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Report from New York
By Bob Fertik, Democrats.com
Everyone please take a bow - because WE DID IT!
The Downing Street Minutes 3rd Anniversary events organized by Rep. John Conyers and AfterDowningStreet.org were an amazing, incredible success.
Reports from around the country are pouring in to AfterDowningStreet.org.
I had the privilege and thrill of hosting the New York City event featuring Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), former Rep. Liz Holtzman, and Randi Rhodes.
Much to my amazement, people started arriving two hours before the doors opened. By 1:30 the New York Society for Ethical Culture - which seats 820 - was filled to capacity, and we sadly had to turn several hundred more people away.
I was surprised to see so many people on a beautiful summer afternoon. So I began my remarks by thanking everyone for coming, and suggested that they probably had better ways to spend a lovely summer day. The reaction was immediate, loud, and clear:
That certainly wasn't what I expected. So I shook my head and said, "OK, then you've come to the right place!"
And from that moment on, there was electricity in the air.
In the coming days, I will blog on more of the details, especially the follow-up activities. But for now, let me share some terrific links:
Pacifica Radio audio archive, courtesy of Jon Almeleh
Nero Fiddled by Noah Diamond pried open his falling eyelids to watch as Liz Holtzman
stressed the importance of the little-discussed War Crimes Act of 1996, passed by Congress and signed into law by President Clinton. Seeking to adopt laws "for full compliance with...an international torture statute, and an international torture treaty, and the Geneva Conventions," Congress passed "a statute making it a U.S. crime to engage in torture." Two years later, the War Crimes Act was law. "Basically," Holtzman said, "it makes grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions a federal crime, just like kidnapping, or interstate burglary, or child pornography. It is a federal crime.
"And interestingly," she said with an ironic smile, "there's a death penalty."
[Helpful link to Title 18 > Part I > Chapter 118 > § 2441. War crimes.]
The War Crimes Act, Holtzman concluded, "means that if any high level official violates the War Crimes Act, and somebody died, they can be prosecuted...there is no statute of limitations." She said that in accordance with a declassified 2002 memo by Alberto Gonzales, the Bush administration chose to "opt out" of the War Crimes Act during the invasion of Afghanistan. However, they did not opt out prior to invading Iraq.
Read Noah's complete blog and keep an eye out for his upcoming show, Burning Bush: A Faith-Based Musical.