The United States abides by the standards set at the Geneva Convention in 1949 when regarding classifying prisoners of war and how we treat them. According to President Bush, the laws laid out in the Geneva Convention apply to the War in Iraq, but the lines become blurred when discussing exactly who falls in to the POW category. The Geneva Convention states that POWs have to be individuals who essentially belong to a state or who wear some kind of identifiable uniform/symbol. This eliminates members of al’Qaeda from being defined as POWs, as they do not belong to a specific nation-state and do not wear a specific uniform. Bush also said that the Taliban cannot be considered POWs. Because neither members of al’Qaeda nor the Taliban can be categorized as POWs, the provisions laid out in the Geneva Convention about the treatment of POWs does not apply to them.
The probable extremists, however, still deserve a fair trial. This has been a problem for the United States with suspected terrorists, such as the case with Yaser Esam Hamdi. He was being held without charges or the opportunity to defend himself for years, which is completely against the very foundation of the American justice system.
Military personnel also carried out despicable acts against prisoners being held at Abu Ghraib in Iraq. Criminals of all degrees were treated like scum, being beaten and tortured without a second thought by their American captors. This inhumane behavior was eventually punished, although a few years in prison does not seem like enough, for acts like dragging a naked man on a leash, to me.
But where has this truly unbelievable behavior come from and why is it being handled in such a nonchalant manner? The boundaries of America’s use of torture seem to be getting stretched further and further from where not only my own morals make me believe they should be, but also from what the Geneva Convention states. I think that it’s very important that America does not tolerate such behavior and that we continue to stand on the beliefs and standards our country was built on. If we go against one fundamental belief, where do we stop?
Geneva Convention: http://www.icrc.org/ihl.nsf/INTRO/375?OpenDocument
George Aldrich Opinion: http://www.icrc.org/eng/assets/files/other/george_aldrich_3_final.pdf
Abu Ghraib Timeline: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/world/iraq/abughraib/timeline.html