The Corner

Red Cross Mystery

Oh, the Redgraves, not the Redgraves again. For years now Vanessa Redgrave and her brother Corin have been as well known (in Britain) for their hard left politics as for their acting careers. That says a lot, none of it good, about their character, their judgment and their commitment to intellectual honesty. Nevertheless if this account (by indefatigable blogger Scott Burgess) of an article in the (London) Mail on Sunday (it’s not online, so I haven’t seen the full text) by Corin Redgrave is accurate, it may represent a new low for the Redgraves.

According to Burgess the article is displayed prominently and comes with this headline:

“Even the Nazis let the Red Cross visit POWs. Why won’t Mr Bush?”

Burgess quotes Mr. Redgrave as having this to say (among, I imagine, other things) about the plight of the Guantanamo detainees:

“Their welfare remains an unknown, because the Red Cross, which even the Nazis allowed to visit prisoner-of-war camps, has not been given access. The little information that has come out is alarming.”

No Red Cross visits, eh? Well, let’s have a look what the Red Cross has to say about that:

“The ICRC [the Red Cross] visits around 660 people currently held at Guantanamo. The internees come from more than 40 countries, speaking around 17 languages.Each visit lasts around six weeks and comprises a team of ICRC delegates, highly experienced in detention work, as well as medical personnel and interpreters. By late October 2003, the ICRC had facilitated the exchange of more than 8,500 Red Cross Messages between the internees and their families.”

And this…

“The same standard working procedures have been put into place in Guantanamo that the ICRC demands in every place of detention it visits in the world. That is: ICRC delegates insist on speaking in total privacy to each and every internee held; teams should be able to inspect all cells and other facilities; Visits should be made at a frequency of the ICRC’s choice and for as long as the people are held in detention; All detainees should have the opportunity to write to their families using the Red Cross message system; Delegates conduct confidential discussions with the camp authorities before and at the end of each visit to raise concerns and make recommendations where appropriate; Any internee about to be transferred out of Guantanamo is interviewed privately before his departure to ensure he agrees to be repatriated.”

The Red Cross is hardly uncritical of what the US is doing in Gitmo, nevertheless, their account of visits to the facility does seem, uh, rather inconsistent with the claim that the organization has been given no access.

Any explanation, Mr. Redgrave?