Newspaper logo  
 
 
Local Stories, Events

Ref. : Civic Events

Ref. : Arts & Education Events

Ref. : Public Service Notices

Books, Films, Arts & Education
Letters

Ref. : Letters to the editor

Health Care & Environment

09.25 Labour wants green energy to power most UK homes by 2030

09.25 US to be hit worse than almost any other country by climate change, report says [“Stupid is as stupid does.” –Forrest Gump]

09.25 Climate gentrification: the rich can afford to move – what about the poor?

09.25 Monsanto's global weedkiller harms honeybees, research finds

09.24 Everything you've been told about plastic is wrong – the answer isn't recycling

09.24 Unlocking secrets of sea level rise in Greenland [15 minute video]

09.24 Air pollution rots our brains. Is that why we don’t do anything about it?

09.24 What are public lands?

09.24 The Netherlands Unveils the World's First Recycled Plastic Bike Lane

09.24 Americans: the next climate migrants 'We're moving to higher ground': America's era of climate mass migration is here [estimates do not include migrants from other nations even more affected]

09.24 Opec predicts massive rise in oil production over next five years [wonderful for fossil fuel investors; terrible for all plants and animals]

09.23 Nasa launches satellite to precisely track how Earth's ice is melting

09.23 Climate study ‘pulls punches’ to keep polluters on board

News Media Matters

Daily: FAIR Blog
The Daily Howler

US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'

09.25 Dozens Arrested as Survivors Flood Capitol Hill to Share Trauma of Sexual Assault, Demand Senate Reject Kavanaugh

09.25 Why I find the Kavanaugh/Ford case so unsettling

09.25 The Republican party is about to face the wrath of women

09.25 Trump has given women yet another reason not to report rape

09.24 Sexual assault is fun if we can all 'lighten up' about it

09.24 Brett Kavanaugh faces second allegation of sexual misconduct09.23 MARYLAND GOVERNOR REBUFFS CALL FOR CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION INTO BRETT KAVANAUGH ATTEMPTED RAPE ALLEGATIONS [Republicans above the law...]

09.23 Trump Is Strangling the U.S. Refugee Program to Death

09.23 Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 11/9" Aims Not at Trump But at Those Who Created the Conditions That Led to His Rise

09.23 The Trump Administration's Latest Tax Scam for the Rich [video]

09.23 One Tiny Tax Reform, Billions for America

Justice Matters

09.22 Making Tariffs Corrupt Again

09.22 Why isn't Mark Judge testifying about Kavanaugh? He is an alleged witness

High Crimes?

09.20 Trump Should Be More Worried About the Brennan Dossier

09.19 'Killing a generation': one million more children at risk from famine in Yemen [Does America's government have empathy? Does it understand the concept of morality? The Saudi Air Force would be ineffective without U.S. military assistance...]

09.19 ‘Tied to trees and raped’: UN report details Rohingya horrors

Economics, Crony Capitalism

09.23 The Spider’s Web: Britain’s Second Empire [1:18:01 documentary video; the Book]

09.23 Why We Have To Break Up Amazon

International & Futurism

09.25 US Isolated: Europe’s Big 3, plus China & Russia Outmaneuver Trump to keep Iran Deal at UN

09.25 Spain to Recognize Palestinian State, work for European Union Acceptance

09.25 The male cultural elite is staggeringly blind to #MeToo. Now it's paying for it

09.25 'A smell of death:' Mexico's truck of corpses highlights drug war crisis

09.24 'Stop this disaster': Brazilian women mobilise against 'misogynist' far-right Bolsonaro

09.23 For This Year’s International Day of Peace, Korea Takes the Lead

09.22 Which nation is 'most generous' to refugees? Certainly not the US

We are a non-profit Internet-only newspaper publication founded in 1973. Your donation is essential to our survival.

You can also mail a check to:
Baltimore News Network, Inc.
P.O. Box 42581
Baltimore, MD 21284-2581
Google
This site Web
  Talking Blues: Gitmo Gets Harsher Under "Progressive" Rule
Newspaper logo

COMMENTARY:

Talking Blues: Gitmo Gets Harsher Under "Progressive" Rule

Is the Pentagon subordinate to the White House?

by Chris Floyd
First published in Empire Burlesque earlier today, 10 November 2009

Just as our great and good "progressives" sell poor women down the river for a meaningless vote, they have also empowered a dim-witted extremist – Senator Joe Lieberman – for meaningless partisan advantage.

Talk is cheap; actions speak volumes. And it seems Barack Obama is compiling quite a volume for himself at America's flagship concentration camp in Guantanamo Bay. As Andrew Wander reports, conditions for prisoners at Gitmo have grown worse since Obama took office: Guantanamo conditions 'deteriorate'.

Of course, Gitmo is by no means the worst pit in America's worldwide gulag, which Obama has kept wide open for business, while fighting strenuously in court to retain all of Bush's authoritarian powers over the lives and liberties of anyone the president arbitrarily deems a suspected terrorist. And of course, he hasn't, uh, closed Gitmo, as he made a solemn promise to do within a year of his inauguration. But whether he eventually gets around to the PR show of shutting down this one camp, the fact that his administration has imposed an even harsher regime on its denizens of limbo is, literally, atrocious.

One can only assume that this has been done as some sort of compensation mechanism for Obama's promise to close the joint; every president now must continually prove that he is "tough enough" to do the dirty work – killing civilians, spying on citizens, kidnapping people and putting them in concentration camps, etc. – required to keep the imperial war machine going.  Any gesture – however hollow – toward an alternative approach must be balanced with harshness elsewhere.

This works on the domestic front as well, of course. For example, you can't have even a hollow and perverse gesture at health care reform without condemning poor women to die in back-alley abortions. Somebody has to pay, in blood and suffering, for every attempt at amelioration in the system; that's the modern American way.

Wander writes:

Within days of Obama's inauguration and subsequent announcement that he would close Guantanamo, prisoners say authorities introduced new regulations and revoked previous privileges at the prison.

"They took away group recreation for prisoners in segregation, which was the only time we saw anyone," Mohammed el Gharani remembers. [Gharani "They took away the books we had from the library. They even sprayed pepper spray into my cell while I was sleeping, so I'd wake up unable to breathe."

Gharani says he was beaten so badly by guards that he is still suffering pain today.

..."I am in the very same cell, wearing the same uniform, eating the same food, yet treated much worse compared to mid-2008," [a current] prisoner writes. "We are unable to understand the goals of the policy of more restrictions and inflexibility."

Gharani was released in June 2009, after being held in American captivity since he was seized in Pakistan in October 2001 – at the age of 14. He was originally charged with being a top money-man for al Qaeda, after an American-hired translator mistook Gharani's talk about vegetables as evidence of his wide-ranging financial operation. As the Boston Globe reported back in 2006:

He was .. interrogated using a translator from Yemen who spoke a different dialect of Arabic than was spoken in his native Saudi Arabia, according to Gharani's lawyer.

"The word `zalata' in Yemen means money, but in his Saudi Arabian dialect, it means tomato," said Smith. "They asked him, 'When you went to Pakistan, where did you get your zalata?' and he tells them all these different shops where you could buy tomatoes in Karachi. They write them all down, thinking that this 14-year-old kid is a big financier who was able to get money from all these different places."

Later, they accused him of being part of a London "cell" run by an extremist cleric  – in 1998. The fact that Gharani was 11 years old at that time, and had never been to London, did not prevent him from being held captive for almost eight years – a cruel and unusual punishment no matter what the conditions were, much less with the abuse that he endured.

And still it goes on, as Wander reports:

According to the letter [from a current prisoner], prison authorities inflict "humiliating punishments" on inmates and prisoners face "intentional mental and physical harm".

"The situation is worsening with the advent of the new management," the prisoner writes, noting, like Gharani, that the new rules were imposed in January this year. Conditions, he says, "do not fit the lowest standard of human living".

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which monitors prisoner treatment at Guantanamo, declined to comment on specific allegations at the prison, but says that it recognises the cumulative effect low-level abuse can have on the well-being of prisoners in general.

"In some cases, a single act may amount to torture," ICRC spokesman Simon Schorno says. "In others, ill treatment may be the result of a number of methods used over time, which, taken individually and out of context, may seem harmless."

...Ahmed Ghappour, who represents Guantanamo prisoners, has lodged several requests to initiate investigations since Obama took office.

"I have requested four investigations regarding prisoner abuse just this past year," he says. "The military responded to my first request indicating that they would investigate, but have been radio silent since then."

Of course they've been silent. You can't expect an administration that refuses to investigate, much less prosecute, howlingly flagrant war crimes committed by its predecessor to investigate charges of abuse against itself, can you? (And again, it should be remembered that the existence of a gulag system that incarcerates people – including children – without charges or hearing, and holds them in captivity year after year, is itself a crime against humanity, regardless of the treatment given to the prisoners.)

In any case, even the cheap talk about closing Gitmo may be moot, in the wake of the Ft. Hood shootings. As we noted yesterday, many "respectable" figures in America's power structure are gearing up for "doing something" about the Muslims "in our midst," and especially those who dare sully the sacred military with their presence. As Jeremy Sapienza notes, Senator Joe Lieberman is a prime example, set to hold hearings of his Homeland Security Committee on how the Army came to nurture such a viper in its bosom, with, no doubt, recommendations on how to root out all the "self-radicalized home-grown terrorists" – the "enemy within" that Lieberman has long identified as a dire threat.

Lieberman can use his prominent position as committee chairman to do a great deal of damage, fomenting more division and racial and ethnic hatred across the country (and certainly across the media). And why is he in this position? Because the Democratic leadership (including Barack Obama, who endorsed Lieberman even after he bolted the party in a snit over being booted out by voters in an open primary) has put him there. They have placed this whining, fear-ridden extremist – now a member of a party named egotistically for himself – in a powerful post in order to buy his agreement to caucus with them, and swell their majority numbers – even though he regularly denounces their policies and votes against them.

So let no one think that the tide of hatred and malice and Muslimophobia flowing from the Ft. Hood shooting is due solely to right-wing cranks, respectable or otherwise. Just as our great and good "progressives" sell poor women down the river for a meaningless vote, they have also empowered a dim-witted extremist for meaningless partisan advantage. And now we may reap the all-too-meaningful whirlwind of their folly.


Chris Floyd at his deskChris Floyd has been a writer and editor for more than 25 years, working in the United States, Great Britain and Russia for various newspapers, magazines, the U.S. government and Oxford University. Floyd co-founded the blog Empire Burlesque, and is also chief editor of Atlantic Free Press. He can be reached at cfloyd72@gmail.com.

This column is republished here with the permission of the author.



Copyright © 2009 The Baltimore News Network. All rights reserved.

Republication or redistribution of Baltimore Chronicle content is expressly prohibited without their prior written consent.

Baltimore News Network, Inc., sponsor of this web site, is a nonprofit organization and does not make political endorsements. The opinions expressed in stories posted on this web site are the authors' own.

This story was published in the Baltimore Chronicle on November 10, 2009.

 



Public Service Ads:
Verifiable Voting in Maryland