After a weeks-long battle, the White House and moderate Republicans in Congress have reached a compromise on legislation that would let the president detain suspected terrorists at CIA prisons and try them at special military tribunals.
The proposed compromise legislation has two major elements. It sets out new guidelines on military commissions — the tribunals that will be used to try suspected terrorists at Guantanamo Bay — and clarifies policy with regard to the Geneva Conventions Common Article 3, which prohibits torture. Sprinkled throughout the bill are provisions dealing with access to courts and culpability for war crimes. Here, key points of the bill:
ON MILITARY COMMISSIONS
Defendants can’t be convicted on the basis of evidence they haven’t seen. If classified documents are necessary to prove the defendant’s guilt or innocence, the judge will give the defendant summaries or edited versions of the documents.
Hearsay evidence is generally OK in these trials. A judge has to rule that the evidence is reliable and relevant to the case. Continue reading
Okay so if anyone has committed War Crimes they will be now stamped okay. What’s up with this? If you committed crimes, then you should be tried and go to jail if found guilty.
Washington Post Editorial -
THE GOOD NEWS about the agreement reached yesterday between the Bush administration and Republican senators on the detention, interrogation and trial of accused terrorists is that Congress will not — as President Bush had demanded — pass legislation that formally reinterprets U.S. compliance with the Geneva Conventions. Nor will the Senate explicitly endorse the administration’s use of interrogation techniques that most of the world regards as cruel and inhumane, if not as outright torture. Trials of accused terrorists will be fairer than the commission system outlawed in June by the Supreme Court.
The bad news is that Mr. Bush, as he made clear yesterday, intends to continue using the CIA to secretly detain and abuse certain terrorist suspects. He will do so by issuing his own interpretation of the Geneva Conventions in an executive order and by relying on questionable Justice Department opinions that authorize such practices as exposing prisoners to hypothermia and prolonged sleep deprivation. Under the compromise agreed to yesterday, Congress would recognize his authority to take these steps and prevent prisoners from appealing them to U.S. courts. The bill would also immunize CIA personnel from prosecution for all but the most serious abuses and protect those who in the past violated U.S. law against war crimes.
In short, it’s hard to credit the statement by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) yesterday that “there’s no doubt that the integrity and letter and spirit of the Geneva Conventions have been preserved.” In effect, the agreement means that U.S. violations of international human rights law can continue as long as Mr. Bush is president, with Congress’s tacit assent. If they do, America’s standing in the world will continue to suffer, as will the fight against terrorism. Continue reading
Ava Lowery of Peace takes Courage publishes her new video.