Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Administration Rebuked on Human Rights

November 9, 2004

A federal judged ruled decisively against the Bush administration’s legal approach to terrorism yesterday. U.S. District Court Judge James Robertson concluded, "President Bush had both overstepped his constitutional bounds and improperly brushed aside the Geneva Conventions," when he established military tribunals at Guantanamo Bay to try detainees as war criminals. The ruling forced an abrupt halt to the government’s most expansive military tribunals since WWII.

  • The Bush administration’s military tribunals violate America’s fundamental sense of legal fairness. Judge Robertson ruled that the commission's set up by the administration did not give defendants a fair shot at defending themselves and allowed the government to use secret evidence and unnamed witnesses to make its case. Robertson found that no American court could operate without "the right to confront one's accuser and the evidence."
  • Ignoring international human rights accords puts our own soldiers at risk. One of the primary reasons the U.S. originally ratified the Geneva Conventions was to protect American soldiers. Judge Robertson concluded that in placing detainees outside the reach of these international human rights standards, the Bush administration weakened "the United States own ability to demand application of the Geneva conventions to Americans captured during armed conflicts abroad."
  • We can not win the hearts and minds of those abroad if we ignore our own democratic standards at home. The administration should stop trying to find ways to get around human rights standards and stand up for basic American principles. The fight against terrorists must be resolute but also principled if it is to truly defend what America represents to the world.


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