Wednesday, February 13, 2008


Guantanamo Trials Set to Shame USA

The news that six inmates at Guantanamo are going to be brought to trial has not been well received on this side of the Atlantic, none less so than Bronwen Maddox in today's Times. Her witheringly critical article reminds us that on the morning of 11th September 2001, the USA commanded the world's sympathy-excepting some Muslim enclaves- throughout every nook and cranny of the planet. Some 3000 innocents were slaughtered for reasons of obscure hatred and we all stood back in stunned, appalled sympathy. But the way Bush and his administration have treated suspects held in relation to the event has achieved the sensational feat of alienating just about everyone who formerly was on the US side. Let's list just a few of the mistakes:

1. Deciding to define suspects in such a way that the Geneva Conventions were evaded.

To see the most powerful country in the world scrabbling on the edge of a nearby island, with whose leader it is not on speaking terms, for the sole purpose of evading its own laws and principles, is an embarrassment.

2. The decision to try suspects according to 'military commissions' rather than according to US domestic law.

3. To delay any proceedings for over six years while keeping prisoners under dreadful conditions.

4. To 'export' some inmates to countries less scrupulous about torture where interrogators could 'take the gloves off'.

5. To have used torture to extract confessions; chief suspect Khalid Mohammed, confessed under the administration of the infamous 'water-boarding' technique which simulates drowning.

6. To seek the death penalty for anyone convicted, thus alienating Europe and much of rest of the western world.

7.The decision not to let suspects hear evidence brought against them should it be deemed classified.

8.The prosecution plans to get around the objection that the men have been tortured by arguing that the CIA interviews have been repeated without torture by the FBI, who used time-tested rapport-building techniques, officials said, including giving the men Starbucks coffee.

9. Maddox concludes with an argument which is impossible to deny:

From the start the US should have tried its captives in its established criminal or military courts. Those it could not charge it should have released. It would have had the world's respect, as well as sympathy. But in setting aside its own principles so easily, it has done profound damage to its standing.

By acting in a way which only the most knee-jerk 'hang 'em high' red-necks from the Midwest supports, Bush has ensured that as the cases come up for legal action this is the only section of the world's public opinion whose support he has succeeded in retaining.

Couldn't agree more Skipper. Remember that "we are all Americans now" feeling? We all shared it. To have squandered that, to have made so many needless enemies - it's is the tactical ineptitude of it, the stupidy of it, that is so stunning.
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