Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Back to Geneva

The New York Times reports:

The White House conceded on Tuesday for the first time that terror suspects held by the United States had a right under international law to basic human and legal protections under the Geneva Conventions.

The statement reverses a position the White House had held since shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks, and it represents a victory for those within the administration who argued that the United States’ refusal to extend Geneva protections to Qaeda prisoners was harming the country’s standing abroad.

It said the White House would withdraw a part of an executive order issued by President Bush in 2002 saying that terror suspects were not covered by the Geneva Conventions.

The White House said the change was in keeping with the Supreme Court decision two weeks ago that struck down the military tribunals Mr. Bush established. A Defense Department memorandum made public earlier Tuesday concluded that the court decision also meant that terror suspects in military custody had legal rights under the Geneva Convention.

This is good news that represents a necessary step toward the restoration of American integrity. Recent history provided no reason to believe the Bush administration would reverse itself on this issue without a protracted struggle.