Narcolepsy on Gitmo Detainees


Last week, in an overwhelming display of conservative paranoia and liberal befuddlement, the US Senate voted by 94-3 to approve an amendment by Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell, the Senior Republican Senator for Kentucky and a champion of NIMBYism (Not In My Back Yard), declaring that prisoners in Guantánamo should not be transferred to facilities on the US mainland. McConnell’s amendment stated that detainees, "including senior members of al-Qaeda, should not be released to American society" or transferred into "facilities in American communities and neighborhoods." According to Townhall.com, "The bill was titled in a way that [Senators] had to vote yes to vote no, and no to vote yes," adding that, "Before the Democrats, who clearly hadn’t read the amendment, realized they screwed up, the vote was recorded."

Having blind-sided the sleeping Democrats to such an extent that Townhall.com entitled its article, "The Night Mitch McConnell became the leader of the Republican Party," McConnell spelled out his concerns in an outpouring of NIMBYist sentiment, ignoring the fact that the military brigs to which detainees would likely be transferred–Fort Leavenworth and Charleston–are located in Kansas and South Carolina, and raising the ludicrous specter of a bin Laden in every neighborhood. "Some in Congress have actually proposed that we require the President to move terrorist detainees held at Guantánamo Bay to the continental United States and keep them here," he fulminated. "That means moving them into facilities in cities and small towns across America in states like California and Illinois and Kentucky. Well, I can guarantee you that my constituents don’t want terrorists housed in their backyards in Fort Knox, Fort Wright or anywhere else within the Commonwealth. I know I don’t."

Those pressing for the transfer of prisoners from Guantánamo to the US mainland don’t want "terrorists" transferred to your backyards either, Senator, and no one is suggesting that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and the handful of other dangerous men held in Guantánamo would end up on day release seeking out electrical components in a yard sale in suburban Louisville. We could argue endlessly about what will happen to the "hard-core" al-Qaeda members held in Guantánamo (up to 80 men, according to the government, but no more than three dozen, according to senior officials cited by the New York Times in June 2004, plus the "high value" detainees transferred in September 2006). What the proposal to close Guantánamo is really about, however, as Donald Rumsfeld’s replacement Robert Gates stated when he took the job of defense secretary in November (before he was muffled by Dick Cheney), is to overcome the fact that the current system of indefinite detention without trial has "become so tainted abroad that legal proceedings at Guantánamo would be viewed as illegitimate."

Any move to amend the current situation would, of course, be fraught with problems–a tsunami of civil litigation if the detainees were allowed access to the federal courts; rather less if the military brig option were pursued–but a collective hissy fit by a group of old men with no imagination beyond the parochial is no answer to the ongoing injustice of the Guantánamo regime. 365 men are currently held in Guantánamo, and not a single one of them has actually been found to be a "terrorist" in anywhere other than the recesses of the President’s brain, or in the tribunals at Guantánamo, in which, as former insider Lt. Col. Stephen Abraham recently explained, the gathering of materials was severely flawed, relying on intelligence "of a generalized nature," which was often outdated and often "generic," and the whole system was geared towards rubber-stamping the detainees’ prior designation as "enemy combatants."

Senator McConnell may wish to reflect that one of "terrorists" to whom he alludes–a Yemeni named Mahmoud al-Mujahid, who is still in Guantánamo–was judged as having an association with Osama bin Laden because he saw him on TV. "I have never physically seen Osama bin Laden," al-Mujahid explained to his tribunal. When pressed that he had "admitted to knowing Osama bin Laden," during prior interrogation, he again explained, "I never knew Osama bin Laden. When the interrogators kept bothering me with this question, I told them, ‘I saw him five times, three on al-Jazeera, and twice on Yemeni news.’ After this they kept after me really hard. I told them, ‘OK, I know him, whatever you want. Just give me a break.’"

ANDY WORTHINGTON (www.andyworthington.co.uk) is a British historian, and the author of ‘The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison’ (to be published by Pluto Press in October 2007).
He can be reached at: andy@andyworthington.co.uk

Weekend Edition
October 9-11, 2015
David Price – Roberto J. González
The Use and Abuse of Culture (and Children): The Human Terrain System’s Rationalization of Pedophilia in Afghanistan
Mike Whitney
Putin’s “Endgame” in Syria
Jason Hribal
The Tilikum Effect and the Downfall of SeaWorld
Paul Street
Hope in Abandonment: Cuba, Detroit, and Earth-Scientific Socialism
Gary Leupp
The Six Most Disastrous Interventions of the 21st Century
Andrew Levine
In Syria, Obama is Playing a Losing Game
Louis Proyect
The End of Academic Freedom in America: the Case of Steven Salaita
Rob Urie
Democrats, Neoliberalism and the TPP
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
The Bully Recalibrates: U.S. Signals Policy Shift in Syria
Brian Cloughley
Hospital Slaughter and the US/NATO Propaganda Machine
John Walsh
For Vietnam: Artemisinin From China, Agent Orange From America
John Wight
No Moral High Ground for the West on Syria
Robert Fantina
Canadian Universities vs. Israeli Apartheid
Conn Hallinan
Portugal: Europe’s Left Batting 1000
John Feffer
Mouths Wide Shut: Obama’s War on Whistleblowers
Paul Craig Roberts
The Impulsiveness of US Power
Ron Jacobs
The Murderer as American Hero
Alex Nunns
“A Movement Looking for a Home”: the Meaning of Jeremy Corbyn
Philippe Marlière
Class Struggle at Air France
Binoy Kampmark
Waiting in Vain for Moderation: Syria, Russia and Washington’s Problem
Paul Edwards
Empire of Disaster
Xanthe Hall
Nuclear Madness: NATO’s WMD ‘Sharing’ Must End
Margaret Knapke
These Salvadoran Women Went to Prison for Suffering Miscarriages
Uri Avnery
Abbas: the Leader Without Glory
Halima Hatimy
#BlackLivesMatter: Black Liberation or Black Liberal Distraction?
Michael Brenner
Kissinger Revisited
Cesar Chelala
The Perverse Rise of Killer Robots
Halyna Mokrushyna
On Ukraine’s ‘Incorrect’ Past
Jason Cone
Even Wars Have Rules: a Fact Sheet on the Bombing of Kunduz Hospital
Walter Brasch
Mass Murders are Good for Business
William Hadfield
Sophistry Rising: the Refugee Debate in Germany
Christopher Brauchli
Why the NRA Profits From Mass Shootings
Hadi Kobaysi
How The US Uses (Takfiri) Extremists
Pete Dolack
There is Still Time to Defeat the Trans-Pacific Partnership
Marc Norton
The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution
Andre Vltchek
Stop Millions of Western Immigrants!
David Rosen
If Donald Dump Was President
Dave Lindorff
America’s Latest War Crime
Ann Garrison
Sankarist Spirit Resurges in Burkina Faso
Franklin Lamb
Official Investigation Needed After Afghan Hospital Bombing
Linn Washington Jr.
Wrongs In Wine-Land
Ronald Bleier
Am I Drinking Enough Water? Sneezing’s A Clue
Charles R. Larson
Prelude to the Spanish Civil War: Eduard Mendoza’s “An Englishman in Madrid”
David Yearsley
Papal Pop and Circumstance
October 08, 2015
Michael Horton
Why is the US Aiding and Enabling Saudi Arabia’s Genocidal War in Yemen?