Read David Luban Instead
A reader wondered in comments why B&W hasn’t done more to protest Bush’s torture bill. There are items on it in News, I pointed out. It’s also true that if you type ‘torture’ into B&W’s ‘Search’ you’ll get a lot of items, some of which are about FGM or ‘witchcraft’-related torture in Africa or India, but many of which are about Bush & co. Then there’s the fact that I only have two hands, as the saying goes, and I’m a bit pressed for time right now, and there are a lot of subjects to cover. But having said all that, I have been wanting to mutter something (but have also felt inadequate to the task), or rather squawk something or bark something or howl something or yell in a cracked but deafening voice something. What can I say? That it’s a shameful spectacle, Bush going to Congress to lobby for a torture bill. But who doesn’t already know that?
See David Luban in Slate for adequate muttering.
The Nuremberg Principles, like the entire body of international humanitarian law, will now have no purchase in the war-crimes law of the United States. Who cares whether they were our idea in the first place? Principle VI of the Nuremberg seven defines war crimes as “violations of the laws or customs of war, which include, but are not limited to…ill-treatment of prisoners of war.” Forget “customs of war” – that sounds like customary international law, which has no place in our courts anymore. Forget “ill-treatment” – it’s too vague. Take this one: Principle II, “The fact that internal law does not impose a penalty for an act which constitutes a crime under international law does not relieve the person who committed the act from responsibility under international law.” Section 8(a)(2) sneers at responsibility under international law.
The Bush administration started sneering at international law almost as soon as it took office. I suppose that’s one reason its reported 90% approval rating right after September 11 has always surprised me. So it goes.