[the palaverist]

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

[a change at gitmo?]

According to the New York Times, the Pentagon today has decided to apply the Geneva Conventions to all detainees worldwide.

If this is actually what happens, or even if it becomes officially the standard by which detentions are expected to be conducted, it would be an enormous shift in executive policy and a welcome rollback of one of the worst moral and strategic failures of the Bush administration.

The article itself, however, is less than clearcut on the administration's policy change. The announcement of the new approach is attributed only to "a senior defense official." Beyond that, the article is mostly a murky discussion of the recent Hamdi v. Rumsfeld decision and potential Congressional responses to it. (The BBC's breaking news report is much sparer.)

Unfortunately, I'm not sure even the Geneva Conventions ban either rendition or secret prisons.

As an odd little side note, the Geneva Conventions prescribe payment for all prisoners, set at rates of Swiss francs per month that made some kind of sense when the Conventions were first signed. That means that each detainee below the rank of sergeant — which presumably all of them are, in the present case — is entitled to 8 Swiss francs, or roughly $6.50, per month. The real question, of course, is whether we make the pay retroactive so that detainees can collect the $350-odd that's coming to them.

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2 Comments:

Anonymous DKNY said...

It would be nice, but... Remember that recent McCain bill prohibiting torture? The one that was passed by Congress, then watered-down by a presidential signing statement before Rumsfeld announced that he'd be ignoring it? Yeah, that one.

There's already a post about the various loopholes in the ruling here: http://balkin.blogspot.com/2006/07/newsflash-pentagon-agrees-to-abide-by.html

Personally, I'll believe that we've stopped torturing when former detainees are giving interviews and the administration is screaming bloody murder. Before that, my money's on dumb-show for the rubes.

10:28 PM  
Blogger [the palaverist] said...

Yeah, you're probably right. *sigh*

Still, I'm all for any sign that the administration is under pressure on this stuff, and I also do think it's of long-term value that this administration rather than its successor has publicly announced that the Geneva Conventions are relevant after all. Declaring them "quaint" didn't make them so, and declaring that they're being obeyed doesn't make that so either, but there are political ramifications either way. It's also good that this administration is making some effort to avoid a major constitutional crisis by directly and overtly disobeying the Supreme Court — something I had been genuinely worried they might do.

But yeah, I don't know that this is going to do much good for our actual detainees, as you say.

9:26 AM  

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