June 29, 2005

Gitmo Conditions (tip to LGF)

After all the stupid gulag business from Amnesty and Durbin, I'd say that the case for judicious reform of the war on terror and the Patriot Act has been set way back. My view is that these people are being held for a crime and ought to be put on trial. While it's true that various international conventions allow holding a POW until the end of hostilities, we shouldn't wait until the end of the war on terror, because it's ill-defined. If we only started trying drug dealers at the end of hostilities in the war on drugs then we'd still be holding all of them.

Moreover, the US citizens are entitled to trials whether they were found on the battlefield or not. They still possess all their constitutional rights. Additionally, I think the government must be prevented from using any evidence int rial that the defendant and his lawyer cannot cross-examine. They want to use secret evidence that would preserve the secrecy of a source, but that's not appropriate for a courtroom. I don't really have an opinion on whether Gitmo is still the base, but it seems to me that it's more easily secured there than somewhere in the mainland.

I have to say, though, I find the evidence for 'torture' incredibly thin. Abu Ghraib was clearly torture conditions, but nothing similar has shown up from Gitmo. In fact, here's on observer's take on life at Camp Delta.
    After speaking with soldiers, sailors, and civilians who collectively staff Gitmo, I left convinced that abuse definitely exists at the detention facilities, and it typically fails to receive the press attention it deserves: it's the relentless, merciless attacks on American servicemen and women by these terrorist thugs. Many of the orange jumpsuit-clad detainees fight their captors at every opportunity, openly bragging of their desire to kill Americans. One has promised that, if released, he would find MPs in their homes through the internet, break into their houses at night, and "cut the throats of them and their families like sheep." Others claim authority and vindication to kill women, children, and other innocents who oppose their jihadist mission authorized by the Koran (the same one that hangs in every cell from a specially-designed holder intended to protect it from a touching the cell floor - all provided at U.S. taxpayer expense). One detainee was heard to tell another: "One day I will enjoy sucking American blood, although their blood is bitter, undrinkable…." These recalcitrant detainees are known euphemistically as being "non-compliant." They attack guards whenever the soldiers enter their cells, trying to reach up under protective facemasks to gouge eyes and tear mouths. They make weapons and try to stab the guards or grab and break limbs as the guards pass them food.

    We dined with the soldiers, toured several of the individual holding camps, observed interrogations, and inspected cells. We were impressed by the universally high quality of the cadre and the facilities. While it may not be exactly "Club GITMO," as Rush Limbaugh uses to tweak the hard-Left critics who haven't a clue about reality here, GITMO is a far cry from the harshness experienced even by maximum security prisoners in the U.S.

    Meals for detainees are ample: we lunched on what several thought was an accumulated single day's ration for detainees. "No," the contract food service manager said with a laugh, "what you're looking at there is today's lunch. A single meal. They get three a day like that." The vegetables, pita bread, and other well-prepared food filled two of the large Styrofoam take-home containers we see in restaurants. Several prisoners have special meal orders like "no tomatoes" or "no peanut products" depending on taste or allergies. "One prisoner," General Hood said, "throws back his food tray if it contains things he has specifically said he doesn't want." How is he punished for this outrageous behavior? His tray is numbered, the food he requested is put on it, and the corrected "order" is delivered to his cell.

    The detainees are similarly catered to medically. Almost every one arrived at GITMO with some sort of battlefield trauma. After all, the majority were captured in combat. Today they are healthy, immunized, and well cared for. At a visit to the modern hospital facility - dedicated solely to the detainees and comparable to a well-equipped and staffed small-town hospital with operating, dental, routine facilities - the doctor in charge confirmed that the caloric count for the detainees was so high that while "most detainees arrived undernourished," medics now watch for issues stemming from high cholesterol and being overweight. Each of approximately 520 terrorists currently held in confinement averages about four medical visits monthly, something one would expect from only a dedicated American hypochondriac. Welcome to the rigors of detention under American supervision.
I disagree with the trial considerations currently taking place, especially for US citizens, but if even half this report is correct then it seems highly unlikely that any torture is going on. Would anyone call it torture if some of the detainees were punished for their insults with reduced rations or special confinement? I doubt it. Of course, the detainees probably WANT to be beaten and bruised so they have something to show observers and so forth that might visit.

Insufficient legal remedies? Definitely. Torture? Not at all.

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