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Ethics of War

December 13, 2002 • Volume 12, Issue 43
Does the U.S. treat detainees from Afghanistan fairly?
By David Masci

Introduction

Military guards escort a captive from the Afghanistan war to interrogation at the U.S. Naval Station at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Human-rights groups contend the United States is violating international law by holding suspected Taliban and Al Qaeda detainees incommunicado. But the Bush administration says they have limited rights because they are “unlawful combatants.”  (AP Photo/Andres Leighton)
Military guards escort a captive from the Afghanistan war to interrogation at the U.S. Naval Station at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Human-rights groups contend the United States is violating international law by holding suspected Taliban and Al Qaeda detainees incommunicado. But the Bush administration says they have limited rights because they are “unlawful combatants.” (AP Photo/Andres Leighton)

The war on terrorism unleashed by the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks has raised questions about how civilized nations should confront enemies that flout established international humanitarian law. Amnesty International and other groups contend the United States is violating the Geneva Convention — which mandates humane treatment of civilians and prisoners of war (POWs) — by holding captives from the war in Afghanistan incommunicado. But the administration says its Al Qaeda and Taliban prisoners do not warrant POW status because they did not represent legitimate states. Meanwhile, religious leaders say attacking Iraq would not constitute a “just war” because Saddam Hussein does not pose an imminent threat. But others say Hussein must be confronted because he has used weapons of mass destruction before and could do so again.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Ethics in War
Jul. 13, 2012  Privatizing the Military
Aug. 06, 2010  Drone WarfareUpdated
May 2010  Confronting Rape as a War Crime
Jan. 2010  Truth Commissions
Feb. 27, 2009  Closing GuantánamoUpdated
Jul. 2008  Child Soldiers
Sep. 2007  Torture Debate
Aug. 25, 2006  Treatment of Detainees
Apr. 18, 2003  Torture
Dec. 13, 2002  Ethics of War
Sep. 13, 2002  New Defense Priorities
Jul. 07, 1995  War Crimes
Apr. 26, 1972  Status of War Prisoners
Oct. 07, 1970  Military Justice
Jul. 12, 1967  Treatment of War Prisoners
Dec. 03, 1952  War Prisoner Repatriation
Sep. 07, 1948  War Trials and Future Peace
Jul. 07, 1945  Enemy Property
Nov. 20, 1943  Courts-Martial and Military Law
Mar. 15, 1943  War Guilt Trials
Mar. 30, 1942  War Atrocities
Feb. 02, 1942  Prisoners of War
Aug. 11, 1938  Aerial Bombardment of Civilian Populations
BROWSE RELATED TOPICS:
International Law and Agreements
Terrorism and Counterterrorism
U.S. at War: Iraq
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