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The prisoners in Gitmo



Raśl Escalante of Mexico takes on his critics: "I agree with Tim and sympathize with Miles; but I also insist on my point. When my father was Consul of Mexico in Sacramento and Phoenix he had to deal with numerous Human Rights Orgs that were basically fronts for American Unions trying to undermine NAFTA (hence my agreement with Tim about double standards). I also believe that the Taliban's attitudes towards practically everything of relevance are both twisted and reproachable (it is highly unlikely that you'll often see that sort of unqualified and immoderate language coming from me) and that they should be actively stamped out (I'm sure Miles opinion wouldn't stray too far from that either).

However, the point is that exemplary punishment should be dealt out in an exemplary way. What good is it if both kettle and pot are black? The US has done a lot to clean up its act on transparency and accountability, and this new "war" is a great opportunity to take the whole issue a lot further. The foot that does the stamping-out should be soft, firm and financially padded in order to be effective. If the political system can't accommodate that, then we are extremely short on statemen (is this news, however?).

It would be grotesque if a US court publicly exhonerates Taliban suspects on charges wrongly brought against them for political or public relations motives (and I believe the US Judiciary to be scrupulous enough to do so). Aren't there enough reasons to try these men by the book, that we must undermine our own institutional foundations?

Please note that I say we: in agreement with Miles, I have no illusions that my outspokenness, moderation or Christianity would be even remotely tolerated by these people, let alone appreciated. More likely they would be percieved as weakness or Western decadence. As a silent bystander, I am cooperating with what the US is doing for my own (colateral) protection, Hence my concern for things being done correctly. In this particular case, effectiveness can only be achieved by rigidly following legal and moral procedure".

My comment: This discussion is like crossfire. Robert Gard, who is not only a general but a political scientist from Harvard, asks Hank Greely to check the Geneva Convention to see what it actually says. Others complain that the US is victim of a double standard: Red Cross officials are allowed to visit Gitmo to check on the rights of the prisoners there, but they are not allowed to visit jails in Cuba where human rights activists are held.

Incidentally, Gitmo is the scene of a strange propaganda ballet. Every Saturday thousands of Cubans are bussed to a rally, and today the rally met just outside the Gitmo fence. There was dancing on the stage, but no reference to the prisoners in Gitmo. Raśl Castro, the brother of Field and his heir apparent as well as head of the armed forces, was there, but he did not make a speech. Was it just a way of showing that mass demomstrations against Gitmo could easily be planned. What do the Gitmo prisoners think about Cuba? Do they view it, Fidel and Che Guevara favorably? They presumably wwere aware of the mass rally just across the fence.

Ronald Hilton - 1/19/02


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