alternative reader no. 143
Bush and the Law
Posted by Bulatlat
human rights in the United States and elsewhere may rejoice over the
speech George Bush pronounced Wednesday, September 6. The American
president acknowledged the existence of "secret prisons," in which the CIA
(Central Intelligence Agency) locked up proven or presumed terrorists
outside the United States, in order to be able to interrogate them as it
liked. It is the first time since this "special program" was revealed by
the Washington Post in November 2005 that the White House has confessed
the truth. The governments suspected of having accepted these prisons - in
Eastern Europe, the Near East, and Asia - had multiplied their denials.
Mr. Bush made a
second concession - apparently, at least - to a government of law, by
announcing that fourteen people detained within the framework of that
"special program" had been transferred to the prison at Guantanamo Bay,
the naval base on the island of Cuba where, since January 2002, the
Pentagon has brought together prisoners captured in the framework of the
war against terrorism. Among these new lodgers figure two al-Qaeda
officials held to be the principal organizers of the September 11, 2001,
attacks: Khaled Cheikh Mohammed and Ramzi Ben Al-Shaiba.
the Washington Post, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had clashed for
several months with Vice President Richard Cheney to convince Mr. Bush of
the necessity of acknowledging the truth with respect to these secret
prisons and of complying with international law by emptying them. John
Kerry, Democratic candidate for the 2004 presidential election, was
pleased to see his opponent constrained to admit that his government had
"violated the Constitution and broken the law for five years."
The new Army
manual, which fixes the rules of conduct for all Pentagon personnel, also
marks a step backward for the Bush government. It effectively admits that
the Geneva Conventions apply to all prisoners, whether or not they belong
to a regular army, contrary to the original position adopted by the White
House. On top of that, the "interrogation techniques" used notably at Abu
Ghraib prison in Iraq are explicitly forbidden from now on.
housecleaning is welcome. But it must not cover up the essential. Mr. Bush
defended the CIA's "special program." Finally, and above all, he only
bailed out on the most scandalous of his "war against terror" practices in
order to pressure Congress to adopt legislation allowing Guantanamo
prisoners to be tried by exceptional tribunals. One battle for the law has
been won, but the war is not over.
7 September 2006
© 2006 Bulatlat
Alipato Media Center
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