Saturday, April 05, 2008

Two on the SOFA, and Why A Treaty Isn’t a Treaty

The USA – Iraq “bilateral agreement” that is currently being hashed out, being touted as a “Cooperation Agreement” or a “Declaration of Principles” isn’t a treaty, according to the Bush Regime. According to Condoleeza Rice, the Bush Regime’s current incarnation of Joseph Goebbels, this agreement is more like a SOFA or “status of forces agreement,” which, according to Rice, does not require the consent of congress.

As a treaty does.

This issue comes up again as news has broken that the Blackwater group, an international security (that is, mercenary) services group will have its contract renewed. Recall that Blackwater is responsible for the reckless killing of Iraqi citizens earlier this year, an execution for whose compensation was recently, and angrily refused by surviving family members.

The Iraqis hate Blackwater. Blackwater mercenaries were used as “security consultants” in Iraq since early on in the war, and made the news last year when they fired on and killed 17 innocent Iraqis in Baghdad.

The immunity that they enjoy from any prosecution or any other consequences of their murderous acts particularly rankle Iraqi government officials. They have incurred enough Iraqi hostility that, upon hearing the news that the Blackwater contract was being renewed, Iraqi advisor to Prime Minister al-Maliki, Sami al-Askari, said this:

“This is bad news. I personally am not happy with this, especially because they have committed acts of aggression, killed Iraqis and this has not been resolved yet positively for families of victims.”

Hasn’t been, and won’t be, I might add, because the families of the victims are too outraged to accept compensation for the deaths of their loved ones.

Another al-Maliki advisor observed, and this is where all of this ties together, that “the contract would be temporary since the current U.N. mandate under which the United States operates in Iraq will expire at the end of the year, to be replaced by a bilateral agreement now being negotiated” (from CNN).

It is clear, then, that the Iraqi government wants to include in this bilateral agreement, a provision that would bring an end to Blackwater operations inside their border.

Now this, I want to point out, looks like a negotiation about what they call an “authority to fight”. An authority to fight is something that is negotiated in treaties, not SOFAs. And there is nothing in this that has anything to do with self-defense. The Baghdad killings were not about self-defense, were they? This according to R. Chuck Mason of the Congressional Review Service:

“While SOFAs do not generally provide authority to fight, the inherent right of self-defense is not impacted or diminished either. U.S. personnel always have a right to defend themselves, if attacked and/or threatened, and a SOFA does not take away that right.”

In his research, Mason reviewed 70 SOFAs and found none of them included an “authority to fight”.

Clearly, what is currently being negotiated between Iraq and the United States government, through the Bush Regime, is a treaty. A treaty that must be ratified by congress before it can be enforced

Clearly, what this is, is an attempt by the Bush Regime to circumvent the will of the people one more time. But this time I think they have gone too far. Entering into an international agreement without the consent of the American people is tantamount to treason.

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