By Kathie Malley-Morrison
January 12, 2012, is the 10th anniversary of the day when terrorism suspects were subjected to indefinite incarceration in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, generally in the absence of any charges or trial.
US authorities admit to the detention of 779 detainees, at least 12 of whom were younger than 18 when detained. Eight died while in detention, six purportedly by suicide.
In 2008, the US Supreme Court ruled that the detainees “had the right to challenge the lawfulness of their detention,” but by then over 500 of them had been transferred out of Guantanamo, according to an Amnesty International, media briefing, 16 December 2011. Wonder why?
Most Americans have probably heard that detainees at Guantanamo were subjected to many forms of assault identified as torture in international law, plus what the military calls “soft torture”—for example, incessantly blasting the prisoners with loud rock songs such as (please pardon the shocking verbatim quote) “Fuck Your God.”
Think of waterboarding, hanging victims by their wrists for hours, terrifying them with vicious dogs. What would you want to do if someone did that to your friends, or family, or members of your community?
A boston.com article about President Obama on January 22, 2009, said that “He signed executive orders to shut down the Guantanamo Bay terrorist detention center within a year and to ban harsh interrogations…” and that his incoming director of national intelligence, Retired Admiral Dennis Blair, told Congress that the detention center is “a damaging symbol to the world [and] a rallying cry for terrorist recruitment and harmful to our national security.”
Good ideas, but the detention center still has more than 100 prisoners. Time for a change? This coming Wednesday, January 11, will be a National Day of Action to Close Guantanamo ; there will be nonviolent actions across the country, with a major demonstration planned in Washington, DC. Please support these efforts in mind and heart if not in action.
Kathie Malley-Morrison (http://engagingpeace.com) is a professor of psychology at Boston University, who teaches, writes, and speaks about issues of war, peace, and reconciliation.
A decade after the prison camp opened, its first warden speaks out against U.S. detention policies in the war on terror and tells Aram Roston the facility should be closed.
He had choreographed, with machinelike precision, how his soldiers would take custody of the shackled, blindfolded detainees as they were led onto the tarmac from the cavernous plane. With 23 years of service as a military police officer, he didn’t let any emotion register in his face that day as he watched, but he was surprised at the appearance of the prisoners.
They were scrawny and malnourished to an alarming degree, hardly appearing like the crazed fanatics that Gen. Richard Myers, then the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, described that day back at a Pentagon press conference. “These are people,” the general said, invoking an alarming image, “that would gnaw through hydraulic lines in the back of a C-17 to bring it down, I mean.”
Carrico recalls that the detainees were actually compliant and docile that first day.
Now a corporate executive in Georgia, he considers the debate that is still raging over U.S. detention policy from a unique perspective, and he has reached conclusions that run counter to the prevailing political trends in Washington. The retired colonel says Guantánamo “should be closed,” … Read More