Guantánamo – The Modern Battlefield

22 06 2006

An article on titled, Pentagon Documents Reveal Details of Suicide Attempts at Guantanamo, has some interesting insights into not only the problems at Guantánamo, but also into the mentality of those in charge of the facility.

In response to the recent suicides of three detainees:

Pentagon officials called the suicides an “act of asymmetrical warfare” and “a good PR move to draw attention.”

I looked up the term "asymmetrical warfare" on wikipedia and found this:, which has an interesting debate on how the term is being used more loosely today than it traditionally has been.

An example of symmetric warfare, I suppose, could be the Axis vs. the Allies of WWII.  Similar forces engaging in direct battles, using similar techniques. 

The war being currently fought in Afghanistan and Iraq is a good example of asymmetrical warfare.  The world's most advanced military squaring off against loosely organized, technologically inferior, militants of a far lesser number.  Therefore the 'enemy' here uses techniques which the American military doesn't, essentially as a means of 'making up' for the difference between the combating forces.

But what strikes me is the Pentagon's classification of suicides in a prison as a form of asymmetric warfare.  Again, from the article:

“It is astounding that the government continues to paint the suicides as acts of warfare instead of taking responsibility for having driven individuals in its custody to such acts of desperation,” said Amrit Singh of the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project. . . As a result of the ACLU’s Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, more than 100,000 pages of government documents have been released detailing the torture and abuse of detainees.

If you have any doubt about the contents of these 100,00 pages, you can read them yourself at:

To me, it seems evident that the detaining of a person without charge or trial is horribly unethical, 'enemy combatant' or not.  The administration has also publicly said that since they are not "prisoners of war" but "enemy combatants" they are not protected by such fundamental institutions as the Geneva Convention. 

I have new found respect for the people detained in that hole who haven't killed themselves.  That's strength.

Here's the article:




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