Honored in the Breach: Obama Administration Celebrates the 60th Anniversary of the Geneva Conventions by Gutting Them

thumb_birthday_birthday_cake_4torture -abu ghraibToday, the Geneva Conventions turned 60. Like many people “of a certain age,” the Geneva Conventions can be forgiven for feeling a bit marginalized and forgotten. The Obama Administration is about to finish the work of the Bush Administration in gutting the enforceability of the Conventions by blocking any investigation or prosecution of American officials who violated the conventions, including the well-documented torture program.

Signed in 1949, the conventions were the foundation of much of our human rights protections and, until the Bush Administration, were viewed as inviolate. Almost immediately after 9-11, Bush officials announced that the conventions did not apply to the people captured in Afghanistan (a position later rescinded after months of ridicule). The Administration continued to narrow the application of the convention through opportunistic interpretations.

The International Red Cross warned the United States that was committing torture and other abuses.

The Obama Administration has indicated that it will accept “just following orders” as a defense to torture allegations and would not allow the investigation of high-ranking Bush officials for their ordering of torture.

For the full story, click here.

26 thoughts on “Honored in the Breach: Obama Administration Celebrates the 60th Anniversary of the Geneva Conventions by Gutting Them”

  1. Henry,
    Thanks for the information on the latest edition of rendition and torture. This is a case that the mainstream media should be jumping all over and asking the Obama administration if they tortured an alleged contract fraud conspirator. Very sad.

  2. Jill,

    “I’m saying is that the govt. is trying to pick the sides and we shouldn’t let them.”

    I agree.

    It’s a con game to keep the collective us off of them – them being the criminals and traitors within the system.

  3. Henry,

    I agree with your analysis. These leaves only a small group of civil libertarians to fight back. Not a good situation.


    I had a chance to think some more about what you wrote. There are definitely sides. Stripping out our rights and our Constitution is wrong. There isn’t anything that makes that right. What I’m saying is that the govt. is trying to pick the sides and we shouldn’t let them. They have a wealth of tools available to convince people that group X and group Y are “the enemy”. They use powerful tools based on manipulation, fear, and actual punishment for failure to believe and do as one is told. I don’t underestimate any of that.

    One of our few defenses against what the govt./corporatists are trying to do, is to keep looking, very deeply, at what is happening. It has to be questions and more questions, and does that makes sense, and who says, and why is that, who is benefitting here, etc. We cannot accept anything the oligarchy tells us at this point without really thinking it out for ourselves first. Henry makes a excellent point about our nearly useless “media” about which I would say the same thing–questions and more questions.

    When citizens are being whipped up to hate their fellow citizens I am alarmed. There are real reasons to hate/fear particular people and I won’t deny it but this hate and fear has to come from reality, not the oligarchy’s propaganda. Hatred of whole groups is, as far as I can tell, historically the work of the powerful on their own behalf. The Milgram experiments perhaps explain why the less powerful go along with the endeavor. To me, this is the point where everyone makes a choice. That choice is, go along with the authorities or do not. I am hoping everyone will think twice before turning on their fellow citizens. I am hoping everyone will view the oligarchy with suspicion and I am hoping people will hold fast to an ethical code that values life so they can’t be turned.

  4. Apparently no one in the Obama administration realizes that lawyers who provided “legal cover” were among those tried and convicted at Nuremberg.

  5. Grammar correction: “media” is plural, so I should have used “they,” not “it,” when I referred to the mainstream media.

  6. Jill,

    The question isn’t only whether the left will ignore it. It is whether the mainstream media will ignore or euphemize it. We can expect that it will, because it did for Bush, and, if the mainstream media is anything, it is “balanced.” Another question is what the right wing will do. It’s hard to imagine that they would criticize Obama for it, because they approve of torture, and it’s hard to imagine that they would praise him for it, because they disapprove of Obama. So they will have to ignore it.

  7. Henry,

    I read that also. There have been several claims, backed by medical evidence and the testimony of detainee attys. that detainees in Gitmo are still being tortured. What is going on at Bagram and even blacker sites has been hinted at, but not yet confirmed.

    For me, the issue of current torture being ignored by much of the left wing, shows me that it most certainly isn’t only the right wing who is subject to propaganda. When the left wing will ignore torture when committed by one of its own, then you know something is very fishy and very wrong going on in one’s society.

  8. We now know why Obama will not prosecute Bush’s torture; it is that Obama tortures too. Or at least that is a fair inference, unless he states that what is described below is torture and is illegal, and that he will appoint a special prosecutor to investigate whether it occurred and, if it did, to prosecute those who committed it or authorized it.

    By Scott Horton
    August 12, 10:13 AM
    Renditions, Obama Style
    Raymond Azar is a 45-year-old Lebanese construction manager who traveled to Kabul in April to meet with one of his clients, the U.S. Government. He wound up being seized by a platoon of FBI agents and flown on a Gulfstream to Virginia, manacled with a hood and earphones so he could neither see nor hear. By his account, he was stripped naked, subjected to a body cavity search, sleep deprivation, and hypothermia, and then threatened with the prospect of never seeing his family again unless he confessed to his crime. Azar is not a suspected terrorist or even a drug kingpin. His crime was knowing that one of his underlings had paid a bribe to a U.S. official to secure or extend a construction contract for the Defense Department.

    Azar is the first documented case of a rendition during the administration of Barack Obama. And it reflects Obama making good on some of his pledges, while raising serious questions about others. I give the case a review in a feature piece in the Huffington Post.

    Azar alleges that he was tortured in order to extract a confession. The Justice Department barely disputes his specific factual allegations. They contend, however, that the charge of torture is “hyperbolic.” They insist that the procedures used on Azar are “standard.” They may indeed be standard procedures in connection with the war in Afghanistan, but their application in a small-scale contract fraud case in the Eastern District of Virginia should set off some alarm bells. The charge that the use of these techniques to secure a confession is at least unlawful coercion–if not in fact torture–stacks up with the findings of a number of courts, both in the United States and in other jurisdictions.

  9. Buddha,

    Here are my preliminary thoughts (which got wiped out the first time I tried to post them).

    In order for a corrupt and completely lawless ruling elite to stay in power they must create enemies to distract people from paying attention to how lawless and dangerous they are. These enemies may be from without, from within or both. For example, we may get another terrorist attack. In the meantime though, turning citizen agaist fellow citizen has always been an effective tool of tyranny.

    At this time, the left wing believes it is only the right wing who is being whipped into a frenzy by the use of propaganda. In reality the govt. is also whipping the left wing into a frenzy of fear and hatred for those on the right. This has also been accomplished through the use of propaganda. While the right and the left look at each other as “the enemy” the ruling elite mantains its ability to do as it pleases, with little effective opposition.

    I fear that the breakdown of society may result in armed conflict just as you do. This would be the disaster it always is, devestating the poor and powerless while enriching the wealthy and manitaining the powerful in their positions. This is why I am a firm believer in non-violent responses to conflict. It is why our best defense to tyranny is a sharp mind, lazer focused on who is really the problem and an open heart to know that our fellow citizens are not really our enemy.

    I want to link to this interesting article about how right and left should work together to oppose our common enemy. I think it shows a way:

    “Hecklers Unite!
    Why Aren’t Progressives Disrupting ObamaCare Town Halls?


    Many progressives are getting all bent out of shape over the “brown shirt” rabble organized by health industry PR firms to disrupt the so-called “town meetings” being organized all over the country by Democratic members of Congress.

    What they are conveniently forgetting is that these are not really “town meetings” at all, at least in the sense of the town meetings I grew up with, and started out covering as a young journalist in Connecticut–that is, meetings called and run democratically, with leaders elected from the floor, open to all residents of a community.

    These “town meetings” are really nothing but propaganda sessions run by members of Congress who are trying to burnish their fraudulent credentials as public servants, and trying to perpetrate a huge fraud of a health care bill that purports to be a progressive “reform” of the US health care system, but that actually further entrenches the control of that system by the insurance industry, and to a lesser extent, the hospital and drug industry.

    ObamaCare is to health reform what bank bailouts are to financial system reform, which is to say it is the opposite of what its name implies.”

  10. I posted this elsewhere last night but it’s appropriate for this thresd:

    “A federal appeals court has upheld the conviction of David Passaro, the first US civilian found guilty of abusing a detainee in Afghanistan, according to a copy of the ruling obtained by AFP Tuesday.”


    His original defense didn’t cut it originally:

    “During eight days of trial in 2006, Passaro, now 43, claimed he was not guilty and instead had followed the orders of his superiors, a charge the commanders denied”

  11. There are “organized thugs” who are harassing good, law-abiding patriotic Americans on U.S. soil. These operations/programs are incredibly well-funded and those involved are able to network from community to community. I can only speculate about who’s involved.

    One of the reasons that these harassment campaigns are able to continue is that they’re so unbelievable. That they must stop is a certainty and I have great faith that someone with a conscience will expose an enterprise that is shameful, unconstitutional and criminal.

    If those of us who know about their existence remain silent, it’s a certainty that these psychological harassment campaigns will continue.

    What follows is a link to an applicable article by Sara Robinson (Campaign for America’s Future):


    We’re in trouble…

  12. Jill,

    Well said and I hope you are right, but let me ask you this: when essentially the issue is class warfare, how does one side not become the enemy? By the very nature of conflict, it is not possible. Holding ones neighbor personally responsible for the crimes of the parties they backed is not the same as holding the criminals proper to justice. I think any reasonable person knows this and your statement I think has the implication requires reasonable actors when there is indeed no guarantee of reasonableness just by the sheer numbers of people involved. The divide you see? Not pursuing the Bush Co criminals and further more the Obama Administration apparently taking to supporting said crimes after the fact will only make the divide grow larger. People rightfully resent being wronged and having your Constitutional rights trampled counts as one of the biggest wrongs you can commit in our system short of murder. It will force confrontation in the long run. What you are seeing is the exact kind of unraveling of the social fabric that systemic corruption and fascism inflict on societies. It’s why totalitarian fascism never works in the long run. The systems are by nature divisive. Division breeds conflict. Conflict breed chaos. Soon, just like the Romans, we’ll have compromised the system until there is collapse. We are making many of the same mistakes they made, from over reaching and meddling in affairs best left alone and using mercenaries to redefining citizenship on Imperial whim to the point no one had any loyaty to Rome any more whatsoever. And when the “barbarians” came? It was easy pickings. But I fear that division you see will not be going away on our current course. It is inevitable with the stage set as it currently is and absent Obama pulling a rabbit out of his hat, which given his performance to date I’m thinking just isn’t going to happen. He’s just as bought off (albeit by Big Pharma not Big Oil) and corrupt as the scumbags criminals we just got rid of, just a different corporate master holds his leash. They, the totalitarian fascists within the system, need this division. They need it to exploit it to their own ends. Why else manufacture borderline violent protests at health care town halls? They need it to erupt into violence as soon as possible so they can justify martial law. They don’t care who attacks first as long as someone attacks, but they also know the Right are more easily incited to violence than the Left and if they can be duped into giving up the rest of everyone’s rights in the name of “National Security” well that’s just convenient for the fascists. I leave you with this extremely compound question: GOP organized thugs showing up at town hall meetings with guns, the murder of Dr. Tiller, C Street, K Street, the forced reduction of civil rights as preparation for a big crackdown, Holder’s Bushist nonsense . . . can you tell me with any reasonable certainty I am wrong about a coming class conflict? Am I wrong that there will be “sides”? Am I wrong that the creation of this division is currently being materially aided by the GOP and their propaganda branch over at FAUXNews? Isn’t that an obvious escalation in tactics after the birther fiasco blew up in their face? Anything to let the corporations make the rules, right?

  13. The ACLU uses this analogy: “We’ve heard talk about moral hazard in the context of the economic meltdown. Moral hazard is what you get when one person or one institution stands to readp significan benefit from an economis activiity but assumes none of the resk should the activity go bad….Moral hazard…{is} readliy applied to ppolitics and governance. When {it} inflitrates the political system, we get bad government–a self-perpetuating system in which officials are not held accountable regardless of their actions, and the next generation of officials learns from that and becomes equally, or even more, unaccountable.”

    Clearly, this is exactly what has occurred. Further, this complete lack of accountability has tricked down into local law enforcement and politics.

    I have asked before that people of conscience, left and right, wake up to what is happening and speak against it. I also wish to ask another thing.

    I have been hearing a feaverish, hateful condemnation of the right by the left in this country. It is reminding me exactly of what the right did to the left after 9/11. That is, they made enemies of their neighbors. I am not saying that anyone should think their right wing neighbor’s ideas about “death care” should not be opposed, or ridiculed. No one should agree to this innanity. No one should agree to remain silient when there is intimidation and violence against other citizens. But it seem like there is a turning of neighbor against neighbor in this nation right now. People who live side by side are beginning to view each other as the enemy.

    My right wing neighbors believe dumb things but they are not my mortal enemy. They are my fellow citizens and in some case, my friends. I will not turn against them for any political cause. I will argue with them, I will oppose them, but I will not accept their characterization as near demonic.

    I am asking people on the left to get a hold of themselves and refuse all participation in the demonization of the other. Human beings have been down that path many, many times. It has always ended in disaster. It is up to us to turn away from that course and bring about a good society. That to me, would be a true celebration of the intent of the GC.

  14. The International Red Cross warned the United States that was committing torture and other abuses.

    The Obama Administration has indicated that it will accept “just following orders” as a defense to torture allegations and would not allow the investigation of high-ranking Bush officials for their ordering of torture.

    Bushit. But then again does the International Red Cross Director make as much as the American Red Cross Director? I seem to recall Elisabeth Dole drew a Million a year for her valiant efforts. I may be wrong.

    But who the hell cares about rights. Especially if it does not apply to me. You know what they say the Problems with Generals is, they Promote Colonels. Any truth to this?

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