Finding Loopholes in the Geneva Conventions

So where are all those lawyers finding their Geneva Convention loophole? Apparently it’s in Article 5 of Convention IV:

This section seems mostly designed to prevent captured members of an ongoing resistance from using their rights under the Geneva Conventions to continue to coordinate with and share intelligence with their comrades. If you read it generously, though, it’s carte blanche. If you can say with a straight face that it would be “prejudicial to the security” not to torture your “individual protected person… definitely suspected of or engaged in activities hostile to the security of the State” then, voila! — you’re free to haul out the thumbscrews. Just be sure to treat them “with humanity” (and we all know what humanity is like).

What a nice little loophole. It’s hard to imagine anyone you couldn’t throw to the wolves with this little clause if you just interpreted it this way. After all, you wouldn’t want to torture them in the first place if you didn’t suspect them of activities hostile to the security of your State.

Can you imagine the glee of the lawyers who found this? “Hey! It says here we have to treat our prisoners well unless we suspect them of being hostile to us!” There’s a place on our Supreme Court for brilliant legal minds like that. Because that’s what the Geneva Conventions are all about — protection for those prisoners of war you don’t suspect of being on the other team.

Wouldn’t it be awful if the Dubya Squad had the same sort of contempt for the laws that protect American citizens too?



The Washington Post backs up Seymour Hersh’s scoop, and adds some more details about the abuses at Abu Ghraib, including “a guard [who] attacked, beat and hung a handcuffed Iraqi by his wrists — dislocating his shoulders” — just like they used to do in Rush Limbaugh’s fraternity initiations.

Newsweek, too, independently uncovers much the same story.

And Hersh has responded (PDF) to the Pentagon’s non-denial denial.

Another good review of what has been discovered about officially sanctioned torture of American-held war prisoners (in Iraq and Gitmo, primarily) is found in this New York Review of Books story.

Meanwhile, “[a]n Afghan captive froze to death in a CIA-run lockup in Kabul in after he was doused with water and shackled overnight to a wall,” begins a Los Angeles Times article on the death of captives in U.S. custody.

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