Wednesday, July 04, 2007

the war crimes of george(s)

On this Fourth of July, Columbia history professor John Fabian Witt reminds us of one of the innovations from the Declaration of Independence -- the advancement that there should be laws that govern warfare. Thomas Jefferson's brilliant draft denounced the military of George III for piracy, for burning towns down, for taking hostages, and other unsavory acts. As Witt notes, that started an American tradition of codifying the laws of war, culminating in our leading role in the 20th century.

We weren't just being idealistic. We were conscious that laws of war would also protect American soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen.

It is these laws that de facto Attorney General Alberto Gonzales the Forgetful called "quaint." It is a sad thing that over 200 years after the founding fathers of our country denounced George III that George the Junior has shredded laws and traditions against torture and indefinite detention without trial.


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