Last week, Secretary of State Colin Powell urged President Bush to adopt the Geneva Conventions for treatment of Taleban and al-Qaida fighters captured by U.S. forces in Afghanistan. About 160 detainees are being held at an American naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Mr. Powell asked for a review of the detainees' status at the behest of allies and human-rights groups.
Appearing on the television program Fox News Sunday, Vice President Dick Cheney says the Geneva Conventions are vague as to how the detainees should be treated. "The detainees are being treated humanely," he said, "but they are not lawful combatants. These are the worst of a very bad lot. They are very dangerous. They are devoted to killing millions of Americans if they can, and are perfectly prepared to die in the effort."
Under the conventions, detainees are not required to divulge to their captors information about future military operations. Not so for unlawful combatants such as those in Cuba, who now can be put through extensive interrogations.