CHAINED, SHAVED, AND BLINDFOLDED: WAR SECRETARY DONALD RUMSFELD INSISTS THE TREATMENT OF TALIBAN PRISONERS IN CUBA IS HUMANE ; VIETNAM INC: A PHOTO-JOURNEY THROUGH THE VILLAGES, FIELDS, AND ALLEYS OF A DEVASTATED NATION, PART I : Philip Jones Griffiths
NEWS HEADLINES [See Comment field] CHAINED, SHAVED, AND BLINDFOLDED: WAR SECRETARY DONALD RUMSFELD INSISTS THE TREATMENT OF TALIBAN PRISONERS IN CUBA IS HUMANE War Secretary Donald Rumsfeld announced yesterday that the treatment of the Taliban and al Qaeda prisoners detained at Guantanamo Bay is both "humane" and "appropriate". Rumsfeld's unusual hour-long briefing came just days after the Defense Department released photographs of some of the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. Their heads bowed, they knelt before their captors. Their legs were in shackles, their hands were bound in manacles, their mouths covered by surgical masks and their eyes blinded by large goggles with black tape. The photographs sparked outraged charges that the U.S. had violated the Geneva Convention. Yesterday a coalition of civil rights attorneys, journalism professors, and clergy members brought a petition before a federal judge in Los Angeles alleging that the United States is holding the Guantanamo prisoners illegally. The petition requests that U.S. authorities produce the prisoners in a U.S. court, explain the reasons for their detention and accord them the rights of Prisoners of War. But a federal judge said yesterday that he has "grave doubts" whether he has jurisdiction over more than 100 prisoners captured in Afghanistan and detained by the military in Cuba. Today we will speak with one of the lead figures in that coalition. GUEST: Ramsey Clark, former U.S. Attorney General and founder of the International Action Center. Stephen Solley, Chairman of the British bar human rights commission. CHAINED, SHAVED, AND BLINDFOLDED: TALIBAN PRISONERS IN CUBA, AFGHANISTAN AND AUSTRALIA ARE BEING HELD UNDER "ILLEGAL CONDITIONS" As many as 40 Afghan asylum seekers in Australia are on hunger strike in protest of the conditions at refugee camps. Some sewed their lips together last week to protest being held in the outback at one of Australia's largest and harshest detention camps. The protesters say that 500 detainees, mostly Afghans, have refused water and food despite temperatures of more than 105 degrees. The remote Woomera Detention Centre in South Australia yesterday confirmed that 186 detainees - 30 of them minors ' refusing to eat were under medical watch. Almost all are from Afghanistan. An unknown number of detainees have sewn their lips, most with one stitch in the corner of their mouth. The Australian government threatened yesterday to remove the children of some asylum seekers after four boys were taken to hospital to have stitches removed from their mouths. Most of the unauthorized "boat people" traveled to Australia from the Middle East via Indonesia. But after the Taliban's collapse last month, the Australian government abruptly stopped processing asylum applications from Afghans, arguing that it needed to assess the new situation in Afghanistan. Amnesty International has condemned the freeze, which has left hundreds of Afghans detained behind barbed wire in Australia's six detention centers. Free Speech Radio News correspondent Rachel Maher spoke to Marion Le, spokesperson for the Refugee Council of Australia, in Sydney yesterday. Here is a portion of that interview. GUEST: Marion Le, spokesperson for the Refugee Council of Australia, interviewed by Rachel Maher. Democracy Now! correspondent Pratap Chatterjee is in Mazar-I-Sharif. Earlier today he visited the Shinbergan prison, about 70 miles from Afghanistan, where close to 3,500 Taliban prisoners are being held. It is one of the largest prisons in Afghanistan. GUEST:: Pratap Chatterjee, Democracy Now! correspondent reporting from Mazar-I-Sharif. VIETNAM INC: A PHOTO-JOURNEY THROUGH THE VILLAGES, FIELDS, AND ALLEYS OF A DEVASTATED NATION, PART I And now, we go back in time: from today's war in Afghanistan to yesterday's war in Vietnam. I am looking at a photograph of twelve Vietnamese men being marched through a field. They are walking in a line, close and bunched, and by the look of it, they are prisoners. Perhaps they are Vietcong, perhaps they are simply peasants who got caught in the roundup. Some are in shorts, others are shirtless; some are barefoot, and almost all are under the age of 25. They are being pulled, it seems, by a rope that is attached to a collar around each of their necks. The collar looks painful, because a number of men are gripping at their necks, their faces tight and pinched. Only a few of the men are looking into the camera. One of these is a guard, a cigarette dangling from his mouth. He stands at the head of the line, clutching his throat, his face also pinched, almost as if mocking the prisoners. Well, this picture was taken by the photographer Philip Jones Griffiths more than thirty years ago. It was taken during the war in Vietnam, and it stands out sharply against the photos we see today of the war in Afghanistan. Nowadays, the United States keeps careful watch over who and what reporters are allowed to photograph as well as where and when they are allowed to publish them. It's a policy that many of the mainstream media outlets have begun to adopt as well. In October, CNN Chair Walter Isaacson ordered his staff to balance images of civilian devastation in Afghanistan with reminders that the Taliban harbors murderous terrorists. But during Vietnam, photographers were granted an access and freedom that are unknown today. Photographers like Philip Jones Griffiths were able to immerse themselves in the country, recording not only the horrors of war but also the texture of a society that was rapidly disappearing. His objective throughout was to see events through the point of view of the Vietnamese. In 1971, Philip Jones Griffiths published the book Vietnam Inc., a classic of photojournalism that brought the war abroad home to Americans. Through more than 250 photographs, it helped shift the tide of public opinion, fueling a peace movement that ultimately brought the war to an end. Guest: Philip Jones Griffiths, photographer and author, Vietnam Inc. Since his first trip to Southeast Asia three decades ago, Philip Jones Griffiths has returned numerous times. A new edition of Vietnam Inc. was published in September 2001 with a forward by Noam Chomsky. Chomsky was profoundly affected by the book when it was originally published.