Dec 052004
Authors: Ben Bleckley

Prisoner abuse has been found by the International Committee of the Red Cross in United States internment camps in Guantanamo, Cuba, according to The New York Times on Nov. 29.

What else did anyone expect when the president said prisoners would be treated within the spirit but not letter of the Geneva Convention?

Prisoners of war from the military action in Afghanistan were transferred to Guantanamo Bay for holding and interrogation. The difference with these POWs is that they aren't called POWs by the U.S. government; they're called "enemy combatants." Thus, since we have renamed them, they are no longer subject to the terms in the Geneva Convention.

In transit to Cuba, POWs had their beards shaven and were forced to wear black goggles, earmuffs, masks, mittens and restraints to prevent them from knowing where they were being taken.

Upon arrival at Guantanamo, POWs were forced to wear orange jumpsuits, the same color, consequently, Muslims on death row are forced to wear in the Middle East. The first camp was called Camp X-ray. I assume it was because of the wire fence walls that separated cells, allowing no privacy whatsoever. Each chicken cage was 8 feet by 6 feet and equipped with a water bottle, two buckets (one for water and one for waste) and a foam mattress.

Prisoners were eventually moved to Camp Delta, a permanent facility with opaque walls. Most of the 600-plus prisoners reside there now. Some are rewarded for good behavior with the opportunity to live in a community setting as opposed to solitary confinement. Prisoners 13 to 15 years old live at another camp at the base and are not "interrogated" but merely "debriefed."

Now I'm not na/ve. I know we would be taking a huge risk by releasing these men. Of the 200 released so far from Guantanamo, the Pentagon reports as many as 10 have returned to fight the United States. That is a whopping 5 percent!

ABC News reported earlier this year that interrogators get information regarding terrorists from about 40 of the 600 POWs. About 10 of those prisoners provide relevant, current information, ABC's source said.

The reason the POWs remain is that for the almost three years, none have been granted legal representation or charged with any crime. A U.S. court recently ruled that the prisoners must be granted legal contact with a lawyer.

The International Committee of the Red Cross report states that physical violence and psychological methods have been used to interrogate prisoners. They have also had access to all the prisoners' medical records and recommendations from the Army doctors.

Unfortunately, the ICRC cannot keep the world updated on this subject since its is only allowed to monitor Camp Delta in exchange for confidentiality. Typically only the government sees such reports.

Prisoners should be immediately charged with a crime or returned to their country. Those who are charged should be given a speedy trial with proper legal representation. If we sacrifice our morals and humanity then the war on terror will never be won, our enemies will only multiply out of hatred for the way we treat their friends, family and countrymen.

Ben Bleckley is a junior English major. His columns run on Mondays in the Collegian.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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