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What Else Is In Scott's Head?

The blog site for writer Scott C. Smith. Some observations on the world we live in and life in general. And maybe some politics.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

The American Gulag

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld came swinging yesterday as he attacked Amnesty International for its report likening the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba as a "Gulag."

At a news conference, Rumsfeld said, of Amnesty, "Free societies depend on oversight and they welcome informed criticism, particularly on human rights issues. But those who make such outlandish charges lose any claim to objectivity or seriousness."

Or, if you're the Bush administration, deflect attention away from the real problem, which is, of course, the fact that detainees at Gitmo are being held without any charges, hidden away from the world. Since they are not classified as prisoners of war (they're classified as "enemy combatants"), they are not afforded protections under the Geneva Conventions, which means some of the detainees have been at Gitmo for three years without knowing what crimes they have been charged with.

More from Rumsfeld: "The people being detained at Guantanamo are, with good reason, suspected terrorists...many, if not most, have been systematically trained to lie, and to claim torture. At least a dozen of the 200 already released from Gitmo have already been caught, back on the battlefield, involved in efforts to kidnap and kill Americans."

More deflection. While Rumsfeld may be telling the truth, it still doesn't change the fact that the detainees are being held indefinitely, in unknown conditions. Yes, some of the detainees are probably terrorists. But, as Donald Rumsfeld said, they are suspected terrorists. Not confirmed terrorists. Just suspected.

I know, if you're a right-winger reading this (which would be pretty amazing that you'd read this far) you're thinking, "You support the terrorists!" Which isn't true. I do support the idea that basic human rights are upheld. It's easy to say "But look at all of the mass graves in Iraq! It was much worse under Saddam Hussein! Now that's violating human rights!"

Yes, Saddam Hussein killed his own people and conditions were horrible. That doesn't mean we should do the same, even if it's "not as bad." You can argue, like Rush Limbaugh did, that what happened at Abu Ghraib was the same as a fraternity hazing ritual. And that would be wrong. As I've said before, the United States should be the example to the world of how to humanely treat prisoners of war, and not give ammunition to our enemies in the event any of our soldiers are ever held captive.

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