Thursday, February 16, 2006

No Mo Gitmo

Just close Guantanamo already. It's a disgrace. The UN Human Rights Commission just issued a report recommending that it should be closed. A lot of people in the Bush adminstration don't trust the UN Human Rights Commission; they think it's politically motivated (possible), that it includes major human rights abusers (true), and that it's out to embarrass Bush (possible). But the UN Human Rights Commission isn't the issue.

The issue is Guantanamo. The issue is that it's a detention facility specifically designed to hold people never charged with any crime and to hold them beyond the reach of ANY law--US law, international law, the laws of the countries from which the prisoners were taken. That's what it was designed to be; that's what it is. And that means that "detention facility" is a euphemism. The correct term is "dungeon."

There's just no way to defend a dungeon. How can any nation that values human rights set up a prison designed to deprive people of their human rights without even investigating whether the prisoners had actually, say, done something wrong? It can't. Either we value human rights or we don't. If we do, we should act like it.

I heard some plummy-voiced English pocket fascist on the BBC World Service this morning insisting that security is more important than rights and that the UNHRC report is worthless because the UNHRC never visited Guantanamo. But the UNHRC never sent investigators to Guantanamo because the US military refused in advance to let its investigators interview the prisoners privately. Any visit would've been a waste of time. If the prince sends his retainer to the dungeon to investigate accusations of torture, do you really think the prisoner is going to say, "Oh, yeah, they torture me all the time" when the torturers are sitting right there? No way.

Maybe all the soliders at Guantanamo are models of respectful treatment and would never even think of abusing prisoners. Maybe private interviews would have made that clear. But we'll never know because Guantanamo is designed to keep us from ever knowing. And that's reason enough to tear the damn thing down and start over with a facility that helps us protect our way of life rather than taint it.


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