According to the New York Times, the Pentagon today has decided to apply the Geneva Conventions to all detainees worldwide.
If this is actually what happens, or even if it becomes officially the standard by which detentions are expected to be conducted, it would be an enormous shift in executive policy and a welcome rollback of one of the worst moral and strategic failures of the Bush administration.
The article itself, however, is less than clearcut on the administration’s policy change. The announcement of the new approach is attributed only to “a senior defense official.” Beyond that, the article is mostly a murky discussion of the recent Hamdi v. Rumsfeld decision and potential Congressional responses to it. (The BBC’s breaking news report is much sparer.)
Unfortunately, I’m not sure even the Geneva Conventions ban either rendition or secret prisons.
As an odd little side note, the Geneva Conventions prescribe payment for all prisoners, set at rates of Swiss francs per month that made some kind of sense when the Conventions were first signed. That means that each detainee below the rank of sergeant — which presumably all of them are, in the present case — is entitled to 8 Swiss francs, or roughly $6.50, per month. The real question, of course, is whether we make the pay retroactive so that detainees can collect the $350-odd that’s coming to them.