As the transfer of al-Qaeda prisoners to Camp X-Ray in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, continues, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld warns the American public that we’ve now entered a dangerous phase of the war on terrorism. He is so right.

However, the danger is not presented by any al-Qaeda terrorist cells or anything like that. The true danger comes from United Nations’ involvement in how the U.S. government is holding the captured unlawful combatants.

It makes me wonder about the U.N.’s security priorities when reports criticizing the conditions under which these terrorist are being held become the focus of attention.

What about rebuilding Afghanistan? What about establishing international security to prevent future acts of terrorism? Apparently, these aren’t concerns for the U.N.

I hate to be the one to break the news, but these are truly dangerous individuals who believe in a cause enough to kill anyone not an ally of said cause.

Besides, didn’t these same individuals in their heyday of power hold a nation prisoner in a less-than-humane way, much less humane than how they’re currently being detained?

Women were denied rights and beaten for anything that seemed like a mere infraction of the sick code of ethics imposed on Afghan citizens. Men were tortured and executed for being of a different ethnic group other than Pushtun, or not having the right length of beard. The religion of Islam was perverted and smeared. Millions were starved and kept in squalor. Icons of other religions were attacked and destroyed. And let’s not even forget to mention Sept. 11, 2001.

All this as the Taliban lived the high life, compliments of wealthy providers like Osama and his merry bunch of anti-anything thugs. Yes, the list of atrocities on behalf of the Taliban and al-Qaeda is quite the hefty one, too hefty to simply overlook.

And where was the U.N. during the horrendous years of Taliban rule over a nation so severely depleted of anything civil? Probably criticizing the U.S. for something or other.

Now they’re at it again on behalf of the captured al-Qaeda terrorists. Yes, it is true that a prisoner of war is accorded a certain set of international rights under modern-day combat rules. But these aren’t ordinary prisoners of war. Far from it, in fact.

These are extremist fanatics that, given the chance, would overpower and kill a guard, release fellow prisoners and escape to continue their life as lowly, cowardly scum, inflicting terror from the shadows.

I’ve seen the holding conditions under which these thugs are held and believe me when I say that it is better than anything they gave their own nation’s citizens during their reign of terror. They’re not being tortured, starved or forced to denounce their ethnicity or religion like they did to so many for so long.

True, the cells are a mere six by eight feet. The prisoners have to wear orange jumpsuits and must sleep on mats. Their cells are like cages.

No different than the fate that faces any criminal in any corner of the world. Except that it is a hell of a lot worse in some places. At Camp X-Ray they receive medical treatment and get fed regularly as well as bathed and clothed. Once again, a lot more than in other places. Think they’ll get better treatment from the Northern Alliance? No way.

The only basis of the U.N.’s complaint is simply formality. The U.N. wouldn’t be itself if it had nothing to complain about, especially against the U.S.

When was the last time the U.N. was effective against dictatorships, terrorists or rogue regimes? I can’t really remember.

In fact, the reason for the effectiveness of the U.S. campaign in Afghanistan was that the U.N. stayed out of the way.

But now they feel the need to seem important, especially since the Afghan crisis was resolved without their excessive meddling.

They say the punishment fits the crime. So far the punishment these scum have received has been less than fitting for the atrocities they committed during their rule.

Ask the Afghan people if they feel that enough is being done to these captured thugs and I guarantee you their answer would be a disappointed no.

Henry Sarria is a longtime Isla Vista resident.