The Talking Dog

April 8, 2007, A.I.: Gitmo Leaner, Meaner

Amnesty International has issued a new report stating that conditions for detainees at Guantanamo are... wait for it... deteriorating. As around just under half of the "Worst terrorists in the history of the world(TM)" have been released without so much as being charged let alone tried, the remaining uncharged, untried detainees find themselves more and more likely to be in super-max conditions, isolated from other human beings almost all the time, rarely seeing sunlight, subject to harsh interrogations... even after years of already being questioned and it being well-established they know nothing... already on top of five years of chargeless, trial-less, lawless, open-ended detention.

Again, in scale, this is hardly the worst atrocity in the history of the world, or indeed, even in the history of the United States... honestly, it's small potatoes, for example, compared to the internment of hundreds of thousands of American citizens of Japanese descent during World War II, for example, let alone the numerous massacres of Native Americans. But it's hardly comforting to those of us lamenting our nation's loss of moral authority and respect for the rule of law to say "this isn't a gulag; it's so much smaller."

You know from reading our interviews that, for example, the military itself has concluded that nearly 100 of the nearly 400 detainees shouldn't be held, or that the overwhelming majority of detainees have no relationship whatsoever to al Qaeda or the Taliban, or that the suggestion that we are getting "valuable intelligence" is ludicrous.

And at some point, we can safely assume that even the members of the Bush Administration know that all is not what they say it is at Gitmo. They could follow the Iranian model and score a public relations coup by magnanimously closing the place down, releasing something around 90% of those currently held (for whom there is no reason to hold them... at all) and remanding the other 10%, meaning perhaps 30 or 40 people including the 14 "high value" suspects whose cases we have tainted by torture, to the American mainland for either military or civilian trial, come what may.

Well. I would have said that if an overwhelming majority of Americans start to demand action on this, the Administration would begin to give, but that is, at best, an imperfect correlation, as the recalcitrance to even adjust course in Iraq demonstrates. Don't know. All we can do is try to keep these things in our consciousness, in the hope that there is an opening for improvement... instead of yet further deterioration caused by the cruelty of small minded people willing to continue extreme evil rather than admit that they made mistakes.