THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION’S OBSESSION WITH ESCAPING from the norms of the Geneva Conventions seems bizarre to me.
One would think that lessons might have been learned by this point from America’s experiences at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. By ripping up this sacrosanct commitment that all nations have committed to — a commitment to treat all prisoners with a standard level of dignity, not subject to harm or torture — this administration is assuring that future American prisoners are subjected to the same treatment that we are extending others. Rather than being known as upholders of rule of law — America is becoming known around the world as the lawyers who find the loopholes in the law or who behave arrogantly beyond the reach of law.
Douglas Jehl writes in the New York Times:
A new legal opinion by the Bush administration has concluded for the first time that some non-Iraqi prisoners captured by American forces in Iraq are not entitled to the protections of the Geneva Conventions, administration officials said Monday.
The opinion, reached in recent months, establishes an important exception to public assertions by the Bush administration since March 2003 that the Geneva Conventions applied comprehensively to prisoners taken in the conflict in Iraq, the officials said.
They said the opinion would essentially allow the military and the C.I.A. to treat at least a small number of non-Iraqi prisoners captured in Iraq in the same way as members of Al Qaeda and the Taliban captured in Afghanistan, Pakistan or elsewhere, for whom the United States has maintained that the Geneva Conventions do not apply.
I am returning to the U.S. today from Geneva, the namesake of these important in-times-of-war commitments to humaneness and sanity.
I suspect that many other major nations in the world are preparing to distance themselves further from the United States.
They increasingly realize that Bush may not be an anomaly or accident and that their calculation of self-interest requires new bets on alternative alliances and the development of new competencies to constrain the power and behavior of the U.S. which Anatol Lieven has so aptly said was king of the hill and then “kicked down its own hill.”
— Steve Clemons