Guantánamo Bay

Re: Guantánamo Bay

To: Darlene Kavka

From: To Whom it may concern

Date: 2007-04-30

As a member of Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada, and a member in good standing of the Law Society of British Columbia, I find the prospect of not responding to the most recent application by the United States government, to limit access between the Guantánamo Bay detainees and their legal counsel, indefensible.

The mere fact that I was forced to consider what personal implications may befall me, before criticizing the United States government, speaks to the utter lack of both credibility and consistency the United States has evolved to possess over the past several years. At the risk of being blacklisted by the United States, I have concluded that for so long as I have breath in my lungs, I will speak out in defense of human rights and in condemnation of the continued plight to obscure the name and face of justice beneath the smoke and mirrored guise of security. After all, history has shown us that when it comes to the unchallenged erosion of human rights, complacency and complicity become rapidly indiscernible. In the face of such erosion, there is no real security for any of us.

Though trite comment, it is still worthy of reiteration, that the greatest risk to the security of all of the children in the playground, is the bully who claims to be beating them up for their own good. On an international scale, that is precisely what the United States government is attempting to do, to the balance of humanity. After all, one does not have to be the current victim of the bully to become intimidated by the bullying of others.

The suggestion that permitting the Guantánamo Bay detainees unfettered access to legal counsel, and conceivably, access to justice, is causing unrest within the confines of the detention camp is very likely true. After all, only the hopeless surrender themselves to their fate. People with hope and with a purpose in their lives do not easily fall into a semi-comatose resignation. They rise up, they speak out and they individually and collectively defend their right to be alive. Wouldn’t you?

The history of the Guantánamo Bay detention camp and of the many detainees is disgraceful on an international scale. Lawyer, Jonathan Hafetz, of the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University, reportedly referred to the systematic denial of access to legal counsel by the Guantánamo Bay detainees as a “legal black hole”. On reflection, I think that the metaphor of an outhouse is equally apt. The 2004 decision to allow the detainees access to legal counsel was a lifting of the lid. The wafting stench will long be smelled around the world. Rather than extricating the detainees from the hole the Untied States government has chosen to dig, they have instead reverted to wanting to close the lid. As a result, the world continues to lose faith in the ultimate ability of the United States government to do what is morally and legally correct.

It does not appear to matter how many international, military and human rights laws, conventions and treaties the United States government breaks, as long as they can draft and pass internal legislation permitting their wrongdoing to continue. They appear to be hiding behind the “legality” of their conduct as defined by their internal legislation. A wise man once told me to be ever cautious of those who shield themselves behind the laws they drafted. After all, he said, “Everything that the Nazi regime did in pre-war and wartime Germany was absolutely legal. That legality, in and of itself, did not make it right.”

It is a sad irony that the grass-roots citizenry of the United States, the majority of whom likely disagree with what is happening in Guantánamo Bay, are destined to become more and more reviled and insecure internationally for the atrocities committed in their names and the soiled name of security. A true constitutional democracy would stand up for its principles instead of perverting them.