Guantanamo Blues – Handling The Truth

Taking The Git Out of ‘Gitmo’

Prior to Camp X-Ray, I think the only way most people knew about the base in Guantanamo Bay would have been because of ‘A Few Good Men’. In that film of course we find the defiant Colonel Jessup played by Jack Nicholson. Colonel Jessup tells us he does ungodly things in the name of the United States, things that are done by hard discipline and rigorous application to duty, that allows the rest of the United States to sleep safely at night.

Of course Tom Cruise’s character Dan Kaffee bests him in court when baited, Jessup tells the court that on Gitmo, he is God. And of course that’s been the problem with Guantanamo Bay in real life. He famously thunders at tom Cruise that he, – and by extension, us, the audience – cannot handle the Truth. The so-called real-life terrorists held in Gitmo were sent there because Gitmo  exists in a kind of legal grey area where due process under the law could sneak past. At the time it was argued against in the Supreme Court, the Judges had to admit that things that happened on Gitmo lay just beyond the reach of their jurisdiction.

I recall laughing out loud at the audaciousness of the Neo-Cons to construct a ruse so evil, so legalistic, so sophisticated in its sophistry, but I have to admit I was one of the few. There’s nothing funny about a place where they torture people without trial or recourse to a legal defense. The horrors of the place are doubtlessly giving David Hicks nightmares to this day. Guantanamo Bay was the end result of a Machiavelli’s The Prince, misapplied. The horror of which is  only beginning to be wound down under the new White House.

Thus it is with a bit of irony that I present this article sent in by Pleiades:

As a juvenile, Jawad should have been treated with care, held separately from the adult population and provided educational and other rehabilitation services. Instead, he was placed in isolation and deprived of sleep. More than once he tried to commit suicide, according to detainee records.

Eventually I learned of evidence from field reports suggesting that he was innocent. The reports indicated that he had been recruited by terrorists who drugged him and lied to him, and that others had probably perpetrated the offenses with which he was being charged. It took me a long time to obtain this evidence. I had sought it repeatedly, and military investigators had repeatedly denied me access to it. Only after long delays and many, many requests was it finally given to me, because even after nearly seven years, the military commissions do not have a system in place for discovering exculpatory evidence or providing it to the defense.

I tried to negotiate an agreement to have Jawad rehabilitated and sent back to Afghanistan, where he could be reunited with his family. It was clear to me that he should not have been imprisoned any longer. But the chief prosecutor dismissed that idea out of hand.

I wasn’t able to discuss any of the cases I was working on with family or friends because most of the information I was working with was classified. As I sank deeper and deeper into despair, I turned to a Jesuit priest who has written and spoken widely about justice, Father John Dear. I could not give Father John much detail, but he understood my plight immediately. “Quit Gitmo,” he said without hesitation. “The whole world knows it is a farce. Refuse to cooperate with evil, and start your life over.”

And that was just the prosecutor having a devil of a time out in Gitmo. It’s a good thing Camp X-Ray is getting wound down. If you had read Foucault, none of this would have come as a surprise. The War on Terror has managed to tick all the boxes and left America morally bankrupt.

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