U.S. Must Give Prisoners Rights

To the Editor: Everyone would agree with the Cynic editorial argument that the United States must pride itself on being a free and civil country and use the treatment of the detainees at the US base in Cuba as an example for countries around the world. It is inconsistent for the same editorial to support the current treatment of the Taliban and al-Qaeda detainees. Is it free and civil that these detainees should be forcibly drugged, shaved, chained and kept in cages that are open to the elements? These prisoners will face interrogation without the presence of observers; they will be tried by emergency military tribunals and killed if found guilty. Lawyers are to be provided, but their power is limited because the men are held outside US jurisdiction. Attorney-General John Ashcroft believes that they don’t “deserve” basic constitutional protections. But we must remember that even Eichmann and other Nazis were treated humanely during the Nuremberg Trials. Indeed, because the Afghan detainees may be among the most violent and dangerous criminals on earth, we must ensure that their basic rights are protected. That is the way to preserve our humanity. Kwaw Andam CEE