Don't Call Guantanamo a Gulag

By:  Rachel Marsden

Some artist uses a crucifix as a swizzle stick in a vat full of urine, and Christians just roll their eyes. But suggest flushing the Koran -- or even dog-earing a copy of Fodor's Guide to the Islamic World -- and the folks who cheered in the Arab Street on 9/11 take it as a green light to riot and blow up more innocent women and children.

This is the crucial difference that Amnesty International doesn't grasp as it threatens to destroy its credibility by making itself a poster organization for anti-American terror apologists.

In its annual human-rights report, issued last week, Amnesty refers to the U.S. prison camp for suspected terrorists in Guantanamo Bay (GTMO) as "the gulag of our times, entrenching the practice of arbitrary and indefinite detention in violation of international law."

Reality check: Under normal wartime practices, these enemy combatants would already have been lined up against the nearest wall and shot. "International law" protects prisoners of war who belong to a legitimate national army, not terrorists.

But leftist organizations, such as Amnesty, the International Red Cross and the liberal media, are trying to redefine the centuries-old concept of warfare -- much as they've done with other institutions, like marriage. Now any punk sporting an "Allah is my homeboy" T-shirt and a backpack bomb apparently qualifies as a legitimate POW.

In whining about the "gulag" at GTMO, Amnesty has taken a page from al-Qaeda's own playbook, which advises that captured jihadis "must insist that torture was inflicted upon them by State Security [investigators] before the judge," and "complain of mistreatment while in prison."

According to the U.S. Justice Department, "GTMO remains the single best repository of al-Qaeda information in the Department of Defense." In that case, forget Saddam in his skivvies -- I'm all for having any terrorists being held at GTMO modelling this season's entire Speedo Swimsuit Catalogue, if that's what it takes.

While there may exist a few incidents of serious abuse, merely having people pose for pictures in undignified positions isn't a severe form of "torture." (Here in North America, some would say, that's called "holidays with the family.")

People seem to forget these are military detentions at a time of war, legitimized ultimately by the U.S. Congress at the request of the President. If Amnesty had its way, enemy combatants would have access to O.J. Simpson's courtroom Dream Team. Even under ordinary criminal law, defendants sometimes spend months or years behind bars until a determination of guilt or innocence can be made.

Though the War on Terrorism is still raging, some GTMO detainees have been released to their home countries following a review of their status. While he was in Toronto last week to speak at a fundraiser for the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies, I asked 9/11-era New York City mayor (and former mob prosecutor) Rudy Giuliani, when he thought the rest should be released. His response: "We will know the end of the War on Terror when we see a tremendous reduction of terrorist acts -- and we're not there yet."

Until then, Amnesty International needs to get a little perspective -- just as it does with the case of AWOL American soldier Jeremy Hinzman, who was recently denied refugee status in Canada.

During his refugee hearing, Hinzman said he actively sought out the military and specifically wanted a combat role like the ones he saw in war movies. Yet on his Web site, he now claims he was blinded by the army's dazzling marketing campaign. "Molested by Madison Avenue," as Amnesty might say.

Hinzman concedes that he wanted the paid university education that comes with completing a stint in the military. But it seems that while he was a fan of the U.S. military on the big screen, he prefers the French army in his own reality show.

After leaching off the army's free medical, dental, meal and housing plans -- as well as the chick-magnet uniform -- Hinzman spent a few months in Afghanistan. He then conveniently discovered the Quaker anti-war movement and fled to Canada when he was called on to serve in Iraq.

But Amnesty has already announced that if Hinzman's appeal fails and he's deported back to America and held accountable for his dine-and-dash, they'd label him a "prisoner of conscience." I wonder how Nelson Mandela would feel sharing that label with a freeloader?

I'm waiting for the day when "G.I. Bolt" decides that he's fed up with Canada's high taxes, and Amnesty labels him an "economic refugee" seeking to escape the "poor house of our times."