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September 8, 2003 3:39 AM   Subscribe

Guantanamo Bay inmates willing to talk in exchange for McDonald's burgers. "Guantanamo's basic message is clear: If you never talk, you might never get out, even if you're never charged with a crime."
posted by spazzm (40 comments total)

 
Via fark.com.
posted by spazzm at 3:40 AM on September 8, 2003


McDonald's burgers? Isn't there a law against cruel and unusual punishment? (Actually, I'm just kidding: this is Guantanamo, it's very existence is cruel and unusual)
posted by kaemaril at 4:42 AM on September 8, 2003


But the motivation that makes some prisoners talk seems to drive others to more desperate measures, including 31 suicide attempts by 20 prisoners to date, none successful. Those figures help explain why the idea of indefinite detention angers some human rights advocates, who criticize Camp Delta as a legal netherworld.

The detainees aren't charged with crimes, so they are said not to be entitled to lawyers. They're not prisoners of war - "enemy combatant" is the preferred term here - so they don't receive the protection of the Geneva Convention. They're not on U.S. soil, so they have no constitutional protections.

"[The Pentagon's] concept of the legal black hole is completely contrary to what the ICRC [International Committee of the Red Cross] has interpreted the Geneva Convention to say," says Ken Hurwitz, a senior associate of the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, based in New York. "They've been very clear on the subject that no [detainee] can be without a legal status."

Such interpretations cut no ice here. Or, as Sgt. Maj. John R. VanNatta, Camp Delta's superintendent, says, "I don't have to worry much about lawsuits and things like that."
Which explains how some of these prisoners have the glee of a 4-year-old child when you give them a Happy Meal toy. If anything, it counters me previous belief that the situation down there couldn't possibly be depicted in a more morally and humanely depressing way.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 4:51 AM on September 8, 2003


Counters my previous belief. [/Leprechaun]
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 4:54 AM on September 8, 2003


Those figures help explain why the idea of indefinite detention angers some human rights advocates ...

Unlike the other human rights advocates, who think it's pretty cool?

The casual nature in which this story is reported is incredibly sickening.
posted by rcade at 5:03 AM on September 8, 2003


Sickening indeed. The Bill of Rights and the United States Constitution, held up as the blazing star of Western Civilization is an inconvenience to the powers that be in Our War on Terror-making it necessary to find ways around it.
How the hell is this story supposed to make me feel?
Happy?
posted by black8 at 5:13 AM on September 8, 2003


remind me, how long have they been locked in those cells now?

and, just out of interest, when were the cells built?
posted by twine42 at 5:15 AM on September 8, 2003


If Bush is not re-elected next year, he'll be leaving a hell of a mess legacy for the next one along. Admittedly, Guantanamo might be the easiest lot to mop up.
posted by magullo at 5:35 AM on September 8, 2003


But in April, the new medium-security Camp Four opened, and about 125 prisoners have earned their way inside, partly through good behavior, partly by virtually emptying themselves of useful information.
So they empty themselves of information (which, at this point is months/years old), and they get "rewarded" with medium security prison, these prisoners who aren't charged with crimes, who aren't prisoners of war, and who don't have legal status?

God bless the USA.
posted by dilettanti at 6:04 AM on September 8, 2003


No other country could get away with a Guantanamo.
posted by orange swan at 6:16 AM on September 8, 2003


No other country could get away with a Guantanamo.

Yeah...but Cuba can get away with executing hijackers who try to leave the country, China can get away with steamrolling tanks over student protesters and Nigeria can get away with allowing women to be stoned to death for adultery....so I guess things all even out in the end.
posted by Durwood at 7:00 AM on September 8, 2003


And I imagine, Durwood, that most of the Human Rights Supporters that have been most vocal about Guantanamo have also been the most vocal about the examples you listed.
posted by Ufez Jones at 7:15 AM on September 8, 2003


Ah - but China and Cuba do not claim to be shining examples of benevolent liberal democracy now, do they. But if you want to invoke these countries well.........

The US can also look the other way at Chinese human rights violations in order to benefit from the flood of cheap consumer goods flowing from that country.

And the current US president can continue to protect ( and tacitly condone, I suppose ) a known terrorist, the bomber of a cuban airliner who is responsible for the death of over a hundred civilians.

Meanwhile........

Sure, other countries do in fact have their own Guantanamos ( of a sort - but full of their own citizens ) but they do not claim that these Guantanamos (or Gulags, perhaps) are in accord with International Law or the Geneva Codes and, instead, merely deny the existance of such camps or claim the inmates to be mere criminals (rather than political prisoners).

Guantanamo belies the US claim that it is acting in accord with higher standards.
posted by troutfishing at 7:18 AM on September 8, 2003


Not that I'm defending those countries for their horrible human rights records - but they are doing those things to their own populace. If they try anything similar with foreigners, the country of their origin usually objects strenuously (and is backed by the international community) and demands extradition.

Is there another country that currently incarcerating hundreds of non-citizens long-term and getting away with it?
posted by orange swan at 7:23 AM on September 8, 2003


Besides, if the US had any sense of decency those burgers would be from Wendy's.
posted by troutfishing at 7:23 AM on September 8, 2003


Burger King "Happy Meals" - 'The #1 choice of political detainees languishing in endless, perpetual legal limbo everywhere!'
posted by troutfishing at 7:29 AM on September 8, 2003


Oops - getting carried away there - I meant McDonald's. I'm not a fast food eater.

By the way......does this amount to product placement?
posted by troutfishing at 7:31 AM on September 8, 2003


orange swan - that would be Israel.
posted by troutfishing at 7:33 AM on September 8, 2003


Can you post something on that, troutfishing? I'd like to know more about Israel's Guantanamo, and it seems relevant to the thread.
posted by orange swan at 7:42 AM on September 8, 2003


Yeah...but Cuba can get away with executing hijackers who try to leave the country, China can get away with steamrolling tanks over student protesters and Nigeria can get away with allowing women to be stoned to death for adultery....so I guess things all even out in the end.

That's a brilliant argument, Durwood. God Bless you, President Bush, for bringing the United States to the moral equivalent of Cuba and China.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 7:50 AM on September 8, 2003


I don't think it does anyone any favours to compare the US with China, Nigeria, etc. The fact is that the US is far better than a whole lot of places in terms of human rights. The US and its citizens set high standards for themselves and have upheld them in the main part. Perhaps this is what makes it so galling when they so egregiously fail to uphold them in particular cases.
Its not enough to say 'we're still better than them', the US is failing to meet its own standards and it knows it.
posted by biffa at 8:05 AM on September 8, 2003


orange swan - I meant Palestinians from the West bank and Gaza - not Israeli citizens - who are in Israel's prisons (thousands, I believe). I'm sure many of these individuals do have some knowledge or association with terrorism against civilians in Israel. But they are in a sort of legal limbo very similar to that of the detainees in Guantanamo. Their situation would furthermore be far more just if the Palestinians had the power to seize and imprison members of the Israeli military and Israeli politicians implicated in killing and wounding innocent Palestinian civilians (usually in missile attacks, from fighter jets and helicopters, against suspected Hamas members). But 'terrorism' in this case - as usual - is only defined as acts carried out by non-state actors. Terrorism carried out by states is usually defined as mere 'regrettable' mistakes. But I'm drifting off subject here.......
posted by troutfishing at 8:11 AM on September 8, 2003


Guantanamo Bay inmates willing to talk in exchange for McDonald's burgers.

I also heard they said they'd walk a mile for a Camel.
posted by soyjoy at 8:18 AM on September 8, 2003


Cuba can get away with executing hijackers who try to leave the country

Errrr... ever heard of Zacarias Moussaoui? Take a wild guess about where he is heading. Hijacking is morally wrong whether you want a bunch of dollars or just to get the hell out. Think of the victims. To put it another way, what do/did you think of the Peru hostage episode (specially now that the heads of the Peruvian government at the time are facing criminal charges for their mishandling of the country)?
Note that I am against the death penalty, but also against rampant double standards

China can get away with steamroll tanks over student protesters

Israel sees that and raises to steamrolling bulldozers over an American activist. For you also, orange swan

Nigeria can get away with allowing women to be stoned to death for adultery

The US, on the other hand, prevents citizens to die stoned

biffa, The thing is that, at least up until recently, political prosecution in the US was extremely low key. But human rights extend way beyond that. For instance, I do no think being among the few countries that routinely sentence juvenile and retarded criminals to death is a "particular case", to me it's more like a complete disgrace - mildly put. (This practice has been recently banned by the Supreme Court, if I remember correctly). I'm just pointing out one glaring example, of which they are quite a few. Some Americans might not realize it, but their defense of human dignity and rights is considered comical in many quarters around the world. With reason.
posted by magullo at 8:19 AM on September 8, 2003


biffa - I'd agree that the US has it's own set of standards which tend to be higher than those of many countries but - having said that (and seconding Magullo's points), the US -under the GW Bush Administration- has walked away from, reneged on, or refused to sign an absurd number of International agreements, treaties, and conventions on human rights, torture, international law, and so on. [ see: The US is a rogue state ]

I'm not saying that the Bush Administration wants explicitly to employ torture, genocide, biological warfare (and so on) against civilian populations. No - I think they just want to retain "flexibility" and to keep their options open.....
posted by troutfishing at 8:34 AM on September 8, 2003


That's a brilliant argument, Durwood. God Bless you, President Bush, for bringing the United States to the moral equivalent of Cuba and China.

As usual, you miss the point. Guantanamo notwithstanding, the United States is morally superior to China and Cuba. Think about what those countries do to their own citizens! Yet, the Europeans and the American left-wing are more upset that the United States is playing hardball with terrorists in Guantanamo? Would you rather we transfer all of the Guantanamo prisoners to the Hague, where they can sit for months in endless war crimes trials like Milosovich? Would you like them to be free to report to their co-conspirators what the US knows about future terrorist plans? Maybe we can release them to the custody of Castro, who would probably give them a parade! Geez!

How about a little perspective here?
posted by Durwood at 8:52 AM on September 8, 2003


Yet, the Europeans and the American left-wing are more upset that the United States is playing hardball with terrorists in Guantanamo?

Terrorism is a crime, to be guilty of a crime (in a civilised nation at least), you have to be found guilty at a fair trial. What upsets people is that those held at Guantanamo have not been convicted of anything, is that difficult for you to understand?

Would you rather we transfer all of the Guantanamo prisoners to the Hague, where they can sit for months in endless war crimes trials like Milosovich?

Yes, that sounds very reasonable actually, I had not realised that american justice had switched from 'innocent until proven guilty' to 'innocent until proven guilty except if it would take a few months to sort out with evidence and all that hassle, in which case guilty'.

Would you like them to be free to report to their co-conspirators what the US knows about future terrorist plans?

If the US military is stupid enough to go around telling people this then perhaps its time to get a new military, nevertheless it doesn't validate the US removing the rights of these untried people.
posted by biffa at 9:08 AM on September 8, 2003


Would you rather we transfer all of the Guantanamo prisoners to the Hague, where they can sit for months in endless war crimes trials like Milosovich? Would you like them to be free to report to their co-conspirators what the US knows about future terrorist plans? Maybe we can release them to the custody of Castro, who would probably give them a parade! Geez!

How about a little perspective here?

How about a little perspective yourself? First of all, you're asking me if I would rather have alleged criminals actually transferred to a court where they are tried and evidence of their guilt presented over... umm... whatever the hell they've been doing for months right now? Gosh, I guess the answer's yes then. Were you trying to ask me this with that cliche faux-outrage believing that my answer obviously wouldn't be that or something?

Of course, the reason Milosevic is at the war crimes court is because he has been accused of, and is on trial for... gasp- war crimes. The multitude of convicts in Guantanamo are there for, apparently, existing. We don't know what they're accused of and what they're being held for beyond the vague inconsistent answers we've been given deemed unessential to hide from us "lest we aid the evildoers."

Furthermore, Milosevic, likely to be found guilty, will then be sentenced for the crime he is found guilty of. Exactly how long do you wish the prisoners in Guantanamo to stay down there? Until the bailiff is told he may fire when ready? Exactly what do we do- or for that matter say- if and when it turns out that a few of them had no reason to be there for two years?

They're there because we've declared them the bad guys. That's all we get. But no, as you've implied, bringing them before a legitimate institute of justice is a ridiculous notion. Perspective indeed.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:28 AM on September 8, 2003


As usual, you miss the point. Guantanamo notwithstanding, the United States is morally superior to China and Cuba.

That's the point? The point of what? Is that the criteria by which we judge the fitness of a policy? Whether or not a given offense pushes us over an imaginary threshhold of relative morality with repsect to corrupt Communist regimes?
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 9:47 AM on September 8, 2003


Maybe we can release them to the custody of Castro, who would probably give them a parade!

Castro on the 9-11 events:

The unanimous shock suffered by all peoples of the world on September
11, due to the insane terrorist attacks against the American people
which could be seen live on television, has created exceptional
conditions for the eradication of terrorism without the need to
unleash a useless and perhaps endless war.

Terrorist actions in the United States, as anywhere else in the
world, inflict terrible damage on the peoples fighting for a cause
that objectively they consider to be fair.

Terror has always been an instrument of the worst enemies of humankind
bent on suppressing and crushing the peoples' struggle for freedom.
It can never be the instrument of a truly noble and just cause.

All throughout history, almost every action intended to attain
national independence, including that of the American people, was
carried out with the use of weapons and nobody ever questioned, or
would question, that right. But, the deliberate use of weapons to
kill innocent people must be definitely condemned and eradicated for
it is as unworthy and inhuman as it is repulsive, the same as the
historic terrorism perpetrated by the oppressing states.

Etc.

I'm not defending Castro here, but clearly your accusations lack base.
posted by magullo at 10:37 AM on September 8, 2003


Would you rather we transfer all of the Guantanamo prisoners to the Hague

So let me get this straight. The USA is doing them a favour by holding them without trial? Because otherwise they may die of boredom?
posted by carfilhiot at 11:06 AM on September 8, 2003


Now That's What I Call Justice.
posted by skylar at 12:07 PM on September 8, 2003


perhaps if they talk, weight training privledges will be returned.
posted by clavdivs at 12:34 PM on September 8, 2003


thanks for the Castro link. i knew there was a reason i liked that guy (aside from the socialist revolution and all ...)

Under no circumstances should those responsible for the brutal
attacks against the American people be allowed to go unpunished, if
they can be identified. An honorable condition for every country
would be that they are tried by an unbiased court of law that would
ensure the reliability of the evidence and that justice be done.


indeed.

In an economic situation such as the world is experiencing today, when extremely serious problems affecting humanity remain unresolved, including its own survival which is threatened by other evils unrelated to the destructive power of modern weaponry, one wonders: Why this obstinate course of starting a complicated and open-ended war?"

indeed, part II.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:35 PM on September 8, 2003


Castro has some bloody nerve spouting that shite about 9/11. You didn't notice the brown on his nose from that "speech"?
An honorable condition for every country would be that they are tried by an unbiased court of law that would ensure the reliability of the evidence and that justice be done.

The nerve. You believe that codswallop mrgrimm?

He lives in riches and the rest of his countrymen rot in poverty and life jail sentences for those that defy his politics and question him or just as an example he'll round up a couple hundred and send them to jail.

Bone up on his 41 year tyranny, goddamn it!

Back to Guano Bay...

These prisoners' information will be as reliable as those of the word of an "informant" in N/A's prison system.

Just great.

That McD's, it's also made of 100% beef isn't it?
posted by alicesshoe at 5:50 PM on September 8, 2003


You see I don't understand. I don't know much about Cuba, so from a purely objective viewpoint how can you "bone up" on castro by reading a site called nocastro.com?

I'm not sure why but from briefly looking at the site, I got the impression that it was a fairly anti-castro site, so unless you wanted to "bone up" on anti-castro propoganda, it's not much help is it? It's more just like masturbation for people who don't like castro. yeah goddamit.
posted by carfilhiot at 8:40 PM on September 8, 2003


call it a start, carfilhiot. Notice their sources too, BTW.

and yeah, I don't like castro. Maybe you're enamoured of the communist system?
posted by alicesshoe at 4:21 PM on September 9, 2003


The relationship of the people of Cuba to Castro (often known affectionately as Uncle) is as diverse as the population of Cuba, AFAIK. May I remind you that there are no statues, murals or pictures of Castro displayed in Cuba, as he has not engaged in public self-glorification.

The fact that he has managed to stay in power despite the many attempts by the US to assassinate him is a testament to his popular support, as well as the heavy handed incompetence of the CIA. There is no doubt that people have been incarcerated in Cuba for political expression, however that does not make Cuba unique in the region, or the world for that matter.

Keeping the country going despite the crippling (illegal) US embargo is a herculean task, yet Cuba is still the most relaxed Caribbean country IMHO. Where in the Caribbean, other than Cuba, could you wander around a capital alone, without fear of robbery/rape/murder?

Back on thread, the bizarre treatment of the inmates at Guantanamo can be seen as a symptom of the US myopic view on terrorism which is reflected in the treatment of Cuban 'spies' in the US;

'But whether one stands north or south of Florida Straits, the trial of the five Cuban agents raises a number of important questions about the United States' relationship with anti-Castro militants, particularly in light of the new war on terrorism. The convicted Cuban spies frequently charged U.S. officials with continuing to distinguish between "good terrorists"—who support U.S. policies—and "bad terrorists"—who don't. '

And yeah, I haven't met Castro, so I don't feel that I can comment on his character, but he does seem to come accross as having more humility than the self-exiled rich agitators/terrorists in Florida. Maybe you're enamoured of the money and the propaganda it buys?
posted by asok at 7:10 AM on September 11, 2003


Oh, and:
'The AAWH concluded that a humanitarian catastrophe had been averted only because the Cuban government has maintained a high priority for a system designed to deliver primary and preventative care to all its citizens. It is worth recording that despite the effects of the blockade, Cuba in 1998 received a World Health Organisation award for meeting all the WHO targets for all countries by the year 2000, the only country to have done so.'
posted by asok at 7:13 AM on September 11, 2003


Castro has humility? Who are you getting that from -- some of the Cubans who haven't been arrested for even mildly voiced dissent?
posted by rcade at 8:04 AM on September 11, 2003


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