Topic: U.S. Military issues.
As expected, the Bush administration has rejected the UN human rights commission report on Gitmo that calls for the government to close down the camp "without further delay." [NYT]Truthiness secretary Scott McClellan said, "I think what we are seeing is a rehash of allegations that have been made by lawyers representing some of the detainees." (Isn't this the same guy who said no one in the administration was involved in the Plame leak?) And McClellan went on to repeat this tired old sawhorse, "We know that al-Qaeda detainees are trained in trying to disseminate false allegations....These are dangerous terrorists that we are talking about who are there." Right, except that the pentagon has admitted that only 45% of the Gitmo detainees have committed hostile acts against the US and only 8% have been classified as al-Qaeda fighters. [AP] And, oh yeah, by the way, none of them have been formally accused of doing anything.
Even the ones who have been found to be "no longer enemy combatants" are apparently too dangerous to release. Adel Abu Hakim and Abu Bakker Qassim, two ethnic Uighurs, have been at Gitmo for four years and even though they were cleared nine months ago, they're still stuck. The WaPo reports that U.S. District Judge James Robertson, who heard their case, says the court has "no relief to offer" because the government can't find a place for these poor suckers to go and, though, he suggested they be given restricted asylum in the US, only the executive could do that and they're not going to. Seemingly, no country in the world will give them political asylum because they're afraid to offend China. Robertson wrote "The detention of the petitioners has now become indefinite. This indefinite imprisonment at Guantanamo Bay is unlawful."
Luckily, that type of judicial activism is now a thing of the past since W. signed the Defense Authorization Bill back in December. Lindsay Graham and Carl Levin added legislation to the bill denying Gitmo detainees the right to petition the courts for Habeas Corpus. "We're not going to turn the war over to the judges," Graham says. "If you're an enemy combatant, they will look at your case every year. If there's someone who is there untold years, Congress will get involved."
Boy, I bet everyone suffering under what Judge Robertson calls the "Kafka-esque term 'no longer enemy combatants'" will feel a lot better about their indefinite imprisonment knowing that Congress is looking out for them. Baher Azmy, a lawyer for one of the detainees says this new law, "Frees the government to bring anyone it wants to Guantanamo, which is why they chose it in the first place. It could end up as a place beyond the law where the executive branch can do whatever it wants to. " "Could end up?" I think it already has, with the help of Senators Graham and Levin.
Not that being held at Gitmo is so terrible, right? Rummy said it was like a trip to the tropics and they're getting three-squares a day---what else do they want? Even if they don't want to eat they still have to eat. Camp spokesman Lt. Col. Jeremy Martin says they force feed people in "a humane and compassionate way," so back off all you bleeding hearts out there. And they've got this great new comfy chair (like the Spanish Inquisition skit in Monty Python) that they strap detainees into and then put a tube up their nose. Like the manufacturer's ad says, "It's like a padded cell on wheels!" What could be finer you ask, maybe a little diarrhea? The NYT says lawyers for some of the hunger strikers claim "the liquid formula they were given was mixed with other ingredients to cause diarrhea" and another lawyer said his client told him this formula sometimes "caused detainees to defecate on themselves."
How pleasant! The U.S. has no intention of closing down Gitmo anytime soon and in fact they're adding to it. A new barracks is being build for more staff and there's a new psychiatric facility going up as well. Now, why would they need a psychiatric hospital, I wonder? [APA statement] Could it be that people who know they're going to be locked up in that hell hole for the rest of their lives are going a little crazy, so crazy, in fact, that they're trying to kill themselves by starving to death?
What a disgrace! Gitmo is a total betrayal of all we supposedly stand for and our soldiers are fighting and dying for. In what koo koo world does holding people indefinably without charge and without legal recourse become lawful? This is example A of what an unchecked executive's power can do. Instead of enabling this sort of outrageous violation of everything we hold dear, Congress should be closing the purse strings on this monstrosity. But they're too cowardly and one day they're going to wake up and find out their nothing more than rubber stamp puppets doing the bidding of an out of control dictator.