You’ve heard the claims that we violate the Geneva Conventions at Gitmo under various (incorrect) theories. Let’s assume for the sake of argument they are correct. The interrogation methods are wrong, the facilities are illegal, and so on.
The same people say we need to have trials for these individuals and try them in civilian courts because military courts are obviously insufficient. If they haven’t committed a crime, they should be released. The problem is, under the Geneva Conventions we can’t try them, it would be illegal. And in the few circumstances that we could try them, the Geneva Conventions require a military court. Here are the appropriate quotes from the 3rd Geneva Convention.
Art. 83. In deciding whether proceedings in respect of an offence alleged to have been committed by a prisoner of war shall be judicial or disciplinary, the Detaining Power shall ensure that the competent authorities exercise the greatest leniency and adopt, wherever possible, disciplinary rather than judicial measures.
Art. 84. A prisoner of war shall be tried only by a military court, unless the existing laws of the Detaining Power expressly permit the civil courts to try a member of the armed forces of the Detaining Power in respect of the particular offence alleged to have been committed by the prisoner of war.
In no circumstances whatever shall a prisoner of war be tried by a court of any kind which does not offer the essential guarantees of independence and impartiality as generally recognized, and, in particular, the procedure of which does not afford the accused the rights and means of defence provided for in Article 105. (Hint: We try military members in military courts when they run afoul of their duties. The only time they hit the civilian system is when they are off-duty doing something off-base in the general population. And even then, they usually get a hearing in the military system also. No detainee has been in the US to commit such a crime).
Art. 99. No prisoner of war may be tried or sentenced for an act which is not forbidden by the law of the Detaining Power or by international law, in force at the time the said act was committed. (I’m still waiting on what law they’ve violated. They haven’t been in the US, and for the most part, were captured on the field of battle, so by and large almost the entire USC doesn’t apply.)
Art. 118. Prisoners of war shall be released and repatriated without delay after the cessation of active hostilities. (Hint: Al Quaeda is still fighting. There is fighting going on in Iraq, and to a lesser extent, in Afghanistan. Even if we tried them and convicted them, they’d still remain in general custody until hostilities have ended)
So what is it guys, do you support the Geneva Conventions or not? You can’t have it both ways where you support it only in X circumstance, but expect us to make up laws and crimes to try them and then release them contrary to the same Conventions you hold so dear.