Your Most Trusted Source of Foreign News About the United States
By Mohammed A.R. Galadari
June 27, 2005
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
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
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.
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.