Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Compliance and colonoscopies in Guantanamo

Long article in next Sunday’s NYT Magazine on Guantanamo, a narrative history of relations between the detainees and the prison authorities – well, the guards rather than the interrogators, the interrogations aren’t really covered. It gives the longest account I’ve seen of the abortive attempt last summer to establish a prisoners’ council. The author, Tim Golden, is as reasonable and even-handed as he can be under the circumstances, which is also the impression the article gives of the military authorities, who were obviously (and unavoidably) his main sources. But in a place like Guantanamo, doing the job that Guantanamo does, reasonable and even-handed are traits that are irrelevant, even obscene. The authorities were willing, indeed eager, to negotiate about details like bottled versus tap water or not blasting the Star-Spangled Banner during the call to prayer (or, as Gen. Craddock once said, the color of the feeding tubes inserted into the noses of hunger-strikers), in an effort to achieve “compliance,” so long as larger issues like the prisoners being held indefinitely were not broached.

Indeed today Bill “Kitty Killer” Frist commented that the Guantanamo detainees are getting “24/7 medical care - better than many Americans”. Why, 16 colonoscopies have been performed there, he marveled.

Frist’s other priority in The War Against Terror this week is tacking onto the bill authorizing military operations a provision against paying off internet gambling debts with credit cards.

You’re still waiting for me to say something about the colonoscopies, aren’t you? I have way too much class for that.

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