Another Win for the Rule of Law

ABC News: High-Value Detainees Will Be Given Prisoner-of-War Status:

ABC News has learned that President Bush will announce that high-value detainees now being held at secret CIA prisons will be transferred to the Department of Defense and granted protections under the 1949 Geneva Conventions. It will be the first time the Administration publicly acknowledges the existence of the prisons.

A source familiar with the president’s announcement says it will apply to all prisoners now being held by the CIA, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the Sept.11 attacks, and senior al Qaeda leader Ramzi Binalshibh.

The source says there are “about a dozen” prisoners now being held by the CIA.

Would say more but it’s a very busy day.

UPDATE: I think ABC was far too optimistic. The NYT report just says they are going out of the secret CIA Torture facilities and into Guantanamo; common article 3 will apply but not POW status. This is not as big a win as it sounded, though it is a step in the right direction.

In fact the key objective here seems to be domestic politics as explained by by Digby:

According to Pete Williams on MSNBC, Bush’s announcement that they are moving the 14 terrorists we’ve had holed up in secret prisons to Guantanamo is a political ploy to force Democrats to have to give “rights” to Khalid Sheik Mohammed if they want to challenge his Guantanamo policies. It’s quite clever.

Might I suggest that since they’ve just spent the last week shrieking about fascists and Nazi’s and comparing the GWOT to WWII, that Democrats simply remind them that the gold standard for trials of fascists is the Nuremberg trials? Perhaps we could settle this whole thing by simply saying that Nuremberg should serve as the basis for these new “Islamo-fascist” trials and put an end to the controversy.

Of course, that means the trials would have to be public.

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6 Responses to Another Win for the Rule of Law

  1. indierik says:

    A point that many folks seem to have been missing is that without giving POW status to those we have captured it will not encourage our enemies to treat our captured soldiers/citizens with any form of decency.

  2. Seth Gordon says:

    The headline doesn’t match the article. The article says that the prisoners will be given the protection of the Geneva Conventions, but that could just mean they’ll be covered by Common Article 3, not that they’ll be officially declared prisoners of war.

  3. Steve Vladeck says:

    The speech and announcement should be understood in tandem with the new legislation, available here, which precludes the enforceability of Geneva-based rights (see pp. 77-84, esp. sec. 6(b) on pg. 79), and lots of other stuff.

    So, a win for the rule of law, unless and until the new Administration bill becomes law. And then, it’s heads they win, tails we lose.

  4. Steve Vladeck says:

    The hyperlink poorly attempted above should be to:

  5. I found it a bit odd that the President received a standing ovation when he announced the names of detainees that had been transferred to Guantanamo for prosecution. Isn’t he the same person that has been preventing this type of prosecution? It seems to me that saying “It’s about time” would be the more appropriate response to this announcement. The only thing we’ve gained from the delay of this outcome is the ire of much of the world and a loss of the moral authority that 9/11 most certainly provided.

    The fact that these “high profile” names were released…and that one might presume that these individuals will be paraded in the media for all to see…almost immediately after the President and the GOP have just rolled out their campaign strategy for the November midterm election seems all too convenient. Granted, it may well be coincidental but I’m not convinced. Nothing would serve the President better than having Americans see some “tangible” results of our effort to fight the war on terror.

    Read more here:

  6. There may yet be a setback if at the conclusion there is only the appearance of adhering to the rule of law. I anticipate politically motivated debates throughout. And it is likely they will solve nothing but serve to exacerbate the situation

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