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Monday, August 15, 2016
“Guantánamo Diary” – Torture is the New Normal
On November 20, 2001, Mohamedou Ould Slahi went willingly into the custody of the Mauritanian police. This was not the first time that he had been questioned by forces in the service of the United States for an alleged role in Al-Qaeda linked terror: despite numerous verifications of innocence – some from the FBI - he had been trying for years to convince the United States government that he was in no way linked to the downing of the World Trade Centers, or any other illegal activity. And yet, Ould Slahi, like millions of others killed in wars of market expansion and imperial domination, has continued to find out the hard way that, in the eyes of the American empire, innocence doesn’t matter.
On November 28, 2001, a CIA rendition plane took Ould Slahi to a CIA black site in Jordan. (Since 2001, an estimated 150 people were transported to black sites under the CIA’s extraordinary rendition program). From Jordan, Ould Slahi was rendered to Afghanistan, and then to Cuba. On August 5, 2002, Mohamedou Ould Slahi arrived at the Guantánamo Bay Detention Center (GTMO) in Cuba – a hell from which has yet to escape.
From 2003 to 2004, Mohamedou was tortured under a ‘special interrogation plan’ of physical and psychological terror. Incredibly, he was still able to write a 466-page manuscript during the summer and fall of 2005 detailing his story. Upon completion, the manuscript was taken by the US government, redacted, and classified top-secret. Only through a Freedom of Information Act did an electronic version end up in the hands of American writer Larry Siems, who edited the work (trimming some 22,000 words and 100 pages) and made sure it was published. Thus, Mohamedou Ould Slahi’s work, ‘,’ has seen the light of day – a privilege so far denied to its author.
Mohamedou is still held at GTMO after the Obama administration appealed a judge’s 2010 ruling that would have freed the now 45-year-old. Ould Slahi, like 49 of the remaining 100 prisoners at GTMO, has never been charged with a crime and has never been put on trial. He, like the targets of drone assassinations and so many other victims of the ongoing ‘war on terror,’ cannot escape a government that rules with complete indifference to national and international law. Having experienced the true nature of American ‘democracy,’ Ould Slahi and the other victims of torture will likely never stand trial – they simply know too much about the torture program to be let free. By keeping Ould Slahi behind bars, the United States government, spearheaded by the Obama administration, is working hard to whitewash a torture program that has yet to end and whose victims include thousands in domestic jails and prisons. The only official to see any prison time in connection to the torture program is John Kiriakou; his ‘crime’ was telling the press about waterboarding.
Donald Trump has said he will institute “a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding.” Hillary Clinton says that we must return to the “spirit” of September 12, 2001 – the same spirit in which the Patriot Act was passed and the latest US torture program was started. Both representatives of the 1% are following lockstep the policies of war, assassination, mass incarceration, and general global terror put in place by previous Republican and Democrat administrations, championed by the ruling class, left untouched by a limp corporate media appendage, and glamorized in popular ‘culture.’
Mohamedou’s story is a parable for the degradation and general decay of the US capitalism as it fights madly for territory and resources - now in the name of a farcical ‘war on terror.’ The US ruling class, unable to overcome the inherent contradictions of capitalism, stops at nothing to control resources and pacify populations at home and abroad. (It might be worth noting that torture has been proven useless as a technique to extract information). Every means of state coercion – the police, the army, the courts – is given and will continue to be given free reign in a mad quest for control. Aside from one’s ability to consume and labor, no life is sacred under capitalism.
“Guantanamo Diary’ is truth to the lies of “freedom” and “democracy” that flow so easily from the lips of the ruling class politicians. Freedom, if it truly exists at all under capitalism, is a privilege reserved for members of the ruling class only. Having stepped away from this book, I find my mind traveling back into its pages, if only to be with Mohamedou Ould Slahi a little while longer.