Defending the 12th century since the 14th; blogging since the 21st.

Catholicism, Conservatism, the Middle Ages, Opera, and Historical and Literary Objets d'Art blogged by a suburban dad who teaches law and writes stuff.

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Who was Cacciaguida? See Dante's PARADISO, Cantos XV, XVI, & XVII.

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Thursday, July 13, 2006
The Wall Street Journal today laments that the Bush administration is now giving terrorists "lawful-combatant legitimacy."

I must be missing something. I'm sure the WSJ has more knowledgeable advisors on these issues than myself, and I entreat corrections from readers, but, last time I looked into the matter, I found the following to be the case:

* Geneva Common Article 3 has been ratified by the U.S. and has always been recognized by us as binding.

* It says nothing about POW status; rather, it sets a vague legal minimum of humane treatment for all detainees, a minimum that the U.S. has always claimed to observe (and in any event is probably bound to observe due to other law, such at the anti-torture laws).

* The Geneva article that does extend POW status to illegal combatants is the 1977 Additional Protocol, which the U.S. did not ratify, is not bound by, was not mentioned by the Supreme Court in the Hamdan decision, and has not been declared binding by the Bush Administration memos that have so vexed the Journal.

All that said, I'm not sure why the administration has to reverse any "policy" as a result of Hamdan. As I read that decision, all the administration has to do is add one or two due-process features to its existing order on military tribunals, and package the result with a formal presidential finding that these (revised) procedures, to the extent they still fall short of a court-martial, are necessary to fight the war.

So I don't understand why either the administration or the Journal has its wand in such a twist. What am I missing?