Archive for August, 2011

Torture in the US

August 30, 2011

Since working on the remaining prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, I have become even more sensitive to the treatment of prisoners in the US generally.  It is clear to me that torture goes on daily in city, county, state, and federal prisons in the US.

These are prisoners in Florida, not in Guantanamo

Here is a link to an article about “abuse” [read torture] of prisoners in Florida.  You can read here about the strike by prisoners at Pelican Bay in California, where torture is also practiced.   I remember reading articles some years ago about the torture and death of prisoners in a privately operated Corrections Corporation of America prison in Tennessee. [It is interesting that HCA, Healthcare Corporation of America, which enriches a group of politically connected Nashville doctors by charging exorbitant fees to deliver the least possible health care, is also based in Nashville and that a doctor is one of the founders of CCA.]  This was some years ago and I cannot now find that story, but there are many instances of torture of prisoners in the US.

The torture of prisoners at Guantanamo and the CIA and other black sites is part of a general degrading of the human person  in the US.  What can be expected when profits are more important than people, and indeed more important than anything else?  What are we doing to stop this relentless abrogation of civil and human rights?

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What a Difference

August 20, 2011

The news today is that two US citizens who were tried in Iran for espionage have been sentenced to eight years in prison.  Photographs of them show them in regular looking clothes with a lawyer.  They can appeal the decision.

  Shane Bauer (L) and Josh Fattal (C)

Frankly, I am unable to say what the merits of the case might be.  A woman who was with them and was released on bail, Sarah Shourd, says that they were hiking in Iraq and strayed over into Iran, which may well be true.  Their lawyer, Masoud Shafii, says the case is purely political.  There is no mention of torture or abuse in the article I read in the Guardian.

If in fact they were just hiking and crossed an unmarked border, this is indeed a gross injustice.  It is not of the magnitude, however, of that done to the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, who were sold by bounty hunters, many of them legitimately going about their business and almost none of them having done any harm to the US or anyone.  They were denied even lawyers for years, were all tortured and are still abused.

Almost none of the remaining prisoners at Guantanamo have had trials, though many of them have been cleared for release by US military authorities and some have won habeas corpus petitions.  They are imprisoned indefinitely without charge.  At least Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal have been tried, can appeal, and, if they lose on appeal, a prison term that will end.

I am opposed to all injustice.  I cannot fail to see that the injustice done by the US to the prisoners in Guantanamo and in its black sites around the world is worse than what might be done to Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal.  And as for Sarah Shourd, unlike even one prisoner at Guantanamo, since none of them can post bail, if she never returns to Iraq, though the bail money will be lost, she is not likely to be concerned with this again, unless Iran were to engage international police to force her to return.  Iran does not, unlike the US, have hit lists of persons whom it executes without trial anywhere in the world and agents empowered to perform those executions.

Can we not see what the US has become? There is no doubt that most of the rest of the world sees it clearly.

We rededicate ourselves to resist the machinery of war and repression

August 12, 2011

 

Torture Goes On

August 1, 2011

The stories on this blog, that will figure in an art installation at the Puffin Foundation Space in Teaneck, NJ, opening September 9, of the remaining prisoners in Guantanamo are part of my commitment to tell what we know about all these prisoners.  Eventually all of those stories will appear here.  It is worthy of noting that since I began that project on this blog in late January of this year, two of the prisoners there have died in mysterious circumstances.  Their stories will be included, along with any others who die before I finish.

This is part of what I can do to bring to light the horrors of the US program of torture and extrajudicial imprisonment.  Contrary to what many people in the US believe, the torture has not stopped. Parenthetically, it goes on in US prisons, too, as I write.  Torture has become a policy of the US and one that I find heinous and am working to stop.

Click here to read an article on Wired about the significance for continuing US torture of the appointment of Petraeus to head the CIA.

This article addresses things like the lack of “useful” information that can be had from torturing people, which is true; but the reason that the US should not torture is that it is a crime against humanity and violates its own and international laws.

We can know that the US has stopped torture when there is admission by the US authorities that it has tortured and when we see trials of the highest authorities responsible for that torture.  If the US does not address this matter itself, other nations may well do it and there could be something like Nuremberg for the US on this matter.

Short of that, it is not reasonable for me to believe that the US does not torture, that the individual states do not, and that torture is over in this country.