The Prison Puzzle The New York Times; Editorial Published: November 3, 2005 It's maddening. Why does the Bush administration keep forcing policies on the United States military that endanger Americans wearing the nation's uniform - policies that the military does not want, that do not work and that violate standards upheld by the civilized world for decades?
When the Bush administration rewrote the rules for dealing with prisoners after 9/11, needlessly scrapping the Geneva Conventions and American law, it ignored the objections of lawyers for the armed services. Now, heedless of the lessons of Abu Ghraib, the civilians are once again running over the people in uniform. Tim Golden and Eric Schmitt reported yesterday in The Times that the administration is blocking the Pentagon from adopting the language of the Geneva Conventions to set rules for handling prisoners in the so-called war on terror.
Senior military lawyers want these standards, as do some Defense and State Department officials outside the inner circle. They say the abuse and torture of prisoners has reduced America's standing with its allies and taken away its moral high ground with the rest of the world. They also know that it endangers any American soldiers who are captured.
The rigid ideologues blocking this reform say the Geneva Conventions banning inhumane treatment are too vague. Which part of no murder, torture, mutilation, cruelty or humiliation do they not understand? The restrictions are a problem only if you want to do such abhorrent things and pretend they are legal. That is why the Bush administration tossed out the rules after 9/11.
It's a terrifying thing when the people who devote their lives to protecting our national security feel that the civilians who oversee their operations are out of control.
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