Rumsfeld ordered prisoner held off the books

Either I’m crazy, or Rumsfeld just got caught committing a war crime.

I’m going to have to get either my tinfoil hat or my dosage of antipsychotics adjusted.

After all, thinking that the United States Secretary of Defense might find himself the defendant at a war-crimes trial meets DSM-IV diagnostic criteria for “stark, staring bonkers.” And yet I don’t see any other way to read this story.

Update Oh, you wanted substance instead of snark? Michael Froomkin at has it.

Michael notes that, having identifed XXX as a detainee of such stratospheric intelligence value it was worth breaking treaties to keep him away from the IIRC, DoD and the CIA then promptly lost track of him.

All I can say about this is, once again, to quote Michael Walzer: There is neither profit nor glory in doing evil badly.

A commenter points to this Newsday story about hostage-taking: holding some Iraqis as an inducement for their relatives to give themselves up. This isn’t a new tactic for the Coalition Forces; see this post from last August concerning a similar incident. Newsday reports that its use is widespread.

[Paperwight notes that, in addition to war crimes, Mr. Rumsfeld probably committed perjury when he told the Senate in May that everyone captured in Iraq was being treated under the Geneva Conventions.]

Another commenter asks whether Mr. XXX, if he was in fact a high official of Ansar al-Islam, could possibly be a POW. Answer: Yes. The Bush Administration has announced that everyone captured in Iraq (unlike the al-Qaeda and Taliban folks captured in Afghanistan) will be treated under the Geneva Conventions. And The applicable convention requires a hearing in order to deny someone captured in a war zone of POW status. (See Article 5 of the 1949 Convention.)

So even if, as seems plausible, Mr. XXX could properly have been deprived of POW status, the mere fact of his being a terrorist doesn’t do so automatically, and we never bothered to touch second base.

Ogged at Unfogged got it right: George W. Bush’s defining characteristic is his refusal to play by the rules, along with his bland assurance that the rules don’t really apply to him.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

One thought on “Rumsfeld ordered prisoner held off the books”

  1. Peer Pressure

    Lots of folks are working that whole "Rumsfeld's violation of the Geneva Convention is a war crime" angle perfectly well, so I'm just going to let them handle it. I just want to play "compare and contrast" for a couple minutes.

Comments are closed.