The Guantánamo Files
It is difficult to keep writing about the perfidy inflicted on this country and the world by the United States government. The list of outrages is a very long one and keeps getting longer. One risks repeating oneself endlessly in attempting to expose all that should be brought to light. It is also difficult to keep writing about the role played by Barack Obama in upholding the nation’s history of institutionalized criminality. His historic win, his well marketed campaign which depicted him as an agent of change, allow him to get away with wrongdoing that would have merited some degree of criticism for his predecessor George W. Bush. However, if the truth isn’t told, there will be no record of opposition to America’s corruption, and that would only magnify the enormity of the crimes.
The latest Wikileaks revelations about the prison camp at Guantánamo bring all the horror to light. The horror began with Bush, and candidate Obama pledged to end it. He obviously had no intention of ever doing so, because two years into his term, the prison is still functioning, and outside of the norms of civilized behavior and accepted international laws, which the United States often claims to follow.
Once again, the truly civilized world owes a great debt of thanks to the Wikileaks team. In revealing the extent of mistreatment and torture they have reminded us once again that the United States may pay lip service to the rule of law, but in fact wants nothing to do with that concept.
President Obama told the world as much in his comments about Bradley Manning, the soldier charged with making documents available to Wikileaks and who has been detained in conditions that can also be described as torture. The president, who is given great kudos for having taught constitutional law, publicly stated that Manning has no presumption of innocence. “We’re a nation of laws. We don’t let individuals make their own decision about how the laws operate. He broke the law.”
Apparently this law professor didn’t get the memo, which says that there is a presumption of innocence in American jurisprudence. He also knows nothing about the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which bars the use of pre-trial detention as a means of imposing punishment. In addition, Obama, like Bush has claimed that the laws don’t apply to him. He is a hypocrite and a liar, too.
He lied about closing Guantánamo. He lied about this country being law abiding, and as commander in chief of the armed forces, he lied about doing what is right and wrong according to the dictates of the office he holds.
According to the released documents, the military held children as young as 14 and seniors suffering from dementia who were as old as 89. An al-Jazeera reporter, Sami Al-Hajj was held for six years not because he was suspected of any terrorist activities, but because the government wanted to spy on al-Jazeera and its news gathering capabilities.
The only response the government has is to keep spreading falsehoods in order to defend itself and to condemn the release of the information. The Obama administration remains committed to continuing the Bush era military tribunals, using hearsay and information acquired under torture as evidence. In 2009 the administration announced with great fanfare that it would conduct its own assessments of the cases against the remaining prisoners. Those assessments have not been released, and if the intention to continue with tribunals is an indication, they won’t be worth the paper they are written on if they are ever made public.
The release of these documents proves without a doubt that the highest office in this land is reserved only for those people who promise to allow this system to continue without the slightest hint of substantive change. Anyone who might possibly rock the boat will never be allowed to get within the reach of the White House and that fact cannot be forgotten as another presidential election gets underway.
The lies and the torture will continue with Obama in this term, in his next term, and with whomever should follow him to the oval office. The understandable desire for hope and change should never be confused with the awful realities of the American empire.
Margaret Kimberley’s “Freedom Rider” column appears weekly in BAR, and is widely reprinted elsewhere. She maintains a frequently updated blog at . Ms. Kimberley can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley@BlackAgandaReport.com.
—Black Agenda Report, April 16, 2011