NEW YORK - October 17 - The following is a statement by The Hon. Elizabeth Holtzman about President Bush signing the military tribunals bill into law today. The new law not only guts detainee protections of the War Crimes Act and Geneva Conventions, but perhaps most significantly and least well known, grants a stealth pardon for President Bush and high cabinet officials by quietly conferring on them immunity from prosecution for detainee abuse crimes like the ones committed at Abu Ghraib, retroactive to 9/11/01.
Holtzman is a former four-term Congresswoman from New York who served on the House Judiciary Committee during Nixon's impeachment. She co-authored the 1973 special prosecutor statute, and has co-written a new book (with Cynthia L. Cooper) analyzing illegal, unconstitutional and/or impeachable actions of the current administration, "The Impeachment of George W. Bush" ( http://www.impeachbushbook.com ). Her recent op-ed analyzing under the new military tribunals law grant of immunity to President Bush is posted here.
Statement by Elizabeth Holtzman on Granting Immunity to President Bush Under the Military Tribunals Law
"Today will go down in the annals of infamy. By signing the military tribunals bill into law, President Bush has taken this country down a long dark road of shame.
"The bill countenances abuse of detainees in defiance of the Geneva Conventions and the country's past moral values and it suspends habeas corpus in defiance of the constitution. As bad as these features is the bill's grant of a pardon to President Bush and his top Cabinet officials for any crimes they may have committed under the War Crimes Act of 1996.
"When a president violates the country's criminal laws and then gets a secret grant of immunity for those crimes, he makes a mockery of the rule of law. Then all lawlessness is permissible.
"This provision in the bill creates a culture of impunity for torture and abuse of detainees. It was slipped into the bill in secret, without hearings or debate. Most members of Congress, most reporters and most Americans have no idea that this has happened.
"By doing this the President has stuck a horrific blow at our basic democratic values and our constitutional system.
"Instead of pardoning himself with the complicity of Congress, the President should be making public what acts of prisoner abuse he authorized the CIA to undertake or what acts of theirs he ratified."