Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
DOUBLE YOUR DONATION!
We don’t run corporate ads. We don’t shake our readers down for money every month or every quarter like some other sites out there. We provide our site for free to all, but the bandwidth we pay to do so doesn’t come cheap. A generous donor is matching all donations of $100 or more! So please donate now to double your punch!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Abu Ghraib Result of Bush / Gonzales Decision to Ignore Geneva Conventions

Those who do battle with monsters must take care that they do not thereby become a monster. Always remember that when you gave into the abyss, the abyss gazes back on you.

Freidrich Nietzsche *

A preliminary draft of a soon-to-be published scholarly legal article written by a former military officer who currently presides in a U.S. federal court concludes that the Abu Ghraib prison abuses were the reasonably foreseeable results of a decision by President Bush to ignore the mandates of the Geneva Conventions relating to prisoners of war.

On January 18, 2002, according to the author, Evan J. Wallach, Judge in the U.S. Court of International Trade, President Bush apparently “made a presidential decision that captured members of Al Qaeda and the Taliban were unprotected by the Geneva POW Convention.” This decision has never been released by the White House but was referenced in a January 25, 2002 memo by Alberto Gonzales which is currently the subject of much controversy. Gonzales, presently White House counsel, was nominated by Bush to the position of Attorney General after John Ashcroft submitted his resignation. The Gonzales Memo called the Geneva Conventions outdated and quaint and suggested the means by which the White House could avoid applying them.

The United States signed and ratified the Geneva Conventions in 1956. In 1996, Congress passed the War Crimes Act, criminalizing breaches of the Conventions. A “grave breach” of Geneva is a federal crime, punishable by imprisonment “for life or any term of years,” and Geneva explicitly states that no nation “bound by the Convention can offer any valid pretext, legal or other, for not respecting the Convention in all its parts.”

Bush apparently based his decision not to apply Geneva on an earlier memo written by Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Yoo and Special Counsel Robert J. Delahunty, which provided the analytical basis for all that followed regarding blanket rejection of the Conventions. The day after Bush’s presidential decision, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld issued an order stipulating that “Al Quaeda (sic) and Taliban individuals . . . are not entitled to prisoner of war status for purposes of the Geneva Conventions of 1949.” The order, according to Judge Wallach, “gives commanders permission to depart, where they deem it appropriate and a military necessity, from the provisions of the Geneva Convention.”

Following the Yoo/Delahunty memo and Rumsfeld order came the Gonzales memo detailing the legal arguments that could be used to support Bush’s decision and Rumsfeld’s order. Subsequently, Attorney General John Ashcroft wrote a letter to Bush that “strongly indicates the administration’s consideration of conduct which might violate” Geneva, according to Wallach.

Additionally, Wallach concludes that the military tribunals, ordered by Bush on November 13, 2001, “were promulgated and retained with the specific intention of admitting evidence obtained through means which would require their exclusion under the Federal Rules of Evidence and applicable constitutional authority which prohibits or limits the use of illegally obtained evidence.”

Charles B. Gittings, founder of the Project to Enforce the Geneva Conventions (PEGC), has repeatedly stated in remarks on PEGC’s website and in his several court filings, as pro se amicus, that the Bush Administration is engaged in a criminal conspiracy to subvert the Geneva Conventions and violate federal criminal laws. While Judge Wallach does not say so, his important and excruciatingly well-researched and detailed draft article ­ although only his preliminary draft — clearly supports Gittings conclusions.

A special prosecutor should be called to investigate this question. If our President has engaged in willful evasion or subversion of the law, impeachment proceedings should be called for.

* Quoted by Judge Wallach at the outset of his draft paper, “The Logical Nexus Between the Decision to Deny Application of the Third Geneva Convention to the Taliban and al Qaeda, and the Mistreatment of Prisoners in Abu Ghraib.” I quote from the draft with permission of both the author and the publisher, Case Western Reserve Journal of International Law. The article will be available at 36 Case W. Res. J. Int’l. L. _____ (April 2005).

JENNIFER VAN BERGEN, J.D., is the author of The Twilight of Democracy: The Bush Plan for America (Common Courage Press, 2004). She has written and spoken extensively on civil liberties, human rights, and international law. She is currently organizing a major Forum on Dissent Since 9/11 in Miami from March 11-13. See www.partnersinprotest.org. She may be contacted at jvbxyz@earthlink.net.

 

More articles by:
October 22, 2018
Henry Giroux
Neoliberalism in the Age of Pedagogical Terrorism
Melvin Goodman
Washington’s Latest Cold War Maneuver: Pulling Out of the INF
David Mattson
Basket of Deplorables Revisited: Grizzly Bears at the Mercy of Wyoming
Michelle Renee Matisons
Hurricane War Zone Further Immiserates Florida Panhandle, Panama City
Tom Gill
A Storm is Brewing in Europe: Italy and Its Public Finances Are at the Center of It
Christopher Brauchli
The Liars’ Bench
Gary Leupp
Will Trump Split the World by Endorsing a Bold-Faced Lie?
Michael Howard
The New York Times’ Animal Cruelty Fetish
Alice Slater
Time Out for Nukes!
Geoff Dutton
Yes, Virginia, There are Conspiracies—I Think
Daniel Warner
Davos in the Desert: To Attend or Not, That is Not the Question
Priti Gulati Cox – Stan Cox
Mothers of Exiles: For Many, the Child-Separation Ordeal May Never End
Manuel E. Yepe
Pence v. China: Cold War 2.0 May Have Just Begun
Raouf Halaby
Of Pith Helmets and Sartorial Colonialism
Dan Carey
Aspirational Goals  
Wim Laven
Intentional or Incompetence—Voter Suppression Where We Live
Weekend Edition
October 19, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jason Hirthler
The Pieties of the Liberal Class
Jeffrey St. Clair
A Day in My Life at CounterPunch
Paul Street
“Male Energy,” Authoritarian Whiteness and Creeping Fascism in the Age of Trump
Nick Pemberton
Reflections on Chomsky’s Voting Strategy: Why The Democratic Party Can’t Be Saved
John Davis
The Last History of the United States
Yigal Bronner
The Road to Khan al-Akhmar
Robert Hunziker
The Negan Syndrome
Andrew Levine
Democrats Ahead: Progressives Beware
Rannie Amiri
There is No “Proxy War” in Yemen
David Rosen
America’s Lost Souls: the 21st Century Lumpen-Proletariat?
Joseph Natoli
The Age of Misrepresentations
Ron Jacobs
History Is Not Kind
John Laforge
White House Radiation: Weakened Regulations Would Save Industry Billions
Ramzy Baroud
The UN ‘Sheriff’: Nikki Haley Elevated Israel, Damaged US Standing
Robert Fantina
Trump, Human Rights and the Middle East
Anthony Pahnke – Jim Goodman
NAFTA 2.0 Will Help Corporations More Than Farmers
Jill Richardson
Identity Crisis: Elizabeth Warren’s Claims Cherokee Heritage
Sam Husseini
The Most Strategic Midterm Race: Elder Challenges Hoyer
Maria Foscarinis – John Tharp
The Criminalization of Homelessness
Robert Fisk
The Story of the Armenian Legion: a Dark Tale of Anger and Revenge
Jacques R. Pauwels
Dinner With Marx in the House of the Swan
Dave Lindorff
US ‘Outrage’ over Slaying of US Residents Depends on the Nation Responsible
Ricardo Vaz
How Many Yemenis is a DC Pundit Worth?
Elliot Sperber
Build More Gardens, Phase out Cars
Chris Gilbert
In the Wake of Nepal’s Incomplete Revolution: Dispatch by a Far-Flung Bolivarian 
Muhammad Othman
Let Us Bray
Gerry Brown
Are Chinese Municipal $6 Trillion (40 Trillion Yuan) Hidden Debts Posing Titanic Risks?
Rev. William Alberts
Judge Kavanaugh’s Defenders Doth Protest Too Much
Ralph Nader
Unmasking Phony Values Campaigns by the Corporatists
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail