Saturday, May 15, 2004

It's OK, we're not torturing them any more

The Associated Press reported on 15 May 2004 that Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the senior U.S. commander in Iraq, issued orders on Thursay 13 May to eliminate the most coercive interrogation tactics that had been used by US forces. Until then approved techniques included depriving detainees of sleep for more than 72 hours or forcing them into "stress positions" - making them kneel or stand uncomfortably for more than 45 minutes.

In my book, this treatment amounts to mental and physical torture.

Until Thursday, the US Army approved the torture of detainees.

According to Article 17 of the Geneva Convention, "No physical or mental torture, nor any other form of coercion, may be inflicted on prisoners of war to secure from them information of any kind whatever."

This is a prima facie case that the United States has been contravening the Geneva Convention in Iraq.

The abuses of the US in Iraq pale beside the atrocities of the Baath regime. The public soul searching on these topics that's in full swing in the United States is an example of how an open society should respond to such a situation, and is laudable. However, the moral basis for invading Iraq -- which was dodgy to begin with -- is seriously undermined when the invader is found to behave in even remotely the same bestial way as the regime it deposed. The Administration's cavalier attitude to international law should, however, come as a surprise to no-one.

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