Friday, May 19, 2006


Two Reports on Gitmo

Give Them What They Want.

The prisoners at Gitmo that is, not the UN.

Two reports from AP, of two curiously timed events:

Guantanamo Prison Guards, Inmates Clash

U.N. Urges U.S. to Shut Guantanamo Prison

Bottom line up front, buried 30 paragraphs down in the piece on the UN Report:

Andreas Mavrommatis, a Cypriot rights expert who chaired the committee's review of the United States, said the report should not be blown out of proportion because the United States has "a very good record of human rights" overall.

Fat chance.

The AP characterizes the Gitmo prisoner “uprising” in a way that strongly suggests that prisoners made suicide attempts to draw in guards, conduct attacks and other harassing actions, and (thereby) gain media attention:

Prisoners wielding improvised weapons clashed with guards trying to stop a detainee from committing suicide at the U.S. prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the military said Friday.

The fight occurred Thursday in a medium-security section of the camp as guards were responding to the fourth attempted suicide that day at the detention center on the

U.S. Navy base, Cmdr. Robert Durand said.

Detainees used fans, light fixtures and other improvised weapons to attack the guards as they entered a communal living area to stop a prisoner trying to hang himself, Durand said.

Earlier in the day, three detainees in another part of the prison attempted suicide by swallowing prescription medicine they had been hoarding.

Note the tie-in, without a remark on its significance, deep into the AP report:

Word of the clash came as a U.N. panel that monitors compliance with the world's anti-torture treaty called on the United States to close the prison.

One other item of note at the bottom of the report, obviously meant to elicit sympathy for these poor unfortunates:

The lawyer [Colangelo-Bryan] said the suicides reflect the desperation of detainees held for more than four years with no idea when, or if, they will be released.

"Under these circumstances, it's hardly surprising that people become desperate and hopeless enough to attempt suicide," he said.

It’s sad. Really, this is too cruel. Perhaps, as combatants who conduct operations in a manner completely contrary to the rules of war, we should juts opt for summary executions. Or just let them go ahead with their suicide attempts. But of course, no, we would never dream of treating these fanatics as they would treat us.

Okay. Next up. The UN Report, as also reported by AP:

The United States should close its prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and avoid using secret detention facilities in the war on terror, the U.N. panel that monitors compliance with the world's anti-torture treaty said Friday.

The Committee Against Torture also said detainees should not be returned to any country where they could face a "real risk" of being tortured.

The criticism, contained in an 11-page report, followed a hearing in Geneva this month on U.S. adherence to the 1984 U.N. Convention Against Torture. The criticism carries no penalties beyond international scrutiny, but human rights observers say it could influence U.S. public opinion and hence the government.

It seems that the UN knows how to manipulate the MSM nearly as well as the terrorists at Guantanamo.

I’m not sure the UN makes any attempt to influence the behavior of the other countries it perceives as engaging in torture. Neither by trying to shame the dictators who run these countries, nor by prompting their populations to pressure their governments. Why is it only the US upon whom the UN uses these techniques?

For that matter, why do they spend so much time – and expend such a huge proportion of what you’d think would be limited resources -- on our perceived grievances, when by their own admission, “United States has ‘a very good record of human rights’ overall.”

A mystery, just as mysterious as the secret of how the prisoners at Guantanamo are able to coordinate their suicide-baited media events with the UN. You’d almost think somebody’s working together here.

I was gratified to see a robust US response to the UN’s claims, more energetic than any I’ve seen for some time. Not that it will influence anyone at the UN, or enamored of them:

U.N. investigators were invited to inspect the facilities at Guantanamo but chose not to, White House spokesman Tony Snow said. The investigators have said they didn't visit because they were denied the opportunity to independently interview detainees.

"It is important to note that everything that is done in terms of questioning detainees is fully within the boundaries of American law," Snow said.

He also said the United States makes sure prisoners have food, clothing and other basic necessities and the opportunity to worship.

"In short," Snow said, "we are according every consideration consistent with not only the law but the needs of safety and security at Guantanamo to the people who are there."

The U.N. report came as the military disclosed a group of Guantanamo prisoners wielding improvised weapons clashed Thursday with guards trying to stop a detainee from hanging himself — the fourth suicide attempt that day.

State Department legal adviser John B. Bellinger III, who led the U.S. delegation at the U.N. panel hearing, said the committee appeared not to have read a lot of the information Washington had supplied — or had ignored it.

"There are a number of both factual inaccuracies and legal misstatements about the law applicable to the United States," Bellinger told The Associated Press.

He said the panel's call for the closure of Guantanamo was "a recommendation which we would say, one, seems to be beyond their mandate; two, legally wrong to say that the existence of Guantanamo is a per se violation of the convention; and, three, a not very practical recommendation given that they say that it ought to be closed but that individuals can't be sent back to a large number of countries."

Bell also said the report was "factually wrong" in stating the "individuals do not have access to judicial process."

He called that "simply clearly inaccurate since it's been ordered by our Supreme Court that they have access to judicial process and every detainee in Guantanamo has access to counsel and to our courts."

Hey, I give the AP credit for including such a lengthy official rebuttal to the UN charges. They also tie the two stories together, but that’s the intent, isn’t it?

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