Wednesday, May 25, 2005
Soviet-Style Control Over Political Prisoners
Amnesty International's annual report has just been published. The chapter on the United States informs us of nothing new. And they spare no quarter with regards to Guantánamo and Abu Ghraib.
By the end of the year, more than 500 detainees of around 35 nationalities continued to be held without charge or trial at the US naval base in Guantánamo Bay on grounds of possible links to al-Qa’ida or the former Taleban government of Afghanistan. ... Neither the identities nor the precise numbers of detainees held in Guantánamo were provided by the Department of Defense, fuelling concern that individual detainees could be transferred to and from the base without appearing in official statistics.This administration controls the judiciary and determined that these prisoners are not subject to either U.S. or international laws. This administration is itself not subject to U.S. or international laws, and is not answerable to any other branch of government, any foreign government, or to the American people.
In a landmark decision, the US Supreme Court ruled in June that the US federal courts had jurisdiction over the Guantánamo detainees. However, the administration tried to keep any review of the detainees’ cases as far from a judicial process as possible.
... On 22 June, after the leaking of earlier government documents relating to the “war on terror” suggesting that torture and ill-treatment had been envisaged, the administration took the step of declassifying selected documents to “set the record straight”. However, the released documents showed that the administration had sanctioned interrogation techniques that violated the UN Convention against Torture and that the President had stated in a central policy memorandum dated 7 February 2002 that, although the USA’s values “call for us to treat detainees humanely”, there are some “who are not legally entitled to such treatment”. The documents discussed, among other things, ways in which US agents could avoid the international prohibition on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, including by arguing that the President could override international and national laws prohibiting such treatment. These and other documents also indicated that President Bush’s decision not to apply the Geneva Conventions to detainees captured in Afghanistan followed advice from his legal counsel, Alberto Gonzales, that this would free up US interrogators in the “war on terror” and make future prosecutions of US agents for war crimes less likely. Following the presidential elections in November, President Bush nominated Alberto Gonzales to the post of Attorney General in his new administration.
The U.S. government for decades criticized the Soviet Union and other tyrannies for exactly these same tactics. This administration is no better than the Soviet Politburo. The Imperial Bush and his neocon retinue have pulled our government down to a level that would have made McCarthy blush - and they're proud of their work.