That Pesky Thing Called the Geneva Convention
Pesky immoral foreigners are accusing freedom loving Americans of behaving badly and threatening to try them for war crimes. They are doing this just to REIGN IN AMERICAN POWER. This is bad. The Bush administration are therefore going to try and change the law so that things like torture, the rape and mutilation of non-combatants, and other acts of violence and inhumanity are acceptable behaviour for American soldiers.
"The Bush administration has drafted amendments to a war crimes law that would eliminate the risk of prosecution for political appointees, CIA officers and former military personnel for humiliating or degrading war prisoners, according to U.S. officials and a copy of the amendments. . .
'People have gotten worried, thinking that it's quite likely they might be under a microscope,' said a U.S. official. Foreigners are using accusations of unlawful U.S. behavior as a way to rein in American power, the official said, and the amendments are partly meant to fend this off.'
Smith explains: "The amendments would narrow the reach of the War Crimes Act, which now states in general terms that Americans can be prosecuted in federal criminal courts for violations of 'Common Article 3' of the Geneva Conventions, which the United States ratified in 1949. . .
"Common Article 3 is considered the universal minimum standard of treatment for civilian detainees in wartime. It requires that they be treated humanely and bars 'violence to life and person,' including murder, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture. It further prohibits 'outrages upon personal dignity' such as 'humiliating and degrading treatment.' And it prohibits sentencing or execution by courts that fail to provide 'all the judicial guarantees . . . recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.' . . .
"Former Justice Department lawyer John C. Yoo . . . said that U.S. soldiers and agents should 'not be beholden to the definition of vague words by international or foreign courts, who often pursue nakedly political agendas at odds with the United States.' . . .
"But [retired Army Lt. Col. Geoffrey S.] Corn, the Army's former legal expert, said that Common Article 3 was, according to its written history, 'left deliberately vague because efforts to define it would invariably lead to wrongdoers identifying 'exceptions,' and because the meaning was plain -- treat people like humans and not animals or objects.' "