Black Sites and GITMO

Picture from Wikipedia

Picture from Wikipedia

I’ve been going through articles on the UC Davis Guantanamo Testimonials Project and reading about what GITMO detainees went through. It is a project dedicated to collecting the testimonies of those who have been involved with dentition at Guantanamo Bay in their own words. I’m trying to learn about something that terrifies me, I want to stop reading the articles but I feel drawn into the testimonies of prisoners and jailers alike and I want to bear witness to the history they have to tell.

One of the testimonies was about an innocent man – there are a lot about innocent people, just look at the list of names of the detained and see how many have been released – but this guy was snatched up and tortured for eight fucking years. Eight years of his life were taken away, by a government of separate sovereignty than his own and sent to a faraway land (if this happened to US citizens on the regular we’d be at war or we’d at least send in Bill Clinton). This guy is a Kuwaiti and elements of the US government hears about him and somehow suspects him of terrorism, snatches him off the street, throws him in jail, and then sends him to Guantanamo Bay Cuba to be tortured for 8 years of his life.

Shit’s brutal.

A court heard his case in the US and the judge said that there wasn’t enough evidence to have him locked up in the first place, much less put him into the most notorious High Value Target (HVT) detention facilities ran by the most powerful empire (or Super Power what ever language you prefer) in the world to be tortured and detained for almost a decade. It’s scary to think about how much power over the lives of others some people have. And there are tons of article similar to this one about lots of different people on the site, not just detainees but soldiers and civilian alike all confirming what went on, what goes on there.

This terrifies me and it’s not just the idea of being locked up and tortured for being nothing more than, in a lot of cases of the detainees, being in the wrong place at the wrong time. It’s the understanding that there’s an entity in the world that claims to represent my interests that’s powerful enough to put people from all over the world anywhere they want and treat them with torture to gain information. GITMO isn’t a just a jail it’s a processing center. It’s a place where you go if the US really suspects you of terrorism. It is a processing center that controls your life until it determines whether or not it’s through with you. The places you go if the US really really thinks your guilty – guilt determined by means that don’t work (aka torture) – are called black sites, black because they’ll be redacted with black ink as soon as the printer ink dries. These are dark holes officials in the US government throw people to be tortured away from the peering eyes of its own citizenry and the world. All without a hearing, all based on the principle of guilty until proven innocent veiled in obscure readings of the law, it freaks me out.

I’m so thankful I am not any of these people, the guards, the interrogators, but especially the ‘detainees’. We should call them what they really are, victims of a powerful faceless system that represents a small segment of the human population and it has the power to determine who is an enemy by a secret and ever changing set of criteria with ‘no meaningful insight’.

These are the stories I’m really afraid of. When I got home from Afghanistan I remember telling my mom, “When I was younger, I remember being scared of ghosts and demons, now that I’m home I know there are scarier things that go bump in the night, like a human being with an RPG.” Yeah and big-damn governments that could chose to call you an enemy because you aren’t the way it thinks you should be.

Just a side note, here is a video of Christopher Hitchens agreeing to be water boarded. Very informative for those who have never seen what water boarding is really like.

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Dreams

M16

I had a dream last night that I’ve had many times before.

Back in the mountains of what seemed like Afghanistan, in one of those dry valleys with rock faces reminiscent of Mars, mountains so old they’re crumbling under their own weigh. A small stream twists and cuts its way through the rock for untold eons and it creates the valley I’m standing in. This place seems familiar like somewhere I called home for a small piece of my life.

I’m in full battle-rattle; DCUs (desert camouflage), tan combat boots, wonderfully fitted helmet, LBE (Load Bearing Equipment) vest chalk full of canteens ammo and grenades, Kevlar vest, and a semi-trusty M-16A2 rifle. I either look terribly silly or an intimidating sight to the back-water tribesmen and nomads that fill the dreamspace. In reality I must look like an invader, something foreign and barely recognizable as a fellow human being in all that gear. But I see myself as the epitome of military professionalism, no smiles for the children that gather to look at me and my compatriots occupying a little piece of their part of Earth.

I see myself in a convoy of military vehicles filing through the valley that has stopped to allow a band of nomads to pass across the road in front of us. I watch them as they flow past us, robes and cloth flapping lightly in the wind. I’m a few vehicles back from the front, watching for any ill will in the form of weaponry from those fellows or the surrounding area. We barely notice a child of no more than twelve come from out of the dust and walk straight up to the lead vehicle in the convoy. One of his little hands pulls a 9 millimeter pistol from his cloths, point the weapon into the open driver-side widow and begins to fire and unloads the magazine into the vehicle.

The driver was leaning back and the kids bullets found the passenger. As soon as he was able the driver disables the kid and with a quick motion the kids arm no longer bends the way its suppose to.

I see later into that day and the passenger is lying in the medic shop of our little out in the middle of no-where fire base made of mudbrick, sandbags, plywood, and Hesco-walls. The medic’s shop is roomier than one would expect seeing it from the outside, two full hospital beds and all manner of equipment kept immaculately clean by the professional combat medics that call that place ‘the office’. On one table a doc is pulling expended rounds from the passenger’s body, he’s laid up, drugged, no pain where his mind is. The shooter – the kid – is on the other bed getting his arm fixed up by another medic, another soldier holds an M-4 carbine and points it at the kids head from a few feet back waiting for him to move the wrong way, emotions are a mother fucker some times. “Point that thing somewhere else.” Doc doesn’t like guns in the office.

The passenger wakes up. He’s a big man and when not on missions or planning for them he’s in the gym that is found on the firebase. Somehow the US military machine moved all the work out equipment you could want to this back-water alien place. Big-Man wakes up and the kid’s staring at him. Big-Man opens his eyes and the first thing he sees are the eyes of his would-be failed assassin. He blinks any dreams out his eyes and his arms flinch out and begin to strangle the kid. Doc and his medics pull him off, the soldier with the gun laughs as they pull the kid away into a different room.

I see a flash… I see my dad, he looks old and frail. We’re walking together down the street. He’s having trouble walking, he looks like he’s in his eighties, he’s 54. He was Navy reservist during Vietnam, they tell me he was exposed to Agent Orange while the fleet was anchored at Yankee Station. He smiles a lot, so do I, some sort of lopsided thing I plaster on my face. Fake smiles are all I could do for years after I got back home. My dad’s smile was kind of fake too, maybe not fake, more like something to keep things from getting awkward as he figures out how to say whatever it is he is going to say, more of a real smile than I can muster. We share a walk; we say things I no longer remember.

I wake up.

I have this dream from time to time, sometimes I am the child, sometimes I’m Big-Man, sometimes the driver, sometimes my father, sometimes the bullets, sometimes the valley, and sometimes one of the nomads, all aspects and many perspectives. When this dream haunts my thoughts I’m forced to think that I share the fate of living with all mankind.

I’d be anyone else if I possessed a different perspective. I am what I am. You are what you are. We are what we are in relation to our experience and the way we behave to stimulus from the world that we perceive and interact with.

Sometimes I think that we’re all sharing the same soul. That somehow none of us are different, that if put in anyone else’s shoes, having to live the lives others lived, I would’ve made the same decisions anyone else has. Sometimes that thought makes me smile; times like after I’ve had that dream the thought makes me weep.

Cemetaries

 

Cemeteries call out to me, do they call you too?

We’re all dead men on leave a general once said.

It’s nothing but ash we’re promised, pipe dreams

of infinity. But what about this portion of the eternal?

 

What of this moment, in it exists all the ramifications

of the past blossoming into fruition and all futures

yet seen. This moment is the holy temple of existence that

many spend entire lives seeking, can we just pretend

 

some semblance of civility? The afterlife

and their associated religions

are things we’re taught, he’vn or hell but it ain’t like that.

Civility before emotional reaction, do unto others as you would

have them do unto you. Remember that infinity is this too.

 

In this moment, and series of moments called life

is the heaven, is the hell of our experience.

 

Inevitably this always boils back down to rule number one

for living this life: Don’t be a dick*. We’re all slowly dying and

our grasp of this existence is limited by our experiences

filtered through the limited senses we’re born with

and the reason we forge.

 

All we have is this moment of clarity in a blink of an eye existence

that’s over before you knew it.

 

*Shout out to a wise lady.

I Ain’t Cryin, I Got Allergies is All

So I just got home from school, the drive took me a lot longer than usual. About half-way home I got hit with a blast from the past, a good fucking dose of mental images popped into my head while I was driving, of some of my past experiences. The images were so intense and they were in concert with a really bad migraine that was making itself known. The pain was telling me, “You better look at these images and feel this pain. You look and feel until you cry.” My eyes started to well up. I had to pull in a parking lot and get my shit together before getting back on the road.

Now I am welling up again. I feel the pain creeping back into my skull, the only thing holding its full force back is the sound of my fingers tapping the keys in front of me. It has been fucking years, I can tell I’m not done with the specters of the past, maybe I’ll never be done. I want to close my eyes and take a nap, but I know what waits for me on the other side of those fucking eye lids.

 

I listen to chill music when my mind overflows and work through the thoughts that barrage my mentality.

This time its: Tycho – A Walk

What do you do when you get flushed in emotions and have to get your head right?

Ixchel and Cruise Ships

Fading Hand Prints

My wife and I got back from our first cruise awhile back. We were on the boat for four days, it was a neat experience but the best part of the trip was when we went and saw the ruins of a Mayan holy site on the island of Cozumel. We could see the ancient fading paint still adorning the wall in the building behind the high priests sarcophagus. My wife said, “Do you see the hand prints?” I did, the color was a reddish brown and around it were blotches of reds, browns, yellows, and blues. The guide said it was the remnants of a mural of the goddess of fertility Ixchel, he then pulled from his pocket a handkerchief sized weaving of her representation and told us that’s what was on that wall.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We continued the tour and we were shown the ancient, now nearly rubble, road that lead from the coast miles away to this temple complex. People would use that road while making pilgrimage to the site . We could see the stone road into the distance, people had cleared the surrounding jungle from around the site and the road. The road was torn up, as you can imagine it would be after centuries of non-use, except where the entrance to the complex over the road still stands, there the road was in nearly perfect condition.

Seeing the paint and the hand print on the wall, the road where untold numbers treaded, to pay homage to a god, and to seek her blessing; these thoughts entranced me, entrance me still. The tour guide said that they who came to seek the blessing of Ixchel must be put to the test “as the people in the military are put to the test to prove themselves.” I wish I had noted what the tests were but thinking about it I remember think they sounded grueling and simulating death. The whole experience was amazing.

The cruise ship reminded me of the Tropicana Casino in Vegas. Not the nicest of joints and getting a little older, but there to get the party done. Just don’t look to closely at the grime and you will have a fine time. That should be Carnival Cruise Line’s advertisement.

Here’s something I wrote on the boat:

 

Cruise Prose – from ‘Malakoff Notebook #3’

I’ve feared the sea,

I still do but now I call

the fear respect.

The massive majesty

 

of expansive viscous

motion beacons me to

consider the souls

that’ve crashed its currents.

 

Looking into the depths

is remembering the insignificance

of one life as an itty-bitty drop

in the wider sea of humanity.

 

The fluidity of the currents

tosses my mind to places

of the sea’s desire, I am a slave

to the pull of its graces.

 

For the first time in my life I can’t see land.

Historic Time and the Process of Change

American

Meditation: from the Online Etymology Dictionary

c.1200, “contemplation; devout preoccupation; devotions, prayer,” from Old French meditacion “thought, reflection, study,” and directly from Latin meditationem (nominative meditatio) “a thinking over, meditation,”

 

I feel caught up in ever shifting tides, like I’m caught in currents of history long processes of transforming  thoughts and the shifting of cultural beliefs. I close my eyes and I can see the changing of the guard, the old world and its philosophies digested or discarded or incorporated and always influenced and influencing as the new-bloods shove their way to the forefront of the current. Countries, kingdoms, and old nation-states clamoring to be king of an imaginary hill, to gain a bigger piece of a nonexistent pie as old empires and their old colonies fracture and themselves transform into the next phase of their existence.

Sometimes it feels like I can do my part by dragging myself along for the ride and do my best to be a good example. If you want justice from the world be just, if you want wisdom seek wisdom, if peace is what you want then be peaceful. Learn patience and strive to be.

My dreams scream to me to leave my shattered banners behind, the symbols of old regimes belong in the museum not on the march to my grave, it’s the ideas of revolution that matter to me. Equality, Liberty, Solidarity. Discard whatever rules you and rule yourself, break the power of the belief in symbols and seek meaning. My soul whispers, ‘set the terms of your own sovereignty, no one knows better than you how to be you.’ So I try to rise up and be the best that I can be in any given moment at any given task. Every day I wage a revolt against myself, some days I win some days I loose, but it feels I’m in a constant state of transformation.

You can’t expect someone else to change your world for you. Like the cat said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

 

Listing to Tupac – So Many Tears  (read the lyrics if you haven’t already)

Choke Points and Chessboards

So I asked, “Why has the US occupied Afghanistan for so long?”, other than the emotional reasons that are spewed at us on a regular basis. What is really at stake for the US and allies in occupying Afghanistan and what is there to gain for those that push the chess pieces of civilizations? A sketch of the geo-political situation began to draw out in my mind after reading a lot on the subject (histories of the region, discussions on US grand strategy, learning about political alliances, and foreign investment) studying maps (historical and modern political maps of the world and region, resource maps, and topographical maps), taking classes, and having a vested interest, that the occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq was way bigger than a “war against terrorism” or a “war for oil.” It looks like it is a war for ‘regional stability’ (a term that seems to mean ‘within the United States or NATOs sphere of influence’). Regional stability = weapons contracts, land-grants, constitutional or dictatorial influence, and priority of business contracts to those companies that have been chosen by the ruling class to manage and exploit the resources within their grasp.

The US is conducting ‘secret wars’ all across the globe. In Africa SOCOM (Special Operations Command) is operating at high capacity to maintain or strengthen region stability (governments and militaries under the sphere of the US). In Yemen (i.e. global choke point “Bab-el-Mandeb”) the US is launching drone strikes from Djibouti to combat ‘terrorists.’

These terrorists are people fighting against the current government of Yemen which is influenced by “western” capital and investment. In Afghanistan and Iraq the sitting governments were toppled and new ones were put into their place. Now its further collapsing and ‘Balkanizing’. Look at a map and you can see that it is not only the resources of those countries that are important but their strategic location. Iraq at the head of the Persian Gulf and sharing the southern border of Iran. A major buffer state to Israel, the Saud regime, major deployment bases in Turkey, and the entire Persian Gulf has been a traditional mercantile ‘choke point’ since the incursion of the Portuguese monopolistic merchants in the 15th century. Afghanistan shares the Eastern boarder of Iran, shares a boarder with the former countries of the former USSR (and haven’t chosen a side in the unspoken undeclared Cold War simmering), It also shares a small boarder with China (potential future contender and current whispered rival) and Pakistan, which sits on the northern border of one of closest allies in the region, India.

All of these wars have been ascribed the same name “Global War on Terror” and assigned the same enemy “Al-Qaeda” (and a laundry list of affiliates) but these are only a few of the conflicts that are taking place now where the US is playing a major role (in personnel, equipment, economy) and has chosen to back some people against other people. This is always a dangerous game because many of the issues of the old wars, the wars of global dominance, have not been resolved, and many other strong powers have their fingers in some of the same pies as the US does but with similar intentions as the US.

What do you think?

 

Link to Tom O’brien’s Pirate and Smugglers History class lectures

 

 

Like the Solar System Burning Through

Sol's travels

 

This is a picture that represents what some think it’s like for our solar system as it moves through the galaxy beyond. It immediately reminds me of the visual representations of the magnetosphere that protects Earth.

 

I am inspired by this image. It reminds me of individual human beings moving through time. The central sphere that cocoons Sol and its satellites is the present, the moment, the everyday, the now. The tail of space that flows behind is our individual perspectives of our own history and the knowledge that interacts with our day to day, it is yesterday and every day before, never to be traveled through again, it represents to me, the only real understanding that any of us has at any given time. It wraps forward just a little bit, nudging us into the directions we think we should travel. The pink bit, scientists have coined the heliosheath, reminds me of the soon to be the interaction of this moment with the next, it’s bubbly and chaotic for it’s in that space that we finalize our decisions, or other peoples decisions interact with us. It is the unseen, the unknowable, the moment of indecision put to decision and letting the cards fall as they will. The orange is the future, it hasn’t yet touched us, but we are aware of it barreling toward us.

 

The pink bit is my favorite part, it is the interaction of past, present, and future forming the people we are and will become. The unknown future and our relationship to it seems to be chaos.

 

If the future is unknowable all we can do is plan for what we think is coming.

 

So it seems we are all individuals making decisions based on factors, not of control more of recommendation. Law, experience, fancy ideals such as Honor or Integrity and our interaction with one another (and tons of other factors) help to guide us to the next moment of our lives. I fucking love it.

 

Big conspiracies, like the New World Order or the Illuminati, use to freak me out and I would spend hours, days, researching connections and reading articles and comments on the internet. But I have found that nobody really knows what is going on, nobody can assuredly tell anyone what is going to happen in the future. Because we are all flung through time and space and god only knows what’s next. Sure you can plan for a world or a species unchanged, but it is those changes that stump everyone. That’s the thing about this space-time continuum, the mother fucker is always changing, everything. is . changing. Who, a hundred years ago, could have called the world in which we currently reside, with all of the new technology, philosophy, understandings of the universe, and understandings of how we as a species operate? Good luck planning for a world-wide dictatorship when the most technologically advanced people in human history still can’t get their collective heads around such simple concepts such as equality, justice, and reason.

 

In my mind, the future of our species doesn’t belong to groups of people or governments or conspiracies, it belongs to me and you and how we determine how to live in the next five fucking minutes. We are not alive for anyone else; we are alive to experience the universe through our own eyes. So open them every once in awhile, there’s a lot of shit going on.

Soar, Soul

Thinking about the rises and falls on the line graph that is an individual life.

Like Big Krit says, “Life ain’t nothing but an eq of highs and lows.”

Soar, Soul

We have to allow our spirits to fly as they will.

They might reach great heights, maybe even

that of Icarus’ reckon, perhaps further still.

Maybe even our egos can’t contain it

as there’s so much space for our spirits to soar.

Sometimes though, we do contain’em in

manageable cells, just put ‘em in little

menageries to show all of our guests,

“My what a pretty spirit you have there.”

Toss it in a cage and watch it die.

Sometimes we just forget, or break, and no longer

Remember how to allow a spirit to fly outside the cage

of our perception. Sometimes when we do let it out

it soars for a while and comes crashing back down,

not looking up anymore, just down

into the depths of things.

Hope stays my soul

that we learn to soar again,

sometime before we die.

Big Krit’s art is his music and he dishes it for free.

Also: Listening to Aphex Twin – Avril 14th