To Restore American Credibility, It's Time to Close Guantanamo


February 17-18, 2006

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The U.N. has finally joined the chorus of protests long raised by international civil society against the U.S.-run prison in Guantanamo.

According to a report by five independent experts commissioned by the U.N., the detention center for terror suspects in Guantanamo Bay should be shut down immediately and all detainees should be either tried before an independent tribunal or released.

The report documents a long list of gross human rights violations committed in Guantanamo, from arbitrary detentions to torture.

The 54-page document rightly affirms that force-feeding the detainees on hunger strike and regular resort to excessive violence are also tantamount to torture.

That Guantanamo was meant to provide U.S. authorities with a screen to carry out the dirty business away from public scrutiny has been clear since shortly after September 11, when the Department of Defense authorized the adoption of "special interrogation techniques" there.

This derogation from international human rights conventions and U.S. legislation bears more than a passing resemblance to the ways of some establishments in this region.

It is immensely sad and disarming that the U.S. should end up imitating the worst aspects of the very systems it says it wants to "democratize."

Map of Cuba. Guantanamo is On the Island's
Southwest Corner. (above).

—BBC NEWS VIDEO: U.N. Calls for Closing of Guantanamo,
End to Torture,' Feb 16, 00:01:22RealVideo

—BBC NEWS VIDEO: A Closer Look at the U.N. Report Calling for
End to Guantanamo, Feb 16, 00:02:36RealVideo

A U.S. Army Soldier Stands Guard at
Camp Delta at Guantanamo. (below).


Even the attitude of concerned U.S. authorities toward the authors of the U.N. report on the infamous facility sound terribly familiar to our troubled region.

The experts were never granted unfettered access to the detention center. Their individual requests had gone unheeded since 2002, while their requests for access as a group, as of 2004, were answered with the offer of an organized tour - an offer that the experts were forced to refuse after it was made clear to them they would not be allowed to talk directly to detainees.

Even Jordanian legislation - which undoubtedly still has a long way to go before effectively guaranteeing and protecting human rights across the board - offers more guarantees than that.

Before the publication of this report, there was already little left of the U.S. reputation as a human rights defender.

Heeding the report's recommendations on Guantanamo, launching a serious, independent inquiry into the claims of abuse and torture there, and providing adequate and just compensation to the victims would be the first steps toward restoring the credibility of Washington's human rights record.


WindowsVideoNEW TV, Lebanon: Former Malaysian Leader Mahathir Mohammad Proposes A Jewish State in Texas and Declares: 'A Person Like President Bush Should Never Lead A Powerul Country,' Feb. 15, 00:06:08, MEMRI

"If it wants to exist, it should exist in Europe, where the Zionists came from. Or in America? How about giving a little bit of Texas to make the State of Israel?"

Former Malaysian Leader Mahathir Mohammad
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