There has been a lot of chatter lately involving Bush and his recent bill The Military Commissions Act of 2006(pdf). People on TV bashing it saying it’s unconstitutional, people on the web saying bush is making a mess of things, people all over saying that it clearly violates the Geneva Convention [sic]. Apparently none of these people have read the Act nor the Geneva Conventions. So, being the good natured guy I am, I’m going to give you all a chance to do both. The above link is a download for a PDF, and here is a link to The Geneva Conventions. Today class we’re concentrating on Geneva Convention Three, or GCIII. This Convention lays out the treatment for prisoners of war. It also clearly outlines what an enemy combatant is. Let’s check it out shall we?
Art. 4. A. Prisoners of war, in the sense of the present Convention, are persons belonging to one of the following categories, who have fallen into the power of the enemy:
…(2) Members of other militias and members of other volunteer corps, including those of organized resistance movements, belonging to a Party to the conflict and operating in or outside their own territory, even if this territory is occupied, provided that such militias or volunteer corps, including such organized resistance movements, fulfil the following conditions:[ (a) that of being commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates; (b) that of having a fixed distinctive sign recognizable at a distance; (c) that of carrying arms openly; (d) that of conducting their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war.
Interesting… so, let’s say I catch a terrorist, he does not fulfill the above requirements, what should I do with him then O' Convention of wisdom?
Should any doubt arise as to whether persons, having committed a belligerent act and having fallen into the hands of the enemy, belong to any of the categories enumerated in Article 4, such persons shall enjoy the protection of the present Convention until such time as their status has been determined by a competent tribunal.
…Prisoners of war shall continue to have the benefit of such agreements as long as the Convention is applicable to them, except where express provisions to the contrary are contained in the aforesaid or in subsequent agreements, or where more favourable measures have been taken with regard to them by one or other of the Parties to the conflict.
Huh. Well, I guess that about settles it. I mean, the convention says so. So let’s see what this act wants to do shall we?
‘‘§ 948b. Military commissions generally
‘‘(a) PURPOSE.—This chapter establishes procedures governing
the use of military commissions to try alien unlawful enemy combatants
engaged in hostilities against the United States for violations
of the law of war and other offenses triable by military commission.
‘‘(b) AUTHORITY FOR MILITARY COMMISSIONS UNDER THIS
CHAPTER.—The President is authorized to establish military
commissions under this chapter for offenses triable by military
commission as provided in this chapter.
Odd… what do all these terms mean? Unlawful combatant? Let’s see what the act has to say.
‘‘§ 948a. Definitions
‘‘In this chapter:
‘‘(1) UNLAWFUL ENEMY COMBATANT.—(A) The term ‘unlawful
enemy combatant’ means—
‘‘(i) a person who has engaged in hostilities or who
has purposefully and materially supported hostilities
against the United States or its co-belligerents who is
not a lawful enemy combatant (including a person who
is part of the Taliban, al Qaeda, or associated forces);
‘‘(ii) a person who, before, on, or after the date of
the enactment of the Military Commissions Act of 2006,
has been determined to be an unlawful enemy combatant
by a Combatant Status Review Tribunal or another competent
tribunal established under the authority of the
President or the Secretary of Defense.
‘‘(B) CO-BELLIGERENT.—In this paragraph, the term ‘cobelligerent’,
with respect to the United States, means any State
or armed force joining and directly engaged with the United
States in hostilities or directly supporting hostilities against
a common enemy.
‘‘(2) LAWFUL ENEMY COMBATANT.—The term ‘lawful enemy
combatant’ means a person who is—
‘‘(A) a member of the regular forces of a State party
engaged in hostilities against the United States;
‘‘(B) a member of a militia, volunteer corps, or organized
resistance movement belonging to a State party
engaged in such hostilities, which are under responsible
command, wear a fixed distinctive sign recognizable at
a distance, carry their arms openly, and abide by the
law of war; or
‘‘(C) a member of a regular armed force who professes
allegiance to a government engaged in such hostilities,
but not recognized by the United States.
‘‘(3) ALIEN.—The term ‘alien’ means a person who is not
a citizen of the United States.
‘‘(4) CLASSIFIED INFORMATION.—The term ‘classified
information’ means the following:
‘‘(A) Any information or material that has been determined
by the United States Government pursuant to
statute, Executive order, or regulation to require protection
against unauthorized disclosure for reasons of national
‘‘(B) Any restricted data, as that term is defined in
section 11 y. of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 (42 U.S.C.
Wow, so Chud, what you’re telling us is that the GCIII is quoted directly in this Act as a term of what a lawful combatant is, and what an unlawful combatant is? And that this act in no way defies the Conventions we hold so dear to our civilized hearts? How can this be? I mean, all the media as awash in the bashing of this act, and President Bush is an evil evil man right? I mean, if this Act isn’t the evil Geneva Conventions defying monster the media made it out to be, what else isn’t true? Well, kiddies, so much more. So, so much more. But that’s for a different class.