Sunday, November 21, 2004

U.S. War Crimes in Fallujah

More important than the culpability of a particular soldier in combat, is the braoder question of international law pointed to by the Fallujah killing: did the armed force break international law in Fallujah and Iraq? Reports are coming in that 'weapon free' zones where designated in Fallujah. What this means is that there was no need to determine if a person were armed or a threat before use of deadly force; very similar to the 'free fire' zones in Vietnam. This policy would violate a combatant's duty to make reasonable efforts to protect non-combatants and to abide by hors de combat immunities of disabled or surrendered combatants.

Further, it is now apparent that the US has been deporting prisoners from Iraq, again in contravention of the Geneva Conventions. Expatriated detainees are subject to interrogation and torture, some of the very abuses the restrictions were adopted to address.

In this context comes Gonzales' nomination to be the chief law enforcement officer of the US. A man who aided the Administration's justification of shrugging off the inconvenient restrictions of international laws of war will be the embodiment of the rule of law in the US. If we are trying to make a grim joke for the world audience, no one is laughing.

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