Jewish World Review Jan. 25, 2002 / 12 Shevat, 5762
Debra J. Saunders
Camp X-ray or Club Med?
AFTER SPENDING months in frigid Afghanistan
caves subsisting on Allah knows what, the 158
detainees the United States is holding in tropical
Guantanamo Bay must think they've died and gone
Well, heaven without the 72 virgins.
The detainees should look at the balmy Camp
X-ray -- replete with running water, three square
meals a day and modern medical care -- as a sort
of Taliban version of Club Med. Call it Club Gitmo.
Yet, some Americans and Brits have been hollering
about the U.S. treatment of these tough guys. British
newspaper headlines have screamed about U.S.
"Torture!" and "Monstrous Inhumanity," while
stories say prisoners are treated "like wild beasts" in
"cages." Amnesty International issued a press
release accusing the United States of "keeping
prisoners incommunicado, (using) sensory
deprivation, the use of unnecessary restraint and the
humiliation of people through tactics such as shaving
them" in an effort to 'break' the spirit of individuals
ahead of interrogation."
It should be noted that much of the uproar is over
photographs of the detainees taken as they were
being transported from airplanes to their cells. The
military wisely shackles prisoners during transport:
That's when it's easiest for violent people to hurt
Also, a British Foreign Ministry team, which spent
three days at Club Gitmo,
reported that three British citizens being held there
had "no complaints about their treatment."
As the Washington Post reported, Foreign Office
Parliamentary Secretary Ben Bradshaw also
explained that there were "no gags, no goggles, no
earmuffs and no shackles while (the prisoners) are
in their cells."
Still, some people just have to bash the United
States. And they apparently don't care if the
criticism makes them look clueless as to what really
is inhumane. Take the sensory deprivation charge.
Does Amnesty International think that wearing a
hood on an airplane is sensory deprivation, instead
of a security measure? Isn't the Taliban code all
about sensory deprivation?
As for the "unnecessary restraint," one detainee has
announced that he wants to kill an American before
he leaves Cuba, and another detainee bit a guard,
according to Pentagon spokesman Capt. Riccoh
Player. So make that "necessary restraint."
I was embarrassed by some of the press corps'
comments during Tuesday's Pentagon briefing. Talk
about clueless. First, there's the reporter who
likened living in the tropics without air conditioning
Then there's the reporter who asked Secretary of
Defense Donald Rumsfeld if American Taliban John
Walker will be treated the same as the detainees.
"Will he be put in an 8-by-8-foot cell that has no
walls but only a roof?" was the follow-up question.
I'd guess that's one journalist who's never been to a
"In an 8-by-8-foot space, (on some ships) we
would cram half a dozen sailors," was one U.S.
Then there's the status of the detainees. Some Brits
and Amnesty International want them to be officially
classified as POWs. The detainee status however,
gives the U.S. military the leeway to interrogate
these former operatives about any future terrorist
White House spokesman Ken Lisaius rightly noted
of the Club Gitmo guests that, "for the most part,
they're members of al Qaeda and if they were free,
they'd engage in murder once again."
You could understand the outrage if the U.S.
military were torturing or otherwise mistreating the
detainees. Instead, Amnesty International and the
comrades are outraged that the military is treating al
Qaeda captives like prisoners. Oh, the horror.
You get the feeling that if Rummy booked these
tough guys into a Motel 6, they'd complain that
there's no room
Comment JWR contributor Debra J. Saunders's column by clicking here.
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