Stu and Gitmo (WWSD?)

Such is the power of headlife that whenever I have snarky thoughts about American policy I wonder how Stu will come back at me. So, I know that Stu will reject the anti-American politicization of the UN report that slams Guantanamo. “The investigators didn’t even go to Guantanamo,” opines Stu (in my head). “This is just half-baked cock-and-bull.”[1] But….

Allegations of torture aside [2], there’s just something fishy about telling the UN they can come to the camp, but they can’t interview detainees. Also, that the ICRC can monitor the camp but not publish its findings. Come on Stu-in-my-head, something’s dodgy here.

Most damning is the rejection of that beautiful Anglo-American principal of habeas corpus. It’s the American way, man. Imprisonment without trial just ain’t American.

1. I doubt Stu would say “cock-and-bull.” But he does in my head.
2. I don’t think force-feeding someone is torture if not force-feeding them means they will die.


  1. I’ve actually addressed this question in some detail in an earlier post on the ICRC and its relentless off-mission advocacy.Imprisonment without trial is a rejection of Anglo-American principle? Was someone at Gitmo accused of grand theft auto? Credit card fraud? Give me armed robbery and I’ll give you habeas corpus. Give me 9/11 followed by armed conflict with irregular combatants engaged in protecting the man who was responsible for that atrocity, and I give you Gitmo.And how many German or Japanese POWs got trials in WWII?But let’s be even more clear–the men at Gitmo do not meet any minimum requirements for “lawful” belligerency or any POW status. They do not wear uniforms, they are not subordinate to a responsible command structure, they do carry their arms openly, and they do not operate in accordance with the other laws and customs of war and they are therefore not POWs but “unlawful” or unprivileged combatants. As such they are entitled to be treated humanely, but they are also subject to prosecution in military courts and may be held without criminal trial until the war is over, even if that takes years (which wars often do). Yes, this in accordance with the Geneva Conventions, it is even in accordance with the as yet UNAPPROVED “Protocol I Additional” (for which the ICRC so tempermentally advocates).As to why the US might legitimately decline to allow the ICRC to talk to detainees. Could have something to do with (a) the ICRC’s abundantly demonstrated agenda in condemning Gitmo and finding (or manufacturing) grounds for stronger condemnation (b) the standard AQ practice (proven with stacks of manuals reviewed by European and American translators in Afghanistan) of training its operatives to invent allegations against their captors about alleged violations. Put (a) and (b) together and you have an ICRC that is exceedingly eager to find something bad to tell the world about Gitmo and a And beyond all this there is the supreme comedy of a UN commission loaded with representation from some of the most oppressive kleptocracies in the world pretending to have some moral authority. I would suggest that the UN (oil for food anyone?) clean up its own action if it would like to restore its moral authority. Otherwise I will trust the elected government of one of the most transparent democracies in the world (whatever my misgivings might be about some of their tactics) which is ELECTED and held ACCOUNTABLE formally and informally by a system of judicial and public review before I will trust the a report coming out of an UNELECTED and largely UNACCOUNTABLE organization running over with autocrats and ordinary thugs. The myth of UN moral credibility is one of the great (but apparently enduring) laughs of our time.Sorry Ronan “there’s just something fishy” doesn’t add up to much of an argument.


  2. Nope.So, the men at Gitmo deserve their awful status because they are evil enemy combatants.Says who? (Not to say that most of them aren’t, but we have ethics for such things: accuse a man of something, let him stand trial. Right now, you want me to believe you that these are loathsome creatures because <>the US government says so<>. Good grief, man! We just don’t do these kind of things in the West.)


  3. <>may be held without criminal trial until the war is over<>There will be no end to a war on terror. How can there be? Bummer for these guys. What an Orwellian notion!Oh, and don’t drag out Oil for Food, a programme overseen directly by the UNSC, of which our fine countries are leading voices.Gitmo shames America. Just reporting what the rest of the civilized world feels.


  4. Ronan, you’re a scholar and I know you’re a good one. You know better than to fling out facile defenses of something like the OFF (oil for food) scandal like “it was overseen by the UNSC” in which the US and the UK happen to have voices. That says nothing about who the responsible parties were and you know it doesn’t. The fact is this: the UN failed in its most important mission, and it did so in the creepiest way possible. Don’t give the wave of the hand to the largest scandal of this kind in history especially when it (a) perversely influenced the stances of western politicians who feared the exposure that would come from an invasion of Iraq and (b) severely exacerbated (somewhat ironically) the suffering that assholes (oops, censor me) like George Galloway claimed to be protesting and loved to blame on the US.


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