Monday, January 14, 2008

An Unhappy Anniversary

This past Friday marked the sixth anniversary or the first prisoners of the war on terror being detained at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. The peculiar arrangement of a United States military facility that is not considered US soil has created a cruel limbo for those who have been imprisoned there. They are subject to the whims of their captors without any recourse to law. None of them have been tried or even charged. In the cases where there has been any access to legal representation, they have been released.

Adding insult to injury, on the day of the anniversary, the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., ruled three Muslim British humanitarian workers and a religious pilgrim captured in Afghanistan and detained in Guantanamo Bay prison were non-persons. The implications of considering anyone legally a non-person are staggering. With no human rights, even the hope of protection is gone. The only way even to begin to suggest that this behavior is acceptable on our behalf by our government is to firmly believe that these detainees represent the true “evil-doers” and thus argue that that they deserve whatever treatment may come from those they've harmed or threaten to harm. But honoring democracy demands that the people be informed when the government acts on their behalf. In six years, when have we been told what evil the detainees are even suspected of? How can it be that a democracy can choose to treat anyone as a non-person when no public case has been made? This is the sort of behavior expected of banana republic dictators who “disappear” their opponents. This is the sort of alleged justice of vigilantism, only in this case a secretive group within our own government are the vigilantes.

This administration has shown not only a disdain for the justice system and the rule of law, but also a lack of trust in the judgment of the American people. Why must we trust that they are protecting us from unseen harm instead of exposing to the light of truth what they have done on our behalf? There are certainly good reasons for clandestine investigations that require secrecy while they are on-going, but one might expect that in the course of six years of hard work fighting terrorism that there would be multiple success stories that could now be shared to reassure the people who are being terrorized. And isn't that the point of terrorism, that we be frightened? What has this administration done to reduce fear? The practices of detaining without charges, declaring people non-persons, removing suspects to places where legal protections don't exist and there torturing them provides no comfort to the fearful. As a matter of fact, the thought that it could happen to anyone at any time increases fear while providing no measurable security beyond that which the government alleges. Additionally, the image of America in the eyes of the world is diminished. We no longer have the right to call for justice when we act so unethically. There is no justification, only excuses.


David J. Spuria said...

This is an interesting wedge issue for both sides. Libs say we're nazis, conservatives say we're being soft on these captives. Not sure where the truth is. It's troublesome that we have to keep this going, but at the same time the fact that we have them there keeps the issue alive. I'd like to not have captives. I'd like to release them back to their own countries. I may just not be sufficiently educated to understand the humanitarian issues or what qualifies as torture, or where its merit is justifiable. I would conclude that your assessment carries sufficient weight without a lengthy explanation.

mkz said...

Hello Ian,
I can agree that many things that went on in Guantanamo are deplorable, and without excuse. In fact my Solomonic sense of justice says the servicemen and women who participated in some of the inhuman activities we saw and heard about, and their commanding officers, upon their conviction should have been sentenced to serve their time in the same prison!
Like David I am a little unsure as to what to do with the situation . Releasing them back into society to potentially do more damage is unacceptable, and having experienced our prison system, I can say with conviction that this is not the place to put them, our penal institutions are already a breeding ground for Muslin recruits, and a ready source for home grown terrorists. Give them a set of instructors in fanaticism based on a violent religion and we may as well help fund militant Islam in our own back yard.
The sad fact is, as long as Islamo-fascism continues it's scorched earth policy against free western nations, combating them and removing them from the fight will be necessary, and by the basic dictates of Islam, they can do nothing else. The Biblical answer here is to pray, and to reach out to the Muslim community with the Good News of Jesus Christ, that they may no longer be deceived by false prophets, teachers, and words that lead them to murder their own children, kill Jews, Christians, Hindus and Buddhists, and force conversion to this false faith "by the Sword" if unwilling to convert in the face of their reasoning or threats of terror.