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.
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.