Thursday, January 22, 2009

Obama Issues Executive Order, Revoking Bush's Intel Strategy. Image Conscious Obama Puts World "Popularity" and Above Homeland Security

President Obama signed three executive orders today pertaining to Guantanamo Bay, how America handles terror suspects in custody and how the CIA conducts business.

Mr. Obama is setting a dangerous tone with respect to terrorists. By treating them as standard Prisoners of War, protected by The Army Field Manual, his naivete on foreign policy and homeland security are frightening. The manual explicitly prohibits threats, coercion, physical abuse and waterboarding.

Mr. Obama had this to say about using the Manual, The Associated Press reports.

"We believe that the Army Field Manual reflects the best judgment of our military, that we can abide by a rule that says we don't torture, but that we can still effectively obtain the intelligence that we need," Obama said. He said his action reflects an understanding that "we are willing to observe core standards of conduct, not just when it's easy, but also when it's hard."

An excerpt from the text of the Executive Order Regarding Interrogation

By the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, in order to improve the effectiveness of human intelligence gathering, to promote the safe, lawful, and humane treatment of individuals in United States custody and of United States personnel who are detained in armed conflicts, to ensure compliance with the treaty obligations of the United States, including the Geneva Conventions, and to take care that the laws of the United States are faithfully executed, I hereby order as follows:

Section 1. Revocation. Executive Order 13440 of July 20, 2007, is revoked. All executive directives, orders, and regulations inconsistent with this order, including but not limited to those issued to or by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) from September 11, 2001, to January 20, 2009, concerning detention or the interrogation of detained individuals, are revoked to the extent of their inconsistency with this order. Heads of departments and agencies shall take all necessary steps to ensure that all directives, orders, and regulations of their respective departments or agencies are consistent with this order. Upon request, the Attorney General shall provide guidance about which directives, orders, and regulations are inconsistent with this order.

Executive Order 13440 was signed by President Bush July 20th, 2007. It stated that that members of al Qaeda, the Taliban, and associated forces are unlawful enemy combatants who are not entitled to the protections that the Third Geneva Convention provides to prisoners of war.

The Third Geneva Convention provides protection for prisoners of war assuming they meet the following criteria

4.1.2 Members of other militias and members of other volunteer corps, including those of organized resistance movements, provided that they fulfill all of the following conditions

  • that of being commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates;
  • that of having a fixed distinctive sign recognizable at a distance (there are limited exceptions to this among countries who observe the 1977 Protocol I);
  • that of carrying arms openly;
  • that of conducting their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war.

It is our belief that President Bush was correct. Members of terrorist organizations DO NOT meet the above criteria and therefore President Obama is incorrect in his belief that the Geneva Conventions and The Army Field Manual apply to enemy combatants. Further, terrorists are not covered by The Fourth Geneva Convention which applies to treatment of civilians.

Essentially, no court, domestic or international has yet to provide a final ruling defining any "intermediary" between a formal army, militia or organized force (which GCIII protects) and non-combatant civilians (protected by GCIV).

Article 51.3 of the Commentary states this: IV Geneva Convention also covers this interpretation: "Civilians shall enjoy the protection afforded by this section, unless and for such time as they take a direct part in hostilities.". In the words of the International Committee of the Red Cross. or ICRC "If civilians directly engage in hostilities, they are considered "unlawful" or "unprivileged" combatants or belligerents (the treaties of humanitarian law do not expressly contain these terms). They may be prosecuted under the domestic law of the detaining state for such action. Both lawful and unlawful combatants may be interned in wartime, may be interrogated and may be prosecuted for war crimes.

So it appears there is a distinct lack of a true definition of how a terrorist, or "enemy combatant" in the international community. If anything, IV Geneva Convention affirms interrogation tactics used on the Guantanamo detainees.

The War of Terror is a unique circumstance in world history. President Bush may have erred, but he acted on behalf of protecting America and American citizens.

Mr. Obama is erring on the side of protecting the terrorists and worried about his and the United States' "Image" around the world. Pretty narcissistic, don't you think?

Mr. Obama is worried about being popular more than doing what it right.

We are sorry Mr. Obama, but America and Americans are more important than how we look to outsiders.

"The time has come to set aside childish things", Mr. Obama. You want to hang out with the popular kids in the world, putting the so-called "world opinion" above American safety? Now that is truly childish.

With all due respect, THAT is the fundamental difference between Mr. Obama and Mr. Bush.

(For more on this executive order visit USA Today or The AP, including the "Prohibition of Certain Detention Facilities" and the creation of a Special Task force which will conduct a review of the Army Field Manual interrogation guidelines to determine whether different or additional guidance is necessary for the CIA. It will also look at rendition and other policies for transferring individuals to third countries to be sure that our policies and practices.)

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