"We destroyed the Republic in order to save it" (Updated)

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4 comments posted
Geneva Convention

I always find it amusing that many focus on the Geneva Convention. The US is not a signatory to the Geneva Convention and we have historically violated it anytime we felt like it. On one hand we are generally excellent in our treatment of large numbers of uniformed enemy combatants. However, we have often treated irregulars or nonuniformed troops rather harshly. Many of our activities in the cold war were much harsher than what is happening today.

It is ridiculous to assume that we had such a pristine history. Frankly, our current practices don't seem to be any harsher than our historical activities. In fact, I think that the current enhanced transparency into our governmental processes caused by an activist media and bloggers has actually reduced the overall level of barbarity. I just think that many people are noticing it for the first time and it contradicts their mythical view of our past.

Southern Male's picture
Posted by Southern Male on 12 March 2006 - 7:06pm
Geneva Conventions

The US is a signatory to the Geneva Conventions. They were ratified August 2nd, 1955.

Johan's picture
Posted by Johan (not verified) on 12 March 2006 - 7:21pm
Outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating

The Geneva Convention in Article 3.1 states

To this end the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above-mentioned persons (c) Outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment

But going back to Ponder's blog,

In 2002, Mora learned that Muhammed al-Qahtani, the suspected twentieth hijacker from 9/11, had been “subjected to a hundred and sixty days of isolation in a pen perpetually flooded with artificial light. He was interrogated on forty-eight of fifty-four days, for eighteen to twenty hours at a stretch. He had been stripped naked; straddled by taunting female guards, in an exercise called “invasion of space by a female�; forced to wear women’s underwear on his head, and to put on a bra; threatened by dogs; placed on a leash; and told that his mother was a whore. By December, Qahtani had been subjected to a phony kidnapping, deprived of heat, given large quantities of intravenous liquids without access to a toilet, and deprived of sleep for three days."

In my view we need a Geneva Convention to protect US ... and in two ways. First, we cannot ask for humane treatment from an enemy, if we do not grant it. That might be seen as a bit too idealistic, but more to the point, when we brutalize others, we brutalize ourselves. Everything we do in the name of good - but which is evil - devalues that which we say we stand for.

When men (and women) in uniform do this to others they dishonor the uniform they wear and the colors under which they fight.

Recently I was confronted in a discussion - turned debate - and accused that I loved terrorists and hated America ... no it was not a debate with Ann Coulter.

The answer to such charges are simple. I love America and what America has always stood for. Southern Male may well have it right ... that Americans have sometimes let their country down and done things that are unspeakable.

The myth of the American hero may be just a myth, but if we give up on what we stand for, what's there to defend? If we tumble to that, the enemy has taken from us what all the armies of the world could not ... and that is something that until now has always been part of the American spirit ... that we are better than that; that we we progressed beyond savagery and what which is venal.

Matsu's picture
Posted by Matsu on 12 March 2006 - 8:44pm
Not!

The other commenter is right, and you are wrong in claiming the Geneva Convention was never signed on to. It was ratified in 1955.

Here's some background from a Pentagon attorney "whose status in the Pentagon was equivalent to that of a four-star general":

This standard had been in effect for fifty years, and all members of the U.S. armed services were trained to follow it. One by one, the military officers argued for returning the U.S. to what they called the high ground. But two people opposed it. One was Stephen Cambone, the under-secretary of defense for intelligence; the other was Haynes. They argued that the articulated standard would limit America’s “flexibility.� It also might expose Administration officials to charges of war crimes: if Common Article Three became the standard for treatment, then it might become a crime to violate it. Their opposition was enough to scuttle the proposal.

In exasperation, according to another participant, Mora said that whether the Pentagon enshrined it as official policy or not, the Geneva conventions were already written into both U.S. and international law. Any grave breach of them, at home or abroad, was classified as a war crime. To emphasize his position, he took out a copy of the text of U.S. Code 18.2441, the War Crimes Act, which forbids the violation of Common Article Three, and read from it. The point, Mora told me, was that “it’s a statute. It exists—we’re not free to disregard it. We’re bound by it. It’s been adopted by the Congress. And we’re not the only interpreters of it. Other nations could have U.S. officials arrested.�

It's sounding more like it's the excuses that are becoming more transparent.

media girl's picture
Posted by media girl on 12 March 2006 - 8:19pm