June 17, 2004

Once Again, the Bush Administration Is Worse Than I Had Imagined

Once again the Bush Administration is worse than I had imagined, even though I thought I had already taken account of the fact that the Bush administration is invariably worse than I can imagine. Now we have the Secretary of Defense directing that the U.S. military violate the Geneva Convention not so that we can "effectively" interrogate a dangerous terrorist and senior officer of Ansar al-Islam, but so that we can fail to interrogate a dangerous terrorist and senior officer of Ansar al-Islam.

This is a truly astonishing blend of immorality, criminality, and incompetence:

Michael Froomkin writes:

Discourse.net: The Disappeared: Today’s bombshell is in the New York Times, Prison Abuse: Rumsfeld Issued an Order to Hide Detainee in Iraq.

Let’s count the shockers (we can still be shocked, can’t we?) and estimate the fallout.

Shockers:

1. Rumsfeld (at the CIA’s request—we’ll get to that), ordered what seems at least a technical war crime: putting a confirmed POW in solitary and hiding him from the Red Cross.

2. It’s not a unique case; there is/was a class of “ghost detainees”—disappeared people. This from a country that (with some justice) tied itself up in knots over the fate of its own POWs and MIAs in Vietnam.

3. In addition to being immoral (we knew that), our leaders are not just partially (we knew that) but totally incompetent: having put this guy on ice because he was too important to expose to the Red Cross and so desperately needed to be softened up, the system forgot all about him:

Seven months later, however, the detainee - a reputed senior officer of Ansar al-Islam, a group the United States has linked to Al Qaeda and blames for some attacks in Iraq - is still languishing at the prison but has only been questioned once while in detention, in what government officials acknowledged was an extraordinary lapse.

“Once he was placed in military custody, people lost track of him,” a senior intelligence official conceded Wednesday night. “The normal review processes that would keep track of him didn’t.”

The detainee was described by the official as someone “who was actively planning operations specifically targeting U.S. forces and interests both inside and outside of Iraq.”

But once he was placed into custody at Camp Cropper, where about 100 detainees deemed to have the highest intelligence value are held, he received only one cursory arrival interrogation from military officers and was never again questioned by any other military or intelligence officers, according to Pentagon and intelligence officials.

Things we know already, and that this incident reminds us:

4. Abu Ghraib may be the tip of an iceberg. There are a lot of other military prisons to worry about both in and out of Iraq. One is Camp Cropper, at or near the Baghdad Airport.

5. Even worse is a network of secret CIA prisons in various undisclosed locations, run by people who take the view that none of the rules apply to them. We have no idea how many of these prisons exist, how many prisoners they hold or have held, what the casualty rate is, and whether it’s a one-way trip or if people are ever released from them.

Fallout

I. You would think that Rumsfeld would have to resign unless somehow they can make Tenet the fall guy for this. But I am dubious. Yes, this is much more direct and personal authorization — a real smoking gun — than what has come out so far in the torture cases, although there’s serious circumstantial evidence accumulating there too. On the other hand, while putting ‘ghost’ detainees in secret solitary is illegal, and technically a war crime, the effect on the detainees not nearly as horrible as what seems to have happened at Abu Ghraib.

II. People like me, who have been highly dubious about the US acceding to the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court due to the real and troubling encroachment on our traditional conception of national sovereignty are really going to have to think long and hard about changing sides on this one, or at least accepting jurisdiction with regards to some of our treaty obligations. The last few months argue strongly that the US cannot always be relied on to observe its international law obligations as much as I would have thought and hoped.

III. At some point some of this stuff has to stick to Rumsfeld’s boss. Are we there yet?

Posted by DeLong at June 17, 2004 08:51 AM | TrackBack | | Other weblogs commenting on this post
Comments

I was trying to get ahead of the "worse than I imagined" curve, and this is what it would take to shock me: a memo showing that the war really was about oil, or at the orders of Prince Bandar, or something; canceling the elections; jailing Kerry on trumped-up charges. At this point I expect that the highest levels of the administration will turn out to be guilty of war crimes, and their incompetence is already established fact.

Posted by: Walt Pohl on June 17, 2004 09:05 AM

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While shock and dismay about the administration's actions grow among many (reaching EVEN the NYTimes, now and then), I find myself more horrified by its defenders. There is a mindset out there which facilitated Bush's elevation to the presidency, which has facilitated everything from Plame to Abu Ghraib to the Patriot Act to.... you name it.

This is more than "I voted for him, I'll defend him to the death." Let's count the Bush supporters who no longer support him and keep an eye on those numbers. Let's ask ourselves why we've heard so little from the Dems. That's what worries me. A lot.

Posted by: Bean on June 17, 2004 09:23 AM

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I'd be satisfied at this point if it sticks to Rumsfeld enough that he gets the sack.

Posted by: Andrew Boucher on June 17, 2004 09:34 AM

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...of course since Dubya has all those memos announcing that, like a king, he can do whatever he damn well pleases during wartime, my guess is he will find an excuse to cancel the election. And there will, of course, be enough boobs to go along with him.

Posted by: Susan Paxton on June 17, 2004 09:53 AM

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What I can't fathom is how the congress can just sit around while war crimes are committed. If I read the Geneva Conventions correctly (IANAL obviously), knowing about war crimes and doing nothing is also considered a war crime. I suppose that might be one reason why Ashcroft has refused to release the torture memos--that would tell the congress too much, and they'd be legally compelled, rather than just morally obligated like they are now, to act.

Posted by: Peter MacLeod on June 17, 2004 10:04 AM

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When the Administration decided to ask for another $25B for Iraq a month or so ago, I posted on Kos that as a condition of authorizing the money, the Dems ought to demand a full accounting of the overseas prison network - Gitmo, Iraq, Afghanistan, other countries, ships at sea, wherever - including what sorts of forces (which service, regular troops/MPs/intel, CIA, contractors) were running each one, what sorts of orders they were operating under and who those orders came from, how many prisoners were at each one, where they came from, whether they were POWs, whether they had access to counsel, whether the ICRC had access to them, and so forth.

Too bad the Dems didn't think of that themselves. We really, really need that information as a starting point to investigate the abuses, and the $25B seemed like the best leverage we'd get for awhile.


As to 'worse than I imagined', if the election seemed to have been stolen by Diebold, that would do it for me.

For instance, I could see Kerry winning the popular vote by, say, a solid 52-47%, but losing the election in the EC by having an improbable run of swing states go just barely against him. If exit polls showed Kerry winning a goodly number of those states, it would reinforce the implication that Diebold had decided to give Bush his last and greatest bailing-out.

Posted by: RT on June 17, 2004 10:07 AM

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I can't say I'm shocked, frankly. It's apparent that there's nothing these people won't stoop to, absolutely nothing. But just in passing: doesn't it now seem that the Dubya regime's repudiation of the International Criminal Court seems more, shall we say, _purposeful_ than it might have seemed at the time? Far more the real concern of the criminally minded who might face severe penalties, and not at all a matter of principles about national sovereignty? As if it weren't already apparent that these people have no principles at all except power and self-aggrandizement.

Posted by: Michael on June 17, 2004 10:21 AM

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If they find some movies of Bush, Rumsfeld, and Cheney sacrificing children to satan, and then engaging in necrophilia, I will be surprised.

Posted by: bryan on June 17, 2004 10:25 AM

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It seems to me that a lot of reports point to Tenet as the guy who asked PERSONALLY that this prisoner be part of a vanishing act. As sure as the sun rises every morning, it is going to be the official party line. What do you think will be Tenet's position on this? When will he start to release damaging info on the Whitehouse?

Posted by: Mario on June 17, 2004 10:26 AM

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Answer on Tenet: Never. His job was/is to take the blame. Notice that they blamed Tenet by name, and not "the CIA". Of course they might have blamed it on Chalabi, but he's already been blamed for a little too much; his blame-card is full. The (blameless) voters may start to suspect too much blame laid on one person! So we are going to need lots more people to blame! Of course, since the CIA knows, or should know, absolutely everything, the ex-DCIA's blame-cup is still half blame-empty. Or half blame-full, if you tend to look at things in that way.

Posted by: Lee A. on June 17, 2004 10:46 AM

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One of my favorite Iran-Contra-era political cartoons (I forget who drew it) was the one where everyone was standing around pointing at each other, and then in the next panel, everyone was pointing at Willian Casey's grave.

Posted by: Peter MacLeod on June 17, 2004 10:57 AM

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WOW-

That is something not talked about on TV/ or read in newspapers:

We (Bush) gave 43 million to the Taliban 3 months before 9-11.

Does that mean that Bush and co. had a "PRO-TALIBAN" stance. You can run with that...

That should be enough cause to lose an election.
Just think what 43 million could do to help inner-city gentrification in the states?
Also, forget cancelling of elections; the entire brunt of his campaign is "fear". Who will protect you better; Us or that democrat?

So, the real deal will be an "october surprise" that will occur in September. Will it be a terrorist act on the west coast, and not the East Coast? That will be your clue.
watch-out?

Posted by: Dave S on June 17, 2004 11:50 AM

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Bushco will make this emotional appeal: " The Constitution notwithstanding, we must catch these terrorists who threaten us in Iraq and in our streets. Just like Lincoln pursued the copperheads." Any bets on them not getting away with this vulgar demagogy?

Posted by: gb on June 17, 2004 11:52 AM

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sorry, I actually meant that by giving 43 million dollars of US taxpayer money- THAT WE (BUSH) HAD A "Pro Al-Qaeda" stance. So, in a way, we funded the historical occurance on September 11, 2001.

Un believable

after all, we were once friends with Osama and his mama during the Afghan war vs. USSR. Where do you think all those rocket-propelled rockets that are being fired at US troops came from, an unexausting source.

not a good track record of foreign affairs

Posted by: Dave S. on June 17, 2004 12:00 PM

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Dave S. wrote, "sorry, I actually meant that by giving 43 million dollars of US taxpayer money- THAT WE (BUSH) HAD A 'Pro Al-Qaeda' stance. So, in a way, we funded the historical occurance on September 11, 2001."

While I despise Bush at least as much as anyone I know, I'm not so sure of this. IIRC it was covered somewhat in the press, but it wasn't simply a "we're giving $$ to this regime because we like them" kind of thing.

Much more important is the tilt towards Pakistan, probably one of the most dangerous (perhaps *the* most dangerous) countries in the world (given its track record on nuke proliferation, connections to the Taliban, etc). This is related to your "after all, we were once friends with Osama and his mama during the Afghan war vs. USSR. Where do you think all those rocket-propelled rockets that are being fired at US troops came from, an unexausting source." But re Pakistan, etc, that part of US foreign policy predates Bush and is a feature of both Democratic and Republican administrations.

Posted by: liberal on June 17, 2004 12:11 PM

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III. At some point some of this stuff has to stick to Rumsfeld’s boss. Are we there yet?

There was an AP article earlier today that quoted Bush defending Rumsfeld in this episode, although there were ellipses that made it hard to tell exactly what he said. The version on the wires now doesn't include the quote. Someone with more time than I have might check the transcript.

Posted by: BJ on June 17, 2004 12:12 PM

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Who *is* Rumsfeld's boss? Bush? Or Cheney? Cheney's not much mentioned, but from as far back as the campaign - mid-1999 - there were mutterings that the ticket was really Cheney-Bush rather than B-C, and part of the handlers' job (and Cheney's job) was to keep Bush from worrying too much about that.

Just sayin'.

Posted by: Name and email address are required. on June 17, 2004 12:22 PM

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Man, if this was the Clinton Administration pulling this stuff... ah, never mind.

Posted by: cc on June 17, 2004 12:27 PM

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The information about the $43 million "gift" to the taliban is in one of Michael Moore's books (Stupid White Men, I believe) and I've read it from other sources as well. Apparently the purpose of the money was to aid Afghan farmers who had had their poppy crop destroyed by the Taliban. Ostensibly, the Taliban wanted to rid their country's link to the drug trade for religious reasons. As far as how that money got implemented, thinking along the lines that corruption may have not allowed it to serve its full usage, I'm not sure. But other information that I've read indicates that waste and fraud in international aid programs are common. It is definitely makes sense from a humanitarian perspective to attempt to help the farmers of Afghanstan but there is something curious about giving aid to a country that is under UN sanctions for refusing to extradite Bin Laden. I guess then it becomes a judgement over whether its better to help people or to risk aiding a government that essentially supports terrorism. IMO, the grant to the Taliban has nothing to do with Sept. 11. As the 9/11 commision's report said today, the plans for the attacks were well underway before May 2001 (when the aid was given) and Bin Laden et al. aren't penurious. While its debateable whether someone in our government was directly responsible (Aug. 5th (6th?) memo) or indirectly (not taking action), the reason that you never read about the aid to Afghanstan is that attempting to help farmers in a poor 3rd world country does not equate to supporting Bin Laden in the least.

Posted by: drew on June 17, 2004 12:44 PM

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As usual, the facts being asserted here aren't factual. Al Qaeda isn't a signatory to the Geneva Convention, as far as I know. And I'm sure we have very few Iraqi POWs, if any, in custody.

As for the $43 million, it would have been authorized in Bill Clinton's admin. However, it was humanitarian aid for the people who were starving in Afghanistan. Contrary to the assertions of another poster, Bush was trying to get the Taliban to turn bin Laden over to us (and warning them what would happen if they didn't).

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on June 17, 2004 12:58 PM

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It is very interesting to think about the International Criminal Court these days. Consider if Bush issues pardons to high-level civilians for the various torture crimes. At that point, if the pardons are technically well-prepared, they cannot be prosecuted in the US. No how, no way.

This is exactly why the International Criminal Court was set up.

We can invent all kinds of over-the-top scenarios (Bush pardons Cheney, then resigns effective 10 AM on inauguration day so Cheney can pardon him!). I doubt that sort of thing would happen, but who the hell knows. Barring that, though, it's easy to imagine Rumsfeld and Feith being heavily implicated in these crimes by direct evidence...and getting pardoned by bush in January. And the ICC making noise. Could be a major headache for Kerry if he is elected.

Not that the Kool-Aid crowd in the whitehouse would sabotage Kerry's presidency in this way. I'm sure that if they lose in November they will want to do what is right for the country. Yep.

Posted by: BoulderDuck on June 17, 2004 01:07 PM

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But Bush is Lincoln, and Kerry is McClellan!

Posted by: MattB on June 17, 2004 01:23 PM

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As usual, the facts being asserted here aren't factual. Al Qaeda isn't a signatory to the Geneva Convention, as far as I know. And I'm sure we have very few Iraqi POWs, if any, in custody.

If you're arguing that we don't have Iraqis in custody, then I can only assume that you're joking. If your point is that we don't have Iraqi POWs because the people we captured weren't in uniform, please read the "Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War" (1949).

As for the idea that the Geneva contentions don't apply to Al Qaeda, all I can say is that while I don't think there's a legal justification for that position, that aside, it saddens me that a significant number of Americans, including the current administration, support mistreatment, abuse, and torture of anyone, under any circumstances.

Posted by: me2i81 on June 17, 2004 01:40 PM

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Patrick,

> As for the $43 million, it would have been
> authorized in Bill Clinton's admin. However,
> it was humanitarian aid for the people who
> were starving in Afghanistan. Contrary to
> the assertions of another poster, Bush was
> trying to get the Taliban to turn bin
> Laden over to us (and warning them what
> would happen if they didn't).

Patrick, I think you have it right about the Taliban stipend, but I think it was more in the nature of a pay-off for their continued support on the issue of supressing the poppy farming.

With regard to bin Laden, I haven't seen that asserted anywhere. Could you provide a link to it? I've tried several google searches and can't come up with much that is credible.

Also, what do you make of the story that the Bush admin prior to 9/11 was negotiating for an oil pipeline through Afghanistan? Once they made it clear that they would use force if necessary to get it, that is what triggered bin Laden to activate his cells and carry through the operation that happened on 9/11.

Posted by: Alan on June 17, 2004 01:40 PM

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Patrick Sullivan- are you for real, or is this irony? Sometimes I can't tell these days.

Here's a column printed 5/22/01 in the LA Times by Robert Scheer that discusses the $43 million this administration sent to the Taliban:

www.robertscheer.com/1_natcolumn/01_columns/052201.htm

It was apparently announced with some fanfare at the time by Colin Powell, who with the rest of this administration seemed to feel the Taliban was just fine with them before their houseguests began flying planes into our buildings.

The assertion that this money was approved by the Clinton administration is an interesting one- if true, it would have been about the only Clinton initiative the Bushies ever carried out. But in the complete absence of supporting evidence, it looks very much like just one more pitiful example of the right lamely blaming any and all Bush f*ckups on someone-(anyone really, but especially Clinton, whenever possible)- else.

Posted by: pdq on June 17, 2004 02:00 PM

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I have to get my Kafka out again. They lost the guy! Now that is a real memory hole.

As to international courts, didn't the Brits pick up Pinochet at Heathrow or someplace similar? I can't imagine Rumsfeld and company taking a lot of European vacations after they retire. It would be nice to see some of these guys hauled before a Spanish, Belgian or British court for war crimes. The defense would be truly awesome. Think of the character witnesses.

Posted by: Knut Wicksell on June 17, 2004 02:10 PM

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Well, the stated reason for the $43 mil was anti-poppy, but the conjecture is: Bush thought he could get them to turn over bin Laden.

More realism from the adults in charge! Us Texas oilmen know how to deal with them Ay-rabs!

He also ended unmanned fly-overs.

But it's okay that Bush got snookered by the Taliban, because it would have happened to Clinton, too? Gads!

And: unproven, and from Clarke's testimony, unlikely: Richard Clarke and the Clinton Administration were in fact FAR more hard-line, there.

But of course, one of the Untold Stories is exactly WHAT the Bush Administration was doing about terrorism, prior to 9/11. The stated story has been "we were formulating a new policy."

So far, from Clarke, we know what it was NOT doing. Paying attention.

Posted by: Lee A. on June 17, 2004 02:18 PM

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Please note, very carefully, that today's "unanimous" Senate vote for an anti-torture resoution was an unrecorded voice vote. The Republicans threatened to block it unless a roll call was NOT taken. Clearly they knew that they would LOSE VOTES--many votes--if they went on record voting against torture. Their constituents are the ones who are demanding that the prisoners be tortured. THERE is the problem. Face up to it.

Posted by: Frank Wilhoit on June 17, 2004 02:41 PM

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>>If they find some movies of Bush, Rumsfeld, and Cheney sacrificing children to satan, and then engaging in necrophilia, I will be surprised.<<

Not me.

As for Sullivan's nonsense about the U.S. not having to abide by the Geneva Conventions because al-Quaeda isn't a signatory:

From Human Rights Watch (by way of Atrios's comments):

The primary source of international humanitarian law (also called the laws of war) is the four Geneva Conventions of 1949, which the United States ratified in 1955. The Third Geneva Convention concerns prisoners-of-war; the Fourth Geneva Convention safeguards so-called “protected persons,” most simply described as detained civilians. Detainees must at all times be humanely treated (Geneva III, art. 13, Geneva IV, art. 27). Detainees may be questioned, but any form of “physical or mental coercion” is prohibited (Geneva III, art. 17; Geneva IV, art. 31). Women shall be protected from rape and any form of indecent assault (Geneva IV, art. 27).

Torture or inhuman treatment of prisoners-of-war (Geneva III, arts. 17 & 87) or protected persons (Geneva IV, art. 32) are grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions, and are considered war crimes (Geneva III, art. 130; Geneva IV, art. 147). War crimes create an obligation on any state to prosecute the alleged perpetrators or turn them over to another state for prosecution. This obligation applies regardless of the nationality of the perpetrator, the nationality of the victim or the place where the act of torture or inhuman treatment was committed (Geneva III, art.129; Geneva IV, art. 146).

Detainees in an armed conflict or military occupation are also protected by common article 3 to the Geneva Conventions. Article 3 prohibits “[v]iolence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture; …outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment.”

Even persons who are not entitled to the protections of the 1949 Geneva Conventions (such as some detainees from third countries) are protected by the “fundamental guarantees” of article 75 of Protocol I of 1977 to the Geneva Conventions. The United States has long considered article 75 to be part of customary international law (a widely supported state practice accepted as law). Article 75 prohibits murder, “torture of all kinds, whether physical or mental,” “corporal punishment,” and “outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment, … and any form of indecent assault.”


The United States has signed the Geneva Conventions and has agreed to abide by them. The U.S. cannot ignore its obligations merely by identifying certain persons as members of Al-Quaeda and saying they have no rights because Al-Quaeda didn't sign the treaties. Torturing, humiliating, and degrading any prisoner detained by an occupying power is a war crime, no matter how much people like Sullivan would like to believe differently.

Posted by: Basharov on June 17, 2004 03:01 PM

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Where are the Dems in all this? Their silence means they are still along for the ride as far as the atrocities (war crimes) of the Bush administration are concerned. If they were to force the issue by attempting to impeach Bush they would at least force the Repubs to publicly align themselves with the actions of the administration that they protect. This could have implications for both sides down the road.

Posted by: Dubblblind on June 17, 2004 04:04 PM

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"As for the idea that the Geneva contentions don't apply to Al Qaeda... I don't think there's a legal justification for that position..."

IANAL (although even if I were I might not know the answer to this), but what, if anything, do the Conventions say about internation criminal organizations? They collect money from various countries, they move it across international boundaries, they kill people. But they're not a country or a government. At the time the Conventions were written, it seems unlikely that they considered the potential for dealing with such a group that could, with today's (and tomorrow's) technology, kill thousands or millions of people.

Posted by: Michael Cain on June 17, 2004 04:32 PM

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I guess the relevant part of the Conventions is Article 5 of the Geneva III (Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War), stating that
"a person under definite suspicion of activity hostile to the security of the Occupying Power" under circumstances of
"total occupation of the territory of a High Contracting Party" (Article 1)
"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.". Article 4 makes an exception to that: "Nationals of a State which is not bound by the Convention are not protected by it."
Iraq and, as far as I can see, all other Arab countries are signatories of the Geneva Conventions.

http://www1.umn.edu/humanrts/instree/y4gcpcp.htm

Posted by: konrad on June 17, 2004 05:44 PM

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oops, it's Geneva IV - sorry!

Posted by: konrad on June 17, 2004 05:49 PM

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On the $43 million dollar question, thanks so much for the link to the Robert Scheer column provided earlier (pdq, 2:00 PM).

Here is what Spinsanity had to say about that:

The myth that won't die (2/27)

Since it was first created by syndicated columnist Robert Scheer, the myth that the Bush administration "gave" $43 million to Afghanistan's Taliban regime in 2001 has circled the globe and circulated throughout the mainstream media in the US. Even after myriad attempts to correct the record, this pervasive bit of disinformation refuses to die.

As we have noted many times, President Bush granted $43 million in food aid and food security programs to relieve an impending famine in Afghanistan in May 2001, continuing an aid program initiated by President Clinton. The programs were administered directly by the United Nations and NGOs, bypassing the regime.

Scheer's June 2001 column, however, claimed that this constituted a "gift of $43 million" to the Taliban while never once mentioning the famine in the country or that the "gift" was food aid that bypassed the regime. Scheer's distortion has set off a series of echoes that shows no signs of fading....

Read it all.

http://www.spinsanity.org/post.html?2003_02_23_archive.html#90385881

Mr. Nyhan at Spinsanity also provides this link to Colin Powell's statement announcing the grant:

http://www.state.gov/secretary/rm/2001/2928.htm

Excerpting a bit:

**Last year, we provided about $114 million in aid.** With this new package, our humanitarian assistance to date this year will reach $124 million. This includes over 200,000 tons of wheat.

[OK, is is safe to say that Clinton did this too?]

Continuing:

We distribute our assistance in Afghanistan through international agencies of the United Nations and nongovernmental organizations. We provide our aid to the people of Afghanistan, not to Afghanistan's warring factions. Our aid bypasses the Taliban, who have done little to alleviate the suffering of the Afghan people, and indeed have done much to exacerbate it. We hope the Taliban will act on a number of fundamental issues that separate us: their support for terrorism; their violation of internationally recognized human rights standards, especially their treatment of women and girls; and their refusal to resolve Afghanistan's civil war through a negotiated settlement.

UN sanctions against the Taliban are smart sanctions and do not hurt the Afghan people, nor do these sanctions affect the flow of humanitarian assistance for Afghans. America seeks to help the neediest, wherever they may be. I call upon the international community to mobilize and respond generously to help avert this looming humanitarian catastrophe in Afghanistan.

Posted by: Tom Maguire on June 17, 2004 06:50 PM

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Konrad -

...at the earliest date consistent with the security of the State or Occupying Power...

Rightly or wrongly, there is quite a bit of wiggle room in that statement.

Posted by: Bruce Cleaver on June 17, 2004 06:54 PM

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On the more pertinent questions of the incompetence and illegality of this particular action, this part of the Times story is interesting. Incompetence first:


In July 2003, the man suspected of being an Ansar al-Islam official was captured in Iraq and turned over to C.I.A. officials, who took him to an undisclosed location outside of Iraq for interrogation. By that fall, however, a C.I.A. legal analysis determined that because the detainee was deemed to be an Iraqi unlawful combatant - outside the protections of the Geneva Conventions - he should be transferred back to Iraq.

[Evidently, he was interrogated from July to October by the CIA. It's not really my area, but I wonder how much live operational info he still had after being held for three months. Now, illegality:]

Mr. Tenet made his request to Mr. Rumsfeld - that the suspect be held but not listed - in October. The request was passed down the chain of command: to Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, then to Gen. John P. Abizaid, the commander of American forces in the Middle East, and finally to Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez, the ground commander in Iraq. **At each stage, lawyers reviewed the request and their bosses approved it.**

Now, these are not Ashcroft's see-no-evil lawyers; these are DoD lawyers. Maybe they are all wrong in their legal analysis, but it seems to me that proving a war-crime against Rumsfeld or anyone else may (I say *may*) founder on a lack of intent. We may be on the verge of the Kenny Lay defense here - it's not a crime if the lawyers and accountants say it's not.

Posted by: Tom Maguire on June 17, 2004 06:58 PM

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"Rightly or wrongly, there is quite a bit of wiggle room in that statement."
Absolutely. The question is only how one would argue that registering those "ghost detainees" with the IRC would not be consistent with the US troops' security in Iraq.

Posted by: konrad on June 17, 2004 07:40 PM

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I am not familiar enough with the Geneva Conventions to know if they include an enforcement provision(s) or provisions that provide for effective action by signatories against a signatory (ies) who have violated them. And who makes that determination? Short an enforcement provision (and a forum in which such a claim is adjudicated), nothing will happen to the Bushies--in terms of the Geneva Conventions anyway. Unless other nations decide to sanction the US. Are the Geneva Conventions in their entirely online somewhere? I've never read them, I guess it's time I did.

As for Bush, et al's behavior I think if you look at his terms as governor, you'll see that all he's done is pretty much the same thing, just on a much larger scale. He lied alot, gave alot of wealthy polluters green lights to pollute more--helping Houston to beat out LA as the most polluted (air) city in the nation and undoubtedly boost cancer, leukemia et al rates for TX residents, tax cuts, TX was found to have made no effort to increase signups of eligible kids for the CHIPS program (health care coverage), said he was improving education but it turns out he didn't. TX is a state that recently argued in the US Supreme Court that it had the right to keep someone in prison for 12 years under its "three strikes" law. Except that while the guy was in there (his "3rd strike" was stealing a $50 tapeplayer or something like that, worth $50) it was discovered he hadn't committed the 3rd crime--thus the "3 strikes" rule/sentence did not apply. He'd already served 2 years by then. But TX argued (unsuccessfully) that it had the right to keep him in prison for 12 years anyway, because it was the state's right to determine how long to imprison someone (I guess they got around the principle of "complying with one's own laws" somehow). Given how long it has taken for the case to make it to the US S.Ct. you can be sure it started under Bush 43's time as governor (and wasn't the famous Gonzales his Attorney General at the time? I think he might've been). So why would anyone in his administration worry about some Iraqi getting "lost" in their detention system for 7 months? Or people being held for 2years+ in Guantanamo without any charges being filed? These are people who appear to believe the only "laws" that apply are those that give them some advantage and they clearly do NOT believe in "equal protection under the law" as they are "more equal" then anyone else (except perhaps for some really wealthy people--of any nationality).

Posted by: azurite on June 17, 2004 07:47 PM

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"The last few months argue strongly that the US cannot always be relied on to observe its international law obligations as much as I would have thought and hoped."

Duh! How old are you, Polly?

Posted by: econBras on June 17, 2004 10:21 PM

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Al-Qaeda may not be a signatory to the Geneva Conventions, but the United States IS. When I agree to something off my own bat, I agree to stick to it irrespective of whatever others may have done. Or, in terms a child could understand, if the other kids all tortured people they didn't like and then jumped off a cliff, would you do it too?

Posted by: Temperance on June 18, 2004 06:33 PM

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Dear Liberal Dipshits:
The BBC does not see fit to fawn over Bill Clinton like you bozos and their compliant lemmings in the mainstream media.

CBS has just proven that the media has a liberal bias by handing the entire episode of 60 Minutes for William the Impeached to pimp his shitty book!

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2004/06/20/nclin20.xml

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