11 May 2004

Abu Ghraib and the Geneva Conventions

This morning, I listened to the Senate hearings on the Abu Ghraib prisoner scandal. In much of the dialogue, the Geneva Conventions were brought up. At one point, one senator even quoted two key sections from the convention. In actual fact, even the authorized methods of interrogation used by the US military are in violation of the conventions. At any rate, the Fourth Geneva Convention clearly condemns the Iraqi attrocities. Consider Article 3, for example:

Article 3
In the case of armed conflict not of an international character occurring in the territory of one of the High Contracting Parties, each party to the conflict shall be bound to apply, as a minimum, the following provisions:

1. Persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms and those placed hors de combat by sickness, wounds, detention, or any other cause, shall in all circumstances be treated humanely, without any adverse distinction founded on race, colour, religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth, or any other similar criteria.

To this end the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above-mentioned persons:

(a) Violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture;

(b) Taking of hostages;

(c) Outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment;

(d) The passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.

During the hearing this morning, there were a number of sentators of the right-wing, fascist persuasion who spent most of their allotted time praising the the US military, referring to the incidents that occurred as minor abberations. Evidently, we are supposed to simply trust the military, wherever it is, to always do the "American" thing (whatever the hell that is).

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