Thursday, June 19, 2008
What the flag pin means to the world
When I visited our congressional delegation last year in Washington it was truly amazing to notice that almost everyone in the Capitol who was wearing a jacket also sported a flag pin.
They smiled and joked as we shook hands, treated us to soda pop, cookies and light conversation. The shiny flag pin spoke of American patriotism, hospitality, good humor.
Meanwhile, over at Guantanamo:
AMY GOODMAN: Dr. Allen Keller, how did it compare—you’ve treated people from eighty countries for torture. How did these prisoners compare who were tortured in US custody?
DR. ALLEN KELLER: The forms of abuse that we learned of, that we documented, are as bad, if not worse, than any I’ve heard from anywhere around the world. We arguably, tragically, are second to none in these techniques that have been used. It doesn’t mean that in countries it’s not used with much greater frequency, but I think this has actually really important ramifications.
JUAN GONZALEZ: The report—some of the men you mention, portions of what they have suffered have come out in different reports in the past, but I don’t think the detail and the extent that you have. I just wanted to read a couple of graphs of some of the individuals you mention.
One was Amir, a salesman in the Middle East who was captured in Iraq in 2003. Besides the sleep deprivation and the other things you also mention, I want to read this part. It says, “At first, he was not mistreated but then was subjected to religious and sexual humiliation, hooding, sleep deprivation, restraint,” so on. He says Amir recalled experiencing—he was placed in a foul-smelling room and forced to lay down in urine, and while he was hit and kicked on his back and side, Amir was then sodomized with a broomstick and forced to howl like a dog while a soldier urinated on him. After a soldier stepped on his genitals, he fainted. In July 2004, he was transferred to the prison at Camp Bucca, where he reported no abuse. And then, this was at Abu Ghraib that this happened.
Another prisoner, Yussef, who was captured in Afghanistan, talked about being subjected to electric shock from a generator, feeling, quote, "as if my veins were being pulled out.” So this was really not only borderline examples of torture; this was actual physical torture that was occurring here against some of these men. [Democracy Now, 6/19/2008]
Those smiling congresspeople, they knew exactly what has been going on at Guantanamo and other so-called black sites around the world, including a secret fleet of prison ships. And they were not spending any significant portion of their days working to bring this American-inflicted horror to an end.
How could they sit there and make jokes with us, as though all was well with the world?
Update: This just in, click link for C-Span video and transcript:
Ex-State Dept. official: Hundreds of detainees died in U.S. custody, at least 25 murdered
19/06/08 -- -- At yesterday's House Judiciary Subcommittee on Civil Rights hearing on torture, Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Colin Powell, told Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) that over 100 detainees have died in U.S. custody, with up to 27 of these declared homicides
Remember when you read the word “detainees” that they are all innocent people, never charged or convicted of any crime, yet they were murdered during interrogation or in custody. By our government. By us.
“The forms of abuse that we learned of, that we documented, are as bad, if not worse, than any I’ve heard from anywhere around the world.”
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