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War Crimes Justified
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Justice Torture Report Mars US Prestige As World Beacon

By James Donahue

The release of an opinion by the Obama appointed Justice Department that all but sweeps the infamous Bush Administration torture memos under the rug has served notice to the world that America no longer stands by the rules of the Geneva Conventions.

The issue centers around memos drafted by two former department lawyers, Jay Bybee and John Yoo, who were accused of “bending acceptable legal reasoning in an effort to justify the use of torture on terrorism suspects.”

The 300-page report concludes that Yoo and Bybee are not guilty of professional misconduct by recommending “enhanced interrogation techniques.” These techniques involved the controversial water boarding torture and may have led to a variety of other extreme torture measures uncovered at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq in 2004.

We find it extremely troubling that the Obama Administration is refusing to bring charges against these lawyers, the military people involved in torturing prisoners of war, and Vice President Dick Cheney who has openly condoned the acts of torture used against these prisoners and boasted about his role in supporting these crimes.

It appears that the leadership in the United States is blatantly thumbing its nose at the United Nations and the other world nations that have not only endorsed, but attempted to live by the rules of the Geneva Conventions since they were first drafted more than a century ago.

For those who may need a history lesson, the Geneva Conventions include four treaties and three additional protocols drafted and adopted by participating nations that set standards in international law for the humanitarian treatment for victims and prisoners of war.

The first Geneva treaty dates back to the time of the American and French Civil Wars, when Clara Barton was actively involved as a warfront nurse, witnessing the horrors of war and attempting to give as much aid and comfort as possible to the fallen soldiers and civilians caught in the cross-fire. Indeed, Miss Barton assisted soldiers on both sides of both conflicts.

While working in Europe, Miss Barton got involved in the new concept of a Red Cross Commission, and later helped in not only establishing a Red Cross in the United States, but campaigned for the ratification of the first Geneva Convention by the United States in 1882. That convention established the Red Cross as a permanent relief agency for humanitarian aid in times of war and allowed its workers to operate within a war zone. It consisted of ten articles that were first ratified by 12 European nations as early as 1864.

Over the years the Geneva Convention has been expanded to provide even more protection as the concept of war and all of its horrors has changed. A second treaty adopted in 1906 specifically protected members of the armed forces at sea.

A third treaty adopted in 1929 was designed to protect prisoners of war. The fourth treaty which grew from the many atrocities committed during World War II was adopted in 1949. It not only expanded on the rules of treating prisoners of war, but included the protection of civilians during wartime.

Additional protocols were adopted in 1977 adding even more protections to prisoners of war, and a third protocol in 2005 declared additional signs such as a Red Crystal as a protective medical symbol because some nations objected to the Red Cross sign for religious reasons.

There has been a concerted effort on the part of the leaders of all participating nations to set standards for protecting prisoners of war and civilians as much as possible during the horrors of war. Yet they have been unable to stop the occurrence of the heinous practice of warfare, which has remained the most barbaric act nations can commit against one another throughout human history.

If humanity wishes to someday reach a state of true peace and harmony on this planet, a way to bring a stop of war must be found. But as long as big business interests and the massive defense industrial complex can acquire great financial profits by sending young men and women off to wars, it may only be wishful thinking to believe such insanity can be brought to an end.

As long as we insist on sending our best young men and women off to battle, we need international agreements like the Geneva Conventions to assure some protection in the event they become captured and imprisoned by enemy forces. We also need to had protection in place to make sure death camps for minority groups, like the Jewish people of Germany, are ever reinstated.

That the United States has clearly abandoned the rules of the Geneva Conventions in his insane wars against terrorism could be very bad news. It means that our fighting troops and even our citizens may be fair game for foreign enemies during wars of the future. 



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