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June 13, 2005

Christina Aguilera music used as torture in Gitmo

Drudge is reporting that the man widely believed to be the 20th Hijacker, Mohammed al Qahtani, was tortured at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba by "dripping water on his head" and "playing Christina Aguilera music". Obviously, even a seasoned terrorist couldn't stand for this type of abuse. Eventually, he "tells his captors he wants to commit suicide and asks for a crayon to write a will."

However, although I support the U.S. military, and I don't doubt that this guy Mohammed al Qahtani, known as "Detainee 063" is a bad guy, my position is, and always has been, that these people should be treated as POW's and subject to the Geneva Convention. If the guy is guilty, give him a trial and convict him. If he isn't, let him go. If you wonder how to prevent another 9/11, here's a clue, stop disarming the passengers and allow them to defend themselves. Reinforce the cockpit doors so that people can't get into the cockpit, and then, if the terrorists want to bust a rod on a commercial airline, we'll let "Matt" and "Bubba" handle things.

The alternative is, unfortunately, unacceptable. And, although I agree that it's not valid to compare Guantanamo Bay with the Soviet Gulags that Solzhenitsyn described in The Gulag Archipelago, it's well documented that people will confess to anything if you torture them enough. And Bush and Ashcroft have both argued that a)these prisoners were "Illegal Combatants", not POW's, and therefore not subject to the protection of the Geneva Convention, or the protections afforded U.S. citizens (i.e. no right to an attorney, no right to trial, no right even to be charged). And this is very dangerous territory.

The Geneva Conventions state plainly that the enemy must be wearing a uniform that identifies him as an enemy. This, along with other arguments, has been used as proof that they are "illegal combatants". However, this appears to be a rule that we use at our convenience.

During the Spanish-American War, General Frederick Funston posed as a prison-of-war in control of Filipinos disguised as insurgents to capture the rebel leader and elected President Emilio Aquinaldo. Mark Twain penned a satirical essay entitled "In Defense of General Funston" upon learning the details of the excursion.

In the Nuremberg Trials following WWII, prosecutors were gunning to charge some Germans with war crimes as they had been captured wearing Allied uniforms. However, charges were quietly dismissed when it was revealed that the British routinely went behind enemy lines wearing German uniforms.

So, although I harbor little doubt that the people that have thus far reluctantly tread the hallowed halls of Gitmo are as malevolent as the military claims, denying them the protections afforded under the Geneva Conventions is a double-edged sword, and I fear the precedent set at Gitmo more than I fear the terrorists. I am an armed citizen, and I'm not afraid of a terrorist. He is something tangible that I can see and feel and kill. But if the military has argued for and won the right to hold people in perpetuity in a prison in a foreign country without ever charging them with a crime, then that is indeed a black hole that has the potential to lead to the abuses that occurred in the Soviet Gulags. All it needs is the right leader.

And, just in case you were wondering, I read The Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn from cover to cover. Under Stalin, anything could get you arrested. Any criticism of Stalin or the government. A rumor. A whisper.
The Soviet government moles dug through trashcans for evidence and when they found a newspaper where someone had a marked a moustache over an image of Stalin, they ferreted out the responsible party and sentence him to "10 years without communication priveleges". This meant that you had been killed. The thought being that, after 10 years, everyone would have forgotten that you existed, so no one would miss you when you failed to materialize after your decade sentence expired.

So, although I'm sure that Solzhenitsyn would agree that Gitmo of 2005 is no comparison of the Soviet Gulags under Stalin's watch, I'm equally sure that he'd agree that we had all the right ingredients in place for a nascent gulag system of our own. Now, all it needs to flourish is secrecy and the right leader and, if it doesn't fester into a Gulag, it might at least mature into a respectable Con Son Island Tiger Cage.

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Posted by Peenie Wallie on June 13, 2005 at 10:21 AM


The link from Kim's site doesn't work. You left the colon out of the url.

If you do not like the term "unlawful combatant" what would you prefer? There are a lot of euphemisms that we could use instead.

The U.S. is not a signator of either Protocol I or II which would have additional provisions regarding the treatment of the detained in Gitmo. The argument that even though the U.S. did not sign it but is still held to it morally is a weak argument, and is subjective at best.

By according them their "rights" under the conventions, they are also accorded the "punishments" of them. As a non-uniformed combatant, they have given up the right of communication. In addition, a military tribunal is also becomes a legitimate judgement authority.

They have no right to an immediate trial, the U.S. court system, or even the international court system.

They are being treated in accordance to the Conventions.

Padilla is the only one who has the right to be "charged or released." And he's not at Gitmo.

With regard to the "torture" that has been authorized, I'm willing to take it on good faith that we are using pop music and not electrodes or pliers to interrogate prisoners. I've not been to Gitmo; I may be wrong on this point. I doubt it though. If you are hurting your prisoners, they'll tell you anything they think you want to hear and not what you need to hear. If you do make it to Gitmo and find out differently, please let me know.

Effective interrogations can days for information regarding enemy locations and equipments but last for years for information regarding their organization and tactics.

Finally, it is incredibly naive of you to think that you, Bubba, and the local police can combat terrorists just because you are armed. That may not be what you believe but your arguments about being an armed citizen allude to that. Being armed doesn't stop a bomb dropped in a trash can from detonating. Chances are, no one is going to send terrorists to your house so you can kill them (in reference to one of your statements from Kim's site). Only by knowing their organization, their leaders, their tactics, and who is financing them can they be effectively fought on a strategic level.

Posted by: arkythehun on June 18, 2005 at 09:05 AM

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