McCain Admits Bush Administration Violated International Law

By
Monday, August 31, 2009 at 10:12 am

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said on “Face the Nation” Sunday that — like most Republicans and even some Democrats, including some in the president’s cabinet — he thinks President Obama was right when he said “we ought to go forward, not back.”

But then he went on to say, as Glenn Greenwald tweeted yesterday, that “I think the interrogations were in violation of the Geneva Conventions and the Convention Against Torture that we ratified under President Reagan.”

Now, once you acknowledge that the CIA, at the direction of senior cabinet officials, violated international humanitarian law that requires the United States to prosecute the perpetrators, the only way to justify not investigating is to say that the executive branch of government is above the law — or, put more pragmatically, that it’s politically too messy to investigate senior leaders in the U.S. government.

Republicans didn’t hesitate to investigate when it involved Democratic President Bill Clinton, however, or to bring charges against him for lying about a personal matter. And Congress didn’t turn its backs on the Iran-Contra scandal during the Reagan administration, which led to 14 senior officials charged with crimes, and 11 convictions. And of course the Watergate affair led to the indictment and conviction of senior Nixon administration officials, and impeachment charges against the president. Congressional investigations of sitting and past administrations are far from unprecedented.

So how does McCain explain why we ought to forget the whole torture problem — which led to the deaths of a still-unknown number of detainees in custody, some of whom the CIA still can’t account for — even as he acknowledges that it violated international treaties that legally obligate us to prosecute?

“I think these interrogations helped al-Qaeda recruit,” McCain said yesterday, adding: “the damage that it did to America’s reputation in the world we’re still on the way to repairing.”

Even setting aside the legal requirements, as a practical matter, a public acknowledgment and investigation would seem to be the only way to repair that damages.

As McCain put it: “This is an ideological struggle as well as a physical one.”

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32 Comments

The Washington Independent » McCain Admits Bush Administration … | Law firm live today.
Pingback posted August 31, 2009 @ 2:24 pm

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hass
Comment posted August 31, 2009 @ 2:38 pm

Under international law, the crime of torture is subject to “universal jurisdiction”. In other words, ANY foreign country where our officials go are OBLIGATED to prosecute them for torture.

According to Amnesty Interational:
“All states parties to the Convention against Torture and the Inter-American Convention are obliged whenever a person suspected of torture is found in their territory to submit the case to their prosecuting authorities for the purposes of prosecution, or to extradite that person. In addition, it is now widely recognized that states, even those which are not states parties to these treaties, may exercise universal jurisdiction over torture under customary international law.”
http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/IOR53/01…


hass
Comment posted August 31, 2009 @ 2:46 pm

I should add however, that both France and Germany have given US officials “head of state immunity” to the likes of Rumsfeld (contrary to cases involving Khaddafy and Pinochet)


knowbuddhau
Comment posted August 31, 2009 @ 3:05 pm

Ideology matters over here, but not in Afghanistan? I wonder what Sen. McCain thinks about Gen. McChrystal's recent statement as reported by Ackerman a few days back:

“Ideology can influence the outcome, but it is usually subordinate to the more practical considerations of survival and everyday life.”
http://washingtonindependent.com/56788/mcchryst…

Oh really? Is that how we're being treated here at home, too? It's straight outta Maslow's hierarchy of needs.

Since we don't want to understand them, just dominate them, he'll just ignore what most humanizes them, and pretend he can treat them like such favored pets they'll come to see us as their Great Father-Protector.

And when they don't, it will be their fault for not being civilized enough, right? It won't be because we first decided to ignore their ideologies, and just tried to force them into full-spectrum subjugation.

McChrystal is indulging in a discredited reduction, turning humans, who are just as embedded in myths as the stars are in the sky, into mere Newtonian automata.

It's the same gear-headed mistake Z. Brzezinski made 30 years ago.

Q: When the Soviets justified their intervention by asserting that they intended to fight against a secret involvement of the United States in Afghanistan, people didn't believe them. However, there was a basis of truth. You don't regret anything today?

Brzezinski: Regret what? That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap and you want me to regret it? The day that the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter: We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam war. Indeed, for almost 10 years, Moscow had to carry on a war unsupportable by the government, a conflict that brought about the demoralization and finally the breakup of the Soviet empire.

Q: And neither do you regret having supported the Islamic [integrisme], having given arms and advice to future terrorists?

Brzezinski: What is most important to the history of the world? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the cold war?

Q: Some stirred-up Moslems? But it has been said and repeated: Islamic fundamentalism represents a world menace today.

Brzezinski: Nonsense! It is said that the West had a global policy in regard to Islam. That is stupid. There isn't a global Islam. Look at Islam in a rational manner and without demagoguery or emotion. It is the leading religion of the world with 1.5 billion followers. But what is there in common among Saudi Arabian fundamentalism, moderate Morocco, Pakistan militarism, Egyptian pro-Western or Central Asian secularism? Nothing more than what unites the Christian countries.
http://www.counterpunch.org/brzezinski.html

What have they in common, he asks? Only the same thing that unites Christian countries, he says dismissively. People, in this view, are merely automata: stuff them with the right inputs, you will force the right outputs. The cosmos is a machine, and we are its masters.

That right there is the problem.

Glad to see McCain admit the importance of ideology (at least for us civilized people, eh?). But I bet it won't be long before he directly contradicts himself, saying something stupid about an opponent who needs to put aside ideology blah blah blah.


sandboxreport
Comment posted August 31, 2009 @ 3:37 pm

Aww man. That's it for McCain. Nobody's gonna like him anymore. Somebody should give him a hug.


WillBe
Comment posted August 31, 2009 @ 3:52 pm

McCain’s cognitive dissonance? No, he doesn’t loose sleep over it. But it will be America’s if we don’t do something about it….


Matt Burger
Comment posted August 31, 2009 @ 7:38 pm

Isn't it fascinating that some war criminals should be investigated and some shouldn't. Isn't it unfortunate that we have now defined our country, as one who spearheads preemptive war, promotes torture, and convinces it's public that they're not worthy of universal healthcare. I wrote a song, pass it on if you like it.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4y08uJ42X48


Matt Burger
Comment posted August 31, 2009 @ 7:38 pm

Isn't it fascinating that some war criminals should be investigated and some shouldn't. Isn't it unfortunate that we have now defined our country, as one who spearheads preemptive war, promotes torture, and convinces it's public that they're not worthy of universal healthcare. I wrote a song, pass it on if you like it.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4y08uJ42X48


Matt Burger
Comment posted August 31, 2009 @ 7:38 pm

Isn't it fascinating that some war criminals should be investigated and some shouldn't. Isn't it unfortunate that we have now defined our country, as one who spearheads preemptive war, promotes torture, and convinces it's public that they're not worthy of universal healthcare. I wrote a song, pass it on if you like it.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4y08uJ42X48


Bruce D Chambers
Comment posted August 31, 2009 @ 7:49 pm

uhm, yeah, even leaving aside the legal and political arguments for investigating AND prosecuting those responsible for the POLICY, not just the guys who carried it out, there is this issue of how it helped al-Qaeda recruit new terrorists.

The Republicans and the conservative media decided that Liberals trying to prevent and then limit the war in Iraq or who disagreed with President, were traitors for giving aid and comfort to enemies. The policy of torture did more to give our enemies reason to attack us and helped them recruit new members far more effectively than any anti-war protest. This truly did give aid to an enemy, and should be regarded as such.


Cheney Gets Bitch-Slapped… Metaphorically « Left Agenda
Pingback posted September 1, 2009 @ 3:37 am

[...] less safe by not following the Bush administration guidelines on torture.  Guidelines, which even McCain has described as being illegal. I think the interrogations were in violation of the Geneva Conventions [...]


EDogg
Comment posted September 1, 2009 @ 10:54 am

Duh. It's interesting to see even ONE GOPer with his head not ENTIRELY buried in the sand. I'll never get used to the whole denial thing that party seems to wallow in. Of COURSE he broke numerous domestic AND international laws. And IS, by DEFINITION a “war criminal.” Unless we start changing the definition of the word that is. Which isn't beyond comprehension after the last 8 years. I keep waiting for people to wtfu. Maybe the election proves that most, or at least those of us who AREN'T products of inbreeding, HAVE.


EDogg
Comment posted September 1, 2009 @ 10:57 am

Creating more Al Qaeda recruits may have been one of the points of all that illegal activity in the Middle East. For if there are MORE “terrorists,” then there's in theory a greater “need” for MORE defense spending. We're sitting alone at the top of the world's top spenders in defense with roughly 650 billion… whereas our nearest “competitor” spends 65 billion. We spend TEN TIMES the amount of our nearest competitor, but we have no money for the health of our people. WOW.


jimvancise
Comment posted September 1, 2009 @ 11:48 am

What does he mean “I think interrogations were in violation” ? That is a forgone conclusion.


Matt L.
Comment posted October 15, 2009 @ 5:17 am

hass: Universal jurisdiction under international law does not mean that all countries MUST assert jurisdiction, it just means that they are ABLE to do so without violating international law.

Furthermore, a country's courts cannot assert jurisdiction over a defendant unless that court has jurisdiction under that country's domestic laws. For example, a US federal court cannot assert jurisdiction over a foreign criminal defendant unless the court is both statutorily and constitutionally authorized to do so.


hass
Comment posted October 15, 2009 @ 8:57 pm

Sorry Matt but you're wrong. There has been a transformation of universal jurisdiction from permissive to obligatory, especially when the perp is found in the territory of the state (where he is subject to the country's jurisdiction.) It is discretionary when it comes to extradition.
I suggest you read “Universal jurisdiction in modern international law” by Mitsue Inazumi


Matt L.
Comment posted April 28, 2010 @ 7:31 am

You don't know US law if you think a US court would assert jurisdiction over an individual where the court has “universal” jurisdiction but no jurisdiction under federal law or the Constitution.

To be sure, I looked at Inazumi's book, and she writes, “a recent study by Van Elst shows that less than one in six parties to the Geneva Conventions have established universal jurisdiction over all grave breaches in accordance with their obligations.” (pp. 130.)

The notion of “universal jurisdiction” is closely related to jus cogens and customary international law. Neither of these are considered to be sources of law in the United States (with the exception of the ATS, which allows aliens to bring a tort claim for violations of the “law of nations,” and the piracy statute, which criminalizes piracy “as defined by the law of nations”.)

Again, a US federal court will not have jurisdiction over a case or an individual unless the jurisdiction is statutorily and constitutionally authorized. Customary international law and jus cogens norms, standing alone, are not sufficient to create federal question jurisdiction.

I suggest you read the Constitution. (“The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and Treaties made”)


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