Originally posted by Craig Whitlock in the 11/2/04 Washington PostIn many countries of Europe, former inmates of the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, have been relishing their freedom. In Spain, Denmark and Britain, recently released detainees have railed in public about their treatment at Guantanamo, winning sympathy from local politicians and newspapers. In Sweden, the government has agreed to help one Guantanamo veteran sue his American captors for damages.
Not so in France, where four prisoners from the U.S. naval base were arrested as soon as they arrived home in July, and haven't been heard from since. Under French law, they could remain locked up for as long as three years while authorities decide whether to put them on trial -- a legal limbo that their attorneys charge is not much different than what they faced at Guantanamo.
Armed with some of the strictest anti-terrorism laws and policies in Europe, the French government has aggressively targeted Islamic radicals and other people deemed a potential terrorist threat. While other Western countries debate the proper balance between security and individual rights, France has experienced scant public dissent over tactics that would be controversial, if not illegal, in the United States and some other countries.
French authorities have expelled a dozen Islamic clerics for allegedly promoting hatred or religious extremism, including a Turkish-born imam who officials said denied that Muslims were involved in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. Since the start of the school year, the government has been enforcing a ban on wearing religious garb in school, a policy aimed largely at preventing Muslim girls from wearing veils.
French counterterrorism officials say their preemptive approach has paid off, enabling them to disrupt plots before they are carried out and to prevent radical cells from forming in the first place. They said tips from informants and close cooperation with other intelligence services led them to thwart planned attacks on the U.S. Embassy in Paris, French tourist sites on Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean and other targets.
"There is a reality today: Under the cover of religion there are individuals in our country preaching extremism and calling for violence," Interior Minister Dominique de Villepin said at a recent meeting of Islamic leaders in Paris. "It is essential to be opposed to it together and by all means."
Thomas M. Sanderson, a terrorism expert with the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, said France has combined its tough law enforcement strategy with a softer diplomatic campaign in the Middle East designed to bolster ties with Islamic countries.
"You do see France making an effort to cast itself as the friendly Western power," as distinct from the United States, he said. "When it comes to counterterrorism operations, France is hard-core. . . . But they are also very cognizant of what public diplomacy is all about."
France has embraced a law enforcement strategy that relies heavily on preemptive arrests, ethnic profiling and an efficient domestic intelligence-gathering network. French anti-terrorism prosecutors and investigators are among the most powerful in Europe, backed by laws that allow them to interrogate suspects for days without interference from defense attorneys.
The nation pursues such policies at a time when France has become well known in the world for criticizing the United States for holding suspected terrorists at Guantanamo without normal judicial protections. French politicians have also loudly protested the U.S. decision to invade Iraq, arguing that it has exacerbated tensions with the Islamic world and has increased the threat of terrorism.
Lets see, arrest them and hold them while deciding if, yes IF they have any links to any terror activity. While at the same time, sending French Military Planes and helicoptors to pick up Yassir Arafat and provide him with free medical care in a French Military hospital. Yep, seems logical to me.
How can you possibly criticise this when much of the same is taking place at Guantanmo Bay and, in some cases, in your very country?
Once upon a time in China, some believe, around the year one double-ought three, head priest of the White Lotus Clan, Pai Mei was walking down the road, contemplating whatever it is that a man of Pai Mei's infinite power contemplates - which is another way of saying "who knows" - when a Shaolin monk appeared, traveling in the opposite direction. As the monk and the priest crossed paths, Pai Mei, in a practically unfathomable display of generosity, gave the monk the slightest of nods. The nod was not returned. Now was it the intention of the Shaolin monk to insult Pai Mei or did he just fail to see the generous social gesture? The motives of the monk remain unknown. What is known, are the consequences. The next morning Pai Mei appeared at the Shaolin Temple and demanded of the Temple's head abbot that he offer Pai Mei his neck to repay the insult. The Abbot at first tried to console Pai Mei, only to find Pai Mei was inconsolable. So began the massacre of the Shaolin Temple and all 60 of the monks inside at the fists of the White Lotus. And so began the legend of Pai Mei's five point palm exploding heart technique.
Originally posted by oldschoolheroHow can you possibly criticise this when much of the same is taking place at Guantanmo Bay and, in some cases, in your very country?
I'm not criticizing them for doing it. I'm criticizing the fact that they are critcizing us for doing it.
Is Gitmo a good thing? Not really? Is it bad? Not really? But we aren't exactly berating the French for doing it. France has never had the civil liberties Americans have, and never will. But I'll be damned if they are going to criticize us for doing what they themselves are doing.
I'm French, and criticising the US for Guantanamo. I'm American and criticising France for their human rights violations.
What, two countries both doing bad things? Whoda thunk it.
And I would say calling the US more free is pretty disingenous. I realize you're just spouting the party line, but you've never lived in France, so have no idea the quality of freedom there. And, despite Chirac, I've never felt less free there then here.
How about this: Until you can spend as much time working against civil rights violations in your own country as you spend complaining about another country, stop complaining about other countries. How about that? Would that stop you from posting articles about France, Grimis?
Why all the hate for Grimis when he was pointing out that France is doing something that the US is doing, yet at the same time the French government wants to blast the US government for the same policy?
And, like I said, if you want to crack down on terrorism, arrest Arafat while he is in town.
From The Financial Times (ft.com) I can still remember watching the daily coverage of the World Championship Match between Fisher and Spassky during the Summer of '72 on WNET Channel 13 in New York, hosted by Shelby Lyman.