Saturday, September 30, 2006

Pakistan's road to Gitmo

I'm at a loss with the news yesterday that a bill passed through the Senate regarding how the U.S. will try and treat the thousands of enemy combatants being held at Guantanamo Bay. At the same time Amnesty International released a report that said most of the prisoners that end up in Cuba are there because of frivolous bounty hunters in Pakistan with an eye on the $5000 U.S. bounty.

According to the Associated Press:

The report by the London-based rights group contended that hundreds of suspected terrorists have been quietly handed over to the United States, and detained at Bagram airbase in Afghanistan, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and other locations.

Or as Claudio Cordone, Senior Director of Research at Amnesty International
puts it :

"The road to Guantanamo very literally starts in Pakistan."

So how will the Military Commissions Act keep you and I safer from terrorists?

  • Expands the rules for what it means to be an enemy combatant to include people living in the U.S. who are not citizens.
  • Denies habeas corpus (the right to challenge ones detention) to detainees being held by the U.S.
  • Gives the president final say on how to interpret Article 3 of the Geneva Convention that deals with “cruel and unusual punishment” and prohibits prisoners from filing suits if a violation of human rights has taken place.
  • Grandfather’s in past cases of torture into this new definition that could have been challenged.
  • Relaxes the rules so certain statements made under torture are admissible as testimony.
  • Up holds secret and hearsay evidence in court.

The U.S. government is asking citizens to sacrifice a lot for the war on terror. But as long a the sacrifice only includes human rights and justice for beared foreigners being held at a prison on some far off island or secret CIA prison, then I guess that’s ok and its business as usual. I wonder what the out cry would be like if instead of straining the principals and rights this country was founded there was a bill passed by congress asking people to, say, ration gas or stop eating spinach to fight the war on terror. Would there be lots of media coverage and a public outcry then?

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