“Clarifying” the Geneva Convention

Bush is saying we need to clarify parts of Article 3, and even became visibly angry at a press conference today when questioned about it. I’ve read and reread the Article, which is quite plain in it’s text, and am at a loss to find something that needs to be “clarified”…
Unless you want to do things that are covered in the Convention, there is no reason to change a single word. I’m not even sure if you can make changes or interpretations to the Geneva convention without a majority consensus of all abiding bodies.

Here is the full text of Article 3 of Convention (III) relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War. Geneva, 12 August 1949.:

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
(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.

Knowing this administration, I’m pretty sure they’re confused with Paragraph 1, subsections (a), (c) and (d). From reading it, and remembering numerous news articles from the past 4 years, it’s a pretty safe bet that America has violated all three of those subsections.

I’m only guessing, but I think Bush wants to redefine certain words or actions…..namely “torture”, “cruel treatment” and “humiliating and degrading treatment”. Why? Could it be because everyone knows these things are occurring, probably while I write this blog, and they are trying anything and everything to cover their asses from war crimes accusations? Bush kept saying he wants to make sure the intelligence community uses legal means to get information from suspected terrorists. What better way to make torture legal than by redefining the word “torture”.

I need to do more research, (and add my findings to this post in the future), but by changing the Geneva Convention to fit their view, would the Bush administration be voiding our participation in it? Even if that is the case, nothing would change in respect to our participation to any part of it, because of Article 142:

Art 142. Each of the High Contracting Parties shall be at liberty to denounce the present Convention.

The denunciation shall be notified in writing to the Swiss Federal Council, which shall transmit it to the Governments of all the High Contracting Parties.

The denunciation shall take effect one year after the notification thereof has been made to the Swiss Federal Council. However, a denunciation of which notification has been made at a time when the denouncing Power is involved in a conflict shall not take effect until peace has been concluded, and until after operations connected with release and repatriation of the persons protected by the present Convention have been terminated.

The denunciation shall have effect only in respect of the denouncing Power. It shall in no way impair the obligations which the Parties to the conflict shall remain bound to fulfil by virtue of the principles of the law of nations, as they result from the usages established among civilized peoples, from the laws of humanity and the dictates of the public conscience.

As I see it, Bush is trying to accomplish two things with this strategy. On the one hand, he wants to appeal to the uninformed American population by appearing as if he’s concerned with our treatment of P.O.W.s, but on the other, he’s trying to change the Convention to allow the mistreatment of P.O.W.s to gather intelligence.