L. Neil Smith's
Number 274, June 6, 2004

What do we need ... what do we not need?

Be Ashamed ... Be Very Ashamed
by L. Neil Smith

Special to TLE

Reproduced with permission from
The Western Libertarian Alliance
In case you have been hermetically sealed in a cave somewhere—or simply been limited exclusively to watching and listening to the whorishly "embedded" American "news" media—you may not know that the United States government has been up to some astonishingly ugly business at its military base in Guantanamo, Cuba, and in other places.

Prosecuting its undeclared and illegal war in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere, it is holding several hundred individuals captive at that base, denying them due process on the ludicrous and self-serving grounds that they are not in the United States and, therefore, the protections afforded by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights don't apply.

Nor, insists the government, do its victims deserve status under international law as prisoners of war, because they are "illegal combatants", whatever that bit of Orwellian babble means. Some have been held there without charges or legal representation for over two years.

When I first heard, a couple of weeks ago, that the military was going to release five of its concentration camp inmates—all of those to be released happened to be British subjects—I made two predictions.

One of them was that some kind of political or economic pressure had been brought to bear to force their release. Attitudes, ambitions, and activities of the current American government that have culminated in the brutal invasion, occupation, and oppression of two feeble Third World countries—and demonstrably predate the events of September 11, 2001—are, to the immense embarrassment of the sycophantic Tony Blair regime, extremely unpopular in Great Britain, which recently witnessed the largest anti-war, anti-government demonstrations in its history.

My other prediction was that, once these released prisoners began telling us what was going on in Cuba, what had been done to them, and is still being done to others, it would be the beginning of the end to the Guantanamo imprisonments, and possibly to the Bush Administration, itself.

Just what is being done to the Guantanamo prisoners? According to Independent Media-TV and other independent sources, Jamal Al-Harith, a 37-year-old web page designer and father of three from Manchester—the first British national released—says they are kept in small wire cages, exposed to the hot sun and cold rain, as well as to rats, snakes, insects, and scorpions. They are subject to frequent brutal beatings for minor offenses, torture, and systematic humiliation. He says that especially devout younger Muslims who have never seen an "unveiled" woman before are forced to watch female strippers fondle themselves, and that prisoners are told "we will kill your family and you."

Bound tightly until their circulation is cut off, and chained to a concrete floor, prisoners are interrogated for as long as 15 hours at a time by CIA and British intelligence. They are drugged—on one occasion, Al-Harith refused an unidentified injection and was punished for it by being beaten twice by the military police "Extreme Reaction Force", using fists, clubs, feet, and knives, while the jackbooted thugs, in full regalia, shouted "Comply! Comply! Do not resist! Do not resist!"

They are starved when it suits their captors—who make them watch other prisoners eat. They are fed rations ten years out of date. "Recreation meant your legs were untied and you walked up and down a strip of gravel. They actually said that 'You have no rights here.' After a while, we stopped asking for human rights—we wanted animal rights."

I'm not going further with this right now. It is as painful and sickening to write as it was painful and sickening to read—in fact, I've been putting it off for days. If you want to see more, just put "Guantanamo"+"torture" in your search engine. I must admit that, as long as I've lived, and as cynical as I've grown about government and the corruptibility of individuals when they are given life-and-death power over others, these stories disheartened me and made me sick for days.

Regarding my first prediction, we may never know why the prisoners of Guantanamo were let go. I don't believe this government would ever have released them, after holding and abusing them in clear violation of the Constitution and international rules of civilized behavior, if it hadn't somehow been compelled to. Nor are we offered a clue about who it was who put the pressure on. Looking at coverage on the Web and the Internet, groups like the UN and Amnesty International seem oddly helpless to deal with these travesties. Here in the United States, they represent perhaps the most effectively spiked news story in history.

And the Bush Administration is in court right now, trying to keep it that way by demanding the absolute power to conceal what it is doing.

Be that as it may, every individual connected with these outrages—from the muscle at the bottom doing the dirty work, all the way up to George Bush—should be removed from office and tried for war crimes. Members of the "Extreme Reaction Force" should be publicly hanged by the neck until dead to emphasize the fact, established at Nuremberg after World War Two, that there are some orders—and certain animalistic impulses—that must never be obeyed, on pain of death.

But even more repulsive than what's happening at Guantanamo (and ultimately a worse sign for our civilization) are "patriots" on the Internet—the same kind of low, slimy, crawling, cowardly "good Germans" and authoritarian lickspittles who pretended not to smell the stinking chimneys of Buchenwald or Belsen, or to notice the fine gray ash of human flesh settling on their doorsteps—who not only take the side of the jackbooted thugs, but make fun of their helpless victims.

You know who you are.

Make no mistake, it is perfectly valid to ask is why we should believe Jamal Al-Harith, as other British releasees are beginning to corroborate him. I believe them because, after 57 years of being alive and looking around, they sound credible. More important, what they say was done to them—is still being done to many others—is entirely consistent with what I've watched this government do over those 57 years.

I believe them because, like you, I saw what happened at Waco and Ruby Ridge, and because I eventually learned the truth about the Tonkin Gulf "Incident", Operation Keelhaul, and the murder of Gordon Kahl.

I believe because, from Paleolithic times, this is what government has been all about. It's all that government is about, or ever will be.

This article first appeared in a recent special-edition newspaper, The Western Libertarian Alliance distributed at the Libertarian Party's national convention over the May 28-31 weekend in Atlanta, Georgia. If you'd like a copy of it, please write to http://www.westernlibertarian.org/


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