Jeffrey LewisAbuses in Iraq

The Washington Post has an excellent editorial today, linking the human rights abuses in Iraqi prisons with the Bush Administration/’s pathological aversion to international norms and conventions:

Abuses will take place in any prison system. But Mr. Rumsfeld/’s decisions helped create a lawless regime in which prisoners in both Iraq and Afghanistan have been humiliated, beaten, tortured and murdered — and in which, until recently, no one has been held accountable.

The lawlessness began in January 2002 when Mr. Rumsfeld publicly declared that hundreds of people detained by U.S. and allied forces in Afghanistan “do not have any rights” under the Geneva Conventions. That was not the case: At a minimum, all those arrested in the war zone were entitled under the conventions to a formal hearing to determine whether they were prisoners of war or unlawful combatants.

Mr. Rumsfeld allowed detainees to be indiscriminately designated as beyond the law — and made humane treatment dependent on the goodwill of U.S. personnel.

The editorial ends with a word of warning about what the abuses in Iraq imply about the likely treatment of detainees in, among other places, Guantanamo.

Le Monde has seemingly great coverage, including a collection of documents from one the guards. The Le Monde editorial steers clear of my thought: This is so Colonel Mathieu in The Battle of Algiers.

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