The Runaround on Geneva

Just a quick review of Condoleezza Rice’s statements yesterday on the Bush administration’s position regarding the Geneva Convention:

So, to recount, the Bush administration treats all prisoners — even al Qaeda detainees it does not consider protected by the Geneva Convention — consistent with our “international obligations” and those obligations are “consistent with the principles of Geneva.” It all sounds reassuring, but is basically meaningless. The Geneva Convention is a contract — it doesn’t consist of “principles,” it consists of laws. By pronouncing those laws “quaint,” the Bush administration has opened up a legal (and moral) “black hole” whereby virtually anything can be construed as “consistent” with “our obligations.”

The ambiguity of the situation was evidenced yesterday by Rice’s inability answer one specific question about detainee treatment: Did methods such as forced nudity and water boarding constitute torture?

If the new secretary of state can’t answer that question, you can imagine the position those less versed in the complexities of the Bush administration legal code are in.