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New York Times – April 3, 2009 April 3, 2009

Posted by Afflatus in World Affairs.
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There are some great articles in today’s New York Times, especially in the international section. First of all there are two articles about the G-20 summit. One clearly summarizes more or less how the meeting went,  and what the countries pledge to do. It looks like Obama did well, winning high praise from Angela Merkel. “He pushed very hard to come to concrete solutions and to have a fruitful discussion,” she said. Economists and other experts from MIT and Harvard were quoted in the article. For the most part they believe the meeting was a success, especially for Obama. However, they did have some reservations, and suggestions of how the G-20 could have improved. As an indicator of the overall success, stock markets around the world spiked, reflecting the investors’ optimistic response to the meeting. For more on this topic check out these two articles: $1.1 Trillion is Pledged and Obama Ties U.S. to World.

A third article that I found very interesting was about a recent terrorist attack in a West Bank settlement. The article was captivating because it addresses the attack, and the recently sworn-in (and right-wing)  government’s response. Here is the article.

Perhaps the most interesting article reported on a recent decision from a federal judge about the legality of detaining prisoners in Bagram, America’s Afghan detention center with twice as many detainees as Guantanamo. It details many interesting facts, some of which follow:

– “The importance of Bagram as a holding facility for terrorism suspects captured outside Afghanistan and Iraq has increased under the Obama administration”

– “The United States is holding about 600 people at Bagram without charges and in spartan conditions.”

– Some analysts expect Judge John D. Bates’ decision to be appealed by the Obama Administration because the ruling “gravely undermines the country’s ability to detain enemy combatants for the duration of hostilities worldwide.” Yet other experts praised the decision as “a very good day for the Constitution and the rule of law.”

The article provoked this idea in my mind: what if we detained people that we believed to be dangerous, but instead of torturing them, we educate them? After a few weeks we allow them to have some contact with the outside world. Instead of dark, clammy detention centers where brutal torture takes place, the prisoners are allowed outside. And, eventually (maybe 6 months after internment begins) Habeas Corpus must be granted to all detainees, by US and international law. In other words, we change the goal of the detention centers from torturing in order to elicit intelligence, to instead focusing on rehabilitation of the indoctrinated “terrorists.” Torture is not proven to be productive to our ultimate goal of reducing terrorism; in fact, in some cases, it has been proven to be counter-productive to this aim. Does torturing exacerbate the problem, more than it mitigates it? If so, we should totally re-think our means of achieving a more peaceful world, with less hate and terrorism. My plan would obviously cost more money to run the prisons, but maybe it would be money better spent.

Thoughts on my idea? Is it incredibly idealistic?

Everyone should check out the article. Here is a link to the article. And here is a link to the wikipedia page for reported Bagram torture abuse.

The wikipedia page shows the 15 US soldiers who have been charged with crimes related to torture and abuse of prisoners in Bagram, only from 2004 – 2006. This stuff goes on, but not everyone is aware of it.

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