The Global Citizen
I am not a lawyer and I didn't even sleep at a Holiday Inn Express last night, but how could President Bush threaten to veto a bill that would require U.S. intelligence agencies to follow Army rules adopted last year that explicitly forbid waterboarding? The bill, which passed the House of Representatives last night, would also require interrogators to adhere to a strict interpretation of the Geneva Conventions on the treatment of prisoners of war.
In the last week, I've had over ten meetings with Senate staffers on the Law of the Sea Convention (I hope this explains and excuses my recent absence from this blog). In every meeting -- without exception -- staffers have agreed that U.S. interests are served by ratification of the Convention. Yet, every single staffer also added that they are being bombarded by calls from right-wing activists who say that ratification would mean a loss of sovereignty for the U.S.
Details are still emerging from Algiers where two bombs left dozens killed in and around the local United Nations offices. The death toll will probably not be known for a number of days and the findings of the UN security team will likely take longer to determine.
The destruction brought back painful memories of past attacks on UN officials trying to complete important diplomatic tasks in dangerous parts of the world. In particular, few reading about the attack by Al-Qaeda in Islamic North Africa would have failed to reflect on its similarities to the Al-Qaeda attack on the UN Iraq offices in 2003. That attack claimed the life of Sergio Vieira de Mello and 22 others and robbed the world of a man capable of solving the Iraq crisis.
Some good news from Congress -- the Genocide Accountability Act has gone to the President for his signature. CGS supported the bill and we have been pushing for Congress to plug this, and similar gaps, for some time. Here is our statement:
"GlobalSolutions.org welcomes the passage of the Genocide Accountability Act by the U.S. House of Representatives. Senator Durbin, Representative Berman and the bipartisan supporters of this initiative should be applauded for their hard work. We urge President Bush to promptly sign this bill into law and to ensure that it is implemented effectively.
The United States must not be a safe haven for war criminals and to that end we strongly urge Congress to build on this action by plugging remaining gaps in U.S. criminal law to ensure that anyone who commits torture, war crimes or crimes against humanity can be prosecuted in U.S. courts. The U.S. must contribute to preventing and punishing the crime of genocide by ensuring jurisdiction over every scenario of an offender committing this crime."
While logistical and political roadblocks have slowed down efforts to deploy peacekeeping force to Darfur, support is growing for a new tool to address grave humanitarian crises a United Nations Emergency Peace Service (UNEPS). 54 organizations just sent a letter to members of Congress urging them to support H. Res. 213 , a resolution calling for the creation of UNEPS.
As envisioned, UNEPS would be a U.N. integrated mission capable of intervening in the early stages of civil conflicts, genocides or other humanitarian crises. Signatories to the letter include an array of NGOs representing the peace and conflict resolution community, think tanks, civil rights, faith-based and human rights organizations. Among the groups signing the letter are: Save Darfur, Refugees International, the Center for American Progress, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the Presbyterian Church, USA and Human Rights Watch. In the letter they say that:
First the good news - Republican Presidential Candidate Mike Huckabee came out and endorsed the position taken by Senator McCain on the use of water boarding:
'senator McCain on this issue is right that torture should not be the policy of the United States of America' Huckabee told reporters in Iowa.
As we have discussed on this blog, the country needs the next President to break from the pro-torture posture of the Bush Administration - it is good to see Huckabee join McCain in opposition to torture.
Now for the bad news - U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice plans to name Paul Wolfowitz, the former deputy defense secretary and an architect of the Iraq war, as chair of the International Security Advisory Board. This is a terrible idea and we have just come out and urged her to reconsider:
Senator Joe Biden is hungry. How do I know? He told me so in an e-mail today. In fact, he's so hungry he says he will "eat Rudy Giuliani alive." Here is part of the text of Sen. Biden's e-mail:
I can't wait to debate Rudy Giuliani.
Over the weekend, Rudy Giuliani attacked the Biden plan for a political solution in Iraq, "They're saying, 'We will divide the country.' (The Iraqi government) has to decide to divide the country. We're trying to create stability over there."
CGS is proud to support this important grassroots effort:
Join Samantha Power, Nick Kristof and John Prendergast: Host a 'sand and Sorrow' House Party Join thousands of activists and viewers across the country to watch the HBO premier of Sand and Sorrow , a powerful film about the tragic and ongoing genocide in Darfur, on Thursday, December 6 at 8:00 PM ET/PT. ENOUGH and Campus Progress have teamed up to coordinate and organize house parties across the U.S. to view and discuss the film together. Samantha Power, Nick Kristof and John Prendergast will host a conference call following the film. The chat will give you the opportunity to talk about the film and discover practical ways that you can make a difference to stop the genocide. Sign up for the call here , and learn how to host a house party here . Discussion questions are available here .
"Should the anticipated discussions fail to clear the path to the deployment of an effective force, the international community will be confronted with hard choices: do we move ahead with the deployment of a force that will not make a difference, that will not have the capability to defend itself, and that carries the risk of humiliation of the Security Council and the United Nations, and tragic failure for the people of Darfur." -- UN Under Secretary-General Jean-Marie Guehenno in remarks to the Security Council, November 28.
Only a few noticed, but Guehenno's report to the Security Council last week was far more challenging and confrontational than the average briefing from a UN official to member states, but these are not ordinary circumstances. First, according to Guehenno, Khartoum is threatening to renege on its promise:
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