❄ BUSH ON GUANTANAMO: “There’’s total transparency.”

❄ BUSH ON GUANTANAMO: “There’s total transparency.”

GW Bush claims [6 July 2005, during a press conference with the Danish Prime Minister at Lyngby, Denmark] [Note 1] that “there’s total transparency” at the US prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. That’s a simple, astounding lie, since the public does not know, and is not permitted to find out, who is held there, much less the details of what takes place. We do know that interrogation practices are used which seek to break detainees physically and mentally: I call that torture, even if Alberto Gonzales and George Bush do not.

This is what Bush said:

“We had a great discussion today. We talked about the upcoming G8 meeting. We talked about Africa and climate change. As well, we talked about Guantanamo. The Prime Minister is concerned about what the situation on Guantanamo says about America and our view of liberty. Let me tell you what I told him. I said, first, the prisoners are well-treated in Guantanamo. There’s total transparency. The International Red Cross can inspect any time, any day. And you’re welcome to go. The press, of course, is welcome to go down to Guantanamo.

“Secondly, we have sent many home. These people were picked up on the battlefield. They didn’t wear uniforms, they weren’t associated with a government, but they were on the battlefield. And so we put them in Guantanamo. We wanted to find out as much as we could about what they knew about this war on terror in order to protect our citizens. Many, it turned out, were sent home.

“Thirdly, I assured the Prime Minister there’s got to be a way forward for people held in Guantanamo, and there will be. The reason why you haven.t seen any adjudication of individuals is because our court system is determining where best to try people, whether it be in a military tribunal where a person would have all — lawyers and rights, or whether it be in the civilian courts. And once the judicial branch of our government makes its decision, then we’ll proceed forward with giving people fair and open trials.

“I just want you to remember we are in a war against these terrorists. My most solemn obligation is to protect the American people from further attack. These people are being treated humanely. There’s very few prison systems around the world that have seen such scrutiny as this one. And for those of you here on the continent of Europe who have doubt, I’d suggest buying an airplane ticket and going down and look — take a look for yourself.” [Note 1]

Wouldn’t you like to know what scrambling took place at Guantanamo at the prospect of correspondents from Le Monde and The Independent and twenty other papers arriving at the gates, asking for a namelist of prisoners and untrammeled interviews? Which correspondent will get there first?

Of course, we don’t know where the Guantanamo detainees were “picked up”. We do know something, however, of access by the International Committee of the Red Cross and its continuing concerns. GW Bush said that “The International Red Cross can inspect any time, any day.” Of course, that doesn’t mean that the Bush Administration pays any attention to what they say. The ICRC considers its language carefully, and that prudence is evident in its reports. Typically the ICRC reports its concerns to the detaining government; only in exceptional circumstances does it go public. The ICRC publishes the following material [excerpt] on its website:

“Releases or transfers of detainees

“The ICRC insists on interviewing in private any detainee about to be transferred out of Guantanamo Bay before his departure to allow him the opportunity to raise any possible fears of persecution should he be sent home or to a third country. The ICRC then relays the detainee’s comments to the detaining authorities and makes appropriate recommendations as to how to proceed. This procedure is designed to ensure respect for the internationally recognised principle of non-refoulement which prohibits the transfer or return of a person to a country where he or she has reason to fear for his or her life, physical or mental integrity, or might be subject to other serious human rights violations.

“The ICRC follows up on all cases of detainees transferred from Guantanamo Bay to third countries, particularly if they are subsequently rearrested and deprived of their liberty. The ICRC aims to visit these detainees in their new place of detention to ensure that their treatment and the conditions of detention are in conformity with international legal requirements.

“The ICRC has regularly provided support to detainees released from Guantanamo Bay. Whenever needed, ICRC delegates are present during these releases and provide clothes and transport fares to enable the freed detainees to return to their families.

“ICRC concerns

“For the ICRC, the question of the legal status of the persons detained by the US at Bagram, Guantanamo Bay or at so-called undisclosed locations, as well as the legal framework applicable to them remains unresolved (see IHL and terrorism: questions and answers).

“For many detainees at Guantanamo Bay more than two and a half years have passed since their arrest. The ICRC has always maintained that those detainees remaining in Guantanamo Bay should either be charged and tried, released, or be placed within a legal framework that governs their continued detention. On 28 June 2004, the United States Supreme Court ruled that 14 Guantanamo Bay detainees could file for writs of habeas corpus – that is, challenges to the legality of their detention – in US federal courts. This decision has opened the door for other detainees at Guantanamo Bay to challenge the legality of their detention in US courts. The ICRC is closely following developments in the wake of the Supreme Court decision.

“The ICRC believes that the uncertainty about their fate has been a contributing factor to the mental and emotional health problems among the detainees at Guantanamo Bay observed by its delegates and reported by other sources.

“The ICRC has had regular access to the persons detained at Bagram, but not immediately after their arrest. Initially detainees were only held for limited periods of time before being transferred to Guantanamo Bay or released. However, since mid-2003 many persons have been detained for longer periods at Bagram, in some cases for more than a year. Therefore, the ICRC is increasingly concerned by the fact that the US authorities have not resolved the questions of their legal status and of the applicable legal framework.

“The ICRC’s observations regarding certain aspects of the conditions of detention and treatment of detainees in Bagram and Guantanamo have not yet been adequately addressed.

“The US authorities state that the detainees in Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay are of important intelligence value. The Geneva Conventions do not preclude the interrogation of persons deprived of liberty. However, since the detainees, particularly in Guantanamo Bay, have been subjected to unusually long periods of interrogation, the ICRC closely monitors the impact this has on them. Any interrogation has to be conducted in accordance with basic humanitarian standards.

“Beyond Bagram, Kandahar and Guantanamo Bay, the ICRC is increasingly concerned about the fate of an unknown number of people captured as part of the so-called global war on terror and held in undisclosed locations. For the ICRC, obtaining information on these detainees and access to them is an important humanitarian priority and a logical continuation of its current detention work in Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay. Dialogue continues with the US authorities to resolve this issue.” [Note 2]


[Note 1] http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/07/20050706-3.html, with remarks of President GW Bush and Danish Prime Minister Rasmussen at Lyngby, Denmark, 6 July 2005.

[Note 2] International Commission of the Red Cross (ICRC) http://www.icrc.org/web/eng/siteeng0.nsf/iwpList265/541ACF6DC88315C4C125700B004FF643]

[Bruce’s Blog: 2005.07.07. Post: Bxx Short Link p=44. Front Door Index: http://blog.learnworld.com/. Permalink: http://www.learnworld.com/BRUCE/uncategorized/❄-bush-on-guantanamo-“there’s-total-transparency-”/]

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