Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Monday, June 05, 2006

Expunging Geneva

So here is the latest from the L.A. Times . The Pentagon wants to remove Geneva Convention prohibitions on prisoner humiliation from the basic guide to soldier conduct. So there is now a pitched battle between the Pentagon and the State Department. This is despite attempts by Congress to reform the Army Field Manuel so as to ensure that torture is banned and that all detainees are treated in a standardized manner. Furthermore, having conflicting standards in military doctrine will confuse soldiers and create loopholes that will make it either very difficult to punish those who cross the line, or very easy depending on which tact the JAG takes. That may well be the intent of the Pentagon. If you can't beat them one way, daze them with confusion and beat them another. But this is contrary to the very nature of the military.

1. It violates the solider-military contract in that it fails to properly protect the solider. You cannot ask men to go into battle and then fail to protect them with clear rules of conduct. Further more, it exposes our troops to poor treatment if they are captured.

2. It fails to protect against chaos. Unclear rules make for an anything goes "attitude" and we have already seen the results of this. Soldiers are practical people and they will be the first to tell you that they need clarity and cohesion from their leadership.

3. It degenerates any moral high ground (or what is left of it) that U.S. troops have traditionally maintained. US Soldiers carry copies of the Geneva Conventions in their helmets. That isn't to say that violations don't occur, but it does mean that troops knew what the Conventions said and that they made efforts to follow them. Everyone, including Arab countries have signed on to these conventions.

I understand that language like "humiliation" is broad and difficult to enforce. And I understand the Pentagon's concern since it takes little to offend Arabs. But this is weakness of the Convention that must be addressed with our UN partners, including Arab states, rather than throwing the baby out with the bath water.

Since everyone, including many Americans, are convinced that we are torturing people, this doesn't help.

1 comment:

Dr. Strangelove said...

Congress dicates that prisoners must be treated in conformance with the Army Field Manual... so the Pentagon just changes the manual. Brilliant.