3,359. 2/7/2002

In a memo to top members of his Administration on February 7, 2002, President Bush said “that the Geneva Conventions only applied to conflicts involving states fighting with regular armed forces. ‘However,’ he wrote, ‘the war on terrorism ushers in a new paradigm, one in which groups with broad, international reach commit horrific crimes against innocent civilians, sometimes with the direct support of states.’ Bush had accepted OLC’s [Office of Legal Counsel’s] legal conclusion that the Geneva Conventions did not apply to al Qaeda, which was neither a state nor a party to the treaties. He also accepted that he could suspend the Conventions with regard to Afghanistan, but decided not to. Instead, he found that the Taliban were ‘unlawful combatants’ who had lost their POW [prisoner of war] status. President Bush also found that common article 3 applied only to an ‘armed conflict not of an international character,’ and hence neither to the war with al Qaeda nor to the Taliban.”

 – John Yoo, War By Other Means, Page 43

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