As the twelfth anniversary of the opening of the torture center at Guantanamo Bay arrives, a group of authorities on the center and its prisoners spoke at an event hosted by World Can’t Wait. Debra Sweet, head of World Can’t Wait presided. The other participants were Ramzi Kasseem, professor at CUNY Law School and attorney for Shaker Aamer, Andy Worthington, British authority on the prisoners and author of the only book on the subject that has been published to date as well as author of a massive website with information about them, and Omar Farah of the Center for Constitutional Rights and attorney for Fahd Ghazy.
Panel from left: Debra Sweet, head of World Can’t Wait, Ramzi Kassem, Andy Worthington, and Omar Farah
As Debra remarked, though these are world authorities on the subject, no major US news outlets would have broadcast this discussion or even mentioned that it was taking place. The US media completely support the government and those in it who have created the torture camp and the entire system of US torture. Dick Cheney is quoted widely as willing to do it again. The media never challenges the widely believed error that all of the men in the prison are “the worst of the worst”, when in fact nearly all of them were completely innocent of any aggression on the US or anyone and were rounded up and sold for bounty to the US which needed to fill up that torture camp that Cheney had built. Reports of the release of prisoners almost never mention that they have never been charged with any crime and further that they never committed any.
The following is from the Guardian of 22 November 2014:
‘“What the Obama administration is doing is dangerous and, frankly, reckless,’ the retiring chairman of the House armed services committee, Buck McKeon, said after Thursday’s transfers [of prisoners released from Guantanamo].
“’They have chosen many times to put politics above national security. It’s time they stop playing with fire and start doing what’s right. Until we can assure the terrorists stay off the battlefield, they must stay behind bars.'”
This is a member of the United States Congress who will not admit that almost all of these prisoners never committed acts of terror. He calls them all terrorists. The article does not make it clear that these prisoners, a large number of whom have been cleared for release by two US administrations, are not only not terrorists, but not guilty of any violence toward anyone.
The Guardian is a British journal, but it does not tell the truth about the prisoners either.
The speakers last night all talked about the “evidence” that is in the files of these men held at Guantanamo. Much of it comes from their fellow prisoners who were tortured in an effort to make them give evidence. They eventually said what their torturers wanted them to say in order to get the torture to stop. I don’t know that I would have been able to do anything different; would you?
There were two short films presented. One of them was about Shaker Aamer, the last remaining British prisoner in the torture camp.
Shaker Aamer with his children before he was captured
Called We Stand With Shaker, you can see it on youtube . You can see Andy perform his song about Shaker in this video.
The other film called Waiting for Fahd can also be seen on youtube. This film really helped me to see a person, not just a vague prisoner. I saw him through his family who are desperately waiting for him to be returned to them. I was able to get a glimpse of the tragedy of being a teenager who has never seen her father, of the wife and brother of a man who has been tortured and imprisoned, has been “cleared for release” but still languishes half way across the world from them in that place of torture.
Let us not think that torture no longer occurs at Guantanamo. Some of the worst of the physical torture may no longer take place, but Ramzi told us last night that the prisoners say the psychological torture is far worse. The waiting to leave, the agony of being told you are cleared for release years ago and still being there are worse.
My tax money pays for this torture and abuse. I know about it, though there is no doubt a lot more that I do not know about. I am outraged by this and do what I can to stop it. I also want to see the perpetrators of this torture, which is a crime under both US and international law, tried in courts of law. Eventually, the Nazi war criminals were tried. I continue to hope that the US ones will be, too. It will not be tomorrow, of course. The US media still will not even present an event as important as last night’s. For now, powerful Western countries are not challenging the US on this issue; some of them are complicit in the torture. I still continue to hope that the day will come when justice may prevail.