January 16, 2006:
Amnesty International recently launched a new media campaign, focusing on the detention centers at Guantanamo Bay used to hold al Qaeda prisoners. This comes roughly seven months after they compared these centers to the Soviet-era gulags, and shows that Amnesty International still has a soft spot for terrorists.
The target of this campaign is not just the centers, but the military tribunals as well. What this ignores is that many of these detainees are not exactly angels. In fact, some have committed out-and-out war crimes.
@ One Canadian detainee, Omar Ahmed Khadr, is slated to face a military tribunal for the murder of a U.S. Army medic. Medics are protected under the Geneva Conventions - deliberately killing a medic (or firing at a hospital) is a huge no-no.
@ An evidence summary for a detainee from Iraq, reported that he traveled to Pakistan with an Iraqi intelligence officer for purposes of launching a chemical mortar attack on the American and British embassies.
@ In at least a dozen cases, detainees released from Guantanamo Bay have re-joined al-Qaeda on the battlefield. One of these detainees, Rasul Kudayev, planned attacks in the Kabardino-Balkariya, in the Northern Caucasus that killed 45 people.
In these tribunals, numerous efforts are being taken to ensure that the detainees facing tribunals are fairly treated. In the case of Khadr, a recent hearing was held over press coverage of the case. In another instance, efforts are being made to ensure that a detainee who was a close associate of bin Laden has adequate counsel, particularly during portions of the trial where classified evidence is being used.
Amnesty International has also repeated the reports of torture and other mistreatment, reports which have been generally discredited (and in the cases where mistreatment did occur, corrective action was taken). For instance, a detainee was responsible for the Koran-flushing incident. Amnesty International also failed to mention that in some of the cases where abuse was alleged, there was provocation (in one instance, a detainee spat on a female interrogator).
This is also not the only time that Amnesty International has sided with people who could be charitably described as slimy. In 2001, Amnesty International filed suit to get CIA documents pertaining to the 1993 effort to take down Pablo Escobar, the leader of the Medellin drug cartel. Later that year, Amnesty International waged a campaign that ultimately resulted in the release of Ahmed Hikmat Shakir from Jordanian custody. Shakir is an Iraqi national who escorted at least one of the hijackers of the airliner that flew into the Pentagon through Malaysian customs in January 2000, prior to attending the al-Qaeda summit held that same month. When taken into custody in Qatar, Shakir had contact information for the safe houses used in the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center and information on the 1995 al-Qaeda plot to destroy airliners over the Pacific Ocean. Amnesty International has highlighted fifteen detainees in its alerts, and has claimed that eight have been released.
The Amnesty International campaign is one that has been remarkably resilient in the face of facts, and seems to take the word of terrorists at face value - despite the fact that al-Qaeda manuals instruct captured members to falsely claim torture. Given that several detainees, most notably Kudayev, have returned to the fight, the results of Amnesty International's campaign could have a negative impact on the human rights of innocent people. - Harold C. Hutchison (email@example.com)