The White House said this morning that every prisoner in Gitmo and in U.S. military custody everywhere is entitled to Geneva Convention protections. Bush spokesman Tony Snow claimed that this apparent about-face is “not really a reversal of policy,” while admitting that it stems directly from the Supreme Court’s striking down of Bush’s military tribunals.
Reminder: This is far from total victory. Constitutional expert Glenn Greenwald reminds us that the Hamdan ruling also removed any conceivable argument to support Bush’s illegal wiretapping programs, and we haven’t heard about any policy shift on that front….
The Bush administration said Tuesday that all detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and in U.S. military custody everywhere are entitled to protections under the Geneva Conventions.
White House spokesman Tony Snow said the policy, outlined in a new Defense Department memo, reflects the recent 5-3 Supreme Court decision blocking military tribunals set up by President Bush. That decision struck down the tribunals because they did not obey international law and had not been authorized by Congress.
The policy, described in a memo by Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England, appears to reverse the administration’s earlier insistence that the detainees are not prisoners of war and thus not subject to the Geneva protections. But the administration has insisted that it has always treated the detainees humanely.
Word of the Bush administration’s new stance came as the Senate Judiciary Committee opened hearings Tuesday on the politically charged issue of how detainees should be tried.