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    Monday, June 20, 2005

    Clinton Slams Guantanamo Bay Prison

    Stardate 4123.6

    MSNBC - Bill Clinton has become the most prominent figure so far to add his voice to criticisms of the US prison camp at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

    In an interveiw with the Financial Times, the former President called for the camp, set up to hold suspected terrorists, to "be closed down or cleaned up".

    Mr. Clinton joined critics at home and abroad who have singled out the indefinite detention of prisoners without trial and widespread reports of human rights violations at Guantánamo. "It is time that there are no more stories coming out of there about people being abused," he said.

    Mr. Clinton said the test for judging whether harsh treatment of terrorist suspects was justified was whether it challenged the "fundamental nature" of American society. If the answer is Yes, you have already given the terrorists a profound victory."

    The Guantánamo detainees have been classified as "unlawful enemy combatants" rather than prisoners of war and are therefore not subject to the Geneva Convention or to US law. The US military has admitted to using coercive interrogation techniques on prisoners but denied that these amount to torture.

    Aside from moral issues, there were two practical objections to the US military abusing prisoners, he said. "If we get a reputation for abusing people it puts our own soldiers much more at risk and second, if you rough up somebody bad enough, they'll eventually tell you whatever you want to hear to get you to stop doing it." Mr. Clinton was careful to avoid criticizing the administration on the issue of indefinite detention. In three or four cases, his own administration had resorted to a US law that allows suspected terrorists to be held beyond the normal length of time without trial, if bringing an indictment or trial would compromise intelligence sources.

    This ties in nicely with the story from Friday. I don't know what it takes to show people what is *really* going on there, and how similar these events are becoming to the very events that the US had fought against so stoically 65 years ago.

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