Geneva Convention rules of wartime discussion

Public Policy Analysis

The definitions of some terms, such as torture, are not clearly defined in law. Whether it is torture or not depends on the initial objective, not the actual actions. After the rules for interrogation were set, they were changed several times to implement more actions as being allowed for interrogation. Without terms being clearly defined, it opens the door for confusion and misconceptions as to the meanings of the terms and what is allowed and what is not allowed, or prohibited, by law. Policies can be changed based on simple misconceptions that can make situations worse instead of bringing improvement.

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Chronology of Facts

Numerous reports indicated slapping, kicking, beating, stripping of clothes, hands and feet chaining, dark cells, and extreme temperatures, among other actions. There were numerous reports that proved the abuse to the detainees did happen.

Detainees were falsely imprisoned. Military intelligence officers admitted that 70% – 90% of the detainees had been imprisoned by mistake.

An Executive Order, signed by President Bush, authorized interrogation techniques of sleep management, use of military working dogs, stress positions, such as half squats, environmental manipulation, such as loud music, sensory deprivation through the use of hoods. This order was changed on May 2004.

Geneva Convention rules of wartime forbid torture and provide for humane treatment of enemy captives. These rules are to protect captives, regardless of their home country, from torture.

Forced interrogation is an inferior technique that brings questionable quality of information. The detainee could really not know the needed information and tell the officer what they want to know to stop the beating. Or, if really do know and are fearful for family members in their own country, can tell a lie in order to satisfy both sides.

On February 7, 2002, President Bush signed a memorandum that the Geneva Convention rules did not apply to the conflict between the U.S. And al Qaeda in Afghanistan or elsewhere. The reason for the memorandum was because al Qaeda was not a high contracting party to Geneva.

The Torture Victims Protection Act implements the Convention Against Terror (CAT) into U.S. law. It defines torture as an “act committed by a person acting under the color of law specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering (other than pain or suffering incidental to lawful sanctions) upon another person within his custody or physical control.” If causing pain is not the main objective, even if the actions cause harm, it would not be torture under law. The memo holds that any U.S. person accused of torture who was acting pursuant to the orders of the commander in chief could defend against the charge by arguing “the right to self-defense,” since the nation was under attack.

The MPs had not received training in detention/internee operations. They had little or no instruction on the Geneva rules for prisoners of war.

There was no formal policy for interrogation aside from the Army Field Manual. This presented incomplete guidance.

Military staffs were asked to escalate the level of interrogations. Policy was changed to allow stronger interrogation techniques, such as dietary manipulation, sleep deprivation up to twenty hours a day, isolation up to thirty days, adjusting temperature, loud music, and stress positions.


Responsibility must start with the understanding that under the best arrangements there will be irresponsibility in administrative actions to a considerable margin. Accountability to another person or body requires some agreement concerning the action or the end result. It is evident that a principal cannot effectively bring about the responsible conduct of public affairs, unless elaborate techniques make explicit what purposes and activities are involved in all the many different phases of public policy (Friedrich). The memorandum on February 7, 2002 stated the Geneva Convention rules did not apply to conflict between the U.S. And al Qaeda because he was not a high contracting party to Geneva. It did not mention anything about the detainees being exempted and the Geneva Convention rules did not make any exceptions. This is clearly a conflict of policy as well as no clear definition of what consists of with al Qaeda.

Assuming causality is a nonexperimental approach that assumes a connection between the availability or level of a program and a condition in the target population (Rosembloom). The definition given in law for torture is not clearly defined. It bases the definition on the objectives and does not include the actual actions and does not define the term severe, or how far one must go to commit torture.

‘Process analysis concerns the way in which a particular policy or program is implemented. The content of the policy and its impact on the ones affected can be modified, elaborated, or even negated during its implementation. The Executive Order where President Bush authorized the interrogation techniques did not clearly define the limits of those interrogation techniques.

Implementation evaluation depends on policy analysis, but it is whether the implementation of the policy is appropriate, rather than whether it has the intended impact. It really depends on the perspective, whether managerial, political, or legal. The forced interrogation techniques brought about a questionable quality of the information they were seeking. The techniques were political and ignored the legal and management of those techniques.

General Conclusions and Recommendations

General conclusion: Terms should be fully defined where there is little doubt or confusion about their meaning and what applies and what does not.

Recommendation: Terms can be defined by committees of at least ten participants to invalidate more meaning and criticality. Using committees can define terms more fully to have better understanding.

General conclusion: Leadership should be more accountable for their decisions in implementing public policy and the training of personnel.

Recommendation: Where policies conflict or violate another, it should be agreed upon by a committee to evaluate the appropriateness.

General conclusion: When a policy has been implemented, any changes to that policy should follow an organizational structure. One administrator should not be allowed to change the policy.

Recommendation: When a change in policy needs to be implemented, the administrator that originally implemented the policy should be on the committee to change it.


Friedrich, C.J. (n.d.). Public Policy and the Nature of Administrative Responsibility. In Stillman, Public Administration-Concepts and Cases (p. 441).

Rosembloom, E.H. (n.d.). Policy Analysis and Implementation Evaluation, 7th Ed. In E.H. Rosembloom, Chapter 8 (pp. 349-369).

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