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Thursday, August 24, 2006

Debating the War Crimes Act

A Prawfs public service announcement--over at the Law Librarian Blog, Joe Hodnicki writes:

When the Supreme Court of the United States decided in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld that the Bush administration's policy of not honoring the Geneva Conventions was illegal, and that prisoners in the "War on Terror" were entitled to such protections, the Court opened the door for the criminal prosecution of political appointees, CIA officers and military personnel under the War Crimes Act. At issue is government authorized interrogations using methods that U.S. military lawyers testified at a July 13 hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee were in violation of Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions (Treatment of Prisoners of War).

Concern over the applicability of the Act made the front page of the Washington Post immediately after the Hamdan decision was announced. R. Jeffrey Smith, Detainee Abuse Charges Feared: Shield Sought From '96 War Crimes Act, Washington Post, July 28, 2006 at Page A01. Now, the Bush Administration is reportedly circulating draft amendments to the Act that would significantly narrow the scope of potential criminal prosecutions to 10 specific categories of illegal acts against detainees during a war, including torture, murder, rape and hostage-taking. This chain of events calls for publication of a compilation of all relevant legal materials so an interested public can be a well-informed public.

Over at his site, you can find a very well-linked array of resources that are helpful to understanding the legal background to this complex and interesting issue.

Posted by Administrators on August 24, 2006 at 10:18 AM in Law and Politics | Permalink

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