Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Bush concedes terror detainee rights under Geneva Conventions

NYT via "The White House conceded for the first time Tuesday that terror suspects held by the United States had a right under international law to basic human and legal protections under the Geneva Conventions.

The statement, reversing a position held since shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks, represents a victory for those within the Bush administration who have argued that the refusal of the United States to extend Geneva protections to al-Qaida prisoners was harming the country's standing abroad. It said the White House would withdraw a portion of an executive order issued by President Bush in 2002 saying that terror suspects were not covered by the Geneva Conventions.

The White House said the change was in keeping with the Supreme Court decision two weeks ago that struck down Bush's plans for military tribunals. A Defense Department memo made public earlier in the day had concluded that the court decision also meant that terror suspects in military custody had legal rights under the Geneva Convention.

The new White House interpretation is likely to have sweeping implications, because it appears to apply to all al-Qaida and Taliban terrorist suspects currently in the custody of the CIA or other U.S. intelligence agencies around the world. From the outset, Bush declared that the battle against al-Qaida would be a war like no other, but his administration has been forced to back away from its most aggressive efforts to deny rights to terror suspects."


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