Monday, October 25, 2004

In his new book, Washington Crossing, historian David G. Fischer says :
" Humane treatment of prisoners was literally invented by George Washington on the battlefield in late 1776."
Washington had watched through a spyglass, when the British had slaughtered his captured troops, after the Battle of New York in November , 1776. This was military tradition; it was the right of field commanders to do so.
However ,in December when Washington’s troops had captured several hundred Hessian mercenaries, he resolved , to the Hessians gratified amazement, to treat them humanely, and imprison them in barracks.
In the more than two hundred years of our history, the rights of prisoners taken in battle have been firmly established in our military law and by treaties with other responsible nations. Our treaties become part of our body of law, with as much force as the Constitution. They are not ‘foreign documents’, someone else’s laws.
Why should the U.S.A. sign treaties to protect war prisoners and "foreigners"? Because nations have found that international agreements like these are the best way to protect our own soldiers in case of their capture. It did not work in the case of John McCain’s capture by the Vietcong, when they caged him for several years. They were not participants in those treaties. We saw their treatment of our soldiers as inhuman and barbaric.
Underlying these international treaties is another innovative American idea, taken from our Constitution, that …all men are endowed by the Creator with certain inalienable rights, inalienable apparently meaning that not even George W. Bush has the right to take them away.
However, the President and his crew have presumed the right to do just that. What arrogance!
That includes, according to him, the right to take away that most sacred thing for Americans, born or naturalized, U.S.A. citizenship. Now they torture and lock up people in cages without trial, including American citizens, a thing we once thought only uncivilized brutes did. This is not easy to accomplish; it involves a series of lies and end runs on the Constitution, and flagrant breaking of laws he and his cronies pledged to uphold.
Fidel Castro is still laughing about their explanation that Guantanamo is sovereign territory of Cuba and therefore American law does not apply there.
Compare the two Georges: George Washington set humane precedents that were new in their time and now have become models for the rest of the world.
Our George W., the person who , when asked said , "I don’t have to explain; I’m the President " , not only presumes the right to erase two hundred years of democracy and liberty- his favorite words-, but even to decide whether you and I are human, and consequently qualify for rights for which the "bad people " envy us and therefore attack us.Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

G. Joseph Moody, 1321 N. Paseo Maravilloso, Green Valley, AZ 85614
(520) 648-0346 < gjmoody90@juno.com >
BIO; The author is a retired education and arts professor from the University of Northern Colorado. He is a WWII veteran from the Pacific theatre., He is currently first Vice-chair of the local Democratic Club of the Santa Rita Area.


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