According to news reports, the library currently has 3,500 volumes on pre-approved topics. Prisoners have to order books in advance. (They can’t just wander through the stacks.) And the most popular books include Agatha Christie mysteries, the self-help manual Don’t Be Sad; The Lord of the Rings; and, of course, Harry Potter.
I’m relieved the president reiterated his support this morning for closing one of the most potent recruiters for Jihad against the US on the planet. I await his executive decision to release the innocent Yemeni prisoners to their country of origin. Or is this more bullshit/impotence? But Gitmo’s awful impact on American soft power is nothing compared to its potency as a toxin against the Constitution. Read Joe Nocera on a man captured at the age of 20, with no proof of his involvement in Jihad, and now destined to live a life sentence, if the US Congress has its way. Life-long detention without ever having committed any actual crime? That’s now the meaning of America, as represented by the Congress? Yes, it is. This is America, as recorded in a must-read diary from GTMO. In August of 2003, after days of “interrogation”, a prisoner was seized from his cell and taken out on a boat in the Caribbean:
My first thought was, they mistook me for somebody else. My second thought was to try to look around, but one of the guards was squeezing my face against the floor. I saw the dog fighting to get loose. I saw [——-] standing up, looking helpless at the guards working on me. “Blindfold the motherfucker! He’s trying to look—” One of them hit me hard across the face and quickly put goggles on my eyes, earmuffs on my ears, and a small bag over my head. They tightened the chains around my ankles and my wrists; afterward I started to bleed. All I could hear was [——-] cursing, “F-ing this and F-ing that.” I thought they were going to execute me.
The other guard dragged me out with my toes tracing the way, and threw me in a truck, which immediately took off. The beating party would last for the next three to four hours, before they turned me over to another team that would use different torture techniques. “Stop praying, motherfucker. You’re killing people,” [——-] said, and punched me hard on my mouth. My mouth and nose started to bleed, and my lips grew so big that I technically could not speak anymore. The colleague of [——-] turned out to be one of my guards; [——-] and [——-] each took one of my sides and started to punch me and smash me against the metal of the truck. One of the guys hit me so that my breath stopped and I was choking. I felt like I was breathing through my ribs. …
Inside the boat, [——-] made me drink salt water, I believe it was direct from the ocean. It was so nasty I threw it up. They put an object in my mouth and shouted, “Swallow, motherfucker!” I decided inside not to swallow the organ-damaging salt water, which choked me as they kept pouring the water in my mouth. “Swallow, you idiot!” I contemplated quickly, and decided for the nasty, damaging water rather than death.
[——-] and [——-] had been escorting me for about three hours in the high-speed boat. The goal of such trip was, first, to torture the detainee and claim that the “detainee hurt himself during transport,” and second to make the detainee believe he is being transferred to some far faraway secret prison. We detainees knew all about this; we had detainees who reported flying four hours and finding themselves in the same jail where they started.
If I had read this in my teens, I would have assumed this was a description of a Soviet Gulag or a South American fascist dictatorship. But this is America – and it tells you everything you need to know about the profound corruption in the ship of state that the man who authorized all of this was just feted by all living former presidents. As for accountability, here’s who has been held accountable: [——–].