Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Spanish Inquisition

Recently, a Spanish court under judge Baltasar Garzon announced that it may “within days” issue arrest warrants for six former Bush administration officials for having provided legal justification for torture.

The ex-Bush officials are Alberto Gonzales; former undersecretary of defense for policy Douglas Feith; former Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff David Addington; Justice Department officials John Yoo and Jay S. Bybee; and Pentagon lawyer William Haynes.

A detailed AP Report can be read here

From The UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, Article 2(2):

"No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat or war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture"

The United States has signed this convention, and the abovementioned article should describe, categorically, what this country’s position on the issue of torture is.

During the presidency of George W. Bush, The United States became a country that tortured and broke the laws of international aggression (invading another country without legal justification).

The bottom line is that these two crimes make the United States, in these two respects, no different from countries that have been charged with international crimes in the past, including:

- Iraq when it illegally invaded Kuwait, and

- Augusto Pinochet in Chile when he had people tortured

The United States lost it’s moral high ground under Bush, and can no longer speak to the rest of the world with any amount of weight about legal issues. The world has simply stopped listening. Why? Because these crimes have not been dealt with, and the criminals are still at large, and in fact, one (Jay Bybee) is still sitting a federal judge.

Spain considers crimes such as torture to be punishable anywhere, wherever they occur. At the very least if the crimes are committed by countries that have signed the Convention Against Torture, like the United States.

The most interesting thing about the possible charges is that the Spanish court goes after officials that enabled torture to occur, and not the torturers themselves, who are also punishable under the convention. The possible charges mean that this process will only be one step away from charging former President Bush and former Vice President Cheney.

Obviously, all these people should be charged in the United States before they are charged in Spain! However, the Obama administration seems unwilling to actually deal with the crimes committed by the Bush administration.

A “Truth Commission” is definitely not the proper way to deal with such crimes, because such a commission gives criminals immunity, which is undemocratic and immoral.

In a country of laws, there is a very simple premise to how society functions: if you break the law, you will be punished. Does it make sense that some poor bastard who sells crack on the corner should get 10 years in jail while those who torture, invade and kill people should remain in their jobs as judges or drink beer on a cozy ranch in Texas?

That simplistic question is really the essence of the problem. We cannot move on until the Bush administration, including the former President, is charged with war crimes in court.

Moreover, I advise that the winner-takes-all voting system should be destroyed.


Anonymous said...

I am commenting on your M Dowd comment regarding excess consumption.
Just how do you propose to provide these basics? By taxing the earners more and more?
Who determines what is a 'salary that can be lived on'"
The crack head who can't read but has 5 illegitimate children or the ones furnishing the money for the so called salary.
I would like an education at the Wharton School of Bus.--should I be provided that by others?
Suppose I choose not to invest or save for my future, should others be required to provide for me?
All these gifts have unintended consequences as T Sowell says.
You are proposing a dictatorship which will force workers to pay for the idleness of others.

Jacob said...

I am certainly not proposing a dictatorship. The very reason I write this blog is that I advocate proportional representation, which takes into account 100% of the electorate, as opposed to what I would argue is about 20% today in America.

With respect to the comment, I am simply proposing the construction of a society in which people do not starve, do not die from ailments that can be cured and are educated to a level that is needed to live in a modern world.

And yes, I do believe that university education should be free, because I see it as just as essential as having a military.

There are many ways of determining what a salary which can be lived on is. There are statistical studies done each year by governments everywhere, including the U.S. government. Unfortunately for the U.S. that method has not been revised since the 1950s, and it still supposes that people bake their own bread, etc.

I propose cutting military spending drastically and also raising taxes. You have to realize that there are many, many things that go into whatever an individual earns. Someone who makes $1 million per year would not be able to do that unless a society had been built up and sustained around him, which has been financed by everyone.

What I'm saying is that, in a state without progressive taxation, you tend to move further and further towards anarchy, and eventually the potential for earning money disappears as the fabric of society is disintegrated. You don't see many millionaires in Somalia.

The entire fabric of society does not belong to high income earners, and therefore the fruits of that society does not belong to such earners.

The United States is at the present time an outlier among outliers when it comes to how society functions. Socialized losses and privatized gains don't only apply to the financial markets, that function is present on all levels of society.