(It’s been a while, and I actually have some good news to share this morning.)
The Defense Department announced Tuesday that it would begin honoring the human rights protections of the Geneva Convention with respect to detainees it is holding in Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere around the world.
In a memo released by the Pentagon this morning, Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England, citing the Supreme Court’s decision, ordered all Pentagon personnel to “adhere to these standards” and to “promptly review” all policies and practices “to ensure that they comply with the standards” of the Geneva Convention’s Common Article 3.
Since 2001, the administration has argued that the Geneva Conventions would be respected as a matter of policy but that they did not apply by law. The Supreme Court, in a 5-3 decision, rejected that view.
White House spokesman Tony Snow confirmed the new approach, according to wire service reports, saying that while detainees have been treated humanely, “we want to get it right. . . . It’s not really a reversal of policy.” Snow called the Supreme Court decision “complex.”
But in testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee today, Steven Bradbury, acting assistant attorney general, stated that the court has indeed “imposed another baseline standard . . . that we must now interpret and implement.”
I suppose this means no more chaining people to ceilings or setting military dogs on them…
Nothing in the generally accepted libertarian view prevents responding to force initiated against you. So going after Osama bin Laden is one thing, and not too many would disagree that it was the right thing to do. It’s everything else that’s come along with that in the last five years that’s been a problem.
I’ll grant Tony Snow one concession: Prosecuting a war on terror is a complex task, especially for a country founded on libertarian principles — even if many of those principles lie abandoned just outside the Beltway.