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A couple questions about the Geneva Conventions

1) How many times has the United States been in a war against a nation that actually pretended to abide by the Geneva Conventions? I want to say that only Nazi Germany actually gave a smidgen of effort in this direction, but I don't know about North Korea.

2) How would Amnesty International feel if the United States treated the Guantanamo detainees in the manner proscribed by United States and international law, and summarily executed them as illegal combatants?


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Comments (53)

Jay Tea... I am not exactly... (Below threshold)
Zsa Zsa:

Jay Tea... I am not exactly clear on the Geneva Convention rules and what constitutes a violation? When you think about how in World War II the Japanese were eating the livers of POW's! THAT is definately a violation!...When you think about Hitler and his genocidal atrocities...Again, that is a violation! When I think of a photograph of Saddam in his briefs that is just not a violation! Especially because of all the things he has done to wreak havoc on our world! Let alone his own people!

They don't give a toss abou... (Below threshold)

They don't give a toss about other nations' misdeeds, just the those of the US. Is it ok to question their patriotism yet?

(And I think the word you're looking for was prescribed, not proscribed...)

Re: #1: The Norks made no ... (Below threshold)
Russ:

Re: #1: The Norks made no pretense of following the Geneva Conventions, AFAIK. Prisoners were executed, the living ones mistreated and starved (the death rate of captured Americans was 40%, compared with 4% for Americans captured by the Germans in the previous war), and were unaccounted for during the war (there are still rumors of US POWs being held in the North) and so on. Plenty of info here.


Re: #2: I've been making that point for at least a year. Sort of.

Q) How many times has the U... (Below threshold)
Tony-man:

Q) How many times has the United States been in a war against a nation that actually pretended to abide by the Geneva Conventions? I want to say that only Nazi Germany actually gave a smidgen of effort in this direction, but I don't know about North Korea.

A) The number of times doesn't matter. If you want to WIN a war, both in fact, and in the hearts and minds of people, then you always MAINTAIN your moral highground. So it's irrelevent if the enemy abides by the conventions. The only thing that matters is that YOU abide by them to prove you are the better man. If you don't you're equal to, and no better than the lowlife disgusting criminal who is your enemy. You don't want or expect our police and justice system to flagrantly BREAK the law to enforce it, do you? The same logic applies.

Q) How would Amnesty International feel if the United States treated the Guantanamo detainees in the manner proscribed by United States and international law, and summarily executed them as illegal combatants?

A)FACTUALLY WRONG. You should have checked the Red Cross's website before you made that outrageous claim. International law states unoquivically- "It is forbidden to kill or wound an adversary who surrenders, or who can no longer take part in the fighting." Many of the detatainees surrendered, and ALL of them can no longer take part in fighting because thay are detained. Therefore, executing them breaks the law we swore a holy oath to abide by.

"Captured combatants and civilians who find themselves under the authority of the adverse party are entitled to respect for their life, their dignity, their personal rights and their political, religious and other convictions. They must be protected against all acts of violence or reprisal."

Source: http://www.redcross.lv/en/conventions.htm

Tony-man, you are somewhat ... (Below threshold)

Tony-man, you are somewhat confused. First, we do allow and expect law enforcement officers to break the law in the enforcement of it. How, to be trite, do you think the police catch speeders?

Second, you seem to be quoting international law in regards to prisoners of war, who are lawful combatants. People wearing no fixed sign, hiding among civilians and so forth are not covered by the Geneva Conventions. The traditional treatment for such was for them to be executed as spies.

I don't think that we should necessarily do this, but I do think that AI would not be happy if we did, even though we are perfectly within our legal rights to do so.

As to winning a war by maintaining the moral high ground, that is a luxury the US can afford. If we could not afford it - if fighting unjustly was necessary to win, and where we are not the aggressor (as in the GWOT) - I would not advocate it. But in this case, I think that we can afford to maintain the moral high ground and still win, and so we should do so.

However, it should be noted that the morally correct side is not always the victor. If you don't believe me, ask the Poles about WWII.

The Geneva Convention is a ... (Below threshold)
NOTR:

The Geneva Convention is a Western thing. The idea being that if "we do it" they will do it too. Take a look at the "War on Yankee Aggression" in the US if you want to see what happens when we don't operate under a codified system like the Geneva Convention. We get a mix of fuedal warfare code and Andersonville in the same period. No matter how tough it is, I don't think the American psyche would let us ever sink to the level of the Asian or Arabs... of course the left will soon point to the new Abu Ghraib pix of proof positive we already have...but will forget these people lived and still had all their body parts.

A1) ZeroA2) Who give... (Below threshold)
Yogurt:

A1) Zero
A2) Who gives a flying fork what AI thinks

Tony-man:Thank you... (Below threshold)
kevino:

Tony-man:

Thank you for posting the Red Cross. It is a good example of propaganda: long on their view of history and their interpretation of the law, and no real first-hand information. It is about a factual as the average commentary on PBS. For example, the sentence, "It is forbidden . . . " isn't in the Geneva Conventions of 1949 or the protocols of 1977. Those words come from the UN Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) summary of the law.

I also had to laugh at this one: "The ICRC, being the initiator and the guardian of international humanitarian law, is responsible for its development in order to be in step with warfare changes." That must come as quite a shock to the UN: they somehow think that they are responsible for the establishment and maintenance of international law.

----

The question is raised: "How many times has the United States been in a war against a nation that actually pretended to abide by the Geneva Conventions?"

My answer is that it is not relevant: we should abide by the terms, whether or not the other party agrees. Yes, it's more than a little naive, but it is essential to the establishment of international law: "Although one of the Powers in conflict may not be a party to the present Convention, the Powers who are parties thereto shall remain bound by it in their mutual relations. They shall furthermore be bound by the Convention in relation to the said Power, if the latter accepts and applies the provisions thereof." [Geneva Convention Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War (a.k.a. GC4), Article 2]

For those of you who don't know, GC4 Article 4 states:

A. Prisoners of war, in the sense of the present Convention, are persons belonging to one of the following categories, who have fallen into the power of the enemy:
1. Members of the armed forces of a Party to the conflict as well as members of militias or volunteer corps forming part of such armed forces.
2. Members of other militias and members of other volunteer corps, including those of organized resistance movements, belonging to a Party to the conflict and operating in or outside their own territory, even if this territory is occupied, provided that such militias or volunteer corps, including such organized resistance movements, fulfil the following conditions: (a) That of being commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates; (b) That of having a fixed distinctive sign recognizable at a distance; (c) That of carrying arms openly; (d) That of conducting their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war.

I see no evidence that Al Qaeda forces were ever incorporated into the armed forces of the Taliban. In fact, given the Taliban's repeated references to Al Qaeda as the Taliban's "guests" and given that Al Qaeda had their own command-and-control structure, the idea is silly. As for the other definition that would help them, as Jeff Medcalf correctly points out, Al Qaeda also doesn't fit the definition.

If you don't fit the definition of a prisoner of war and you don't fit the definition of a non-combatant, then the Geneva Conventions don't help you much. (You can't be tortured or mistreated before you're shot.) Are spies and enemy soldiers out of uniform shot? Yes, they are, but those definitions don't apply, and I don't think that we should shoot them. Keep the moral high ground.

One final point: "Should any doubt arise as to whether persons, having committed a belligerent act and having fallen into the hands of the enemy, belong to any of the categories enumerated in Article 4, such persons shall enjoy the protection of the present Convention until such time as their status has been determined by a competent tribunal." (GC4 Article 5)

This is being used to force hearings for these individuals. Is there really "any doubt" that these individuals "belong to any categories enumerated in Article 4"? I don't.

In my view: the current policy is about right.

As for Amnesty International, they are too busy sucking down the Cool-Aid to notice (1) that there are real human rights abuses in the world with real victims dying and (2) that they are becoming irrelevant. That's too bad. There is serious work to be done, but they're too fixated on politics to notice.

I am not confused Jeff. I s... (Below threshold)
Tony-man:

I am not confused Jeff. I said very specifically that you don't want a cop to BREAK the law to enforce it. As soon as a cop puts on his SIREN he is LEGALLY allowed to speed in pursuit of a crook. He's not breaking the law. You should ask any cop if he's breaking the law when he speeds in pursuit. His answer will be a flat "NO." If you think a cop is breaking the law under those circumstances then you're the one confused about what a cop breaking the law is. So I'll tell you what it is.

A cop breaking the law is using TORTURE to get a confession. It's a cop putting a gun to your daughter's head to force you to put your fingerprints on a murder weapon. It's planting a bloody knife under your pillow and cocaine in your car, then arresting you on suspicion of murder, and drug possession. That my friend, is breaking the law. And no, we don't permit police to BREAK the law to enforce it. This is a law & order nation, and not a police-state. Sorry if I come off testy...but I'm an American who believes in laws.

Now onto your second point:

If you checked the Red Cross site I asked you to check you'd see the Geneva Conventions appy to:

The First Convention - wounded and sick members of the armed forces in the field;
The Second Convention - wounded, sick, and shipwrecked members of the armed forces at sea as well as shipwreck victims;
The Third Convention - prisoners of war;
The Fourth Convention - civilians in times of war.

Since the vast majority the detainees we are talking about fall under the third and fourth conventions, they are included. According to Answers.com... what we call Unlawful Combatants (i.e. combative civilians without a uniform who we've detained in times of war). They are indeed protected from torture and execution without trial. As they should be, because the USA is against torture and maintains moral highground. (or at least we do in theory: The fact that we've sunk to the level where we now have to DEBATE whether we should detain, torture, and execute prisoners without trial, makes me wonder.)

But according to Answers.com, Quote: "Unlawful combatants may retain rights under the Fourth Geneva Convention in that they must be treated with humanity and, in case of trial, shall not be deprived of the rights of fair and regular trial".

http://www.answers.com/topic/unlawful-combatant

kevino...did you actually s... (Below threshold)
Tony-man:

kevino...did you actually say the RED CROSS has "no real first-hand information??"

Who else do you think is on the ground in war-zones picking up the pieces? George Bush?

Tony-man,In accord... (Below threshold)
Mark Flacy:

Tony-man,

In accordance with DOD regulations, all it takes is a 3 commisioned officer tribunal (one of which must be a Major or higher in rank) to determine POW status. The results of such tribunals are not subject to appeal. If you are found to be an illegal combatant, you can be executed immediately. That's been in the regulations since 1977.

Given the intent of the Geneva Conventions, that makes perfect sense.

Tony-man:Your link... (Below threshold)
kevino:

Tony-man:

Your link has lots of opinion on international law, but no primary sources, no actual quotes. It is their personal view.

Yes, the Red Cross is a fine organization with a long history of helping people in these conflicts, but as a source of information on this subject, their summary of the law is -- to put it kindly -- weak.

1.) Nowhere does this sugge... (Below threshold)
LJD:

1.) Nowhere does this suggest that we do as our enemies do. It merely offers some perspective for those so quick to point the finger. The fact that you see news stories surrounding punishment for those who violate the GC while in U.S. uniform is evidence that we do police ourselves, and have taken the moral "high ground".

2.) AI is full of shit. They clearly have a political agenda (as does the Red Cross). They should be looking at real atrocities overseas: Reference Rwanda and the NATO response (not the U.N.) Reference Serbian cleansing in Srebrenica, the offenders being brought to trial at the Hague, and the continued U.S. presence there. However, nowhere in #2 does it say these "combatants" or whatever would be put to death without a trial. I did not interpret "summarily" to mean without a speedy trial.

Tony-Man, I am distressed over your comments including the planting of evidence and torture. I hope they were points made for argument, and that you are not implying any such action on the part of our troops.

Look at the transcript from Rumsfeld's press conference two days ago. Many more reports by U.S. media claiming abuses by U.S. troops. Little elaboration showing that many of the allegations were made by detainees, and have been unsubstantiated. Little coverage on the extensive training received by U.S. troops, etc. Very few stories about atrocities by the enemy. Although media attempts to prove abuse to be an epidemic, statistically, it is quite nearly a non-issue.

I give you The Fourth Genev... (Below threshold)
frameone:

I give you The Fourth Geneva Convention covering, as noted above, the protection of citizens in a time of war:

Article 4

Persons protected by the Convention are those who, at a given moment and in any manner whatsoever, find themselves, in case of a conflict or occupation, in the hands of a Party to the conflict or Occupying Power of which they are not nationals.


http://hrw.org/backgrounder/usa/pow-bck.htm

If you are not in a uniform you are a civilian. Yes? The "in any manner whatsoever" pretty much covers the rest of it. Even if you are a civilian combatant picked up on the battelfield you are entitled to the protection of the Geneva Convention.

But what are you guys really arguing here? Did the US violate the Geneva Convention or does it even matter that the US violated the Geneva convention?

I wish you guys would stop beating around the bush/Bush and just say you approve of torture and summary execution. I mean really, where's the faith in your convictions?

Hello LJD: On 1) We're agre... (Below threshold)
Tony-man:

Hello LJD: On 1) We're agreed. People should not automatically presume any charge of prisoner abuse is automatically true! I wholeheartedly agree. But in the context of the Amnesty International report, it's just as bad to automatically presume without question the report has GOT to be false without further investigation. Especially since it was THIS administration who often cited Amnesty International Reports as if they were unempeachable gospel. They did so when such reports stated...for example that in October 2000, the Iraqi Government executed dozens of women accused of prostitution. That Saddam had torture rooms, and murder battalions, etc. When A.I, said such things I believed it.

So now, that's the problem the Administration put itself in. When it so vigorously cites A.I. as truthful, it looks bad if they claim A.I, is only truthful when they suit the Administration's goals. Because then the Administration have to try to claim that very same A.I. source they cited as credible are suddlenly not credible anymore. It makes it look like they want you to think A.I. only lacks credibility if they happen say something the Administration doesn't like. That's problematic.

2) AI is very strong on Rwanda. http://www.amnestyusa.org/countries/rwanda/index.do

I only mentioned the planting of evidence and torture as an illustration of what a cop breaking the law would be. It imples nothing else. Jeff falsely declared a cop speeding in pursuit of a criminal as a good example of a cop breaking the law. I strongly disagree.

The problem I have with Rumsfeld is he said: "Yes, there have been instances where detainees have been mistreated while in US custody, sometimes grievously." And THEN he also said the released detainees interviewed by A.I. "have been systematically trained to lie and to claim torture."

Well I have a problem with that because it isn't logical. Logic says to me if these men are actually BEING released from Gitmo for A.I. to interview, then they can't be terrorists trained to lie about being tortured. Either we're releasing lying terrorists, or we're releasing innocent men telling the truth about what happened to them in that place.

But it's not logical to claim that who we're releasing from prison is innocent men...who are trained to lie about torture.

BTW could one of you conspi... (Below threshold)
frameone:

BTW could one of you conspiracy addled dipshits tell me just what the "political agenda" of the International Committee of the Red Cross is?

How other countries act is ... (Below threshold)
Shannon:

How other countries act is not what is at question. The United States is supposed to be a beacon of civility. We are not an undeveloped country, though we act like one. Wake up people!! There are some people there, still, who don't know why they are there(Guantanamo). I know I sound crazy, but, the way this country is going, it could be you sitting in a prison somewhere, someday. It's fine to sit here and argue this point from a very comfortable place...but, what if it was you, or one of your family members? Wake up and smell yourself America...we stink to highest heaven!

"But it's not logical to cl... (Below threshold)
frameone:

"But it's not logical to claim that who we're releasing from prison is innocent men...who are trained to lie about torture."

Correction Tony-man, these men weren't trained to lie, they were trained to "disassemble."

Tony-Man: The ICRC's defini... (Below threshold)
DaveP.:

Tony-Man: The ICRC's definition of 'war crimes' is from their OWN creation, and NOT recognized by either the United States or supported by the Geneva Convention. Your attempt to claim that it covers the United States is directly equivalent to the standard Jihadi statement that it is God's will that all infidels (i.e. you) should be hanged. Private 'law' does not apply to nations. Go actually READ what international treaties we are signatories to, and what they say about 'partisans' before you venture to hold an opinion.

Shannon: Save yourself the price of noseplugs, darling.
LEAVE. Give up all of those smelly green paper folding things, too. I understand Saudi Arabia would welcome you in the style to which you deserve... and they agree with you on most issues, too.

frameone:RE: If yo... (Below threshold)
kevino:

frameone:

RE: If you are not in a uniform you are a civilian. Yes?
No: you're not a citizen if you are actively engaged in hostilities.

The protections in Article 4 are defined in Article 3: "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."

I also give you Article 5: "Where, in the territory of a Party to the conflict, the latter is satisfied that an individual protected person is definitely suspected of or engaged in activities hostile to the security of the State, such individual person shall not be entitled to claim such rights and privileges under the present Convention as would, if exercised in the favour of such individual person, be prejudicial to the security of such State."

"Where in occupied territory an individual protected person is detained as a spy or saboteur, or as a person under definite suspicion of activity hostile to the security of the Occupying Power, such person shall, in those cases where absolute military security so requires, be regarded as having forfeited rights of communication under the present Convention."

Your pointer to HRW is interesting. In particular, I found this: "No detainee can be without a legal status under the Conventions. According to the ICRC Commentary: 'Every person in enemy hands must have some status under international law: he is either a prisoner of war and, as such, covered by the Third Convention, a civilian covered by the Fourth Convention, [or] a member of the medical personnel of the armed forces who is covered by the First Convention. There is no intermediate status; nobody in enemy hands can fall outside the law.'"
Unfortunately, I don't agree with the commentary. The Geneva Conventions define certain groups of people and specifically defines their status. Combatants posing as civilians is clearly not defined here or anywhere else that I know of. Indeed, the references to spies and saboteurs clearly point to the idea that a combatant who is out of uniform is in a very bad position.

Does the administration hol... (Below threshold)
LJD:

Does the administration hold the responsibility to exonerate itself of alleged abuse, or does the accuser hold responsibility to provide proof? As a member of the military, who has served overseas and witnessed, first-hand, the results of a genocide campaign, I tend to err on the side of our troops. We see a lot of stories in the news about UCMJ proceedings. Our violators are not getting away with anything. The Terrorists condone and even romanticize the beheading of a westerner.

I absolutely believe the Terrorists have been trained to lie. Very likely the whole Koran story originated with a DETAINEE flusing his own Koran in protest. They don't even know why there being held- right. Thank the liberal news media for that fat line of bullshit.

We cannot assume that just because a detainee was released that they are not terrorists. It is pressure from groups like AI, the Red Cross, the ACLU and others that forces some detainees to be released for lack of evidence. Not surprisingly, many of those same detainees are returned to GITMO for their subsequent participation in acts of terror.

On your comparison of picking and choosing AI complaints from GITMO and Iraq: The terrorists have everything to gain; in fact it is their ultimate goal to discredit and harm the U.S. What motive could Iraqis possibly have to make up stories against Saddam? Surely such complaints were made at risk of great peril to oneself and family.

My take on the political agenda is that these typically left-leaning organizations (i.e. Red Cross, AI, ACLU, etc.) are inundated with people like Shannon, who loathe the U.S. and want us to fail, for all the good we do in the world. Some believe any one who puts on a uniform is a trigger-happy redneck. They take the word of the terrorist over that of our troops.

They are so disillusioned by the last election, and without any valid complaint for whatever is lacking in their own lives, sling the shit at our great country and administration. They have no concept of survivial. No concept of how good we have it in this country. No concept of all the good we do in the world. No concept of the evil, terrible deeds perpetrated in the world, more often than not opposed solely by the U.S. They have no pride in all of the tax dollars that go to help these people. I suppose they feel that if we just went around hugging all of the Terrorists, they would look beyond their Jihad and suddenly decide to be friendly.

Rest assured, our friends in GITMO have it far better than whatever shithole they crawled out of. Three meals a day, access to health care, hygiene, allowances made for religious preference, etc. Somehow, the left in our country still wants to grant constitutional protections to them. Why stop there! Lets make them citizens! Send the to Graduate school for nuclear chemistry! Teach them how to fly planes!

No prisoner is in GITMO without reason. Frankly, I don't give a rats ass about any of them. But, I do think we have a lot to gain by treating them properly. I also think that is exactly how they're getting treated. A friend of mine, who is now in Iraq, just returned from a tour at GITMO. He was really bothered by the news stories. Congrats to those undermining our great country. Interesting how some of you know so much more about something than those who are there.

You people are deluding you... (Below threshold)
cro:

You people are deluding yourselves with this beacon of civility crap. If it came down to brass tacks Americans can fight dirtier better than anyone, anywhere, anytime. We just haven't had to. But you're a fool if you think that if our nation was invaded we wouldn't be killing women, children and anyone down range. All one need do is look at history.

The veneer of humanity is thin. We take a nuke in a major city and you will see that veneer ripped away from most Americans. Those of you that will wonder whether we brought it on ourselves are *ussies in the first place.

Christ, in L.A. we shoot at each other as a damn hobby! Americans are the last people on earth you want pissed at you.

Good Post Kevino and there ... (Below threshold)
cancon:

Good Post Kevino and there is something else even I forget sometimes.

The Taliban themselves were not recognized as the sovereign government of Afghanistan, not by the United Nations - the Northern Alliance in fact were recognized as the sovereign government of Afghanistan, and in fact only three countries recognized the Taliban as legit, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Iran and I think the Iranians may have regretted that since the Taliban in one of their Shia massacres killed off a few Iranian diplomats in the fun, almost setting off a war then.

So I would argue technically that the Taliban army itself were unlawful combattants, they certainly didn't wear uniforms per se however I believe the American military did decide to treat most of the Taliban prisoners differently than the Al Queda prisoners, rather kind of them I think.

Good Post Kevino and there ... (Below threshold)
cancon:

Good Post Kevino and there is something else even I forget sometimes.

The Taliban themselves were not recognized as the sovereign government of Afghanistan, not by the United Nations - the Northern Alliance in fact were recognized as the sovereign government of Afghanistan, they provided the Afghan Ambassador to the UN, and in fact only three countries recognized the Taliban as legit, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Iran and I think the Iranians may have regretted that since the Taliban in one of their many Shia massacres killed off a few Iranian diplomats in the fun, almost setting off a war then.

So I would argue technically that the Taliban army itself were unlawful combattants, they certainly didn't wear uniforms per se however I believe the American military did decide to treat most of the Taliban prisoners differently than the Al Queda prisoners, rather kind of them I think.

LJD:RE: "Rest assu... (Below threshold)
kevino:

LJD:

RE: "Rest assured, our friends in GITMO have it far better than whatever shithole they crawled out of."
And better than where they are probably going.

A POW cannot be put on trial for engaging in combat. If these guys are not POWs but were captured while actively engaged in combat, then we can ship them back to Afghanistan or Iraq to stand trial for treason or other illegal activities. They can sit in a jail over there and look back on GITMO the way you and I would look back on a vacation. And they can look forward to a speedy show trial by an government anxious to celibrate their victory, punish the losers, and send a message to anyone planning a future civil war.

Let's add that the Geneva C... (Below threshold)
cancon:

Let's add that the Geneva Convention was of course drafted at a time when the scenarios of today's guerilla warfare, especially suicidal Islamist style, could not be imagined nor foreseen.

There is a move afoot by some to either update the Geneva Convention or come to some kind of "Terrorist Convention". If any update or new conventions were reasonable and didn't hamstring countries from defending themselves, as in let the Americans draft LOL otherwise it will be 1000 pages long etc, it would certainly be preferable to have a concise playbook so then we wouldn't have to hear the AI hypocrites whine, though, gosh darn, you know the anti American types will always find something to whine about the US whilst millions sit in real gulags in China and North Korea. But never mind, US bad, China is "misunderstood"?

I do admit that one of my favourite quotes is that the difference between a freedom fighter and a terrorist is victory. But I digress.

apologies for double postin... (Below threshold)
cancon:

apologies for double posting, getting conflicting messages here when I tried to post the first time

"Does the administration ho... (Below threshold)
Just Me:

"Does the administration hold the responsibility to exonerate itself of alleged abuse, or does the accuser hold responsibility to provide proof?"

This I think is a good question. ONe issue I have with AI and the media is that they seem to take an allegation and turn it into the truth, and in some cases over spin it (sorry, but while I think Koran descration is wrong and our soldiers shouldn't do it, I don't think it is tortur or anythiung close to torture).

AI didn't point out that there were prisoners at Gitmo who thought their treatment was fine and fair. They also didn't actually investigate it-and didn't mention that they were "allegations."

Add to that the fact that the US does at least try to hold soldiers who harm POW's or other detainees accountable through the court system.

frameone, I'm really, reall... (Below threshold)
Cousin Dave:

frameone, I'm really, really getting tired of your name-calling. You have never been able to back up any of your claims here, even after I offered you money if you could. You think is that all you have to do is call anyone who disagrees with you a "dipshit" and that somehow proves your vastly superior mentality. You, quite frankly, are a boring broken record.

Kevin, it's time to give this guy the boot.

Shannon... I do not stink. ... (Below threshold)
Cousin Dave:

Shannon... I do not stink. Speak for yourself. Don't presume to speak for me.

cancon:RE: The leg... (Below threshold)
kevino:

cancon:

RE: The legitimate government of Afghanistan: the Northern Alliance
You are, of course, entirely correct.

As the war in Afghanistan was just starting (long before the war in Iraq) I was in England. As the only Yank, I was frequently asked to defend US policies. (Translation: I was attacked.)

At one gathering at a very nice place for dinner, a group of liberals asked me if I could possibly defend the illegal invasion of Afghanistan by America, surely the greatest assault to international law in modern history.
I replied, "We didn't invade Afghanistan. We have been invited by the Northern Alliance, the recognized government of Afghanistan, to assist them in putting down a civil war and restoring order."
"WHAT!?"
"Yes, the Northern Alliance is the government of Afghanistan -- not the Taliban, and we are assisting them."
[long silence with people looking at each other]
Finally, one person said, "That's a very legalistic approach -- assuming it's true."
"Oh, it's quite true. Go to www.un.org and see for yourself. As for 'legalistic', well, if we're going to discuss violations of international law, then it's best to start with what the law actually says," I replied.
And that was the end of that.

After dinner, I believe a couple of players retired to the study to get on the internet and research the subject. I don't think they were pleased with the results.

Tony-man: At least some of ... (Below threshold)
Cousin Dave:

Tony-man: At least some of the detainees released from Gitmo were in fact lying terrorists. We know this because we had to capture them again after they were released the first time. You can fairly ask the question: if they were lying terrorists, then why did we release them? And that would be a good question. I'm not sure I understand the answer myself.

"You have never been able t... (Below threshold)
frameone:

"You have never been able to back up any of your claims here, even after I offered you money if you could."

Money? You offered me money? When and for what? I'll bite. And as for the name calling, oh please. Plenty of people here have called me an "asshole" and worse. I can take it without whining.

As to Kevino's argument about Article 5 I have to ask, "Kevino, why did you leave out the third and final paragraph of the article?":

"In each case, such persons shall nevertheless be treated with humanity, and in case of trial, shall not be deprived of the rights of fair and regular trial prescribed by the present Convention. They shall also be granted the full rights and privileges of a protected person under the present Convention at the earliest date consistent with the security of the State or Occupying Power, as the case may be."

It is this paragraph that assures no person, civilian or "unlawful combatant" (a term that does not exist in the Conventions), can exist in a legal limbo, without rights, in perpetuity. So the ICRC assessment of the Conventions is not mere commentary" it is based on the language of the Convention.

So let's recap. According to Article 5 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, even if you are "suspected of or engaged in activities hostile to the security of the State," or you are "detained as a spy or saboteur" ... "in each case, such persons shall nevertheless be treated with humanity."

That clearly has not happened.

Kevino, just tell me and everyone else here why why you failed to cite the third paragraph of Article 5?

http://www.unhchr.ch/html/menu3/b/92.htm

And for bonus points, can anyone here tell me why, in the ACLU suit to have all the photographic evidence of torture at Abu Gahrib and elsehwere released, the US government argued in court that turning over visual evidence of abuse would violate the United States's obligations under the Geneva Conventions?

I thought the detainees weren't covered under the conventions.

"Let's add that the Geneva ... (Below threshold)
frameone:

"Let's add that the Geneva Convention was of course drafted at a time when the scenarios of today's guerilla warfare, especially suicidal Islamist style, could not be imagined nor foreseen."

Cancon, tell that to the French Resistance and the dozens of other underground resistance movements who hindered the Nazi war machine with sabatoge, assassinations and, in some cases, direct armed confrontation.

One could argue that the language of Article 5 (all three paragraphs, Kevino) deals precisely with this experience, attempting to negotiate between the demands of the State and the recognition that there can be such things as legitimate resistance movements that might resist an occupation. Which cuts to the heart of the argument here: We should be very careful about changing or ignoring the Geneva Conventions. They work both ways.

frameonere: ICRC</... (Below threshold)

frameone

re: ICRC

A so-called international "humanitarian" group would have admitted Magen David Adom long ago.

'nuf said

I recall watching a History... (Below threshold)

I recall watching a History Channel program about the German "Werewolves" a post WWII "insurgency"

one clip of film from the era remains with me... that of a line of American soldiers, marching down an embankment and then facing a wall... a young man in slacks and a white shirt is lead down and tied to a post between the soldiers and the wall, where upon the soldiers raise their rifles and shoot him dead.

The narrator tells us the man was a 17 y/o member of the werewolves.

Was there any question then that we were acting within our rights??

Funny thing, I just went looking at the History Channel site and found that TODAY they are broadcasting a show on the werewolves.

Darleen -- The Fou... (Below threshold)
frameone:

Darleen --

The Fourth Geneva Convention (see all THREE paragraphs of article 5) weren't adopted until August 1949. If the execution you cite took place after that, then, well, ya, there would be some question as to whether the soldiers were acting in within their rights. Indeed, the 4th Conventions were written to curtail just such incidents.

But why cite the History Channel Darleen? Just come out and say it. You support torture and summary execution.

As to the ICRC and MDA. People of goodwill work together to sort out differences and to find compromises in a complex world. They don't carelessly through around quotation marks (ala "humanitarian" in reference to the International Red Cross, for crying out loud) and then huff, "nuff said."

http://www.icrc.org/web/eng/siteeng0.nsf/iwpList74/C0E42770148ABB7FC1256E2E003C6777

"The agreement signed between the ICRC and the MDA in June 2003 marked an important step in deepening cooperation between the two organizations, which had been working together closely for some time before that. In 2004, this agreement culminated in the signing on 9 June of a 2-year Cooperation Framework agreement and a one-year extension to the project agreements on Movement Integration, Law and Fundamental Principles, Emergency Medical Services/Disaster Preparedness Management and Restoring Family Links as per ICRC standard critieria. The total value of the cooperation budget for 2004 amounted to 2.2 million USD.

The ICRC will continue to develop this partnership in 2005."

http://www.icrc.org/web/eng/siteeng0.nsf/iwpList74/C0E42770148ABB7FC1256E2E003C6777

Doesn't Geneva have some re... (Below threshold)
Wendigo:

Doesn't Geneva have some restrictions on summary executions, as well as on torture and other mistreatment?

As I recall, the Fourth Conventions gave protected status to some civilians and guerilla fighters as well.

Rather heavy-handed to sign it, thereby restricting all other signatories to treat our soldiers with respect, then to play shell games with who we apply it to ourselves.

It's for our protection as much as everyone else's.

Or do we like seeing Americans beheaded? Is there ANY doubt where that mistreatment of American hostages comees from?

frameoneI don't an... (Below threshold)

frameone

I don't anymore support torture than I do rape.

But an infidel touching a koran is as much "torture" as a dirty joke is "rape."

I don't go in for the semantic gamesmanship that "Gulag" Khan and the ICRC who refuses to give equal status to the MDA as it does the Red Crescent (and also refuses to investigate the incidents of Red Crescent ambulances used to spirit Islamist terrorists/arms around).

Please don't try the game with me. Just as I'm old enough to remember when quarters and dimes were really silver, so I remember what the words "rape" and "torture" really mean.

Is there ANY doubt where... (Below threshold)

Is there ANY doubt where that mistreatment of American hostages comees from?

Nope, no doubt on my part.

It comes from the Koran.

Darleen --Who's be... (Below threshold)
frameone:

Darleen --

Who's been talking about Koran abuse here? 26 prisoners have died in American custody in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2002 in what Army and Navy investigators have concluded or suspect were acts of criminal homicide. Now that might sound low to you might isn't one act of homicide too much? Doesn't 26 cases across two countries suggest something is wrong?

What about the cases of prisoners being hung from chains? Threatened by guard dogs? Beaten, sodomized and forced to wear dog leashes? I'd be more than happy to put all this off on a few bad apples (which so many here seem to do) but incidents or torture and abuse have turned at every detention center the US runs. We also know that our Attorney General argued that the Geneva Conventions do not apply to certain detainees.

So we have evidence that more than simple book abuse has occurred and to focus solely on the Koran story is an attempt to avoid everything we know about what happened at Abu Ghraib and is starting to come out about Cuba.

Anyway, why am I supposed to believe that you don't support torture or summary executions after you approvingly cite a story of summary execution from WWII?

I remember when I could be proud that no one could even ACCUSE my country of torture, the idea was so preposterous.

"Is there ANY doubt where t... (Below threshold)
joe:

"Is there ANY doubt where that mistreatment of American hostages comees from?"

It comes from our enemies. The last ones who came anywhere close to treating our guys fairly was the Nazis, amazingly enough--and they occasionally indulged in summary execution when they got tired of escape attempts (attempts to escape are allowed and accounted for by the Geneva Conventions, by the way). The Japanese were brutal, the North Koreans and Chinese were mind-bendingly cruel, the North Vietnamese liked beating people up, and the Iraqis in Gulf War One did too.

It is interesting that the ICRC, which is supposed to be anonymous, was anonyous through the horrors of past wars inflicted on Americans, but only now publicly condemns one single nation. You guessed it: us.

frameone, lots of bad stuff... (Below threshold)
joe:

frameone, lots of bad stuff happens in fighting on both sides. It would be interesting to see how modern-day reporting would look on past events:
----------
"Americans were shocked by reports that five SS soldiers were summarily executed as the US Army invaded (or as they put it, 'liberated') the German relocation camp of Dachau.

"'I just don't understand how we can look at ourselves in the mirror," activist Courtney Oblivious said, sadly watching TV. 'I mean, I know that Dachau looks bad and all, but those Germans deserved every consideration as humans. Now, we're just horrific imperialists trying to impose our political ideas on the German people.'

"Further reports that some camp guards were turned loose, defenseless, amongst the camp inmates, to be torn apart by the enraged prisoners, drew further condemnation.

"'How dare America claim to be the beacon of liberty in the world!' Amnesty International spokesperson Preston Blamebush. 'doing that to those defenseless guards? Those Americans are no better than the people who set up Dachau in the first place! In fact, they're worse!'"

These comment discussions s... (Below threshold)

These comment discussions seem to take on a life of their own. The answer to the first question of our blog host is-- zero. Everyone we've fought since May 1945 haven't been as good to our soldiers captured in war as the NAZIs were. This is not to praise the NAZIs (lefty scum) but to tarnish our enemies in the past 60 years by a negative comparison with a recognized evil. The answer to the second question is--they wouldn't like it.

frameone:Sorry for... (Below threshold)
kevino:

frameone:

Sorry for the delay, but time is short...

So let's recap. According to Article 5 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, even if you are "suspected of or engaged in activities hostile to the security of the State," or you are "detained as a spy or saboteur" ... "in each case, such persons shall nevertheless be treated with humanity."

That clearly has not happened.

RE: Kevino, just tell me and everyone else here why why you failed to cite the third paragraph of Article 5?
I actually had it in my editor, but I deleted it because my replies are too long as it is. With certain specific exceptions, these people are being treated humanely. Those resposible for inproper treatment are being prosecuted. And if you carefully read what I wrote early, you will find that I support that policy. If they are returned to Afghanistan or Iraq to stand trial, they will not be treated nearly as well.

And by the way, if they are being held humanely, found guilty of illegal combat (e.g. firing upon the Northern Alliance or its allies) by an appropriate legal body, they can be humanely executed under international law. Some think that turning them over to the Afghan government or executing them is not humane treatment, but I think that it is legal under the law.

RE: And for bonus points, can anyone here tell me why, in the ACLU suit to have all the photographic evidence of torture at Abu Gahrib and elsehwere released, the US government argued in court that turning over visual evidence of abuse would violate the United States's obligations under the Geneva Conventions?
ANSWER: Because releasing photographs of any prisoners is against international law.

RE: I thought the detainees weren't covered under the conventions.
The issue is whether or not they are POWs. In my view, they are not. If they are not POWs, they do not have the special status of POW and the protection from prosecution for combat.

One correction: My previous... (Below threshold)
kevino:

One correction: My previous reply has an over-simplification. I said that "the issue is whether or not they are POWs." There is another issue: the ICRC and others are contending that if these men aren't POWs then they are citizens and therefore "protected persons" that cannot be held at all. I believe that that idea is false. Their active participation in the conflict means that they do not meet the standard of citizen, either.

Kevino: Oh my god...yes of ... (Below threshold)
Tony-man:

Kevino: Oh my god...yes of COURSE even a so-called 'Unlawful Combatant' is a civilian.

Kevino, what are you trying to say? Are you saying that from your Point of View, IF THE USA WERE INVADED BY AN ENEMY ARMY IN UNIFORM, then I, AS A CIVILIAN, HAVE NO RIGHT TO TAKE UP ARMS AND DEFEND MY COUNTRY? AND IF I DO DEFEND MY COUNTRY AND GET CAPTURED IN THE PROCESS, ARE YOU SAYING YOU WOULD WANT AND EXPECT THAT ENEMY ARMY TO TORTURE AND KILL ME UPON CAPTURE BECAUSE THEY WOULD HAVE THE LEGAL RIGHT TO DO SO??

Because that's what it sounds like your saying.
To me, the notion is bizarre...I think a civilian who takes up arms against an invading army is within his human rights to protect his home.

And I suppose if some Canadians, or Mexicans came over to assist an occupied USA, I could not fault them. They'd be very shrewd. They'd know they were fighting for a good cause, because a foothold in the USA might mean it's only a matter of time before Canada and Mexico were invaded.

To suggest that such fighters should not be covered by the Geneva Conventions against torture and execution makes NO SENSE! It just doesn't.

I am an American with STANDARDS, not double-standards, therefore if I expect fighting American, Canadian and Mexican civilians captured by an uniformed army invading the USA should be covered by Geneva Conventions,....then so too should an Iraqi, or other Mid-east fighter doing the same on his own land or his neighbor's land.

PS: (To Roger) NAZI's are not Leftists. NAZIS are what's known as an extreme of the far-right. The marriage of unregulated capitalist business interests with a powerful one-party centralized government. SOURCE: The Government Of Greater Germany, by James K. Pollack, copyright 1938, 1940, D. Van Nostrand Company, Inc.

Kevino, what are you saying... (Below threshold)
Tony-man:

Kevino, what are you saying? "their active participation in the conflict means they do not meet the standard of citizen?"

That's nuts...are you saying IF A UNIFORMED ARMY INVADED THE USA, THEN I, AS AN UN-UNIFORMED CIVILIAN, HAVE NO RIGHT TO TAKE UP ARMS AND DEFEND MY COUNTRY? BUT IF I DO, AND I GET CAPTURED, THE INVADING ARMY DOES HAVE THE LEGAL RIGHT TO TORTURE ME AND EXECUTE ME!?

Because that's what it SOUNDS like you are saying and it's nuts. Sorry, but it just is.

I am an American with STANDARDS, not double-standards. If an invading armyy came over to the USA, I believe I AM within my human rights to take up arms and defend my family, property, and country. To suggest otherwise is offensive. Likewise if any Canadian, or Mexican civilians wanted to come over here and help in the fight, they'd be good neighbors. And shrewd too. They'd know by coming to the USA and fighting against invaders, their on our front-lines to protect their own nations against further invasion into their countries.

If I expect...and DEMAND...such American, Canadian, and Mexican civilian combatants to be covered under the Geneva Conventions...so too must any civilian Iraqi or other mid-east civilian combatant fighting on their own land. We are, after all, the uniformed invader on THEIR land, so how do I impose my double-standard on civilian men fighting on their own land or their neighbor's land? ESPECIALLY WHEN I AM A CIVILIAN WHO'D BE CLASSIFED AS AN 'UNLAWFUL COMBATANT' ON MY LAND IN THE SAME SITUATION. Maybe YOU would think it's illegal for you as a civilian to fight an invader on USA soil but, would I engage in armed conflict against an invader of the USA? In a hot second, Kevino! In a hot second. And I demand the Geneva Conventions do, and SHOULD, apply to me.

(Side note to Roger): NAZIS are not 'leftists.' They are an extreme of the far-right. The NAZI party was the marriage of unregulated capitalist buisness interests with one-party centralized governement. SOURCE: The Government Of Greater Germany, by James K. Pollack. Copyright 1938, 1940, D. Van Nostrand Co. Inc.


Tony-man, I agree with a lo... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

Tony-man, I agree with a lot of what you said. But not everywhere.

Yes, if the United States were invaded, I would be more than willing to take up arms to fight the invaders. But if I do so without putting on a uniform and abiding by the other obligations of the Geneva Convention, I would be hypocritical to then demand to be treated as a "legal combatant." It's part and parcel of the whole deal -- if you want the Convention's protections, you have to abide by its conditions. I would, indeed, be an illegal combatant -- and could fully expect to be treated as such.

But as I pointed out, it's been a long time since the United States has fought a nation that actually even pretended to abide by the GC. Further, there is no threat now or in the immediate future that could threaten an invasion of the US, so your whole situation is wildly hypothetical.

Secondly, I've always believed that Nazi Germany embodied the worst of both the Left and the Right, and was not the exclusive property of either. But if you want to foist Hitler off on the Right, will you take Stalin? He killed a hell of a lot more than Hitler; Hitler was just more efficient about it.

J.

Tony-man:It may so... (Below threshold)
kevino:

Tony-man:

It may sound "nuts" to you, but that is what the law says. The GC defines certain groups of people with certain status, and the example that you describe falls outside of the definition.

Jay Tea has it exactly right: if you choose to fight for your country, then you join the armed forces as a member of the militia and abide by the rules of war. If you do not, then you are engaging in combat. That is a violent act. It is a criminal act. Soldiers as POWs cannot be prosecuted for engaging in combat. If you are an active participant and not a POW, then you are in big trouble.

You don't believe me? Read what the GC3 says. It is filled with exceptions for people who take an active part. Article 15: "Civilian persons who take no part in hostilities, ..." Article 19: "The protection to which civilian hospitals are entitled shall not cease unless they are used to commit, outside their humanitarian duties, acts harmful to the enemy." And the others that I already quoted.

It's the law. You may not like it, but that's the definition that we have.

"I actually had it in my ed... (Below threshold)
frameone:

"I actually had it in my editor, but I deleted it because my replies are too long as it is."

Um, but by not including it your reply was way off the mark. The paragraph you left out (and, really, that's the weakest excuse I've ever heard for shoddy research or poorly executed spin) clearly asserts that every combatant on the field has rights, the most supreme rights being humane treatment and due process. We've held detainees for almost three years without trial or charges, essentially in a legal limbo. Article 5 of the fourth Convention clearly asserts that, while states have the right to ensure their security, they must grant detainees "their full rights and privileges of a protected person under the present Convention at the earliest date consistent with the security of the State or Occupying Power." And remember, these are saboteurs and
irregular combatants being referred to. Everyone has to be given protected status and due process at the "earliest date" consistent with security.

Now you could argue that granting these people their due process rights puts our security at risk. Fine. But I have to ask you, if guaranteeing fair trials for prisoners places our nation at risk there's a bigger problem in our detention facilities than I thought.

At any rate, during that time that the state is weighing its security needs, the detainees must be treated humanely. They may not be POWs but they still have basic rights, indeed the most basic rights as noted above in the Conventions themselves. Fighting outside a regular army is a crime but it doesn't place you outside the law. You must betreated humanely, charged with a crime, fairly tried and convicted according to the penal laws of the occupied territory.

Jay's original post suggests that America has the right to summarily execute detainees but hasn't exercised that right. Accoridngly, the detainess ought to just feel damn lucky and shut their yaps, along with AI and other human rights groups. Again, he couldn't be more wrong.

I want to reiterate that nowhere do the words "unlawful combatant" or "illegal combatant" appear in the Conventions. These are terms cooked up by those who would skirt the intention of the Conventions, namely, that no one on the field of battle, be they regular army or armed civilian, falls outside the protection of the law. On this count, I believe Rumsfeld and Alberto Gonzalez have some explaining to do and I would like them to do it under oath to an independent investigating committee.

Yes, the US is investigating cases of abuse, handing down charges including criminal homicide in some cases, and giving soldiers their due process. But why do you think investigations should stop there? We need a full and thorough independent investigation to clean house, if necessary, to show the world that we really don't tolerate torture and abuse and that we beleive in abide by international law.

No doubt a state is legally allowed to execute prisoners but they must give those prisoners their due process rights. Summary executions are not allowed, at all. They simply aren't. Agains, fighting outside a regular army is a crime but it doesn't place you outside the law.

Let me cite that paragraph again for you:

"In each case, such persons shall nevertheless be treated with humanity, and in case of trial, shall not be deprived of the rights of fair and regular trial prescribed by the present Convention. They shall also be granted the full rights and privileges of a protected person under the present Convention at the earliest date consistent with the security of the State or Occupying Power, as the case may be."

RE: Um, but by not includin... (Below threshold)
kevino:

RE: Um, but by not including it your reply was way off the mark.
No it isn't. My reply pointed to the fact that the special status is not due them and to show that the ICRC's statement that if you're not a POW you must be a citizen (or, more precisely, a protected person). And I can blow both ideas out of the water.

RE: Humane treatment and due process
And if you reread what I wrote you will see that I have supported humane treatment. By the way, your due process argument is better supported by the GC on POWs. Just remember that the due process they are entitled to is not the same due process as a defendent in an American court.

RE: "I want to reiterate that nowhere do the words "unlawful combatant" or "illegal combatant" appear in the Conventions.
True, but it is also true that their status is unclear. Assuming that they are active participants, they are not POWs and they don't get the protected person status.

RE: "These are terms cooked up by those who would skirt the intention of the Conventions, namely, that no one on the field of battle, be they regular army or armed civilian, falls outside the protection of the law."
No, it comes from the QUIRIN decision by the US Supreme Court: "...the law of war draws a distinction between the armed forces and the peaceful populations of belligerent nations and also between those who are lawful and unlawful combatants. Lawful combatants are subject to capture and detention as prisoners of war by opposing military forces. Unlawful combatants are likewise subject to capture and detention, but in addition they are subject to trial and punishment by military tribunals for acts which render their belligerency unlawful."
As far as I know that is still valid case law.
Besides, the term "unlawful combatant" is accurate.

On the topic of breaking th... (Below threshold)
Ceej:

On the topic of breaking the law. People above used the speeding example and said when an officer turns on his siren he can exceed the speed limit. He does. They also pursue without lights or sirens at times.
They also shoot and kill suspects. This is not legal. Police are not legally allowed to shoot you. They face a legal decision in which case they get a justifiable homicide. I don't think that is the same as making it legal to kill.




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