From the WSJ Opinion Page:
"Prisons are about rehabilitation and punishment," Adm. Harris told me in a phone conversation last week, reiterating a point he had made a few days earlier in a briefing for visiting journalists here. "What we are about is keeping enemy combatants off the battlefield. . . . The enemy combatants that we have here were captured on the battlefield or running from the battlefield, and they were engaged in combat operations against Americans, and in many cases killed Americans. What we're trying to do here in Guantanamo is simply keep them off the battlefield, because we know that many of them would go back to the fight."
In fact, Adm. Harris says, many of them have kept fighting even while in captivity. They are carrying out coordinated actions with the apparent goals of disrupting the camp's operations, furthering anti-American propaganda, and wounding and intimidating the servicemen who guard them.
One such action unfolded on May 18. Early that Thursday morning, guards patrolling the high-security Camp 1 (one of five numbered detention areas, with a sixth under construction) found two detainees who had attempted suicide. "One was found unconscious," Adm. Harris recalls, "and then another one was found a little later, frothing at the mouth, if you will. It looked like . . . poisoning of some sort." Both survived, although one took seven days to regain consciousness, and the other took four days. Neither had a prescription for any drug, "so they had to get the meds from other detainees somehow."
To prevent more suicide attempts, "the detention group commander ordered a shakedown of all the cells. He was going through each of the cells looking for contraband, looking for pills. He found some, throughout the day. He found some hidden around the toilet area; he found some hidden in the bindings of the Holy Quran." (Each detainee receives a personal Quran in his native language, which non-Muslim guards are forbidden to touch.)
Early in the evening, the search reached Camp 4, the least restrictive of the detention areas. Unlike in the other camps, detainees in Camp 4 are not confined to individual cells but bunk communally and congregate in fenced yards. This is where the detainees live who are most compliant with camp rules. But on that day in May, their cooperation came to an end.
A guard noticed a detainee who appeared to be trying to hang himself. "The detainee had put a sheet in the ceiling around the lights and built what looked like a noose and was putting his head toward that noose," Adm. Harris says. "The quick-reaction force rushed into that [cell] block to save the life of the individual they thought was trying to kill himself. When they got in there, the detainees had slickened the floor with feces, urine and soapy water," making it hard for the guards to keep their footing.
"They proceeded to attack the guard force. . . . The attack was obviously planned. They managed to get a guard down on the ground. They attacked him with broken light fixtures, with fan blades and with [security] cameras that they had torn off to use as bludgeoning weapons. In that process the NCOIC [noncommissioned officer in charge] made the call--a gutsy call--to fire less-than-lethal rounds at the detainees. . . . All that took about three to five minutes. . . . The disturbance was quelled. No one was seriously injured, either the guards or the detainees.
"But at the same time, detainees in two adjacent blocks erupted and tore up their blocks completely--tore down all the lights, tore up all the fans, tore down all the cameras, and all that kind of stuff. They didn't attack the guards, but they did manage to tear up the blocks." In only one Camp 4 cell block did the detainees not riot: "When the uprising, or whatever you call it, happened, they went back into their block very quietly and stood by the beds," Adm. Harris says. "Today, those are the only residents of Camp 4." When I toured the camp, I saw perhaps eight of them, dressed in white, lolling about their outdoor yard. The other blocks are being repaired and made more secure, at a cost to the taxpayer of about $800,000.
Camp 1 is also unoccupied, undergoing repairs owing to the discovery of another sabotage scheme. Cells in Camp 1 were equipped with spring-operated faucets, and the detainees "managed to figure out how to take that apart and . . . pull the spring out. The spring, when it's fully stretched out, is probably a foot long, and it can be used as a weapon to jab someone in the neck or to jab someone in the eye. They would take that spring and hide it in the waistband of their pants. . . . This is just another indication of the creativity that the detainees have as they plan things against us."
There's more, so be sure to read it all... HERE As a soldier's mom and a sailor's mom, I ask these Senators why we can't draft the new "law" that says our treatment of prisoners under the "outrages against personal dignities" language of the Geneva Conventions is limited to signatories to (and hopefully practioners of) the Conventions and specifically exclude enemy combatants of terrorist organizations as those organizations are already identified by the government of the United States? You think these "enemy combatants" live by the caveat to avoid "outrages upon personal dignity" of captured US soldiers?? I would ask these Senators if the names of Thomas Tucker and Kristian Menchaca mean anything to them? Apparently not. And do they actually think that such machinations will protect Matt Maupin?
I know that people think that Sen. McCain's words deserve special consideration because he is a former POW (and my admiration for him and his experience knows no bounds -- he is my senator), but I ask, did the words on paper of the GC protect him? Those countries that will live by the Conventions will and those that won't will not care one spit what the US does or does not do. They will treat captive soldiers in whatever manner suits the captor's aims -- not by how the US treats their captives. North Vietnam being a prime example. And when we talk about uniformed armies we talk about soldiers fighting other soldiers. With al Qaeda and their ilk, their targets are not just soldiers -- but civilians. Regardless of what the Supreme Court says, my personal opinion is that no part of the protections of our Constitution nor the GC should apply to anyone that targets civilians. And as a soldier's mom and a sailor's mom, I am here to tell these senators that I don't think what they want to do will protect either of my sons one bit. If I thought it would, I'd be the first one standing up and saying so.
I am at a loss as to why Graham, Snowe, et al. think we need to cut the line so fine with these criminals? These are people who were or are on the battlefields killing Americans and who wouldn't hesitate to again attack American CIVILIANS on US soil. Perhaps if these animals knew that there were no such protections they might (however unlikely and remote that possibility is) take a step back. I'm all for maintaining the "moral high ground" but do we need to re-invent the hill we want to stand atop? This is war and someone needs to remind the Senators that THIS is the reality of our times. The old "we'll be fair so you be fair" is laughable to terrorists. We need to know what these @#$%^ are doing and who is planning it, financing it and supporting it... and I, for one, don't really care how we get the information short of murder and REAL torture. Personal dignities be damned.
Copyright Some Soldier's Mom 2006. All rights reserved.