Are we saying they are worse than the German SS?

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The Independent Online

It is unimaginably comforting for these five British Muslim families; their boys are finally leaving the abode of the damned, meticulously designed and run by the world's hyper-power and self-proclaimed leader of the "civilised" and "free".

It is unimaginably comforting for these five British Muslim families; their boys are finally leaving the abode of the damned, meticulously designed and run by the world's hyper-power and self-proclaimed leader of the "civilised" and "free".

The young men have spent 773 days incarcerated, without being charged and with no access to lawyers. Megalomaniac dictators know exactly what this does to the human spirit. With what moral authority can America lecture them now that it has so spectacularly kicked away the rule of law?

Their arrival here will mean days of media coverage - very important when the US and UK governments would much rather these men were buried and forgotten. I wonder if they will be silenced when they get here; manic secrecy has been maintained thus far about what goes on in Camp Delta. There will, hopefully, be many questions from decent people about this gross injustice perpetuated in our names.

People are innocent until proven guilty and yet today we are told that these are extraordinary times, when these old guarantees shouldn't be allowed to interfere with the "war against terror". Some of the men who have been held in the camp may well be members of terrorist organisations. Some of the 14 prisoners held in our Belmarsh prison without charge may also be guilty of the same.

But are we saying that these "enemies" are infinitely worse than members of the German SS? War criminals after the Second World War were mostly treated within the framework of international law. At the war crimes tribunal in the Hague, Milosevic is not being held in a cage. Great care is being taken to make his trial as fair and transparent as possible.

I wonder how the parents of the four other Britons held will feel as these five prisoners land. And what about those hundreds of others - including juveniles - who have no clout in the world and no governments to fight for their release?

Why should we trust anything that George Bush and Co say on this when they will not submit to any worthwhile interrogation of what they are doing? The US has turned its reputation and constitution to dust.

Tony Blair has not condemned George Bush once in forthright terms. His ministers - oh so garrulous on Zimbabwe - have not done so either. Nor has Cherie Blair, who has made her name as a defender of human rights and has not flinched to speak up against rights abuses in Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan.

The result of this failure of principles? Much greater hatred of the West all around the world and more people wanting devoutly to cause us harm and fear. Will the US be herding them into cages too, just in case?

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