Friday, January 12, 2007

A Voice From Gitmo's Darkness

I'm fond of blogging about Gitmo. Oh, sweet Gitmo, apple of Bush's eye... how do I loathe thee? Let me count the ways. Gitmo stands as THE premiere example of what's this entire Administration: (1) It's secretive, (2) It's illegal, (3) they know it's illegal, that it breaks multiple laws and treaties and they don't care, (4) They lie about what happens there, (5) Torture happens there, (6) Innocents are imprisoned there and they know it, (7) Children are imprisoned there and they know it, (8) It violates every notion and legal precept that underlies our Constitution; habeus corpus, fast & fair trial, jury of your peees, right to an attorney, protection against self-incrimination, right to a impartial judge, the right not to be tortured and have whatever you blurt out to make the pain stop suddenly held against you in court, the right to face your accuser... the list goes on and on and on about what's wrong with America's Gulag™ at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

I've written about Bush & Cheney's zealous use of waterboarding, dog-baiting (and biting), freezing temperatures, sleep deprivation, stress-positions, loud noises, Koran-defacing (yes, it happened) and more. I've written myself blue in the face. So, let me stop writing for a second and turn this space over to Jumah al-Dossari, a 33-year-old citizen of Bahrain in his own words, excerpted from letters he wrote to his attorneys:

I AM WRITING from the darkness of the U.S. detention camp at Guantanamo in the hope that I can make our voices heard by the world. My hand quivers as I hold the pen.

In January 2002, I was picked up in Pakistan, blindfolded, shackled, drugged and loaded onto a plane flown to Cuba. When we got off the plane in Guantanamo, we did not know where we were. They took us to Camp X-Ray and locked us in cages with two buckets — one empty and one filled with water. We were to urinate in one and wash in the other.

At Guantanamo, soldiers have assaulted me, placed me in solitary confinement, threatened to kill me, threatened to kill my daughter and told me I will stay in Cuba for the rest of my life. They have deprived me of sleep, forced me to listen to extremely loud music and shined intense lights in my face. They have placed me in cold rooms for hours without food, drink or the ability to go to the bathroom or wash for prayers. They have wrapped me in the Israeli flag and told me there is a holy war between the Cross and the Star of David on one hand and the Crescent on the other. They have beaten me unconscious.

What I write here is not what my imagination fancies or my insanity dictates. These are verifiable facts witnessed by other detainees, representatives of the Red Cross, interrogators and translators.

During the first few years at Guantanamo, I was interrogated many times. My interrogators told me that they wanted me to admit that I am from Al Qaeda and that I was involved in the terrorist attacks on the United States. I told them that I have no connection to what they described. I am not a member of Al Qaeda. I did not encourage anyone to go fight for Al Qaeda. Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden have done nothing but kill and denigrate a religion. I never fought, and I never carried a weapon. I like the United States, and I am not an enemy. I have lived in the United States, and I wanted to become a citizen.

I know that the soldiers who did bad things to me represent themselves, not the United States. And I have to say that not all American soldiers stationed in Cuba tortured us or mistreated us. There were soldiers who treated us very humanely. Some even cried when they witnessed our dire conditions. Once, in Camp Delta, a soldier apologized to me and offered me hot chocolate and cookies. When I thanked him, he said, "I do not need you to thank me." I include this because I do not want readers to think that I fault all Americans.

But, why, after five years, is there no conclusion to the situation at Guantanamo? For how long will fathers, mothers, wives, siblings and children cry for their imprisoned loved ones? For how long will my daughter have to ask about my return? The answers can only be found with the fair-minded people of America.

I would rather die than stay here forever, and I have tried to commit suicide many times. The purpose of Guantanamo is to destroy people, and I have been destroyed. I am hopeless because our voices are not heard from the depths of the detention center.

If I die, please remember that there was a human being named Jumah at Guantanamo whose beliefs, dignity and humanity were abused. Please remember that there are hundreds of detainees at Guantanamo suffering the same misfortune. They have not been charged with any crimes. They have not been accused of taking any action against the United States.

Show the world the letters I gave you. Let the world read them. Let the world know the agony of the detainees in Cuba.
This is a Gulag of President Bush's making. The Supreme Court ordered him to unmake it and instead he twisted their rebuke into a sign of assent. The man is just this side of a South American dictator, and the crimes that happen at Guantánamo aren't his alone... they belong also to the 52% of Americans who re-elected him, but most especially to the 32% who still inexplicably support his every action. Jummah might say "I know that the soldiers who did bad things to me represent themselves, not the United States" but he is WRONG. Those soldiers represent the express desires of a stupid, uncaring population of the priviledged and uninformed. Those soldiers and their tortures represent a White House which redefined torture into a state policy. Those soldiers and their waterboarding represent a brutal thug of a President who refuses to admit the lessons that HUNDREDS of years of police work has proven: that beatings and torture produce false confessions and that personal interaction and produce actionable information. Bush doesn't have these people in Gitmo because he thinks they're truly guilty... the military itself has told him repeatedly that this is NOT true.

No, Bush has those people there because he likes torturing people. His personal relationship with God assuages his guilt... but what assuages OURS? Gitmo has been in existence for five years now, with no end in sight. Call your Senators and Congressperson and tell them enough is enough.