They hung themselves with fabricated nooses made out of clothes and bed sheets,They have no regard for human life, neither ours nor their own. I believe this was not an act of desperation but an act of asymmetric warfare against us.
-- Navy Rear-Admiral Harry Harris, Guantanamo base commander
Now that sounds like an act of war to me.
Fashion a noose out of your clothes and bed sheets, then hang yourself in the crude cell in which you've been living for five years. Die alone, praying that your death does not go unnoticed.
The men who killed themselves last week in Guantanamo Bay were acting of desperation. What they hoped to do was to draw attention to the 460 (457 now?) men held at Guantanamo without charges against them. They are not prisoners of war, they are not accused of criminal acts. They are in a legal no-man's land. The evidence against them is classified, so they can't know it. For the lucky few who have attorneys, even the attorneys can't read the evidence against them -- it's classified!
If this is a legal practice, if it is a legal way of treating human beings, if these men are indeed guilty of some crime or are dangerous to our national security, then the U.S. government
should must immediately be forced to prove it. Bring the prisoners to the United States instead of isolating them where few outsiders can observe their treatment. Allow them communication with their families. Tell them what it is they are accused of.
Bush and his buddies say the men who died were trying to make themselves martyrs. I agree. But not martyrs for the jihad against America. I'm sure they were intelligent and aware enough to know that opportunity had been long-ago lost (if, in fact, any of them had ever wanted to participate in such a jihad). These men were martyrs for their fellow improperly (if not illegally) held brothers in Guantanamo Bay. I care not what the people have done, I care how we treat them. I firmly believe that if we have reason to believe they are guilty of a crime that we should present that evidence and let them defend themselves properly, using either U.S. law, Geneva Convention or rules of war to conduct such inquiries. If we are convinced they are a danger to us, we should declare them prisoners of war and treat them as such.
We have a word we use when military groups seize Americans and take them to isolated places where they are held interminably without access to a court, family or third-party contacts. We call them kidnappers, we call them terrorists. Americans seized these men in Afghanistan and Iraq (and other countries) and brought them without legal precedence to a secretive U.S. military base, where they have been held in cells facing away from the ocean, away from the light. Most have been interrogated for months at a time, a neverending belligerant questioning that led the three suicidal men first to a long-term hunger strike (ended when they were force fed by their guards), then to the incomprehensibly terrified but brave act of killing themselves to draw attention to how they have lived.
Colleen Graffy, a senior U.S. State Department official, tried to dismiss the suicides as "a good PR move to draw attention."
I think she got that right. It was no PR stunt, it was a desperate move to flag for attention -- your attention, my attention. They've got mine. I hope they have yours. What we do now that we're reminded again what horrors are happening in Guantanamo, what are we going to do about it?