Column: Foreign detainees treated fairly
In what may be the ultimate frivolous lawsuit, detainees at Camp X-ray in Cuba are suing members of the government and military. The suit says British citizens Shafiq Rasul and Asif Iqbal and Australian citizen David Hicks should be afforded the same rights as American John Walker Lindh.
President George W. Bush, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Brig. Gen. Michael Lehnert (in charge of the detention operation), and Col. Terry Carrico (commandant of Camp X-ray) are accused of preventing the three inmates from meeting with lawyers. This ignores the fact that there isn’t any rule saying we have to let them meet with a lawyer until they are charged with a crime.
Part of the complaint alleges that the families of the men tried to contact the prisoners but were “either rebuffed or ignored.” Does Camp X-ray look like the kind of place you just call up and expect to talk to a prisoner? They’re also not happy about the fact that their mail is screened. My heart just bleeds for them, but even in America we screen the mail of prisoners. Keep in mind the fact that these guys are in a military detention facility because they are more dangerous than the average person. One of the three prospective plaintiffs, David Hicks, threatened to kill Americans as soon as he landed in Guantanamo.
William Goodman, director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, says that the suit “tests the power of the federal government and the president of the United States to hold whomever he chooses simply because he does not like them.” That is a gross simplification of what is going on. We’ve never encountered a situation like this, and we don’t really have a structure set up to deal with it. If having these guys locked up without a lawyer lets me live through my next flight, I’m all for it.
Goodman’s sound byte makes it sound like Bush simply found out about these guys hanging out in Afghanistan and ordered them captured, sent to Cuba and held indefinitely. Goodman is also trying to play on a fear that this could happen to any of us, but it can’t. American citizens aren’t eligible for military tribunals. Plus, I doubt any of us are going to jet off to another country to fight against America.
These guys seem to be upset that John Walker Lindh gets a civilian trial in America as opposed to the military tribunals that they face. Lindh is also ineligible for the death penalty. I’m with them on that. I’m all for sending Lindh to Cuba and having his fate decided by a tribunal. He turns his back on America and then expects to reap benefits from our justice system. These guys seem to think that their British and Australian lineage entitles them to better treatment than the rest of the detainees, which sounds pretty arrogant and racist to me. I defy any American being held in another country to try pulling something like that.
I doubt these guys know what they’re getting into. I’m wondering if they’ll still want to be sent to an American prison after they see what happens to Lindh.
It’s flat-out wrong that people who were fighting for the destruction of America are now crying foul that they aren’t being treated fairly by America. This lawsuit is a waste of time.
- Chris Ricketts is a sophomore majoring in English.