Cultural Revolutions

Guantanamo Bay

Guantanamo Bay is the subject of continuous debate.  Can the United States detain indefinitely members of the Taliban captured in Afghanistan, or Al Qaeda insurgents captured in Iraq, at our military base in Cuba?  What sort of interrogation measures are permissible by international law in order to obtain information to protect Americans from the continuing threat of terrorism?  What rights, under international law and treaties, are the detainees entitled to?  No one knows the answers to any of these questions, because they are matters of first impression.  We have never been engaged in a struggle quite like this one; we have no treaties with the terrorists; and, while particular protocols, such as the Geneva Conventions, govern the treatment of prisoners of war declared by sovereign countries, there is no authoritative pronouncement from the U.S. Supreme Court regarding treatment of the Gitmo detainees.  Some lower courts have suggested that the detainees are entitled to some form of “due process,” but no one knows precisely what that means.

As might be expected, given that some of the detainees were bound, sooner or later, to find legal counsel and bring lawsuits, the Bush administration has been fairly careful, as events in wartime go.  The detainees appear to have food of at least as high a quality as the soldiers who are their caretakers; they are allowed to keep copies of the Koran;...

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