Guantanamo Bay, Cuba: the treatment of the detainees

By Ryan Mulloy above Rich Magd
March 14, 2002

(Above)

Look at the picture of me to the side. Quite a winning smile, right? Well do not think I’m all sunshine and lollipops, because you’re about to hear some evil comments.

I’m not going to review the incidents of Sept. 11. If you’ve been living under a rock then most of this week’s debate is rather pointless for you. Al Qaeda and Taliban members are all sitting down in Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, being questioned about their involvement in terrorist actions and their association with Osama bin Laden. I have a question. Why are they breathing?

These people are associated with those who jumped into an airplane and were willing to sacrifice their lives in order to ensure their cause, kill Americans. Somehow I doubt the terrorists in the planes chose to be in that position but weren’t about to argue with the crazy terrorist bin Laden. So really, any one of the guys in Guantanamo Bay could have been handpicked by bin Laden to give their lives to their “cause.”

So if people want them to feel good and grant them their rights, I say, what more can you do than allow them to die? Line them up, tell them they’re dying for bin Laden and his so-called righteous cause, and shoot each and every one of them.

I went to the Dixon Center recently. I love the new TVs they have there, but I go right after my 8:15’s. I see stupid morning shows like “Live With Regis and Kelly.” Bruce Willis, star of “Hart’s War,” was on.

Regis asked him what he thought about New York and his quote inspired me. He said he could not think about these detainees because he was still thinking about the poor people who had to jump from the windows of the World Trade Center. When asked about their rights he simply said, “screw ’em.”

I could not agree more. These poor people had no choice. You can sit there and say they could have stayed in the building, but do you want to get your arms blown off or pretty much exploded? What about the people who burned in the building? Lastly, your last chance is to jump from the building and die a fast death. Hey, I heard the rumor about the guy who rode the whole building to the bottom and lost his leg. How many of those rumors did you hear? I only heard the one. And the sad thing was that it was a rumor. I’m sorry for being so graphic, but maybe I’m swaying your opinion.

I hate to rely completely on movies, but I saw “The Patriot.” The comment made by General Cornwallis, played by Tom Wilkinson, makes sense. Though it’s just a movie, the Cornwallis character says they fight wars like gentlemen, not recklessly and barbaric.

The terrorists fought recklessly and now they need to pay the ultimate price. I’m not saying they need to be tortured but we should line them up; maybe shoot them in the kneecaps, then maybe the elbows, followed by one in the head. That sounds crazy. I admit, torture is wrong. I am not crazy like these people. But as the saying goes, “an eye for an eye.”

Last movie reference, I promise. I saw the Willis movie last week. It dealt with prisoners of war. I may not think these random terrorists are prisoners of war. There’s an off chance that I’m wrong. In that case, I look to the movie. A Nazi colonel tells Willis’ Colonel McNamara that his rights for trial and the rights of his men are denied for this one reason. It fits Guantanamo Bay perfectly I think.

Follow the rules of the Geneva Convention? Look at Guantanamo Bay for a second. Cuba doesn’t look anything like Geneva.

I would have no problem bending the rules and looking the other way, especially for the innocent people who died on Sept. 11. Wouldn’t you?

(Below)

Afghani and British detainees being held by the United States in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, should be treated as prisoners of war, as they were combatants in an international conflict.

Although the initial attacks of this war were illegal terrorist acts, what has resulted is neither a specified search and seizure of those responsible nor a traditional war. Instead, America and its allies have destroyed rebel camps on the battlefields and conquered cities while trying to properly arrest and handle criminals. Unfortunately, the criminals still remain at large. Currently in captivity, however, are men who fought for a cause that they perceived as being just – men who are prisoners of war.

It is true that the men being held at Camp X-Ray are the most dangerous of the captured soldiers from Afghanistan. The detainees are reported to be supporters of or established members of terrorist groups, mainly al Qaeda. However, under the Geneva Convention of 1949, the detainees are entitled to POW status. Having failed to capture Osama bin Laden does not appropriate the United States to adopt the alternative netting of Taliban or al Qaeda members and stick them with collective responsibility for the horrific mass murder at the Pentagon and World Trade Center.

Neglecting the rights of the detainees under the Geneva Convention will lead to inhumane mistreatment of American soldiers in future wars, if not this one. Split on the decision, the Bush administration wants to abide by the rights, but is lazily unwilling to extend the effort to treat crucial members of the opposition righteously. Whether or not we treat them according to international law, America still holds the enemy until hostility ceases. Why not treat them well to make life easier on American prisoners in the future? Not only is it the morally correct decision, it will also eliminate America as acting on such a fundamental level as the terrorist organizations.

The Bush Administration is acting inconsistently with detainees who were later found to have no link to terrorism but are still being held. Last week, the Justice Department denied the departure of 87 detainees, of whom most were picked up for visa violations by local police departments or because of public suspicion. It is well known that in the days, weeks and months following the Sept. 11 attacks, Americans were paranoid, and rightfully so, of anyone seemingly of Arabic decent. Naturally, reports were filed and otherwise lawful illegal immigrants were shipped to Cuba for interrogation. Prior to Sept. 11, visa violators with no previous legal problems in America were quietly deported or provisioned a 60 to 90 day window to leave on their own.

Looking at the big picture, however, letting our pride and newly increased state of prejudice become our logic and rationale is a wrathful mistake that America will be in danger of paying for in the near and distant future.

For the safety of American prisoners of war and the dignity of America itself, the defined leader of the world, the detainees being held in Guantanamo Bay should be treated under the conditions set by the Geneva Convention.

It is not saying much, but the detainees in Camp X-ray could be in better conditions now than they were living under the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. However, being held by America should constitute the freedom to take advantage of rights, not further disgracing of human beings. The criminals responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks are either still out there wondering when their time will come or already dead. Therefore, it is no question that the detainees should be thoroughly questioned. But it should be done the right way – the American way. If not, we will be fighting this war from the other side someday.

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Ryan Mulloy above Rich Magd

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