The Bush administration, in an apparent policy reversal sparked by a recent Supreme Court ruling, said today it will extend the guarantees of humane treatment specified by the Geneva Conventions to detainees in the war-on-terror.
In a memo released by the Pentagon this morning, Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England, citing the Supreme Court's decision, ordered all Pentagon personnel to "adhere to these standards" and to "promptly review" all policies and practices "to ensure that they comply with the standards" of the Geneva Convention's Common Article 3.
Since 2001, the administration has argued that the Geneva Conventions would be respected as a matter of policy but that they did not apply by law. The Supreme Court, in a 5-3 decision, rejected that view.
White House spokesman Tony Snow confirmed the new approach, according to wire service reports, saying that while detainees have been treated humanely, "we want to get it right. . . . It's not really a reversal of policy." Snow called the Supreme Court decision "complex."
But in testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee today, Steven Bradbury, acting assistant attorney general, stated that the court has indeed "imposed another baseline standard . . . that we must now interpret and mplement."
Neither the White House nor the Pentagon provided any immediate details as to what would be done differently or how the decision would effect the controversial policies on interrogation, which have provoked an international outcry as well as considerable domestic controversy.
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