that would be ignored, wink-wink] that there would be compliance with the Geneva Conventions.

Small problem. This is the same "comply with all document retention standards" that Andersen issued at Enron.

Bluntly, the 2002 memos need to be looked at in the context of Enron-Anderson: Not what was written, but what was the purpose of the memos: It was to protect the president, document a policy, and then take no action on the original information that was the catalyst for the mad scramble.

It is curious we've had no release of information about "what was the catalyst for this documentation"; nor have we had a credible accounting for "how or what action was taken after Rice was informed in 2002 of the abuses in Iraq."

The answers lie not in the memos, but in the curious transmission of memos asserting torture as a reasonable method to solicit information. The Rumsfeld memos were not randomly released to Afghanistan or Iraq; rather, personnel within DoD, CIFA, FBI, DoJ, and the CIA had explicit orders both in writing and travel-related orders to engage in "whatever was required" to obtain this information.

The orders were clear. The photos are there. So too are the misstatements by the US Solicitor General before the Supreme Court; to which the Democrats in the Judiciary committee have documented and sent a letter.

There is a grave breach of the laws of war, to which this leader is accountable through Article VI of the US constitution.

The White House needs to explain why it is so quick to release memos in this case, but unresponsive in the Energy Commission. The answer lies in the objective: To protect the president by create a false trail; we need a better accounting of what prompted these memos, what information was given to suggest that a "clarification" is required; and then what steps, if any, were taken as a result of the information that "prompted both this memo, but also the subsequent alerts to Rice" that something was going on.

IN both cases, the White House as not been forthcoming: Where was the information that would explain the "catalyst for this scramble"; why hasn't it been released; and why was the information that "is sensitive" in the 2002 memos, but releasable...not also the basis to say "about the other information" that we need to also have access, disclose, and discuss that information.

The White House is not being consistent; and there are reasonable questions that continue, 3 years later, to not get straight answers. Par for the course for this White House.


If there was no "issue" as to whether the detainees were or were not protected, why the big mystery about "who they were really holding" in Iraq?

Answer: It was a big issue.

What prompted the memos: The information Rice was given about abuses in Iraq.

The timing is noteworthy. That Rice was given this information "at the same time" that the memos were written. The point isn't that Rice "was or wasn't informed" about Iraq; but that "because she was informed, the put together a plan to assert in writing the opposite of what was going on.

Yet, not action was timely taken to change the conduct in these places.

War crimes chronology.

AG letter Feb 1 ---------- \ Bush signs
/ memo
Gonzalez letter Feb 7 ---- / Feb 7

Feb. 1, 2002:

Letter to President Bush From the Attorney General (49KB; from FindLaw)
The memo by Attorney General John D. Ashcroft summarized the Justice Department's position on why the Geneva Convention did not apply to al Qaeda and Taliban detainees. [Supreme Court found that the US Constitution does apply to detainees in Guantanamo; and the detainees in Iraq fall under the Geneva Convention]

The memo was Ashcroft's personal response to the State Department position that, as a matter of law, the Geneva Conventions protected Taliban soldiers. Ashcroft warned that if the president sided with the State Department, American officials might wind up going to jail for violating U.S. and international laws.

Feb. 7, 2002:

Justice Department Memo to the White House Counsel (49KB; from FindLaw)
A memo written by Jay S. Bybee, then head of the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, advised White House counsel Alberto R. Gonzales that the president had "reasonable factual grounds" to determine that Taliban fighters captured in Afghanistan were not entitled to prisoner of war status.

Later, those who abused detainees, were found to violate the Geneva Conventions, implying that regardless "their status-designation", that the detaining personnel have the requirement to treat the prisoners humanely.

Feb. 7, 2002:

Memo Signed by President Bush (130KB) Bush's presidential memorandum to members of his national security team said he believed he had "the authority under the Constitution" to deny protections of the Geneva Conventions to combatants picked up during the war in Afghanistan, but that he would "decline to exercise that authority at this time." The memo settled the dispute between the State and Justice departments over the issue.

He states in writing that he reviewed the standards. He knew that there was a requirement to ensure that the detainees were treated fairly and "in writing" stated he would not deny the protections; but in practice "despite the reviews and memos" he still failed to take action when he was given information that personnel were, in fact, failing to abide by the protections in Guantanamo, Iraq, and Afghanistan."


The problem the President has is that the memos clearly show he was informed of the requirements and standards. Rather than focus on "why not action has been taken about information coming in about abuses," the White House is changing the subject.

They're changing the subject from "Why not action was taken" to "the decision was made that the Conventions would apply."

the provision of Geneva will apply to our present conflict with the Taliban

But according to the White House staff, Rice was informed of violations. The president can't claim "he decided" something, when there is no action subsequent to that decision to "look into" information related to "actions inconsistent with that decision."

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