During the past week, the United States has been accused of mistreating the terrorist suspects being held at Camp X-Ray in Cuba. However, the U.S. media has not widely covered the accusations. Instead, most reports of maltreatment are coming from British sources who are attacking British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s reluctance to condemn the United States’ actions.
If the Taliban prisoners are being mistreated at Camp X-Ray, the American media has a responsibility to uncover the situation and present it to the American public. Covering the story does not mean supporting terrorism, it means acting as a watchdog to ensure that international laws are upheld.
Graphic photographs have been released from the camp, showing prisoners masked and allegedly bound, wearing black goggles, earmuffs and surgical face masks, according to London’s The Guardian. Reports also state the prisoners are being held in 6-by-8 cages. British Labour Minister Tony Banks reminded all involved should not “allow terrorists to reduce us to the level of barbarians.”
Surely few in the world condone the terrorist actions of the Taliban, however it is unethical and illegal to exact such vengeance on the prisoners when due process has not yet started and international law disallows the mistreatment of prisoners of war. The United States is a highly civilized society that should not stoop to the level of petty acts of vengeance in order to atone for the Sept. 11 attacks.
The media also has a responsibility to call the government on its misgivings and can not play favorites because of the subjects involved. It is improper to misguide a nation into thinking it has taken a high road when, in fact, the government is using illegal tactics. If the British and Australian media are seeing these poor conditions and reporting on them, the American media should do the same, if not for educational purposes then to at least retain its journalistic integrity.