Tuesday, June 14, 2005


A few days ago this letter to the editors appeared in The Nation, one of Bangkok’s two English language newspapers.

I had previously expressed to them my disgust with the Bangkok Post for only printing anti-American editorials, opinion columns, and letters. I didn’t know what to expect from this newspaper.

The letter:

The US must face up to its torture programme

Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice and Meyers continually claim that the United States treats its prisoners humanely. This despite all the evidence that suspected terrorists are being abused as a matter of routine.

Suspected terrorists are being picked up in Afghanistan. They are assumed to be terrorists until proven otherwise and therefore denied protection under the Geneva Convention. At Bagram Air Base they were shackled to the ceiling and beaten on the limbs until they “confessed” or provided information. Some were beaten to death. (See the Pentagon’s own report, which was exposed in The New York Times.)

The deaths were originally reported as being due to natural causes and no action was taken against the interrogators because it could not be determined which of several personnel who were carrying out the beatings had struck the blow or blows.

Many prisoners were then flown to Guantanamo and, on the way, subjected to a form of torture known as “sensory deprivation”. At Gitmo they were subjected to further harsh treatment, including beatings, being shackled to the floor in stressful positions and being deprived of sleep, food and water for periods up to 24 hours or more. (See reports from FBI, the Red Cross etc.)

After beatings, two British citizens “confessed” to being in a photograph with bin Laden; they were later released when it was proved that they were not in Afghanistan when the photograph was taken.

Some prisoners were to be kept indefinitely until the US Courts intervened, and the Bush administration set up a travesty of a trial procedure to determine whether they were “guilty” of being terrorists.

Then, despite all the claims by Bush, Rice, etc, that they do not condone torture, these kangaroo courts stated that confessions obtained by torture would be admissible as evidence. This according to a statement by Depute Associate Attorney General Brian Boyle. Is he calling Bush and the rest liars?

In addition there is plenty of evidence that the CIA regularly abducts suspected terrorists in other countries, flies them out aboard “civilian” planes registered to shadow companies and takes them to countries where there is no restriction on torture.

Of course all this was being carried out by a few rogue soldiers, and no officers knew what was going on. . . . But if you believe that you will believe anything.

Mr William

Chon Buri

That same day I sent this response to The Nation newspaper:

Regarding the detainees at Guantanamo Bay.

Mr William of Chon Buri lists and believes everything that reflects poorly on The United States.
Is it possible he’s one of those America-haters I’ve heard about? Surely there are two sides to that. Surely not every report of prisoner abuse is true.

Not in his eyes.

But let’s assume that Mr William is a civilized man, for the sake of argument. I will list a few things that he and every civilized person will have to agree with.

First, the detainment camp at Guantanamo Bay is a terrible thing.

The 9-11 attack killing 3,000 civilians in New York was a terrible thing.

The fact that the organization that did it was based in Afghanistan was a terrible thing.

That the Afghan government would not give them up was a terrible thing.

That military might had to go in and unseat the Afghan government to get rid of the terrorists was a terrible thing.

That many terrorist and suspected terrorist are now being held is a terrible thing.

War is hell but it is not a war that the US started.

The irony is that I’m sure the detainees at Guantanamo Bay would much rather be where they are than in a Thai prison. I’ve seen the insides of a Thai prison. It’s not pleasant.

Don’t misunderstand me. I am not criticizing Thai prisons. I think they are run correctly. Prison is not supposed to be a pleasant place. I’m sure that conditions in Thai prisons are better than in most prisons in the world.

The point is, with all the scrutiny the Guantanamo Bay facility has received, it is probably prisoner heaven compared to most of the prisons in the world.

Another largely overlooked irony is that under the Geneva Conventions, most of the detainees at Guantanamo could have been executed. They were combatants in civilian clothes. That particular article is in there to protect civilians, so they cannot be mistaken for combatants.

Walter Guest


That letter was not printed the next day. That is reasonable. They might need a day or so to look it over.

In the meantime I found this and sent it in:

Re. My recent letter:

An excerpt from MSM Today:

On Capitol Hill, Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter (news, bio, voting record), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, displayed plates of meals served to detainees at Guantanamo, and insisted that inmates were enjoying the best conditions of their lives.

"The point is the inmates in Guantanamo have never eaten better, they've never been treated better, and they've never been more comfortable in their lives than in this situation," Hunter of California said at a news conference.

Full text here.

Walter Guest

There was still no mention in the paper.

In the meantime I found this and sent it in:

This from the US Department of Defense:
When there have been credible allegations of abuse they are investigated aggressively and individuals are held accountable for their actions.
Guantanamo is also a facility under constant external oversight and supervision. The department works closely with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and representatives visit detainees in our charge at their discretion. There have been 187 members of Congress and congressional staff who have visited Guantanamo to include 11 Senators, 77 Representatives and 99 Congressional staff members. There have also been some 400 media visits consisting of more than 1,000 national and international journalists.
The Department of Defense does not wish to hold detainees longer than necessary and effective processes are in place to regularly review the status of enemy combatants. More than 68,000 detainees have been held in Afghanistan, Iraq and Guantanamo and the vast majority of them have been released. There are only approximately 520 detainees in custody in Guantanamo.
While more than 200 detainees have departed Guantanamo, detainee releases or transfers are not without risks. There have been approximately a dozen former detainees who were released from Guantanamo and have since taken part in anti-Coalition activities.
Full release here.
Walter Guest

There still has been no mention in the paper.
We shall see.


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