Amnesty International today urged Canadian authorities to arrest and either prosecute or extradite former US President George W. Bush for his role in torture, ahead of his expected visit to Canada on 20 October.There is no outstanding warrant, so it is kind of unclear where exactly they want to extradite Bush to--not that it seems to matter.
“Canada is required by its international obligations to arrest and prosecute former President Bush given his responsibility for crimes under international law including torture,” said Susan Lee, Americas Director at Amnesty International.
“As the US authorities have, so far, failed to bring former President Bush to justice, the international community must step in. A failure by Canada to take action during his visit would violate the UN Convention against Torture and demonstrate contempt for fundamental human rights.”
As far as what is and what is not a war crime--that appears to be outside of Amnesty International's expertise.
When it comes to waterboarding, one of the examples of illegal torture given, AI seems to think the case is open and shut.
Not surprisingly, it is not.
When it comes to the UN Convention against Torture they refer to, it appears Amnesty International did not do their homework. Instead, it does not appear to be binding in this case.
Andrew C. McCarthy, a former federal prosecutor who lead the 1995 terrorism prosecution against Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, explains the limits of international law when it comes to torture:
The Geneva Conventions prohibit torture but not in all circumstances. Recognizing that, human-rights activists pushed for the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the U.N. Convention Against Torture and Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatments (UNCAT), which were ratified by the U.S. in 1992 and 1994, respectively. Both forbid torture, and the UNCAT called for the passage of anti-torture legislation, which Congress promptly enacted.And who do the fifth, eighth and fourteenth amendments apply to torture?
Further, both the ICCPR and the UNCAT prohibit cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment (CID). Here, however, there is an important qualification. In consenting to both treaties, the Senate added a caveat: CID was to be understood in the U.S. as the cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment prohibited under the aforementioned Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments. That is, CID would be controlled by governing American constitutional law — not what activist NGOs, international law professors, and foreign regimes decided terms like “degrading treatment” might mean.
The Eighth Amendment to the Constitution prohibits cruel and unusual punishments. One might think that means torture, in all instances, is barred. Yet, as Harvard’s Professor Alan Dershowitz pointed out in his excellent book, Why Terrorism Works: Understanding the Threat, Responding to the Challenge, our jurisprudence limits the Eighth Amendment’s application to punishments resulting from convictions in the civilian criminal-justice system. As the Supreme Court explained in Ingraham v. Wright (1977), “An examination of the history of the Amendment and the decisions of this Court construing the proscription against cruel and unusual punishment confirms that it was designed to protect those convicted of crimes. We adhere to this long-standing limitation.”The point is that Amnesty International is no more the authority on what is or is not in accordance with international law than is the UN General Assembly, Security Council or UN "Human Rights Council".
Similarly, the due-process guarantees of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments have been construed, based on the Supreme Court’s 1952 ruling in Rochin v. California, to bar evidence-gathering methods that “shock the conscience.” This fuzzy standard, however, has also been limited to criminal prosecutions. Justice Frankfurter, moreover, recognized that “hypothetical situations can be conjured up, shading imperceptibly from the circumstances of this case and by gradations producing practical differences despite seemingly logical extensions.” To be less dense, this suggests that waterboarding a top al Qaeda terrorist who has knowledge of an imminent weapons-of-mass-destruction attack against an American city might be different from coercing a suspect to submit to warrantless stomach-pumping just so we can use the couple of pills he emits to try him for narcotics violations, as happened in Rochin. [emphasis added]
Then again, maybe Amnesty International thinks they have expertise based on their experience hanging around with terrorists.
Powerline noted last year how things became a little embarrassing when Amnesty International tried to hush its collaboration with a man with terrorist connections:
Amesty International suspended Gita Sahgal, one of its senior officials in London, for expressing the view that Amnesty’s collaboration with former Guantanamo Bay detainee Moazzem Begg “fundamentally damages” the group’s reputation. Sahgal pointed out that “to be appearing on platforms with Britain’s most famous supporter of the Taliban, whom we treat as a human rights defender, is a gross error of judgment.” (And worse, I would have thought)And then Amnesty International’s Secretary-General Claudio Cordone decided to step in and defend Amnesty International's good name:
Begg isn’t just Britain’s most famous Taliban supporter. According to Steve Emerson and Tom Joscelyn, he is also a friend and supporter of Anwar al-Awlaki, imam to some of the 9/11 hijackers, and an inspiration to both the Christmas Day bomber and the Fort Hood mass-murderer.
He argued that Begg advocates detainees’ due process rights within “the same framework of universal human rights standards that we are promoting,” Attempting to reconcile this extraordinary claim with Begg’s association with violent jihad, Cardone asserted that advocacy of “jihad in self defence” is not antithetical to human rights.And does "jihad in self defense" really fit the framework of human rights as Amnesty International claims?
Not by a long shot:“
the concept of defensive jihad is a thread running through many fundamentalist and specifically ‘salafi-jihadi’ texts.” For example,I don't know about you, but I don't think I'm willing to rely on Amnesty International as an expert on international law.
it is mentioned by Abdullah Azzam, mentor of Osama bin Laden, and founder of Lashkar e Tayyaba. It is the argument of ‘defensive jihad’ that the Taleban uses to legitimize its anti human rights actions such as the beheading of dissidents, including members of minority communities, and the public lashing of women.
As a matter of fact, the enthusiasm with which Amnesty International pursues the prosecution of war crimes in the West appears to be in direct proportion to its zeal to defend those who pursue terrorism around the world.
No wonder, after all, according to Amnesty International those terrorist sympathizers are utilizing “the same framework of universal human rights standards that we are promoting."
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