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May 31, 2005

Gulag

Here's what can happen when you start imprisoning people without fair trials:


"When we went to Pakistan the local people treated us like brothers and gave us good food and meat," said another detainee. But soon, he said, they were in prison in Pakistan where "we heard they sold us to the Pakistani authorities for $5,000 per person."

There have been reports of Arabs being sold to the Americans after the U.S.-led offensive in Afghanistan, but the testimonies offer the most detail from prisoners themselves.

In March 2002, the AP reported that Afghan intelligence offered rewards for the capture of al-Qaida fighters — the day after a five-hour meeting with U.S. Special Forces. Intelligence officers refused to say if the two events were linked and if the United States was paying the offered reward of 150 million Afghanis, then equivalent to $4,000 a head.

That day, leaflets and loudspeaker announcements promised "the big prize" to those who turned in al-Qaida fighters.

Said one leaflet: "You can receive millions of dollars. ... This is enough to take care of your family, your village, your tribe for the rest of your life — pay for livestock and doctors and school books and housing for all your people."

Talk of fair trials and due process of law can sometimes sound excessively legalistic, like some kind of courteous behavior demanded by etiquette. The point that hasn't been drilled into people's skulls is that when you don't give a terror suspect a fair trial, you don't know whether he's a terrorist or just some goatherd who got caught in the net. And when you're capturing people in chaotic places like late-2001 Afghanistan, the risk of error is going to be way higher than in domestic circumstances. The need for a fair trial, likewise, is far higher.

So when you hear Richard Myers talking about how the detainees in Guantanamo want to slit our childrens' throats, remind yourself that there's no telling how many people he's falsely accusing. And given the way that the Bush Administration tries to cover up its mistakes, there's no telling how many innocent people are still locked up in Guantanamo to forestall a PR disaster.

--Neil the Werewolf

May 31, 2005 in Terrorism | Permalink

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» American Gulag from Nonplussed
Let me remind you of something that Bush's father said in 1991 while addressing a joint session of Congress at the end of the first Gulf War: I'm sure that many of you saw on the television the unforgettable scene of four terrified Iraqi soldiers surr... [Read More]

Tracked on Jun 2, 2005 10:13:19 AM

» American Gulag from Nonplussed
Let me remind you of something that Bush's father said in 1991 while addressing a joint session of Congress at the end of the first Gulf War: I'm sure that many of you saw on the television the unforgettable scene of four terrified Iraqi soldiers surr... [Read More]

Tracked on Jun 2, 2005 10:18:36 AM

Comments

It is an effective technique to link whatever cause you are dealing with to a larger established event. Those who make comparisons to the Nazis have been so prolific that we now have Godwin's law in an attempt to prevent this.
My point is while any abuses in Gitmo may be unfair and unethical, if true, the comparison of any of these to the Russian GULAGS is crap. Millions died in the Gulags and were domestic prisoners. They didn't recieve culture appropriate meals nor religious paraphenalia.

It just doesn't fly for many reasons although I understand why you make this comparison. It's just politics...

Posted by: Robert Zimmerman | Jun 1, 2005 11:53:55 AM

With the all out discrediting of Amnesty campaign in full force these days, it is fun to bring up stuff like this...

A year ago, Assistant Secretary of State Michael Kozak said, ''The reason we don't do a report on ourselves is the same reason you wouldn't write investigative reports about your own finances or something; it wouldn't have any credibility. Somebody else needs to do that. It's not that we're against being scrutinized, and indeed we are scrutinized by many other organizations: Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International."


Also, none other than Donald Rumsfeld used Amnesty reports about Hussein's rule in Iraq as justification to go to war. Of course, he never mentioned that Amnesty complained about Hussein in the 1980's, when he was selling poison to Saddam that he could use on the Kurds.

Posted by: sprocket | Jun 1, 2005 2:50:24 PM

Whether it is fun to note the verbal gymnastics applied to Guantanamo by this administration, I will leave to others. Sprocket, you well point out the true absurdities of this sad episode, the latest in a series that includes Topaz and Andersonville. More on this at the Bazaar of the Bizarre Let the Buyer Beware

Posted by: The Heretik | Jun 1, 2005 5:00:53 PM

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