Thursday, December 08, 2005
Los Aficionados De Guantanamo
Steve Clemons said something interesting the other day, as he has a habit of doing. Commenting on an article discussing the Guantanamo detention facility, Clemons said:
One thing that must be said. Fidel Castro has been uncharacteristically quiet about our use of the facilities at Guantanamo to detain "enemy combatants."Steve is addressing the topic I discussed in this post which considered the reckless new standard the Bush administration is setting in terms of justifying torture, indefinite detention and the suspension of habeas corpus. This is part of what I said then:
In my view, Castro realizes that America can't exactly criticize him about jailing political prisoners anymore -- as we are doing much the same thing on Cuban soil. I do get the fact that there is a difference between prisoners of conscience in Cuba -- whose civil liberties have been terribly violated by Castro. But detainees held indefinitely without being charged of crimes and not availed of a fair legal process make it practically impossible to morally distinguish between these cases.
America has forfeited the moral highground -- and Castro is enjoying it.
Think about it: If we are saying that torture, indefinite detention without trial, ghost facilities, suspension of habeas corpus rights, denial of access to attorneys, denial of access to the Red Cross, etc., are all acceptable measures to take when a nation confronts a terrorist threat, then we will surely have to water down or withhold our condemnations of foreign nations that engage in the same practices. Maybe Egypt isn't so bad, at least when it's torturing and repressing Islamist extremists. Same goes for Syria, and Tunisia. Uzbekistan too. China, sorry for all the bad press. Why, after all, should we be free to engage in these practices but not these other nations? Surely the existential threat from terrorist forces, and other armed resistance, is no greater for us - much less in fact considering the size and strength of our nation. The bar has been lowered.Could someone please translate this into Spanish for the benefit of Castro. Muchas gracias.
To some extent, our case was already weakened by the practice of extraordinary rendition anyway. It becomes increasingly hypocritical to condemn others for torture when we are asking those same nations on our list of offenders to, er, aggressively interrogate some of our prisoners for us - wink, wink - and, here's a list of questions to ask. But now, we could be entering a fuller, more complete hypocrisy.