Day By Day

Monday, June 26, 2006

Bernard-Henri Levy on Guantanamo

Bernard-Henri Levy, ("je suis un superstar") the French "philosopher"/journalist and darling of the Manhattan literary set who has written many things (often silly but sometimes striking) about the United States, visited the US prison at Guantanamo last year. In the aftermath of recent suicides there he recounts his experience for Le Point.

Guantanamo is not, he notes, what Bush's critics have made it out to be:
"[It is] certainly not Auschwitz, and neither the number of inmates nor the conditions of their internment, nor the status of the majority in the large army of the international Jihad make it possible to turn it into an American gulag, as the Bush-opponents, in a Pavlovian reflex, try to do."

[Guantanamo n'est certes pas Auschwitz ; ni le nombre de ses détenus, ni leurs conditions de détention, ni surtout ce que l'on sait, pour la plupart d'entre eux, de leurs états de service dans la grande armée du djihad international, ne permet d'en faire, comme le voudraient les anti-Bush pavlovisés, l'équivalent d'un goulag américain]
However, he writes that the facility should be immediately closed because it constitutes a "zone of non-justice" [zone de non-droit] -- a judicial "no man's land." The mere existence of this facility, operating outside the scope of both national and international law has "something deeply shocking about it, for the prisoners hopeless and for the image of the USA, disastrous." ["quelque chose de profondément choquant, désespérant pour les détenus, ruineux pour l'image de l'Amérique et indigne"]

He demands:
Il faut fermer d'urgence Guantanamo, voilà la vérité.
All in all a much more balanced treatment than I would have expected from Levy, and it contains some good advice. The ambiguous status of Guantanamo cannot be allowed to remain indefinitely. There are many in the administration, inluding President Bush, who share Levy's sentiments and Bush has often expressed his desire to close the facility. Unfortunately, such things are easier said than done.

English excerpts in Sign and Sight here.

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