Sunday, August 20, 2006

We Did Know

The September issue of Harper's is out on newsstands, and one article in particular is a must-read: "American Gulag: Prisoners' Tales from the War on Terror," by Eliza Griswold. Barbara O'Brien summarizes the contents, and it's pretty horrifying:

  • As of this moment, over 14,000 people are being held in U.S.-run facilities worldwide. Guantanamo is the tip of the iceberg, and the only place where there is even minimal transparency. Very little is known about the conditions under which 13,000 prisoners in Iraq and about 500 in Afghanistan are being detained. About the 100 or so individuals being held in top-secret "black hole" sites run by the C.I.A., nothing is known at all.
  • The Supreme Court's Hamdan decision, which struck down the use of military tribunals to try detainees at Guantanamo, and ruled that detainees in the so-called "war on terror" have habeus corpus rights, will not do anything to help the vast majority of detainees, because no one knows who or where they are. Hamdan will not even be of much use, if any, to Gitmo detainees, because Pres. Bush is convinced that Hamdan affirmed what he wants to do, so he's determined to do it.
  • Almost 100 U.S.-held detainees have died, and a third of that number are possible homicides. Furthermore, allegations of detainee abuse have been leveled at about 600 Americans.
  • The vast majority of Guantanamo detainees -- 95 percent -- were kidnapped or captured by locals living in the Middle East and of Arab or Muslim origin; and were then turned over to U.S. authorities for money -- quite hefty sums of money, too. In other words, most of the individuals interned at Guantanamo were seized because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time, by fellow countrymen who grabbed them because they wanted the bounty money they could get for them -- not for anything the captured individuals had done.

Remember the cries of "good Germans" after the Holocaust?

Someday, whatever is going on in those prisons will see the light of day. And then there will be global outrage, and Americans will be shocked and say they had no idea any such thing was going on.

No comments: