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Memo says US can ignore Convention on Torture
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Link to the (rather long) leaked memo:
Working Group Report on Detainee Interrogations in the Global War on Terrorism: Assessment of Legal, Historical, Policy, and Operational Considerations
(Thanks to hodsthorn for the original link.)

And a link to the story about it being leaked (and subsequently being unsuccessfully ignored by Ashcroft).

Reading through the relevant sections, it appears that the legal memo claims that the Commander in Chief's orders are not bound by the Geneva Convention against torture, because the US Constitution says he isn't. Ain't that grand?

The argument goes something like this:

  1. The Constitution specifically disallows any other power within the United States (including Congress and the Constitution itself) from interfering with the President's direction of the military as Commander-in-Chief.
  2. Therefore, the Constitution can't disallow the President from ordering torture to be used by the military.
  3. When the US ratified the Geneva Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, they specifically ratified it only if "torture" was defined as it is under the 5th, 8th, and/or 14th Constitutional Amendments.
  4. Therefore, the Geneva Convention against torture can't disallow the President from ordering torture to be used by the military.

The memo goes into all sort of detail about laws that might apply if the President authorised torture. What's interesting, is that none of them actually prohibit the President from ordering the use of torture by the military, on foreign nationals or on citizens of the United States.

With the number of citizens the Bush administration is keeping an eye on in the interest of national security rising every day, this is a rather alarming conclusion. Does that airport guard think you're kind of odd? Is he getting suspicious? Might he decide that the pair of safety scissors you forgot to remove from your backpack is really intended for the purposes of sky-jacking the plane? Maybe his excellent face-recognition software thinks you look like someone one the dangerous list? According to this legal memo prepared by top Bush administration lawyers, if the answer to those questions turns out to be yes, you could be in very painful trouble. It happens more often than the TV lets on.

So remember, when you* are voting in this election, you're voting for who you most trust to not let the military torture you and your family! Cast your vote wisely, for you grant more power than you might now realise... Consider: what other laws might the US federal government excuse itself from?

* "you" means any voting-eligible Americans who read this.

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Cool! I downloaded it from elsewhere. I guess we'll be sharing a cell together sometime soon.

Re: it happens more than you think: All security services lie, routinely, to expand the scope of their investigative power, and cover up mistakes. It's not really evil, it's just how they do business. Every time I've tangled with security services, the official report was a pack of lies that made some numbskull with a badge look like Dudley Do-Right.

And several times I have been escorted the room at the airport where they detain all the young brown men, so that story seems totally credible to me.

BTW, our election isn't irrelevant on this issue either.

Good link. That's one more reason for me to not vote Conservative.

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