International Red Cross

This is aggravating.

The International Committee of the Red Cross is granted a privileged status to inspect the conditions of prisoners of war and other detainees in return for confidentiality. But in recent years it has demonstrated a habit of selective media leaks damaging to American purposes. This is the backdrop for two recent incidents that make us think the U.S. should reconsider the ICRC’s role.

The first concerns a story we heard first from a U.S. source that an ICRC representative visiting America’s largest detention facility in Iraq last month had compared the U.S. to Nazi Germany. According to a Defense Department source citing internal Pentagon documents, the ICRC team leader told U.S. authorities at Camp Bucca: “You people are no better than and no different than the Nazi concentration camp guards.” She was upset about not being granted immediate access shortly after a prison riot, when U.S. commanders may have been thinking of her own safety, among other considerations.

A second, senior Defense Department source we asked about the episode confirmed that the quote above is accurate. And a third, very well-placed American source we contacted separately told us that some kind of reference was made by the Red Cross representative “to either Nazis or the Third Reich”–which understandably offended the American soldiers present.

Notwithstanding that, we should not confuse the International version with the American version, the latter of which is not as prone to anti-Americanism and anti-semitism.

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Erick Erickson

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