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4 - The military: Afghanistan, Guantánamo, Iraq

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 June 2012

David P. Forsythe
University of Nebraska, Lincoln
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The CIA has always operated to a significant degree outside the law. The military, by contrast, is at its core an institution committed to discipline and order, strictly governed by the laws of war. So the fact that illegal abusive tactics were officially authorized at the Pentagon's highest levels is in some sense more shocking than the CIA's crimes. We should expect more of the military.

(David Cole, “What to Do About the Torturers?,” New York Review of Books, January 15, 2009)

As long as the United States – or any state, for that matter – has the power to detain at pleasure and in secret, abuse of detainees is inevitable.

(Michael Ignatieff, in Kenneth Roth et al., eds., Torture, New York: The New Press, 2005, p. 23)

As the previous chapters have showed, when the United States used military force in Afghanistan in the Fall of 2001 and then opened the Guantánamo prison facility in January 2002, it deconstructed the international legal framework for the protection of prisoners in war, even as it declared a Global War on Terror (GWOT). The result was extensive abuse of prisoners, much of it intended by high policy makers. Iraq was supposed to be different, since the George W. Bush Administration declared the 1949 Geneva Conventions fully applicable to a situation of armed invasion and occupation, including those provisions pertaining to prisoners. But Iraq was not fundamentally different in 2003–2005.

The Politics of Prisoner Abuse
The United States and Enemy Prisoners after 9/11
, pp. 95 - 135
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2011

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