Monday, May 23, 2005



Today I want to let off steam as I’m incensed by some of the events we have witnessed over the past week regarding prisoners of war. Consider the following:

• Following an article in Newsweek regarding prisoners at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp being subject to religious humiliation by flushing Koran(s) down a toilet, worldwide indignation erupted in riots in Afghanistan with at least 16 people being killed in the process.

• Newsweek, under intense pressure from the US Government, retracts its story although at no point says it did not occur.

• Several agencies, including the BBC and the International Red Cross agree that religious intimidation did occur at Guantanomo Bay.

• Specialist Sabrina Harman receives a 6 month prison sentence for her role in the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal.

• Photographs of Saddam Hussein in his underwear appear in the British tabloid, The Sun.

• The US Government is furious and says the publication of such photographs is in breach of the Geneva Convention.

• Previously the US Government has said that detainees at Guantanomo Bay, mostly suspected Taliban and al Quaeda fighters, are not subject to Geneva Convention treatment as neither of these parties were signatories of the Convention.

• Saddam Hussein says he will sue The Sun for the publication of his photographs.

• Following new revelations that two prisoners died in custody at the US Airforce base, in Bagram, Afghanistan, the pro-American President, Hamid Karzai, demands an explanation.

• US officials charge Mr. Karzai with failing to control the drug trade in his country.

Well there seems to be some pretty bad behaviour occurring on both sides of the fence although I couldn’t really care less about the outcome of the trial between the heinous Saddam Hussein and the egregious Sun. But I am outraged that a country that claims to be the leader of the free world considers it acceptable to detain individuals indefinitely, without trial or charge. I am outraged that the free press is bullied for political reasons. I am outraged that not only is torture not condemned but is considered acceptable by some members of the Government particularly Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. I am outraged that no senior government figure has resigned following the Abu Ghraib scandal and that the blame has been heaped on junior members of the armed forces. I am outraged that the US Government will brook no criticism of its policies and when justifiably criticized by ally, Hamid Karzai, unleashes its spin machine and accuses him of failing to control the opium trade in his country.

Poster from the Propaganda Remix Project via Larry Ayers.

Beatings, religious and sexual humiliation and other types of "aggressive interrogation" are all forms of torture and have no place in a civilized society. As far as I'm concerned torture by any name shouldn’t be a topic up for consideration by Western governments (or any governments for that matter) unless in a historical perspective. Not only is it barbaric but a totally ineffective means of eliciting information. Unless the US Government makes some major policy changes regarding the way it treats prisoners it will lose completely any moral high ground it had following the events of 9/11.

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