Emmett Tyrrell

WASHINGTON -- A dozen or so representatives from the International Committee of the Red Cross are headed for our military detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and frankly I am concerned for their comfort and possibly even their health. They plan to meet with detainees there, specifically the 14 terrorists who have been held in recent years at secret CIA facilities abroad. After those meetings will the members of the Red Cross delegation have access to showers, baths and possibly a sauna? I hope so.

James Taranto, the eminent editor of the Wall Street Journal's OpinionJournal.com has recently returned, and he reports that meetings with the detainees can be unpleasant. They comprise a rowdy lot. When the spirit moves them, they have been known to heave bodily fluids at those who irritate them, even bodily excreta. Also, according to Taranto, they devise weapons from otherwise harmless household devices such as springs pulled out of spring-operated faucets. These they might turn into needles for jabbing a jailer's eyes or stilettos for sticking him in an artery. Incidentally, by the word "spirit," I intended no religious import. In English it is just a catchphrase. If I have offended anyone, I apologize. If that is not enough send me a virgin.

Taranto reports that the detainees "enjoy a panoply of procedural protections," even after they hold a riot, attack guards or commit suicide, which he astutely points out is only doing in Guantanamo what they might otherwise do on the battlefield or on a crowded street. They regularly appear before Combatant Status Review Boards for an evaluation as to whether they were enemy combatants or just some unfortunate blokes who happened to be on a battlefield at the wrong time or carrying a grenade on a hunting trip when some paranoid official stopped them on the street. They also get to appear before Administrative Review Boards, which are somewhat like parole boards here at home. Three hundred and fifteen of Guantanamo's detainees have been released from American custody through these procedures, but unfortunately a dozen or more have ended up back on the battlefield. One hopes they do not run afoul of the authorities once again.

Emmett Tyrrell

R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is founder and editor in chief of The American Spectator and co-author of Madame Hillary: The Dark Road to the White House.
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