I dont have much to add to Rich’s post, but I must say there’s a lot of confusion about the difference between POWs and terrorists out there. I’ve gotten scores of email from people using POWs in analogies to explain why terrorists should be abused. The problem is that terrorists are not soldiers. They don’t wear uniforms. They don’t obey the rules of war. They behead our POWs and target civilians. Remember how in WWII movies POWs found out of uniform could be shot as spies. Well, all terrorists are spies. They are worse than spies, according to the Geneva Convention. Indeed they are invisible to it ( as I wrote here).
You can argue that it’s wrong to torture terrorists. That’s a perfectly honorable position. But it is dishonorable to compare these people to professional soldiers. Moreover, it seems a little crazy to me to dilute the incentives for signing these treaties in the first place. If you get all the benefits of them anyway, why bother committing yourself to the obligations of them?