Like a trail of poisonous liquid, the Iraq prison abuse scandal flows outward to infect new senior Bush Administration officials. Today, the Times reveals in Justice Memos Explained How to Skip Prisoner Rights that Alberto Gonzales, chief White House counsel and John Yoo, a neocon legal scholar at UC Berkeley produced various memos describing how U.S. officials might “innoculate” themselves against future war crimes charges by subverting the provisions of the Geneva Conventions. By the way, Yoo is the same enterprising fellow who was the guiding intellectual force (at least according to Calpatriot.org) behind the USA Patriot Act, that other bastion of liberal democracy and civil liberties.
The quote of the day goes to Gonzales, that legal scholar who’s too smart by half: “Mr. Gonzales wrote that the war against terrorism, “in my judgment renders obsolete Geneva’s strict limitations on questioning of enemy prisoners.”
So when Rumsfeld and the generals do an about face and say they believed all along that the Conventions applied to all U.S.-held terror suspects (excluding Guantanamo!), how credible are they? It reminds me of that old saying which I first heard in the movie, Hester Street: “You can’t piss on my back and make me think it’s rain.” The entire Bush Administration (except perhaps Colin Powell) seems to be pissing on the backs of American citizens. How long will we continue to trust that it’s rain?