Constant's pations

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

Sunday, March 04, 2007

The Public Forum When Congress Refuses To Debate War Crimes

Geneva, War Crimes, and Illegal Attacks on Heads of States

Ref Newsbusters made some interesting and important points which deserve an open debate and discussion.

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Newsbustes is website that takes great pains to provide insight into political issues. Recently, the Vice President was the subject of public commentary, and Newsbusters concluded HBO should review the issue. We agree.

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HBO is perhaps one of the leading organizations of investigations in cable. They provide insightful commentary. Newbusters is no different, providing valuable commentary, insight, and an important forum for literary talent that rivals the New York Times, Washington Post, and London Sunday Times. When Newsbusters comments, it deserves attention.

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According to the open media, once the Vice President’s travel arrangements were disclosed, the Vice President came under attack in Afghanistan.

Some commented on the merits of a sitting vice President entering an active combat zone.

Sadly, Bill Maher’s comments appear to have been shut aside, and Mahr has become the object of scorn, contempt, and hate. What should we expect: Bill Mahr is paid to be controversial.

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Mahr has distinguished himself by taking on controversial topics. Discussion public commentary and reactions to the attacks on the Vice President is what journalism does when discussing news.

Noel Sheppard should be commended for bringing to light some interesting issues. Whether Maher’s comments are better or worse than what he's said before is hardly a matter than HBO should spend time considering: HBO management should be required to actively debate this contentious issue.

Congress refuses to debate the war. America’s last remaining islands of debate is HBO. Let the market decide: Does America want a debate; and if Congress doesn't debate, should that debate occur on HBO, the internet, or some other forum?

HBO has a responsibility to seriously confront these issues:

___ What happens when Congress refuses to debate;

___ Should the media be the new forum for public policy formulation;

___ Has the idea of a republic gone its course

___ What about direct democracy and the idea of an American Idol approach to governance.

___ What is to be done when the majority believes that war rimes is "a good thing"?

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The answers are less important than Debating about the debate. Maher raised a very controversial point saying, "I think. . ." This is a point that appears to have upset Noel Sheppard. We the People retain the inherent right and power to not only think, but communicate that we are thinking. The process, once started, can be compelling.

Indeed, when Maher does refer to something in a "worse" manner than he did before, that is something to notice: What took so long for Congress to notice how bad things have gotten with Network TV, and their requirement to do what Congress refuses to do: Think, debate, and [wait for it] dare to say what as on their mind.

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We leave it for another day for the legal profession to adjudicate these matters. Noel Sheppard should be commented: He's raised an important issue -- how offensive is thinking; and when bad thinking supplants worse thinking, does that protect the Constitution?

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Here are the issues Noel raises:

___ What is the role of Congress

___ What is an appropriate means to evaluate Congress

___ How serious must an issue get before it is debated

___ What is to be done when leadership recklessly conducts illegal warfare

___ When leaders do wage illegal warfare, is "talking about it" the subject; or should we focus attention on the people prompting the discussion?

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America has, or did have, unmatched military power. Today's military is unable to guarantee people who have been injured can be taken care of, not to mention failing to explain the bruises inflicted in during abusive detention.

Noel's error is to believe that someone's comments are evil. The truth is the opposite, especially if you read the words backwards to forwards: The supposed sinisterness of Maher’s language falls away. Upon reflection of the words alone, it is clear what Maher is saying. HBO doesn't need to worry, the debate will continue in the House.

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War is an ugly thing. Especially when it is done to defend the right of Maher to say something that others find offensive. The key is that Maher isn't the problem; people are reacting to their reaction.

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What is to be said of people who engage in war crimes, or commit violations of Geneva? Are they warriors?

Surely, if American troops who follow illegal orders are warriors, then those who oppose those war crimes cannot be called something different.

Those who refuse to obey illegal orders, have the right and duty to refuse. Talking about excuses is not leadership, nor warrior like.

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It is not a fair construction of Maher's comments to suggest that Maher was hoping for bad results for a head of state. No, he expressed his opinion that the consequences of the outcome would be something. That is not a desire, but a belief.

It is a misreading of Maher's words to suggest good results from bad, illegal activity; rather, there are good results if bad, illegal activity is lawfully opposed in the lawful forums.

America has, as always, two forums to resolve issues: Civil forums of debate and the legal process; or the less preferred but permissible forum: Combat.

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The United States removed from power a head of state in violation of the Geneva conventions. Arguably, the head of state was executed on the back of a sham trial.

The record before us suggests the Vice President has been the subject of a grand jury indictment; has been questioned about illegal activity; and the US Attorney has said there is a black cloud over the Vice President.

___ What role did the Vice President play in illegal warfare in Iraq?

Until Noel raised this issue, I had never considered: What if Cheney was not Vice President in 2001, but someone else was: How might the events have been played out differently in 2001?

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If we start with the assumption that the illegal war was one of choice; and that the Vice President was instrumental in that war, then a reasonable question is: If Cheney had not been Vice President in 2001, would there have been a war in Iraq?

It's debatable how one extends the analogy; or what responsibly someone has for quoting someone's words. Just because we quote Hitler in a debate, that doesn't make us complicit with war crimes. To defeat the enemy, one must know the enemy; to read the enemy’s words is to know them.

Knowledge, belief, and discussion is not the same as agreement.

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The Vice President is a controversial man. He is the Vice President. His idea of a debate is to tell people to do things to themselves, then he does it to is friends, and then to himself. If he spent more time doing to himself what he says others should be doing, he would be able to lead by example. He chooses illegal warfare, and selective cherry picks reality and the law. That is not a credible legal foundation, but a fatal trap before a War Crimes Tribunal.

The Vice President may not have support, but that does not mean that a "lack of support" is the same as a crime. People are allowed to express their view and opinion; they just cannot advocate what is illegal.

However, there is no bar to:

___ Discussion a belief

___ Stating an opinion

___ Calling for a lawful change

___ Believing that there is a lawful alternatives

People are allowed to express a view on someone's policy. The error is for people to openly advocate illegal activity. That is a crime and impermissible.

That someone may investigate a matter does not mean that the issue is decided; only that someone s reviewing a matter, as HBO should do: What happens when Congress refuses to act, should HBO take the lead and provide information, or just entertainment to distract from the sorry state of the Congressional inaction on this President’s war crimes?

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The issue before us: What is to be done when illegal warfare does not end; and the American leadership appears to be complicity with illegal warfare? It is regretful America talks about the law with reverence, but violates the with impunity.

There are lawful options. These are known. They are permitted. They are not scary. And it is consistent with the Constitution, rule of law, and Geneva Conventions.

The error for the American media is to preach about what people should or should not debate, while it has collectively failed to debate, but been complicit with shutting down effective oversight.

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Indeed, it is regrettable that people's comments are misconstrued. In America, if people have an opinion about illegal warfare, they are not allowed to express it everywhere -- there are litigations.

It is ironic there are more constraints on the discussion of illegal warfare than there appear to be on this President in waging it. The standards are there, this President simply fires US Attorney who attempt to enforce the law; and promotes those who refuse to fully assert their oath of office.

The President and American legal community are contemptibly lazy. Their legacy is war crimes. We the People, not the media, will have to supervise this cleaning process.

America's absurd standard: "Illegal warfare: We wage it, just don't talk about it.

That makes no sense, as much as a Vice President thinking he could enter combat zone and not be the subject of public commentary, potential harm, or possible adverse consequence.

Combat zones involve very nasty things. Vice President who want to avoid nasty things should stay out of the ultimate combat zone: The House Judiciary Impeachment Hearing.

Politics is different than combat. Once forum is legal, and so is the other.

Some say the President and Vice President may not be lawfully attacked. This is a misreading of the laws of war. Heads of state, when they engage in illegal warfare, and refuse to stop warfare, can be lawfully targeted by foreign fighters.

The principle of reciprocity and retaliation apply. engaging in reciprocal attacks on US government officials for American government breaches of the laws of war, and like illegal activity.

Commanders in Chiefs are leaders of the military. As such, they remain -- in times of war -- the object of foreign fighter affection, devotion, and interest.

If Members of Congress do not want the public to talk about the implications of Geneva -- that fighters, under Geneva, are allowed to engage in like violations of Geneva -- then the issue which HBO needs to address isn't with Maher, but with those who dared to start the debate: Not Congress, but the President.

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Leaders who wish to avoid becoming the object of attack should not first wage illegal warfare. When the leadership has failed to stop illegal warfare, foreign fighters, under the laws of war, are not required to respect the laws of war prohibiting attacks on the nation’s leadership. This is called reciprocation and retaliation.

If the Vide President and President do not like the adverse consequences that foreign fighters may lawfully impose in retaliation for America's war crimes, then the solution is for the President and Vice President to end illegal warfare, not the debate.

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I would prefer the President, Noel and others discuss the following:

___ When a nation reuses to end illegal warfare, what option do foreign fighters have?

___ Why is it a problem if people express their disgust with the people who are supposedly behind this illegal activity?

___ What results might we have had if Cheney was not Vice President in 2001? 2002? 2002? 2003? 2004? 2005? 2006?

___ Is there a question we're not allowed to ask; if so, why not?

___ What is the leadership going to do to ensure We the People are not forced to endure war crimes, abuse of power, and illegal warfare?

___ Should there be different standards of conduct to screen political leaders in America, and keep derelicts, incompetents, and raging lunatics out of the political process?

___ What should a government’s responsibility be when the leadership wages illegal warfare?

___ What is a solution?

Nuremberg trials offer interesting guides to the above questions. Whether precedent is respected or ignored remains for the legal community to debate.

War crimes are not debatable. They are adjudicated. Something this President does not want to consider; and he has no credible defense.

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Bill Maher is allowed to provide fair comments. Others are not allowed to twist his comments into something that they are not. HBO should review this issue. Congress illegally refuses to end unlawful warfare.

People who advocate illegal activity should avoid those who are able to do something about it. That goes for the President and Vice President if they pretend their are immune to accountability before the House which has the power to impeach. Once impeached, Presidential pardons are meaningless, especially when there are international war crimes trials.

The President, GOP and Senate have no power to prevent impeachment. Claims that impeachment would backfire means the Republicans should demand impeachment so the DNC would be blamed. The RNC is silent, not calling for something that would -- in their words -- "benefit the President and GOP." The GOP refuses to attempt this "slam dunk."

Thank you, Noel for writing. You gave me quite a bid to think about. I appreciate your taking the time to communicate your views and hope that you can find the time to expand your comments. I look forward to reading your views with the recognition that Newsbusters deserves.