Posts Tagged ‘Guantanamo Bay’

From the Guantanamo Bay souvenir shop

August 15, 2022

Be Here Now is a famous book on spirituality published in 1971, which is still in print.  I understand the staff at the Guantanamo Bay detention center also celebrate Martin Luther King Day.  How could you satirize this?  A hat tip to Naked Capitalism for the coffee cup image.

The passing scene – October 14, 2015

October 14, 2015

On Building Armies (and Watching Them Fail) by Andrew Bacevich for TomDispatch.

Andrew Bacevich is a West Point graduate, a Vietnam veteran and a retired career Army officer who now teaches political science.  He said the goal of the neo-conservative faction in the U.S. government is military domination.

Since most Americans are unwilling to fight except against actual threats to the nation, the neo-conservatives try to use foreign fighters as proxies.  But foreigners also are unwilling to fight for American neo-conservative goals.

Those who are willing to fight have their own agendas, which is not the same as the U.S. agenda.  The latest example is the attempt to train “moderate” Syrian rebels.   Where, asks Bacevich, did Americans ever get the idea that they are especially good at training foreign armies?

I would be interested to hear from anybody who could make a case that the American people are better off for any of the U.S. military interventions during the past 15 years, or that the people of the target countries are better off, or that the world is better off.

Aerospace Trade: Trump’s Winning Card by Eamonn Fingleton for the Unz Review.

Eamonn Fingleton, a former editor of Forbes and the Financial Times, says Boeing is a prime example of the failure of U.S. trade policy, which is based on obsolete ideas about free trade.

As a condition for doing business, Japan, China and other countries insist that U.S. companies such as Boeing shift not only manufacturing operations to their countries, but share vital technological know-how.  The short-term benefit is a boost in profit for the U.S. company.  The long-term cost is a hollowing out of American industry.

He thinks it would take an outsider such as Donald Trump to change this.  I agree it would take someone not beholden to the American business establishment.

How to Protect Your Personal Data—and Your Humanity—From the Government by Walter Kirn for The Atlantic.

Electronics, the Internet and computer algorithms give governments and businesses the means to monitor your every move and draw conclusions—not necessarily accurate ones.

I’m reminded of the old definition of a paranoid:  Someone who lacks the normal person’s ability to diminish awareness of reality.

A History of Secret Torture at Guantanamo Bay by Bonnie Tamres-Moore for the Washington Spectator.

For Murdoch and Fox, the chickens may be coming home to roost by Matt Taibbi for Rolling Stone.

Svetlana Alexievich: The Truth in Many Voices by Timothy Snyder for the New York Review of Books.

Creating “un-people” at Guantanamo

October 29, 2012

George Orwell in his novel 1984 coined the word un-person.  When the regime of Big Brother turns you into an un-person, you not only cease to exist, but all record and memory of your existence cease to exist.  This was inspired by the old Soviet Union, where, when the regime turned against a prominent person, they not only disappeared, but all reference to them in the Great Soviet Encyclopedia was eliminated.  Winston Smith, the central character of 1984, has a job of “rectifying” the records.

Now Wikileaks has uncovered records that indicates the authorities at the Guantanamo Bay detention center had a policy of turning inmates into un-people.  Julian Assange said in an interview last week with CNN that a 2005 Guantanamo Bay manual, recently revealed by Wikileaks, show that military authorities had a policy of not identifying the inmates as individuals, not even by a number.  That meant a person could be made to disappear, and there would be no record that the person was even present at Guantanamo.

Now perhaps there is a logical explanation for this policy other than the one Assange gives.  Perhaps the present policy is different from what it was in 2005.  But U.S. government spokesmen refuse to explain, confirm or deny.  They say it is a matter of security.   The only way that I can see it would be a matter of security is that the truth really is Orwellian.

Click on Embassy life like a ‘space station,’ Assange says for the interview and a summary on the CNN home page.

Click on The Detainee Policies for Wikileaks’ press release on the Guantanamo documents.

Surviving Guantanamo

May 16, 2012

Julian Assange on the fifth episode of his The World Tomorrow TV program interviewed Moazzam Begg, a British subject who was imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay, and Asim Quereshi, a former British corporate lawyer who organized a human rights organization, Cagedprisoners Ltd., to advocate for prisoners such as Begg.

Begg lived in Kabul, Afghanistan, at the time of the 9/11 attacks, and fled to Pakistan after the U.S. invasion began.  Pakistani police arrested him in 2002 on suspicion of being a member of the Taliban, and turned him over to U.S. authorities, who imprisoned him at the secret facility near Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan and then at Guantanamo Bay.

Begg signed a confession saying that he was “armed and prepared to fight alongside the Taliban and al Qaeda against the U.S.”  He told Assange he signed the confession only after he was hog-tied and beaten, and was told that the screams of a woman in the next cell were his wife.  He was released in 2005 after lobbying by the government of the United Kingdom.  He never was charged with any crime.

Although Begg was imprisoned during the Presidency of George W. Bush, he said on the program that President Barack Obama is worse.  Bush claimed the right of “extrajudicial detention” on his own say-so.  Obama claims the right of “extrajudicial killing” on his own say-so.

The two Muslim human rights advocates also gave their views on the Caliphate, which they said would be an Arab equivalent of the European Union; jihad, which they said is merely the right of self-defense; and sharia law, which they said is more humane than is generally portrayed.  They said Osama bin Laden played a positive role in helping to drive the Soviets out of Afghanistan, but bin Laden’s subsequent activities were counter-productive from the standpoint of Muslim liberation.

I don’t think that what they say on these subjects is the last word, and I wonder if they were shading their opinions to make them acceptable to a Western audience.  But their point of view is interesting, and one we Americans rarely hear.   Their arguments for closing Guantanamo Bay are based on fundamental Anglo-Americans concepts of due process of law.

Click on Digital Journal for a summary of Assange’s Episode 5 and links to previous broadcasts.

Click on CagePrisoners for that organization’s home page.

Click on Moazzam Begg wiki for Begg’s Wikipedia biography, which includes allegations about Taliban and al Qaeda activities.

Assange appears on the RT (Russia Today) network, a 24-hour English-language news network established by the government of Vladimir Putin’s Russia.  Assange said RT does not influence the topic or content of his programs.

I made minor revisions to this article a few hours after posting it.