Tuesday, June 20, 2006
Eugene Robinson On Gitmo - He's Totally Right
I think I may have a man-crush on Eugene Robinson and his Gitmo published in the Washington Post.

We'd better not turn away just yet from the suicides of those three detainees at Guantanamo Bay. The rest of the world clearly isn't ready to move on. And with good reason.

In many newspapers around the globe "Guantanamo" is much more than the name of a beautiful harbor on Cuba's southern coast. It has become shorthand for a whole litany of American excesses in George W. Bush's "global war on terror," the most visible example of how the United States blithely ignores the values of due process and rule of law that it so aggressively preaches, if necessary at the point of a gun.

U.S. officials have portrayed the three men -- Ali Abdullah Ahmed of Yemen, and Mani Shaman Turki al-Habardi al-Utaybi and Yasser Talal al-Zahrani of Saudi Arabia -- as irredeemable jihadists whose deaths were an act of war. Ahmed was allegedly a "mid- to high-level al-Qaeda operative," Utaybi a "militant" recruiter for jihad, Zahrani a "front-line" warrior for the Taliban. One State Department official called their deaths by hanging "a good P.R. move," and while those words were quickly disavowed by higher-ups, the general reaction from the U.S. government has been something pretty close to "good riddance."

For all we know, these men might have been the evil miscreants our government says they were. Since our government wouldn't describe whatever evidence it claimed to have against them, it's impossible to tell. I think any reasonable observer would conclude it's also quite possible that these men were clinically depressed after being held for years in steel-mesh cells without legal recourse, without even formal charges, and that they simply sought the only kind of release they could possibly achieve. At least one of them, Ahmed, had been on a hunger strike for most of this year, which would have meant that guards regularly force-fed him through tubes stuck down his nose. What would that do to your state of mind?

The heart of this Op-Ed is really that even if these detainees were guilty and their suicides were all a political statement, it doesn’t matter because the damage has been done. The world, our allies, our citizens all view this negatively. We cannot fight a War on Terror by ourselves, yet we continue to alienate the countries that could be a great help to us. Close Gitmo, and get this black mark off our country, quickly.

This administration has royally screwed up everything, including the situation at Gitmo. When you are trying to prove to your own citizens, as well as the rest of the world, that you are not participating in activities that violate Human Rights, you must shine light into it, not close it up and make it secret. I’m not ready to fully say that there is anything negative going on at Gitmo (abuse wise), but the Bushies seem to want to do everything in their power to make it seems as though there is.


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