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May 21, 2004 3:00 AM

Experts say treatment of terror suspects laid groundwork for abuses

The Bush administrations decision two years ago to reject Geneva Convention protections for combatants captured in the war on terrorism contributed to the abuses of prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan, several military law experts and former officers said. Some lawyers close to the administration strongly disagree. They see the Iraq prison scandal as separate from how al-Qaida and Taliban combatants have been treated. If the Bush administrations positions on prisoners rights are seen as condoning abuses, it could exacerbate tensions between the United States and its allies and between the administration and the uniformed military. It could also endanger U.S. troops taken prisoner in the future.

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