Posted by: Shaun | May 21, 2008

U.S.-China cooperation at Guantánamo?

Today, the New York Times ran a story about a 437 page file on accusations of illicit activity by U.S. troops compiled by agents of Federal Bureau of Investigation.  The FBI file, dubbed the “war crimes file,” apparently documents a number of excesses carried out at the Guantánamo Bay naval facility where America’s terrorist suspects are kept in a legal Purgatory.  Most are, unfortunately, all too familiar: sexual humiliation, stress positions, sleep deprivation, and the use of dogs to terrorize detainees.

One piece of information in the FBI’s file is, however, rather new:

In one of several previously undisclosed episodes, the report found that American military interrogators appeared to have collaborated with visiting Chinese officials at Guantánamo Bay to disrupt the sleep of Chinese Muslims held there, waking them every 15 minutes the night before their interviews by the Chinese.

September 11th was a turning point in U.S.-China relations under President Bush.  Lingering animosity over the collision of an American spy plane with a Chinese fighter aircraft as well as Bush’s comments about doing “whatever it takes” to defend Taiwan were set aside so the two could cooperate against a common foe: Islamic extremists.

In China’s case, the “extremists” in question are almost certainly Muslim Uighurs from the northwestern province of Xinjiang who belong to East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), a group the Chinese government claims is responsible for several bombings in the early 1990s and is still working to violently separate Xinjiang-or Turkestan, as they call it-from Chinese rule.  Even though most Western analysts are skeptical of the danger posed ETIM, after 9/11 the Bush administration cemented its anti-terrorist partnership with China by adding the group to the State Department’s list of foreign terrorist organizations.

This new report, however, is the evidence (at least the first I have seen) of active cooperation between the two countries in the interrogation of detainees.  It would seem that the Bush administration has found a friend that shares its penchant for the flagrant violation of the rule of law.  Oh, and that “war crimes file” built by concerned FBI agents who doubted the legality of American practices…it was ordered closed by the Department of Justice.

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