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US: War tribunals

The US has a double standard. On the one hand it refuses to recognize the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Tribunal and pressures other governments to sign agreements to bypass it. As usual, those which sign can expect preferential treatment. At the same time,it holds prisoners in Guantanamo, disregarding requests by governments of the UK, Russia, Pakistan, Spain and other countries that their nationals be turned over to them for trial. See "Terror's cellblock" (U.S. News and World Report, 12/5/03). Diplomatic complaints go through the State Department and Colin Powell passes them on to Rumsfeld, who simply says he will speed up the trials. He said that the administration was seeking to expedite the processing of suspected terrorists imprisoned at Guantanamo, some of whom have been held for more than a year. Rumsfeld acknowledged that he had received a letter from Secretary of State Colin Powell about the 660 prisoners. Their detention has drawn protests from human rights groups as well as some of the detainees' homelands. The FBI, the Department of Justice, the CIA, and the Pentagon's Defense Intelligence Agency were all involved in the process of interrogating the detainees, . The White House has refused to declare the detainees prisoners of war, preferring to leave them in a legal limbo as "illegal combatants" - a term that is not recognized in international law, but allows the US government to deny prisoners due process of the law (Reuters, 6/5/03).

Ronald Hilton - 5/10/03