Monday, December 19, 2005

Guantanamo, Gulag, and Abu Ghraib

My colleague Kim Crockett pointed out this incident to me last week. The Cuban government allows Americans to protest a few miles away from the detention facility in Guantanamo Bay. Amnesty International calls the facility a "gulag."

See if you can find all the ironies in this incident. How many did you get?


Blogger Aaron B. Solem said...

At the Solovki Gulag in the USSR, inmates were forced to stand outside during the brutal winter, completely nude, and around 150 came back from this torture with hands and feet completely frostbitten. Of course, after this, they were still forced to complete manual labor quotas, frostbite or none.

That, sir, is a Gulag.

December 19, 2005 10:19 AM  
Blogger Derek Jensen said...


We're holding prisoners without trial and not allowing them rights under the Geneva Convention. It's a disgrace.

December 19, 2005 11:32 AM  
Blogger Aaron B. Solem said...

A disgrace, much like when American troops shot and killed captured German solders that were out of uniform at the battle of the bulge? Would that be preferable to a war time prison?

December 20, 2005 1:37 AM  
Blogger Derek Jensen said...

what are we to lose by affording them rights under the Geneva Convention?

December 20, 2005 2:09 PM  
Blogger Peter said...

The Geneva Convention provides legal immunity for pre-capture warlike acts. Burning a building is not arson. Killing someone is not murder. POW classification would preclude any legal accountability for any detainee. They would simply wait to be repatriated at the end of the war.

POW classification would preclude normal, humane interrogation tactics used against ordinary street criminals. POWs could not even be challenged the way drill sergeants challenge recruits.

POW classification is something that is very coveted. It is meant to encourage belligerents to conform their own behavior to the laws of war. If we give them this reward without the requirement that they conduct themselves lawfully, we cheapen the incentive.

POW treatment is not the bottom line of humane treatment. Street thugs are treated humanely, but not given POW status. Timothy McVeigh was treated humanely (we can debate about capital punishment), but not given POW status. Same for drug smugglers and illegal aliens. POW status is not the only legal restriction preventing mistreatment.

December 20, 2005 10:25 PM  

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