Saturday, June 18, 2005

American Gulag

Pavel Litvinov was a 'prisoner of conscience' in the USSR. His column in today's Washington Post makes the case that Amnesty International is risking its own authority and allowing the Bush administration to dismiss "justified" criticisms through the use of hyperbole, such "American Gulag" to describe Guantanamo Bay.
By any standard, Guantanamo and similar American-run prisons elsewhere do not resemble, in their conditions of detention or their scale, the concentration camp system that was at the core of a totalitarian communist system.

. . . The most effective way to criticize U.S. behavior is to frankly acknowledge that this country should be held to a higher standard based on its own Constitution, laws and traditions. We cannot fulfill our responsibilities as the world's only superpower without being perceived as a moral authority. Despite the risks posed by terrorism, the United States cannot indefinitely detain people considered dangerous without appropriate safeguards for their conditions of detention and periodic review of their status.
This argument strikes me as sound. I'm open to being convinced that Guantanamo Bay is counter-productive, but I switch off when people make stupid comparisons and exaggerations.