Olbermann had a good round up on Countdown last night. Tony Snow seems to think that Colin Powell is just a little bit confused over Article 3. He might have been used in the run up to the war, but I think he understands this issue quite well. The rest of the gaggle was just as perplexed. Olbermann also talks about Bush's new approach to Osama--Just "fuggetabouthim" and threw in a little IAEA to boot. Michael Stickings writes about the IAEA: Yes, it looks "like prewar Iraq all over again," in the words of one former nuclear inspector.
Q Does that not invite other countries to do the same, to have other interpretations of Article III?
MR. SNOW: What it allows every country to do is to have an interpretation. Our European allies don't have an interpretation.
Q And your critics say that's bad for U.S. troops if you allow those kinds of interpretations.
MR. SNOW: No, I think just the opposite. As a matter of fact, the five guys who are Judge Advocates General right now say we need it. The people who interpret the law, the people who serve as the chief legal officers within the Pentagon themselves say we need it. ..
Q Tony, I'm confused. Everybody I talked to today on the Hill says, look, you've had the Geneva Conventions in place since 1947. This isn't the Migratory Birds Treaty we're talking about. This is the Geneva Conventions.
MR. SNOW: Right.
Q And it's a very simple argument. We don't want to talk about the definition of amend or change, but that it stands on its own as written, hasn't been tinkered with since 1947, doesn't need to be tinkered with now. So if that seems to be the position from a former JAG and a former POW and a former Secretary of the Navy, where's the room to work anything out?
MR. SNOW: Well, I think there is. For instance, in 1987, we didn't know what the Genocide Convention said, so we passed a law to deal with it.
Q Not the Geneva Conventions.
MR. SNOW: It appears. Yes, the Geneva Convention.
Q But not Article -- it has nothing with this specific article --
MR. SNOW: Well, that's because Common Article III had never been construed as applying to any conflict in which the United States had ever been a party. And furthermore, it has not been construed as applying to conflicts for the most part that afflicted any of our allies, to which they've been a party. It is something that they had never had to think about, and for which there was not a substantial and settled body of law that would define what the terms mean. And this is a key point. Nobody has defined in law what the terms mean. And we think it's important not only that we define what the terms mean, but that our -- the people who are working for us, either as soldiers in the field, or those who are doing the questioning for the CIA, they have to know that it passes constitutional muster, and it is defined and approved as abiding by our international treaty obligations.
The reason nobody talked about this from 1948 is, it hadn't come up. And there are times -- you'll be surprised to know --
Q There's been a lot of wars.
MR. SNOW: But, you know what, Helen, it didn't apply to most of those wars. It didn't apply to most of those wars which is why people have not asked the questions.
Q This seems -- hang on a second -- this seems to be --
MR. SNOW: Well, and let me just make the point here, the predicate of your question was, it had been sitting around and everybody knew what the meaning was, and the fact is, nobody knew what the meaning was.
Until John Yoo and Alberto Gonzales came along, nobody had ever dusted off the Geneva Convention's rules and actually read them.
That is a dazzling statement.
Here is the 'contested' Article III