14 May 2005

Flushing, America (BR)

Forget about the inmates running the asylum. Just let them switch places with their masters for a day.

Condi Rice goes into damage control mode re: Koran flushing

Op-ed: The U.S. must shut down the Guantanamo Bay war prison/detention center. We here at Whippersnapp understand the need for a place to house prisoners of war. Gitmo isn't it. We need a place on our own soil, not some lawless no-man's-land on an island whose political philosophy we claim to despise. A center where the wardens and guards are subject, at least in theory, to US and international law.

Our nation was founded on principles of respect for human dignity and presumption of innocence. Conservative estimates suppose that at least half of the inmates at Guantanamo have never been affiliated with any terrorist or violent resistance group, and were instead picked up in massive sweeps of brown people in the Middle East.

From the get-go, President Bush has made the claim that the war on terror is not a war on Islam. I found it reassuring in the days after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, but now it's a hard sell. Particularly when all military action has been taken against Islamic countries (more is being planned) and low-level officers have been given a tacit green light to treat all POWs as subhumans. Now we have wardens at Gitmo flushing the Koran down the toilet? These days even applicants for office work are administered psychological exams prior to employment, you're telling me the US government doesn't screen for psychopaths like these?

But monkeys do as monkeys see, and with Herr Rumsfeld and Senor Gonzales giving winking nods to borderline and overt torture of prisoners - even though every single study ever conducted on the matter indicates that intelligence gleaned from victims of torture is unreliable - what do we expect from the prison guards? But we must remember that guards at POW camps, even if they are active military, are not in the line of fire. They do not deserve the same benefit of doubt we must give to our fighting men. Camp guards work in a controlled environment. Their charges are in cages. Many of them are on hunger strike. Many of them are also innocent of all wrongdoing and have been denied trial. Some of them have even been declared as non-threats and are still not allowed to leave. When they are set free, they will likely be brought back to their despotic home countries, where they will be radicalized or killed.

We're doing all this backwards. We're supposed to be setting an example for the undemocratic, unjust tyrannies of the world, not co-opting their tactics. Every day we are shooting ourselves in the foot in the promulgation of the war on terror. Eventually it will come to a point where we deserve to lose.


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