Truth to Power

The United States of hypocrisy

The US Military Suddenly Discovers International Law–When the Taliban Breaks It

An unidentified US soldier was captured by the Taliban in Afghanistan on June 30. A video has appeared, where the soldier is interviewed by his captors.

The response of the US military to this situation is very interesting. Responding to AFP, a spokesman called the video propaganda:

They’re exploiting the soldier for their own propaganda. US and coalition forces are doing everything they can to recover the soldier and get him back unharmed. The Taliban are using it as a propaganda tool.

That’s a very interesting charge coming from the military, given its recent history of propaganda in the US press.

However, the military response to AP is even more hypocritical:

A U.S. military spokeswoman in Afghanistan, Lt. Cmdr. Christine Sidenstricker, said the Taliban was using their captive for propaganda.

“I’m glad to see he appears unharmed, but again, this is a Taliban propaganda video,” she said. “They are exploiting the soldier in violation of international law.”

Yes, as was also pointed out by BBC when footage of US prisoners surfaced during the Iraq War, such videos do violate international law:

The Geneva Convention on prisoners of war (PoWs) in general prohibits humiliating and degrading treatment.

Article 13 of the Third Geneva Convention says “prisoners of war must at all times be protected, particularly against acts of violence or intimidation and against insults and public curiosity”.

How on earth, though, can the US military call out the Taliban for breaking international law with this video of the US prisoner when the number of war crimes committed by the US in Afghanistan and Iraq is so huge? Over a hundred prisoners died in custody and many of them are ruled homicides. The top US military officer in Afghanistan is responsible for many of these war crimes himself.

How long will it be before the US accuses the Taliban of torturing this prisoner? What if he is waterboarded? Would that be torture or an enhanced interrogation?

I’m sorry, Lt. Cmdr. Sidenstricker, your team needs to address many of its own crimes before it can accuse others.</em>


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