Powell and Geneva


Here's Jonah Goldberg on Colin Powell:

I'm willing to give the benefit of the doubt that Powell is saying what he believes in that letter to McCain. But that doesn't disprove the theory that he's getting involved because he wants to sanctify himself amidst the Armitage-Plame controversy.

How generous of Jonah to remain so open-minded. It may have slipped his mind that Colin Powell's objection to abandoning Geneva dates from very early in 2002. Money quote:

When Powell read the Gonzales memo, he "hit the roof," says a State source. Desperately seeking to change Bush's mind, Powell fired off his own blistering response the next day, Jan. 26, and sought an immediate meeting with the president. The proposed anti-Geneva Convention declaration, he warned, "will reverse over a century of U.S. policy and practice" and have "a high cost in terms of negative international reaction." Powell won a partial victory: On Feb. 7, 2002, the White House announced that the United States would indeed apply the Geneva Conventions to the Afghan war — but that Taliban and Qaeda detainees would still not be afforded prisoner-of-war status. The White House's halfway retreat was, in the eyes of State Department lawyers, a "hollow" victory for Powell that did not fundamentally change the administration's position. It also set the stage for the new interrogation procedures ungoverned by international law.

If you want to download the memo from Powell defending Geneva, you can here. It's prescient and inspiring. It shows that Bush was warned what all this would mean and went ahead anyway. He authorized torture deliberately with full awareness of what he was doing, and has subsequently adopted Clintonisms to talk about it. Powell, a man who actually served in the military and won a war, tried to stop this nightmare at the very beginning. And now his motives are being questioned?

(Photo: Alex Wong/Getty.)