I just read a BBC story that a seventy year old US “aid expert” was kidnapped in August by armed men in Lahore Pakistan and continues to be held, and that the current head of al Qaeda has said he is being held “in retaliation.”
US Aid Expert Warren Weinstein
“‘Just as the Americans detain whomever they suspect may be connected to al-Qaeda or the Taliban even in the slightest of ways, we have detained this man who has been involved with US aid to Pakistan since the 1970s,’ Zawahiri said in the 31-minute video.
“He also demanded that America stop air strikes on Somalia and Yemen, according to a US monitoring group, Site Intelligence.”
My heart goes out to Mr Weinstein and his family. I am also very afraid for his conditions of imprisonment there, and in no small part because of what the US has done and continues to do to aid workers and other completely innocent people at Guantanamo and in its other black sites. My own values do not condone retaliation; the eye for an eye concept has not historically achieved desirable results, nor does it fit with my ideas about the way all human beings should be respected in and for themselves. I can, however, understand that people could want to retaliate against US crimes against humanity.
One of the grisliest stories at Guantanamo is about Shaker Aamer, a British resident with a British wife and children, who was engaged in humanitarian and educational work in Afghanistan at the time of the US invasion. Andy Worthington reported on 24 November of this year about his deteriorating condition and said,he “remains held, exactly ten years since he was first seized, even though he was notified that he had been cleared for release in 2007, and even though successive British governments have requested his return to the UK.”
Worthington further reports there that Aamer, an English speaker and greatly humanitarian person was a “foremost advocate” for his fellow prisoners. He “was tortured to within an inch of his life” during the same night that three prisoners died Shaker Aamer is held in complete solitary confinement since that incident reported as three “suicides” at the torture camp by US authorities, but which lawyer/writer Scott Horton has shown could not have been suicides. Military guards at the camp who later spoke with Horton suggest the three men were tortured to death.
Like so many of the nearly 800 men and boys who ended up in Guantanamo, Aamer was swept up in Dick Cheney’s indiscriminate drag net to catch enough people to populate the Guantanamo torture camp that had already been built and which was likely to go empty otherwise after he let the military president of Pakistan airlift probable al Qaeda and other leaders out of Kunduz. Cheney had to fill up the camp and anybody, especially Arab Muslims living in Afghanistan were the primary targets of his dragnet.
Torture still goes on at Guantanamo. Indefinite, extra-judicial imprisonment of people is against international law, and unless the current bill in Congress passes, is also illegal under US law. Whether the US “law” changes or not, such treatment of people clearly does not adhere to international legal standards.
The BBC article mentions the capture and beheading of Wall Street Journal writer Daniel Pearl, a horrific crime, to be sure . It does not, however, make any reference to the kidnapping and torture by the US of many people, not just the 779 in Guantanamo, but the thousands more in Bagram and black sites all over the world.
As it has sown, the US now reaps. People will not infinitely allow themselves to be attacked by drones, their countries ravaged by US wars of aggression, their people victims of US crimes against humanity.
The US must take the first step by stopping all aggression, closing all the prisons abroad and releasing the prisoners, withdrawing its military personnel from its bases all over the world, closing the bases and returning the property to the countries where they are located, stopping all drone and other air wars, and making amends to the world. Only in this way, can US citizens begin to be free and safe in the world.