Torturer in Chief
The world would be a better place...if other countries captured our personnel and interpreted the Geneva Convention the way they see fit. That's right. George Bush thinks interpreting Article 3 his own way is just fine.
Luckily, since we Democrats have no power, FINALLY, some in his own party think he might be wrong for a change. But will their opposition count, or last?
Bush urged lawmakers to quickly approve legislation authorizing military tribunals and harsh interrogations of terror suspects in order to shield U.S. personnel from being prosecuted for war crimes under the Geneva Conventions, which set international standards for the treatment of prisoners of war.
The president called a Rose Garden news conference to confront a Republican rebellion led by Sens. John Warner of Virginia, John McCain of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Susan Collins of Maine.
Amnesty International disagrees with Bush, of course.
"President Bush seems to be traveling back in time to dismantle the leadership that was shown by our past presidents. After World War II, the United States was instrumental in developing the Geneva Conventions to ensure that any person in detention is treated with dignity. In spite of the Supreme Court decision, growing criticism from allied governments, and dissent from leaders of his own party including former Secretary of State Colin Powell, President Bush is pushing Congress to redefine the Geneva Conventions.
The serious nature of the questions at today's press conference didn't stop George Bush from making jokes. Torture is a laughing matter to the liar in chief...and then he just got belligerent and aggressive. What's the rush? Trying to cover his ass retroactively for torture he has already committed?
Questions from David Gregory who first had to struggle out of a wire wrapped around his body...
Q Sorry, I've got to get disentangled --
THE PRESIDENT: Would you like me the go to somebody else here, until you -- (laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: But take your time, please. (Laughter.)
Q I really apologize for that. Anyway --
THE PRESIDENT: I must say, having gone through those gyrations, you're looking beautiful today, Dave. (Laughter.)
Q Mr. President, critics of your proposed bill on interrogation rules say there's another important test -- these critics include John McCain, who you've mentioned several times this morning -- and that test is this: If a CIA officer, paramilitary or special operations soldier from the United States were captured in Iran or North Korea, and they were roughed up, and those governments said, well, they were interrogated in accordance with our interpretation of the Geneva Conventions, and then they were put on trial and they were convicted based on secret evidence that they were not able to see, how would you react to that, as Commander-in-Chief?
THE PRESIDENT: David, my reaction is, is that if the nations such as those you named, adopted the standards within the Detainee Detention Act, the world would be better. That's my reaction. We're trying to clarify law. We're trying to set high standards, not ambiguous standards.
And let me just repeat, Dave, we can debate this issue all we want, but the practical matter is, if our professionals don't have clear standards in the law, the program is not going to go forward. You cannot ask a young intelligence officer to violate the law. And they're not going to. They -- let me finish, please -- they will not violate the law. You can ask this question all you want, but the bottom line is -- and the American people have got to understand this -- that this program won't go forward; if there is vague standards applied, like those in Common Article III from the Geneva Convention, it's just not going to go forward. You can't ask a young professional on the front line of protecting this country to violate law.
Now, I know they said they're not going to prosecute them. Think about that: Go ahead and violate it, we won't prosecute you. These people aren't going to do that, Dave. Now, we can justify anything you want and bring up this example or that example, I'm just telling you the bottom line, and that's why this debate is important, and it's a vital debate.
Now, perhaps some in Congress don't think the program is important. That's fine. I don't know if they do or don't. I think it's vital, and I have the obligation to make sure that our professionals who I would ask to go conduct interrogations to find out what might be happening or who might be coming to this country, I got to give them the tools they need. And that is clear law.
Q But sir, this is an important point, and I think it depends --
THE PRESIDENT: The point I just made is the most important point.
THE PRESIDENT: And that is the program is not going forward. David, you can give a hypothetical about North Korea, or any other country, the point is that the program is not going to go forward if our professionals do not have clarity in the law. And the best way to provide clarity in the law is to make sure the Detainee Treatment Act is the crux of the law. That's how we define Common Article III, and it sets a good standard for the countries that you just talked about.
Q No, but wait a second, I think this is an important point --
THE PRESIDENT: I know you think it's an important point. (Laughter.)
Q Sir, with respect, if other countries interpret the Geneva Conventions as they see fit -- as they see fit -- you're saying that you'd be okay with that?
THE PRESIDENT: I am saying that I would hope that they would adopt the same standards we adopt; and that by clarifying Article III, we make it stronger, we make it clearer, we make it definite.
And I will tell you again, David, you can ask every hypothetical you want, but the American people have got to know the facts. And the bottom line is simple: If Congress passes a law that does not clarify the rules, if they do not do that, the program is not going forward.
Q This will not endanger U.S. troops, in your --
THE PRESIDENT: Next man.
Q This will not endanger U.S. troops --
THE PRESIDENT: David, next man, please. Thank you. It took you a long time to unravel, and it took you a long time to ask your question.