Let's Shoot The Messenger

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Both President George Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney sounded almost hurt and offended when they were talking about the Amnesty International report criticizing conditions at the Guantanamo Bay Prison Camp.

Dick Cheney took on a hurt attitude saying, "Frankly, I was offended by it." President Bush on the other hand took more of an offensive tactic by calling the human rights report, "absurd."

For months now, both Bush and Cheney have been dancing around repeated accusations of American human rights abuses. By classifying the most damning American prisoner abuse photos from the Abu Ghraib Prison, the Bush administration has bought some time and by spreading out the release of "proof positive" photos, negative world judgment is somewhat tempered.

The "offended" Vice President Cheney said, "Occasionally there are allegations of mistreatment, but if you trace those back, in nearly every case, it turns out to come from somebody who had been inside and released to their home country and are now peddling lies about how they were treated."

Cheney’s words do sound plausible, except for the fact if we released these people back to their home countries, they were Not Guilty of any crime against the US and by holding them for years with no charge or right to legal proceedings, we had abused them from the start just by holding them.

Sure Amnesty International used interviews with former prisoners for their report, but what both Cheney and Bush seem to over look is that they also used reports by the International Red Cross and by our own United States Federal Bureau of Investigation.

A December 21, 2004 report in the Washington Post says, "Detainees at the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, were shackled to the floor in fetal positions for more than 24 hours at a time. Left without food and water, and allowed to defecate on themselves, an FBI agent who said he witnessed such abuse reported in a memo to supervisors, according to documents released yesterday." The memos released cover a two-year period and were obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union, which sued the Federal Government to get them.

In one case reported, an FBI Agent said, "The detainee was almost unconscious on the floor, with a pile of hair next to him. He had apparently been literally pulling his own hair out throughout the night."

These FBI documents "also contain what may be the first witness account of the use of military dogs to intimidate detainees during interrogations at Guantanamo Bay. A memo initially classified "Secret" said that members of the agency’s Behavioral Analysis Unit had witnessed the use of "loud music/bright lights/growling dogs" during interviews by US military personnel at the island prison. Senior Defense Department officials have always denied the use of dogs in any interrogations.

People the world over have been abused and tortured by their own governments, but there was always the perception that the United States was different and that we followed the rules of the Geneva Convention. Now with photographs of American physical and sexual abuse of prisoners in every newspaper throughout the world, and the release of our own FBI reports on prisoner abuse at Guantanamo Bay, it seems ludicrous for the President and Vice President to feign that they are upset with these "absurd" accusations.

Shooting the messenger after the message has already been given to the whole world is counterproductive, but then so much of what these two Americans leaders do is just that.

Jim Glaser [send him mail], a Marine Corps Vietnam War veteran and Commander of VFW Post 3869, works to educate the American public on the consequences of war. His personal website is James-Glaser.com.

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