During an interview today with Fox News, CENTCOM commander General David Petraeus said the US government had been “rightly” criticized for violating the Geneva Convention in recent years. The general added that he thought going forward it was important for the US to live up to the agreements it made internationally.
Petraeus defended the ban on “enhanced interrogation techniques,” saying it had taken away a tool used as a moral argument against the US on the international scene. He insisted that while “there might be an exception” he felt that the Army Field Manual was “generally sufficient” for interrogations.
During the Bush Administration, officials repeatedly insisted that the protections of the Geneva Conventions did not apply to the detainees held by the US. Colonel Janis Karpinski admitted that the US had violated the conventions at Abu Ghraib, including by keeping “ghost detainees” hidden from the Red Cross.
The Geneva Conventions cover the treatment of prisoners of war. The US had previously argued that since the detainees were not members of formal armies of other nations, they were not technically prisoners of war, but were “enemy combatants” not subject to the same rights.