AMERICA'S GUANTANAMO GULAG
[Col. Writ. 10/7/04] Copyright 2004 Mumia Abu-Jamal
On the island of Cuba, stands an outpost of American
imperial power -- Guantanamo Naval Base.
There, hundreds of men, drawn from all over the
world, are entombed in what one British court has
called a "legal black hole."
Michael Ratner, an American lawyer who has argued
in the U.S. Supreme Court for several people encaged
there, has written that Guantanamo is an American
interrogation camp, similar to those erected by the
Germans during World War II, and outlawed by the
Geneva Conventions. In a recent book on the prison
camp, Ratner wrote that Guantanamo is a place
designed to be beyond the law:
We have gone back to a pre-Magna Carta
medieval system, not a system of laws, but
of executive fiat, where the king -- or in this
case, the president -- simply decides, on any
particular day, I'm going to throw you into
some prison. You are not going to have
access to a lawyer or anybody else, or
even know if there are charges against you,
or if you will ever be released from this
prison. Guantanamo has become our Devil's
Island, our Chateau d'If from The Count of
Monte Cristo. [From Michael Ratner and
Ellen Ray, *Guantanamo: What the World
Should Know* (White River Junction,
Vt.: Chelsea Green Publ., 2004), p. 6]
If people were shocked by the recent events at
the infamous Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad, one need
only look at Guantanamo for its inspiration. For,
the leadership of Abu Ghraib was exported from
Guantanamo to Abu Ghraib with a specific, sinister
mission: to 'Gitmoize' Abu Ghraib; that is, to treat
the people detained there as they had been treated
So, the torture of people; the nakedness of
people; the brutal beatings of people; the humiliation
of people -- all of these things were done to Muslim
and Arab nationals at Guantanamo.
But, according to Ratner, there was another,
insidious method to their brutal madness. Those
detained at Guantanamo; they were captured for the
purpose of turning them, using state terror to
transform these people into snitches to be seeded
back into Muslim communities and countries, for
the U.S. intelligence agencies. Ratner writes:
This is exactly what the British did with
IRA prisoners. Just as is being done in
Guantanamo, they refused to give out the
names of detainees for "security reasons"
and kept them in detention for long periods
of time. During that period, many of them
were turned into undercover agents for
What is going on in Guantanamo is not
just about interrogation, not just about keeping
allegedly dangerous people off the battlefield,
but about recruiting Muslim informants to go
around the Islamic world, to go back to
their countries of origin and get information
back to the United States, essentially to
spy for the United States. [p. 48]
Americans are taking innocent men, putting them
in cages, treating them like beasts, *for years*,
knowingly, for the purpose of using them against
their home communities and countries.
This is the face of American democracy that
will be reflected in the eyes of hundreds, and
then thousands, and perhaps millions of Muslims.
This is the reason that the so-called 'War on
Terror' is a fraud; it is a war, but a war against
reason. It is a mad war, designed by madmen,
based on false evidence, and one which threatens
to, once again, splash back against the nation that
spawned it in global blowback.
We have seen blowback before. It is the grim
and bitter lesson that should have prevailed in
the gritty smoke of Sept. 11th. Young men, many
of them trained by the CIA, and paid by the Saudis,
to vanquish the then-'evil empire' of the Soviets
in Afghanistan, succeeded in driving Russians from
their lands, and flush with victory, turned their
sights to those that trained them. They had driven
one superpower to its knees; why not another?
Guantanamo, to quote British judges in the
*Abassi* case, has become, despite a recent
US Supreme Court decision, a "legal black
hole." ... And like black holes, it threatens to
swallow everything around it.
Copyright 2004 Mumia Abu-Jamal
[Check out Mumia's latest: *WE WANT FREEDOM:
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