Marjorie Cohn, professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, president-elect of the National Lawyers Guild, and the U.S. representative to the executive committee of the American Association of Jurists, hits on a topicI discussed a bit last week:
Congress enacted the War Crimes Act in 1996. That act defines violations of Geneva’s Common Article 3 as war crimes. Those convicted face life imprisonment or even the death penalty if the victim dies.
The President is undoubtedly familiar with the doctrine of command responsibility, where commanders, all the way up the chain of command to the commander in chief, can be held liable for war crimes their inferiors commit if the commander knew or should have known they might be committed and did nothing to stop or prevent them.
Bush defensively denied that the United States engages in torture and foreswore authorizing it. But it has been well-documented that policies set at the highest levels of our government have resulted in the torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of U.S. prisoners in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantnamo.