The "War on Terror" must be supervised by international institutions

The U.S. makes it very clear that it intends to detain certain individuals as long as the "War on Terror" lasts. This may be for our lifetimes. This means in practical terms that individual citizens may be taken into custody by U.S. forces or intelligence agents and held against their will, without access to counsel, without a trial, without finding of guilt, and even without proof that they were "enemy combatants" for their entire lives. This is wrong. This is illegal. This is immoral. This is evil.

American forces can torture anyone into confessing anything. It is essentially impossible for a suspect to endure relentless disorientation and sub-lethal pain forever. Eventually, everyone cracks and will tell interrogators what they want to hear, with only a few exceptions.

To prevent the sort of abuses that are already causing the name of the United States of America to stink to the high heavens, it is imperative that the world community of civilized nations forces the issue. America simply cannot be allowed to hold people of other nations and declare them as terrorists and then punish them based on America’s own declaration with no other factual evidence.

In this "War on Terror", America should not be allowed to hold any prisoners of war, or any "enemy combatants" whatsoever. President Bush says this "war on terror" is a new type of war. Well, the treatment of captives and detainees should be done completely differently.

An existing or a new internationally supervised facility or organization should be set up to take detainees and captives of war and hold them for nations involved in this war. Detainee rights and prisoner rights should be safeguarded according to international conventions. American interrogators or foreign interrogators should be allowed to interrogate prisoners under supervised settings. A time limit should be installed in which Americans or militaries of other nations are able to prove that detainees or prisoners are legitimate enemy combatants or prisoners of war. Evidence against enemy combatants or detainees should be gathered from anywhere in the world. A full legal proceeding should be required to determine the legitimate status of all captives and detainees, and the results of the proceedings should determine the fate of the detainees or prisoners.

Those detainees who are not proved to be enemy combatants should be returned to their homes and their families immediately. They should be "made whole" with reimbursement for their false imprisonment.

No one should ever be tortured under any circumstances. Full international scrutiny should guarantee this. Accusations of torture should be investigated fully, and any attempts to torture should be punished appropriately.

The "War on Terror" cannot be a "War of Terror", but that is exactly what we have seen so far. The responses of the American government to accusations of terror and torture have been insulting to the sensibilities of the entire world, as has the practice of American terror. These practices must stop. An internationally-supervised war on terror is desperately needed to prevent torture and terror in the name of a war against terror.

A major component of international supervision must be the legal and human rights and constitutional rights communities. We cannot allow militaries or prosecutors to dominate the determination of prisoner/detainee status. Only in this way can we have confidence that the war on terror is being conducted without compromising the values of societies we are attempting to protect.