MP says U.S. treatment of Afghan prisoners coming back to haunt it
A Canadian member of Parliament says Washington's decision not to apply the Geneva Conventions during its war in Afghanistan has come back to haunt the Americans during war in Iraq.
Toronto-area MP John Godfrey led an angry faction of backbenchers last year after Canadian special forces handed over Taliban fighters to American forces.
Now television pictures of American PoWs have prompted U.S. President George W. Bush and Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to denounce Iraq for violating the Geneva Conventions.
Most Americans had not seen the pictures. U.S. television networks decided not to show them after Rumsfeld declared it a violation of international law.
But on Monday, American networks started showing some pictures of the captured soldiers.
Godfrey, an ardent defender of the Geneva Conventions, says he believes the Iraqi exploitation of American PoWs is a violation. But he says the Americans can't choose to apply the Conventions only when it's convenient for them.
In Afghanistan, when Canadian special forces handed Taliban prisoners over to U.S. forces, Godfrey said pictures of shackled enemies being led to holding pens were widely distributed.
"They (the United States) maintained that the Geneva Conventions did not strictly apply, or not all the provisions. People who were worried about that at the time, pointed out that this would come back to haunt them," said Godfrey.
The Geneva Conventions prohibit humiliating PoWs or exposing them to public curiosity. Yet, every television network has shown images of Iraqi PoWs.
Iraq's information minister rejoiced at the photo opportunities presented by the apparent crash of an Apache helicopter. "Maybe, if we would find it convenient, maybe, maybe, we will show the pilots," he said.