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Guantánamo Diaries
Revelations expose cowardice and mistreatment of prisoners

by Bryan Zepp Jamieson
April 23, 2011

WikiLeaks came out with the first of some 477 pages of revelations about the American Gulag at Guantánamo. That the United States government was lying to all of us and the entire world comes as no surprise. What is mildly surprising and depressing is that they weren't even lying to themselves; they tortured and abused people for years on end, KNOWING they were innocent of any wrongdoing and posed no threat to America.

You have to wonder how many of Stalin's jailkeepers knew their charges were innocent. If they did, they were the lowest filth on earth.

If the authorities at Guantánamo knew it, they are the lowest filth on earth, too. Granted, such filth exists in many countries. But America wasn't supposed to be one of those. Certainly Presidents Bush and Obama fit in that category, as does the cowardly and criminal circus known as congress which has steadfastly refused to allow the people held at Guantánamo fair and open trials.

We always suspected it was because America felt it didn't have a solid case against most and possibly all of these victims.

Now we know that it was because America had absolutely no case at all, knew it, and wanted to hide it.

The only reason those men are in jail is because of brittle cowardice by several Congresses and two White Houses. Nothing more.

Hundreds of innocent men were grabbed, tied up, hooded, tortured, abused, flown to a strange land thousands of miles away, and then tortured and abused for years without charges and without trial, just because a cowardly piece of shit of an American president wanted it to look like he was doing something about terrorism.

Obama, to his credit, tried to close Guantánamo, and was planning to move the men to American federal prisons to await trial. The Republicans fought this as hard as they could, screaming the absurdity that nobody would be safe if “terrorists were on American soil”. The notion that federal prisons couldn't protect the public from them was silly enough, but it scared enough really stupid and timid people that eventually the admin had to back off, and Guantánamo remained open.

You have to wonder if this information is the real reason for the Obama administration's disgraceful and cowardly treatment of Bradley Manning, suspected (but not even charged with) passing along classified information to WikiLeaks. Was Obama perpetrating the cowardice of the Republicans, hiding the crimes that were, themselves, predicated on exactly the same type of cowardice?

How many innocent people will end up in jail to help the government deal with its ever-increasing cowardice and paranoia?

Two very well rewarded informants led to the arrest and imprisonment of 227 men. One, a Yemeni named Mohammed Basardah, lived in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, where he was jailed for smuggling pot and stealing a car. He was scooped up in Pakistan in 2001, apparently in the company of some men suspected of being from the Tora Bora complex in Afghanistan. In return for shopping 123 people—most of whom it later turned out he knew by name only—he got his freedom.

The other one was named Abu Zubaydah, and apparently the Americans believe he actually was involved in al Qaida in some way. After being waterboarded hundreds of times, he gave up 104 names, nearly none of which turned out to be terrorists, or even car-stealing pot smugglers.

That's the beauty of torture: do it long enough and you WILL get information, and if you don't give a shit whether the information is accurate or not, it can be a real career booster. You have to wonder how many of America's finest got promotions and medals for torturing people into fingering innocent people in order to make the torture stop.

At least one of the people scooped up was a fellow named Adil Hadi al Jazairi Bin Hamlili, and he apparently worked, not for al-Qaida, but for the British intelligence bureau, MI6, and the Canadian SIS. They justified the arrest on the fact that the persons who bombed a church in Islamabad, killing five people including a US ambassador, had supposedly accessed the area by claiming to be carpet salesmen. Hamlili, it turns out, is a carpet salesman, an occupation that is very rare in the middle east. I mean, come on! When was the last time you heard of carpets being sold in the soukh?

The Gitmo authorities apparently based some of the evidence on stuff told to them by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed during one of the 183 times they waterboarded him. So I'm sure it's utterly reliable information, just as information coerced under torture always is.

Hamlili apparently actually was part of the jihadi underground and had been since 1986, when he was aged 11. So the US probably helped in training him since he was active in the insurrections against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. And yes, that would be the same United States that regularly condemns some of the more contemptible third world nations for their use of child soldiers.

Last year Hamlili was turned over to the tender mercies of the Algerian government, who probably will treat him the same way the American government did, only in French. It's pretty unlikely he'll ever actually be charged with a crime, let alone tried. America and Algeria don't work that way.

No charges, no trial, no sentence. Just endless incarceration and torture. According to the Guardian, of the 779 men in Gitmo, “Almost 100 Guantánamo prisoners were classified by the US army as having psychiatric illnesses including severe depression, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.”

One of them, Modullah Abdul Raziq, might well have been nuts before the American's scooped him up. The Guardian reports that his behavior included “ripping off his uniform, drinking shampoo, daubing his cell and himself with excrement and spitting at guards. Psychiatrists concluded he had a disorder "psychotic in nature, likely schizophrenia" and called for his removal from the base.” the Guardian dryly noted that “even US intelligence officers acknowledged [he was] unsuitable for interrogation.”

He was one of the first to be released, as even US screws admitted that turfing him out to Afghanistan “will remove a significant personnel burden and security risk from Camp X-ray, that provides no intelligence value to US forces, and an individual more than likely incapable of standing trial”. So he was only locked up for a year, apparently not even suspected of a crime.

Again, according to the Guardian, “A 2004 assessment of Algerian Abdul Raham Houari noted that owing to "significant penetrating head trauma in 2001" he had frontal brain damage causing psychosis, slowed motor functions and difficulty with speech and understanding. The assessment said he would need some form of custodial long-term care. Houari was held in Guantánamo for a further four years, during which time he made at least four suicide attempts, according to press reports.”

You have to wonder if US interrogators took up driving nails into prisoners head, and that's what happened to Houari. The report concluded that he would require permanent custodial care, which means he wasn't even self-care, let along a serious threat to the United States.

They only held him for another four years. Lucky for Republicans that he wasn't shipped to a Federal Prison. Why, he would have ripped those bars apart, made his escape, and run for office as a Democrat! Army “psychiatrists” dismissed a lot of the behavior as being merely “manipulative”, including one case where the man suffered severe brain damage from asphyxiation incurred during a suicide attempt. People who no longer have the ability to speak, manage toilet training or even look directly at someone are master manipulators, you know. No prison guard in America could possibly outwit them.

But America decided to take a big chance. “As a result of his condition he was considered to be of low threat and intelligence value to the US. He was released a year later.”

All over America tonight, right wingers will be quivering under their beds, listening for the telltale creak of a wheelchair and the unmistakable sound of a semi-vegetable crapping himself.

There were five suicides among the prisoners at Gitmo, a surprisingly low number. None of the five were determined to have emotional or psychological issues, but were regarded as “disruptive” and “troublemakers”. Maybe Hamlili wrote the assessment.

The saddest thing about these leaks is how unsurprising they are. It's long been suspected that Gitmo served no useful purpose beyond a cowardly and brittle president pretending to his cowardly and brittle supporters that he was getting tough on terrorism. Now we -know- it for a fact.

It will take years to remove the stain of Gitmo from America's reputation. Obama can start by renewing his drive to get the facility closed, and the men remaining tried in afair and open court.

Assuming, of course, that he isn't just carrying on the proud tradition of George W. Bush.

A final note from the Guardian: Yemeni inmate Mohammed Abdullah Saleh had 163 infractions against his name by June 2008, including "inciting mass disturbances". Seven years after his capture on the Afghan frontline he was refused release. A year later, after reportedly being force-fed during a hunger strike in the camp's psychiatric section, it was announced he had killed himself. The circumstances were not explained.

Posted: April 29, 2011

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