Do y’all remember a year ago, when Sen. McCain (R-Arizona) sponsored a ban on torture by making the Army follow its own field manual? Well, some clever buggers have figured out how to get around that. They’re re-writing the field manual to remove Geneva.
O, happy day!
As the LA Times reports:
WASHINGTON — 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.
The decision could culminate a lengthy debate within the Defense Department but will not become final until the Pentagon makes new guidelines public, a step that has been delayed. 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.
The article goes on to say:
… the exclusion of the Geneva provisions may make it more difficult for the administration to portray such incidents [as Abu Ghraib and Haditha] as aberrations. And it undercuts contentions that U.S. forces follow the strictest, most broadly accepted standards when fighting wars.
“The rest of the world is completely convinced that we are busy torturing people,” said Oona A. Hathaway, an expert in international law at Yale Law School. “Whether that is true or not, the fact we keep refusing to provide these protections in our formal directives puts a lot of fuel on the fire.”
To call this short-sighted, un-American, morally repugnant, and just plain stupid, understates the stituation. Has anyone thought of the implications for our own captured troops in another war, in another place, ten or twenty years from now, if our foe of that moment decides to follow our own field manual?
The move to restore U.S. adherence to Article 3 [of the Geneva Conventions] was opposed by officials from Vice President Dick Cheney’s office and by the Pentagon’s intelligence arm, government sources said. David S. Addington, Cheney’s chief of staff, and Stephen A. Cambone, Defense undersecretary for intelligence, said it would restrict the United States’ ability to question detainees.
Well, yes. The purpose of Article 3 is to restrict the abilities of belligerants to question detainees. What did they think it was for?
This nonsense has been opposed by various (loyal, intelligent, patriotic) elements within the Pentagon. But those men and women of good will have concluded that it’s useless with Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld in charge:
The military lawyers, known as judge advocates general, or JAGs, have concluded that they will have to wait for a new administration before mounting another push to link Pentagon policy to the standards of Geneva.