Your Most Trusted Source of Foreign News About the United States

Americans Rectify Their Own Wrongdoing - Which is Why Their System Works

It was America's media that exposed the abuses at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib, prompting the elected representatives of the American people to put a stop to these crimes. Americans have a fair and self-correcting system, which is much more than can be said for Muslim countries.

By Mohammed A.R. Galadari

June 27, 2005

Khaleej Times - Home Page (English)    

Watch, dear readers, how things happen in a democratic and civilized country. When their own men in uniform make a mess of the things in the name of protecting the nation, and invite all kinds of allegations about their conduct in jails, lawmakers themselves check and rectify the situation. They don’t leave it to others to ruin the situation further.

Now, a large number of the peoples’ representatives, drawn from across the political spectrum, both Republican and Democrat, have gone to the U.S. Naval Base in Guantanamo Bay to see with their own eyes the situation there, and to speak to detainees to find out first-hand whether there is any truth in what the media and rights activists keep saying. Was it a place fit for human life? Was it a civilized set of jails, run according to international standards? Yes, this is exactly what they were there for.

Hearing the tremendous outcry from some Muslim and Arab journalists over atrocities committed at the Bay, I wonder whether they should show equal concern over things that are happening inside and out of the jails in their own lands?

I recall a case of American investigators' arresting some militant or other in Italy some time ago. He was packed off to Egypt - not to Guantanamo Bay or any other U.S. detention center - for the simple reason that the type of torture and truth-extraction practiced in Egypt was thought to be a shade stronger than similar procedures in the West. [This is a practice known in U.S. intelligence circles as “renditioning”.]

And who discovered this and exposed it to the public? Well, none other than the Western media. That’s how we learn about such happenings. We have even been able to see photographs of the torture that took place in Abu Ghraib, in Iraq, and elsewhere, after the Western media got hold of them and published them, fully exposing the dirty deeds. We received none of this information from the media of the respective countries. And why is that?

I leave it to you to answer.

We have to be logical. Something has indeed gone wrong at Guantanamo Bay. Errors can happen. They can happen anywhere.

But we must also take note that is an ongoing effort to rectify the errors there. That’s why everyone is going to Guantanamo Bay to check what’s happening; even American media representatives have been taken there. Even after the Bush Administration insisted that all conditions at the Bay were humane and that detainees here were well-treated, that was not the end of it. U.S. lawmakers still wanted to go and see the situation for themselves.

Some lawmakers have called for closing down of the detention center. Others have called for setting up an independent commission to investigate complaints of rights violations there. The fact is also that quite a number of people have been released from the detention center, after prolonged investigations or interrogations proved they were innocent of the crimes they were suspected of committing.

It turned out that these men landed in custody or were hauled in under strange circumstances. Those who have committed crimes needed to be prosecuted and punished; and it is equally important that the innocent not be made to suffer.

Civilized law dictates that at Guantanamo Bay or anywhere else, all detainees should be treated fairly. This is what the team of American lawmakers wants to ensure. They witnessed interrogations, visited prisoners’ cells, and sampled the food cooked and served to detainees at the detention center. While they were generally happy with the way things were, they called for more action to ensure that the legal process adequately handles the detainees’ cases.

Clearly, there are many more issues that need to be addressed. For example, the camp was set up three years ago and some of those taken there have never been charged with a crime. Their cases need to be expedited.

The innocent ones should not be made to face trouble. Even “enemy combatants” need a fair trial before punishment. But the most forceful voices in support of these demands are coming from the Americans themselves. The people’s representatives on both sides of the political divide are united to demand that detainees at the Bay have their rights protected.

That is what is so admirable about the American system.

© Watching America all rights reserved. Disclaimer