Monday, June 12, 2006

Bush Flip Flops on Enemy Combatants

(AP) President Bush, the creator of the unique detainee status known as “enemy combatant” and the builder of the prison facility in Guantanamo Bay appears to have flip-flopped with his recent statements.

On Friday, Mr. Bush said he would "like to end Guantanamo", adding he believed the inmates "ought to be tried in courts here in the United States".

Members of his administration have referred to Guantanamo detainees as most dangerous characters and called three recent suicides an act of war.

Rear Adm Harris said he did not believe the men had killed themselves out of despair. They are smart. They are creative, they are committed," he said. "They have no regard for life, either ours or their own. I believe this was not an act of desperation, but an act of asymmetrical warfare waged against us."

After 4 ½ years of detention in a literal hell hole what might be appropriate responses? What actions would not constitute “asymmetrical warfare” as seen through the eyes of a military man? The situation is asymmetrical because one side has overwhelming power, force, and might.

Is the Rear Admiral familiar with the Stanford Prison Experiment? There a student “prisoner” contemplated suicide during a much shorter incarceration.

On the overall mission of bringing stability to the Middle East by winning the hearts and minds of their people, the United States continues to stub its toe. The three suicides are being questioned by the Saudi human rights organization.

The suicides hit a sore point with Saudis, who are angry that more than 130 of their countrymen are at Guantanamo. The country's semiofficial human rights organization demanded an independent investigation, questioning whether torture drove the men to suicide.

"There are no independent monitors at the detention camp so it is easy to pin the crime on the prisoners, considering it is possible they were tortured," said Mufleh al-Qahtani, the group's deputy director.

It appears the U.S. has a long way to go to win the hearts and minds of the people in the Middle East. They heard loud and clear the message of Guantanamo, no rights, no trial, no torture ban, and no hope. The President’s actions have not countered this message in nearly 5 years.

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