Canada Involved in Abetting Torture by Afghani Forces

Here is one news announcement, of discovery and denial and documentation:

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — A diplomatic report revealing that the Canadian government has been aware that Afghan security forces have been torturing prisoners handed over to them by Canadian soldiers has caused outrage across the country.

PWW summary, accessed 5/11/07 — The full summary is suggested reading.


Thinking about Hamdan v. Rumsfeld

The highest crime, of the “high crimes and misdemeanors” for which Congress can impeach a President, is violation of her or his Oath of Office to defend the Constitution. In this part of an ongoing conversation between Walter Dellinger of Duke University Law School, and Dahlia Lithwick, an Editor of Slate, Dr. Dellinger lays out in stark and frightening exposition “exactly how this presidency departed from
fundamental legal principles. The problem is not the president’s assertion (or that of lawyers on his behalf) that he can ignore laws he believes to be unconstitutional. The problem is what laws he believes to be unconstitutional.”

In the area where no law exists, Dellinger explains, a sitting President can exert Executive authority, as in responding to surprise attack. While Dellinger’s explanations do not need me to explain them, I want to lay a foundation based on the points of argument that apply to a particular distinction in describing events and actions as “before the fact” and “after the fact,” as they will be the foundation of further posts of mine, posts that (perhaps or probably) go far afield of Dellinger’s cogent arguments.

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Undoing the Imperial Presidency

It is fairly clear from the New York Times lead article on the United States Supreme Court decision in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld that the Court has restored the Constitutional balance of powers. It is also clear, from the Deseret News article on the same decision by the Supreme Court, that there are many more turns of the screw before we have settled law in this matter. The Deseret News, of Salt Lake City, Utah, expresses points of view congenial to its readers, in the reddest of red states. The NY Times expresses views congenial to the bluest of blue cities, with twice the population of Utah.

Because the LDS Church (Mormons) revere the United States Constitution as second only to scripture, the Deseret News article is measured and respectful. What it does is outline the steps that are likely to come that will reconcile the Bush administration position with the Court’s decision.

Read together, as an accident of Google home page and frequent updates of “Google News, the two articles provide a more comprehensive perspective on the issues and consequences of this decision. No detainees will be moved from Guanta/namo; no tribunals will be held, and further judicial processes will be delayed until new law is written and passed that will enable the Executive branch to hold “commissions” (read tribunals) that will pass muster with the Supreme Court.

I think the outstanding part of Justice John Paul Stevens’s decision is the point that any legal process against detainees needs to comply with the Uniform Code of Military Justice and the Geneva Conventions (Convention on Prisoners of War, Article 3). What is outstanding, and one hopes it would be a binding precedent, is the specification of international law fixed by treaty to which the United States is signatory. Further, the Geneva Convention in the above link defines what we learned to call “enemy combatants,” that is, people we have detained though

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