::can you clear this up for me?

19 09 2006

This debate is occurring because of the Supreme Court’s ruling that said that we must conduct ourselves under the Common Article III of the Geneva Convention. And that Common Article III says that there will be no outrages upon human dignity. It’s very vague. What does that mean, “outrages upon human dignity”? That’s a statement that is wide open to interpretation. And what I’m proposing is that there be clarity in the law so that our professionals will have no doubt that that which they are doing is legal. You know, it’s — and so the piece of legislation I sent up there provides our professionals that which is needed to go forward.

George Bush

September 15th, 2006

Here’s a little history on the Geneva Conventions

Common Article III went into effect on August 12th 1949.  It reads as follows:

Art. 3. In the case of armed conflict not of an international character occurring in the territory of one of the High Contracting Parties, each Party to the conflict shall be bound to apply, as a minimum, the following provisions: (1) Persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms and those placed hors de combat by sickness, wounds, detention, or any other cause, shall in all circumstances be treated humanely, without any adverse distinction founded on race, colour, religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth, or any other similar criteria. To this end the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above-mentioned persons: (a) violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture; (b) taking of hostages; (c) outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment; (d) the passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples. (2) The wounded and sick shall be collected and cared for. An impartial humanitarian body, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross, may offer its services to the Parties to the conflict.

The Parties to the conflict should further endeavour to bring into force, by means of special agreements, all or part of the other provisions of the present Convention.

The application of the preceding provisions shall not affect the legal status of the Parties to the conflict.

The conventions of 1949 replace the previous conventions, which were signed at Geneva on July 29th, 1929.  They were ratified by the United States Senate on January 7th, 1932, and by the President of the United States of America on January 16th, 1932.  Articles 2 and 3 of the 1929 conventions read as follows:


Prisoners of war are in the power of the hostile Power, but not of the individuals or corps who have captured them.

They must at all times be humanely treated and protected, particularly against acts of violence, insults and public curiosity.

Measures of reprisal against them are prohibited.



Prisoners of war have the right to have their person and their honor respected. Women shall be treated with all the regard due to their sex.

Prisoners retain their full civil status.

Previous to the conventions of 1929, prisoners of war were protected under the Laws and Customs of War, signed at The Hague on October 18th, 1907.  Prisoners were protected under Chapter II, Article 4 of the Hague convention, which reads as follows:

Art. 4.

Prisoners of war are in the power of the hostile Government, but not of the individuals or corps who capture them.

They must be humanely treated.

All their personal belongings, except arms, horses, and military papers, remain their property.

So here we have almost 100 years of documented agreements, entered into and honored by the United States Government.  Honored in World War I.  Honored in World War II.  Honored, for the record, by the Nazi regime during World War II.

But now we have a crisis of clarity that the wise and honorable Mister Bush hopes to rectify.  The question he asks is one, apperently, our military and intelligence corps have been crippled by for decades–What is an outrage to human dignity?

Is it okay, we need to know, to crap on the Quran?

Can we, soldiers across the globe fitfully wonder every night as they toss and turn on their cots, threaten prisoners with rape and murder?

Would it be an outrage to human dignity, new CIA cadets often ask, if I make a prisoner strip down naked and pretend to perform oral sex on another prisoner while an attack dog snarls at him and I take pictures?

I wonder, our protectors of freedom and democracy wonder aloud, if I can send someone off to a country that we know tortures people, knowing that these people will be tortured?

Then again, what is dignity anyway?

Inquiring minds want to know.





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