White House reverses Geneva Conventions stance

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Tuesday, July 11, 2006

After the Supreme Court ruling from June 29, 2006, the White House has announced that from now on all U.S. detainees are entitled to the protection Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, including the detainees at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay. The Supreme Court ruled that the system of military tribunals set up by the U.S. at Guantanamo was illegal. The announcement came just hours before Congress debates how to change the military tribunals to comply with the court ruling.

After September 11, 2001 the Bush administration argued that those captured by the U.S. in the global 'war on terror' are "illegal enemy combatants" rather than prisoners of war.

United States attorney general Alberto Gonzalez argued in 2002 that fighting the war on terror requires new techniques and that the Geneva Conventions are "obsolete".

White House press secretary Tony Snow denied that the announcement constitutes a major shift in policy. "It is not really a reversal of policy. Humane treatment has always been the standard," he said.

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