Sunday, June 11, 2006

Guantanamo - Pass the sickbag, Alice

The US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State has described the suicides of the three detainees at Guantanamo as a "a good PR move to draw attention".

This begs the question: What use is good PR to you when you are dead?

The Camp commander has described the suicides as "an act of war" against the US. Is he crazy or what? Perhaps he should be the one locked up. How can a suicide be an "act of war" for goodness sake? Bush has already terminally diluted the meaning of the word "war" when he declared war on terror - a bit like declaring war on blancmange. Now we have suicide being described as "an act of war". Attacking Pearl Harbour. Invading Poland. Those are "acts of war". But, committing suicide after three years of detention without trial with no end in sight? It may be something that happens during a war (a state which does not exist in this instance, anyway). But it is hardly an "act of war". It's a ludicrous abuse of the English language before you even consider the sang-froid of treating death in custody in such a cavalier way. Even the word "suicide" seems inappropriate in these cases.

I despair of the US detentions at Guantanamo. At least Bush said he was taking the suicides "very seriously". But in a typical display of US double-dealing, he now has underlings taking the Michael.

Will Ms Rice, the boss of the deputy assistant, care to repeat the "good PR move" comment or endorse it? Will she 'eck as like. She's just leaving her dirty work to a skivvy.

And will George Bush endorse the Camp Commander's description of the suicides as "an act of war". No.

According to the BBC, "On Friday, Mr Bush said he would "like to end Guantanamo", adding he believed the inmates "ought to be tried in courts here in the United States"." (I seem to recall he said this, or something like it, months ago as well.) But his underling, the Deputy Assistant Secretary lady says it is a "complicated process" to end the camp.

Come off it. Bush is the most powerful man in the world. If he wants to end the camp all he needs to do is get the prisoners on a plane for Miami and it's done.

As the late John Junor used to write: "Pass the sickbag, Alice".


  1. I disagree.

    Suicide can be an act of war when the actor believes that they are going to continue beyond their coporal life. In the mind of the religious, death is just a stage one passes through and it's this that makes them particularly dangerous. Once ones own death is unimportant, straight suicide is barely different to suicide bombing: only the effect is different, it's political rather than physical. Nobody can seriously doubt (can they?) that suicide bombers do not constitute actors in a in war.

    Admitedly the US pronouncements are distateful at best but one can see why they're doing it: they're trying to recast the "victims" as active enemy agents. It's ironic that the US goverment, arch spinners one and all, think they can deminish alleged terrorists by associating them with public relations activity.

  2. Good point Martin. I suppose it's a semantic difference - between "act of war" and something which is done in a war. One small point: Doesn't a war have to be declared?