I wonder if Bush-hugging Johnie McCain will react to this.
The Pentagon has decided to omit from new detainee policies a key tenet of the Geneva Convention that bans “humiliating and degrading treatment,” according to military officials, a step that would mark a potentially permanent shift away from strict adherence to international human rights standards.
The decision culminates a lengthy debate within the Department of Defense, but will not become final until the Pentagon makes new guidelines public, a step that has been delayed.
However, the State Department fiercely opposes the military’s decision to exclude Geneva Convention protections and has been pushing for the Pentagon and White House to reconsider, Defense officials said.
The process has been beset by debate and controversy, but the decision to omit Geneva protections from a principal directive comes at a time of growing worldwide criticism of U.S. detention practices and the conduct of American forces in Iraq.
President George W. Bush’s critics and supporters have debated whether it is possible to prove a direct link between administration declarations that it will not be bound by Geneva and events such as the abuses at Abu Ghraib or the killings of civilians last year at Haditha, Iraq, allegedly by U.S. Marines.
But the exclusion of the Geneva provisions may make it more difficult for the administration to portray such incidents as aberrations. And it undercuts arguments that U.S. forces follow the toughest, most broadly accepted standards when fighting wars.
The detainee directive was due to be released in April along with the Army Field Manual on interrogations. But objections from several senators on other manual issues forced a delay. Senators objected to provisions allowing harsher interrogation techniques for unlawful combatants, such as suspected terrorists, as opposed to traditional prisoners of war.