Public displays of deflection

Well, the L.A. Times gives us this editorial suggesting that “Guantanamo Must Go,” in the case of the editorial, specifically opposing adoption by the Senate of a poison pill slipped into a recent Defense Authorization Bill by the House of Representatives that would preclude funding of transfer of Guantanamo detainees to the United States even for war crimes trials… though, Congress’s fecklessness in this area is even ahead of that of the Obama Administration’s.
Which takes us around 200 miles South of my usual haunt in Brooklyn (and my workplace in the shadow of Ground Zero), where, in a case near and dear to my heart, Candace finally got the opportunity to present the merits of her habeas case on behalf of “Detainee 685,” Razak Ali of Algeria (his actual name is “Bakush”) in the courtroom of Judge Richard Leon in the District of Columbia federal courthouse. Your talking dog was there for the “public opening;” most of the day was devoted to presentation of classified matters, during which the doors to the courtroom were locked and windows covered over; being part of “the public,” I was not privy to those proceedings.
Yes, in just a few weeks, we will arrive at nine years of Guantanamo Bay being open with its sui generis brand of law free detention, thanks to the Supreme Court’s Boumediene decision, the habeas cases are inching forward, slowly but surely. And the “day in court” that Candace’s client (who heard the “public” openings– but not the “classified” proceedings– via audio link to Guantanamo) has finally arrived… after nearly nine years in American custody.
I’ll just say that Candace, with deft skill and painstaking attention to details that the Government just glossed over with “trust us, he’s a terrorist” poked hole after hole in the Government’s rather pro forma presentation, which amounted to “he’s a terrorist because we say so.” But that led me to a revelation that was so obvious, one would think that after all these years, I would have gotten it by now. Certainly, I’ve been dancing around it, under it, over it and through it all this time, sometimes stumbling right on it, and sometimes just missing it. And it’s a point I’ve doubltess even made myself, on this blog.
The point is obvious: Guantanamo is full of a bunch of nobodies that our Government has always known are a bunch of nobodies that it must nonetheless tell the public are the most vicious terrorists in the history of evil… except, of course… they are nobodies… poor schmucks who had the misfortune of driving while Black being Arabs in Afghanistan or Pakistan at a time when the United States military and the CIA were paying bounties for Arabs… bring us the Arabs, we’ll make up a reason we’re holding them later. And the scared-shitless American public will buy anything bad we tell them about dark-skinned people. Guantanamo, you see, is entirely a show, and always has been. I suspect that if there are any “genuine bad guys” there… it is entirely an accident, and it is entirely beside the point. Today’s (non-talking) dog and pony show by a quintet of attorneys at my former employer, the U.S. Dept. of Justice (which, btw, at the time I was there, would probably have gagged at the overkill of sending five attorneys on the same case, particularly where their adversary was a solo practitioner… but the show must go on) was… less than impressive. Like it was phoned in. Because, of course… it was. And I don’t mean to Guantanamo Bay. I mean… even accepting the Government’s extraordinarily dubious propositions of Bakush’s connections to a non-existent “terrorist organization” based upon “witnesses” that the Government itself concluded were liars, lunatics, or at best, not recorded accurately… Bakush is still a nobody. Jose Padilla… David Hicks… Omar Khadr… Salim Hamdan… binyam Mohammad… even Abu Zubaydah himself… egregiously treated to “extract information” and at the end… bit players, who the Government needed to tell us were Hilter, bin Laden, Manson and Dahmer rolled into one… ebola in human form.
And Barack “close Guantanamo within a year” Obama and his Government has not deviated so much as a millimeter from the bullshit put in motion by the Bush Administration. Yes, to its credit, the Obama Administration has managed to find third countries to place no more than a few dozen detainees who would have likely faced abuse, torture or worse had they been returned to their own countries (including Candace’s other client al-Ghizzawi, now resident of the Republic of Georgia)… notice it hasn’t offered to make the USA itself available… but has, otherwise, continued the bullshit, unabated.
And if you must know, notwithstanding the thousands of dead American soldiers (and tens of thousands more maimed for life), and untold hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis, Afghanis, Pakistanis, Yemenis, and God knows who else, and trillions of dollars down the toilet, the whole “war on terror” is a show too. We can end our pointless occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan tomorrow, and stop our airborne homicide campaigns in Pakistan, Yemen and everywhere else, and not only will “national security” not suffer… by not bankrupting what’s rest of our economy, and of course, by not making so many damned enemies… it would actually improve.
But that’s not what it’s about. And never has been. It’s about the show– and the show is bipartisan, of course. Weapons of mass distraction, indeed. And it will continue grinding up and eating human beings, whether they are the unfortunates caught in our bounty-and-vilification machine, or caught in cross-fire or under an unmanned murderer-drone aircraft. And the very same people who will decry “too much government” think government is just fine when it murders or imprisons or tortures dark-skinned really foreign looking and foreign sounding foreigners, at economy-destroying cost no less. Then it’s all “honorable” and shit.
Best of luck to Candace and to Bakush; maybe justice can prevail once in a while. But the big picture is still not a pretty one.