The law defines a war crime to include a "grave breach of the Geneva Conventions", specifically noting that "grave breach" should have the meaning defined in any convention (related to the laws of war) to which the U.S. is a party. The definition of "grave breach" in some of the Geneva Conventions have text that extend additional protections, but all the Conventions share the following text in common: "... committed against persons or property protected by the Convention: willful killing, torture or inhuman treatment, including biological experiments, willfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health."
The law applies if either the victim or the perpetrator is a national of the United States or a member of the U.S. armed forces. The penalty may be life imprisonment or death. The death penalty is only invoked if the conduct resulted in the death of one or more victims.
Ten years later, the United States Supreme Court ruled in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld ( ) that Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions applied to the War on Terrorism, with the unstated implication that any interrogation techniques that violated Common Article 3 constituted War Crimes. The possibility that American officials and soldiers could be prosecuted for war crimes for committing the "outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment prohibited by the Conventions led to a series of proposals to make such actions legal in certain circumstances, which resulted in the Military Commissions Act of 2006.
The adoption of the Military Commissions Act of 2006, defined in Section 6 of the act grave abuses of Common Article 3 to only include torture, cruel or inhumane treatment, murder, mutilation or maiming, intentionally causing serious bodily harm, rape, sexual assault or abuse, and the taking of hostages, thereby limiting the scope of the original law.
War Criminals Face Prosecution in U.S.: President Bush Wants War Criminals, Including Those from the 1991 Gulf War, Judged Severely, but Where They Will Be Tried and by Whom Remains a Subject of Debate. (the World: War Crimes)
Apr 29, 2003; President George W. Bush has vowed that his administration will prosecute war criminals. His father made similar promises during...