Well, well. Today, exactly six years and four months since 9-11, marks exactly six years since the first guests arrived at America’s tropical
beach resort gulag at our naval air station, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, more accurately, the flagship gulag of an international gulag archipelago. The ACLU has evidently designated today as “Close GTMO Day”. Nice sentiment; necessary but not sufficient, of course. It’s not even about releasing the remaining 280, 290 poor bastards we’re holding there, or even the other 10,000 or so we’re holding in Afghanistan, Iraq, Diego Garcia, Thailand, Romania, elsewhere in Europe, the Middle East and God knows where. Though it would certainly be a huge, and necessary, start.
What really matters is a restoration of our once exemplary commitment to the rule of law, that has been replaced by behavior ranging from juvenile schoolyard behavior to the worst of Medieval torture… none of which has made us as people the least bit safer from our foreign enemies, and all of which have made our lives incredibly dangerous from the most formidable enemy we will ever face, that being our own Government when it decides that it is our master, rather than we its.
And that’s where we are now. It’s that bad. We’ve turned the clock back to 1214– not merely with the repeal of habeas corpus, but with comparable attitudes about acceptable state behavior and state accountability.
Undoing it will take an extraordinary effort. If you look at our most recent interview with Martha Rayner, you can not only read about the arbitrariness associated with Martha’s clients, but you can find links to my 36 interviews in this area. Originally, my interest concerned Jose Padilla (we interviewed his attorneys Donna Newman and Andy Patel) , as I found it preposterous that a United States citizen could just be officially “disappeared”; what I failed to realize was, 9-11 shock or no, Padilla, as a Latino (and an ex-gang banger at that, arguably implicated in a homicide) would be the perfect guy to disappear, as a demonstration project that it could be done! And our courts just played right along– including our current U.S. Attorney General, back when he was a judge. Anyway… that was my entree into the shadowy and much deeper world.
Aside from thirty-six interviews, I have developed some friendships, particularly with Candace Gorman (interviewed here), (check out her own brilliant Guantanamo Blog) who has been nice enough to let me provide input to her historic original habeas corpus petition now pending with the Supreme Court of the United States on behalf of her client Mr. al-Ghizzawi. And thanks to Cage Prisoners, probably the most important web-site for GTMO matters in the world, for picking up most of the interviews, and to Joe Gandelman and Kevin Hayden for letting me cross-post them, and thanks to digby, and Avedon, and Julia, and Lindsay, and Scott, and Thomas, and Barbara, and lots of others for the shout-outs, and thanks to everyone else interested in this subject. Stay interested, and stay involved.
Now, a year after Speaker Pelosi and Leader Reid were supposed to make all the difference… nothing has happened. I’d like to think that President Clinton or Obama (or Edwards… or even McCain) would do the right thing, and immediately take steps to restore our moral authority. But, I fear, that even they will succumb to the pressure to be seen as
Torqueamada “tough on terror” because many Americans are too stupid to understand what is at stake (and there is no other word for it). So we will have to educate our leaders that we demand better from them. And then we will have to pressure them by all lawful means necessary. Period.
Well, I think so anyway. This has been… Close Guantanamo. And Bagram. And Pol E Sharki. And…