Friday, March 11, 2005

When Is A War Crime Not A War Crime? 

The government has gotten quite facile in sidestepping accusations of war crimes lately...and why not? They've had plenty of opportunity for practice. From the Afghanistan massacre to Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay, they've been up to their eyeballs in deniablity.

When our daughter was going through her most obnoxious phase, we caught her smoking, and when we confronted her she tossed the cigarette onto the street and flatly denied having one, even though she knew that we saw it. This kind of brazen, give-a-shit lying is what Bushco does best, as Alberto Gonzales and Scott McClellan continue to prove almost daily.

But occasionally they get a little help from the other two branches of the dying tree of democracy. Yesterday, thanks to US District Court Judge Jack Weinstein, we now know that the deliberate application of deadly poisons like Agent Orange to vast swaths of a nation's countryside is not a war crime, no matter how many millions of soldiers and civilians it cripples, maims and kills, and no matter that the VA recognizes the 50 or so diseases caused by it, including numerous varied cancers and birth defects ("some babies were born without eyes or arms, or were missing internal organs"), and no matter that Vietnam vets successfully petitioned for recompense for exposure after the effects became so overwhelmingly obvious even the White House was having a hard time ignoring it.

In a decision that took him less than a month and a half to make, Weinstein ruled against millions of Vietnamese suffering from exposure to the dioxins in Agent Orange who brought suit against Monsanto, Hercules, and Dow. He said (no doubt blithely):
"No treaty or agreement, express or implied, of the United States, operated to make use of herbicides in Vietnam a violation of the laws of war or any other form of international law until at the earliest April of 1975."
No one ever actually mentioned Agent Orange, so it's not covered, got that? Which should give a shot of inspiration to the folks at DARPA to come up with plenty of new horrors to use in the future, none of which will have ever been named as prohibited.

corrente SBL - New Location
~ Since April 2010 ~

~ Since 2003 ~

The Washington Chestnut
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