Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Defending the Free World

The draft report of the UN inquiry into the illegal US detention facility at Guantanamo Bay has condemned what is happening there. If you cast your mind back, you might remember that the UN envoys did not feel able to visit Guantanamo as the US government refused to allow them unsupervised access to the prisoners. Now, the US government, having denied the inquiry that access, is using that fact to question the validity of the report.

As we all know, the Bush regime argues that Guantanamo Bay is an essential part of the "war" on terror. They will, no doubt, continue to downplay this significance of this investigation while their flag wavers once again directly attack the UN on matters entirely unrelated to the report (like this). Because any corruption or scandal means the whole organisation is worthless and should be scrapped. Obviously this doesn't apply to the Bush regime itself or it would have ceased to exist long ago but never mind that now.

Scott McClellan, the president's spokeman, repeated the standard line of defence of Gitmo last week:
Well, yes, we know that Al Qaeda is trained in trying to make wild accusations and so forth.
Because the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay are trained liars and terrorists to a man. There is no possibility that any of them are telling the truth.

John Simpson explains how the prisoners were taken into US custody:
According to the Pentagon, 95% of them were not captured by the Americans themselves. Some 86% were handed over in Afghanistan and Pakistan after a widespread campaign in which big financial bounties were offered in exchange for anyone suspected of links to al-Qaeda and the Taleban.

The US lawyers quote the text of one of the notices the Americans handed out: "Get wealth and power beyond your dreams... You can receive millions of dollars helping the anti-Taleban forces catch al-Qaeda and Taleban murderers." "This is enough money to take care of your family, your village, your tribe for the rest of your life."
It is extraordinary. Never mind that the US administration clearly has no understanding of the tribal rivalries which exist in Afghanistan and northern Pakistan, they appear to have no understanding of the most basic aspects of human nature either. How many of the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay are guilty only of having greedy neighbours? How many have been denounced only because they were involved in a tribal feud?

Not a one, according to the Bush regime. If these loons really are the defenders of the free world, we're in serious trouble.

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