When White House press secretary Tony Snow announced this week the U.S. would now abide by the Geneva Conventions, he said, ``It's not really a reversal of policy.''
Try telling that to enemy combatants subjected to cruel and inhumane treatment or to the families some of them left behind. More than 100 detainees have died in U.S. custody, according to Human Rights Watch, although there's no hard number on how many of those deaths have come as a result of abuse.
Just as Snow was making his announcement on Tuesday, Pentagon General Counsel William J. Haynes II, who had pushed for harsh interrogation methods over the objections of other top military lawyers, was appearing at confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee. President George W. Bush has nominated Haynes to the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Virginia, a reward for doing the president's bidding that's far more valuable than the Medal of Freedom handed to equally cooperative minions such as former CIA Director George Tenet.
The problem for Haynes is that just as he tried to collect his prize, the Defense Department, seeking to comply with a U.S. Supreme Court finding that inhumane treatment was illegal, publicly repudiated Haynes's legal advice. Haynes told the senators he didn't believe that the policies he recommended could be classified as "cruel, inhumane and degrading,'' as a Justice Department legal memo said.
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