Sunday, September 18, 2005


We will persistently clarify the choice before every ruler and every nation: The moral choice between oppression, which is always wrong, and freedom, which is eternally right. America will not pretend that jailed dissidents prefer their chains, or that women welcome humiliation and servitude, or that any human being aspires to live at the mercy of bullies.

We will encourage reform in other governments by making clear that success in our relations will require the decent treatment of their own people. America's belief in human dignity will guide our policies, yet rights must be more than the grudging concessions of dictators; they are secured by free dissent and the participation of the governed. In the long run, there is no justice without freedom, and there can be no human rights without human liberty.

Some, I know, have questioned the global appeal of liberty - though this time in history, four decades defined by the swiftest advance of freedom ever seen, is an odd time for doubt. Americans, of all people, should never be surprised by the power of our ideals. Eventually, the call of freedom comes to every mind and every soul. We do not accept the existence of permanent tyranny because we do not accept the possibility of permanent slavery. Liberty will come to those who love it.

Today, America speaks anew to the peoples of the world:

All who live in tyranny and hopelessness can know: the United States will not ignore your oppression, or excuse your oppressors. When you stand for your liberty, we will stand with you.

Democratic reformers facing repression, prison, or exile can know: America sees you for who you are: the future leaders of your free country.

The rulers of outlaw regimes can know that we still believe as Abraham Lincoln did: "Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves; and, under the rule of a just God, cannot long retain it."

The leaders of governments with long habits of control need to know: To serve your people you must learn to trust them. Start on this journey of progress and justice, and America will walk at your side.


A hunger strike at the prison camp at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, has unsettled senior commanders there and produced the most serious challenge yet to the military's effort to manage the detention of hundreds of terrorism suspects, lawyers and officials say.

As many as 200 prisoners - more than a third of the camp - have refused food in recent weeks to protest conditions and prolonged confinement without trial, according to the accounts of lawyers who represent them. While military officials put the number of those participating at 105, they acknowledge that 20 of them, whose health and survival are being threatened, are being kept at the camp's hospital and fed through nasal tubes and sometimes given fluids intravenously.
One law enforcement official who has been fully briefed on the events at Guantánamo said senior military officials had grown increasingly worried about their capability to control the situation. A senior military official, also speaking on the condition of anonymity, described the situation as greatly troublesome for the camp's authorities and said they had tried several ways to end the hunger strike, without success.
Clive Stafford Smith, a British lawyer for several of the detainees, said he was visiting some of his clients in August when the most recent strike began. He said that a detainee, Omar Deghayes, told him that the strike was largely to protest their long imprisonment without being charged with any crime as well as the conditions of their confinement.

He said that Mr. Deghayes, a Libyan who has lived in London, told him: "Look, I'm dying a slow death in this place as it is. I don't have any hope of fair treatment, so what have I got to lose?"

Mr. Stafford Smith said an earlier hunger strike ended on July 28 after the camp authorities agreed to improve conditions.

He said that one inmate, Shaker Aamer, negotiated the end to that hunger strike with a camp official he identified as Col. Michael Bumgarner, who said he had been authorized to address some of the prisoners' grievances. Mr. Stafford Smith, who represents Mr. Aamer, said his client told him that Colonel Bumgarner said he would ensure that the detainees would thereafter be treated "in accordance with the Geneva Accords." That included, Mr. Stafford Smith said, the establishment of the six-member committee to represent the prisoners in talks with the authorities. Such representative committees are called for in the Geneva Conventions, although they had not been formed at Guantánamo. The Bush administration has said that while the Guantánamo detainees are not entitled to the protections of the Geneva Conventions, they are generally treated by its standards.

Mr. Stafford Smith said the committee only functioned for a few days before authorities disbanded it.
Mr. Stafford Smith said the current strike began after some detainees reported witnessing the abuse of a prisoner, Hisham Sliti, when he returned to his cell after an interrogation session. He said that Mr. Deghayes told him that he had also seen a guard throw Mr. Sliti's copy of the Koran onto a cell floor. The military has acknowledged that isolated incidents of abuse of the Koran have caused some unrest among detainees, but authorities said that they investigate any such reports and discipline any offenders.

Kristine Huskey, a lawyer with Shearman & Sterling in Washington who returned from visiting Guantánamo last week, said that three of the Kuwaitis she represents in federal court were among the hunger strikers. She said she could not discuss everything she learned because of an agreement with the military that lawyers may not disclose information from their visits until the authorities review their notes for classified information. Nonetheless, she said, "The situation in the camp itself is very bad," adding that the hunger strike was "far more widespread than the government is letting on."
The comments by Mr. Stafford Smith and Ms. Huskey demonstrate the vast changes in the military's task since federal courts have become involved in cases involving detainees and ordered the military to allow defense lawyers to travel to Guantánamo. Before the advent of lawyer visits, the military had total control over information from Guantánamo. There is now general acknowledgment that there were hunger strikes in 2002 and 2003, but they were largely unknown at the time. The only parties who had solid information when the strikes were occurring were the military authorities and Red Cross officials, who had pledged not to reveal what they learned in their visits in exchange for continued access.


Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves.


No dictator, no invader, can hold an imprisoned population by force of arms forever. There is no greater power in the universe than the need for freedom. Against that power, governments and tyrants and armies cannot stand. ...

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