Big Win for Rule of Law

I am far away on a very very slow link, but from what I can tell the announcement that the USA will henceforth again adhere to a key part of its obligations under the Geneva convention looks like a big victory for the rule of law.

And, yes, there can be devils in the details. (But I do agree that there is nothing at all inherently wrong with *properly constituted* courts martial to hear the status claims of POWs and other detainees. Quite the contrary. And a big step up from what they’ve been getting.)

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4 Responses to Big Win for Rule of Law

  1. m.suskind says:

    Rendering Gonzales Quaint and Obsolete

    February 2002 memo in which President George W. Bush said: “Common article III of Geneva does not apply to either al-Qaeda or Taliban detainees.”

    NPR interview AG March 15, 2005

    AG: We really are for all intents and purposes at war and so the laws of war apply and you need not provide access to counsel you need not provide the ability to challenge their detention in a criminal court. It would be like saying that Germans who were captured in World War II would have to be provided lawyers. The truth of the matter is that the rules and procedures of our criminal justice system simply do not apply in this case.

    Q: What about the Geneva Conventions?

    AG: Well, Geneva only applies with respect to signatory states. Obviously Al-Queda is not a state, and is not covered by Geneva Conventions.

    White House Statement, July 11, 2006

    “As a result of the Supreme Court decision, that portion of the order no longer applies. The Supreme Court has clarified what the law is, and the executive branch will comply.”

    Please re-connect soon, Michael.

    The house that Bush built, on a foundation of laws that he (Bybee, Yoo, Gonzales) improvised, based on a “new kind of war” is falling. Orders can not be rescinded piecemeal, as portions are ruled illegal more than four years after the fact. We cannot live with a Geneva Up, Geneva Down administration and call this a Constitutional democratic republic. Bush’s era of lawless world is closing.

  2. Ton Zijlstra says:

    Hi Michael

    What I gather from the press here in Netherlands/Europe is that indeed it sounded like a win for the rule of law but that the actual statements made by the US administration afterwards show a different picture. As in the article you link to, the DoD memo on the SC ruling is met with scepsis. First it’s pointed out that cruel and inhumane treatment of terrorism suspects is already prohibited without the Geneva convention, based on international jurisprudence and the Senator McCain proposal. Which makes accepting the Geneva Convention in that aspect nothing new. Second the attempt to ‘fix’ the military committees in stead of abandoning them is primarily seen as a way to continue business as usual while trying to accomodate for the SC ruling as per the SC’s suggestion. The DoD memo is cited in the press as explicitly stating that it still does not accept article III with regard to the military committees, which is interpreted to mean disrespect to the SC here.

    I do agree with you that any properly constituted court, whatever the type, is to be preferred to what the prisoners are getting now. Although the damage of course is already done, if you read the stories of/about those Europeans that have been released from Guantanamo and returned. And ‘resolving’ the issue by merely bringing the military committees within the scope of law without changing the system itself at all, as Dell’Orto urged the Senate to do yesterday would not be the path to such a properly constituted court in my view.

    Diplomats are cited that the Bush administration response is a ‘good show’ to appear to be moving to move towards the european position on this very sensitive issue, on the brink of visits to both Germany and Russia, but is in effect not moving at all. A ‘hollow gesture’ says a professor of international law at Utrecht Univ.

    The suggestion by Murray Waas this weekend that Gitmo might be closed down, is perceived to be not by conviction but because keeping it open finally is too much bad PR even in the eyes of the Whitehouse.

    Just to add some view on what’s being written this side of the pond.

    best,

    Ton

  3. On the Pentagon’s mendacious claim that accepting Geneva standards explicitly doesn’t matter because they are already applied, remember La Rochefoucauld: “Hypocrisy is vice’s tribute to virtue”.

  4. Baris CAN says:

    What I gather from the press here in Netherlands/Europe is that indeed it sounded like a win for the rule of law but that the actual statements made by the US administration afterwards show a different picture. As in the article you link to, the DoD memo on the SC ruling is met with scepsis. First it’s pointed out that cruel and inhumane treatment of terrorism suspects is already prohibited without the Geneva convention, based on international jurisprudence and the Senator McCain proposal. Which makes accepting the Geneva Convention in that aspect nothing new. Second the attempt to ‘fix’ the military committees in stead of abandoning them is primarily seen as a way to continue business as usual while trying to accomodate for the SC ruling as per the SC’s suggestion. The DoD memo is cited in the press as explicitly stating that it still does not accept article III with regard to the military committees, which is interpreted to mean disrespect to the SC here.

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