USA har nå tre militære overgrepssaker gående. Da passer det svært dårlig at den politiske ledelsen i Pentagon og visepresident Dick Cheney ikke vil ha med en henvisning til Geneve-konvensjonene om forbud mot «ydmykende og nedverdigende» behandling i den nye Håndboka til hæren.

Det som ellers kunne forsvares som regelbrudd fra enkeltsoldater, settes i et mer alvorlig skjær. Er overgrepene utslag av at ledelsen har forskjøvet grensene for hva som er akseptabelt? Det samme gjaldt den ydmykende behandlingen i Abu Ghraib. At Rumsfeld og Cheney fremdeles trosse internasjonale konvensjoner er vanskelig å fatte. State Department protesterer med nebb og klør. Til og med de militære advokatene ønsker ikke unntak fra artikkel 3 i Geneve-konvensjonen.

President 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 Iraqi civilians last year in Haditha, allegedly by 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 contentions that U.S. forces follow the strictest, most broadly accepted standards when fighting wars.

«The rest of the world is completely convinced that we are busy torturing people,» said Oona A. Hathaway, an expert in international law at Yale Law School. «Whether that is true or not, the fact we keep refusing to provide these protections in our formal directives puts a lot of fuel on the fire.»

The detainee directive was due to be released in late April along with the Army Field Manual on interrogation. But objections from several senators on other Field Manual issues forced a delay. The senators objected to provisions allowing harsher interrogation techniques for those considered unlawful combatants, such as suspected terrorists, as opposed to traditional prisoners of war.

Paragraf 3 er en paragraf som går igjen i alle de fire Geneve-konvensjonene. Den forbyr ydmykende og nedverdigende behandling. President George Bush gjorde et unntak for denne bestemmelsen etter 911. At Rumsfeld og Cheney fortsatt holder fast ved unntaket, er vanskelig å forstå. Tap av anseelse har vært meget stort.

For decades, it had been the official policy of the U.S. military to follow the minimum standards for treating all detainees as laid out in the Geneva Convention. But, in 2002, Bush suspended portions of the Geneva Convention for captured Al Qaeda and Taliban fighters. Bush’s order superseded military policy at the time, touching off a wide debate over U.S. obligations under the Geneva accord, a debate that intensified after reports of detainee abuses at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison.

Among the directives being rewritten following Bush’s 2002 order is one governing U.S. detention operations. Military lawyers and other defense officials wanted the redrawn version of the document known as DoD Directive 2310, to again embrace Common Article 3 of the Geneva Convention.

That provision — known as a «common» article because it is part of each of the four Geneva pacts approved in 1949 — bans torture and cruel treatment. Unlike other Geneva provisions, Article 3 covers all detainees — whether they are held as unlawful combatants or traditional prisoners of war. The protections for detainees in Article 3 go beyond the McCain amendment by specifically prohibiting humiliation, treatment that falls short of cruelty or torture.

The move to restore U.S. adherence to Article 3 was opposed by officials from Vice President Dick Cheney’s office and by the Pentagon’s intelligence arm, government sources said. David S. Addington, Cheney’s chief of staff, and Stephen A. Cambone, Defense undersecretary for intelligence, said it would restrict the United States’ ability to question detainees.

Army Manual to Skip Geneva Detainee Rule

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