Thursday, May 13, 2004

Part of the process

The other day the ICRC reported being told that prisoners being confined naked in their cells was "part of the process". Now we have confirmation that the US has legalised the widespread use of "torture-lite" in Iraq:

Revealing the interrogation methods allowed in Iraq, the Senate Armed Services Committee released a single page titled "Interrogation Rules of Engagement", listing two categories of measures.

The first showed basic techniques approved for all detainees, while the second involved tougher measures that required approval by Lieutenant-General Ricardo Sanchez, commander of US forces in Iraq. Among the items on the second list were stress positions for up to 45 minutes, sleep deprivation for up to 72 hours and use of muzzled dogs.

Looking at the photo, the list also includes dietry and environmental manipulation - i.e. denial of food, water, heat, shelter, and clothing. Sound familiar?

And at the sme time, in the same room, the US undersecretary for defence had the gall to claim that prisoners in Iraq were treated according to the Geneva Convention. He must have a different version of it to everybody else, because the version I've seen outlaws anything even remotely like the above.

Still, we now know exactly how high this goes - all the way to the top. Use of these techniques must be approved by Lt-Gen Sanchez. There is a similar list for Guantanamo, requiring the explicit approval of Donald Rumsfeld. As they are the people approving this treatment, responsability ultimately rests with them. Both are war criminals, both should be prosecuted. If the US won't do it, then the international community should.