Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Eric Massa and Michael Arcuri on Military Commissions Act

One of the only justifications that the Arcuri for Congress campaign has been able to come up with for its support of the Military Commissions Act is the claim that, if Mike Arcuri had not supported the Military Commissions Act, the Republicans would have bashed and battered him with it.

That claim has always seen a bit absurd to me. I mean, what kind of lawyer is Michael Arcuri, if he cannot defend himself from the criticism that he failed to support a law that puts American soldiers in danger? The Military Commissions Act in fact places American troops in grave peril, because it undercuts the enforcement of the Geneva Conventions worldwide. Now that the United States of America is failing to enforce the Geneva Conventions, thanks to the Military Commissions Act, our current and future enemies have much less incentive to adhere to the Geneva Conventions themselves. American soldiers are now at much greater risk of torture, forced labor, and other forms of abuse when they are captured by rival governments.

Of course, a little thing like the facts of the actual impact of legislation has never stopped politicians from making extravagant claims. After all, Michael Arcuri supported the Military Commissions Act without even bothering to read it. So, it's not surprising that Arcuri claims that the Republicans would destroy his campaign if he did not support the Military Commissions Act.

Let us voters not join the politicians in running away from the facts. Let's take a look at a real world comparison to see what would have happened if Michael Arcuri had decided to have a backbone, and take a stand against the Military Commissions Act.

Over in the 29th congressional district, Democratic congressional candidate Eric Massa has had a more challenging campaign that Michael Arcuri. The seat isn't open. Massa is running against an incumbent Republican. The 29th district's population tends to lean more strongly toward the right wing than our own 24th district.

And then there's the fact that Eric Massa opposed the Military Commissions Act. If the campaign of Michael Arcuri for Congress were correct in its claims, the Republicans ought to have made mincemeat of Eric Massa. However, that just hasn't happened. In fact, since he opposed the Military Commissions Act, Eric Massa's campaign has become all the stronger.

In the Constituent Dynamics poll taken in October - after the passage of the Military Commissions Act - Eric Massa is doing better in his district than Michael Arcuri is doing in our district. Eric Massa has a lead that is 3 points greater than Arcuri's lead, in spite of all the additional handicaps that Eric Massa has had to overcome.

In comparison to the tough campaign Eric Massa has had to fight, Michael Arcuri has had a cakewalk. When Michael Arcuri supported the Military Commissions Act, he stepped in the cake, and tracked it all over the carpet. Voters are rewarding Eric Massa for doing the right thing. Too bad Mike Arcuri just didn't have the guts to do the same.


Curious said...

And Massa has NO DCCC support. If he pulls it off, it will be a wonderful slap in the face for the powers that be, who tried to run Anyone But Massa but were forced to concede that their hand-picked multimillionaire candidate wasn't even a registered Dem. Fun race to watch--a Massa win would be an amazing coup, given the numbers in that district.

I think the moral is, if you don't get DCCC support, you're allowed to think for yourself.

Anonymous said...

Cakewalk? Take a look at this link to see the latest NRCC attack ad on Mike Arcuri. Perhaps the Trumansburg media market doesn't see this stuff, but it's a brutal and nasty fight where the most benign things become life or death.

Put the MCA into an attack ad format and pour a million dollars of NRCC money behind it and Mike Arcuri would have been hanging himself with his belt by now.

The 24th and Tom Reynolds' race are the only two the NRCC really thinks are in play in NY and they have put a million dollars into the 24th so far.

Ari Rabin said...

The Military Commissions Act doesn't undercut the Geneva Conventions.

You see, the Geneva Conventions are only applicable to uniformed combatants and signatories. There is no such thing as the "enforcement" of international law on non-signatory parties such as terrorist groups. The "current and future enemies" of the United States, because they are not uniformed combatants and not signatories to the Geneva Conventions, were never obligated to follow them. Likewise, the United States was never obligated to apply the Geneva Conventions to them.

In short, unlawful combatants never had to follow the Geneva Conventions to begin with, nor were they ever protected by the Conventions. The Military Commissions Act doesn't deprive them of any of their Geneva Conventions rights because they never had any rights under the Geneva Conventions to begin with.

You wrote, "American soldiers are now at much greater risk of torture, forced labor, and other forms of abuse when they are captured by rival governments." What rival governments? The US isn't at war with state governments who are signatories to the Geneva Conventions. The United States is at war with non-governmental terrorist groups. Groups that, as I wrote, never recognized the Geneva Conventions.

Now if you think that enemies of the United States have ever followed the Geneva Conventions and now with the Military Commissions Act they are going to start breaking them you're naive to say the least. They play by their own rules, they aren't parties to the Geneva Conventions, and no matter what we do they will continue torturing, murdering, and beheading our troops. Just like they have been doing since long before the Military Commissions Act.

24 Independent said...

Golly, anonymous. That's a lot of hypotheticals.

The fact is this: Compared to Massa's race, yes, Michael Arcuri's campaign should have been a cakewalk - Arcuri screwed it up.

An attack ad on the Military Commissions Act? That's like an attack ad against someone for doing the right thing - THAT'S what we want, and what any competent lawyer should be able to handle.

I'm not sure Arcuri is a competent lawyer.

24 Independent said...

The Military Commissions Act doesn't undercut the Geneva Conventions?

Bull! It states clearly that no one, not a civilian or a soldier in a uniform, has the right to cite the Geneva Conventions as source of legal rights any more.

Mr. Rabin, you clearly have a very short memory when it comes to the wars in which the United States is now ensnared. When the United States invaded Afghanistan, it fought against government forces as well as irregulars. When the United States invaded Iraq, it fought against the Iraqi government.

Apparently, you don't remember when the Iraqi government captured American soldiers and displayed them on television. Rumsfeld and Cheney complained that was in violation of the Geneva Conventions!

American soldiers captured and tortured by Iraq during the first Gulf War have been told by the American government that they don't have the right to sue the Iraqi government because of that torture.

There are consequences, very real consequences, for American soldiers, when we pass laws like the Military Commissions Act.

If war comes against Iran or North Korea, we'll be placing American soldiers in harm's way with a defunct Geneva Conventions.

That's the insanity that Michael Arcuri supports.

Ari Rabin said...

24 democrat - "Bull! It states clearly that no one, not a civilian or a soldier in a uniform, has the right to cite the Geneva Conventions as source of legal rights any more."

No, nowhere in the text of the Military Commissions Act does it state that. In fact, it explicitly states it is only applicable to alien unlawful enemy combatants. Here is the text from it:

...establishes procedures governing the use of military commissions to try alien unlawful enemy combatants engaged in hostilities against the United States for violations of the law of war and other offenses triable by military commission.

Furthermore, it explicitly states that the Geneva Conventions DO apply to lawful combatants. Section 948a:

The rights guaranteed by the Third Geneva Convention to lawful military combatants are expressly denied to unlawful military combatants.

Unless you're an unlawful alien military combatant you have nothing to worry about. The fact that it only applies to combatants, as it states, excludes it from being applicable to any civilians. The fact that it only applies to aliens excludes it from being applicable to any US citizens.

And yes, the US did fight against Iraqi and Afghani government troops. All of that was before the Military Commissions Act. And yet they still violated the Geneva Conventions. However, under the Military Conventions Act they would be considered lawful enemy combatants and not subject to military tribunals. It just goes to show how humane the act really is.

Now I quoted the text directly. It appears to prove your original claim wrong. I'm open to the possibility that I am wrong, but after reading the text and witnessing the house debates I am pretty sure I am familiar with the subject. Can you show me in the text where it says that no civilians or soldiers have the right to cite the Geneva Conventions?

I realize that the liberal media has been claiming this. It sounds pretty convincing to the masses who haven't read the actual text or seen the debates. But the text is quite clear that the act can only be applied to a very select group.

Anonymous said...

Jon - there are no cakewalks this election. Did you hear Pataki cut short his trip to Hungary to come back and try to impeach Hevesi?

The Republicans will take any opening at all and drive a Mack truck thru it. If there is no opening, they start firing the artillery to create one.

This is the most brutal level of campaigning I've seen in a half century.

This isn't some niceynice campaign that some lawyer is going to speak words and end. This is a slugfest to the death battle for survival brought to you by the same people who are destroying American lives over a disaster in Iraq. They really have no sense of decency or propriety. It's total war in a political context here Jon.

24 Independent said...

12:20 - My point is that this campaign should have been a cakewalk, certainly compared to Massa's campaign, but Michael Arcuri has screwed it up. But, let's go with your claim, that it has been a tough race all along. Why did Mike Arcuri have to go and make it harder for himself by supporting the Military Commissions Act?

Mr. Rabin,

The Military Commissions Act says exactly what I said it says. Read it. In another section than what you quoted, it reads

"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."

Did you see that part where it says no person, without qualification?

You cannot trust the mainstream media accounts, which gloss over the law, and mostly just repeat what politicians claim about what the law says. You have to read it yourself, and then read the other laws that it amends, to understand the truly awesome scope of this law's attack against our liberty.

Allen Carstensen said...

Good points today. Massa is a far better candidate. Arcuri is taking advice from the DCCC and consultants, and it appears, from your comparison, that they are giving bad advice. On days when I hear encouraging poll results, I admire your principled stand, and I'm glad that there are people like you who claim they won't vote for these weasels. When you announce this on your blog, I think there is a chance that it registers in the minds of politicians and pulls society a wee bit towards liberal principles.
Then I hear about the article in Barron's that says that based on a race-by-race examination of campaign-finance data, the GOP will hang on to both chambers. They say you can pretty much ignore the polls and that, historically, it's really all about the money. On those days, I wish you'd stop counseling people to stick to their principles.
The question is, when you vote, what are you doing? Is it an expression of your political values? Do you want to be able to reflect back on yourself and be proud of your principled stand? Or is voting necessarily an act of pragmatism? Is voting something that you do to affect change? When you are convinced, as we both are, that we are going to hell in a hand-basket, perhaps the only thing that should guide your choice, is how can I best affect change now? Given lots of time to convince the public and the politicians of the truth, we could afford to stick to principle. Have we got the time?

24 Independent said...

Allen, I've found, after about ten years of writing about politics online, that most people only pay attention to politicial issues around election time.

This isn't just an election of Michael Arcuri or Ray Meier. It's also a huge societal issue during which we decide who we are. I am deeply concerned that Americans may be deciding, even as they turn out the Republicans, that they are a people who really don't need the Constitution and its freedoms any more.

Barron's is a financial magazine. What else would they write, but that it's only the money in an election that counts?

I believe in the importance of our individual choices in shaping who we are. If we accept one step toward tyranny now, then it will be all the easier to accept another step toward tyranny tomorrow. That goes for us as voters, and it is also true for Michael Arcuri and the Democratic Party establishments of New York's 24th congressional district.

Michael Arcuri screwed up. I didn't make him screw up. I'm just pointing out that he did, and talking about the consequences. Would it really be ethical for me to pretend that he didn't do it?

I don't think so. I think that the Democratic Party in our district needs to be pulled back from the brink, and I don't think that working from within the Democratic Party is the way to do it. That's why I've re-registered as a political independent.

You and the other voters in our district have to decide whether it matters that he screws up. Together, we have to decide who we are, and whether we'll take that step with Arcuri toward tyranny.