Maybe it was Amnesty International reports, the domestic criticism, the recent denunciation by the U.N. or just the general outcry from the international community at large, but the decision has finally been made to return many of the 490 "unlawful combatants" held at Camp Gitmo to their home countries. In another one of those funny yet sad twists of fate, the administration has fears that many of these people, will be treated poorly or tortured by their own governments.
Tim Golden of The New York Times reported on April 30th that "Washington's insistence on humane treatment for the detainees in their native countries comes after years in which Guantanamo has been assailed as a symbol of American abuse and hypocrisy - a fact not lost on the governments with which the United States is now negotiating." Furthermore:
"It is kind of ironic that the U.S. government is placing conditions on other countries that it would not follow itself in Guantanamo or Abu Ghraib," said a Middle Eastern diplomat from one of the countries involved in the talks. He asked not to be named to avoid criticizing the United States in the name of his government. (NYT 4/30)In addition, through a practice called 'rendition', a word which sounds like something that could happen in a meat packing plant, dozens if not hundreds of other detainees have already been returned to their home nations on secret flights. This is usually done with full knowledge that they would be tortured upon their return.
So some of these people have already been thrown from the Tiger's cage to the Lions' den unofficially for the last 2 years. Now that some of the detainees are being released officially, all of the sudden there are different standards. Standards, by the way, that our government itself doesn't even live up to.
According to a State Department human rights report released in March, the Saudi authorities have used "beatings, whippings and sleep deprivation" on Saudi and foreign prisoners. The report also noted "allegations of beatings with sticks and suspension from bars by handcuffs."Sleep deprivation? Beatings? I guess the Saudis got Rumsfeld's memo too.
"We're operating in an environment where we don't want to send people to a country where we are going to find out two weeks later that they've been tortured," a State Department official said. Referring to Saudi Arabia, he said, "We hope to reach the point soon where we are comfortable with the humanitarian arrangements."