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Proud to be an American
February 6, 2005 8:10 PM   Subscribe

I'm SO proud to be an American : A first-person prisoner account from Guantanamo Bay
posted by spock (146 comments total)

 
Quote:
The seemingly interminable questioning had already lasted for hours. 'I needed the toilet,' Mubanga said, 'and I asked the interrogator to let me go. But he just said, "you'll go when I say so". I told him he had five minutes to get me to the toilet or I was going to go on the floor. He left the room. Finally, I squirmed across the floor and did it in the corner, trying to minimise the mess. I suppose he was watching through a one-way mirror or the CCTV camera. He comes back with a mop and dips it in the pool of urine. Then he starts covering me with my own waste, like he's using a big paintbrush, working methodically, beginning with my feet and ankles and working his way up my legs. All the while he's racially abusing me, cussing me: "Oh, the poor little negro, the poor little nigger." He seemed to think it was funny.'
posted by spock at 8:10 PM on February 6, 2005


Two issues here: First, the horrifying treatment he received by our military. Second, they knew that he wasn't guilty of terrorism and yet they kept him for 33 months.

The horror.
posted by leftcoastbob at 8:17 PM on February 6, 2005


I'm just sure this story will be picked up by U.S. media any day now. </sarcasm>
posted by spock at 8:26 PM on February 6, 2005


Interesting that there is such a strong homosexual content in US military interrogations. I wonder how much is 'we use it since fundamentalist muslims break down under same-gender contact' vs. 'I use it to explore my own male-on-male watersports fetish'.
posted by cosmonik at 8:28 PM on February 6, 2005


Look, you pinkos, sure the methods are harsh, but how else are we supposed to get valuable intelligence that could save people's lives? I'd rather make some towelhead uncomfortable than have more americans die.
Oh, wait a minute... they're innocent... Well, at least they have democracy now.
posted by c13 at 8:46 PM on February 6, 2005


Of course I am going to believe every word this guy says without question just because I want to think the worst of the US and the US military. Poor guy, just wanted to 'study Islam' in Afghanistan. He must be innocent, otherwise he'd say he was guilty, right?
posted by acetonic at 8:54 PM on February 6, 2005


Ammm.. he must be innocent UNTIL PROVEN guilty.
posted by c13 at 9:00 PM on February 6, 2005


He must be innocent, otherwise he'd say he was guilty, right?

"There is no way to independently verify Mubanga's account of why he travelled to Afghanistan. But after almost three years of rigorous and sometimes brutal interrogation, no evidence has been adduced that he was guilty of any involvement in terrorism."
posted by greatgefilte at 9:02 PM on February 6, 2005


That's right acetonic, it's all about you and how he makes you feel about US.
posted by cytherea at 9:02 PM on February 6, 2005


Absolutely, acetonic. Because there is certainly no other credible evidence out there that what he says might be accurate, right?

You seem to think that anybody that believes him must "want to think the worst of the US and the US military?

I'm not sure who reflects worse on the U.S. -
those who perpetrate this stuff that are in the middle of it or those who, with cold detachment, have your attitude after all the evidence already out there.
posted by spock at 9:02 PM on February 6, 2005


well, they released him didn't they acetonic. Or did you miss the part that read: the Pentagon's own legal staff had grave doubts about his status, and had overturned a ruling that he was a terrorist by Guantánamo's Combatant Status Review Tribunal. perhaps?
posted by dabitch at 9:03 PM on February 6, 2005


I'm sure you're about to present the credible evidence supporting Mubanga's account.
posted by Krrrlson at 9:07 PM on February 6, 2005


acetonic: Did you read the article? He was held for 33 months, during which he was [more than] thoroughly interrogated many many times. Plus " the Pentagon's own legal staff had grave doubts about his status, and had overturned a ruling that he was a terrorist by Guantánamo's Combatant Status Review Tribunal." And then, several months later, he was finally released.

But you're probably right, despite the fact that the US couldn't come up with a scrap of evidence over the course of 33 months, he must be guilty of something. After all, he *gasp* visited Afghanistan.
posted by cloeburner at 9:09 PM on February 6, 2005


er, what greatgefilte, cytherea, spock, and dabitch said. yikes.
posted by cloeburner at 9:12 PM on February 6, 2005


To qualify my comment: Instead of addressing what is, in my opinion, the most important side of the issue - imprisonment without evidence - the poster chose to focus on the graphic imagery of alleged torture in what is doubtlessly an attempt to evoke memories of Abu Ghraib. In other words, the part of the account most likely to be exaggerated or false.

Also, great tone in your fpp and comments, spock. You are clearly approaching in an objective, levelheaded manner.
posted by Krrrlson at 9:21 PM on February 6, 2005


(approaching *this*, of course)
posted by Krrrlson at 9:21 PM on February 6, 2005


Krrrlson: I"m sure you're about to present the credible evidence disputing a word of Mubanga's account. What the fuck is wrong with you?
posted by notsnot at 9:22 PM on February 6, 2005


Krrrlson: Do you get any channels other than Fox News? Seriously.
posted by spock at 9:29 PM on February 6, 2005


I'm not sure I understand why imprisonment without evidence is more important than torture.
posted by cytherea at 9:32 PM on February 6, 2005


the poster chose to focus on the graphic imagery of alleged torture in what is doubtlessly an attempt to evoke memories of Abu Ghraib.

Dude, the guy was abducted, imprisoned and interrogated for 3 years. Without credible evidence that he did anything wrong. Is this not torturous enough in itself? What IS wrong with you?
posted by c13 at 9:33 PM on February 6, 2005


I'm not sure what you mean by "more important", but the matter stands that they both really really suck, and that we know for a fact that imprisonment without evidence is occuring, not to mention that it's pretty darn unlikely for torture to occur unless someone is being imprisoned or restrained.

So, something that we know that is occuring, and which is bad, and which may or may not be causing something else. I can see why more emphasis is put on the imprisonment without evidence part.
posted by Bugbread at 9:37 PM on February 6, 2005


Krrrlson: the poster chose to focus on the graphic imagery of alleged torture in what is doubtlessly an attempt to evoke memories of Abu Ghraib.

That is a false statement. I doubt it was an attempt to evoke memories of Abu Ghraib. Hence, ipso facto, it was not doubtlessly an attempt to do so.
posted by Bugbread at 9:38 PM on February 6, 2005


Can somebody please tell me when it became unamerican to expect America to live by the principles that it was built upon?
Oh yeah, I remember
posted by spock at 9:40 PM on February 6, 2005


Hey, I'm sure that the world's foremost Democracy wouldn't hold the guy for three years, literally dipped in shit and without access to counsel, unless they had proof he was guilty. Besides, non-citzens don't have rights.

Oh, they released him?

Well covering people in shit for three years is just like frat hazing. It's like what cheerleaders do six to eight times a year.

And it doesn't really matter, it was just a Muslim terrorist -- and don't tell me that all Muslim's aren't terrorists -- and anyway it can't happen here. Not again, anyway.
posted by orthogonality at 9:43 PM on February 6, 2005


He insisted he doesn't feel bitter: 'I've lost three years of my life, because I was a Muslim. If I hadn't become a Muslim and carried on doing bad things, maybe I'd have spent that three years in a regular prison. The authorities wanted to break me but they strengthened me. They've made me what I am - even if I'm not quite sure yet who that person is.'

Reading this article was incredibly depressing. Yet this last paragraph was strangely inspiring. Snarkism aside, I truly admire Mubanga. Forget Pat Tilman. Forget Jessica Lynch. Mubanga has more strength than any of the "heroes" that our media places on phony pedestals.
posted by randomstriker at 9:54 PM on February 6, 2005


and yet there is no domestic uprising. we sure are wusses.
posted by elle at 9:58 PM on February 6, 2005


First hole in story. Second paragraph... how is he able to unbutton his pants to relieve himself in a corner if he's shackled as he says he is?
posted by trinarian at 9:59 PM on February 6, 2005


trinarian,
you're right. The whole fucking thing must be lie. Thanks for clearing that ugliness up. Everyone back to work (sleep) nothing to see here
posted by CCK at 10:02 PM on February 6, 2005


Comedy gold.
posted by cytherea at 10:10 PM on February 6, 2005


I'm assuming this from the irony, but you're ashamed to be an american?
look man, these abuses are terrible - but do you think its any different with any country that wields as much power as america does? throughout history if you belong to a country where you can eat well, and everyone lives with a good amount of money without starvation, these things inevitably happen and indeed probably led to the country being the ruling power.
so you are ashamed? You should be because you speak about how horrible it is that these things happen but yet you reap the benefits of this terrible treatment (of course not the treatment of this particular case, but in the past so that we can get our oil funds, for example, which provided us with such a great living here)

of course that having been said too, yes i too am ashamed that i live such a good life here and choose to ignore (most of the time) this terrible shit that goes on.

Not an angry post or a flame or anything - just a heads up that you're morally above this kind of stuff, because this mentality led to where we are today, we're kind of all to blame.
posted by klik99 at 10:12 PM on February 6, 2005


The whole fucking thing must be lie. Thanks for clearing that ugliness up.

The whole fucking thing might be true. But that doesn't mean any inconsistencies in his story can't be addressed.
posted by Cyrano at 10:14 PM on February 6, 2005


It's not that I don't think that people shouldn't be mopped with their own urine. . . it's just that I would reserve such treatment for those who post on MeFi without reading the linked stories.
posted by spock at 10:15 PM on February 6, 2005


Boo-fucking-hoo. Dude gets mopped with urine. Hmmm would I rather get soaked in my own urine or have my head sawed off while people are chanting "God is great!!!"
posted by TetrisKid at 10:22 PM on February 6, 2005


CCK, why so defensive? What do you loose if he's embellishing his story to sell a future CD filled with questionable rhythmic talent?
posted by trinarian at 10:23 PM on February 6, 2005


It doesn't mention anything about unbuttoning. I squirmed across the floor and did it in the corner, trying to minimize the mess.
posted by goodglovin77 at 10:24 PM on February 6, 2005


trinarian. It doesn't say that he unbottoned his pants anywhere, in fact it doesn't even say that he was dressed. Why do you assume that he did not simply pee through his pants? "Finally, I squirmed across the floor and did it in the corner, trying to minimise the mess.".
posted by dabitch at 10:25 PM on February 6, 2005


This story kinda parallels the whole WMD thing, no?

TetrisKid, you shouldn't worry. Noone is going to cut your head of. There isn't much in it to be worth the bother.
posted by c13 at 10:26 PM on February 6, 2005


trharlan - you are aware, from reading the story, that they also took his trousers away quite frequently? And that, given the next part involves smearing his (presumably naked) legs with urine, this would seem to be one of those times? Really don't see how that's a hole in the story.

For those of you who seem all too eager to stick your heads in the sand, you are aware that the army's own internal investigations and memos confirm that this kind of thing is, in fact, happening, right? I mean, when you casually dismiss this as one man's unwitnessed account, you're doing so purely in the abstract interests of making a rhetorical point, since it's entirely clear that, whether this particular person's story is completely true or not, it is completely in line with things that are verifiably going on, right? Please, please tell me that this is the case, rather than insane denial of what your own government admits.

And, those who don't deny the torture but seem to be in favor of it, you know this guy was released and there's no evidence he ever committed any acts of terrorism, right? So you just . . . think people should be tortured on general principles?

Dear god. How have things come to this?
posted by kyrademon at 10:27 PM on February 6, 2005


If you're dubious about the claims made in this specific case, read about Shafiq Rasul in today's Times. He's a Brit accused of being in a video with bin Laden; he was eventually freed when British intelligence was able to prove that he was in Britain when the video was made. The column doesn't mention bodily fluids, but does say that he was kept in isolation for several weeks before he "confessed."

Having just read these stories, I'm as upset as I've ever been with this administration. I hate torture, but I can accept that the claim that the torture of terrorists is necessary to prevent an attack; its at least something you can discuss. But to do this to people, while refusing to take basic steps to determine whether or not they're actually guilty, just has no justification.

Is there anything that an individual like me can do to prevent this? Should I write some Senators, get some friends to do the same? Donate to the Center for Constitutional Rights? Is there anything I can do that has a chance of helping? Spare me the defeatism and cynicism; I'd just like to know if anyone thinks there's something specific that people can do about this.
posted by gsteff at 10:27 PM on February 6, 2005


TetrisKid, I guess you think I can do whatever the fuck I want to you so long as I don't saw your head off while chanting "God is Great". Drop me a line when you want me to come over with the mop.
posted by randomstriker at 10:28 PM on February 6, 2005


dabitch: .... so he went in with the new in-vouque crotchless orange prison uniforms? How do you piss with your pants on while "minimizing the mess." Why even squirm to a corner? Maybe it was just a wardrobe malfunction... 'tis the season.
posted by trinarian at 10:29 PM on February 6, 2005


trharlan - once more, with feeling: they took away his pants. It says so later in the article. And otherwise, how could they put urine on his legs anyway?
posted by kyrademon at 10:32 PM on February 6, 2005


By the mopping going on later, it sounds like he was at least partially naked, like kyrademon also pointed out. Like I said in fact it doesn't even say that he was dressed anywhere in those two paragraphs yet you assume he had pants to unbutton.
posted by dabitch at 10:32 PM on February 6, 2005


TetrisKid: I sure hope you be adding your recent comment here to your list of Site Highlights!
posted by spock at 10:34 PM on February 6, 2005


And that, given the next part involves smearing his (presumably naked) legs with urine, this would seem to be one of those times?

Are some presumptions more equal than others, kyrademon?


ps: CCK: You idiot.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 10:39 PM on February 6, 2005


in fact it doesn't even say that he was dressed

Jesus Christ.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 10:41 PM on February 6, 2005


Is there anything that an individual like me can do to prevent this? Should I write some Senators, get some friends to do the same? Donate to the Center for Constitutional Rights? Is there anything I can do that has a chance of helping? Spare me the defeatism and cynicism; I'd just like to know if anyone thinks there's something specific that people can do about this.

The way the Democrats have been right-wing lapdogs lately, I'm not sure it would do much good, but here is contact information for your Senators and Representatives.
posted by AlexReynolds at 10:41 PM on February 6, 2005


uncanny hengeman, if you can explain to me how the following procedure can be done through someone's clothes, I will admit to making an unwarranted assumption: "covering me with my own waste, like he's using a big paintbrush, working methodically, beginning with my feet and ankles and working his way up my legs."
posted by kyrademon at 10:42 PM on February 6, 2005


(please note: feet and ankles, not shoes and socks, legs, not pants, etc.)
posted by kyrademon at 10:43 PM on February 6, 2005


If someone was smearing my pants, my trousers, my jumpsuit, my jeans, my overtalls, my clothes with urine it probably wouldn't be described as "Then he starts covering me with my own waste", later going to describe body parts such as ankles and legs.
On preview, I see that kyrademon pointed that out as well.
posted by dabitch at 10:45 PM on February 6, 2005


TetrisKid writes "Boo-fucking-hoo. Dude gets mopped with urine. Hmmm would I rather get soaked in my own urine or have my head sawed off while people are chanting 'God is great!!!' "

TetrisKid means: rather than live up to such American ideals as he'd prefer to let fanatical fundamentalist terrorists destroy those American institutions, by letting them make their terrorist morality (which includes murdering prisoners) the measure of America's morality (which now also includes murdering prisoners).

TetrisKid is so intent on defeating "the terrorists" he's willing to abandon the very values that make America than the terrorists.

TetrisKid does not, however, see the irony in this.
posted by orthogonality at 10:48 PM on February 6, 2005


I mean, when you casually dismiss this as one man's unwitnessed account, you're doing so purely in the abstract interests of making a rhetorical point.

But isn't anyone who accepts this story as the pure, unvarnished truth doing the same thing just with a different bias?

We've seen fake prisoner abuse photos here before, after all. There's nothing wrong with asking questions, just so long as you're willing to accept the answers even if they lead somewhere you didn't want to go.
posted by Cyrano at 10:50 PM on February 6, 2005


look man, these abuses are terrible - but do you think its any different with any country that wields as much power as america does?

Maybe this is really nitpicky, but can't we just go ahead and call it torture, even if the media and the administration doesn't like us to? I'm so very sick of the word "abuse".

Really, if the media hadn't told you so, would you really be using the word abuse?
posted by Boydrop at 10:51 PM on February 6, 2005


TetrisKid: Boo-fucking-hoo. Dude gets mopped with urine. Hmmm would I rather get soaked in my own urine or have my head sawed off while people are chanting "God is great!!!"

Me, personally, I'd rather go the the grocery store, maybe make a cup of coffee, and play some videogames. But if in your universe, the only choices of what to do are "get mopped with urine" or "get your head sawed off", I feel all the more pity for you.

Bad troll, bad!
posted by Bugbread at 10:52 PM on February 6, 2005


He was never fully nude, as was said. He always at least had his boxers on. Even if it were the case that it was one of the days he was half-naked, it's an odd omission for the writer to leave out of the description of the scene because it only builts on the "humiliation" edge he's driving at.

Abu Ghraib was horrible. There's very solid evidence for torture there. I don't doubt some bad things have happened at Gitmo, but there's serious reason to cast doubt on the urine-mopping story and the most solid claim he has is that they turned the heater on too high the AC down too low to make him uncomfortable. Big deal. No story. Add urine mopping, wa la, in demand story.

As much as the Gitmo detentions bother me in a purely legal light, there seems good reason to detain him on the facts at hand: he went to the most terrorist-friendly country on the planet, where he didn't know the language, to study the most violent form of Islam and seemed to have given away his passport to the bad guys. Sounds like going to N Korea to get an MBA. Kid had a lot of explaining to do and didn't have any good explanations (or rhymes).
posted by trinarian at 10:52 PM on February 6, 2005


Kid had a lot of explaining to do and didn't have any good explanations (or rhymes).

Government had a lot of charges to be bringin', and couldn't actually find any charges to bring. (or rhymes).

Speaking of which, I took a walk last night in my residential neighborhood. Musta been past midnight. Mighty suspicious. Maybe I should be arrested and held in jail for a while?
posted by Bugbread at 10:58 PM on February 6, 2005


Also:

Since it's entirely clear that, whether this particular person's story is completely true or not, it is completely in line with things that are verifiably going on, right?

You'd be willing to use a potential lie (or at least Not The Whole Story) in order to justify your position? Wars over WMD's have been started over logic like that.

(Disclaimer: I'd lean toward believing this story is true, but your logic troubles me.)
posted by Cyrano at 10:59 PM on February 6, 2005


uncanny hengeman, if you can explain to me how the following procedure can be done through someone's clothes, I will admit to making an unwarranted assumption: "covering me with my own waste, like he's using a big paintbrush, working methodically, beginning with my feet and ankles and working his way up my legs."

kyrademon , dabitch:

Considering this post is a whinge-fest about how badly the guy was treated, don't you think the reporter or the victim would have, like, maybe, mentioned the fact that he was sans pants?

[Lengthy description about how he was trussed up for the interview - but WOOPS – completely forgot to mention they removed his pants. Yeah, right.]

I'm not saying it ain't true but sorry, still on the fence on this one until I read a lot more evidence. Dismayed – but not surprised – by all the screaming dweebs here believing unquestionably. Almost willing it to be true by their faith.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 10:59 PM on February 6, 2005


Cyrano - yes, of course. So?

Many of the comments on this thread are insane. Including my own, really. Our government is torturing people. They've said so. There are photographs. Our new attourney general is currently most famous for trying to justify it. What are we doing? We're arguing over whether one victim's account of being smeared with his own bodily waste is internally consistent.

The story may or may not be 100% true. So what? We know for a fact that stories like it are true. So why are we quibbling? Why aren't we demanding that this stop? Why aren't we demanding that we live in a world where this kind of story couldn't be credible, instead of one where we know this kind of thing is going on?

Have we all gone mad? Seriously. What the hell?

On preview, to trharlan - for almost three years? With no concrete evidence he'd ever done anything wrong?

We have all gone mad.
posted by kyrademon at 11:00 PM on February 6, 2005


But isn't anyone who accepts this story as the pure, unvarnished truth doing the same thing just with a different bias?

We've seen fake prisoner abuse photos here before, after all. There's nothing wrong with asking questions, just so long as you're willing to accept the answers even if they lead somewhere you didn't want to go.


Testify.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 11:02 PM on February 6, 2005


well fuck Trinarian, you're right. Lots of explaining to do obviously means locking someone up for 33 months is justified. Damn; more like warranted.

Can you believe they let him out?

You know I'm in the jewelry business, I've been to africa (including places that I don't know the language) and it's established fact that AQ used loose stones for laundring money.

Should I be looking over my back? How long should I expect?
posted by CCK at 11:05 PM on February 6, 2005


The story may or may not be 100% true. So what? We know for a fact that stories like it are true.

Good grief.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 11:05 PM on February 6, 2005


uncanny hengeman - I never said the story was true. I said it sounds like he wasn't wearing pants from the description, it mentions later that they frequently removed his pants, so maybe they didn't mention he wasn't wearing pants because they thought it was completely obvious anyway that if they're covering his legs with urine he's not freakin' weaing pants, which it was to me, and why am I still arguing about this? Never mind. Forget it. I don't care. You know what? They held him without evidence for 33 months, and that's more than enough in it's own right. It should never have happened even if the entire rest of his story is a lie. THIS SHOULD NOT BE HAPPENING.
posted by kyrademon at 11:05 PM on February 6, 2005


As much as the Gitmo detentions bother me in a purely legal light, there seems good reason to detain him on the facts at hand

Absolutely. But shouldn't the also be a really motherfucking huge burden to attempt to determine why he traveled to Afghanistan? He was released after three years; at some point, they figured they had satisfactory evidence that he wasn't a terrorist. Under these circumstances, shouldn't they have tried to figure out whatever they figured out in a lot less than three years?
posted by gsteff at 11:05 PM on February 6, 2005


(And good grief what? I wasn't saying we should take this story on face value. I was saying it's not all that god damn important if this particular one is true or not, because some of them verifiably are, and NONE of them should be.)
posted by kyrademon at 11:07 PM on February 6, 2005


Too be arguing over if he was wearing pants or not is so fucking insane.
posted by CCK at 11:08 PM on February 6, 2005


For what it's worth, my cousin's husband was recently released from an unspecified location on unspecified charges (he's a foreign national). He was picked up by federal agents at the airport when they returned from their honeymoon.

He was there (wherever there was) for about half a year, I'd estimate. Charges were eventually filed relating to a joint that he smoked as a teenager. Charges which have nothing to do with his detainment. Even finding out where he was has cost the family thousands upon thousands of dollars in legal fees, and of course, it's cost him his job.

He doesn't talk much about what he saw there, so there's not much to report in that department. It's not the kind of thing I ask about.

But I'd like it to be noted that if any of this ever seems abstract and theoretical, that you need to really close your eyes and imagine it happening to you, because it really could. America is now on the list of countries in which you can be disappeared. Please take my own family as proof.

If there's anything that might ever provoke action on this, it might start with everyone really imagining what it would be like to be just as innocent as Mubanga or my cousin's husband. To be that innocent, and maybe returning from your honeymoon, and to enter the world described in the article. With no idea whether you might just age and die there without anyone ever knowing where you are.

Instead, many of you are going to focus on whether Mubanga was wearing pants or not when we was abused.

Not seeing the forest for the trees, and the goddamn forest is on fire.
posted by cloudscratcher at 11:10 PM on February 6, 2005


Not seeing the forest for the trees, and the goddamn forest is on fire.
For the record, that's a fantastic line.

posted by gsteff at 11:15 PM on February 6, 2005


trinarian exercises his skepticism: "Abu Ghraib was horrible. There's very solid evidence for torture there. I don't doubt some bad things have happened at Gitmo, but there's serious reason to cast doubt on the urine-mopping story and the most solid claim he has is that they turned the heater on too high the AC down too low to make him uncomfortable. Big deal. No story. Add urine mopping, wa la [sic, voilà], in demand story."

trinarian, let me ask you a question -- and I'll take you at your word and accept whatever answer you want to give me.

Had you been told that American soldiers were dragging prisoners around by leashes, affixing fake electrodes to their genitals, shackling them in crucifixion positions, siccing guard dogs on them, forcing them to masturbate and to simulate oral sex on each other, and even arranging hooded, shackled prisoners in human pyramids --

-- if you had been told of all these things this in the absence of photographic evidence, wouldn't you have said precisely what you've just now said in regard to Guantanamo torture, that "there's serious reason to cast doubt on" these allegations?

I mean, I sure would have! Call me a dumbass who loves America just a little too much, but in the absence of photos of the Abu Ghraib atrocities, I'd probably have said, "it can't really be true that American soldiers did things as horrible as all, wacky leftists with an axe to grind must be making this up or at least exaggerating it."

Of course, we now that the those allegations are true, that the "wacky leftists" were actually right, because we've seen the pictures from Abu Ghraib.

So now that you're hearing allegations about horrific torture at Guantanamo, and in light of the experience of learning that Abu Ghraib was even worse than mere words on paper could describe it, and in light of learning of the Tagabu investigation and the Bybee memo , aren't you just a little bit more skeptical in the other direction -- skeptical of the denials of torture?

After Abu Ghraib, don't we -- as Americans who love our country -- really have to give the benefit of the doubt to those allege they were tortured by America, and not to those who minimize or whitewash the evils being done in our names?
posted by orthogonality at 11:16 PM on February 6, 2005


*"[h]e was abused."

insofar as he and we are separable.
posted by cloudscratcher at 11:20 PM on February 6, 2005


I've been writing trharlan when I meant trinarian. Sorry. I'm crying. Makes it hard to see. Sorry.
posted by kyrademon at 11:21 PM on February 6, 2005


all my (largely republican) coworkers call me a commie, but you guys make me feel like john ashcroft...

there's a war on. luckily, troops are fighting it and not lawyers. as such, the 82nd Airborne is far less likely to stick evidence in zip lock bags to be shipped to the Kabul DA's office for forensic examination. the rules as we known them domestically are off and we work with what we have. furthermore, my constitutional protections do not apply to non-citizens caught overseas with serious suspicion of being behind plots to bring modernity to its knees.
posted by trinarian at 11:22 PM on February 6, 2005


stavrosthewonderchicken on the "photos of British soldiers abusing Iraqis" story - which turned out to be fake...

"Whether these linked ones are dodgy or not (was my point) is immaterial. That the kind of shit that is pictured in them (either real of faked) is actually happening is inarguable, thanks to the the other images revealed recently."

kyrademon not long ago...

"The story may or may not be 100% true. So what? We know for a fact that stories like it are true."



orthogonality: ask yourself the same question with regards to the link I gave above.


Again: my sincerest apologies to all for being so skeptical.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 11:30 PM on February 6, 2005


As a matter of fact, trinarian, yes they do. Read the Constitution and note where it says "US citizens" and where it says "all people".

Screw it. I can't do this anymore. Not tonight. I'm too upset and angry to argue well, so I'll leave it to the people who are calmer.

And you all on the right? You've finally done it. I hate America. Right now, at this moment, I hate America. Happy now?
posted by kyrademon at 11:30 PM on February 6, 2005


You idiots seriously need to stop discussing this pants angle.

Wether he had pants on or not, the story is consistant. The phrase "attempt to minimize" means he tried (and possibly failed) to make the smallest amount of mess he could. It's entirely possible for him to "minimize" the mess with his pants on or off. Either way, the story is entirely consistant.


You'd be willing to use a potential lie (or at least Not The Whole Story) in order to justify your position? Wars over WMD's have been started over logic like that.

Potential? everything is a 'potential' lie. We base the likelyhood of something being a lie on how consistant it is with the evidence we already know. Since his statements are consistant with the evidence, then they're probably true.

In a court of law, a victims testimony is valid evidence. They don't throw out rape charges because the chick 'could' be lying...
posted by delmoi at 11:34 PM on February 6, 2005


orthogonality: i was inclined to believe this man's story until i found what i still maintain was hole in the story. then a motive to embellish details. I have empathy for all those who are without guilt but behind bars, at home and abroad, and I do not condone mistreating the guilty. I do not believe, even through Abu Ghraib, that torture is either widespread or analogous to what has been done in almost every war mankind has witnessed. our troops are the among the most constrained and well behaved history has ever witnessed. Gitmo is also a lot more supervised than Abu Ghraib was, meaning that the possibility of mistreatment is far less likely than some rotting building in a war zone overflowing with rioting prisoners.
posted by trinarian at 11:34 PM on February 6, 2005


The hole is not in the story...
posted by cytherea at 11:37 PM on February 6, 2005


a) "Oh no his peeing story is false" people: What the fuck? Have you never seen modern shackles? Although they aren't exactly the same things as used in police organizations, when one is shackled at Guantanamo, one's hands are secured in one's groin area. You can probably unbutton your pants or at least wiggle your pants enough to adjust the position of everything well enough to pee. He was probably good at it at that point. Also, get a fucking life.

b) Why are we talking about anything. There is torture and unjustifiable confinment occuring and being ordered by the American government. I don't care what the fuck anyone has to nitpick about anything, that's wrong, and there needs to be something done about it. I wish I could do something, but I don't know what to do from another country. Just try to make sure we're as unaffected as possible? I don't know.

c) Trolling when someone is trying to point out that your government is torturing people is such a wonderful thing to do. Very productive. Ugh.
posted by blacklite at 11:40 PM on February 6, 2005


It seems patently obvious that the people who support Guantanamo hate America. I'm not real clear on why they suspect themselves to be patriots.
posted by Bugbread at 11:45 PM on February 6, 2005


the 82nd Airborne is far less likely to stick evidence in zip lock bags to be shipped to the Kabul DA's office for forensic examination.

I agree with that much. It almost sounds like using the military to cope with what is essentially the domain of law enforcement. If the FBI had its shit together, I'd rather see them handle it.

Frankly, I worry more about citizens at home with serious suspicion of being behind plots to bring modernity to its knees. Maybe we can send the 82nd after them instead?
posted by trondant at 11:51 PM on February 6, 2005


Why doesn't the US government give the Global Red Cross access to Guantanamo? The GRC probably has the smallest ax to grind in terms of subjectivity, and it would be a huge step forward in terms of beginning to clean up this horrific, urine-stained mess, IMHO.
posted by Darkman at 11:58 PM on February 6, 2005


blacklite: The link you gave does show one can probably do the deeds within such a shackle. As I remembered them, and as it was reinforced in the story, they seemed far more constrictive in minds eye.
posted by trinarian at 11:58 PM on February 6, 2005


Why are we talking about anything. There is torture and unjustifiable confinment occuring and being ordered by the American government.

See my post above.

Screaming dweebs say: "Who cares if the story is false?! I believe that things like that are happening so let's all reflect on this possibly-false story and beat our brows and feel all icky inside."

Nah. Not me, sizzlechest. I want to firmly state my scepticism regarding this story.

(Who here would be morally consistent if the "goodies" and the "baddies" were reversed in a similar, unsubstantiated story? Pathetically few, I fear.)
posted by uncanny hengeman at 12:07 AM on February 7, 2005


And, just to cut through the fog of the Urinegate controversy...

Even if you choose to discount the details of his treatment, you are still left with the cold truth that this man had almost three years of his life stolen from him by the US authorities. Somewhere in the vicinity of 1000 days.

Urine washes off. The time of incarceration, and the total impact it will have on his remaining years, is utterly, completely permanent.

I don't hate America. But, I do hate the phase it's going through right now.
posted by Darkman at 12:12 AM on February 7, 2005


"We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal,
that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,
that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness."

These are some of the most important words ever written. If you'll notice, they say ALL men. Not "men who were born within the geographical boundaries of the United States" or "men born in foreign countries to US Citizens". ALL men.

Trinarian, what part of 'all' don't you understand?

Of course, we're a bit more enlightened now, and all PEOPLE is a much better way to say it.

Iraqis have all the rights you do; our Declaration of Independence says so. We can't stick with that 100%, obviously, since at least in some cases, those men and women are militants shooting at us... but once the fight's over, and the survivors are disarmed, they have the same rights that any other human does.

Holding someone, without charges or even EVIDENCE, for 33 months, is a total violation of everything we stand for as a country.

The United States doesn't believe in rights anymore, and that makes me sad beyond belief.

We don't stand for ANYTHING except "send us more toys!". Oh, that, and inflicting democracy at gunpoint, when we should be focused on spreading RIGHTS.

With solid rights, the form of the government is nearly immaterial. Democracy has been called mobocracy, the tyranny of the majority. Democratizing a country doesn't make it 'free'... strong civil rights do.

We don't even know OURSELVES what civil rights are anymore. How can we possibly teach the Iraqis?

The only way to convince them we're better is by BEING BETTER, and so far, we have failed miserably.
posted by Malor at 12:13 AM on February 7, 2005


These are some of the most important words ever written. If you'll notice, they say ALL men. Not "men who were born within the geographical boundaries of the United States" or "men born in foreign countries to US Citizens". ALL men.

Trinarian, what part of 'all' don't you understand?



Ha ha!

So if some people from a foreign land were denied their "certain unalienable Rights" because of a despot leader, it would be OK for the US armed forces to go over there and BOMB THE SHIT OUT OF THE PLACE to rectify matters?

Unless you have a problem with the definition of "ALL", that is.

;)
posted by uncanny hengeman at 12:21 AM on February 7, 2005


I have to join the Coalition of the Dismayed. I, too, cannot believe we're talking about this as though what is important is how he peed, can he pee, what'd he pee. The Good ol' Yoo Ess of Aye, the source of all of that warm, fuzzy civic feelings of goodness we recall from elementary school classrooms and scout meetings has admitted to abusing (read: torturing) political prisoners.

And in all sorts of strange sexually-themed ways.

Every nation that carries an albatross of global villianhood had to have believed that they were making sacrifices to protect their interests. I imagine that, in even the historically worst of regimes, it wasn't some collective decision of those in charge, "hey, let's all be as evil as we possibly can." No, I imagine that it's some slippery slope that starts with regrettable dicisions in the name of public good then degrades into something like attatching electrodes to genitals or murdering prisoners and hiding the corpses from the Red Cross.

It's not that important to Sherlock Holmes the truth of the Pissing Prisoner out of this story. If it sounds holey or fishy to you, feel free to put it aside to see if it develops legs. In the meantime, there is plenty of better documented incidents of American Goddam Torture to reflect upon.
posted by firemouth at 12:22 AM on February 7, 2005


I have to join the Coalition of the Dismayed. I, too, cannot believe we're talking about this as though what is important is how he peed, can he pee, what'd he pee. The Good ol' Yoo Ess of Aye, the source of all of that warm, fuzzy civic feelings of goodness we recall from elementary school classrooms and scout meetings has admitted to abusing (read: torturing) political prisoners.

Groan.

This needs to be discussed. Mistreatment of prisoners is happening: Understood.

To hang your hat on a sensational, unsubstantiated story where people are already asking questions over its truthfulness: Stupidity.

It makes you sound like idiots. So why would I listen to the argument of an idiot?


Who was it that said "Who you are screams so loud that I can't hear what it is you have to say"?
posted by uncanny hengeman at 12:29 AM on February 7, 2005


They're not prisoners, uncanny hengeman. They're detainees. Get your sensational, unsubstantiated facts straight.
posted by Darkman at 12:36 AM on February 7, 2005


Uncanny Hengeman: So if some people from a foreign land were denied their "certain unalienable Rights" because of a despot leader, it would be OK for the US armed forces to go over there and BOMB THE SHIT OUT OF THE PLACE to rectify matters?

Unless you have a problem with the definition of "ALL", that is.


False dichotomy: The choice is not a dual choice: "Malor has a problem with a definition of 'ALL'", or "Malor thinks it would be OK for the US armed forces to go over there and BOMB THE SHIT OUT OF THE PLACE to rectify matters".

You're forgetting a possible third choice: "Uncanny Hengemen doesn't remember what the Declaration of Independence actually says:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.
Nothing in there that I can read addresses the military, unless you consider the bits about "it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government", in which case the part being justified is the attacking OF troops, not the attacking BY troops.

So you can agree with the word "ALL", agree with the Declaration of Independence, and not support attacking random countries.

THAT SAID:

I think you have a valid point about where people are putting their effort. The situation sucks donkey dicks, but that's no reason to use specious arguments to support one's position. That is no different (NO different) in my opinion than Bush's WMD argument. He REALLY THOUGHT we should go invade Iraq, for whatever moronic reason. He felt that way SO STRONGLY that he used baseless, unsupported stories, not caring to haggle over the details.

In the same way, many people in America, and outside of America (including myself) think that what's happening in Guantanamo is fucked up beyond belief. But using stuff that can't be verified as true in defense of our position puts us on the same moral grounds as Bush. That's not something that I want to do, and it's something I hope that others who oppose Guantanamo would be unwilling to do. Otherwise, you're becoming the enemy, just in a different flavor.

The facts that are absolutely incontrovertible are that the guy was in jail for almost 3 years, for nothing, with no evidence. THAT'S FUCKED UP! That's all I need to get angry. That's all anyone should need to get angry.

If there's torture going on (I believe there is), there's plenty more to get pissed about. And if there are stories of torture, we should be fighting to get neutral observers in. Even if there aren't those stories, we should be fighting to get neutral observers in. But that's a different issue than being angry about unlawful (ok, "pseudo-lawful") detainment. Assuming the results of one issue, without verification, to support your beliefs on the other issue is just a bad, reprehensible, slimy, Bushlike approach.
posted by Bugbread at 12:43 AM on February 7, 2005


My hat rests nowhere near this story. I am saddened by my country. It's not so easy for me to discard these ideals of America that I grew up with. This story, if true, is fuel on a burning fire. If it isn't true it certainly isn't water to douse the fire. My position clearly allowed room for this story to be nonvalid. By saying I rest my hat on the merits of this story makes me feel like you didn't read my comment very closely.

All I'm trying to say, and I can't imagine how this could be offensive to anybody, is that all of this news coming out of Iraq and Gitmo, tears at my American heart and just doesn't mesh with I've been taught America stands for. For me to dismiss all of this would feel unpatriotic, Un-American. Again, I can set this story on a backburner for a day. See how it develops. But the bigger picture is frightening and hard to ignore. My beloved nation was caught sexually abusing political prisoners.
posted by firemouth at 12:44 AM on February 7, 2005


trinarian: okay. sorry to put so much stuff in <strong> tags.

This stuff just makes me want to yell and change things.
posted by blacklite at 12:48 AM on February 7, 2005


bugbread, I appreciate the time you took to construct your retort, but my response was supposed to be a bit of a pisstake.

Hence my "winking face" at the end.


(All my other posts have been 100% serious.)
posted by uncanny hengeman at 12:49 AM on February 7, 2005


Malor: The Declaration of Independence has no legal standing. Read this to understand the real debate better.

firemouth: just because terrorist organizations have political agendas doesn't make those caught political prisoners. Just like being jailed for plotting to burn nuclear holes through urban cores is not being a prisoner of conscience.

useful idiot: Though in light of blacklites link i am probably wrong about my supposed hole in his story, take the story for what it is. It is an unverified story coming from a pretty damn shady source tryin' to make a £ selling a CD. It might well be true, but you have absolutely no evidence to rest your brittle conviction of his honesty.
posted by trinarian at 12:59 AM on February 7, 2005


uncanny hengeman, please be careful about the use of vague symbols to indicate anything. Such symbols have many different meanings online and can be taken to mean all sorts of things. Careless use may cause all your future postings to be viewed in an unfavorable light.

;)
posted by Maxson at 1:01 AM on February 7, 2005


uncanny hengeman, please be careful about the use of vague symbols to indicate anything. Such symbols have many different meanings online and can be taken to mean all sorts of things.

Bullshit.

But I'll try and do better, just for you.

(Thankfully my post responding to Malor's very silly post was a bit of a tangent to the main argument, anyway. So no biggie, IMHO.)
posted by uncanny hengeman at 1:11 AM on February 7, 2005


Woops. You had a "winky face" at the end of your post so it means you didn't mean it.

Damn. Got me!
posted by uncanny hengeman at 1:12 AM on February 7, 2005


Hehe...I saw the winky too, but I interpreted it in a kinda "gotcha!" way ("Caught you in an internal contradiction, I did!"). Certainly doesn't bother me, though.

(^o^)
posted by Bugbread at 1:26 AM on February 7, 2005


One thing that I am having problems understanding is how a Brit in Zambia can be taken to an American base in Cuba, tortured and then held without evidence for 33 months and people can actually defend this.

Saying that 9/11 changed everything is not an answer, either.
posted by leftcoastbob at 1:33 AM on February 7, 2005


I'm sure there are important legal distinctions between political prisoners and detainees. (or whatever you think I'm supposed to call them.) But, remind me again, trinarian, which one of them is it ok for american interrogators to sexually abuse?
posted by firemouth at 1:39 AM on February 7, 2005


Saying that 9/11 changed everything is not an answer, either.

11/7 changed everything. That was the day the Republicans crashed a propaganda machine into the US government.
posted by pracowity at 2:04 AM on February 7, 2005


firemouth: at what point does agreeing that we can and should capture, detain, and interrogate suspected al-Qaeda members mean I defend sexual abuse? If you read what I wrote, instead of raging against the caricature of ideas you think I represent, I am merely casting doubt on the interviewee's integrity and the interviewers subjectivity. I have also said that while abuse has existed and is wrong, it is not institutional and as horrid as it is, is quite mild for most soldiers at war. If Canadians had an army to go to war with, things as postulated here would happen too. Aberrations occur at all levels with all things and are not necessarily symptomatic of the larger processes. In other words, you'd be a fool to hate America over this like kyrademon. You should read this carefully to construct better arguments.

leftcoastbob: while it is true that 9/11 didn't change everything (and is the rhetorical ammunition for some very bad decisions), it indeed did change much, no? I mean, we are effectively at war against those who seek our complete annihilation, or was I mistaken?

Thank you, good night.
posted by trinarian at 2:08 AM on February 7, 2005


In a stomach-churning kind of way, this discussion reminds me of a recent cartoon. I bring that up just because I'm hoping that I'm not the only one who's seeing what's going on here: Bush supporters on all levels are learning their debate tactics from the sophists of talk radio. 1) Ignore the issue. 2) Use selective facts. 3) Derail the issue with reasonable-sounding nitpicking. 4) Force emotional responses from your opponents to discredit them. 5) Manipulate the emotions of your audience (i.e. xenophobia, vengeance and unproportional fear of terrorism). 6) Utilize platitudes and homespun logic.

Right here, right now, I think the best thing to do is to get off the computer and take action. There has to be a media outlet in the US that's not asleep at the wheel. Right? Local alt media is a start. Letters to the editor sometimes make it through when written intelligently. Hell, what's Oprah up to? If this story doesn't have teeth enough to survive the nitpicks of neocon talk radio audience, then let's make a big ass master list with references. For the future: take note of the debate tactics being used and figure out ways to minimize their effects. The major problem on the national scale is getting past the gatekeeping effect. On the national level the debate is filtered by god-knows-what-forces, some of which are conscious collaborators with the admin (Fox News, Clearchannel) and others are just plain random noise generators that hit and miss out of pure stupidity (CBS, CNN).

The number one tactic that's keeping this stuff from hitting critical mass seems to be diffusion of the debate. Change will come from laser focus on the individual unanswerable quagmires of the administration. Rumsfeld and following the chain of command for prisoner abuse is probably the most explosive right now, but maybe people are still out for blood from 9-11 and they really do want to hurt innocent muslims. If that's the case, we can only hope that the neocon's undoing will be something more mundane. Whatever it is, let's find it or at least start stockpiling for a showdown.
posted by Skwirl at 2:29 AM on February 7, 2005


My point: Don't allow yourself to get tangled up in a circular debate when you could be doing something useful.
posted by Skwirl at 2:31 AM on February 7, 2005


Trinarian, I think you're off about why Kyrademon is hating America (I think...I, of course, don't know for sure). I would suspect that the things causing hate are:

- The existence of a system, legally, where people can be detained without evidence, without charges, and without appeal
- The prohibition against neutral bodies inspecting facilities to determine whether these things are happening or not.

While abberations may occur, item 1 is not an abberation, and the people in charge are PREVENTING folks from determining whether item 2 is an abberation or not, which, I think is clear, is going to prevent said abberations from being stopped, and as such is implicitly supporting said abberations.

while it is true that 9/11 didn't change everything (and is the rhetorical ammunition for some very bad decisions), it indeed did change much, no?

Yes, but the question, I believe, is "what is it that changed things such that normal folks can find 'disappearing' political prisoners acceptable"? To which, of course, the answer is still "9/11". I personally don't wonder what it is that allowed normal folks to be such assholes, because, in my opinion, they already were, they just hadn't been catalysed yet. In a sense, the question is like "What caused all that dynamite to blow up? And don't say a match." The dynamite was already explosive, the match is just what set off the latent explosiveness.
posted by Bugbread at 2:34 AM on February 7, 2005


It's so good to see Bush's vision for a culture that better respects life being reflected by the apologists in this thread.

Forget even torture for a moment... this war started nearly two year ago. If a hundred American soldiers were captured on day one, and today were still held somewhere in chain-link fences with no access to their familes or lawyers, a court of the Iraqi military deciding whether they'll live or die, would you really be pretending that there's nothing wrong with it?
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 4:20 AM on February 7, 2005


Krrrlson: Do you get any channels other than Fox News? Seriously.

Somehow I knew that'd be the best you could do.


I'm not sure I understand why imprisonment without evidence is more important than torture.

Admitted imprisonment without evidence is more important to an argument then unsubstantiated allegations of torture.
posted by Krrrlson at 4:32 AM on February 7, 2005


33 months of detainment w/o any substantiation is not just wrong, it's self-destructive., i.e., it erodes our own rule of law by implementing and allowing a gaping exception to it.

I am not saying that enemy combatants have habeas rights; but Gitmo detainments like this appear to be basing 'enemy combatant' status on incompetent assessments and groupthink. There don't appear to be any safeguards, no checks and balances.

Maybe I am reducing it too much, but liberals look on this as confirmation of evil in high places and conservatives look on this as justified treatment. Both are wrong.
posted by nj_subgenius at 4:57 AM on February 7, 2005


...IMHO...
posted by nj_subgenius at 4:58 AM on February 7, 2005


If a hundred American soldiers were captured on day one

But they aren't soldiers, they are enemy combatants!

;-)

No-one deserves to be held without trial - I don't even care if Osama was stuck there. Even he deserves a trial, it's kinda what makes us civilised.
posted by twistedonion at 5:03 AM on February 7, 2005


Milkwood ought to be expending his efforts in this area.

Gitmo's a huge albatross right now. We shouldn't have captured them, we definitely shouldn't have tortured them, and now we're terrified of releasing them without charges because, if we do, we can't justify capturing or torturing them. Who knows who else is imprisoned there? And why in the hell are we expanding the place, as well as maintaining over a dozen similar sites around the world?

Gitmo is America's Bastille. Problem is, it's only one of several. The more press focused on Gitmo, the less press available to pay attention to the prisons in Jordan, Egypt, Israel, and other locations being used to "aggressively interrogate" prisoners. Don't just fight about Gitmo - fight about the fact that we're now the Soviet Union during the height of the Cold War, and our "Iron Curtain" is in full swing. U.S. citizens can be tarred with the "enemy combatant" label and disappeared just as easily as the citizens of any other country, and our cowardly Supreme Court turns a blind eye and a deaf ear to it.

You want to capture al-Qaeda members? Great! They're now P.O.W.s, treated as such. Enough of this "we'd really like to get around those pesky limiting laws that prevent us from holding people incommunicado for years and not beating them, raping them, injuring or 'accidentally' killing them." We used to be better than this, but now we actually have people saying "well, yeah, he was captured, imprisoned, and tortured for 33 months in another country, but, hey, we had a possible reason for picking him up..."
posted by FormlessOne at 5:35 AM on February 7, 2005


considring the fact that the ample evidence of the NWO bombed the WTC, The acceptance of the american people to the this treatment of towel people is only a prelude of the fema concentration camps that the US population will have to endure after the fake nuke attack of a usa city when the survivors seek shelter at a refugee shelter. Look at your UPC code 666 mark of the beast dont accept the chip implant. seek the eternal creator god. Do not sell your soul to to satan the Freemasons money the federal reserve. May God save us all. Hopefully the UFOs will save the saved souls during the end times. this is the last reincarnation cycle for this universe. **2012** 11:11 I hope all of you beat the DOOM end times level. It aint that hard. read your manual -> bible. the formula of your pure dna is the name of God. GOD BLESS.
posted by godseyeview at 6:15 AM on February 7, 2005


What the hell was THAT?
posted by c13 at 6:34 AM on February 7, 2005


a new new user
posted by gsb at 6:37 AM on February 7, 2005


Cleanup on aisle 5. . . Cleanup on aisle 5!
posted by spock at 6:38 AM on February 7, 2005


So he really isn't kidding, is he? Is he?
posted by c13 at 6:43 AM on February 7, 2005


no? I mean, we are effectively at war against those who seek our complete annihilation, or was I mistaken?

You are very likely mistaken. It is possible that you have been absorbing the propaganda that the US government has been promulgating.
Cheney, Wolfhowitz and Rumsfeld are using fear *to guide the nation toward a future that they feel is the best one. They require an enemy to maintain their grip on the nation. They do not seem to value the democratic system, due process or international law.

* Link to 'power of nightmares' transcript and stream.

Programme I includes gems such as:

'To persuade the President, the neoconservatives set out to prove that the Soviet threat was far greater than anyone, even Team B, had previously shown. They would demonstrate that the majority of terrorism and revolutionary movements around the world were actually part of a secret network, coordinated by Moscow, to take over the world. The main proponent of this theory was a leading neoconservative who was the special adviser to the Secretary of State. His name was Michael Ledeen, and he had been influenced by a best-selling book called The Terror Network. It alleged that terrorism was not the fragmented phenomenon that it appeared to be. In reality, all terrorist groups, from the PLO to the Baader-Meinhof group in Germany, and the Provisional IRA, all of them were a part of a coordinated strategy of terror run by the Soviet Union. But the CIA completely disagreed. They said this was just another neoconservative fantasy.'

Programme III:

'The reality was that bin Laden and Ayman Zawahiri had become the focus of a loose association of disillusioned Islamist militants who were attracted by the new strategy. But there was no organisation. These were militants who mostly planned their own operations and looked to bin Laden for funding and assistance. He was not their commander. There is also no evidence that bin Laden used the term “Al Qaeda” to refer to the name of a group until after September the 11th, when he realized that this was the term the Americans have given it.'

'In reality, Jamal al-Fadl was on the run from bin Laden, having stolen money from him. In return for his evidence, the Americans gave him witness protection in America and hundreds of thousands of dollars. Many lawyers at the trial believed that al-Fadl exaggerated and lied to give the Americans the picture of a terrorist organisation that they needed to prosecute bin Laden.'

NB. Al Qaida translates as 'the network'.


Apologies for overly long quotes, you have to watch all three progammes to get the full picture. I hope everyone gets a chance to read the transcript, or see it.

They even had me believing in the existence of 'Al Qaida' for a while. This left me feeling duped, even though the first words to leave my lips on seeing the planes fly into the towers were 'Bin Laden again'.
Generally, I look at a story's source in order to help me weigh up it's value.
Mubanga has very little to lose, whereas the Bush regime has everything to lose.
posted by asok at 6:45 AM on February 7, 2005


So he really isn't kidding, is he? Is he?

It would appear not, if you check out the history of his quality comments. He appears to be a charter member of the Conspiracy Theory of the Month club (the kind that give conspiracy theorists a bad name).

. . . adding to my "ignore" list
posted by spock at 6:50 AM on February 7, 2005


Milkwood's thread has nothing in common with this one.
posted by spock at 7:08 AM on February 7, 2005


Okay, really: We're all intelligent people. Probably in the top 5 percentile of the world. We're literate, capable, at times quite resourceful.

What's it gonna take to get rid of this president? Really?
posted by fungible at 7:39 AM on February 7, 2005


Fungible, have you read godseyeview's comment? He's really not alone in this, you know..
posted by c13 at 7:52 AM on February 7, 2005


Judging whether there are "holes" in someone's story might best be done by actually hearing their own recounting, rather than a newspaper article that is based on an interview. If this was a transcript it might be a different matter. How about evaluating the uncontested facts (he went to Afghanistan, he was taken from Zambia, he has dual citizenship, etc.) and the likelihood that there may be questionable practices going on instead of bickering over what may be inadequacies in The Observer's article.

Should people be arrested from non-combatant countries? Was the arrest procedure acceptable? Was the treatment he received (claims to have received) acceptable during wartime? Should he have had more legal options or access to counsel during his detainment? These are questions that are worth discussing. If you advocate coercive methods to extract information or determine guilt/innocence, tell us where that line is and how you've drawn it. If you think the US is in the wrong for imprisoning alleged combatants, then come up with an alternate solution.

We already know there have been mistakes and successes, but they're best used as a yardstick for evaluating our actions from here on out, instead of slamming each other endlessly.
posted by mikeh at 7:56 AM on February 7, 2005


c13: So you're comparing what I said to a paranoid rant?

I mean, I'm looking forward to the end times in 2012 and all, but otherwise, I don't get it.
posted by fungible at 7:58 AM on February 7, 2005


OK. I'm calmer now.

One reason I find this thread so frustrating is that the people I'm arguing with seem to be consistenty misunderstanding my position. Perhaps this is my own fault and I did not make myself clear. But from my point of view, the conversation went something like this:

"Our government is torturing people. This is bad."
"This is one man's unsubstantiated account. Your overreactiong makes you look foolish."
"Well, actually, I am reacting to my governments own admissions. I admit this is one man's unsubstantiated account. Torture, however, is occurring."
"This is one man's unsubstantiated account. Your credulous belief in in makes you look foolish."
". . . I think you misunderstand. I didn't say it was necessarily all true - although, quite frankly, the portions which are substantiated are bad enough to merit my reaction. I said in the larger picture, people are being tortured."
"This is one man's unsubstantiated account. Basing your belief in US Government torture on it makes you looks foolish."
"I'm NOT basing my belief in torture on it! I'm basing it on my governments own admissions! And the photographs, memos, and reports we've all seen! There's so much evidence that this one man's account is actually irrelevant to the larger picture!"
"This is one man's unsubstantiated account. Your lack of desire to discredit it shocks me. How can you say that whether or not it is true is irrelevant?"
"Because whether or not it is true doesn't change the larger picture!"
"This is one man's unsubstantiated account. Your credulous belief in it, even going so far as to say you don't care whether or not it's true, confirms all of my beliefs about leftists."
"That's not what I said or meant! I don't believe this! Our government is torturing people, and they admit it, and you're quibbling about pants! This is insane! We're running concentration camps! I hate this country!"
"This is one man's unsubstantiated account. Hating your country on the basis of that makes you look foolish."

And so on.
posted by kyrademon at 8:04 AM on February 7, 2005


For starters we could use a 21st century Woodward & Bernstein which probably isn't going to happen because:
a) journalism has been co-opted (see Embedded Journalists)
b) media decisions are now rarely made independently thanks to consolidation and watering down the rules for cross-media ownership and corporate ownership
c) even if a comprehensive story breaks there will not be enough of a public outcry for fear of being accused of not supporting the President (or the troops) in a time of war

If nothing happens to the person/persons who commits the treasonous act of outing U.S. C.I.A. personnel, what do you think are the chances of anything else being dealt with? I regret that my fatalistic attitude plays into their hands.

History will not be kind but that is small consolation to those who must live it.
posted by spock at 8:10 AM on February 7, 2005


Not at all. I'm just saying that I have reservations about this:We're all intelligent people. Probably in the top 5 percentile of the world. We're literate, capable, at times quite resourceful.
Especially in this thread, half of which was wasted on discussing whether the guy had his pants on, or his fly unzipped or whatever when he had to piss. Then you have TetrisKid and godseyeview. It's not very incouraging.
posted by c13 at 8:11 AM on February 7, 2005


'I've lost three years of my life, because I was a Muslim. If I hadn't become a Muslim and carried on doing bad things, maybe I'd have spent that three years in a regular prison. The authorities wanted to break me but they strengthened me.
posted by omidius at 8:16 AM on February 7, 2005


Not to derail, but I rewatched "All the President's Men" again this weekend (detailing the journalistic breaking of the massive conspiracy to which the Watergate break-in opened the door). It was a conspiracy of massive proportions involving the White House, the Justice Department and the U.S. intellegence agencies. Breaking the story open (and getting anything done about it) was hanging by a thread many times. It is distressing to see that 30 years later the virus is back and stronger than ever, with no cure in sight. A large percentage of our population doesn't even know the original story. Just because there are wacko conspiracy theorists out there doesn't mean that conspiracies cannot/do not exist.
posted by spock at 8:18 AM on February 7, 2005


Well, sorry if I insulted anyone by calling them intelligent, literate or capable.

I'm just venting my rage and frustration (this is what, Outrage Of The Day #24527?) and asking, what can we do about it?
posted by fungible at 8:20 AM on February 7, 2005


You know all of this prison talk reminds me of how Nasser - the then-President of Egypt - threw Sayyid Qutb into prison after he returned to Egypt back in 1950.

Qutb had returned from his exchange-studies in Colorado, where he had independently determined that Western Culture was a corrupting 'Matrix' which must not be tolerated. Nasser found him to be a troublemaker, and promptly threw him into prison, where he later became both a prophet, martyr and mentor-by-proxy to OBL.

Human rights, proselytation and incarceration are a tricky thing - you can never be sure of what comes out the other end - that is, if you allow those 'prisoners' to live...
posted by vhsiv at 8:51 AM on February 7, 2005


I agree, kyrademon, that's annoying.

... but then, why was this post not about the US Government's admissions (somebody please give me a link about this, I want to see it, and not because I'm skeptical but because I'm uninformed) instead of one man's admittedly unsubstantiated story? This should really mean nothing until proven. If we want to make a case against the torture, we should be pointing to the root, and pointing at the evidence/admitted guilt, not at some guy who may or may not be telling the truth.

Again: you spoke of internal memos and investigations. Give us links. That's what we should be looking at, not this distraction of a Guardian story-- they've already demonstrated to me that they'll drag up anybody they can find to tell them any story they want to hear. (Anybody else remember the weird conspiracy story they printed a while ago involving Gitmo torture through mind-control backmasking of Third Eye Blind songs?)
posted by koeselitz at 8:53 AM on February 7, 2005


"...our troops are the among the most constrained and well behaved history has ever witnessed..." So says Trinarian.

Well bullshit. Look at what you're doing in the middle east. Look at what you did in Vietnam.

Go back as far as the Pacific theatre and you find Intelligence officers complaining that they have to bribe troops with ice cream and leave to get them to stop killing prisoners.

Look I don't rate your army, and I don't rate your government.

Right now, because of your bullshit, I'm losing faith in your citizenry.
posted by fingerbang at 9:07 AM on February 7, 2005


My god. Some people are completely unable to see the forest for the trees.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:23 AM on February 7, 2005


This should really mean nothing until proven.

At the end of the day, what has been proven is that several hundred people have been detained in a prison for a few years now with no legal representation and no rights. That's wrong and unacceptable. Like I said earlier, even if the one person responsible for all the deaths at the WTO was there it would still be wrong and unacceptable. Hell, I'd even find it unacceptable to treat Bush that way, and he's responsible for many more civilian deaths than Osama.

It is never acceptable to round people up, fly them out of a country and imprison them on an island thousands of miles away.

It's wrong

Very wrong

Your kids and grandkids will be ashamed of you for this.
posted by twistedonion at 9:23 AM on February 7, 2005


"At the end of the day, what has been proven is that several hundred people have been detained in a prison for a few years now with no legal representation and no rights[?]"

Has that been proven? Not the "with no legal representation" bit (that makes no sense to me; who would citizens of a defunct nation be represented by, and before whom?) but the "no rights" part.

I've read everything from "they live well, and those who are suspected of having information get the heat in their cells turned up a bit" to "they're tortured for hours on end," like this guy in the article above.

Now, there are a lot of people who'd like to stick it to the United States right now-- maybe rightly so, I don't know-- enough that I wouldn't be surprised that some people have made up some stories. On the other side, the Americans involved here seem like the kind to make up stories, too. So can we please get some clarification before we get outraged? I'd rather not waste my anger, or direct it toward the wrong object.

Has it been proven-- this abuse?
posted by koeselitz at 9:42 AM on February 7, 2005


Well, koeselitz, it’s a lot to sort through, but here’s a bunch of stuff obtained through FOIA requests. A fair bit of it is investigations which didn’t come to anything, but a disturbing amount of it . . . isn’t. I’ve picked out some quotes for you.

Relating to the Taguba report:
“Concludes that ‘US soldiers have committed egregious acts of abuse to detainees in violation of UCMJ and international law at Abu Ghraib (BCCF)’”

From the FBI:
“Of concern, DOD interrogators impersonating Supervisory Special Agents of the FBI told a detainee that [redacted]. These same interrogation teams then [redacted]. The detainee was also told by this interrogation team [redacted]. These tactics have produced no intelligence of a threat neutralization nature to date and CITF believes that techniques have destroyed any chance of prosecuting this detainee.”
“gen karpinsky at abu ghraib said that gen miller came to the prison several months ago and told her they wanted to "gitmoize" abu ghraib. I am not sure what this means. However if this refers to intell gathering as I suspect, it suggests he has continued to support interrogation strategies we not only advised against, but questioned in terms of effectiveness.”

From the Department of Army:
“charges of 7 soldiers accused hitting an Iraqi detainee in the head several times, fracturing his jaw . . . Investigation resulted in 5 guilty charges . . .”
“SPC at Abu Ghraib provided sworn statement that he overheard a MP dog handler stating that a game was being played to see which dog handler could get the most detainees to urinate on themselves.”
“CID determined that probable cause existed for a murder charge. However . . . Specialist reduced in rank and discharged from the service, before the investigation had even begun.”
“Investigation into undetermined manner of death of detainee at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. No crime scene exam was conducted, no autopsy conducted, no copy of medical file obtained for investigation . . .”

From the NCIS:
“Reports that when an Iraqi was deemed an EPW, he would be taken to an empty swimming pool, handcuffed, leg cuffed and have a burlap bag placed over his head. He would remain in the kneeling position “no longer than 24 hours” while awaiting interrogation.”
“. . . use of physical force to ‘set the EPWs straight’ . . . ”
“Statement by medical personnel re knowledge of abuse of EPWs while deployed to Iraq. Majority of people taken as EPWs were actually looters.”
“Substantiated incidents include: beating detainees with fists; holding pistol to detainee's head while another Marine took a picture . . . spraying detainee with fire extinguisher; electric shocking detainee (Al Mahmudiya, Iraq); burning detainee's hands (2nd degree burns) (Al Mumudiyah, Iraq).”

From the DIA/DOS/FBI:
“Detainee abuse in violation of Geneva Conventions . . .”
“. . . against the US constitutional and international law . . .”
posted by kyrademon at 9:46 AM on February 7, 2005


Koeselitz, WTF? They've been taken from Afganistan to fucking Cuba. And they've spent 3 years behind barbed wire without trial. Is this not abusive enough?
posted by c13 at 9:48 AM on February 7, 2005


kyrademon: Thanks. This is really useful-- stuff I can start going through to get an idea of it.

c13: Detaining people is not always illegal. Detaining people without trial is not always illegal. War is painful for everyone; but the reason the Constitution says nothing about these cases is because it can't dictate the law for foreign citizens, and because certain things are sometimes necessary to save lives. Yeah, I know, we don't know if this is saving lives, and it seems a little unlikely; but it seems as though those in power at least believe that they're saving lives. Else, why would they risk this PR nightmare? I just want to see all the facts. And "simple detention is torturous" is completely out of perspective, I think; detention of combatants is necessary in some cases.
posted by koeselitz at 11:06 AM on February 7, 2005


Personally, I hope that everyone who has rationalized torutre and abuse get's a big dose of it themselves someday..
Or their kids..
Or their grandkids..

That doesn't mean that I hate America, I mourn it.
I mourn the principles that have been thrown aside.

I hate what America is becomming. At least it's still early enough to arm yourselves before they come for you.

I'm not anti-war, anti-violence, anti-gun. But presently I guess I am Anti-American if the abuses of power I've seen are becomming the norm.

There just might be an American showdown in the future. Don't let it catch you by suprise.
posted by Balisong at 11:45 AM on February 7, 2005


detention of combatants is necessary in some cases.

Have you read the article?

"For many months after Mubanga was seized in Zambia with the help of British intelligence and sent to Guantánamo, the American authorities maintained that he was a dangerous 'enemy combatant', an undercover al-Qaeda operative who had travelled from Afghanistan on a false passport and appeared to be on a mission to reconnoitre Jewish organisations in New York. But documents obtained by The Observer now reveal that by the end of last October the Pentagon's own legal staff had grave doubts about his status, and had overturned a ruling that he was a terrorist by Guantánamo's Combatant Status Review Tribunal."
posted by c13 at 11:48 AM on February 7, 2005


Twistedonion, I dream (and almost predict) a day where Bush voters will lie to their grandchildren, lie to their friends, lie to the public about their votes to save face and maintain any kind of major public standing.

Either they find a really good excuse for it between now and then, or it's going to happen.

Of course, I also still believe in the possibility of Sky City.
posted by dougunderscorenelso at 11:59 AM on February 7, 2005


uncanny hengeman: 'the "photos of British soldiers abusing Iraqis" story - which turned out to be fake...'

Those you linked to were faked, but more have surfaced since that apparently aren't. There's an ongoing court martial about them.
posted by Auz at 12:12 PM on February 7, 2005


c13:

(1) Yeah, I read the article. I still don't trust the Guardian's sources much, but I see that the US might easily have been wrong on this, wholly wrong. That's why I asked for more info.

(2) That has nothing to do with my point. International law, if there is such a thing, is a difficult subject; it's not made easier when people equate detention with torture, which is what you did above.

Sometimes, detention of people is necessary. Possibly not-- probably not-- in this case, but sometimes. My point still stands; detention is not torture. Saying so not only muddies the waters and confuses the legal issues, but makes it more difficult to help those who are actually being tortured.
posted by koeselitz at 1:34 PM on February 7, 2005


we could use a 21st century Woodward & Bernstein

Leaving aside the fact that both those guys are still alive, if somewhat flaccid, there is always this guy
posted by IndigoJones at 2:28 PM on February 7, 2005


there is always this guy

Indeed. He is a one-man-indictment of the rest of 'em, however.
posted by spock at 3:14 PM on February 7, 2005


We'll just have to launch trade sanctions against US until it improves its human rights record.
posted by Sparx at 4:31 PM on February 7, 2005


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