Thursday, June 29, 2006

Geneva Convention vs Guantanamo detainees and the Supreme Court- UPDATE

UPDATE: June 29, 2006 at 1:30pm PST.
Well, The U.S. Supreme Court today strongly limited the power of the Bush administration to conduct military tribunals for detainees at Guantanamo Bay. "Congress has not issued the executive a 'blank check,'" Justice Stephen Breyer wrote. The case was titled, "Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense, et al."

To quote the findings of the Supreme Court, "The District Court granted habeas relief and stayed the commission's proceedings, concluding that the President's authority to establish military commissions extends only to offenders or offenses triable by such a commission under the law of war; that such law includes the Third Geneva Convention; that Hamdan is entitled to that Convention's full protections until adjudged, under it, not to be a prisoner of war; and that, whether or not Hamdan is properly classified a prisoner of war, the commission convened to try him was established in violation of both the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), 10 U. S. C. §801 et seq., and Common Article 3 of the Third Geneva Convention because it had the power to convict based on evidence the accused would never see or hear. The D. C. Circuit reversed. Although it declined the Government's invitation to abstain from considering Hamdan's challenge, cf. Schlesinger v. Councilman, 420 U. S. 738, the appeals court ruled, on the merits, that Hamdan was not entitled to relief because the Geneva Conventions are not judicially enforceable."

One quote by Justice Stevens in his majority opinion statement was particularly pointed and followed what I had been arguing recently. He said, "The military commission at issue lacks the power to proceed because its structure and procedures violate both the UCMJ and the four Geneva Conventions signed in 1949. Pp. 49-72."... and also this, "The procedures adopted to try Hamdan also violate the Geneva Conventions. The D. C. Circuit dismissed Hamdan's challenge in this regard on the grounds, inter alia, that the Conventions are not judicially enforceable and that, in any event, Hamdan is not entitled to their protections. Neither of these grounds is persuasive. Pp. 62-68."

Finally the Courts got this right. Having said that it could have gone either way with this Court.

UPDATE: June 30, 2006 5:00pm PST
Conservatives are calling the decision by the Supreme Court, against the President and the Administration, an act of Judicial activism. This is the same group that thought the Supreme Court had made some recent decisions correctly. They can't have it both ways. But Rove and his supporters are trying to make this a campaign issue again. They want even more Conservatives on the bench. The Court should not be politicized and it is immoral to do so and undermines the fabric of our nation. Don't fall for their tricks and shenanigans. As I went into great depth here, the President and VP were wrong on this, and the Court has so ruled. Stop trying to get around the Constitution, and start following it and upholding the very oath to "GOD" you both swore to uphold.

Original post:

The Supreme Court to decide whether the President has exceeded his authority to use a Military tribunal for the prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay. In addition, the Court will rule on whether these combatants have rights and fall under the Geneva Convention. The Ruling is expected today. I have been writing about this for several months now and it is the first test of the Constitutional authority of the President as Commander in Chief. See this titled, The Geneva Convention-Are we above the law? and this one titled, "Why the Geneva Convention distinction between military tribunal or competent tribunal"

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The "last throws" of the insurgency in Iraq?

VP Cheney surprised reporters yesterday repeating the controversial comment he made in 2005, "We are in the last throws of the insurgency in Iraq." I wonder where he gets the chutzpah or is it chutzpah at all? Sure we all wish his pronouncements would come to be true. But I am afraid this has the ring of "The Boy who called Wolf" so many times that no one believed him when the wolf actually appeared. VP Cheney does a disservice to this country and to the American people by blatantly refusing to acknowledge any mistakes he has made. Even the President has finally come around and admitted mistakes were made, but not Cheney. The problem with someone who exaggerates the truth is that eventually they start believing themselves and ignore the reality on the ground. Who pays the price here? Our brave service men and women. That's who pays and that makes me boiling mad, especially given he avoided the draft. Republicans need to stop drinking the Kool-Aid and wake up, and the Democrats need to get focused and stop fighting between yourselves, as you are your own worst enemy. Listen to Murtha! He has been a constant and is in front on this issue.

Cheney was the one promoting the notion that there was a tie between Al-Quaida and Iraq. Well, now there is, thanks to his invasion. VP Cheney should become the poster child for the Democrats in the 2006 elections. He is a strong statement for change in the Congress and eventually the White House. Thank God we only have to wait until 2008 for him to leave office. I can't take his rhetoric much longer, with over 2500 of our brave soldiers dead and over 20,000 wounded seriously. WAKE UP AMERICA!!!

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Emergency Responsiveness

I apologize to my readers for not having posted in a while. I have been very busy lately. Yesterday I attended a community sponsored Emergency Responsiveness Training program funded by the Office of Emergency Services in the Dept. of Homeland Security. The first day of a two-day training program was conducted by Firefighters from 4 different towns within my county. Was it useful, ABSOLUTELY! I wasn't sure what to expect. I had thought the course might teach us the usual suspect, CPR. But it didn't although some basics were referred to. The focus of the program was to ensure every participant knew how to ensure his or her survivability during a major catastrophic event whether induced by an act of God, such as with an earthquake or a Hurricane, or by terrorism.

I learned that it is most likely in a major event; we will all be on our own. This was chilling and eye opening. I had come to think that after Katrina, but had no idea how close we are every day to having our basic public services overwhelmed, such as hospitals, firefighters, police, etc. They were preparing us to survive 72 hours on our own. After I finished just the first day I realized that we must plan for at least 10 days to be on our own. I learned about Triage, or sorting victims, into those that immediately need medical assistance versus those where medical treatment can be delayed, versus the dead. Based upon these facts:

1) In a town of about 13,000 people I was the only participant in the training
2) In a neighboring town of 15,000 only 3 attended
3) Several other towns of similar size had one to two people attend the training
4) Firefighters that work in these towns, don't live in the towns and often, not even the county, and must commute, will most likely not be available during an emergency. The same is true for other services such as police Dept.'s
5) To operate a Fire Engine, you need to be trained extensively on driving the trucks and the knowledge of hydraulics to operate the hoses and connect them to fire hydrants.

These towns won't be prepared for many, many years to handle an emergency, if ever. Take this message very seriously, as your life may depend upon your knowledge of what to do in an emergency, as well as your family members and neighbors. I will post some summaries of what you will need to do over the next months along with the usual political comments. But a good start is to contact your local Fire Department and ask them if there are any classes offered on CERT (Community Emergency Responsiveness Training). I live in a community of 70 homes and am currently organizing them to be prepared and develop contingencies so that we can survive. The only survival will be at neighbor helping neighbor level, not from public services.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

The Geneva Convention - Are we above that law?

I am reposting a piece I did back on May 3rd on the Geneva Convention with an UPDATE below given the recent news on the topic. First here's the posting:

May 3, 2006
I promised some information on just what is contained in the Geneva Convention as it relates to those held at Guantanamo Bay as enemy combatants. My investigation on this topic yielded some little known facts on the evolution of the document.

At Geneva, in 1949, it was proposed that to help be more precise in language, the term "responsible authority" should be replaced by "military tribunal". This proposed change was based upon the view that decisions which might have the gravest consequences should not be left to a single person to decide. The matter should be taken to a court.

However this suggestion was not unanimously accepted, as it was felt that to bring a person before a military tribunal might have more serious consequences than a decision to deprive him of the benefits afforded by the Convention. A further amendment was therefore made to the Stockholm text stipulating that a decision regarding persons whose status was in doubt would be taken to a "competent tribunal", and not specifically a military tribunal.

Article 5 reads:
"The present Convention shall apply to the persons referred to in Article 4 from the time they fall into the power of the enemy and until their final release and repatriation.

Should any doubt arise as to whether persons, having committed a belligerent act and having fallen into the hands of the enemy, belong to any of the categories enumerated in Article 4, such persons shall enjoy the protection of the present Convention until such time as their status has been determined by a competent tribunal."

One issue before our country, is whether the Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, and by their directives to Rumsfeld, President Bush, VP Cheney and Attorney General Roberto Gonzales, have violated the Geneva Convention by their directives, as to how these prisoner's status was determined. A case could be made, and probably will someday, that they have violated the spirit and letter of the law, signed by the United States, as a major party to this treaty in Geneva.

Much has been written on the topic and for those interested in pursuing the topic further go to
this web page.

UPDATE: So you have some background info on Article 4 & 5 of the Geneva Convention. Well the news is that the Pentagon, the same Pentagon under the stewardship of Sec. of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, has been re-writing their Army Manual, as it pertains to the treatment of prisoners. Here's the headline article:

"The Pentagon's move to omit a ban on prisoner humiliation from the basic guide to soldier conduct faces strong State Dept. opposition.
By Julian E. Barnes, Times Staff Writer
June 5, 2006

WASHINGTON — The Pentagon has decided to omit from new detainee policies a key tenet of the Geneva Convention that explicitly bans "humiliating and degrading treatment," according to knowledgeable military officials, a step that would mark a further, potentially permanent, shift away from strict adherence to international human rights standards.

The decision could culminate a lengthy debate within the Defense Department but will not become final until the Pentagon makes new guidelines public, a step that has been delayed. However, the State Department fiercely opposes the military's decision to exclude Geneva Convention protections and has been pushing for the Pentagon and White House to reconsider, the Defense Department officials acknowledged.

For more than a year, the Pentagon has been redrawing its policies on detainees, and intends to issue a new Army Field Manual on interrogation, which, along with accompanying directives, represents core instructions to U.S. soldiers worldwide.

The process has been beset by debate and controversy, and the decision to omit Geneva protections from a principal directive comes at a time of growing worldwide criticism of U.S. detention practices and the conduct of American forces in Iraq."


President Bush's critics and supporters have debated whether it is possible to prove a direct link between administration declarations that it will not be bound by Geneva and events such as the abuses at Abu Ghraib or the killings of Iraqi civilians last year in Haditha, allegedly by Marines.

But the exclusion of the Geneva provisions may make it more difficult for the administration to portray such incidents as aberrations. And it undercuts contentions that U.S. forces follow the strictest, most broadly accepted standards when fighting wars.

"The rest of the world is completely convinced that we are busy torturing people," said Oona A. Hathaway, an expert in international law at Yale Law School. "Whether that is true or not, the fact we keep refusing to provide these protections in our formal directives puts a lot of fuel on the fire."

To read the entire article from the L.A. Times, click here.

I don't know how you are feeling about all this stuff but it is making me angry. Many Americans will say, "Hey America isn't perfect but it's the best country in the whole world!" Well a chink in America's armor has been struck by this President/VP combo, and it has seriously taken its toll on that belief, at least in my opinion. I don't know how many of you can just ignore this stuff and carry on without missing a beat or a moment of conscience. Or are you too busily focused on the Senate debate of the proposed Constitutional Amendment of a Gay Marriage Ban, which obviously is a more important issue?

I have ended many posts with this closing phrase, but on this Primary election day in California, I pray that some will wake up and vote their conscience. WAKE UP AMERICA! Where's the Silent Majority! Make some noise!

To educate yourself, here's a link to the actual Geneva Convention. Read it and share a comment.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Gay Marriage Ban and the Senate

Would someone please forward my last Blog posting to the Senate! Seems like they couldn't think of anything to work on, so they are trying to get the Republican base worked up again on the real issues- the Gay Marriage Ban.

What hapened to my list identified below? Maybe most Republican Senators follow President Bush's example - He won't read or listen to the American people and what we want.

Here's what they should be working on. Pick one, PLEASE!!!!!

1) Securing all our Borders
2) No Amnesty for illegal aliens. Go after employers with stiff penalties
3) Registration of Guns & their owners
4) Getting out of Iraq
5) Healthcare for all Americans
6) Inspecting all Cargo coming into U.S. at our Ports
7) Eliminating the tax breaks given to the wealthiest of Americans and the Oil Companies
8) Take Global Warming seriously and reconsider U.S. position with world community on Kyoto protocol
9) An Energy policy that focuses on conservation and renewable sources of energy to make U.S. independent of foreign oil.
10) Reducing the Debt and becoming fiscally responsible once again
11) Using diplomacy to solve our issues rather than war and preemptive strikes
12) Focus resources on catching Osama bin Laden and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi
13) Stem Cell research and funding by our government
14) Centrist politics versus politics of the extreme right and left
15) Congress staying out of personal health decisions like the Terry Shiavo tragedy
16) Paper trail for Election Ballots
17) The Bush Administration to follow the law and go through FISA Court to get authorization for wire-tapping on Americans

Make your choice by adding a comment below. Maybe they will listen to you!

UPDATE: With the President just speaking out on the subject, there is one part I agree with. Let's not let activist judges rule on this, let Americans decide. I think we should too and propose the following by Constitutional Amendment:

1) Elimination of the Electoral College and using Majority votes to decide the Presidency
2) Defining clause that the President is not above the laws passed by Congress even in time of war and that the President's signing statements cannot change Congressional intent of those laws. This would stop illegal wire-tapping without FISA Court approval and require Gov't organizations to follow those laws as intended by Congress.
3) Any failure by the President to actively enforce Border crossing by illegal immigrants is an impeachable offense.
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