Three men have killed
themselves in the off-shore gulag that the American government allows itself
to have. The reason? Rear Adm. Harry Harris Jr says:
"They are smart, they are creative, they are committed ... They have
no regard for life, neither ours nor their own. I believe this was not an
act of desperation, but an act of asymmetrical warfare waged against us."
'They' are prisoners held without charge, trial or opportunity for reprieve
in an island torture-chamber. Yet, since 'they' have already been determined
guilty, and given the series of imaginative associations immediately available
upon remembering that the prisoners are Muslims, it must seem somehow okay to
engage in this bizarre Orwellian reversal. What would one think if any other
government offered this kind of ridiculous claim in a similar situation? Those
whom 'we' have locked up in a repressive prison camp with no chance of justice
are the aggressors - they make war against 'us'.
Bush has responded to criticisms by saying he'd like to close down his little
torture playpen, but he's awaiting a decision from the Supreme Court - as if
an administration that has appointed and promoted convicted felons and broken
the law repeatedly is concerned with what the law says. Bush signed the Executive
Order that allowed Rumsfeld to set these institutions up. Bush issued the directive
designating alleged Al Qaeda or Taliban suspects as 'unlawful combatants' not
'prisoners of war', thus exempting the administration by diktat from national
and international laws. It was the Bush administration that arrogated to itself
'war powers' that went beyond judicial review and meant it could detain prisoners
indefinitely and without access to counsel or courts. And it was the administration
that ignored the Supreme Court when it directed that Guantanamo inmates can
challenge their captivity in federal courts, instead allowing the military to
set up Combatant Status Review Tribunals from which lawyers were banned. These
would charge the prisoners under rules written by the Defense Department. They
have since faced repeated legal rulings to stop spying on those lawyers who
do get to talk to inmates and to end the non-judicial Tribunals and allow for
proper habeus corpus proceedings in federal courts. Eventually, detainees were
allowed to write one-page letters to court via translators, which means they
are considered to be representing themselves without attorney. Now, since the
Republican senate in alliance with Democrat co-sponsor Carl Levin has already
approved a motion stripping Guantanamo inmates of their right to file habeus
corpus appeals, what the Supreme Court is looking at is whether it's okay to
go ahead with a non-judicial Tribunal for Salim Hamdan, alleged to have been
bin Laden's driver and accused of 'war crimes', or whether in fact this violates
the US constitution and international law.
Any decision that doesn't go the administration's way will presumably be ignored,
as it was the first time when the Supreme Court specifically ruled that there
must be access to federal courts, not military tribunals. Since Bush believes
his war powers extend beyond judicial review, he will say that no decision by
the Supreme Court that interferes with his executive decision-making is binding.
But at any rate, the new law approved by the Senate means that the Supreme Court
may well simply say that because Hamdan's habeus corpus petition was submitted
before the new law was introduced in November 2005, his case is excluded from
it and he is entitled to continue with federal court proceedings.
So, to get to the point, Bush is transparently, blatantly lying when he claims
that the only thing stopping him from closing Guantanamo is a pending verdict
from the Supreme Court - as if the case the Supreme Court is considering wasn't
called Hamdan v Rumsfeld. As if his administration was merely confused about
whether to hold military tribunals, and as if he couldn't simply order that
the court be closed and that all detainees either be released or charged if
he wanted to. As if the entire episode did not simply illustrate the administration's
radical hostility to the law, its absolutely instrumentalist approach to it.
Camp suicides 'hard to believe'
By Sally Nancarrow
Omar Deghayes was arrested in Pakistan in 2002
The sister of a UK inmate of Guantanamo Bay has said she is "suspicious"
about the suicides of three detainees at the US base in Cuba.
Amani Deghayes and her family have campaigned for the release of her brother
Omar, 37, from Brighton, since his detention in 2002.
Ms Deghayes, from Kilburn, north London, said she did not know what to think
about the suicides.
"I find it quite hard to believe they managed to kill themselves,"
Her suspicions have been raised, she explained, because inmates are allowed
to have so few items in their cells.
'Act of warfare'
"It is really shocking. There is a lot of abuse in the camp. My brother
lost an eye because of it," she said.
The camp commander Rear Admiral Harry Harris has said the two Saudis and a
Yemeni killed themselves in "an act of asymmetric warfare" waged against
The mens' bodies were found by camp guards on Saturday morning.
Mr Harris said they hanged themselves with clothing and bed sheets.
Amani Deghayes has campaigned for Foreign Office intervention
"If they did kill themselves, then it is understandable," said Ms
"It (Guantanamo) is such a closed institution and they are in such a horrible
Mr Deghayes was arrested in Pakistan and accused of committing terrorist acts
against the US, but his lawyers claim it was a case of mistaken identity.
Libyan-born Mr Deghayes, fled his homeland with the family in 1986 and was
Last month the High Court in London ruled the Foreign Office had no obligation
to put pressure on the US to release him, and two other British residents, because
they did not have UK citizenship.
Ms Deghayes said as far as she knows her brother is in a different area of
the camp to the highest security section where the inmates died.
"But the news I have of him is at least a year old - I have absolutely
no idea where he is now," she said.