Column: Prisoners treated fairly at Camp X-ray

Camp X-ray in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, has come under criticism from Europeans, especially the British, human rights groups and some civil rights advocates. The story of mistreatment of battlefield detainees received front page coverage by British newspapers over the weekend and Monday. Some British tabloids even accused the United States of torturing the detainees in Cuba.

Mainly respectable British newspapers and some British politicians have questioned pictures released by the U.S. government, showing detainees. Some of the basic complaints from Britain are, according to the Daily Telegraph, . . . shaven-head Taliban and al-Qaida prisoners kneeling and tightly manacled.”

Most of the complaints and accusations have been calmed down by a British investigation released on Monday, which found accusations of torture to be false and other complaints about being gagged and manacled to be during certain circumstances, like when they were being transported, not mainstream everyday life at Camp X-ray.

But the question that should be asked here is why do the British even question the U.S. prison conditions of the detainees? The Europeans as a whole are so fast to put the United States on the defensive for the stupidest things. The U.S. government is going out of its way to give the prisoner population copies of the Koran, daily medical checkups and prepackaged Islamic meals, and it is building a permanent facility for the prisoners.

There are still some complaints that have been mounted from before this weekend from human and civil rights groups. For instance, the detainees were not given prisoner-of-war status so they would not fall under the Geneva Convention. Also, this wouldn’t allow U.S. officials to prosecute the detainees by military tribunals. Here, the question that should be asked is: “does the Geneva Convention really exist, except on paper.”

Most of the Geneva Convention are being followed, especially in terms of treatment of the prisoners. That is a far cry from the treatment of U.S. soldiers captured during wartime. The last major conflict U.S. soldiers were involved in that they were treated as the Geneva Conventions say they should be was World War II on the European side. Since then, in Iraq, Vietnam and Korea, where large numbers of American soldiers were captured, they were beaten, tortured and even killed, obviously not following the Geneva Conventions. But then again, like all of those conflicts, war was never declared.

Other groups, like Amnesty International, complain that the cages that hold the prisoners are below U.S. standards for ordinary prisoners. The prisoners are being held in 8-by-6 cages. They will be moved to better facilities as soon as they are built. The cages are a concrete slab with chain-linked fencing for walls and a metal roof.

Also, let us not forget, Cuba is located in the middle of the Caribbean, and it is currently the dry season. People dream about going to the Caribbean for vacation. This is also no different than inmates in Arizona and New Mexico being held in tents, which they don’t complain about. So this is another absurd complaint.

The most ridiculous of the complaints comes from some California civil right advocates who say the Guantanamo detentions violate both the Geneva Conventions and the U.S. Constitution. Come on, the U.S. Constitution. Last I heard, the battlefield detainees were not U.S. citizens, so how does a document that gives rights to U.S. citizens affect the way we treat non-U.S. citizens?

  • Alex Hardman is a junior majoring in electrical engineering and