Madinat al-Muslimeen Islamic Message Board
|01/17/02 at 23:02:32|
|Bismillah and salam,|
"Here is an email I received from a friend with an article from the Globe
and Mail, Canada's national newspaper by Anthony Westell, entitled
"Who's the Unlawful Combatant." It is very critical of the United
States policy on prisoners from Afghanistan and U.S. attempts to get
around the Geneva Convention on prisoners of war on the grounds that
they are "unlawful combatants".
"Where is the moral leadership from the most powerful nation in the world?
- shouldn't one act righteously because it diminishes oneself to act
otherwise, rather than because it is expedient to do so? and does this not apply to nations as much as to individuals? In its disgraceful treatment of what the U.S. declares ' unlawful combatants' in Cuba the U.S. government dismays enemies and allies alike, ..... the U.N. having
pronounced these men prisoners of war and hence entitled to the
protections of the Geneva Convention, ..and brings the entire U.S. nation
into disrepute. "
The Globe and Mail - Toronto, Jan 17 2002
WHO'S THE UNLAWFUL COMBATANT?
How come, with all the coverage of the U.S. "war" in Afghanistan, neither
journalists nor opposition politicians are asking the tough questions? Is
it perhaps because President George W. Bush has whipped Americans,
including the news media and Congress, into a patriotic fervour so that to
question his judgement and motives is almost treason - making him a better
politician than most had thought?
Anyway, now that things are cooling down, there is a new issue demanding
tough questioning: the transfer of prisoners from Afghanistan to an
American base in Cuba. Civil-rights groups are concerned about the
captives' treatment, but that's not the question that should be put to
Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld at what seems to be his daily news
conference. It might be really informative if some bold reporter asked: Mr
Secretary, you've just announced that more prisoners of war have been
air-lifted from Afghanistan to the U.S. base in Cuba. Oh, sorry, right,
they're not prisoners, but detainees. Is that because the U.S. hasn't
actually declared war by a resolution in Congress, as required by the
No, so on what authority, please, is the U.S. arresting people in a
foreign country and bringing them to a U.S. base half a world away? What
are they charged with? After all. the U.S. does pride itself on being a
nation of laws, and we presume people to be innocent until convicted - or
maybe we don't in this case.
I see, its because they are, as you say, "unlawful combatants". How do
you tell an unlawful combatant from a lawful combatant? No, no, I'm not
suggesting the U.S. forces in Afghanistan are unlawful combatants,
although its an interesting idea. The difference, you say, is
that some were terrorists and some were not. I guess you mean terrorists
who have committed offences against the U.S. because, after all, if they
were terrorizing their own people, or the French or the Brits or whoever,
it wouldn't be anything to do with us, would it? And if they have broken
U.S. laws, wouldn't the normal course be to ask the government of
Afghanistan to extradite them, instead of just seizing them? I mean, you
do own a new government in Kabul, don't you?
Anyway, you say that only some of the people you have flown to Cuba are
members of al-Quaeda and others were "fighters" for the Taliban. But
wasn't the Taliban the government of Afghanistan for years before the U.S.
decided to back the other side in the ongoing civil war? Are you saying
it was unlawful for them to fight when the U.S. attacked? Isn't that what
armies are supposed to do?
Oh, I stand corrected. The U.S. didn't attack anyone, it was just
defending itself by bombing every suspicious hut and cave in sight. So
if you never intended to conquer Afghanistan, you can't claim rights of
conquest can you?
It's not like Germany after the Second World War when the Allies occupied
the country and put the previous rulers on trial for crimes against
humanity. Its not even like the arrest and trial of Serbian leaders
before an international court in The Hague. You're not invoking
international law, are you? You're just insisting the U.S. can do what it
thinks best in backward countries.
I guess, Mr. Rumsfeld, that we'll know a lot more about this when the
trial begins. No? - oh, I get it, the trials will be in secret before
Thanks for clearing things up, Mr.Secretary.
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