Geneva Convention Limbo
Limbo lower now
How low can you go
--Limbo Rock, Chubby Checker
"Hard cheese, old man!''
--Terry-Thomas, School for Scoundrels
Reflecting on Jose Padilla and the Gitmo prisoners, er, detainees, recently, my mind wandered into the area of the Geneva Conventions.
Several respondents to this site--and certainly many Americans outside of my sphere--reckon that America should not afford G.C. rights to terrorists. And of course, Ranger agrees that the G.C. does not apply to terrorists, as terrorists are criminals and should therefore be dealt with under the auspices of the Federal Court system. If you conspire to commit or commit a terrorist action, you are a criminal. Plain and Ranger simple.
But the G.C. does apply to prisoners captured on the battlefield within the U.S. theatre of operations. This means that we are in their country, engaged in a hostile action. If enemies are captured on the field of battle, they are designated POW's, and they are to be afforded the rights of the G.C. The twisted machinations by which GWB and followers manage to rationalize denying G.C. protections to such prisoners is beyond reason.
But my point here is this: For all the debate about suspending vs. allowing G.C. rights, we should remember that the G.C. is not the high bar, but rather, the low bar by which to gauge civilized behavior in a "detaining power" scenario.
The protections envisioned by the G.C., which is the law of the land since it is an approved treaty, is a rather low yardstick by which to measure civilized conduct. The G.C. establishes a strictly minimal code of conduct for the treatment of prisoners. If anything, the U.S. has historically exceeded the minimal yardstick set out by the G.C.
With this is mind, why can't the U.S. adhere to such basal standards today?