Sunday, July 20, 2003

Feeling sick after reading this Guardian article about prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The article ostensibly focuses on the nine British nationals imprisoned there, who, it seems, may now be spared the tender mercies of U.S. military tribunals, if only so Tony Blair can tell the folks back home he's not a complete Bush toady.

But the manner in which the U.S. continues to hold over 680 prisoners at Guantanamo is just a nightmare that doesn't end--one of the most hypocritical and irrational elements of our so-called "war on terror," another example of how law and morality apply to everyone in the world except us. (The U.S. government's petulant resistance to the International Criminal Court is yet another. War crimes can be committed by anybody except us.)

Is an act of terrorism a crime? Then people should be arrested as criminal suspects. But wait--that would give them the actual right to defend themselves, and possibly even prove their innocence. Instead, Bush decided early on that Sept. 11 was an "act of war." So the prisoners at Guantanamo are prisoners of war, right? Oops again--prisoners of war actually have rights too under the Geneva Convention, including the right not to be interrogated and to be repatriated at the end of hostilities. We can't have that either. So the Bush administration made up this category of "unlawful combatants," which somehow remarkably concluded that these prisoners didn't even have the right to be fighting in the first place. Only the U.S. could invade a country (Afghanistan) that had not attacked it and that it hadn't declared war on, overthrow the government, and then declare that people it captured were "unlawfully" fighting against us.

The only unlawful combatants I see around here are our own.

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