Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Pentagon Wants to Move Away From Geneva Convention

The gloves are off, folks. According to the Los Angeles Times:

The Pentagon has decided to omit from new detainee policies a key tenet of the Geneva Convention that explicitly bans "humiliating and degrading treatment," according to knowledgeable military officials, a step that would mark a further, potentially permanent, shift away from strict adherence to international human rights standards.

It has become quite clear over the last few years that universally accepted sets of rules are not favored by the current administration and they would rather do without than have safeguards in appropriate places.

When the Washington Post reported secret prisons run by the CIA in East European countries, President Bush categorically denied allegations of torture. Ironically, his administration vehemently opposed the McCain amendment, which specifically sought to ban torture and cruel treatment of all detainees under US custody. The measure put forward by McCain eventually became the law, but Mr. Bush issued a "signing statement" quietly declaring his right to bypass the law if he sees fit.

Now, as reported by the Times, the new guidelines violate the McCain measure.

Give it to Mr. Bush, he's consistent.

The fallacy is elsewhere. The abuses at Abu Ghraib, which were recently described by Mr. Bush as the "biggest mistake," are now going to be the norm. Let's clap.

The Los Angeles Times report further points out the potential problems the administration might face:
But the exclusion of the Geneva provisions may make it more difficult for the administration to portray such incidents (Abu Ghraib) as aberrations. And it undercuts contentions that U.S. forces follow the strictest, most broadly accepted standards when fighting wars.

Again, give it to Mr. Bush. He's oblivious to the consequences. And, of course, there's no face to save either.

Thankfully, not everyone is buying into the arguments of the Pentagon, and the final version is delayed due to concerns raised by the State Department:
However, the State Department fiercely opposes the military's decision to exclude Geneva Convention protections and has been pushing for the Pentagon and White House to reconsider, the Defense Department officials acknowledged.

And several lawmakers who are not happy either:
But objections from several senators on other Field Manual issues forced a delay. The senators objected to provisions allowing harsher interrogation techniques for those considered unlawful combatants, such as suspected terrorists, as opposed to traditional prisoners of war.

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