NYT/AP: Hussein Given P.O.W. Status

Pentagon lawyers have determined that Saddam Hussein has been a prisoner of war since American forces captured him on Dec. 13, a Defense Department spokesman said Friday.

Despite that determination, Secretary of State Colin Powell told CBS News: “I don’t know that he has been formally declared a prisoner of war.”

That decision was up to the Pentagon, Powell said.

Whether or not Saddam is a prisoner of war could be key to how he is treated in captivity and eventually put on trial. The Geneva Conventions on treatment of prisoners of war forbid any kind of coercion in POW interrogations, for example.

What’s strange is that this policy was announced nearly a month ago, so I’m not sure why it’s news now, let alone why the details of this haven’t yet been worked out.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.