The Public Square

Ricky Baldwin of Urbana on torture at Guantanamo Bay


My name is Ricky Baldwin.

Administration apologists can say what they like about Illinois Senator Dick Durbin, but he told the truth about torture at the US prison camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Killing the messenger just won't make the bad news go away.

Amnesty International and other human rights groups have repeatedly found evidence that "numerous detainees in Guantanamo - as well as in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere - have been subjected to direct torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment" at the hands of US jailers and interrogators. Add to this recent FBI reports of "torture techniques" at Guantanamo.

Reports detail chaining prisoners to the floor without food or water or access to toilets, sometimes draped in Israeli flags with loud music blaring; keeping prisoners barefoot and semi-naked in refrigerated rooms; depriving them of sleep until blood ran out their noses; transferring prisoners back and forth to Egypt and other countries for weeklong beatings; and so on. Some of these prisoners are children.

Over two years after the war in Afghanistan officially ended, hundreds of prisoners of war are still being held without trial or charges, in direct violation of international law. This is behavior we regularly denounce in our enemies. The Bush Administration refuses to follow the Geneva Conventions, but they did promise the International Red Cross could interview all prisoners. They broke that promise.

Last month Amnesty concluded that the Guantanamo prison is "the gulag of our time" and "an icon of lawlessness." If we really wanted to be "the Land of the Free", we'd close these concentration camps at Guantanamo, in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere, immediately. And we wouldn't borrow any other country's torturers, either.

Instead, the Bush Administration is now expanding the Guantanamo gulag and giving the contract to Vice President Dick Cheney's company, Halliburton. Enough said.