Don't Call Guantanamo a Gulag
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
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
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
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
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."