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 Post subject: Closing Time for Torture Island
PostPosted: Tue Apr 03, 2007 8:36 am 
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[url=]Closing Time for Torture Island

By Marie Cocco

WASHINGTON—Like a terminally ill animal, the Guantanamo prison is soon to be put to death.

It will be an ugly execution, played out against the sophomoric non sequiturs that are the unofficial soundtrack of the war on terror. Why, noted Rep. Duncan Hunter of California to a panel of legal experts who appeared before the House Armed Services Committee last week, during his last visit to the U.S.-run prison for alleged terrorists, the dining options included honey-glazed chicken and lemony fish. The health care given these alleged “enemy combatants” is “a higher quality than many HMOs and Americans receive,” said Hunter, the panel’s ranking Republican. “When we left ... they had a soccer game going on.”

But no menu grievance—other than complaints about the force-feeding of prisoners on hunger strikes—has figured in the international condemnation and legal uproar over the Bush administration’s detention scheme at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Recreation hasn’t been an issue either—unless consideration is given to the repeated reports from lawyers for detainees who say that hundreds have been held in solitary confinement for long periods of time.

As Australian David Hicks became the first detainee to plea-bargain his way out of the offshore penal colony, it was disclosed that part of his deal prevents him from speaking about the conditions he and others have endured there. Hicks’ nine-month sentence for providing “material support” to terrorists in Afghanistan apparently was engineered between the Bush administration and the government of Australian Prime Minister John Howard, whose chances for re-election later this year have been imperiled by the Australian public’s growing agitation over Hicks’ treatment. Hicks is to serve his time in Australia—his ultimate release contradicting all past American claims that he is such a danger to the civilized world that the wisest policy was to lock him up indefinitely, without charge.

Even as headlines in the United States focused on the outcome of Hicks’ case, and on the Supreme Court’s refusal on Monday to quickly decide the legality of a new system of military tribunals enacted by Congress last year, a more typical result of the Guantanamo saga was unfolding quietly in England.

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