Tuesday, October 03, 2006
Tortured Logic of The American Inquisition
Guantanamo Bay is famous for one thing! Illegal imprisonment and the suspension of habeas corpus… TWO things!… illegal imprisonment and the suspension of habeas corpus...and, prisoner abuse—three! Three things!
Illegal imprisonment, no habeas corpus, prisoner abuse and the complete suspension of reality…(sigh) Right! Guantanamo Bay is famous for, not necessarily in this order and subject to modification, four or more things, those being the….(etc).
Not even Monty Python’s ultra-hilarious sketch “Nobody Expects the Spanish Inquisition!” reaches the level of absurdity that plays out at Camp X-Ray in Cuba. Amongst its more-than seven hundred prisoners were ignorant teenage boys, farmers, a crippled old man and an informant on radical Muslim’s for MI5 (the British intelligence service), all of whom were included in Donald Rumsfeld’s catch-all phrase, “the worst of the worst”.
Since around 2004 Gitmo’s cells have been slowly emptying, with not one “detainee” brought to trial in the US (or anywhere else for that matter). The Guardian now reports that the US is trying to return its nine remaining British inmates to the U.K in a package deal and interestingly enough the U.K, government is refusing. Why?
For one thing the U.K. is currently insisting that only one of the nine is actually a British citizen. And the other thing is that if the U.K. were to accept all nine anyway, the US is insisting they be kept under 24-hour surveillance indefinitely.
As these prisoners haven’t been proven guilty of anything, the U.K can’t just stick them in one of their own prisons—that would be illegal. Letting them live outside of prison but under constant surveillance would also be illegal under British law.
And then there’s the fact that these men have been held illegally in the first place so to accept their status as some kind of criminal without evidence would also be illegal.
Finally the US has no right to dictate the terms under which a British citizen may live in their own country anyway, nor the conduct of British law.
Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld have good reason to empty Camp X-Ray in light of public discontent threatening to change the political scene. Even if Democrats win both houses this November, that still leaves almost two-years of inevitable deal-making and stone-walling to suppress and scrub the shame of Gitmo—two years in which Bush as Commander In Chief can employ his executive powers to clean the place out.
But with America’s “strongest ally” in the “war on terror” currently (finally!) refusing to be complicit in covering-up illegal detentions and prisoner treatment, what then for these nine? Will they be the only ones left? Or will the one acceptable Brit be released and the rest shipped off to who knows where? First this administration wanted them, in fact need them, and now it wants to wash it's hands of them.
These captives may not be screaming from the rack or hot pockers, but it's still torture.