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Guantanamo Bay Hilton
Guantanamo Bay Hilton
So, it's been brought up again now that three people hung themselves.
Common opinion is that this prison is a complete travesty and a black mark upon the free societies of the West. I've even heard it referred to as a "concentration camp."
Well, I hate to break it to you, but Gitmo is far, far from a concentration camp. Concentration camps are places where people are murdered en masse in genocidal cleansings. Go ask a Jew who lived in Germany circa 1941 if he thinks that Gitmo has a comparison to a concentration camp. Hell even ask a Japanese American citizen if the camp he was sent to during WWII compares.
Fact of the matter is, though not ideal, Gitmo is probably about the most humane solution to the current problem.
We have an armed conflict with a group that has no nation and no identifiable standing army. They don't wear uniforms. They don't have battle lines. They don't plant flags when they conquer territory. But, there is still a conflict, and this conflict results in captured enemy combatants.
In a traditional war, they would be held in POW camps until the conclusion of the war and then exchanged for other prisoners held by the enemy nation(s). But we don't have that here. For one, the war may never end. For two, as I said, there's no enemy nation to which to repatriat them. And for three, when our guys are captured, they're beheaded, so there's nobody to exchange. Further, enemy POWs returned to their home nation would not immediately end up right back on the front lines (as the war was typically over), whereas terrorists can just get right back to blowing things up.
Note that POWs don't get trials either. They sit, and wait, and are interrogated, and if they're lucky nobody cuts on them for fun. Amazingly, those sitting around in Gitmo are pretty much the equivalent of enemy POWs. They sit, they wait, they are interrogated, and as far as we know, nobody cuts on them for fun.
Also in a traditional POW camp, you will probably have less than stellar conditions as the majority of resources are directed towards troops, not prisoners. Most prisoners typically live in cramped quarters, with few rations, and endure backbreaking labor to assist their enemy. Yet our Gitmo prisoners, who apparently are enduring all kinds of human rights violations if you believe some people, live in comfortable cells, are fed better than some of the soldiers there, and are not forced to work on bombs that will be used to kill their comrades.
The only credible rights violation here is a lack of a trials or tribunals. I ask you, trial where? In the United States? They are not US citizens, so our court system has no jurisdiction. And if they are tried and convicted there, they'll probably be murdered in under a week in a US super-max prison because even serial killers hate terrorists. Who acts as their representation? What law do we follow?
The answer is simple. They are POWs. POWs don't get a trial until the war is over. When the war is over, they can go home like all POWs. And the war is clearly not over.
Everyone is also so eager to call sleep deprivation, loud noise and irritating music, which only some prisoners there are forced to endure, torture. Well, if that's torture, then I spent a good four years in college being tortured every weekend by my neighbors. It simply doesn't rise to the occasion. torture is hanging a guy by his thumbs in a shower and hitting him with an electric sponge. I assure you, nobody is being eletrocuted in Gitmo. Our press would find out and have a field day with it.
Bottom line, this is another example of terrorists once again using our own compassion as a weapon against us. They recognize that we want to hold ourselves to a higher standard, and that there's a good chunk of this nation just looking for excuses to take shots at the current administration. They understand they cannot win an armed conflict, but they can win a media war because we will look at places like Guantanamo, a virtual white-collar resort prison, and assume only the worst can happen there.
Those who say we haven't learned from history if we operate Gitmo must not know much about the history of warfare. In the old days, there were no prisonsers and no distinctions were made between civilians and combatants. The Romans used to march in, pillage and anybody in a town, kill anyone that resisted, and move on. Nobody got sent to some cushy Roman tent while a Roman musician tried to worm information out of him by playing his trumpet in the guy's ear. Typically, you were just executed immediately. Hell they crucified Jesus and he was preaching love and peace.
Later, in the medieval era, people got stuffed in a dungeon and were whipped, cut, hung, racked, burned etc. And they were probably naked to start.
I can't even begin to describe the atrocities visited upon captured Natives during the Colonial Era.
As time wore on, people decided there would be "rules" to war and prisoner treatment. The British were fond of quoting these during the American revolution because we wouldn't follow them. We tarred and feathered people who consorted with the British. The French shortly thereafter learned about the fun they could have with the guillotine, with no regard for innocense.
In WW2, we still had "rules" about prisoner treatment, but that didn't stop the Japanese from marching people to their deaths or the Germans from putting people in furnaces. The Geneva convention went into effect after that, and you still had Vietnamese spiriting American soldiers to Russia never to be heard from again or sticking them in hot boxes to slowly burn to death in the sweltering heat (assuming they felt merciful that day.)
I think we've come quite a ways from racking a guy, his wife and daughter in front of him, and/or nailing him to a big wooden cross. You certainly see none of that in Gitmo.
Guantanamo is a decent solution to a difficult problem. It prevents captured terrorists from returning to the fight. They are well fed, well housed, even have their religious rights respected to a degree. It has facilities for interrogating those who may have useful intelligence. It is not in mainland USA. It keeps them all in one recognizable place. And most importantly, it doesn't have any furnaces.
If you want to talk about human rights violations, why don't we start with the terrorists? I agree, as Americans we are obligated to hold ourselves to the highest standards, but there's a difference between ensuring those standards and inventing human rights violations, especially when we go out of our way to treat people humanely and minimize civilian casualties, often at the expense of our own people.
So, until somebody comes up with a better option, something that those who demand the closure of Guantanamo fail to produce at every request, I believe we should be happy we have not let our distaste for terrorism turn us into those who would have terrorists' heads put on pikes in front of the White House.
6/13/2006 10:37 pm
Mr. Bambi here...
Wow, am I impressed by this blog!!!
The truth of the matter is, just this morning I listened to the crap on CNN (my first mistake) and had my opinion swayed. My second and most important mistake was being ignorant to the situation/facts and not taking the necessary steps to become informed.
Having said that, with this blog you have given me he facts and perspective that I need. Thanks!
Hey, although we do not talk about politics in our blog, how about stopping by - you might like something on the lighter side. Leave a comment so we know you were there.