What Part of “Outrages Upon Personal Dignity” Don’t They Understand?

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In the “international law is what we damn well say it is” department, the Bush administration is proposing a bill to revise the War Crimes Act, the law that essentially binds the U.S. to the Geneva Conventions. Apparently, reports the Washington Post, the administration is concerned with excessive vagueness in the Conventions’ language (crafted, lest we forget, essentially by American negotiators), particularly the part about forbidding “outrages upon personal dignity.” Because, you see, this administration is all about appreciating cultural differences:

“I mean, what is degrading in one society may not be degrading in another, or may be degrading in one religion, not in another religion,” [Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon] England said.

Midnight Express, anyone? How long till we hear that exact same language out of a spokesman for some government, somewhere, to explain what’s being done to some hapless American tourist (or CIA officer, for that matter) who’s ended up in a bad, bad jail?

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