Gray Panthers of San Francisco
July-August, 2006 Newsletter

With Liberty and Justice for Some ...

In the news again is the prison at Guantánamo Bay, where 465 detainees are still being held, 400 of them for more than four years. The latest episode is the suicide by hanging of three prisoners in June. The Bush administration’s response to it has outraged the world.

“They don't value their own life, and they certainly don't value ours, and they use suicide bombings as a tactic to further their jihadi cause. There were means and methods for protestation, and certainly taking their own lives was not necessary. But it certainly is a good PR move to draw attention,” said Colleen Graffy, Dep. Asst. Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy (!).

And here is Rear Admiral Harry Harris Jr., the camp commander: "They are smart, they are creative, they are committed. They have no regard for life, neither ours nor their own. I believe this was not an act of desperation, but an act of asymmetrical warfare waged against us."

A Feb. 16 report by the UN Commission on Human Rights called for the closure of Guantánamo “without further delay,” and for the U.S. to “refrain from...torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment” in the meantime. It further states that under international law, the prisoners have the right to challenge their detention and should be brought to trial immediately or released. The Bush administration has dismissed this report as “largely without merit and not based clearly in the facts,” and the Pentagon has dropped Article 3 (which forbids torture and degrading treatment) of the Geneva Conventions from the latest edition of the Army Field Manual on interrogations.

The three men who hanged themselves on June 10 had been at Guantánamo for four years, one of them only 17 when he arrived. They have been held in 4x8 cages, subjected to degrading and humiliating interrogation, isolated from the outside world and offered no legal recourse. And our government calls their suicides a PR stunt. It is indecent and abhorrent. It must be stopped.

Read more on Guantanamo from GP's Civil Liberties Committee web pages.

(back to July-August 2006 Newsletter front page)