Calling Bush a War Criminal is often denounced as a bit of rhetorical excess from the loony left. But a sober look at the recent Supreme Court case reveals that it might be a rather pedestrian and obvious conclusion. Rosa Brooks has an op-ed in the LA Times
(which unlike a certain other “Times” doesn’t charge people to read its columnists on the web) showing how straightforward it is (HT: Taylor Marsh
But the real blockbuster in the Hamdan decision is the court's holding that Common Article 3 of the Geneva Convention applies to the conflict with Al Qaeda — a holding that makes high-ranking Bush administration officials potentially subject to prosecution under the federal War Crimes Act.
And then later, she connects the dots to US Federal criminal law:
But here's where the rubber really hits the road. Under federal criminal law, anyone who "commits a war crime … shall be fined … or imprisoned for life or any term of years, or both, and if death results to the victim, shall also be subject to the penalty of death." And a war crime is defined as "any conduct … which constitutes a violation of Common Article 3 of the international conventions signed at Geneva." In other words, with the Hamdan decision, U.S. officials found to be responsible for subjecting war on terror detainees to torture, cruel treatment or other "outrages upon personal dignity" could face prison or even the death penalty.
Of course, she doesn’t expect anyone to be frog-marched tomorrow:
Don't expect that to happen anytime soon, of course. For prosecutions to occur, some federal prosecutor would have to issue an indictment. And in the Justice Department of Atty. Gen. Alberto Gonzales — who famously called the Geneva Convention "quaint" — a genuine investigation into administration violations of the War Crimes Act just ain't gonna happen.