The question tears at all of us: How could American men and women treat Iraqi prisoners with such cruelty and laugh at their humiliation? It is a culture of low regard for the law, of respecting the law only when it is convenient. Again and again, over these last years, President Bush has made clear his view that law must bend to what he regards as necessity. One clear example is the treatment of the prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. The Third Geneva Convention requires that any dispute about a prisoner’s status be decided by a “competent tribunal.” But Bush has refused to comply with this. He decided that all those prisoners there were “unlawful combatants.” The violation of the Geneva convention and that refusal to let the courts consider the issue have cost the US dearly in the world legal community. That view has been worsened by the Bush administration’s determination that Americans not be subject to the new International Criminal Court. Fear of terrorism has led to harsh departures from normal legal practice within the US. Aliens swept off the streets by the Justice Department as possible terrorists after Sept. 11, were subjected to abuse and humiliation by prison guards. There is a pervasive attitude in all of these matters: that to follow the law is to be weak in the face of terrorism. But commitment to law is not a weakness. — The New York Times.