Democratic Contenders Have Not Called for Closing Guantanamo

By Margaret Kimberly

“I have been forced to run in leg shackles that regularly ripped the skin off my ankles. Many other detainees experienced the same.”

—Guantanamo detainee David Hicks.

“I was responsible for the 9/11 operation, from A to Z”

—Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s Guantanamo confession.

Guantanamo is awash in confessions these days. Walid Mohammad bin Attash claims to have blown up the USS Cole. Khalid Sheik Mohammed confessed to planning 9/11, the bombing of U.S. embassies in Africa, and nightclubs in Bali. He also confessed to the killing of Daniel Pearl and perhaps Anna Nicole Smith, too.

An Australian prisoner, David Hicks, has confessed to terrorist activity. He spent 5 years at Guantanamo and recently pleaded guilty to providing material support for terrorism, which wasn’t even against U.S. law until October 2006. The only way for him to return home was to confess. He also had to sign an agreement denying his previous statements that he had been tortured. He had to promise not to sue the U.S. government, make any money from telling the story of his ordeal, or talk to the media for at least one year.

These confessions are not taken seriously by any intelligent people in this country and they are certainly not taken seriously by anyone outside of it. Even the namby-pamby Congressional actions on Iraq are sending the Bushites into a frenzy of show trials to justify waging endless war on the rest of humanity. The confessions will surely be repeated when the bombing of Iran begins.

Not only are these military tribunals a travesty and a great injustice to the people involved, but they have doomed our country. The hatred that spawned the 9/11 attacks has only grown with time. Now all Americans have bulls eyes on their heads because of the evil people who run this government.

There have been many brave efforts to stop this evil doing, but so far it has come to naught. U.S. courts have dismissed lawsuits, Congress enabled the administration by approving the kangaroo court system. Truth tellers like Democratic Senator Richard Durbin are sent to the wood shed by their own party for rightly comparing Guantanamo to a Nazi prison.

David Hicks is a white Australian who converted to Islam and lived in Afghanistan in 2001. He has been held for five years and was denied the most basic constitutional rights that he would have enjoyed in Australia or the United States. His family made his case a cause celebre in his country and forced his Bush-loving prime minister, John Howard, to negotiate for his release.

Howard is facing a tough election in November, so he doesn’t want Hicks mucking things up by telling his harrowing tales. Get him out but don’t let him talk until a more opportune time. So the man who was called terror enemy number one and originally threatened with a 20-year sentence will now be allowed to serve nine months in his native Australia.

Even if America survives until November 2008 and manages to get the Republicans out of the White House, none of the Democratic frontrunners has said anything about closing Gitmo and using the court system that successfully tried terror suspects before Bush came to office. Barack Obama thinks military courts are better.

“I’ve heard, for example, the argument that it should be military courts, and not federal judges, who should make decisions on these detainees. I actually agree with that. The problem is that the structure of the military proceedings has been poorly thought through.”

Senator Smarty Pants also predicted that terror suspects would have counsel and be able to present evidence on their behalf.

“He (Khalid Mohammed) will have counsel, he will be able to present evidence, and he will be able to rebut the Government’s case. The feeling is that he is guilty of a war crime and to do otherwise might violate some of our agreements under the Geneva Conventions. I think that is good, that we are going to provide him with some procedure and process.”

It is news to me that guilt of war crimes is determined by a Senator’s feelings. No one at Gitmo checked with the superstar media darling before they kept Khalid Sheikh Mohammed from calling witnesses or having attorneys present. Hillary Clinton, in her typical fear of saying anything of substance, has said nothing about the process.

There will be no respite from the destruction of the Constitution and the dismissal of International Law followed by the rest of the world. We are in great danger from our own government and that danger will not lessen after the inauguration of a new president in January of 2009.

While Washington burns, reporters have fun with Karl Rove at the annual Correspondents Association dinner. Rove and Bush have the nerve to joke about breaking the law and the press make fools of themselves in order to stay in their good graces. If we had real journalists, this annual embarrassment would be cancelled for lack of participants. But we don’t have real journalists, so they continue to whore for a living while somewhere revenge is being plotted against every American. When the strike comes most people won’t even know why and David Hicks won’t be able to tell us.


Margaret Kimberley is an editor and senior columnist for the Black Agenda Report. Her Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR.


—CounterPunch, April 4, 2007