That all depends on who in the Administration you talk to, on what day, and which country holds them at the time. In Guantanamo, Geneva doesn’t apply (at least according to Rummy) because the prisoners are not prisoners of war, but enemy combatants and therefore not covered by the Conventions. Oh, and the prisoners are denied provisons of U.S. justice (like legal counsel and habeus corpus) because Guantanamo is supposedly not U.S. territory and therby not under the jurisdiction of U.S. courts. Got all that?
As for Iraq, Geneva DOES apply (well, sort of). Here’s what Rummy said to the Senate Appropriations Committee in defending the interrogation techniques used in Iraq:
“Any instructions that have been issued or anything that’s been authorized by the department was checked by the lawyers in your shop, in the department, in the office of the secretary of defense, and deemed to be consistent with the Geneva Conventions,” Mr. Rumsfeld said.
But Richard Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, countered, “I don’t believe what you have issued is consistent with the Geneva Convention.” (Lawmakers View Images From Iraq)
In support of Sen. Durbin’s view, the Times notes that
The Geneva Conventions prohibit “violence to life and person, in particular . . . cruel treatment and torture” and “outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment.” (Harsh C.I.A. Methods Cited in Top Qaeda Interrogations)
So how in heaven’s name can Rummy claim, with a straight face no less, that they’re being consistent with Geneva? The very idea is patently ridiculous and each new sordid detail emerging from this scandal screams the falseness of his claim.
The above Times article details the shell game the Bush Administration is playing with terror suspects. In case we here in the U.S. are too squeamish to allow the really good torture techniques that supposedly produce the really good information, Rummy and Ashcroft ship these guys off to really nice countries like Syria for “special treatment.” Syrian interrogators don’t have any problems unleashing the full panoply of torture techniques (remember Hafaz al Assad, the Butcher of Hama?) on their suspects; and the Syrians are eager to curry favor with the U.S. So we just send ’em a few of our terrorists for a workover (or should I say extreme makeover?) . The beauty of this arrangement for the Bush Adminstration is that we can maintain a (bogus) claim that we adhere to the Conventions, while we allow the really ugly, harsh regimes of the world to do our dirty work for us. It’s about as repulsive as international politics can get.
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