Constant's pations

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

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Impeachment: Congressman's blog lays out the pieces

The pieces are there. They key is to start staking the evidence against the criminal law statutes.

Congressman Conyers does a nice job at illustrating how the impeachment-war crimes noose it tightening around the Administration.

Although not explicitly stating that an impeachment for war crimes is imminent, it's clear the key evidence is staking up against the administration.

* * *

I encourage you to read this link again quickly, as I'll simply summarize the key points; and show how they are new "trends toward war crimes/impeachment."

I'll not repeat each point, simply throw each point down and show how the "noose" is tighter.

* * *

First, there's the ACLU case in re the German who was detained.

Second, there's the Rice confirmation she's aware of the Convention Against Torture.

Third, are the misleading statements about "not sending" detainees to nations that commit torture.

Fourth, is the independent confirmation by CIA through ABC that abusive conduct is occurring, and is official policy.

Fifth, is the line of evidence linking the White House, specifically Cheney, to the official policy encouraging conduct at odds with the Convention Against Torture.

* * *

First, let's consider the larger apparent objective: To shield the President, avoide defeat in the House of Representatives, and create a method to avoid civilian-liability for war crimes.

Also, keep in mind that the UN's Annan has been formally requested to review allegations of war crimes by Bush and Blair; and that the UK parliament has a group looking at the rendition issue.

Consider also this Foreign Policy article on impeachment. [Backup]

* * *

Second, let's jump around a bit and show you what is new.

A. Fatal Admission: Knowledge of applicable, but ignored, treaties

Before today, the Administration had a policy of denying that anyone was protected. Their contention their status was a function of the combatant status.

We have argued their status under Geneva was irrelevant, in that the US being a signatory of the UN Convention, was bound through Article VI of the US Constitution to follow that treaty against abusive treatment.

The news is that the Administration ha suddenly changed: No longer are they focusing on whether someone is or is not an enemy combatant; rather, the issue is a full admission that, as NSC Advisor, Rice was in a position to influence the President, and remind him that regardless the detainees status, the US was a signatory of the Convention Against Torture.

The problem the White House has is that the court, not the executive, is the one that will adjudicate whether the conduct was or was not torture; and whether the leadership, despite their access to the President, failed to intervene or take action when they knew this abuse was occurring.

Adding to the problem of "knowing about treaties, but ignoring them" is the admission that the US does detain people, but have not been afforded access by the Red Cross, as required.

B. Officials, leadership condones unlawful conduct

Moreover, we now have indications that not only did Rice as NSC Advisor knew the anti-abuse standards [and failed to intervene], but that there was additional pressure from the Vice President to consciously ignore those treaties. This is news because it shows a pattern of conduct, pressure, and apparent use of official office to drive people to take action contrary to the law.

Further, Cheney's conduct would tend to contradict his verbal/public/oral statements to the contrary in re CIA-WMD-Plame pressure and the 17 trips. Despite impressions to the contrary, it appears Cheney does have a pattern of browbeating people to arrive at predetermined conclusions, regardless the legality of the conduct required to achieve that outcome.

It is problematic when BOlton fails to affirmatively deny something that is apparently occurring -- detaining people incomunicado, contrary to law, and abused -- while at the same time attacking those whose job it is to oversee human rights issues. Bolton's track record of unreliable statements casts grave doubts on his motives, statements, and objectives.

C. Unlawful conduct continues despite knowing illegality

There is also an emerging line of evidence that, despite the US being a signatory to the Convention Against Torture and the leadership failing to intervene, but actively promote the abuses -- CIA personnel continue to report outside their chain of command their concerns with increased pressure to remain silent or commit abuses.

In other words, despite the crocodile tears from the White House over the Abu Ghraib photos and the "shocked!" claims, the misconduct continues. This is further evidence that the Senate Phase II investigation is not only ineffectual, but a waste of scarce government resources.

This pattern of "engaging in unlawful conduct, despite knowing so" is repeated when we consider Bolton's request for the NSA tapes: The information was collected on Americans, contrary to public law.

Rice's statements are problematic in that they do not affirmatively deny torture is occuring; rather they simply assert, without proof, that the misconduct as reported in the media is not occurring, yet, despite that ban on torture, the torture is producing useful information. We judge the torture is occuring; and it is producing information that would not be admissible to court.

In light of this inadmissability, the Americans have then used the "fruit of unlawful abuse" as the basis to argue that the trial should be kept secret. We judge the basis for the secret trials is linked more with a desire to suppress informaiton the public should have access to than a bonafide national security risk or interest. It is more likely the real interest is to avoid liability and sanctions for war crimes than to protect Americans or preserve the rule of law.

One cannot credibly assert they are for "the rule of law" when their public, known conduct is contrary to the principle. It remains to be understood to what extent there is a body of evidence that could be admissable that would shed light on a far wider pattern of abuse, misconduct, and official orders which are contrary to treaties, conventions, statutes, and public policy.

D. Unlawful conduct occurred despite access to counsel, applicability of treaties and statutes

Also, what's changed is the geography argument. Originally, the "premise" behind first holding detainees in Guantanamo, then the secret detention centers in Europe, was that the law didn't apply "outside the US." This was struck down, and was the catalyst to move the detainees to Eastern Europe.

However, the course of conduct shows that the White House, staff, legal advisors, and those principally involved were well aware that the movement was based on an illusory loophole in the statutes. Rice's fatal admission today is to recognize that the statutes, regardless the location, still apply. Duh!

The problem Rice has is that a reasonable person in her position would already have known that; and we judge the course of conduct to move the detainees to Guantanamo then Eastern Europe was evidence that they attempted to find an exception to a statute they knew perfectly well existed, applied, and was relevant.

Further, one cannot credibly argue ignorance about the law when the entire chain of events is premised on a course of conduct designed to circumvent that specific statute or treat.

It is irrelevant whether they claim were or were not confused, as a reasonable jury would find that they were making deliberate, specific, and intentional acts to achieve a specific outcome: Abuse of people, cover it up, explain it away, justify it, then say, "Well, we made a mistake."

No, you violated the law.

Again, it doesn't matter that the "policy" has changed -- the issue is that the treaty, regardless whether the Administration wants to admit it -- was and remains in full force. Their conduct, in finding a "suitable alternative location", shows that they were well aware of its applicability.

Thus, today by stating the treaty suddenly applies to all people, regardless location is simply an acknowledgement that US personnel, contractors, and all other people engaging in abuse have been in violation of the UN Convention Against Torture.

A burglar doesn't get out of jail by saying, "The law which I ignored actually is one that I intended to follow -- I just thought it didn't apply in cases when I wanted to ignore it."

One doesn't self-justify violating the law, and then say "We've agreed that the law is now important" as way of absolution, or retroactive immunity. Rather, the court will have to examine whether the conduct, which violated the law, was done with or without full knowledge of the statutes. One would reasonably conclude that the statute's existence was at the heart of the efforts to get around that statue. This, we conclude, would satisfy the mens rea requirement.

We judge that the basis for the legal arguments, regardless their illegality, show that there were specific decisions and judgments made to self-justify ignoring the law which remained in force. And however flawed the legal arguments were, the course of conduct was made with full knowledge of those treaties; and a reasonable person should have taken bold action to prevent, not condone, the conduct.

However, all the information we have suggests the opposite: That despite complaints and concerns with the conduct, the arguments hinged on the detainee status -- this indicates that the legal argument was made with full knowledge that the "legal requirement to follow the Convention Against Torture" would not prevail.

Hitler's lawyers were the ones which "legalized" the Holocaust, but "legal self-approvals to ignore standards of conduct" remains no defense to war crimes.

Now is too late to say the law "suddenly applies" to all people, regardless their location. One cannot reasonably rely on "legal advice to ignore treaties" when one has a higher duty to preserve the US Constitution, Article VI, recognizing treaties are the supreme law of the land.

* * *

What's needed is a broad view of the emerging lines of evidence, and a shift in gears: Despite the Administrations public tar and feathering over the Iraq failures, the misconduct not only continues, but more illusions and distractions are being thrown about.

This appears to be driving the CIA rebellion and open pressure on Rice. Fortunately, these reversals are signs of inconsistent out of court statements that would tend to impeach a witness before a grand jury in terms of reliability, veracity, and credibility.

Make no mistake, as the rebellion within the CIA spreads, so too will the White House staff realize that they have to make a choice: Either between the rule of law or the tyranny.

At this point, many have embraced the Vice President's absurdity, and incorrectly believe the choice is between "victory and defeat in Iraq," all the while embracing more conduct that is contrary to law.

* * *

Try not to get caught in the weeds on this. The problems, lines of evidence, and pattern of conduct appear to be linking the original misconduct not just with the White House, but with the Joint Staff and Rumsfeld. [See the information from Capt. Ian Fishback; and testimony by Marine Officers.]

DoD would have us believe it is isolated and commanders were doing the right thing. However, a grand jury could find that it is not credible that the "Senior officers took appropriate action" -- they have refused to listen to ground-level commanders' requests for "more troops in Iraq."

Other lines of evidence are emerging from other Army officers who appear to have enough information to show the pattern of conduct was not isolated, and that a reasonable person in Rumsfeld's position should have, or failed to, timely intervene in re 5100.77. [ More ]

* * *

Remember, the RNC's goal at this point is to create enough confusion about many issues, generate support for the President, and use that verbal armor to retain control of the House.

It remains to be seen whether the DNC leadership can rally around a central theme: Impeachment for war crimes by American civilian leaders who knew of, and failed to, timely intervene and stop policies which violated treaties the US had signed.

It is clear that Rice, while wandering the world globe, has had some time to reflect on things. Here public statements show she has gotten some fresh air.

But the treaty isn't new. She knew about that treaty in 2001. What is new is the White House staff is starting to take sides.

This is a good sign. But don't let "their sudden decision to come forward" be a basis to let up pressure. Rather, the issue becomes: Their failure to timely remove themselves from an alleged conspiracy at the time.

Now is too late. History is locked. Their goal appears to be making deals, ensure Senators do cursory investigations, and get things swept under the rug.

Recall, the RNC's goal is to get people to "agree to not do something" based on failing to provide all the information and then holding people to "not review a matter" based on an agreement, conditioned on incomplete information.

It is time to quit agreeing to "do or not do" anything the RNC proposes, and turn all the information over to the House Judiciary Committee.

These are issues of criminal law. They are not political decisions. But the RNC hopes to throw up enough smokescreens, diversions, and red herrings to protect their President and retain power in the House of Representatives.

The DNC appears to enjoy losing perspective and agreeing to things that put the rule of law second to the tyrant's red herrings.

Fortunately, there are competent lawyers on Congressman Conyers' staff who have already well discussed the issues of impeachment. These discussions occurred several years ago. It is clear the lines of evidence continue to support impeachment.

It is time to focus on the lines of evidence that relate to the broader issue of war crimes, violations of treaties, and a failure to timely remove oneself from an alleged conspiracy to violate those treaties.

The evidence is there. What’s needed is a decision and leadership to couch the evidence in terms that the public and the Congressional leadership can understand.