Today, the Geneva Conventions turned 60. Like many people “of a certain age,” the Geneva Conventions can be forgiven for feeling a bit marginalized and forgotten. The Obama Administration is about to finish the work of the Bush Administration in gutting the enforceability of the Conventions by blocking any investigation or prosecution of American officials who violated the conventions, including the well-documented torture program.
Signed in 1949, the conventions were the foundation of much of our human rights protections and, until the Bush Administration, were viewed as inviolate. Almost immediately after 9-11, Bush officials announced that the conventions did not apply to the people captured in Afghanistan (a position later rescinded after months of ridicule). The Administration continued to narrow the application of the convention through opportunistic interpretations.
The International Red Cross warned the United States that was committing torture and other abuses.
The Obama Administration has indicated that it will accept “just following orders” as a defense to torture allegations and would not allow the investigation of high-ranking Bush officials for their ordering of torture.
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