DoD on Geneva Conventions, CRS on Military Commissions, Etc.

07.11.06 | 1 min read | Text by Steven Aftergood

In a significant policy reversal, the Department of Defense last week formally directed that the humane treatment requirements of Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions shall henceforth be applied to all prisoners and detainees in DoD custody (as first reported by the Financial Times). See this July 7 memorandum (pdf) from Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England.

The procedures for trying enemy prisoners and detainees in the war on terror are again a subject of deliberation (and of a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee today) in the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling that the tribunals established by the Bush Administration are unlawful.

A 2005 report of the Congressional Research Service provides some background on the development of this issue. Though now out of date in certain respects, it includes useful tables comparing the various features and procedural safeguards of general courts-martial with those of military commissions and tribunals.

See “The Department of Defense Rules for Military Commissions: Analysis of Procedural Rules and Comparison with Proposed Legislation and the Uniform Code of Military Justice” (pdf), updated August 4, 2005.

Other notable new CRS reports not readily available in the public domain include the following.

“National Emergency Powers” (pdf), updated June 20, 2006.

“Nuclear Weapons: Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty” (pdf), updated June 21, 2006.

“Combat Aircraft Sales to South Asia: Potential Implications” (pdf), July 6, 2006.

“Restructuring U.S. Foreign Aid: The Role of the Director of Foreign Assistance” (pdf), June 16, 2006.