Bush Administration Allowed Gitmo Commander Breaking International Law

Bush Administration Allowed Gitmo Commander Breaking International Law © Flickr/

01:26 03.03.2016Get short URL

The George W. Bush administration informed personnel at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility they would not be bound to the Geneva Conventions when dealing with suspected terrorist detainees, first commander of the Guantanamo Bay detention center Michael Lehnert told Sputnik.

WASHINGTON (Sputnik), Leandra Bernstein — “We were told that we could be guided by it but we didn’t need to follow it,” Lehnert said on Wednesday of international law under the Geneva Conventions and additional protocols.

In prosecuting the War on Terror, “I think we could have learned to apply the Geneva Convention in this conflict and done it very effectively,” Lehnert added.

Following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks against the United States, the Bush administration adopted a legal opinion that exempted suspected terrorists from protections under the Geneva Conventions and additional protocols. The Geneva Conventions ensure prisoners of war will not be tortured, or face cruel or degrading treatment.

Lehnert, who was appointed to oversee the initial opening of the detention center at Guantanamo Bay in January 2002, noted that the Bush administration’s decision to avoid applying international law was “unfortunate.”

The administration also “did a poor job of sorting” terrorist suspects under Article 5 of the Geneva Convention, requiring a tribunal at the point of capture, Lehnert explained.

The result of failing to hold tribunals at the point of capture resulted in the capture of a number of prisoners “of questionable status… who were just at the wrong place at the wrong time.”

After numerous reports of human rights violations and degrading treatment of prisoners at the Guantanamo Bay, the military detention facility has largely become synonymous with prisoner abuse and torture.

Despite reported human rights violations, there has not been a single high-level prosecution of a US official for violating international law relating to the treatment of prisoners of war or enemy combatants.

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