"[Rumsfeld] told a Pentagon news conference that prisoners at the U.S. naval base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, were staging a hunger strike that began in early August as a successful ploy to attract media attention."Why are they on a hunger strike? Maybe because they feel they have the right to be told why they're being held in a prison camp? Because they feel they have the right to face their prosecutors, but no one is allowed to hear their side of the story? Even Saddam Hussein is being given the dignity of a trial. Many of these people aren't even given a lawyer to speak with, much less the hope that they'll be able to defend themselves in court.
"The three U.N. investigators, including one who focuses on torture, said Monday they would turn down an invitation extended by the Pentagon Friday to visit Guantánamo unless they were permitted to interview the detainees. The invitation came nearly four years after the visits were first requested."'Ahh... 'I hear some people thinking. 'They were given the opportunity to visit the detainees, and they turned it down. This is just another try at making the administration look bad when they're really cooperating.' Cooperating my ass. They can go look at the people from a distance. I'm sure that everything would be neat and tidy before the UN arrives with their cameras. The government is simply afraid of what the enemy combatants would have to say about what's been going on in Cuba since they arrived. What possible reason could they have for keeping the UN away? Are they afraid that one of the people in Gitmo is going to sway a UN representative to help him escape? That the UN is secretly in league with Al Qaeda , and that they are on a mission to get the entire camp off of the island? That the UN spy is going to slip a hand grenade to a detainee in the course of an interview? Of course the UN Investigators turned down the offer - it wasn't an invitation, it was an insult. And did anyone else notice that we've been telling the UN "no" for four years? Well, to be fair, I guess we've probably just been ignoring their phone calls, not actually telling them no. And here's another gem from the inner workings of Rumsfeld's brain:
"Asked about the motivation of the hunger strikers, Rumsfeld said, "Well, I suppose that what they're trying to do is to capture press attention, obviously, and they've succeeded.""But why, Rummy dear, do they feel they need media attention? If everything is as rosy as you say they are in that camp, then why are there people on a hunger strike? Why won't you let the UN ask these people why they're on a hunger strike? Why won't you tell these people (some of whom, to be fair, probably are guilty of something - but don't they deserve to face their accusers?) how long they'll be shut out of the world? Ok, I promised a bit on someone who was kept on made-up charges.
There are several more pages to this story, detailing James Yee's experiences in Guantanamo. It's one of the most heartbreaking stories I've ever read. It's also one of the saddest. No matter how much I criticize our government and our administration, I've always had a belief that the system will work in the end, that people are basically good people and will see the error of their ways. This story made me doubt that.
"My cell was 8ft by 6ft, the same size as the detainees' cages at Guantanamo. Barely a week ago I had received a glowing evaluation for my work as the US army's Muslim chaplain among the "Gitmo" prisoners. Now I was the one in chains. "I knew why I had been arrested: it was because I am a Muslim. I was just the latest victim of the hostility born the moment when the planes flew into the twin towers and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001. My real "crime" had been that I had tried to ensure that the suspected Taliban and Al-Qaeda fighters detained in the Gitmo cages were given every opportunity to practise their religion freely, one of the most fundamental of American ideals. I had monitored the atrocious treatment meted out by the guards. And I had come to suspect that my appointment as the prisoners' chaplain was simply a piece of political theatre. When reporters came to Guantanamo on the media tour, everyone had always wanted to talk to the Muslim chaplain. I had told them the things that the command expected me to say. We give the detainees a Koran. We announce the prayer five times a day. We serve halal food. Everything I said had been true. But it certainly wasn't the full story."