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Geneva Convention Is Lost in a War of Words

January 28, 2002

Regarding the distinction between unlawful combatants and POWs at Guantanamo Bay ("Captives Not POWs, U.S. Contends," Jan. 23): I agree with Amnesty International and the Red Cross that the prisoners taken from Afghanistan should be called POWs and be given the rights accorded to such. They were members of the Taliban army captured during a war defending themselves from the U.S. and Northern Alliance armies. The Pentagon's excuse that they are disqualified from being called POWs because of their lack of a uniform or insignia is ridiculous.

If we are treating them humanely and are going to give them a fair trial, as the Bush administration contends, then why not call them POWs? Why is the Bush administration so afraid to abide by international conventions?

Daniel Koning

Rancho Cucamonga

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I was glad to see the issue of the plight of the faux POWs at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base elevated to your Jan. 23 editorial page. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld ought to assign each prisoner to an American family for one year. Let the individual Talib decide at the end of his stay with a host family what kind of lifestyle he prefers.

Ishtiaq A. Chisti

Long Beach

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I really enjoyed reading "Do What We Say, Not What We Do" by Molly Ivins (Commentary, Jan. 25). Her drivel about the allegedly substandard treatment at Guantanamo Bay of prisoners from Afghanistan typifies the bleeding-heart, I-am-a-victim mentality in the U.S. today. I would remind Ivins to again look at photos of the World Trade Center towers, smoking like chimneys and collapsing. Or photos of American citizens free-falling from the upper floors of the WTC. Or photos of the gaping hole in the Pentagon, where heads of government were targets. The prisoners from Afghanistan are not in Guantanamo because they sang off-key in the Sunday choir; they are nasty and dangerous fellows. They are not victims, they are perpetrators.

But I can see that Ivins is very concerned with the issue of human welfare for these Guantanamo prisoners. So perhaps she would consider having all those folks stay over at her place, at least until the U.S. government can provide appropriate "Ivins-level" accommodations.

Mike MacDonald

North Hills

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