Friday, February 24, 2006

Playing both sides of the fence--and landing on the wrong side

The editor over at the Hillsboro Argus takes a stab at sorting out the mess at Guantanamo Bay--and fails in such a miserably lazy way that its practically breathtaking.

To wit:

First let us say, this is war. And war prisoners are usually held until the war is over. If not, they intend to get back in it. That being said, torture is not acceptable on any level. But the credence the "just out" United Nations report is getting from the national press baffles us. Since its release, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan has kept an arm's length from the report's recommendations.

What's to be baffled about? The United States of America is holding hundreds of individuals for years without allowing them access to an attorney, any system of jurisprudence and even their families. At least some of these individuals have been tortured. Yet the Hillsboro Argus is "baffled" that a common sense report by the United Nations wants the unlawful prison and torture camp closed. When did basic humanitarianism become such a puzzlement? Why is following the Constitution of the United States and the Geneva Conventions so difficult to fathom?

The report asks for the immediate closure of Guantanamo. For those of you new to the planet, Guantanamo or "Gitmo" is a United States prison camp located in Cuba for the detainment of terrorists, usually from al-Qaida. Remember 9/11? The report goes on to demand the trial of the detainees or their freedom. Among other things, it also cites the practice of not allowing hunger strikes by preserving the life and health of detainees as a "violation of their human rights and medical ethics."

Ahh yes...9/11. The oft cited excuse for all manner of lawbreaking and violations rears its head. When the British burned down the the entire US government infrastructure during the War of 1812, we weren't rounding up British soldiers, torturing them and keeping them without access to counsel. Why does 9/11 warrant it?

And now the UN is asking us to follow our own laws: charge prisoners with a crime or cut them loose. Baffling.

We don't believe in detaining an individual in perpetuity without at least a trial. But we also don't believe in letting deadly throat slitters loose to mastermind the next jihad against Western Civilization. So we don't advocate shutting down "Gitmo." The U.S. has invited groups to visit it to examine our practices. Maybe they should take us up on the offer. But be advised. It is a prison camp. Prison camps tend to be, well, prison camps. It's not a PR thing. As long as it's open, it will continue to be a Gitmo Gotcha.

You don't believe in torture. You don't believe in holding individuals in perpetuity without a trial--then you should be advocating for the closure of Gitmo. You have no idea if any of these people are "deadly throat slitters", "masterminds", "jihadists" or guys who were standing around playing bocce. Why? We're violating the Geneva Conventions.

Inviting folks down to eyeball the situation is a meaningless gesture under the circumstances. The load of bull being shoveled by the Argus here is illogical at best, disgusting at worst.