Monday, October 02, 2006

Pass it along.

From Making Light. Feel free to pass it along, with attribution and a linkback to the original souce.



Posted by Jim Macdonald at 12:05 AM * 10-2-06

You are not required to obey an unlawful order.

You are required to disobey an unlawful order.

You swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

The Constitution states (Article VI):

This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.

Here is article 3, the common article, to the Geneva Conventions, a duly ratified treaty made under the authority of the United States:

Article 3

In the case of armed conflict not of an international character occurring in the territory of one of the High Contracting Parties, each party to the conflict shall be bound to apply, as a minimum, the following provisions:

1. Persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms and those placed hors de combat by sickness, wounds, detention, or any other cause, shall in all circumstances be treated humanely, without any adverse distinction founded on race, colour, religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth, or any other similar criteria.

To this end the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above-mentioned persons:

(a) Violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture;

(b) Taking of hostages;

(c) Outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment;

(d) The passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.

2. The wounded and sick shall be collected and cared for.

An impartial humanitarian body, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross, may offer its services to the Parties to the conflict.

The Parties to the conflict should further endeavour to bring into force, by means of special agreements, all or part of the other provisions of the present Convention.

The application of the preceding provisions shall not affect the legal status of the Parties to the conflict.

Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions is straightforward and clear. Under Article VI of the Constitution, it forms part of the supreme law of the land.

You personally will be held responsible for all of your actions, in all countries, at all times and places, for the rest of your life. “I was only following orders” is not a defense.

What all this is leading to:

If you are ordered to violate Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, it is your duty to disobey that order. No “clarification,” whether passed by Congress or signed by the president, relieves you of that duty.

If you are ordered to violate Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, this is what to do:

1. Request that your superior put the order in writing.

2. If your superior puts the order in writing, inform your superior that you intend to disobey that order.

3. Request trial by courtmartial.

You will almost certainly face disciplinary action, harassment of various kinds, loss of pay, loss of liberty, discomfort and indignity. America relies on you and your courage to face those challenges.

We, the people, need you to support and defend the Constitution. I am certain that your honor and patriotism are equal to the task.

This post may be quoted in full. A linkback would be appreciated.



Anonymous said...

I wonder if it's possible to pass legislation requiring every serviceman and woman to have a copy of said code of conduct on his or her person at all times. Actually, what if it were a UN mandate? Can you imagine the expression on our President's face should it be introduced? Smiling at the dream.

Good evening, Mac. Beautifully stated by J M. Bird of Prey

Jeff Draper said...

*resist... resist...*

*cannot resist*

The only thing that's not clear in Common Article 3 is what exactly constitutes 'humiliating and degrading treatment.' That's what the clarification is needed for. (Besides, we outsource our torture so no US military personnel would really have to worry.)

You do bring up a good point; I am not bound to follow unlawful orders. Since I spent my activation stateside and never had to face this situation, I haven't thought too much about what I'd really do. Next time we have our annual Law of War class I'll have to bring this up.

Something I'm not sure of is how this applies to the CIA. The Uniform Code of Military Justice specifically says we are not to follow unlawful orders but I don't think the CIA is bound by that.

*rechecks commment, seems balanced, hits send*

Jeff Draper said...

Oh, I just thought of this. Has Amnesty International or some other group estimated how many times the US has actually tortured someone? Are we talking hundreds of instances or just one or two (or any.)

Jeff Draper said...

Just read the Article again, closely. It refers to those not taking part in hostilities. Doesn't that mean that terrorists caught on the battlefield are fair game?

Mac said...

Combatants picked up on the battlefield are covered under different articles, I'm pretty sure, Scriptorias. I can double-check that.

Now that it's out that the US does in fact have secret overseas prisons, and the documented abuses at Gitmo and elsewhere--it seems like a worthwile discussion, for sure.

You were very balanced. :) I've a number of good friends on active duty, and a number more who are in the Reserves--it's an issue concerneing a lot of 'em.

JM, good to see you here. :)

Anonymous said...

It's about time it's been publicly confirmed regarding the CIA torture prisons. There's been plenty of speculation for years.

It's sad when we have to decide/clarify terms of torture. Makes you wonder how we got here. Gives you pause about us finding our way back.

Mac, I too have friends in the military. A couple are in Afghanistan, now. They're the ones I feel for--that any of them would be forced to choose, would be horrible. I hope they never find themselves in that situation. If they do,I believe they would follow their heart.

Feels good to be here, Mac :)

Anonymous said...

Thirty years ago, in the aftermath of Vietnam, I never would have believed that our government would one day be openly defending the use of torture – only for the right reasons, of course.

Anonymous said...

I have to worry - I can't imagine the incredible peer pressure young (and often ill educated) elistees face in the chaos of a war zone, in hostile territory, under life threatening circumstances. I only hope my son is strong in his convictions. I just cringe when I imagine how dangerous it could be for him.

Of COURSE I oppose torture and support a soldier's right to refuse an illegal order. It just gives me nightmares when I put my son's name in place of "soldier" anytime we start talking about these things. I can't imagine what it's going to be like for him.

rich said...

On this submect, this may be of interest:

Mac said...

Hiya, guys--just got back from Viable Paradise, and I'm catching up on stuff.

Nice to see all of you. :)