Sunday, October 22, 2006

Arcuri Tries to Weasel on Military Commissions Act

Michael Arcuri still supports the Military Commissions Act - and it looks like he still hasn't even bothered to read the law - and neither has his campaign manager.

Arcuri's campaign manager, feeling the heat from local Democrats' anger about Arcuri's support for George W. Bush and the Military Commissions Act sent a message of attempted contrition in which he wrote, "He [Michael Arcuri] would have supported the bill because, while imperfect, it places some important restrictions on this adminstration, and then he would have moved immediately to seek legislation to deal with the Habeas Corpus problem."

The habeas corpus problem? Is that all that Michael Arcuri and his campaign manager think is wrong with the Military Commissions Act? If that's true, then they definitely have still not bothered to read the text of the law.

What about the Geneva Conventions problem, for example? Does Michael Arcuri know nothing about that? If you don't believe me that the Military Commissions Act ends enforcement of the Geneva Conventions, fine. You shouldn't believe something just because I say it's true. Go read the text of the Military Commissions Act yourself, and search for the following phrases in italics - oh yes, they're in there.

The Military Commissions Act gives George W. Bush the unlimited power to engage in de facto amendments to the Geneva Conventions. The text of the law includes the following provision:

"The President has the authority for the United States to interpret the meaning and application of the Geneva Conventions"

Everyone, including Senator Mike Arcuri and his campaign manager, ought to know what this means. President Bush attempts to amend laws all the time by means of such interpretation, through signing statements. President Bush has shown a willingness to interpret a law outlawing torture in such a way that it actually allows him to torture people whenever he wants to. President Bush has in the past interpreted the legislation that makes the Geneva Conventions legally binding in American law in order to claim that the President has the power to apply Geneva Conventions however he wants, or not at all. The Military Commissions Act gives that power to the President when it did not exist before.

That's one way that the Military Commisions Act ends enforcement of the the Geneva Conventions - by giving the President the power to amend it however he sees fit. Another way that the Military Commissions Act amends the Geneva Conventions is seen in another selection from the law, below:

"No alien unlawful enemy combatant subject to trial by military commission under this chapter may invoke the Geneva Conventions as a source of rights."

This part of the Military Commissions Act is certainly a dramatic amendment to the Geneva Conventions. The Geneva Conventions applies to all people on a battlefield, without distinction between alien and citizen or lawful and unlawful. Well, at least that's how the Geneva Conventions used to work. Now, thanks to the support of Democrats like Mike Arcuri, that is no longer true - not for the United States of America.

Oh, but it gets worse. If you think that you're safe because you're a citizen, well, you're plain wrong. Read the following additional clause from the Military Commissions Act:

"In General- No person may invoke the Geneva Conventions or any protocols thereto in any habeas corpus or other civil action or proceeding to which the United States, or a current or former officer, employee, member of the Armed Forces, or other agent of the United States is a party as a source of rights in any court of the United States or its States or territories."

No more Geneva Conventions protections for anybody captured by the United States. Is that what Michael Arcuri stands for, or does he just not know that this provision is in the law?

I'm guessing Michael Arcuri simply has no clue. When Arcuri and his campaign staff came to Trumansburg, he told the Democrats there that he gave the Military Commissions Act his support without bothering to read it first.

Supporting Republican legislation without even reading it beforehand - is that what we deserve in Congress? Hell, no.

I'm not going to tell you how to vote in this election, because there is no good choice. You follow your conscience. But, 24th district Democrats, don't let the Oneida County Democratic Committee tell you that this is the best Democratic choice that was available for 2006.

Give them a piece of your mind, and demand a better Democratic candidate for 2008 - whether Arcuri wins this year or not.


Anonymous said...

Your description of the MCA is way off base. Here are the sections you point to:

"The President has the authority for the United States to interpret the meaning and application of the Geneva Conventions"

Here's the full quote:

"As provided by the Constitution and by this section,
sident has the authority for the United States to
interpret the meaning and application of the Geneva
Conventions and to promulgate higher standards and administrative regulations for violations of treaty obligations which are not grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions."

This clearly states that the President does not have the authority to reinterpret grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions. This is a significant limit on presidential power. Also, since this is a treaty with foreign powers and it deals with the conduct of the U.S. military, it seems only logical that the President should have this power.

As for Bush's use of signing statements, it's really irrelevant what's in a law. Congress could pass a law saying 2+2=4 and Bush could still attach a signing statement saying that 2+2=5. That problem can only be fixed by electing a new president.

"No alien unlawful enemy combatant subject to trial by military commission under this chapter may invoke the Geneva Conventions as a source of rights."

The Geneva Conventions apply only to "lawful" enemy combatants--namely soldiers in national armies. If I decide to launch my own private invasion of Canada, I wouldn't expect that the Geneva Conventions would apply to me. I would be treated (rightly) as a criminal, something that the Geneva Convention forbids.

"In General- No person may invoke the Geneva Conventions or any protocols thereto in any habeas corpus or other civil action or proceeding to which the United States, or a current or former officer, employee, member of the Armed Forces, or other agent of the United States is a party as a source of rights in any court of the United States or its States or territories."

Since when did the Geneva Conventions allow the filing of habeas corpus writs? POWs can't go into court in order to try and get out. Also, the writ of habeas corpus is guaranteed in the Constitution to U.S. citizens. Non-citizens don't have this right. The Supreme Court has extended this right to lawful resident aliens, but no further. There's nothing in the Constitution intending to extend habeas rights to alien unlawful combatants.

Also, the Geneva Convention is a treaty--an agreement among nations. If someone believes that one nation is violating a treaty, they need to get the nations involved to protest the violation. Some treaties do allow individuals to go into court to challenge their violations, but the Geneva Convention is not one of them.

Even without habeas rights, detainees still have the right to challenge their detention. The Detainee Treatment Act establishes Combatant Status Review Tribunals where detainees can challenge their detention. If that tribunal holds that detainment is lawful, detainees can then appeal to the civilian U.S. courts all the way up the Supreme Court.

Is the MCA a good bill? No. It could be improved in significant ways. But your hyperventilated attempts to cast it as a new Enabling Act do a disservice to you and Mike Arcuri.

If you post this, then I'll know you want to have a serious discussion of this important issue. If not, then it's clear that you just want to trash Mike Arcuri and let the facts be damned.

24 Independent said...

Look, I know you mean this honestly, but you're just plain wrong about the Geneva Conventions.

George W. Bush says we're at war. When you're a nation at war, and a signatory to the Geneva Conventions, there's no loophole for you to go around and say that you don't have to apply it to some prisoners just 'cause they're not lawful, or they weren't wearing a uniform. These people that George W. Bush now says he doesn't have to do Geneva Conventions for were picked up way far off the battlefield. A lot of them have been revealed to be completely innocent of anything except being sold out by their enemies, or people just looking to make a quick buck.

I don't think you're reading this text critically and carefully enough. "As provided by the Constitution and this section?" Look, what George W. Bush interprets the Constitution to be is really insane. President Bush claims that he has constitutional authority to reinterpret international treaties, and you say it's only logical that he should have this power, but HE DOESN'T, not in the Constitution. The Constitution does not give the power of the President to alter treaties that are ratified by Congress.

This law says that George W. Bush can interpret the meaning and application of the Geneva Conventions, but once the treaties establishing the Geneva Conventions were ratified, that became the job of the Courts. This law tries to give George W. Bush the power of a judge, but in the Executive Branch - and in more ways than just with the
Geneva Conventions.

What you would want if you invaded Canada is irrelevant. Either these people are criminals, and are subject to the ordinary criminal code of the USA, or they are combatants in a war, and are to be given the protection of the Geneva Conventions. It's that clear - or it has been, until the Military Commissions Act. The Military Commissions Act creates a new code of people who get to be treated in an extra-constitutional way outside of the international treaties that we committed to and which were, until now, a power that the President of the United States of America had to submit to.

The Military Commissions Act places this President beyond the law - literally. It gives him legal amnesty for war crimes committed between 2001 and now.

Hyperventilating? I'd rather hyperventilate than sit back and let this crap go on. This is ruining America, and it's putting Americans at risk.

The Geneva Conventions are now essentially null and void. Do you understand what that means? That means that now that we're holding people prisoner without trial, without habeas corpus rights that were hundreds of years old, without presumption of innocence, without even the right to see the evidence against them in a trial or to be in the courtroom to defend themselves, the same rotten thing can be done to our soldiers and diplomats and citizens seized overseas. We've just taken the rules of war and thrown them out the window.

Yeah, that frightens me. You could even say that makes me hyperventilate.

You've really got to read these statements through several times, carefully, to understand them. I know that the impact is huge, and its hard to believe, but that final passage I quoted doesn't just refer to habeas corpus requests - which DO apply to all prisoners, including prisoners of war - but to any "proceeding" that involves the United States as a party.

Put it together now: According to this final clause I cited, no one, citizen or non-citizen has the right to cite the Geneva Conventions as a source of rights in any proceeding in which the United States is a party.

That proceeding could be an interrogation. Do you get it? Do you see what that allows?

This law is absolutely insane. I'm not the only one saying so. The editorial board of the New York Times calls it our generation's version of the Alien and Sedition Acts.

There are a lot of people out there saying things about the Military Commissions Act in order to justify supporting it. Read it. Carefully.

It's a disgusting and revolutionary document. It throws out the measures that safeguard our freedom and separate our government from a dictatorship.

Before this law was passed, the Bush Administration was engaged in rounding up people and torturing them, not knowing whether they had committed any crime or not. Before these blanket dissolutions of the enforcement of the Geneva Conventions were ever written into law, we had Abu Ghraib, and torture at many other American-run prisons around the world. We had an illegal network of CIA prisons.

What will we have now, now that there is only a thin scrap of legal constraint left? Do you honestly believe that George W. Bush and his goons can be trusted with these powers?

Michael Arcuri came to my village and told the Democrats assembled there that he supported this law without even bothering to read it.

Why should such a lazy man be given the trust to serve in Congress? Why should we support a Democrat who just a few weeks ago joined forces with George W. Bush to support the worst right wing legislation of our generation?

I don't know what kind of exaggeration could possibly go too far in describing the danger we are in as a result of this law. If it is not completely repealed, soon, I fear for our country.

Look into the history of habeas corpus, and you'll understand that without the integrity of habeas corpus, all our other freedoms fall apart.

Look at what the Military Commissions Act says George W. Bush can do now. He and his secret committee can declare any foreigner an enemy combatant, and that's the end of that - no right to a speedy trial is a specific clause in this law. That means an accused "enemy combatant" can be imprisoned for life - no trial, no hearing, no habeas corpus, no lawyer, no justice ever.

Please, get serious. This is a bigger issue than any election.

24 Independent said...

"It could be improved..."

Really? Improved?

How would you improve the provision that says that these kangaroo courts can begin a trial before the investigation is complete?

How about, if you want to have a serious discussion, you stop posting anonmyously, and give us your real name.

I don't know why I should trust someone who comes on here arguing in favor of Republican legislation that takes away the foundations of our liberty but isn't even willing to use a real name.

My name is Jonathan Cook, 21 Cayuga Street, Trumansburg, New York. Who the hell are you?

Anonymous said...

"Also, the writ of habeas corpus is guaranteed in the Constitution to U.S. citizens. Non-citizens don't have this right."

Nowhere in the Constitution does it limit the writ of habeas corpus to citizens. It is a right of persons within the confines of the nation.

Anonymous said...

A guess at who this jerk is: Jordan Karp, covering his wimpy ass.

The problem of 2+2=5 signing statement could be solved by electing real Democrats, not wimps like Mike Arcuri who will never stand up to Bush.

Anonymous said...

Real Democrats? Or Real Liberal Party members who couldn't make it as a party so they tried to hijack the Democratic party?

It's never going to happen. Les Roberts couldn't raise enough money to get through half the primary season, he would have been strudel by the time the general election season rolled around. So stop fantasizing that he could have ever been a Congressman. He did not represent the majority of Democrats in this district or pretty much any district. He should have been a Liberal Party candidate but he couldn't because they can't even get on the ballot anymore. At least the Conservatives were able to maintain their identity.

So go ahead and vote for Sylvia. That should change things for the better. Not. Go for it.

Anonymous said...

Nancy Pelosi will have her foot up Arcuri's ass to stiffen his spine. I don't have any worry about Arcuri standing up to Bush.

24 Independent said...

Nancy Pelosi has no plans to revoke the Military Commissions Act.

As for the majority of the Democrats in this district, well, you're probably right. The majority of Democrats in this district seem quite willing to accept the Military Commissions Act - and that only lessens my opinion of the Military Commissions Act.

This isn't about Les Roberts. It's about Michael Arcuri doing something terribly, terribly wrong, and most Democrats not caring about it.

Good confirmation for me that my days as a Democrat are through.

Maybe there won't be a Liberal Party for me, but the Democrats, if they keep on making friends with laws like the Military Commissions Act in this way, will not have my support.

You feel all warm and cozy with the President-as-Dictator, if you like. That's not my idea of what the Democrats should have been standing for.

What do the Democrats stand for anymore, other than getting elected?

Anonymous said...

10:25 am - the conservative's time is over.

Anonymous said...

24 democrat wrote:

When you're a nation at war, and a signatory to the Geneva Conventions, there's no loophole for you to go around and say that you don't have to apply it to some prisoners just 'cause they're not lawful, or they weren't wearing a uniform.

That's just wrong. Read the Geneva Conventions. Here's how it defines combatant status:

(1) Members of the armed forces of a Party to the conflict, as well as members of militias or volunteer corps forming part of such armed forces. (2) Members of other militias and members of other volunteer corps, including those of organized resistance movements, belonging to a Party to the conflict and operating in or outside their own territory, even if this territory is occupied, provided that such militias or volunteer corps, including such organized resistance movements, fulfil the following conditions: (a) that of being commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates; (b) that of having a fixed distinctive sign recognizable at a distance; (c) that of carrying arms openly; (d) that of conducting their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war. (3) Members of regular armed forces who profess allegiance to a Government or an authority not recognized by the Detaining Power. (4) Persons who accompany the armed forces without actually being members thereof, such as civil members of military aircraft crews, war correspondents, supply contractors, members of labour units or of services responsible for the welfare of the armed forces, provided that they have received authorization from the armed forces which they accompany. (5) Members of crews, including masters, pilots and apprentices, of the merchant marine and the crews of civil aircraft of the Parties to the conflict, who do not benefit by more favourable treatment under any other provisions in international law. (6) Inhabitants of a non-occupied territory, who on the approach of the enemy, spontaneously take up arms to resist the invading forces, without having had time to form themselves into regular armed units, provided they carry arms openly and respect the laws and customs of war.

Suspected terrorist fall into none of these categories, so the Geneva Conventions don't apply.

Frederick said...

Argue all you want, the President now has retroactive power to designate anyone he deems so, an enemy combatent. That means you and me, and no oversite to stop it.

Anonymous said...

The law of war says that if someone isn't a combatant, they have to be treated as criminals. So, if Geneva Conventions say that people suspected of involvement of terrorism aren't combatants, then America needs to put them into the ordinary American system of justice.

The Military Commissions Act gives Bush an end run around that. Arcuri and Meier should both be ashamed of themselves.

24 Independent said...

Looks like anonymous 9:44 isn't ready for a serious discussion. He or she won't even give us a real name.

I've given my name. Who are you, really?

What do you have to hide?

Anonymous said...

You obviously don't want to have a serious discussion because you are completely unfamiliar with the Geneva Conventions.

One of your commenters points out that non-combatants need to be tried in the ordinary justice system. Actually, the Geneva Conventions are vague on this point since they mostly apply to cases of occupying powers. But even here it says that they may use "non-political military courts" that "are in accordance with general principles of law."

So the real issue is whether the Combatant Status Review Commissions meet that test. But let's say, for argument's sake, they don't and that they routinely and arbitrarily rule that detainees can be held. At that point, detainees can appeal to the U.S. civilian courts, including eventual appeals to the Supreme Court. How is this not "in accordance with general principles of law"?

24 Independent said...

What's your name?

I'm not afraid to give my name and address. I'm out in the open. Why are you refusing to admit who you are? What are you trying to hide?

Someone here suggested you might be Jordan Karp. True? Beats me. You could be Paul McCartney for all I know.

Give your name, and then we can discuss.

Anonymous said...

Actually, I'm Ringo.

Paul's dead.