The Geneva protections apply to all detainees held worldwide. The Pentagon made this decision in response to the US Supreme Court’s Hamdan decision.
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 Defense Department official, 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 covered by all the protections of the Geneva Conventions, international accords governing treatment of war prisoners.
The United States has come under international criticism over the indefinite detention of Guantanamo detainees amid allegations of mistreatment and revelations of physical abuse and sexual humiliation of prisoners at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib jail.
The memo was made public on the day Congress began hearings on how to proceed in trying foreign terrorism suspects after the high court ruling.
Administration officials argued before the Senate Judiciary Committee against using existing U.S. military justice procedures in these trials, as some lawmakers want, on the grounds this could compromise classified information and impede interrogations.
The Pentagon 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 detainees that we are holding are some of the most dangerous people you will find on the face of this earth, and we will have to treat them with kid gloves. Yet, if any of these animals were to get their hands on an American serviceman and woman, they would torture and kill them in the most vile ways possible. What terrible news just after we hear that there’s a video showing the desecration of Kristian Menchaca’s and Thomas Tucker’s bodies.
Ralph Peters piece is on target: Kill, Don’t Capture:
Violent Islamist extremists must be killed on the battlefield. Only in the rarest cases should they be taken prisoner. Few have serious intelligence value. And, once captured, there’s no way to dispose of them.
Killing terrorists during a conflict isn’t barbaric or immoral – or even illegal. We’ve imposed rules upon ourselves that have no historical or judicial precedent. We haven’t been stymied by others, but by ourselves.
The oft-cited, seldom-read Geneva and Hague Conventions define legal combatants as those who visibly identify themselves by wearing uniforms or distinguishing insignia (the latter provision covers honorable partisans – but no badges or armbands, no protection). Those who wear civilian clothes to ambush soldiers or collect intelligence are assassins and spies – beyond the pale of law.
Read the rest of Peters’ article.