In commemorating the 230th anniversary of America’s independence last July, President George W. Bush noted that the patriots of the Revolutionary War believed that all men are created equal, and with inalienable rights. Because of these ideals, he proclaimed, the United States “remains a beacon of hope for all who dream of liberty and a shining example to the world of what a free people can achieve.”
But, at the same time, his administration was holding approximately 400 prisoners at the US Naval Base at Guantánamo Bay in Cuba. Some of them have now been there for more than five years. None of them has ever been put on trial.
Last month, a highly reputable source confirmed that the Guantánamo prisoners are suffering from more than indefinite detention. The US Federal Bureau of Investigation released documents showing that an FBI agent witnessed “on several occasions” detainees who were “chained hand and foot in [a] fetal position to [the] floor,” without a chair, or food or water. In these conditions, “most urinated or defecated on [them]selves.” They were left there for 18 or 24 hours, or more.
On one of these occasions, the agent reported, “the air conditioning was turned up so low that the barefooted detainee was shaking with cold.” On another occasion the room was unventilated, the temperature over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, and the detainee was almost unconscious on the floor with a pile of hair next to him – “he had apparently been pulling it out throughout the night.”