What’s it going to take to close down Guatanamo Bay?
It should have been closed long ago, if Bush and Rumsfeld and Cheney and Gonzales had any respect for international law and human rights.
And it definitely should be closed now, after the suicides of three detainees on Saturday morning.
At the very least, there appears to have been gross negligence on the part of the guards there, who are supposed to “observe prisoners at least every two minutes,” according to The New York Times.
One of the detainees was 17 when he was captured in Afghanistan back in 2001, the Times said. That minors have been held at Guantanamo is one of the lesser scandals of the place.
Another one of the detainees who committed suicide was supposed to be released, but “was not told because U.S. officials had not decided which country he would be sent to,” BBC reports, citing Mark Denbeaux, a lawyer for some Guantanamo prisoners.
The response from the U.S. military has been anything but sympathetic.
The camp commander, Rear Admiral Harry Harris, called their suicides “an act of asymmetrical warfare waged against us.” The inmates, he said, “have no regard for life, neither ours nor their own.”
That’s a nice condolence call.
General Bantz Craddock, head of Southern Command, wasn’t much better. He said the suicides may have been a mere tactic. “This may be an attempt to influence the judicial proceedings” in the Hamdan case, which is before the Supreme Court. (That case will determine what rights detainees have to challenge their detentions and the military tribunals there.)
Harris and Craddock can’t admit that the conditions of Guantanamo itself are likely to be at fault: the fact that the detainees in Guatanamo have been kept in a legal netherworld for more than four years now; the fact that they’ve been abused; the fact that they’ve been denied basic rights; the fact they’ve been held indefinitely without charge, which causes “psychological deterioration,” as Amnesty International puts it.
Because to admit these facts would be to confess to the crimes the U.S. has been committing all along at Guantanamo.
The commanders of Guatanamo don’t want to implicate themselves—or their commander in chief.