Too Restrictive -
Calls For Changes In
Heck, even Bushitler never went this far:
John Reid demanded sweeping changes to international law yesterday to free British soldiers from the restraints of the Geneva conventions and make it easier for the west to mount military actions against other states.
In his speech, the defence secretary addressed three key issues: the treatment of prisoners, when to mount a pre-emptive strikes, and when to intervene to stop a humanitarian crisis. In all these areas, he indicated that the UK and west was being hamstrung by existing inadequate law.
Mr Reid indicated he believed existing rules, including some of the conventions - a bedrock of international law - were out of date and inadequate to deal with the threat of international terrorists.
"We are finding an enemy which obeys no rules whatsoever", he said, referring to what he called "barbaric terrorism".
The conventions, he said, were created more than half century ago "when the world was almost unrecognisable". They dealt with how the sick and injured and how prisoners of war were treated, "and the obligations on states during their military occupation of another state", he said.
Given the big changes undertaken by the military over the past 50 years, he added, "serious questions" must be asked about whether "further changes in international law in this area are necessary".
Mr Reid declined to say whether he had come round to the US view that detainees at Guantánamo bay should not be allowed the protection of the conventions or the courts. Similarly, he would not say if he thought Britain should support the US practice of extraordinary rendition, the transferring of prisoners to secret camps where they risk being tortured.
However, he said, it was not "sufficient just to say [Guantánamo] is wrong".
Mr Reid said yesterday that while domestic laws had been introduced to deal with new threats - he referred to the new offence of "glorifying terrorism" - international law had not changed.
He also spoke of the "concept of imminence" - the circumstances when a state could strike without waiting for an attack.