Monday, June 16, 2008

US journalists strike a blow for civil liberty

It's not the kind of story you are used to hearing from the US. Not the land of the brave and the free. Not the land of democracy. You've heard of Guantanamo Bay. The island used to be part of Cuba, but the US annexed it and has put it to noxious use.

This week, a group of journalists began exposing what has been going on there, mainly the torture of prisoners. Click here for some of the stories, including those in which wrong men were detained and tortured. These are mostly Muslim suspects accused of being members of al Qaida. They are blamed for attacking the US on September 11, 2001. It turns out that the worst torture camp is not even Guantanamo. Bagram, a former Russian military base taken over by the US after it attacked Afghanistan has a worse record, according to former detainees.

The US is in the middle of a presidential campaign. Last week, the US supreme court ruled that gave prisoners at the detention centre the right to access US federal courts. As you can imagine, the Republican nominee, John McCain, saw red literally. He called the court ruling "one of the worst decisions in the history of this country". According to Bloomberg, two years ago, the Arizona senator was the chief backer of a US law which stripped the prisoners of the right to file habeas corpus petitions in US courts.

That's the kind of candidate the Republicans want to send to White House. I'm not surprised he wants Marines to stay in Iraq for another 100 years.

I say kudos to the McClatchy crew for lighting a fire under George Bush's bottom (that's an innocent English expression). The natural result of such an exposé should be calls to take Bush to the Hague. Although I expect somebody to bell the cat, I'm not holding my breath.

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