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Who really violated the Geneva Conventions?

By Frank Salvato
web posted May 23, 2005

A British tabloid -- The Sun -- has published pictures of genocidal maniac Saddam Hussein in his underwear and the progressives around the world are aghast! Mind you, the reaction on the Arab street isn't outrage. In fact, many in Kuwait, Iran and Iraq think that humiliation and embarrassment are quite appropriate for the "Butcher of Baghdad." Those who are affected by the "outrage" are all about the perception. Political correctness -- this time hiding behind the Geneva Conventions -- exposes its absurdity once again.

The Sun and its Saddam Hussein pictureGranted, the use -- in this case The Sun's publication -- of photographs defaming prisoners of war is against the Geneva Conventions. The Conventions state that countries must protect prisoners of war in their custody from "public curiosity". This stipulation is in place for a good many reasons. It, and the Geneva Conventions in total, were written to adhere to a core belief in honor despite the barbarity of war.

Today's War on Terror is a different animal. It pits an organized group of traditional military forces against a rag-tag group of fanatical ideologues who adopt the dress of and hide among civilians. Those who are fighting to end a terrorist movement that murders indiscriminately -- and those regimes that sponsor and harbor them -- are battling clandestine forces that exploit the chilling effects of fear as they murder, rape, pillage and plunder in the name of a religion whose motives are in question, especially for their proselytization of violence toward non-believers.

So, when I hear that the International Committee for the Red Cross is aghast at the publication of pictures of Saddam Hussein in his underwear, when I hear that they want an investigation into how this "atrocity," this injustice, could have been allowed to occur, it makes me shake my head in disbelief. It also leads me to believe that an investigation should be launched into the motives of all those who have been abusing the word "atrocity."

In fact, the ICRR has displayed such an anti-Americanism stance they shouldn't be ruled out as perpetrators of this "outrage."

This brings me to my point. The ones who are really responsible for this "outrage" are those who published the pictures. Those who instinctively and blindly point the finger of blame at the United States, its government and its military, are purposely incendiary. They are truly the ones inciting hatred for the United States around the world.

While The Sun wouldn't have been able to publish the photographs had they not been taken, the taking of the pictures in and of itself didn't violate the Geneva Conventions. It was the exploitation of the pictures that violated the Geneva Conventions. It was the unabashed insatiability of the mainstream media -- first The Sun and then every mainstream publication that used the story about The Sun to justify running the pictures -- that perpetrated this violation of the treaty and its ethical standards.

Once again, the mainstream media is the culprit, exercising incredibly poor judgment while inciting those disposed to over-reaction to outrage, all in the name of a news story.

Graham Dudman, managing editor for The Sun tried to justify the publication of the pictures:

"People seem to forget that this is a man who is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of men, women and children and all that's happened to him is someone has taken his picture. This is a sort of modern-day Adolf Hitler. These pictures are an extraordinary iconic news image that will still be being looked at at the end of this century."

The fact remains, Mr. Dudman and the rest of the salivating media hoard, knew full well that publishing Hussein's picture, whether in his underwear or washing his clothes, was a violation of the Geneva Conventions. Yet they decided to publish them anyway. Why? Because they consider themselves above the rules. Their violations of treaties, laws, agreements and ethics are done in the "valiant pursuit of the truth" -- even if what they publish as truth isn't and even if they have to make it up.

Arrogance, thy name is the mainstream media.

Frank Salvato is Vice President and Executive Director of the Basics Project and managing editor for TheRant.us. His pieces are regularly featured in Townhall.com. He has appeared on The O'Reilly Factor and numerous radio shows. His pieces have been recognized by the Japan Center for Conflict Prevention and are periodically featured in The Washington Times as well as other national and international publications. He can be contacted at oped@therant.us Copyright © 2005 Frank Salvato

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