The Trials of Guantanamo

Since its debut in 2002, Guantanamo bay detention center for alleged terrorists, operated by the US, drew criticism. Indeed, everything was outside the basic norms for Human and legal rights there from the beginning. But we were in uncharted territory, and everybody was willing to see terrorists tried. And so Guantanamo was, as were Bush's popularity scores, and the international sympathy for the US after 9/11, for those who supported the War On Terror but were unwilling to give up the rule of law and the basics for Human rights, a mere possibility for the triumph of natural justice on the debris of 9/11 and over the new world chaos. A possibility to discipline this chaos and quell our fears and our angst. And not to discard the skeptics, among them myself, despite all its initial flaws, Guantanamo was, for the believer, at the same time, a window of opportunity and a test. An opportunity to show terrorists and the world how free and democratic societies uphold their values and a test on the intentions of the leaders of the whole business of the War On Terror.

Unfortunately for both the skeptics and the believers, as much as the War On Terror has gone awry from the very beginning by displacing itself quickly from Afghanistan to Iraq, Guantanamo did not cease drifting into tragic nonsense, dramatic excess, torture memos, suicide of detainees, unhuman treatment of prisoners, psychological terror, lack of evidence, amateurish justice, resignation of military prosecutors, and the latest, political maneuvering of the prosecution and sentencing processes coinciding with national elections and in countries involved in The War On Terror like Australia and the US, or with how warm a country's relations are with the US, like Saudi Arabia.

I am sure everybody has heard by now about the recent resignation of chief military prosecutor Morris Davis. His comes in a string of other resignations from military personnel having served in the military court in Guantanamo, starting as early as 2005, or as when the justice set up there by the Bush administration started to move toward trying the detainees.

Colonel Davis for instance refused to consider as evidence testimonies acquired by waterboarding. He was uneasy with the secrecy of the tribunal. And he refused political maneuvering and direct intervention in the judicial process. He cites two cases as clear political maneuvering:
The hasty prosecution and sentencing, through a deal struck between the 'prosecution' and the defense, without his knowledge as chief prosecutor, but with the proper pressure from the Pentagon, of Australian David Mattew Hicks to 9 months in Prison, while the same charges have resulted in a 20 years sentence for John Walker Lindh, the American Taliban. As an insider to the process, colonel Davis told today's CBC's 'The Current' host Anna Maria Tremonti that the only explanation to this nonsense is that the Bush adminstration wanted to take the heat off Australian John Howard before the elections because the detention of Hicks in Guantanamo drew wide criticism against Howard. Colonel Davis told Mrs Tremonti some other examples of gross political maneuvering, over Guantanamo detainees and the due process of justice, made by the Bush administration and its politically appointed henchmen in the judiciary like Susan Crawford and William Haynes. Listen to the interview in The Current, part.2, here.

This maneuvering is being made with the sixtysomething remaining potentially chargeable detainees, from the initial 775 allegedly guilty but later proven innocent detainees, most of them have been freed from Guantanmo, and the others will be, one day, if the US can find them a homeland again, and if they are not dead of despair. These detainees were amassed with much zeal and little regard to anything else than political or financial motives by the Pakistani secret services in the wake of 9/11. Michael Winterbottom has made a great documentary style movie about the capture, detention, interrogation, and the liberation of three Britons , or the Tipton Three, who were held in Guantanamo. The testimonies of the Tipton three show how the Pakistani secret service collected men from mosque and delivered them to the US under pressure to create the impression that the War On Terror was a success in Afghanistan.

And so when we think of Guantanamo and the stain it has brought on our western society we will have to add one more shameful fact, not only we torture there, not only we disprespect Human life and the rule of law, but we have also created, with the manipulation of justice for political ends, a new form of slavery, political slavery, the slavery of those who don't have rights and who exist only in a unlawful and moral space created to serve our leaders' political ambitions and agenda. Old slavery was for economic and domestic comfort. This newly created form of slavery is a political comfort zone.
Who is Bush's god ? The one who speaks to him when he needs inspiration ? The answer is clear. It is Satan himself. And what did the Bush administration prove to the believers in the War On Terror like colonel Davis ? At best, that the War On Terror is a farce. I prefer not to think about the worse.

UPDATE, february 21st 2008: Ex-chief prosecutor at Guantanamo, Col. Morris Davis, to aid defense by appearing as a witness for political interference in the judiciary process.


Pierre Tristam: The courtly Gore of Gitmo
My review of Michael Winterbottom's 'The Road To Guantanamo'
Torture and Terror: Bush's and Bin Laden's victories, everybody Else's defeat.

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Since March 29th 2006