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  • Saturday, June 25, 2005


    Gitmo As a Model for International Relations

    The Guantanamo Bay prison camp is a fascinating example of exactly the kind of thinking the Bush Administration abhors. Its existance and the conditions are justified in public through all sorts of morally relativistic reasoning.

    When protests are lodged about the conditions of the prisoners, the administration claims the prisoners are in better living conditions than they experienced in their home country. Just ignore the isolation, the lack of legal rights, the indefinite duration of imprisonment, the mystery of actual charges against most prisoners. At least they have a roof over their head, a Koran, and three squares a day. What more could these prisoners want?

    When asked to detail the crimes or deplorable acts of the prisoners prior to incarceration, we are told these men are all the spiritual and military kin of the 9/11 bombers. The administration seems determined to conflate anyone who resists the US with "terrorists". (That's a term I find quite empty of common definition, particularly in the US where it has become almost a Rorschach in it's usage.)

    There are many questions about the treatment of prisoners at Gitmo. And while the Bush administration is loud in their proclamations about the transparency of the conditions, they also are not letting observers in. This is from Political Affairs Magazine:
    Further raising concerns about the mistreatment of US-held prisoners, a report in the respected New England Journal of Medicine says that its own inquiry into the medical practices of the US military at Guantanamo Bay shows that doctors, nurses, and medics caring for the prisoners there are required to provide health information to military and CIA interrogators.

    And despite public claims by military officials that medical care was separate from intelligence matters (a principle of international law), “[s]ince late 2003, psychiatrists and psychologists (at Guantanamo) have been part of a strategy that employs extreme stress, combined with behavior-shaping rewards, to extract actionable intelligence from resistant captives,” says the journal.
    According to the report, military intelligence officials used medical information provided by health care professionals to develop interrogation methods that, even with the approval of the Pentagon and the Justice Department, have been found to depart from international law and conventions banning torture.

    In a related story, the Bush administration has rejected bipartisan calls for an independent Guantanamo Bay prison commission. The White House insists that the military, the very organization suspected of systematically violating human rights, is perfectly capable of investigating the situation and punishing any offending parties.
    Now there's talk of imprisoning some of the inmates for life and executing some of them. Will we ever really know what's going on inside Gitmo?

    This is PBU26, another in a series of more or less weekly posts inspired by and in conjuction with the Progressive Blogger Union. Searching on "PBU26 progressive" (no quotes) should bring up other posts on this subject. (Adding "progressive" to the "PBU#" seems to cut down on false positive results.)

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