IN OTHER WORDS : US violation

In January 2002, when the Bush administration created the Guantánamo Bay camp for prisoners, President Bush said he would be “adhering to the spirit of the Geneva Convention” in handling the detainees. Unfortunately, this was not true. The president did not intend to follow the Geneva Conventions, and he still doesn’t, despite a Supreme Court ruling that the prisoners merit those protections.

To everyone’s relief, the White House is now working with Congress on one major violation of the conventions found by the court — the military tribunals Bush invented for Guantánamo Bay. But the president remains determined to have his way on the other big issue — how jailers treat prisoners. Bush wants Congress to make the US the first country to repudiate the language of the Geneva Conventions.

Bush objects to the clause in Common Article 3 of the Conventions that prohibits “outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment.” But Bush authorised techniques to handle and interrogate prisoners that clearly break the rules.

The Geneva Conventions protect Americans. If this country changes the rules, it’s changing the rules for Americans taken prisoners abroad. That is far too high a price to pay so this administration can hang on to its misbegotten policies.