Saturday :: Jun 5, 2004

Ignoring the Geneva Conventions

by Mary

Abu Ghraib showed how untrained and unwatched MPs could interpret the request to "soften up" the prisoners. Tagube's report showed that he didn't believe that the MPs created this situation all by themselves, and so the current attention paid to those in Military Intelligence (MI). Further reports have shown that the worst abuses (that we know about) started after General Miller was sent from Guantanamo to Abu Ghraib and recommended that MI be put in charge and methods used at Gitmo be applied to the prisoners in Iraq.

So what was the role of Military Intelligence and what were they saying about interrogation? This article about Fort Huachuca says that Military Intelligence is very professional and what happened at Abu Ghraib is a total aberration. Furthermore, the article talks about the ethical training given to successful MI graduates. (via GailOnline)

But the courses attracting most attention recently are ones designed for "human intelligence collectors."

Known in military speak as 97Es, human intelligence collectors (interrogators) undergo 16 weeks of training at Fort Huachuca. They study six days a week, 12 hours a day to master the art of eliciting information from documents, enemy combatants and prisoners of war.

Nearly a third of their time, 192 hours, is spent studying the legal and moral guidelines laid out in the Geneva Conventions, the Hague Treaties, the U.S. Uniform Code of Military Justice, U.S. federal laws and the Law of Land Warfare.

Trainees who fail to pass the legal prerequisites are booted from the course.

Those who stay learn it's legal to instill fear; illegal to threaten a prisoner.

According to this article, Fort Huachuca teachs its students about the limits of interrogation and over 1/3 of their time is spent learning about the legal restrictions that must be followed when interrogating prisoners.

So what I'd like to know is how the Bush declaration that the Geneva Convention could be abrogated for "enemy combatants" changed the way they carried out their (Military Intelligence Agents) roles in Guantanamo? Clearly one of the big problems in Abu Ghraib was the belief that the Geneva Convention did not apply to the prisoners there even though the US was put on notice that EVERYONE in Iraq was covered since the USA was an occupying power.

The tragedy in Iraq was that people covered by the Geneva Conventions were mistreated - and those that carried out that mistreatment can be prosecuted under war crime laws (US laws if not international). The tragedy outside of Iraq is because the Bush administration said they were not bound by the Geneva Conventions, people will believe that the USA condones the use of torture in Gitmo, even if the prisoners are innocent or simply children who were caught up there because their fathers are on the US bad guy list.

It won't matter that the graduates of Ft. Hauchuca are taught about the Geneva Convention if our government tells them they can ignore these rules. This is yet one more way the Bush administration has damaged our country's reputation and significantly undermined the Military Intelligence soldier who looks to the senior leadership when trying to learn the ropes.

Mary :: 12:28 AM :: Comments (2) :: Digg It!