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Hullabaloo


Thursday, May 02, 2013

 
If only we could just lock them all up indefinitely, then we would never die 

by digby



What could possibly go wrong?
While the detainees have been trying to protest being held indefinitely without charges, the military is trying to keep Guantanamo guards focused on the idea that the detainees are terrorists who need to be locked up.

Some of the military personnel now at Guantanamo are as young as 18, and were just children when the Sept. 11 attacks took place. To bring them up to speed, and to give those deployed to Guantanamo a better sense of why they’re there, FBI counterterrorism officials hold periodic unclassified briefings open to members of the military. A recent April briefing, which helped explain the role allegedly played by five detainees on trial in connection with the Sept. 11 attacks, featured recordings of 911 calls from victims in the World Trade Center, which attendees said left many participants in tears.

Additionally, guards at Guantanamo -- like all other members of the military -- are barred from doing their own research on Wikileaks, and in theory any news websites that present information from Wikileaks. Such research may tell them more about the detainees. The consequence of accepting the government's side of the story and excluding everything else is a strict us vs. them mentality.

“Many of the guards are not informed about the details of the situation at Guantanamo or the legal process of it, that there are some people who are cleared for release. They’re kept away from all that,” said Omar Deghayes, a former Guantanamo detainee who was released in 2007 after a five-year incarceration. “They tell them these are the worst of the worst. All they know is ‘Oh, these people are connected to Sept. 11.’ That’s the mindframe.”

"We have the keys at the end of the day, they are on the other side of the cell,” states a sign hanging in the Camp Six observation room, where guards monitor detainees via cameras.

That is an excerpt of a fascinating report from Guanatanamo by Ryan Reilly. He quotes one of the guards kvetching that these prisoners had it a lot better than the Louisiana prisons he worked in as a civilian.Considering that Louisiana prisons are notorious hellholes, that's hardly a useful comparison. But then this fellow (an officer...) apparently doesn't know that many of these prisoners are innocent of any crimes and are being held indefinitely because Americans are a bunch of pants-wetting, panic artists who have convinced themselves that if they just try hard enough they can kill or imprison everyone who hates us and then we will all be safe forever. It's obscenely absurd.

And, by the way, the torture continues:
Fayiz al Kandari, one of the detainees being force-feed, complained through his lawyer, Carlos Warner, that medical officials were using a feeding tube that was too large, and that he was not able to breathe. He said that his request for the doctors to use a smaller tube was denied.

Roughly two-thirds of those being force-fed “accept their nutritional supplement voluntarily,” according to House, meaning the emaciated men don’t actively fight the inevitable. Even those detainees who cooperate are strapped down into a chair with built-in restraints for the arms, legs and torso. Those who refuse to go to the medical facility are strapped to their beds and force-fed inside their cells.

“It’s not a violent resistance,” one medical staffer in Camp Six said the day reporters visited. Nevertheless, medical personnel are accompanied at all times by guards in riot gear...

While there are potential health risks to force-feeding -- collapsed lungs, infections, pneumonia -- the military in theory may continue the practice for years. One detainee at Guantanamo has been force-fed daily since 2005.

(And yes, that is torture, with ramifications for medical personnel, guards and prisoners.)

Read the whole thing if you can stand it. The administration defenses for all this are lame and unconvincing.

Well, to everyone who isn't a complete dope, that is:


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Let me finish tonight with this, Gitmo must go, but where? That's the scare. Move the prisoners where you can put on trial to the states. Okay. But the republicans won't agree with that. not in my backyard, they say. Or send the prisoners we can't put on trial to other countries. But what country is willing to take them or I should say, what country do we trust to keep an eye on them? This is a real problem. In the old days we released prisoners of war when the war was over. They go home. When is this war going to be over? This war on terrorism? If they were simply criminals, we could incarcerate them and then let them go. When are we able to release people that are determined to go to war the day they get out. I'm open to new ideas.
I have a new idea, Chris. Why don't you stop talking for a couple of minutes and think about what you are saying.  It makes no sense.  Is it really acceptable that we have a bunch of prisoners we cannot charge, try or convict but who nonetheless can be assumed to be determined to go to war with us the day they get out of prison? How the hell do you know that?

So, while we might not have any evidence but we just "know" they are guilty and therefore we can never let them go until the War on Terrorism is over. Chris would like to know when that will be. Me too. But I'm going to guess never. This would be darkly funny if it wasn't the official policy of the US Government. They have declared that certain prisoners are just going to have to indefinitely stay in prison without trial somewhere.  Sure, we'd like to be able to imprison them indefinitely in a prison that isn't Guantanamo because well ... I don't know why.  What the hell difference does that make?  But we just do. The only question is where they're going to molder for the rest of their lives --- or until we can all celebrate VGWOT-Day, which is never.

And hey, it's not like there aren't other prisoners we'd really, really love to set free, it's just that we can't trust them not to be mad about destroying their lives based on lies so we need to make sure they either rot in some foreign prison or are "watched" carefully for the rest of their lives and we can't find anyone that's willing to do that dirty work for us. Bummer.

For a more in-depth look at the rigid inability to grasp what's going on here, check out his interview with two experts earlier in the show.

In case you are unaware of the official 2011 Obama administration executive order on this:
President Obama signed an executive order Monday that will create a formal system of indefinite detention for those held at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, who continue to pose a significant threat to national security. The administration also said it will start new military commission trials for detainees there. The announcements, coming more than two years after Obama vowed in another executive order to close the detention center, all but cements Guantanamo Bay's continuing role in U.S. counterterrorism policy. 
Administration officials said the president is still committed to closing the prison, although he made no mention of that goal in a short statement Monday. The administration's original plans to create a detention center in the United States and prosecute some detainees in federal court have all but collapsed in the face of bipartisan congressional opposition. The executive order recognizes the reality that some Guantanamo Bay detainees will remain in U.S. custody for many years, if not for life. 
The new system allows them the prospect of successfully arguing in the future that they should be released because they do not pose a threat. "Today, I am announcing several steps that broaden our ability to bring terrorists to justice, provide oversight for our actions and ensure the humane treatment of detainees," Obama said in statement. "I strongly believe that the American system of justice is a key part of our arsenal in the war against al-Qaeda and its affiliates, and we will continue to draw on all aspects of our justice system - including [federal] Article III Courts - to ensure that our security and our values are strengthened." 
But activists on either end of the debate over closing the prison cast the announcement as a reversal. "It is virtually impossible to imagine how one closes Guantanamo in light of this executive order," said Anthony Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union. "In a little over two years, the Obama administration has done a complete about-face." Rep. Peter T. King (R-N.Y.), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said the order vindicated Obama's predecessor. "I commend the Obama Administration for issuing this Executive Order," he said in a statement. "The bottom line is that it affirms the Bush Administration policy that our government has the right to detain dangerous terrorists until the cessation of hostilities."

Chris Matthews just accepts the underlying logic of this lunacy but that doesn't mean anyone else should. When the government says it just "knows" someone is dangerous but they can't prove it --- so they're going to lock them up indefinitely anyway --- the constitution has become a piece of toilet paper.


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