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Gitmo Better Than Belgian Prisons

Well, well:

Inmates at Guantanamo Bay prison are treated better than in Belgian jails, an expert for Europe's biggest security organization said on Monday after a visit to the controversial U.S. detention center. [snip]

Grignard told a news conference that prisoners' right to practice their religion, food, clothes and medical care were better than in Belgian prisons.

"I know no Belgian prison where each inmate receives its Muslim kit," Grignard said.

This is certainly not the impression we get from any media accounts of Gitmo. On Friday Time Magazine made national headlines with the story that Mohammad al-Qahtani, the so-called "20th hijacker," was recanting all of his previous testimony, claiming he made everything up because he was being tortured.

Lost amid the sensational headlines is that Qahtani's reversal came after two recent visits with a newly appointed lawyer, Gitanjali S. Gutierrez, from the ultra-liberal Center For Constitutional Rights. Gutierrez is part of CCR's “Guantánamo Global Justice Initiative" designed to "expand CCR’s defense of human rights and the rule of law to combat abuses of Executive power by the U.S. throughout the world."

I sifted through the log of Qahtani's interrogation that accompanied Time's report and from what I read it seems as if he was treated perfectly within bounds. The full interrogation log (pdf) is here, so go read it and decide for yourself whether Qahtani was tortured or not.

Also last Friday the BBC ran a story headlined, "Guantanamo man tells of 'torture'." Here is an excerpt from the BBC's interview with Fawzi al-Odah, a Kuwaiti citizen currently being held at Gitmo:

Through his lawyer, Mr Odah described his treatment during his hunger strike.

"First they took my comfort items away from me. You know, my blanket, my towel, my long pants, then my shoes. I was put in isolation for 10 days.

"They came in and read out an order. It said if you refuse to eat, we will put you on the chair [for force feeding]."

Remember, these people are trying to starve themselves to death. Imagine the reaction of human rights organizations if the United States military stood by and allowed two dozen or more prisoners to die of starvation.

The idea that force feeding prisoners to keep them alive constitutes "torture" borders on the insane. These men are are being offered food and adequate care, but they are refusing. As a result the United States military is put in an impossible situation; force them to eat or let them die. The goal of critics, of course, is to make either of these choices such a public relations nightmare for the United States that the Pentagon is forced to go with the only other option: close Gitmo down altogether.