Andy gives us a list of events commemmorating the 21st (Jesus) anniversary of the opening of the prison for Muslim men and boys at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. As I said, I will be present (and perhaps participating) at the NYC event to commemorate this dark moment in American history. If you are able, please partake in one of these events near you.
We all know the usual shticks about GTMO– Dubya and Barack dishonestly suggesting “this isn’t who we are” (when of course it is exactly who we are), Biden, to his credit, mostly not talking about it (even as he has released a paltry five prisoners, leaving 35 remaining, though I give him some credit as he is at least trying), and perversely, Trump, also, to his credit, very honestly suggesting that he is bigoted against Muslims and that he wanted to keep GTMO open forever (which, of course, Dubya and Barack were doing while saying the opposite). So… Dubya took in nearly 800 prisoners, released about 600, leaving Barack around 200… he released around 160 (OVER EIGHT YEARS! Despite his bogus “close Guantanamo executive order”) and left Trump with 41. Trump released 1, leaving Biden with 40; he has released 5, leaving 35– 20 of whom are cleared for transfer (including Candace’s client, Saeed Bakhouche of Algeria, whose periodic review board hearing was on this very day a year ago). But prisoners often find themselves cleared for transfer for years, or sometimes, forever… I won’t even talk about military commissions whose sole purpose is to generate “convictions” using confessions and statements obtained via torture. Which have bogged down and are no closer to resolution now than they ever have been.
In addition, of course, nine men left GTMO in boxes, mostly from highly suspicious “suicides” or occasionally from medical conditions. Well over 700 live around the world in various “security conditions” negotiated by the United States that range from relative freedom to literal continued incarceration somewhere else.
Twenty-one years. Literally a generation. Most people probably don’t even realize GTMO is still open, and if they did, barely remember any of the official stories as to why it is open, indeed, especially why it is still open after our rapid-fire and incredibly messy bugout from Afghanistan last year. Or if that didn’t do it, the assassinations of Al-Zawahiri or bin Laden might have, but it seems that somehow, keeping GTMO open is always the number one priority. Human trophies of the empire? Islamophobia? Bureaucratic inertia? An imperial system that just doesn’t give a crap? Presumably, all of the above?
GTMO is merely a microscopic part of our overall carceral state (the most people imprisoned by anyone ever in the history of the world, both by rate and by sheer numbers). But it sticks out as a glaring symbol of an overreaching empire and a system that doesn’t care who it abuses, tortures, incarcerates, or kills.
And as such, it will continue to garner my attention, at least, and I hope yours.