The Guantanamo Machine Gets Jammed

<p>Edited by Louis Standish</p>

A prisoner found dead in his cell. A nightmare for any warden. Among all of the means of escape, suicide is a challenge to any prison system, and Guantanamo is no exception to this traditional scenario. The most high-tech prison camp in the world has failed in its mission. Under the watchful gaze of hundreds of cameras, under the lights left on 24 hours a day, three detainees managed to escape … by hanging themselves.

This triple suicide is the logical consequence of the very special method of incarceration at this Naval brig in Cuba. Shackled and often detained in cages, the suspected terrorists with their orange jumpsuits have no idea how long their detention will last. Guilty or innocent, they don’t even know the charges held against them. Prisoners of a so-called “War on Terrorism,” they nonetheless are accorded no protections under the Geneva Conventions, which would at least grant them some form of legal status.

Since 2001, Amnesty International, the International Red Cross and the European Union have denounced the legal limbo of this prison, but in vain. Despite the pressure, the United States has always sought to justify running Guantanamo.

But this latest “incident” may well shake Washington’s self-assurance, because it disturbs a system that the Bush Administration sought to portray as infallible. No one would die at Guantanamo. It would be a model prison during a just war.

But from now on, it is a prison like any other. This sudden normality may paradoxically speed the end of this sinister machine of despair.

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