On Face the Nation this morning, Sen. John McCain became the latest figure to publicly state that the Bush Administration violated the Geneva Conventions and the U.N. Convention Against Torture. It is not clear how many international and domestic figures will have to publicly acknowledge these crimes before Attorney General Eric Holder will appoint a special prosecutor. I discussed the torture issue last night on this segment of MSNBC Countdown.
During the show, McCain stated “[Torture memo author Jay Bybee] falls into the same category as everybody else, as far as giving very bad advice and misinterpreting fundamentally what the United States is all about, much less things like the Geneva Conventions. Under President Reagan, we signed [the Convention] Against Torture. We were in violation of that.”
Article 7 of the Convention Against Torture states:
1. The State Party in territory under whose jurisdiction a person alleged to have committed any offence referred to in article 4 is found, shall in the cases contemplated in article 5, if it does not extradite him, submit the case to its competent authorities for the purpose of prosecution.
2. These authorities shall take their decision in the same manner as in the case of any ordinary offence of a serious nature under the law of that State. In the cases referred to in article 5, paragraph 2, the standards of evidence required for prosecution and conviction shall in no way be less stringent than those which apply in the cases referred to in article 5, paragraph 1.
There is now Republican and Democratic leaders acknowledging the obvious: we violated these treaties and international law. What they are not being asked is how we reconcile our ongoing violation of these laws by not investigating and prosecuting such crimes. Once again, it is important to note that it is not the lawyers but the leaders who are the principle targets of such investigations: Bush, Cheney, Tenet, Gonzales and others. The lawyers may also be investigated but there is a clear effort to focus on the attorneys to avoid dealing with the obvious responsible parties at the top of the chain of command.