Some Iraqi prisoners not entitiled to Geneva treatment

NY Times:

Presented last fall with a detailed catalog of abuses at Abu Ghraib prison, the American military responded on Dec. 24 with a confidential letter to a Red Cross official asserting that many Iraqi prisoners were not entitled to the full protections of the Geneva Conventions.

The letter, drafted by military lawyers and signed by Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, emphasized the "military necessity" of isolating some inmates at the prison for interrogation because of their "significant intelligence value," and said prisoners held as security risks could legally be treated differently from prisoners of war or ordinary criminals.

But the military insisted that there were "clear procedures governing interrogation to ensure approaches do not amount to inhumane treatment."

In recent public statements, Bush administration officials have said that the Geneva Conventions were "fully applicable" in Iraq. That has put American-run prisons in Iraq in a different category from those in Afghanistan and in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, where members of Al Qaeda and the Taliban have been declared unlawful combatants not eligible for protection. However, the Dec. 24 letter appears to undermine administration assertions of the conventions' broad application in Iraq.


The Geneva Convention would not apply to Iraqis who are acting as illegal or unlawful combatants. That would cover those who were not in uniform and those who use civilians as human shields. While the Geneva Convention maybe "fully applicable" its provisions exclude from its protection certain people, and probably all of the people currently fighting against US forces in Iraq. The Red Cross and the media should know this. It is easy to find. One can assume they ignore it because it does not fit their political agenda.

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