by Jason Leopold, April 20, 2009
Newly released US government documents, detailing how Bush administration officials punched legalistic holes in the Geneva Conventions’ protections of war captives, stand in stark contrast to the outrage some of the same officials expressed in the first week of the Iraq war when Iraqi TV interviewed several captured American soldiers.
“If there is somebody captured,” President George W. Bush told reporters on March 23, 2003, “I expect those people to be treated humanely. If not, the people who mistreat the prisoners will be treated as war criminals.”
Then, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, President George W. Bush, and other administration officials orchestrated a chorus of outrage, citing those TV scenes as proof of the Iraq’s government contempt for international law in general and the Geneva Conventions in particular.
“It is a blatant violation of the Geneva Convention to humiliate and abuse prisoners of war or to harm them in any way. As President Bush said yesterday, those who harm POWs will be found and punished as war criminals,” Pentagon spokeswoman Victoria Clarke said on March 24, 2003.
That same day, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz told the BBC that “the Geneva Convention is very clear on the rules for treating prisoners.. They’re not supposed to be tortured or abused; they’re not supposed to be intimidated; they’re not supposed to be made public displays of humiliation or insult, and we’re going to be in a position to hold those Iraqi officials who are mistreating our prisoners accountable, and they’ve got to stop.”
At a March 25, 2003, press briefing about progress in the US-led invasion, Secretary Rumsfeld said, “This war is an act of self-defense, to be sure, but it is also an act of humanity…. In recent days, the world has witnessed further evidence of their [Iraqi] brutality and their disregard for the laws of war. Their treatment of coalition POWs is a violation of the Geneva Conventions.”
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