Guantanamo Bay Detainment Center
Posed by Terri Friedman
The Beacon, University of Tennessee
Q. The Daily Beacon, Knoxville, Tennessee, would very much appreciate
any comments from your organization, on the ongoing controversy at
A. Concerned as all human beings must be over allegations regarding
conditions at Guantanamo Bay detainment center, what should be of most
concern to Americans is the attitude taken by the administration and
its defenders. At the same time that they insist that the Geneva
conventions don't apply, they insist that any transgressions that may
have occurred should, like the disgraceful conduct at Abu Ghraib, be
blamed solely on the lower level soldiers and not on the senior
officials who established a policy that condones torture.
Most chilling, is the complete lack of concern for whether the
detainees are guilty or innocent. No formal charge has been made
against them, and their designation that they are "enemy combatants"
has been unproven despite the fact that the U.S. Supreme Court has
clearly stated that such allegations must be subject to some kind of
judicial review. The administration seems proud of the fact that it has
released a few dozen of the 500 (after years of incarceration without
cause) but unconcerned that most of the others may also be innocent,
even of being enemy combatants let alone of the terrorism.
There is an enormous amount of chutzpah in the unrelenting pressure the
administration exerted against Newsweek to leverage a technical error
in its article exposing some of the abuses into a retraction of the
whole article when more flagrant deceptions regarding Guantanamo, Abu
Ghraib, and the rationale for the war on Iraq (as demonstrated by the
scandal of the Downing Street memo) are dismissed as irrelevant.
Finally, it is important to note that the administration has indicated
in the Padilla case that it does not consider itself restricted to
non-citizens in selecting its targets for extra-judicial treatment.
We propose that the government immediately review the status of the
detainees and formally charge any who are indictable of a crime, and
either release or classify as a prisoner of war any who are not
indictable. Those charged with crimes should then be indicted and given
a speedy trial. Those held as POWs should be accorded their rights
under the Geneva conventions and International Law. Those who are
released should be given an apology for being held without just cause.
Finally, the world community needs to immediately address the issue of
the threat of indefinite detention of prisoners of war. It is not only
a question that affects the detainees at Guantanamo, but Americans and
others being held in Iraq. People from all over the world are subject
to the risk of being held hostage on unsubstantiated suspicion of being
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