Sunday, July 10, 2005

Yes, We Tortured Them, But Then We Sent Them Outside To Play Volleyball, So We're All Cool, Right?

Guantanamo Bay detainees play soccer, eat well: US senator
WASHINGTON (AFP) - Inmates from the US-led war on terror held at the prison camp at the US naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba are well treated, play outdoor sports, and have access to a broad Muslim-approved menu, a US senator who traveled to the site said.

US Senator Pat Roberts, a conservative Republican from Kansas, said on "Fox News Sunday" that he just returned from visiting the Guantanamo detention site.

"They have a Muslim menu down there of 113 dishes," said Roberts, chairman of the US Senate Intelligence Committee.

"I saw them playing soccer. I saw them playing ping-pong. I saw them playing ... I think it was volleyball," he said.

I would expect them to be treated very well, considering the scrutiny Guantanamo has recently come under.

What I hope Roberts and other Gitmo salesmen understand is that it's not the 113-dish menu, the choice of two vegetables, or — lucky, lucky inmates — the opportunity to bathe and exercise regularly to which critics of the detention facility object; it's the abuse.

When you imprison someone, whether the someone is a convicted murderer, a tax evader, an enemy combatant, a reporter who refuses to divulge the identity of a source, or whoever, you take upon yourself responsibility for that person's well-being. Why? Because you have deprived them of their freedom (Americans, theoretically at least, value freedom most highly, yes?); and without that freedom, they have limited (or no) means at their disposal to provide for their own well-being.

That is a fundamental tenet regarding prisoner treatment to which, I believe, all truly civilized, freedom-loving societies subscribe. And it is equally applicable no matter in what little regard the imprisoner holds the values of the imprisoned, or how much the imprisoned hates the imprisoner. It is equally applicable whether or not the imprisoner is tempted to coerce the imprisoned into divulging special knowledge.

Roberts: "And in regards to the health care, my word, they have better health care than many of my small communities in Kansas."

Strangely, the tone of the Guantanamo apologists often seems to border on resentment. Either they're proud of, and satisfied with, the humane treatment the detainees are receiving (which is all part of the price of waging war, isn't it?), or they're sanctioning the abusive treatment — why can't they decide?


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