Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Obama "is technically and legally wrong"

Barack Obama should have gone into theater. His delivery is pitch perfect. His dramatic pauses, that somber mien, as he shovels out pile after pile of manure, is just awesome. As John Caruso said of his performance at the UN "if hypocrisy was fatal in large doses, Joe Biden would be president now. " The whole thing would be comical if only the consequences were not fatal for so many.

Obama's latest venture into drama was his breathless announcement of the "secret" Iranian nuclear facility. Iran had informed the IAEA about this "secret" facility and the IAEA had in turn informed the US. Those Iranians need to borrow Dick Cheney's man safe and learn how to do secret. Scott Ritter in the Guardian (h/t Finkelstein) has shredded any argument that what the Iranians did was, in Obamaspeak "breaking rules that all nations must follow":

The "rules" Iran is accused of breaking are not vague, but rather spelled out in clear terms. In accordance with Article 42 of Iran's Safeguards Agreement, and Code 3.1 of the General Part of the Subsidiary Arrangements (also known as the "additional protocol") to that agreement, Iran is obliged to inform the IAEA of any decision to construct a facility which would house operational centrifuges, and to provide preliminary design information about that facility, even if nuclear material had not been introduced. This would initiate a process of complementary access and design verification inspections by the IAEA.

This agreement was signed by Iran in December 2004. However, since the "additional protocol" has not been ratified by the Iranian parliament, and as such is not legally binding, Iran had viewed its implementation as being voluntary, and as such agreed to comply with these new measures as a confidence building measure more so than a mandated obligation.

In March 2007, Iran suspended the implementation of the modified text of Code 3.1 of the Subsidiary Arrangements General Part concerning the early provisions of design information. As such, Iran was reverting back to its legally-binding requirements of the original safeguards agreement, which did not require early declaration of nuclear-capable facilities prior to the introduction of nuclear material.

While this action is understandably vexing for the IAEA and those member states who are desirous of full transparency on the part of Iran, one cannot speak in absolute terms about Iran violating its obligations under the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. So when Obama announced that "Iran is breaking rules that all nations must follow", he is technically and legally wrong.
The media as well as the "liberal" interventionists who so fervently supported Obama are backing the Iran-is-the-new-evil theme with the same enthusiasm that their brethren the neocons (and the media of course) supported George W. Bush's many glorious adventures. Glenn Greenwald who seems increasingly isolated among the liberals tries to inject some sanity into the conversation

I think the number of his invitations to speak at "progressive" venues is about to take a nosedive.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Obama - A man of many words

we are committed to demonstrating that international law is not an empty promise; that obligations must be kept; and that treaties will be enforced.

Barack Obama the man of law

Article 1

1. For the purposes of this Convention, torture means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.
2. This article is without prejudice to any international instrument or national legislation which does or may contain provisions of wider application.

Article 2

1. Each State Party shall take effective legislative, administrative, judicial or other measures to prevent acts of torture in any territory under its jurisdiction.
2. No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat or war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.
3. An order from a superior officer or a public authority may not be invoked as a justification of torture.

Article 4

1. Each State Party shall ensure that all acts of torture are offences under its criminal law. The same shall apply to an attempt to commit torture and to an act by any person which constitutes complicity or participation in torture.
2. Each State Party shall make these offences punishable by appropriate penalties which take into account their grave nature.

The Convention Against Torture signed by the United State of America on 18th February 1984, ratified 21st October 1994.

In releasing these memos, it is our intention to assure those who carried out their duties relying in good faith upon legal advice from the Department of Justice that they will not be subject to prosecution.

Barack Obama on release of the torture memos.