Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Like pulling teeth

Finally. We actually won a battle for human decency and the soul of America.

US applies Geneva Convention to military detainees

- The Pentagon acknowledged for the first time that all detainees held by the U.S. military are covered by the protections of an article of the Geneva Conventions that bars inhumane treatment, according to a memo made public on Tuesday.

The memo signed by Gordon England, the No. 2 official in the Defense department, followed a June 29 Supreme Court ruling that struck down as illegal the military tribunal system set up by the Bush administration to try foreign terrorism suspects held at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The United States previously has determined that certain prisoners taken in Washington's war on terrorism are not deserving of all of the protections of the Geneva Conventions -- international agreements governing the treatment of prisoners of war...

The memo, dated July 7, stated that detainees held in U.S. military custody worldwide are covered by Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions of 1949, which ensures their humane treatment.

The article prohibits violence against detainees, including mutilation, cruel treatment and torture, and "outrages upon personal dignity" including humiliating and degrading treatment." It also ensures care for the sick and wounded.

It also bars sentencing or executing prisoners without a decision by "a regularly constituted court affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples."

It's sad that the people who now run things had to be FORCED to behave like civilized human beings. And it's horrible that whole lot of Americans will view this as some sort of surrender. But that's where we are right now: we actually have to FIGHT to get America to stop torturing prisoners - an act that used to be the very symbol of brutality and cowardice.

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