Crime and Punishment?

“Whoever, whether inside or outside the United States, commits a war crime, in any of the circumstances described in subsection (b) [torture, cruel or inhuman treatment, performing biological experiments, murder, mutilation or maiming, intentionally causing serious bodily injury, rape, sexual assault or abuse, taking hostages], shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for life or any term of years, or both, and if death results to the victim, shall also be subject to the penalty of death…. The term ‘war crime’ means any conduct defined as a grave breach in any of the international conventions signed at Geneva 12 August 1949, or any protocol to such convention to which the United States is a party; … when the United States is a party to such protocol, willfully kills or causes serious injury to civilians.” —United States Code § 2441. War crimes

On December 30, 2006, Saddam Hussein was executed for a war crime: killing 148 Iraqis in the town of Dujail in 1982. Following Hussein’s hanging, President Bush issued a statement that read, in part: “Fair trials were unimaginable under Saddam Hussein’s tyrannical rule. It is a testament to the Iraqi people’s resolve to move forward after decades of repression that, despite his terrible crimes against his own people, Saddam Hussein received a fair trial. This would not have been possible without the Iraqi people’s determination to create a society governed by the rule of law.”

With that in mind, I submit the following events for your consideration:

December, 2001: The Bush administration asked John Yoo, then a lawyer in the Justice Department, to define “torture.” In writing his “Torture Memos” he decided that waterboarding was legal; that the Geneva Convention didn’t apply in the War on Terror; and that cruel and unusual punishment was fine, because the Eighth Amendment didn’t apply because it only ruled out extreme punishment after criminal conviction. Yoo has a framed card on is wall from John Ashcroft that reads: “Thank you for your excellent service to America. We are stronger and safer because of you.” (torture, cruel or inhuman treatment, performing biological experiments, murder, mutilation or maiming, intentionally causing serious bodily injury, rape, sexual assault or abuse, taking hostages)

November 2003: The Grocery Manufacturers of America estimates that about 75% of all processed foods in the United States contain genetically engineered plants, a process that the government started in the 90s without the consent of the American people. Many scientists—including those cited in this article from MIT’s The Thistle—argue that this constitutes experimentation with the health and well-being of U.S. citizens, as the long-term effects of ingesting these modified foods has not been studied. (performing biological experiments)

January, 13, 2004: Specialist Joseph Darby delivered evidence of detainee abuse to the Army’s Criminal Investigation Command. Photos and videos proved that soldiers urinated on prisoners, beat them, jumped on already injured limbs so that they would never heal properly, poured acid on them, sodomized them, dragged them by ropes tied to their penises and shot them. (torture, sexual assault or abuse, mutilation or maiming, cruel or inhuman treatment, murder)

April 11, 2005: Reports surface that American soldiers took two Iraqi women hostage to force their male relatives to give themselves up. The note left on the gate read: “Be a man Muhammad Mukhlif and give yourself up and then we will release your sisters. Otherwise they will spend a long time in detention.” (taking hostages)

March 2008: A 14-year-old Iraqi girl was raped, murdered and burned by two American soldiers (after they murdered her parents and 5-year-old sister). (rape, sexual assault or abuse, murder)

January, 13, 2009: Susan J. Crawford, the top Bush administration official in charge of deciding whether to try Guantanamo Bay detainees in court found that Mohamed al-Qahtani had been held and tortured for seven years. “The techniques they used were all authorized, but the manner in which they applied them was overly aggressive and too persistent…. You think of torture, you think of some horrendous physical act done to an individual. This was not any one particular act; this was just a combination of things that had a medical impact on him, that hurt his health. It was abusive and uncalled for. And coercive. Clearly coercive. It was that medical impact that pushed me over the edge.” (torture)

January 26, 2009: estimates that between 90,441 and 98,730 Iraqi civilians have been killed since the war began. (murder, intentionally causing serious bodily injury)

Hmmm. Where is the American people’s “determination to create a society governed by the rule of law”? Is electing Barack Obama a step in the right direction? What do you think the next step should be?


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