Monday, September 18, 2006

A Slew of Generals Write to Congress Asking Them to Defy Bush on Geneva Conventions

"Last week, the Department of Defense issued a Directive reaffirming that the military will uphold the requirements of Common Article 3 with respect to all prisoners in its custody. We welcome this new policy. Our servicemen and women have operated for too long with unclear and unlawful guidance on detainee treatment, and some have been left to take the blame when things went wrong. The guidance is now clear.

"But that clarity will be short-lived if the approach taken by Administration’s bill prevails. In contrast to the Pentagon’s new rules on detainee treatment, the bill would limit our definition of Common Article 3's terms by introducing a flexible, sliding scale that might allow certain coercive interrogation techniques under some circumstances, while forbidding them under others. This would replace an absolute standard – Common Article 3 — with a relative one. To do so will only create further confusion.

"Moreover, were we to take this step, we would be viewed by the rest of the world as having formally renounced the clear strictures of the Geneva Conventions. Our enemies would be encouraged to interpret the Conventions in their own way as well, placing our troops in jeopardy in future conflicts. And American moral authority in the war would be further damaged.

"All of this is unnecessary. As the senior serving Judge Advocates General recently testified, our armed forces have trained to Common Article 3 and can live within its requirements while waging the war on terror effectively.

"As the United States has greater exposure militarily than any other nation, we have long emphasized the reciprocal nature of the Geneva Conventions. That is why we believe – and the United States has always asserted — that a broad interpretation of Common Article 3 is vital to the safety of U.S. personnel. But the Administration’s bill would put us on the opposite side of that argument. We urge you to consider the impact that redefining Common Article 3 would have on Americans who put their lives at risk in defense of our Nation. We believe their interests, and their safety and protection should they become prisoners, should be your highest priority as you address this issue.
With respect,

[A Bevy of Generals--starting with Shalikashvilli and ending with William H. Taft]

Found on News from Iraq

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