The Global War On You Know Who

"The West is facing a concerted effort by Islamic jihadists, the motives and goals of whom are largely ignored by the Western media, to destroy the West and bring it forcibly into the Islamic world -- and to commit violence to that end even while their overall goal remains out of reach. That effort goes under the general rubric of jihad."
-- Robert Spencer

Saturday, December 10, 2005

US to the ICRC: Get Bent

The International Committee of the Red Collaborators Cross continues to demand access to all US detainees; the US continues to give them access at Gitmo, and say no to the rest. AFP spins it as if the decision is some grievous violation of international law -- like, oh, say, beheading civilian hostages, then using the video to recruit new holy warriors.
The United States rejected a fresh call by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) for full access to terror suspects, saying some of those detained were "exceptional" and posed "unique threats" to US security.

The group is at present allowed to visit detainees held at the US military base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, under an internationally recognized legal mandate to oversee the fair treatment of detainees captured in conflicts.
No, not "detainees captured in conflicts." Under Geneva Convention III, prisoners of war receive certain protections (such as ICRC visits). Adopted after WWII -- fought with massive draftee armies of powerful nation-states -- GCIII requires captured combatants to meet certain conditions to qualify for POW protections. Namely, they must (1) wear the uniform or insignia of a belligerent state, (2) openly bear arms, (3) be under the regular command and control of the enemy armed forces, and (4) conduct operations in accordance with the law of war.

Seeing as no US detainee meets any of these conditions, they are all classified as unlawful combatants. Thus it would be entirely consistent with international law if they were summarily executed. However, the US being a decent, civilized nation, strives to treat all detainees consistent with GCIII even though it's under no obligation to do so.
John Bellinger, senior legal adviser for Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, said in Geneva Thursday that United Nations and the ICRC did not have access to the full range of terror suspects held by the United States.

He declined to comment on the alleged existence of secret prisons outside the United States, but emphasized that the ICRC was carrying out visits to check on conditions of the roughly 500 foreign terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay.

When asked if the ICRC had access to everybody held in similar circumstances elsewhere, Bellinger said, "No."

The ICRC has made it clear that it was seeking to visit anyone held outside Guantanamo Bay or Iraq, invoking international rules aimed at protecting detainees in armed conflicts.
The "international rules" referred to here is the 1977 Protocol I to GCIII, a hotly disputed amendment to which the US and many others are not signatories, and which is not recognized widely enough to have the character or binding force of international customary law. The reason it's controversial and the US is not a signatory is that it would extend GCIII protections to terrorists, guerillas, mercenaries, and other unlawful combatants.

GCIII is meant to protect hapless young men drafted and thrown into a conflict they didn't ask for; terrorists and guerillas are, by definition, fiercely committed volunteers for combat whose major tactical advantage lies in barbaric, illegal conduct. The real headline here is that we extend any protections whatsoever to terrorist detainees, a measure of our abundance of decency.


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