Sunday, May 23, 2004

I wasn't particularly impressed with Susan Sontag's New York Times Magazine cover story on Abu Ghraib, but I did appreciate this:

Here is one of the definitions of torture contained in a convention to which the United States is a signatory: "any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession." (The definition comes from the 1984 Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. Similar definitions have existed for some time in customary law and in treaties, starting with Article 3 -- common to the four Geneva conventions of 1949 -- and many recent human rights conventions.) The 1984 convention declares, "No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture."

Has any journalist bothered to tell us this -- namely, that the U.S. has signed a convention specifically declaring that there can be no such thing as "a new kind of war" in which the rules against torture and degradation don't apply?


(I've cut the rest of this post because I think I was misreading a portion of the article.)

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