What's going to happen when this is all over?
March 23, 2003 11:34 AM   Subscribe

Iraq breaks the Geneva Convention by showing POWs on TV. To me, this is the first concrete evidence that Iraq is (potentially) breaking the Geneva Convention. I say potentially because, if we're an interloper, then I don't believe the Geneva Convention applies...we're basically just murderers and invaders, though I might be wrong. If this IS a "legal war", then the Convention should apply and there should be questions afterwards; one of the scariest I've been asking myself is "If the ICC or the UN decline to prosecute any Iraqis for Geneva Convention violations, will the US just kidnap whomever they want to prosecute?"
posted by taumeson (92 comments total)
According to American and British soldiers held captive during the last Gulf War, the Iraqis didn't adhere to the Geneva Convention at all, torturing several and refusing to provide medical aid as dictated by the Convention.

There's little doubt they'll do it this time, either. I find the fact that several of the dead solders had gunshot wounds to their foreheads pretty telling.
posted by darren at 11:41 AM on March 23, 2003

So we have found a treaty the current administration cares about? Wow. But I bet it's only when its going to be convenient, and they will be out as soon as they need to be, just like every other treaty they've tossed aside in the last 2 years.
posted by benjh at 11:41 AM on March 23, 2003

Yes, it would probably be wise for Iraq to violate the Geneva Convention out of the range of cameras, the way we're doing at Camp X-Ray.
posted by troybob at 11:44 AM on March 23, 2003

"Canadian soldiers don't degrade the bodies of enemy soldiers," he stressed, adding he fears this country's troops are being Americanized. "That's what differentiates us from other armies. We are from a civilized country and from a humane society, and we as Canadians don't do that."

The colonel appears to be correct. Paul Buteaux, professor of strategic studies at the University of Manitoba, says that while trophy taking is as old as war itself, Canadian soldiers--notwithstanding their impressive war records--have little history of mutilating or interfering with enemy dead. Carl Christie, an air force historian at the University of Winnipeg, agrees Canadians have been much more civilized than most in conducting war.

...As for the question of the Americanization of Canadian troops, Robert Buzzanco, professor of military history at the University of Houston and author of the book Masters of War: Military Dissent and Politics in the Vietnam Era, believes Americans have a "more brutal" culture and, therefore, are more willing to revel in the harsh realities of war than Canadians. "Our soldiers cut the ears off the enemy and made necklaces out of them," he points out. "Accounts of soldiers defacing the dead are littered throughout American history. In the U.S, this is accepted warfare. We have a very macho culture."

It's just not the Canadian way
posted by y2karl at 11:45 AM on March 23, 2003

Troybob wrote this for the "Friendly Fire" post, but I liked the comment and am feeling lazy too. So: "Rumsfeld's comment on CBS Face the Nation: "That's a violation of the Geneva Convention, those pictures you showed"

It's going to be hard for him to argue the point, to the U.S. or the rest of the world, after the maneuvering and wordplay the administration went through to allow us to keep (and 'coerce') foreign prisoners outside the Geneva Convention standards."

[posted by troybob at 11:08 AM PST on March 23]
posted by troutfishing at 11:46 AM on March 23, 2003

A letter from Human Rights Watch to Condoleezza Rice concerning Guantanamo Bay and the Geneva convention.
posted by eddydamascene at 11:54 AM on March 23, 2003

You can violate the Geneva Convention here.
posted by the fire you left me at 11:56 AM on March 23, 2003

Disrespect toward the carcasses of the slain is appallingly rude and should not be tolerated. Treat the enemy as you would want to be treated.

There is some concern that the CIA has kidnapped a high-ranking Iraqi defector who was being held in Denmark. Would this not be a violation of the Geneva Convention? (Not that the CIA abides by conventions.)

Story at Herald Sun (no idea if that's a reputable paper at all.)
posted by five fresh fish at 11:57 AM on March 23, 2003

A glimpse toward a different time.
posted by the fire you left me at 11:59 AM on March 23, 2003

In other news: British Soldiers Violate Geneva Convention.
posted by Masi at 12:01 PM on March 23, 2003

Masi, if you listened to the briefings earlier today, you would have heard them describe how some Iraqi soldiers were either changing into civilian clothes, or waving the white flag, only to attack as the Brits and Americans got close enough.
posted by h00dini at 12:04 PM on March 23, 2003

I don't see what is wrong with showing how war REALLY is. That's reality, face it. I only feel for the families that will not have their loved one back.
posted by elpapacito at 12:09 PM on March 23, 2003

The US violated the same convention in Afghanistan and Guantanamo bay. Our media televised pictures of alleged al-Qaeda soldiers strapped to the bottom of a C5A transport plane, goggled and gagged on their way to the now famous camps in Cuba. How the Guvmint got around it is by calling these people "enemy combatants" instead of POWs, which would've forced them to abide by the Geneva Convention.

Which makes you wonder just how many lawyers currently work in the White House?
posted by moonbird at 12:09 PM on March 23, 2003

Why do the American media keep referring to this Al Jazeera tape but then not show it? Surely it is reasonable to expect access to this in the US and in the past major American media have had access to showing Al Jazeera tape.

It is so insulting the may our media treat their viewers.
posted by filchyboy at 12:10 PM on March 23, 2003

In the larger scheme of things (e.g. killing, gassing, etc) this isn't exactly one of the most important Geneva conventions. Personally, I'd trade a single fatality from either side for all the parading and humiliating in the war.
posted by Wood at 12:11 PM on March 23, 2003

Alright, I give up. I officially don't get it anymore.
posted by crasspastor at 12:13 PM on March 23, 2003

Pictures of Iraqi prisoners have also been shown widely in the United States, breaking the Geneva Convention.

This is all nit picking. So far both sides seem to be following the Geneva Convention in spirit. Lets hope it stays that way.
posted by ollybee at 12:13 PM on March 23, 2003

Executing an unarmed, defenseless prisoner is horrible and wrong regardless of whether the Geneva convention applies. Even if the U.S. is violating human rights in Guantanamo, that does not justify executing these weaponless soldiers.

Two wrongs don't make a right, and this sad war continues.
posted by jsonic at 12:20 PM on March 23, 2003

I think the applicable section of the convention is article 27, which states that prisoners "shall be protected... against insults and public curiosity".
posted by eddydamascene at 12:20 PM on March 23, 2003

Last night, MSNBC aired footage of a correspondent showing captured Iraqis, some kneeling, some lying on the desert floor. He shined lights in their faces, and knelt down within 2 feet of some of them and and getured towards them, without actually acknowledging them as people.

For what it's worth.
posted by 2sheets at 12:20 PM on March 23, 2003

Yes, but they are Iraqis who surrendered. Therefore they have different rights than those who were captured.

A prisoner of war isn't just anyone. There's a legal definition.
posted by nyxxxx at 12:22 PM on March 23, 2003

To me, this is the first concrete evidence that Iraq is (potentially) breaking the Geneva Convention.

Is that a surprise? Iraq has been ignoring the UN for.. oh.. twenty years now? If Iraq (and to a lesser extent: the US) actually adhered to what the UN said we wouldn't have this war now.
posted by wackybrit at 12:22 PM on March 23, 2003

will the US just kidnap whomever they want to prosecute?
Count on it, however the public may never hear about these instances, including those who are just shot in the head themselves wherever they may be found.
posted by mischief at 12:26 PM on March 23, 2003

The PNAC/Administration are afraid that the constant broadcasting of dead and captured civilians/soldiers will turn public protest in the US to bigger numbers, undoing a hereto well executed (pardon the pun) media campaign up until know. As kottke urges, don't smile on television whilst talking about the war. Or on radio either.
posted by grimley at 12:27 PM on March 23, 2003

French TV5 on cable showed the footage of the prisoners and dead American soldiers during the 8 PM news. The captured GIs looked scared - not like the Iraqi POWs on CNN.

I sincerely hope this does not set off a stream of anti-french rant. Many European cable systems also get Al-Jazeera, so ther would be little reason not to air it in a breaking news context outside of the US, where the relatives would be updet by it.
posted by zaelic at 12:28 PM on March 23, 2003

Yes, but they are Iraqis who surrendered. Therefore they have different rights than those who were captured.
Huh? Is there really a difference?
posted by kickingtheground at 12:29 PM on March 23, 2003

nyxx: And what leads you to believe they surrendered and they weren't captured ? Do you have a video of them being captured or surrendering ?
posted by elpapacito at 12:31 PM on March 23, 2003

The BBC (along with other British broadcasters) appears to have quietly retired its footage of Iraqi prisoners, along with the Al-Jazeera footage. I'm checking with friends to see if the Head of Newsgathering issued an edict to phase out both. Also got an interesting tip-off from a friend of mine in Italy, who saw two different cuts of footage on local TV and CNN. A prisoner gets up to pray, the US guard engages his weapon and tells him to stop, a colleague runs across and tells the guard that it's okay, and prisoners are allowed to pray. On CNN, that turned into 'a prisoner gets up to pray, and is allowed to pray'.

Oh, and wackybrit: the Geneva Convention and the UN are quite separate issues. International law is not a zero-sum game. As the US's selective adoption of treaties and conventions shows pretty well.

What's interesting here, though slightly gruesome to contemplate, is that the footage of dead Americans categorically isn't covered by the Geneva Convention. It's a taste-and-decency (and propaganda) issue. But this is better covered in the earlier thread on Al-Jazeera.

Yes, but they are Iraqis who surrendered. Therefore they have different rights than those who were captured.

Actually, no: the Convention makes no distinction between surrender and capture. There may be ad hoc surrender terms, as reports have suggested, but that's not a matter for the Convention, which defines prisoners of war as those who have 'have fallen into the power of the enemy'. The only distinction to be made here is between those deemed to have 'withdrawn from combat' and those who have been taken prisoner. The point being that if you disarm and send people home, you don't have to adhere to the Convention because those individuals haven't 'fallen into the power of the enemy'.
posted by riviera at 12:35 PM on March 23, 2003

Laws are made to be broken.

And regarding the photo of "British war crimes" -- it's not difficult to raise a white flag while shooting a rifle. We don't know what happened.
posted by shabrem at 12:39 PM on March 23, 2003

yeah, and i want to marry saddam too. i'm sure he gives a shit about the geneva convention. saddam hussain would fucking waste you as soon as look at you. stop apologising for him.
posted by mokey at 12:40 PM on March 23, 2003

back in 1991:

In all, seven Allied airmen were shot down captured in the first waves of strikes. On January 20, 1991, Cocciolone appeared on Iraqi television in an apparent
propaganda effort by his Iraqi captors. First the voice interviews, followed
by the videotapes, were released by Cable News Network (CNN). Cocciolone
appeared to be speaking under extreme duress. Also on January 20, the Iraqis
stated that their POWs would be used as "human shields" to protect their
important military targets from strikes by Allied forces.
British Prime Minister John Major immediately charged that Iraq's treatment
of Allied POWs was "wholly objectionable" and against the Geneva accords for
treatment of prisoners of war. U.S. Vice President Dan Quail (sic) said that Iraqi
leaders would be held "personally" responsible for the obvious mistreatment
of Allied POWs.
On March 3, 1991, a smiling Maurizio Cocciolone greeted cameras when he was
released by the Iraqis. According to U.S. national media, all non-U.S.
Coalition POWs except one Kuwaiti, were released by March 6. Most had been
held at Basra, and reported being well-treated.

posted by matteo at 12:46 PM on March 23, 2003

it seems pretty obvious to me, at least, that we are doing our best to keep these kinds of pictures out of public view.

as skallas already said above, part of the battle is a media/information war. IMO the whole 'geneva convention' thing is a smokescreen and our government is doing their best to keep images like these out of media hands because it just might show the realities of war, unlike what we (americans, at least) are being shown. the most disturbing images i've seen so far are those of british troops storming a compound and one man on fire (british troops, not american) and much more disturbing; the pic of a wounded iraqi girl that skallas linked to above that has yet to be shown on major american media, much less any iraqi civilian casualties.
posted by poopy at 12:55 PM on March 23, 2003

zaelic: in the netherlands the footage was shown on commercial and public television, I'm sure the rest of Europe has seen it too.

mokey: apologize

riviera: thanks for the info.
posted by ginz at 12:58 PM on March 23, 2003

I said this in an earlier thread but it merits repeating in this one, I think:
...only a few weeks ago both on all outlets of American media as well as this very website we were arguing over rational excuses for torturing people because of an alleged importance to our nation's sanctity. I'm implying that the U.S. has set itself up in a way that at the very minimum it needs to take a good long moment or three to reflect on how far down the line it really stands on moral equivalence.

This is an administration that has at countless moments skirted age-old deals and treaties in the name of domestic interests. That known, it's understandable that many would scoff at the nature of the administration's declaration that the Iraqis aren't playing by the rules. Hell, Bush began the military action with a speech in which he declared his intent to invade Iraq followed by a list of rules to which he expected the people he was about to order killed to obey.

To top off all of that, this is a military action that Bush has sponsored not in accordance with international consensus and procedure, but in direct and blatant defiance of it. How can we accept any standard of "rules" or decency in this military and international equivalent of a dysfunctional family?
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 12:58 PM on March 23, 2003

stop apologising for him

Ditto. Criminals don't care about rules of war or the sanctity of a dead body.

we are doing our best to keep these kinds of pictures out of public view

Not really.
posted by oh posey at 1:01 PM on March 23, 2003

and don't forget XQUZYPHYR, that our administration has stated repeatedly that we have entered this war reluctantly.
posted by poopy at 1:03 PM on March 23, 2003

Does the Geneva convention make distinctions about soldiers on either side of a battle, who claim to surrender and accept capture, on the plan and hope to continue the battle from within during or after the capture process? Does it make a distinction regarding (in this example) Iraqi soldiers who pose as civilians in order to confuse the enemy into attacking other civilians? No it does not.

Long before the Geneva Convention, from the perspective of British soldiers, the proper way to approach a battle was in distinctive uniforms in a straight line. It was an unwritten agreement that a noble and proud military would match British conventions. It is an approach which the United Kingdom used for many generations, to the point where at one time the sun never set on British soil.

Two hundred years ago, the revolutionaries of colonists who eventually became the United States of America, responded to British military strategy by dressing in uncolorful clothes and hiding in the surrounding environment, in order to ambush the invading army. Some would argue this was the birth of modern guerilla tactics, a use of primitive battle strategies with a modern sensibility.

Over time America has expanded upon this concept by camoflaging our forces and equiptment, while using technology to improve our military's visual acuity. Its enemies have also adapted some of these tactics and even improved upon them. The Korean and Vietnam wars were examples of how extreme both sides would take these measures. Where one side would infiltrate the other as discretely as possible, like a virus invading a host body.

So it makes logical sense that in order to combat Americans, Iraqi forces hide in civilian populations, forcing their enemy to attack large cities, and then spreading propaganda indicating that the true enemy are the ones bombing their homes.

Two hundred years ago, Benjamin Franklin and others utilized the written word and the printing press to spread what they saw as knowledge and what others might have defined as propaganda. Today, the use of mass media and the Internet have become effective tools to spread such knowledge and propaganda. Likewise, being able to tell the difference between the two (objective facts versus biased opinion) has become more muddied. This has happened by necessity. Both sides want to win, and they will break rules, Geneva or otherwise, in order to accomplish their respective goals.

In Turkey, some military forces are trying to utilize this recent Iraq War with American and other "coalition" forces, to continue their ongoing battle against Kurdish interests. They hope to take advantage of the confusion, to further their own goals. Dictatorships argue that democracy is just another form of oppression, when they intervene with cultures that didn't have any control over their government system. The argument is simultaneously a twisted and valid argument. Who is to say what is right for the Iraqi people, when the Iraqi people themselves are given misinformation, and made to fear inalienable freedoms at the barrel of a gun? How can the Kurds ever seek freedom, when they are surrounded by forces who only want to obliterate them?

This is the evolution of military strategy, and in the world of violence, desperation is the mother of invention.
posted by ZachsMind at 1:36 PM on March 23, 2003

"Yes, but they are Iraqis who surrendered. Therefore they have different rights than those who were captured."

This boggles the mind on many levels.
If you surrender, you are then a prisoner, and the Geneva convention applies.
But how do you draw a distinction between being captured and surrendering? I don't think the Iraqis threw a net over anybody. I would think that our POW's surrendered at gunpoint when they realized there was no escape from their situation.

I guess the enemy surrenders, but our soldiers get captured, according to the official wartime semantic guidelines,
posted by 2sheets at 1:38 PM on March 23, 2003

stop apologising for him.

Nobody is apologizing for Saddam.
Nobody is defending Saddam.
Nobody likes Saddam.

Let's retire these for the duration.
He's a bad man--on that we all agree.
posted by y2karl at 1:41 PM on March 23, 2003

The footage has been shown on Greek TV, as well.
posted by taz at 1:42 PM on March 23, 2003

The Agonist currently has links (several mirrors) to a 2m13s segment of the Al-Jazeera footage.
posted by Owen Boswarva at 1:45 PM on March 23, 2003

Does anyone have a link to this footage? I'd like to see for myself what is so horrible that we have to be shielded from it.
posted by Juicylicious at 1:45 PM on March 23, 2003

Thanks Owen.
posted by Juicylicious at 1:54 PM on March 23, 2003

Thats the most horrible thing I've ever seen in my life.
posted by pemulis at 2:07 PM on March 23, 2003

Drudge just linked to the tape.
posted by konolia at 2:12 PM on March 23, 2003

You've not seen much then. Come on what I saw were fuzzy images of bodies and basic propaganda interviews. I've seen much worse from Somalia, German concentration camps, Vietnam, Cambodia, and the list goes on. I don't understand why people seem to be so surprised by this broadcast. War is dirty business and no one comes away with clean hands.
posted by Juicylicious at 2:13 PM on March 23, 2003

Here are some stills. Gut wrenching. Oy vey.

I'm with Byrd. My heart weeps. . .
posted by crasspastor at 2:14 PM on March 23, 2003

For me it is clear that citing the Geneva Rujles is but a way of saying we will do with you what we want because you don't play by the rules, whether we did or not. After all, who made the judgements at NMurenbergu? The winners. And in Serbia? the winners. As for those lads in Cuba--they are not military and therefore do not come under the rules. It strikes me as odd to get excited about Not Playing by the rules when we are going to war because Iraq did not play by the rules--WMD, failure to abide by UN etc etc.
posted by Postroad at 2:17 PM on March 23, 2003

Yea, I went back and checked. I was kinda afraid to click on what Drudge had, but he just linked to a few photos. Which were bad enough.

Does anyone know what division they are with-or at least where they were based?
posted by konolia at 2:18 PM on March 23, 2003

BY FAR what worries me about the current situation is what they're going to do to the female soldier.

Has anybody thought about that? Are they just going to cover her up? I think not...I mean, she was outside, and they broadcasted her face and uncovered head on the airwaves.

I think this could be awful, and I fear for her.

On preview, 507th Maintenance, out of Ft. Bliss, Texas. They're combat support, not front-liners.
posted by taumeson at 2:29 PM on March 23, 2003

If the American media started playing this footage over and over in the way they showed the footage of Ronald Reagan being shot a couple decades ago, it would fuel the uprisings of anti-war protests, and cause the American populous to want to stop this war faster than the present administration could handle. We've committed to finishing this. Pulling out now would turn the Iraq war into another Vietnam. Now that we've been committed to this atrocity, we cannot just give up now and pull out.

We knew we were gonna lose American, British and other "coalition" soldiers when we started. I wish that weren't the case, and my heart goes out to the familes of those killed or captured. Shawna's from my home state of Texas. That hits me hard on a personal level. She reminds me of a coworker/friend. I have friends in the military. By the law of six degrees of separation, there's a good chance Shawna's not far from my circle of friends.

Showing this footage on American television would achieve an adverse affect. Yes I believe in free speech, but bombarding the American people with this footage would only make things worse than they already are. It's not like avoiding this footage is denying that it's happening. The news media is reporting the incident. They're just not showing the footage, which is in my opinion a good editorial decision.

If the American media were replaying this footage over and over, dissenters would argue that the media was using the footage to further their goals of increased ratings. There really isn't a right action here. Either way the American media would get criticized. We live in a world of the lesser of two evils in many ways, and I think in this case the lesser of two evils was chosen wisely.

So long as the truth is known and being reported, there's no need to shine a brighter light on it than is already there. I applaud those offering mirrors so that those who really want to see this footage for themselves have a chance of doing so. I for one don't need to also get a running commentary by Peter Jennings. The footage speaks for itself.
posted by ZachsMind at 2:29 PM on March 23, 2003

I doubt a regime that:
-will gouge out the eyes, starve, crush the bones of a child to force a confession from it's parents
-burn a persons limbs off, lower prisoners into vats of acid/industrial shredders, apply electric shock, to obtain confession
-removes a persons tongue for critisizing Saddam
-practices systematic rape against it's female victims
-force a white hot metal rod into a person's anus
-employs thallium poisoning
-practises beheadings
-uses chemical warfare on it's own citizens
-beats and tortures it's athletes for losing international matches
-burns villages and poisons the water supply of it's own citizens..........

cares too much about the Geneva Convention
posted by reidfleming at 2:30 PM on March 23, 2003

Thats the most horrible thing I've ever seen in my life.

In case anyone hadn't looked at the footage and thought perhaps this was a serious comment, it wasn't. The footage is just of a few soldiers being asked some benign questions (in somewhat confused english) by iraqi reporters. They may be scared, but they are not being humiliated or tortured on camera, and they are not seriously freaking out or anything, just wary (understandably).

This is not to say that they aren't being humiliated or tortured elsewhere, simply that that the footage is not evidence of wrongdoing. It is simply evidence that iraq has captured some americans.

on preview: wait, did you mean to be serious? Now I'm confused...
posted by mdn at 2:32 PM on March 23, 2003

i feel bad for the people involved in this... everyone, american or whoever and i hope that these particular americans make it out safe. let's not forget, however, that it was the U.S. who started the war. it sucks, but we shouldn't delude ourselves into thinking that something like this wouldn't happen.
posted by poopy at 2:34 PM on March 23, 2003

I believe that this footage isn't being aired in the US because it's simply not that bad. It's much more useful to the government to let Americans' imaginations run wild, thus allowing us to justify our beliefs that Iraqis are subhuman.
posted by Juicylicious at 2:38 PM on March 23, 2003

Actually, I was referring to stills on the druge report, of the Iraqi smiling gleefully over an American soldier's corpse, whose head seems to have been blown off.
posted by pemulis at 2:38 PM on March 23, 2003


Not that bad? The soldiers were tied up with their faces covered, and were shot in the head. Have you ever seen someone shot in the head, at point blank range? I hadn't either, until I saw the video on the al jazeera site , and its fucking awful. Jesusfuckingchrist, the Iraqis were practically jerking off on the corpses? How can you call that "not that bad"?


Check that out, its not that bad.
posted by pemulis at 2:43 PM on March 23, 2003

Your words are like cheap blood reidfleming.

Can I say, BRING THEM HOME NOW? Is that okay? Or am I just showing my true colors as a commie anti-American military hater now?
posted by crasspastor at 2:44 PM on March 23, 2003

"...let's not forget, however, that it was the U.S. who started the war..." - poopy

Whoa Nelly! Let's back up that horse just a minute!

Actually we didn't start this. We began the recent incursion into Iraq, but this is in reaction to over a decade of Saddam's shell game with inspectors, in violation of agreements made at the end of the Gulf War. It's our reaction to his treatment of his own people, and his threatening presence to his neighbors, as well as the rest of the world.

When Saddam first used violence on his own people, a very long time ago now, that's when this started. I'm not saying I agree with the orders of America's present Commander In Chief, but I personally can't fathom a better response to Saddam's tyranny. Everything else has been tried and has failed. If I had a better idea, if I thought there was anything else we could do other than try to take Saddam out, then I'd be upset. I don't have a better answer, and anyone crying for peace now without providing any better solution is just blowing smoke up everybody's asses. I don't want violence, but I don't delude myself into believing we Americans are going in there without provocation. We didn't start this, we're just trying to put an end to it.
posted by ZachsMind at 2:44 PM on March 23, 2003

BY FAR what worries me about the current situation is what they're going to do to the female soldier.

Has anybody thought about that? Are they just going to cover her up? I think not...I mean, she was outside, and they broadcasted her face and uncovered head on the airwaves.

I think this could be awful, and I fear for her.

This is the reason given, for not allowing women to serve in a combat capacity, but that's a discussion for another time.
posted by Beholder at 2:49 PM on March 23, 2003

For those of you who still think the Iraqi regime is worth marching in the streets for, you can check out the interviews with Gulf War I POWs currently being run today on CSPAN. After one soldier told me about the Republican Guard breaking his legs, and then kicking him there every 2-3 hours, I heard all I needed.

Obviously some of you need to hear more.
posted by darren at 2:49 PM on March 23, 2003

I think not...I mean, she was outside, and they broadcasted her face and uncovered head on the airwaves.

This is Iraq, not Iran. We're not talking about an Islamic state with shari'a and the veil, but a basically-secular state organised on Stalinist principles, with a veneer of Islam.
posted by riviera at 2:50 PM on March 23, 2003

Oh, and by the way, Al Qaida combatants aren't legal combatants as defined by the Geneva convention, and therefore aren't afforded its protections.
posted by darren at 2:51 PM on March 23, 2003

Obviously you need to hear the poor boy from Kansas again darren. "Only following orders".
posted by crasspastor at 2:51 PM on March 23, 2003

Give a determined interegator three hours alone with you, and he'll get you saying anything he wants, cp....
posted by darren at 2:53 PM on March 23, 2003

riviera is correct, I'll back him up totally on all points: there is no substantive difference, under the Geneva Convention, between POWs (or EPWs in Pentagon parlance) captured or surrendered. If they are disarmed and released, which the occupying power is free to do, they are considered civilians and covered under the separate convention for that.

Nor is there a substantive difference between a war with or without UN sanction. The Conventions apply to parties regardless. (As a practical matter, the idea of an "illegal" war is nonsense.) Also, the humiliation clause is Article 13 under the POW convention; Article 27 is in the civilian-persons convention.

Dead bodies are not covered by either convention. It is also not a crime for news organizations to show footage of prisoners or surrendering combatants. It is only a crime for the signatory power -- that is, a government -- to put its prisoners where they can be subject to "public curiosity". Camp X-Ray -- replaced now by Camp Delta -- is not open to the public to comply with the Geneva Conventions. Red Cross visits have been granted and no maltreatment charges have been formally placed, only an angry press release or two.

Postroad: Looks like a maintenance platoon of the 507th Corps Support group. These soldiers certainly didn't expect to end up on the front lines.
posted by dhartung at 2:54 PM on March 23, 2003

Pemulis = I was referring to the video. The images that I saw on Drudge did not show anyone "practically jerking off." I saw no hooded heads or anything that led me to believe that these soldiers were executed, as opposed to dying in combat. Apparently you have access to many more pics than I have seen. But, even the one that you just posted a link to, requires a bit of imagination to believe that that "soldiers were tied up with their faces covered, and were shot in the head." That pic did not show anyone tied or hooded. And believe it or not, sometimes combatants die due to gunshot wounds to the head. I'm simply not willing to buy into the propaganda.

Btw, you don't believe that Americans and Brits wouldn't act it up for a camera do you? Or maybe you do.....
posted by Juicylicious at 2:55 PM on March 23, 2003

War is utter complete madness. It's the lowest of all rudimentary things a human can do. It makes men mad. It turns them into lunatics. To say that there is one brand of human nature for an Iraqi and another for an American is ab-fucking-surd. Welcome to the world where one human can torture another without fear of retribution as long as your side remains mightier.
posted by crasspastor at 2:59 PM on March 23, 2003

While I'm perfectly willing to accept that Iraq has violated the Geneva Convention in this case, it's also worth pointing out that British TV sources showed extensive coverage of Iraqi soldiers, their faces clearly visible, being taken as prisoners-of-war and transported by Allied troops.
posted by skylar at 2:59 PM on March 23, 2003

let's be realistic ZachsMind: Saddam and iraq are not angels, but:

why did we engage in the first gulf war? was it because we were outraged by the atrocities of saddam's regime committing violent acts on kurds or rather, did it have something to do with a violent regime that was causing instability in the ME region?

iraq is a 'potential' threat and i don't think anyone would disagree with that argument, but does this mean that we have to resort to war rather than giving inspectors and the UN time? what is the major difference between then and now? well, for one, we have absolutely no concrete evidence that iraq threatens anyone enough to justify a full-blown war. period. and it is this reason that i believe innocent lives are being sacrificed for a needless war.

we claim that we were 'reluctant'. bullshit.
posted by poopy at 2:59 PM on March 23, 2003

I must have found the wrong video. I swear all that was on the video I saw were three different americans, looking a little nervous, answering questions like, "Where from are you?" and "Why you here?" They answer truthfully and respectfully. They do not seem to be suffering physically. Any pans of bodies were quick and / or blurry. It seems to me that our showing the skies lit up with bombs and the bodies of dead iraqis is about the same level of disregard for the enemy. If Iraq had invaded america and we had captured some soldiers, would we consider it horrific to interview them on tv? Poor judgment, maybe, but not "the most horrific thing I've ever seen." What a strange and flimsy basis for horror.
posted by mdn at 3:03 PM on March 23, 2003

Some of the images in question:

Captives:1 , 2
Dead 1 , 2 , 3

My take: Complaining about video footage violating the geneva convention is silly. Particulary when you are already pursuing a program of regime change via war. It's like accusing a serial killer of being a peeping Tom.
posted by srboisvert at 3:13 PM on March 23, 2003

Oh, and by the way, Al Qaida combatants aren't legal combatants as defined by the Geneva convention, and therefore aren't afforded its protections.

Well, that depends on whether or not you take the US at its word.

The US said that the Al-Qaeda fighters were part-and-parcel of the Taliban regime, which, extrapolated, makes them lawful combatants as '[m]embers of the armed forces of a Party to the conflict as well as members of militias or volunteer corps forming part of such armed forces' under article 4.1 of the Convention; the stuff you're likely to come up with about 'uniform' is subject to legal argument: nowhere in the conventions does it state that you need to be wearing a uniform to be guaranteed POW status. And in any case, if there was any doubt about their status, they would have the right to be held as POWs until a 'competent tribunal' determined it:

Should any doubt arise as to whether persons, having committed a belligerent act and having fallen into the hands of the enemy, belong to any of the categories enumerated in Article 4, such persons shall enjoy the protection of the present Convention until such time as their status has been determined by a competent tribunal.

The fiat of Rumsfeld not being a 'competent tribunal' as defined by the convention.
posted by riviera at 3:14 PM on March 23, 2003

What a strange and flimsy basis for horror.

Yeah, this looks flimsy to me, this too. I have freinds who may very well be called over to Iraq, if they haven't been already. Glad to see that the site of them suffering would leave you so unruffled.
posted by jonmc at 3:44 PM on March 23, 2003

The footage is intended as propaganda, and hurts the families of the captives the most. It will probably be on the US news once the familes are notified. The grunts in the Gulf are not going to put down their missile launchers because of something on CNN.

It isn't terifying footage as much as it is really sad. A bunch of very scared young Americans in a situation they have only seen in bad movies, only Bruce Willis isn't there to save them. They look like you or me. Scared shitless.

Some of us chose not to click on the Danny Pearl web video as well.
posted by zaelic at 3:56 PM on March 23, 2003

Rules in a war??

You can't say that civilization don't advance, however, for in every war they kill you in a new way.
-Will Rogers
posted by larry_darrell at 3:58 PM on March 23, 2003

Yeah, this looks flimsy to me, this too. I have freinds who may very well be called over to Iraq, if they haven't been already. Glad to see that the site of them suffering would leave you so unruffled.

Jon, I was responding to the video of the interviews of captured soldiers, which is what is said to violate geneva. Of course images of dead people are upsetting, although images of dead iraqis have been shown on tv without anyone finding it beyond the pale. The soldiers responding to the iraqi questions is not the most horrific thing I've ever seen, no way. The footage only shows them answering general questions. They may be scared shitless that things are soon going to get much worse, but they are not threatened or harmed in the footage. It isn't comparable to the daniel pearl video.

Again, I am not trying to say they aren't in a dangerous situation - this is war, after all, and just like their iraqi counterparts, they may suffer a senseless and terrible end - but the video itself only shows that they are POWs, not that iraqi POWs are treated criminally. War is not pretty, but I don't see why images of captured american soldiers answering questions are so much more horrific than the nonstop bombing of civilians in iraq, which has surely resulted in more death. All of it sucks.
posted by mdn at 4:27 PM on March 23, 2003

Poopy, I am not disregarding the details of how and why we're in there. The devil's always in the details. Oil is an issue, whether the present administration wants to admit it or not. The American administration, under the direction of Ronald Reagan and George Herbert Walker Bush, used to support Saddam's regime because not too long ago, we had what we believed to be a greater threat, a common enemy. However, we were wrong. I'm not denying that America's present administration is wrong in today's situation. There is no right when it comes to war.

However, despite my personal dissatisfaction with the present American administration, the fact is that today, our boys and girls are in harm's way. They're putting their lives on the line in there. I don't like GW's use of the military, but I support our military. Putting down Saddam's regime is a better action than allowing Saddam to continue to threaten his people and his neighbors, as well as the quality of life for everyone in the world. Whatever the alterior motives of the present American administration, the ultimate goal is clear and will, God willing, be better than the Iraqi have had it in the past thirty years.

I don't have to like it, but I do have to support my fellow Americans in harm's way. I voiced my opinion in the last presidential election, and I will voice it again in the next one. Beyond that, and praying for the men and women now fighting in my stead, there's literally nothing more I can do.
posted by ZachsMind at 4:30 PM on March 23, 2003

...The men and women now in harm's way. ...they're doing it for me.
posted by ZachsMind at 4:33 PM on March 23, 2003

Anyone have a link to the video? That works...
posted by cinematique at 4:34 PM on March 23, 2003

looks like Iraq-tv may have another opportunity to show captured US military. Sky news (UK sat broadcaster with same parent as Fox) are running a story confirming that at least one pilot has been captured in the Iraqi capital
posted by keno at 5:37 PM on March 23, 2003

...The men and women now in harm's way. ...they're doing it for me.

We appreciate their courage, grieve that their sacrifice is, in the saddest sense, is given in vain, and their mission--protecting this country--betrayed, If their sacred gift is horribly squandered simply to bring us more 9/11s, doesn't it make sense to want to spare their lives and bring them home? Support Our Troops/= Shut Up.

See here for further details.
posted by y2karl at 6:59 PM on March 23, 2003

Pemullis: Have you ever seen someone shot in the head, at point blank range?

Killed at Close Range

I saw television footage of this execution during the Vietnam War and it did more to bring home the brutality of war than anything else I have ever seen.
posted by newlydead at 7:02 PM on March 23, 2003

Supporting our troops doesn't equal shutting up. One can support our troops without supporting the bastard who sent them to Iraq. I think Michael Moore just proved that point. Of course there will be people who take the words Moore said during the Academy Awards and twist them to mean he's not supporting our troops. Moore has been a vocal activist for the working man for years, and most of our military consists of young people from middle class families.
posted by ZachsMind at 7:38 PM on March 23, 2003

Damn straight we should be supporting the troops. They're in there now and by all reports are fighting with honour and decency. The war may be illegal and it may be on shakey moral grounds, but it's not going to stop at this point.

All those opposed to the war are far better off supporting the troops by demanding honest news, accountability for the actions that are taken, and a focus on long-term aide for the citizens of Iraq as they move toward full democracy.

Focusing on the past accomplishes nothing. Pay attention to the present and plan for the future.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:14 PM on March 23, 2003

the pic of a wounded iraqi girl that skallas linked to above that has yet to be shown on major american media, much less any iraqi civilian casualties.

Meanwhile, all the news anchors seem to be competing to be the most outraged by the pictures of the American troops which they say they can't show us. But no mention of the wounded girl with her foot blown off or the dead kid with the back of his head gone. They must be following the U.S./Iraqi Empathy Schedule.
posted by homunculus at 9:27 PM on March 23, 2003

Here are some good comments on the situation from TalkLeft.
posted by homunculus at 9:30 PM on March 23, 2003

by the way, do we even know that Iraq is a signatory to the Geneva Conventions?
posted by Vidiot at 9:31 PM on March 23, 2003

I don't know why the Iraqi regime doesn't label the captured U.S. troops 'unlawful combatants' and treat them the same way we treat the Taliban prisoners. (of course, that's probably better treatment than the U.S. troops are getting now if past POWs in Iraq are any indication!)

I get the very bad feeling that a lot of what the current U.S. gov't is doing is going to come back and bite us, probably after they've left office so they can blame it on the new president.
posted by IndigoSkye at 10:54 PM on March 23, 2003

five fresh fish, I agree totally.

I just found out today that we have 145 people from our church deployed, with more to follow. It is more than slightly eerie to be searching out every picture to make sure someone I know isn't in it. Just think what it must be like for the family members.

It is to be hoped that every mefite that believes in prayer would be doing a lot of it for the forseeable future.
posted by konolia at 10:57 PM on March 23, 2003

I don't know why the Iraqi regime doesn't label the captured U.S. troops 'unlawful combatants' and treat them the same way we treat the Taliban prisoners.

Maybe because there's no proven connection between Iraq and al-Qaeda?
posted by Vidiot at 11:18 PM on March 23, 2003

Okay, how 'bout we open up an annex to Camp X-Ray at Guantanamo and lease Saddam the space? I'm SURE the guys those wonderfully moral and upstanding Iraqis have captured would just HATE LIKE HELL to be incarcerated in the Caribbean, with good medical attention and three meals a day, in clean conditions and with the Red Cross monitoring the situation.

Or do you mean the way the Afghanis treated their Taliban prisoners? That was pretty brutal.

posted by JB71 at 6:38 AM on March 24, 2003

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