Sunday, September 08, 2002

It's Deja Vu All Over Again - In a display of black farce, Amnesty International has recently petitioned to have Taliban and al-Qaida suspects being held at the Guantanamo Bay Naval base in Cuba immediately charged and tried, or released from captivity. In addition, the human rights organization is seeking to have the terrorist suspects given Prisoner of War status as defined by the Geneva Convention.

The London-based group [Amnesty International] said the prisoners, incarcerated at the Guantanamo Bay base for several months since being captured in Afghanistan, are in "legal limbo," a serious breach of their human rights.

History tends to repeat itself, as I am finding out by reading Antony Beevor's excellent book, The Fall of Berlin 1945—it’s the follow-up to his Stalingrad book I reviewed earlier. What I find fascinating about the Soviet conquest of Berlin is that a large number of city's defenders were foreign volunteers in the Waffen-SS, the military arm of Heinrich Himmler’s dreaded SS. In fact, over 300,000 non-Germans were members of the Waffen-SS during the Second World War, including five Americans! . Is this starting to sound familiar? Let me give you a hint: John Walker Lindh, also known as Taliban John.

After the surrender of German forces in May 1945, the Allies took as prisoners over 200,000 foreign volunteers of the Waffen-SS. Most of them were captured by the Soviet Red Army, and were sent to Siberia where they were never heard from again. For the ‘lucky ones’ captured by the Western Allies, they were held until 1948 or 1949 without gaining Prisoner of War status or being charged with specific crimes. American and British authorities took their time to interview every prisoner to screen for war crimes suspects and die-hard Nazis. Eventually, most of the prisoners were sent back to their native countries, where almost all were executed or served long prison terms for treason and war crimes.

My question to Amnesty International and other so-called ‘human rights activists’ (such as the ACLU) is simple: Would you have recommended the release of Waffen-SS prisoners at the conclusion of the Second World War, tried them in civilian courts and given them Prisoner of War status? Uh huh...

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