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JUMAH AL-DOSSARI is a 33-year-old citizen of Bahrain.
January 12, 2007 8:44 AM   Subscribe


 
Thank you for posting this.
posted by agregoli at 8:49 AM on January 12, 2007


That's a powerful letter.
posted by chunking express at 8:50 AM on January 12, 2007


The letter's "contents have been deemed unclassified by the Department of Defense." Does that mean they accept his summary of his treatment?

I remain impressed by the ability of people in the absolute worst situations imaginable to say things like "I know that the soldiers who did bad things to me represent themselves, not the United States. "

Although I disagree with him there. Through no fault of his own he probably missed Rummy on CNN explaining why such extreme measures were necessary against so-called terrorists.
posted by imperium at 8:53 AM on January 12, 2007


crazy. Al-Dossari apparently accounts for 12 of the 39 suicide attempts at Gitmo; here's his full testimony with Amnesty; and his lawyer Colangelo-Bryan recounting a suicide attempt that took place right in front of him.
posted by phaedon at 8:55 AM on January 12, 2007


Oh man, that is a TOTAL buzzkill... and I was gonna go to the mall today!

In all seriousness, how does a letter like this even get out of Gitmo? I mean, we all know our government is a bunch of murderous torturers who lies to us constantly, but you would think at least they could be better at it.
Nice post.
posted by eparchos at 8:57 AM on January 12, 2007


wow. thank you.
posted by spinturtle at 8:58 AM on January 12, 2007


In all seriousness, how does a letter like this even get out of Gitmo?
Through his lawyers.
posted by phaedon at 8:58 AM on January 12, 2007


The fact that this passed through Defense censors highlights the fact that the U.S. government is not monolithic, and as time goes on, it's increasingly evident that the Cheney unit is facing dissent from many places within "The Government." After all, the original Guantanamo leadership did not want to run the place like this; they had to be replaced with people who would listen to the White House.
posted by rxrfrx at 9:00 AM on January 12, 2007


In all seriousness, how does a letter like this even get out of Gitmo?
Through his lawyers.


I was going to say snuck out through his asshole but you beat me to it.
posted by hal9k at 9:06 AM on January 12, 2007 [6 favorites]


Eventually everything will come out. I just hope it is soon enough that someone actually gets punished, but that's not the way it usually happens.
posted by InfidelZombie at 9:07 AM on January 12, 2007


"They have deprived me of sleep, forced me to listen to extremely loud music and shined intense lights in my face. They have placed me in cold rooms for hours without food, drink or the ability to go to the bathroom or wash for prayers."

Sounds like a regular Friday night in college (if you include a stint in the drunk tank).
posted by wabashbdw at 9:10 AM on January 12, 2007


"I know that the soldiers who did bad things to me represent themselves, not the United States. "

Although I disagree with him there. Through no fault of his own he probably missed Rummy on CNN explaining why such extreme measures were necessary against so-called terrorists.


imperium: that depends on what he means by "The United States." Does he mean the U.S. government or U.S. citizens? There is a difference.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 9:14 AM on January 12, 2007


I believe that, someday, we'll see war crime trials that will rival those that resulted from the atrocities during WW II.

and..hal9k.. it appears that his attorney was part of the process of making this available to the public, in my opinion your "asshole" comment was appropriate in this case. In addition it was a cheap joke that demeans this thread and the issue it presents.
posted by HuronBob at 9:15 AM on January 12, 2007 [2 favorites]


Believe me I hate to be the guy that does this. Believe me.

terrorism

noun
the calculated use of violence (or threat of violence) against civilians in order to attain goals that are political or religious or ideological in nature; this is done through intimidation or coercion or instilling fear


How does what Jumah describes here not fall under this definition. How do people in Nebraska, Alabama, Wyoming and my great state of Wisconsin still believe that we are the "good guys" on this one.

I'm not gonna playa hate on my own country, but seriously, game recognize game.
posted by SinisterPurpose at 9:16 AM on January 12, 2007


"And when the history of these days is written, it will tell how America once again defended its own freedom by using liberty to transform nations from bitter foes to strong allies. And history will say that this generation, like generations before, laid the foundation of peace for generations to come." -George W. Bush
posted by mek at 9:18 AM on January 12, 2007


The USA is dead to me.
posted by Hogshead at 9:19 AM on January 12, 2007


ZenMasterThis, of course, I agree with you and should have been clearer. He's mistaken if he thinks what's happening to him isn't an intended aim of the US Government. He's right if he thinks that the majority of Americans abhor what's being done to him in their name.
posted by imperium at 9:21 AM on January 12, 2007


Thanks for the post.
posted by gaspode at 9:21 AM on January 12, 2007


I believe that, someday, we'll see war crime trials that will rival those that resulted from the atrocities during WW II.

I believe that we should, but I don't believe that we will.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:26 AM on January 12, 2007


He's right if he thinks that the majority of Americans abhor what's being done to him in their name.

I suspect the majority of Americans don't know what to feel about it. (or what 'abhor' means)
The only way I can respond to these constant exposés anymore is with a sort of sad comedy. I'm sorry, but if Abu Ghraib didn't convince Americans to stop their leaders, I find it hard to believe that anything will.
I'm not saying not to speak up and be appalled by what's happening, including this letter, but I'm personally pretty disillusioned to the notion that enough people will do so to make a difference, at this point. It seems like the motto of the United States has gone from e pluribus unum to "Don't rock the boat."
posted by eparchos at 9:31 AM on January 12, 2007 [2 favorites]


I find that most people understand that a country's government is a separate animal from a country's citizens. It's easy (especially for some zealots) to lump them together in anger though, and I think he was just trying to make it clear he's not doing that.

It all just sucks. Wow. I simply can't fathom the rampant inhumanity in this world... or rather, it offends me to my very core so perhaps I just refuse to. I wonder how his daughter has handled all of this?
posted by miss lynnster at 9:31 AM on January 12, 2007


They have wrapped me in the Israeli flag

he's ready to run for US Senator, then.
posted by matteo at 9:32 AM on January 12, 2007 [6 favorites]


Things like this letter and the bit at the end of this story from NPR last week about Jose Padilla's current mental state really ought to make those disinterested Americans ask their leaders what exactly are we trying to accomplish with these detentions anymore. I pray, the longer these people sit in prison without charges, the longer Cheney and Rumsfeld's eventual sentences will be.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 9:34 AM on January 12, 2007


wikipedia
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 9:42 AM on January 12, 2007


SinisterPurpose, you don't have to "play hate on my own country", only on the crooks/zealots/torturers who've taken it over.
posted by lometogo at 9:42 AM on January 12, 2007


Thank you for the post.

Sometimes you hear conservatives in the US complaining about Islam say, "where are the moderate Muslims?" Now we know.
posted by ibmcginty at 9:48 AM on January 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


.......the only thing necessary for evil to triumph......................

thanks for the post
posted by Wilder at 9:51 AM on January 12, 2007


.
posted by knave at 9:53 AM on January 12, 2007


Boring.

Hey is American Idol or The Apprentice on tonight. I hope so.
posted by i_am_a_Jedi at 9:53 AM on January 12, 2007


"And when the history of these days is written, it will tell how America once again defeated its own freedom by using liberty to transform nations from strong allies to bitter foes. And history will say that this generation, like generations before, laid the foundation for profit for generations to come." -George W. Bush
posted by Floydd at 9:53 AM on January 12, 2007


Fabrication.
posted by MapGuy at 9:54 AM on January 12, 2007


The letter's "contents have been deemed unclassified by the Department of Defense." Does that mean they accept his summary of his treatment?

It dosn't mean they 'accept' it, just that it contains no classified inforamtion.
posted by delmoi at 10:06 AM on January 12, 2007


.
posted by BeerGrin at 10:10 AM on January 12, 2007


Most major population areas, and even a lot of small towns, in the U.S. have groups that are doing weekly, if not daily, protest events regarding the wrongdoings of the current administration. For those of you that feel strongly about this issue, the war, or the lies that fuel this type of abuse, I would suggest that you begin to participate in these protests.

At an event in Ann Arbor last night, a young man was holding a sign that said "Do you really think sending an e/mail is enough?". I think we can expand that to "Do you really think a sympathetic post on MeFi is enough?".

Get off your butts and do something!
posted by HuronBob at 10:11 AM on January 12, 2007


Whenever I hear people asking where the moderate muslims are, I cringe. Looking at our media you would have no clue that there are zillions of them around the world. Hell, even when one is in front of their faces being sworn in as a congressman on THOMAS JEFFERSON'S KURAN, the biggest story on the news is the idiot who runs to the media to declare the new congressman is practically a closet terrorist with an agenda of overthrowing the christianity of America. Whatever. Shut up.
posted by miss lynnster at 10:12 AM on January 12, 2007


Thanks for the post.
posted by languagehat at 10:33 AM on January 12, 2007


There is more humanity in this prisoner than in our whole fucking government. It makes me furious that we suck so bad. I wanna cry.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 10:38 AM on January 12, 2007


At an event in Ann Arbor last night, a young man was holding a sign that said "Do you really think sending an e/mail is enough?". I think we can expand that to "Do you really think a sympathetic post on MeFi is enough?".

Get off your butts and do something!


What? I'm seriously asking. It's not like all those massive anti-war rallies did a damn bit of a good, other than reminding those of us who participated that we weren't alone. I mean, I'm glad I spoke up back then by hitting the streets, but who exactly did I speak to? No one was listening.

I don't know what else to do but write letters and make phone calls. At least that way a human being actually reads my words or hears my voice for a split second before tuning it out.
posted by treepour at 10:39 AM on January 12, 2007


Thank you for this post.

I'm ashamed of those of you here who think this letter was funny.
posted by Servatron at 10:44 AM on January 12, 2007


Evil bastards. America, please, please rise up.
posted by A189Nut at 10:45 AM on January 12, 2007


Humor is how some deal with extreme sorrow, anger and frustration. Let it go, Servatron.
posted by NationalKato at 10:48 AM on January 12, 2007


Treepour... I believe that those rallies back "in the day" DID make a difference, although it didn't feel like it at the time.

Does a single demonstration make a difference, probably not, do two demonstrations change things, probably not...but, eventually the numbers become significant.

Like Arlo said "And can you, can you imagine fifty people a day,I said fifty people a day walking in singin a bar of Alice's Restaurant and walking out. And friends, they may think it's a movement."

Thanks for writing the letters, and making the phone calls. After I read this article, I called my congressman's office and started the process to meet with him.

we just need a "movement" friends.
posted by HuronBob at 10:50 AM on January 12, 2007


It's not like all those massive anti-war rallies did a damn bit of a good, other than reminding those of us who participated that we weren't alone.

I don't know what else to do but write letters and make phone calls. At least that way a human being actually reads my words or hears my voice for a split second before tuning it out.


It's depressing to me that people have this attitude after the incredible (gradual) shift this country has undergone.

Almost every conservative in my family has stopped talking politics; they are finding themselves incredibly conflicted and even guilty for so vociferously supporting the events in Iraq as they occurred. Minds are changing all over the place, but it is not the sort of thing that happens, or at least becomes evident, overnight.

Believe me, it is probably for the best that our country, however volatile it may seem to us from within its sheltered confines, is not so turbulent that our government is as easily revolutionized by sudden crowds and violence as so many others have been. That pendulum swings both ways, and at great cost.
posted by hermitosis at 10:56 AM on January 12, 2007


Yeah, it's the troops doing it. They're sadists.
It's Bush. He's evil.
It's whomever, certainly it's not because I haven't done anything.

You know how that letter got out of gitmo, sure, do you know why? Because no one fucking cares enough to get off the couch. Because - we've let them get away with it by tacit consent.
Now certainly some, many, perhaps all of you are involved at whatever levels, perhaps even committed.
The vast majority of people are not however.
And - AND! when someone is fully committed their sacrifice is devalued as meaningless and ultimately ineffectual no matter what the form.
In Chicago we had a guy willing to set himself on fire in protest. Responses, for the most part, were "what a nut."
Now that's not my path. My way, unfortunately, is to destroy others. And I've learned hard lessons that that is not the way to anything useful. But it's damn well getting harder to reign that in and even Ritsche said "Consider that the French people actually have a voice, because they are willing to riot when the government doesn't listen to them."

Now, I don't expect anything from "metafilter," but recognize that the power to stop this has always been in the hands of the American people. And they're not using it. For whatever reasons, that's the heart of it. Assigning blame is loser bullshit (it's Bush's fault, troop's fault, government, the liberals, conservatives, this guy, the other people, whatever) particularly when there isn't a damn thing to be done to prosecute whomevers at fault unless the ball gets rolling the other way in the first place.
I've had, and got, some ideas on how to get that going. Obviously most of them weren't worth a damn. Hopefully someone smarter, more charismatic, tougher out there decides to get involved.
For me it's not merely "there but for the grace of God go I" - but Lincoln's "as I would wish not to be a slave, so I would wish not to be a master."
Maybe some people in the U.S. are getting off on being the masters in the world. That ain't gonna last. The only question is how much will be wasted and how much blood will be spilled in the process.
posted by Smedleyman at 10:57 AM on January 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


Hello NationalKato,

Some people laugh at their own sorrow, which is a coping mechanism.

When you laugh at another persons sorrow...
posted by Servatron at 10:57 AM on January 12, 2007


...an angel gets its wings.
posted by found missing at 11:00 AM on January 12, 2007 [3 favorites]


That was so clever found missing. I'm very proud of you!
posted by Servatron at 11:05 AM on January 12, 2007


Another thank you for the post...this needs to be here, upfront, and not tucked away in a convenient corner of the mind.
posted by Asherah at 11:05 AM on January 12, 2007


I've had, and got, some ideas on how to get that going. Obviously most of them weren't worth a damn. Hopefully someone smarter, more charismatic, tougher out there decides to get involved.

Smedleyman - what are your ideas? (I'm asking in all seriousness - I really want to know, if you can talk about them in this venue.)

I had tears in my eyes when I read this letter.

A slow shift may be beginning, but for the most part, efforts to stop the insanity DO seem worthless. Most of congress, even many republicans, now opposes the actions of the Administration. I look at this and say, if someone on the floor of congress can't even change this course of events, what does my voice matter?

I wish I could stop being so discouraged about this but I don't know what to do.
posted by crackingdes at 11:08 AM on January 12, 2007


I think Smedleyman is suggesting we set ourselves on fire.
posted by found missing at 11:10 AM on January 12, 2007


Get off your butts and do something!

Dream on. That would mean they might have to give up their SUV and Plasma TV.
posted by eriko at 11:12 AM on January 12, 2007


Smedleyman -

There is a citizen responsibility. But it frankly has it limits. Overall, people don't care of anything outside of the normal structure of their lives.

Is this the fault of the Americans? I'm outside the country right now and recieve daily blind nationalistic hate of my person, because of what I represent. Fuck that. I don't buy it and refuse to accept it. It's a complicated game, and I'm not going to cast blame and thrown stones. Society is a manifestation of masses, the creation of the state the forming of something that although comes from humans is distorted and alien.

Gitmo is just a drop in the bucket. But as to the practicality of stopping it I would suggest a full scale invasion and liberation. Surely there´s enough crazy people with boats and guns?
posted by iamck at 11:15 AM on January 12, 2007


A lot of people in America are prepared to sacrifice their comfort for a higher good. I understand your cynicism, but I can assure you that the extreme materialism in Americans you see is not true of all of us.
posted by Servatron at 11:16 AM on January 12, 2007


"...if someone on the floor of congress can't even change this course of events, what does my voice matter? "

But, there's the rub. Someone on the floor of congress CAN change this, they just haven't done it.

The administration is no longer in control of congress, the budget, or making the laws. Things CAN change... the fear is that the Democrats are as immoral and corrupt as the Republicans... WE need to hold them accountable for every decision they make......
posted by HuronBob at 11:21 AM on January 12, 2007


imperium: that depends on what he means by "The United States." Does he mean the U.S. government or U.S. citizens? There is a difference.

Not really, at this point. It's not like what happens at Gitmo is a big secret. It's not like there aren't lots of news stories about people who have been languishing there for years without trial or access to a lawyer, and it's not like the abuses at Abu Ghraib haven't come out. Unless you're doing something every day to protest it, you're letting these things be done in your name.
posted by Zinger at 11:22 AM on January 12, 2007


Fuck, fuck, fuckidy, fuck.

In my name?

fuck!
posted by Devils Rancher at 11:23 AM on January 12, 2007


I think Smedleyman is suggesting we set ourselves on fire.

No hurry - there's plenty of folks queuing up to do it for you.
posted by fleetmouse at 11:51 AM on January 12, 2007


My country, right or wrong.










Just kidding, I'm ashamed. After reading this I printed a picture of W just so I could spit on it.
posted by mullingitover at 11:51 AM on January 12, 2007


I'd set myself on fire, but there is no way I'm getting out of this SUV, especially not in this neighborhood, and all I have is this stupid cigarette lighter and the heat generated by my in-car plasma screen TV.
posted by found missing at 11:55 AM on January 12, 2007


Smedleyman, I'm confused. I agree that Americans (including myself) are far more apathetic than they should be. But whenever the military enters the equation, you're quick to argue that only only should grunts not question their orders, but it's the honorable thing to do, this being a civilian-led military and all.

So, please explain. Shouldn't all Americans, civilian and serving, disobey in the name of human decency? Or if you're wearing fatigues, do you have a convenient out from morality?
posted by bardic at 11:58 AM on January 12, 2007


found missing: please stop making an ass of yourself. it's making me feel embarrassed for you.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 12:09 PM on January 12, 2007


Unless you're doing something every day to protest it, you're letting these things be done in your name.

Well, in the name of my country. My bigger moral quandary is not that things are being done 'in my name', but rather that they are being done with my money. I pay my taxes, and taxes are where the government gets the money to do things like this. I can protest, I can call, etc., but what I'd really like to be able to is to say: you can't use my money to do that. My taxes are for education, roads, help for the poor, anything but for that.

If there is a conscientious objection option available for those who wish not to engage in intentionally harming other human beings, there should be one available for those who don't wish to pay for it.
posted by LooseFilter at 12:11 PM on January 12, 2007


The usual reaction to the the exposure of great evil done in one's name is to just look away.

Pretend it isn't important, act like it never happened.

We have been doing it long enough already with the way we allow our own domestic imprisoned to be treated, that it is second nature, something about which we can all joke: Don't pick up the soap!

The government seems bent on the torture of prisoners for no apparent reason beyond simply being able to inflict pain upon our captives? Look away, look away.

So, someone estimates six hundred thousand civilians have died in Iraq ? Claim it is impossible. Argue the sampling, claim it's propaganda. But never demand it actually be verified or disproven. It's just not that newsworthy, not that important.

Deny, deny, deny. Look away, look away.
posted by y2karl at 12:11 PM on January 12, 2007 [2 favorites]


Bardic,
I think people need to look at the proud history of GI resistance to the War in Vietnam. That answers the question.
posted by A189Nut at 12:11 PM on January 12, 2007


Unless you're doing something every day to protest it, you're letting these things be done in your name.

That's quite the false dilemma, and consequently, quite the bullshit argument.
posted by oaf at 12:13 PM on January 12, 2007


I feel like this could make an impact as as a billboard or full-page newspaper ad:

"If I die, please remember that there was a human being named Jumah at Guantanamo whose beliefs, dignity and humanity were abused. Please remember that there are hundreds of detainees at Guantanamo suffering the same misfortune."
posted by dripdripdrop at 12:17 PM on January 12, 2007


From Answer's website:

"On March 17, 2007, the 4th anniversary of the start of the criminal invasion of Iraq, tens of thousands of people from around the country will descend on the Pentagon in a mass demonstration to demand: U.S. Out of Iraq Now! 2007 is the 40th anniversary of the historic 1967 anti-war march to the Pentagon during the Vietnam War. The message of the 1967 march was "From Protest to Resistance," and marked a turning point in the development of a countrywide mass movement."
posted by Baby_Balrog at 12:17 PM on January 12, 2007


The US Government gets its power from the citizens. We hold all control. We are responsible. There is no difference in a representative democracy between a government and its citizens. Those of us who blame anyone else are missing the entire point.
posted by luriete at 12:19 PM on January 12, 2007


Baby_Balrog: sorry I'm bothering you and this circle-jerk of a thread.

We have been doing it long enough already with the way we allow our own domestic imprisoned to be treated, that it is second nature, something about which we can all joke: Don't pick up the soap!

agreed
posted by found missing at 12:19 PM on January 12, 2007


While I have no reason not to believe what the prisoner writes, I have no reason to believe it as fact either. I do not dispute the inhumane treatment nor do I condone it (in fact I condemn it) , but to simply believe this man is innocent of all wrongdoing because he says so or because he is treated harshly is a bit much.

What if this man is right about the treatment, but he is guilty of plotting terrorist acts against other humans? Give the guy a trial and if he is found guilty, punish him. But, do not feel sorry for him simply because he is in a jail and is being treated harshly without establishing his innocence or guilt.

Start your rant here about how we won't even give him his trial. Agreed. We should give them all trials.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 12:45 PM on January 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


"Smedleyman - what are your ideas?
(I'm asking in all seriousness - I really want to know, if you can talk about them in this venue.)"
Yeah, it's just basic strategy to organize - well - and keep a group disciplined and working towards a given goal.
And forms of organization abound from autonomous or semi-autonomous cells to rigid hierarchy.
Honestly, there are myriad ways of doing things and many groups and my methods reflect my political philosophy.
You should find what works for you and what commitment level you're willing to stick to.
And there's plenty of political activists and people out there smarter than I am. I wouldn't go with groups that
are old guard in any political party right now.
(Well, the greens, but that's me, and I resist crossing the line between advocacy and opinion - my earlier statement is just perspective, not admonition - and I prefer anonymity, b/c who tf am I to say? My opinion is worth no more than the next guys)
F'rinstnce Cindy Sheehan comes to mind as someone who's commitment I respect, but who seems somewhat disorganized in execution, and certainly attached to what I see as an ineffectual
part of the democratic party.
We have similar goals. But that's my reasoning as to why her methods won't work for me, so I wouldn't join. Perhaps other folks feel more comfortable with the or prefer the sort of progress she is making.
Finding out where your commitment level is and what it is you feel good doing is part of "doing something." I wouldn't rush to do something just to do something.
On the other hand I like Obama. Some folks feel he's overhyped with no chance. But hey, I might work to get him elected. But these are inconsistiencies in execution and political concessions Im willing to make.
There's no reason to me, with the 'net, the old more social style networks should remain. No reason at all one can't be an absolute mercenary for one's own causes. But there are social pressures against that -
e.g. "Hey Smed, why are you working for Obama, I thought you were Green, don't you want to hang out, etc."
Not that that's happened, just an example. One can push just the ideas without liking anyone or disliking (or working for) other parts of the agenda.
And again, coupled with commitment level, not merely physical, but moral, etc. Willing to bug someone's office? Willing to hold office oneself? What kind of pressure and how much are you willing to bring to bear on any given issue?
(I'm larger and stronger than my wife, if she punches me in the face it wouldn't (physically) phase me, but she could use that force to break my little finger and that would hurt.)
I dunno, man, frequent flyer miles for trips down to gitmo, it's not merely bringing pressure, it's bringing the right pressure to the right spot. Who's in charge down there? He's a little finger on the hand of the administration. How much would it take to (metaphorically) break him?
Or bring more pressure to bear (FBI's been breathing down their necks) or a different kind of pressure.
But yeah, not the right venue for details.


"I think Smedleyman is suggesting we set ourselves on fire."

I'm on fire right now. That's how committed I am.

(Ah, Humor...well, it is almost the feast of St. Maurus and Chaucer's example makes it apropos -
'The rule of Saint Maur and of Saint Benet,
Because that it was old and somedeal strait
This ilke* monk let olde thinges pace,
And held after the newe world the trace.
He *gave not of the text a pulled hen,*
That saith, that hunters be not holy men:
Ne that a monk, when he is cloisterless;
Is like to a fish that is waterless;'

St. Maurus, when being boiled, complained that it was too cold and when the Sultan put in his hand to check he scalded himself)


"There is a citizen responsibility. But it frankly has it limits. Overall, people don't care of anything outside of the normal structure of their lives."

I agree. I just think it's closer to the normal structure of all our lives than we think. The gas canary in the mine. What people are thinking of as their "normal lives" in the U.S. right now is an illusion.
But I also agree with you on blame and throwing stones. Waste of time. But y'know, I don't want to tell my kids that I didn't do anything about something I KNEW was wrong.
As to what, how, when, how much, etc. is for someone to decide for themselves. Some folks are in nursing homes and can't do a damn thing.
Me I'm fit, able, tough, capable, (relatively) smart, and fantastically dangerous. If I saw a woman being raped, I'd put a stop to it - because I can. Some folks can call the police. Others aren't there at the time but can counsel. Or set up networks. Or whatever it takes.
But I disagree it's a drop in the bucket. I know how to spot weakness. This is the Achilles heel in the adminstration. It so happens to also be the most egregious evil being done. Again - because of the intent of it and the knowlesge before, during and after the fact of it.
There's no "we didn't know" or "accident" or whatever kind of excuses here.
But pointing that out isn't blaming anyone who isn't involved in actually committing those acts. Anymore than shouting from the prow of the Titanic: "FUCKING ICEBURG!!!!" insinuates blame.
It's merely what's happening. Little gratification to me in being right if I drown along with everyone else.


"Shouldn't all Americans, civilian and serving, disobey in the name of human decency? Or if you're wearing fatigues, do you have a convenient out from morality?" -
posted by bardic

You're one of many people who don't understand honor. Not surprising since honor has come to mean a vague form of "good" or "true."
It's honorable to obey all legal orders. It is in fact one's duty to obey one's own superior even if some commander somewhere is giving illegal orders.
What's moral is a whole other thing. What a deserter does might be moral, but it's not honorable. Of course, that's predicated on voluntary service.
I would never fault a draftee for saying "Up yours" and heading for the hills. And of course, manifestly illegal orders should be disobeyed. And indeed, is honorable and one's duty.
I wouldn't fault anyone from walking away from Gitmo or even relieving their superiors of command. Fuck hot chocolate and cookies, I know that soldier didn't have those kinds of balls. He should have, but he didn't have the commitment level. It's what he swore to. Perhaps he lacked clarity or wasn't smart enough to come up with a plan. But either way, not everyone has those kinds of guts. Do you?

I do, but then, my instincts lead me toward raising havoc and loss of clarity.
(I wish my instincts were towards compassion...I'm working on it.)

But you're also talking what "all" and "should" do. I can't answer that. I addressed that above. I mean I have a relative in a nursing home with a stroke, wtf do you expect him to do?
You can't simply apply random pressure all over the place. These things have to be planned to preserve the things that are necessary not only to liberty, but life as well.
Should doctors stop saving lives because of Gitmo? Should we tear up the constitution? Should they stop picking up your garbage because of Gitmo?
Of course not. The right kind of pressure must be brought to the right place etc. etc. etc.
People SHOULD do what they can, but I understand not everyone is capable of discerning exactly what to do.
Hell, I just admitted everything I've done and groups I've volunteered for has failed. Maybe it made things worse, I don't know, but I don't hold anyone to a higher standard than myself. The troops in Iraq and elsewhere are (apparently) doing something they think is the right thing to do. And/or obviously think stopping or not doing it might make things worse. But they're doing something - the thing they can do. Doesn't make it the right thing. But some folks out there's thing is showing people the right - that is most effective and morally just - thing to do.
I wish it caught on more so people like Jumah didn't have to go through this.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:51 PM on January 12, 2007


"But, do not feel sorry for him simply because he is in a jail and is being treated harshly without establishing his innocence or guilt." - posted by JohnnyGunn

Punishment without guilt is tyranny. It's Russia under Stalin and the Black Marias and fear because no one fears a government which punishes the guilty.

Harshly? You're seriously underinformed.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:55 PM on January 12, 2007


I said we should give him a trial to establish his guilt or innocence. My point was that he may be guilty of crimes that deserve punishment. Even harsh punishment. Let us find out if he is innocent before we feel sorry for him and free him.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 1:00 PM on January 12, 2007


"My point was that he may be guilty of crimes that deserve punishment."

Understood. And I agree. However my point is cruel treatment before justice is done invalidates the possibility of a fair trial.
This is why for example a confession beaten out of a guy doesn't wash in court.
posted by Smedleyman at 1:09 PM on January 12, 2007


Problem is, Johnny, he's being punished BEFORE the trial. Or is that OK too?
posted by maxwelton at 1:11 PM on January 12, 2007


The US Government gets its power from the citizens. We hold all control. We are responsible. There is no difference in a representative democracy between a government and its citizens. Those of us who blame anyone else are missing the entire point.

Did you miss the part where we don't actually have a representative democracy?

Almost all congressmen are very, very wealthy lawyers. Politicians have never represented the people.
posted by odinsdream at 1:13 PM on January 12, 2007


My point was that he may be guilty of crimes that deserve punishment.

And you may be guilty of killing 17 children in a playground massacre in Eau Claire, Wisconsin last year. That's why if some guy kicks you in the nuts this evening and steals your wallet, we shouldn't feel sorry for you. I mean, at least until we've had a trial that proves you aren't guilty.

Never mind that none of the cruel and unusual treatments this guy's endured would be permissible even if he were convicted of something.
posted by rxrfrx at 1:13 PM on January 12, 2007


The lack of trial of these prisoners is inhuman. I don't care if they're US citizens--habeas corpus is a human right, not a privilege for US citizens. Anyone who tries to tell you otherwise is admitting their contempt for human dignity.

The group of people to whom we've granted a monopoly on legitimate violence have abused that power. They no longer protect us, and they are in fact a threat to our safety and freedom. At this point, regardless of their guilt or innocence, I'd feel safer if every prisoner held without trial were set free. I'd feel safer if the people responsible for imprisoning them without trial were jailed in their stead.
posted by mullingitover at 1:14 PM on January 12, 2007


Let us find out if he is innocent before we feel sorry for him and free him.

You must have also missed something.

Innocent until proven guilty. That's what trials and courts are for - to prove guilt. You don't have to prove your innocence. Your innocence is assumed.
posted by odinsdream at 1:16 PM on January 12, 2007 [5 favorites]


At this point, based on the way he has been treated, there is really no possibility of this man receiving a fair trail (consistent with international law or our own constitution).

That's the problem- the current administration can't try people they have held this way whether or not it suspects them of terrorism, and releasing them would be an admission of it's own wrongdoing. Many more will likely die in Guantanamo. It's our won Devil's Island.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:16 PM on January 12, 2007


On preview, what everyone else said.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:16 PM on January 12, 2007


Oh, and that's "our own Devil's Island.

Too angry to type.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:17 PM on January 12, 2007


This Solzhenitsyn fellow might be guilty, he might not. Let's not feel sorry for him just because he's in a jail and being treated harshly.

You might however consider whether you should not unfold as a background the great privilege of habeas corpus and trial by jury, which are the supreme protection invented by the English people for ordinary individuals against the state. The power of the Executive to cast a man in prison without formulating any charge known to the law, and particularly to deny him the judgment of his peers is in the highest degree odious and is the foundation of all totalitarian government, whether Nazi or Communist.
--Winston Churchill to Herbert Morrison, 1943

posted by EarBucket at 1:20 PM on January 12, 2007


Max, No. It is not ok. If you read my original post I condemned it. My point is that just because he is being treated poorly does not mean he is innocent. I do not think that he should be treated like shit before we establish his guilt or innocence. Only if he is found guilty.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 1:28 PM on January 12, 2007


That's not what you said. You said "do not feel sorry for him." To which people are rightly responding: Bullshit.
posted by languagehat at 1:29 PM on January 12, 2007


I do not think that he should be treated like shit before we establish his guilt or innocence. Only if he is found guilty.
posted by JohnnyGunn


I do not believe that we should treat fellow human beings in this manner irrespective of whether or not "guilt" has been established.

It's simply wrong. Period.
posted by leftcoastbob at 2:00 PM on January 12, 2007


"You can't simply apply random pressure all over the place. These things have to be planned to preserve the things that are necessary not only to liberty, but life as well."

I'd follow you, smed. Let's raise some hell. :D
posted by Baby_Balrog at 2:08 PM on January 12, 2007


Well, that about wraps it up. Everybody feel better?
posted by found missing at 2:29 PM on January 12, 2007


Languagehat, I reread my post and you are right in what I said. It was poorly written. I do feel sorry for anyone held without a speedy fair trial. Guilt or innocence.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 2:30 PM on January 12, 2007


America will pay for this for decades
posted by A189Nut at 2:31 PM on January 12, 2007


America will pay for this for decades

You're being a bit naive... America is still paying for stuff from half a century ago, and we will be paying for THIS for much longer than a few decades. Actually, I think it's Americans who will pay, America will just keep on keeping on.
posted by eparchos at 3:00 PM on January 12, 2007


I believe we (usa) have become the terrorists of the world. i love my country and my *freedom*, but how do we recover from the violent strategy?

can we recover?

or is 225 years long enough?

what the hell happens then? will I still drive an audi?
posted by hatcherdogg at 3:07 PM on January 12, 2007


it's like eparchos said - none of this is new. we've been doing some pretty awful things for years (not to say we shouldn't be upset about it)
posted by faux ami at 3:12 PM on January 12, 2007


Kitty Genovese : Brooklyn Residents :: Guantanamo Prisoners / Iraqi Civilians : United States Citizens
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 3:38 PM on January 12, 2007


Sorry, that should be Kew Garden residents, in Queens. 'Pologies, Brooklyn.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 3:39 PM on January 12, 2007


Most US citizens don't really understand what's going on. They are afraid, and the administration has done well do reinforce their feelings of helplessness. They believe the propaganda that Amnesty International hates America-- and why not, when so many hadn't even heard of the organization before, let alone the reason it exists? They think torture is effective at extracting information, and that the government has only done what is necessary to protect them.

If you know better, you are in the minority. So tell people, even people who don't want to hear it. People in the minority often think that their voices "won't make a difference" and don't try, but it's only the not trying that makes that idea true. No, there's no instant reward, and victories can be vanishingly small, but that's because humanitarian problems have longer lives than we do.
posted by zennie at 4:03 PM on January 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


Jeez... what an excellent post.
Thank you so much for this.
posted by squidfartz at 4:47 PM on January 12, 2007


Smedleyman writes You're one of many people who don't understand honor.

Your definition of honor is such watery, vapid bullshit that I'm happy to have no part of it. Honestly, you've probably read Eichmann in Jerusalem. If you're going to lecture me about "honor" and how I don't know what it is, please answer a simple question -- how would you deal with the Nazi who was simply following orders? I'll give you a hint -- that excuse didn't fly with international courts.

Quite frankly, your "I have served and you haven't" schtick has grown way too thin.
posted by bardic at 5:07 PM on January 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


Smedleyman wrote :
Now, I don't expect anything from "metafilter," but recognize that the power to stop this has always been in the hands of the American people. And they're not using it.
I think they are in massive denial , because the following ideas are very hard to swallow :

1. the country in which one is "innocent" until proven guilty treats some prisoners like a fourth world country does. Maybe I will be the next ?
2. the enemy that was so dehumanized by all the pundits and constantly turns out to be backward, but still an human being. So do we really know them ?
3. we were told they are all evil we believed it , but it is false. If it is false, then they lied to me and I believed them.
4. But what If I can't even trust the government not to lie on such an important issue ?
5. We spent billions in rebuilding, we gave a lot. It didn't work as expected ! We have mountains of debt, but giving money wasn't enough ! Maybe the market doesn't really works and money isn't all powerful ?


And maybe there is also more substle reason for denial : if we pretend we never know about the torture, we will look innocent. Remember how in WW2 many germans denied vehemently knowing anything about the extermination camps ? Some of them probably didn't know (but they were likely to know about deportations) , but others were just in complete denial. How does one justify not doing anything ? How does one prove the effort to stop this ?

Also the massive presence of oil in Iraq makes denying the oil motivation almost impossible, but U.S. isn't the land of the invaders, isn't an expansionistic country looking for more "new land" for the motherland. OR NOT ?

People need to understand all of that, initially just going against the actual government would be a start in a maturation process, but understanding what happened is even more important.posted by elpapacito at 5:41 PM on January 12, 2007


I hope more of these letters get published soon.
posted by hadjiboy at 9:34 PM on January 12, 2007


Boring.

Hey is American Idol or The Apprentice on tonight. I hope so.


This statement sickens me.

It's not just what the hell has happened to our country, it's what the hell has happened to the people in our country? We have lost our moral compass. Over half the country (as far as we can tell, anyway) voted for Bush and all of corresponding policies and values that he espouses.

These are dark days in our country. I hope that with the recent outcry towards Bush policies, there may be some light at the end of the tunnel. Let's hope that we learn from this period, somehow may amends, and be a positive light in the world.

Unfortunately, I doubt it will happen anytime soon.
posted by barrista at 10:11 PM on January 12, 2007


The USA needs a reboot.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:36 PM on January 12, 2007


"Your definition of honor is such watery, vapid bullshit that I'm happy to have no part of it."

Remind me not to loan you money. I dunno. I thought it was fairly clear as differentiated from what is 'moral.' I think it's immoral to kill. I think sometimes that immorality is mitigated. Where it is mitigated by national defense and necessity, that's honorable. If I'm on a battlefield and I'm ordered to kill the next person who comes over a hill and it's a pregnant woman and I pull the trigger, that's an honorable act. If I refuse to pull the trigger, that could be a moral act, but that won't stop the bomb hidden in her dress making her look pregnant from blowing my unit apart. Extreme example. Most situations are far more ambigous, which, y'know, is why I don't cast those stones without maybe having walked in someone's shoes. I mean you do realize we're just some people chatting on a blog right?

"Honestly, you've probably read Eichmann in Jerusalem."

Yes, honestly, it's not enough that I'd be willing to die to free those folks in Gitmo, it's not enough that we agree on nearly every aspect of this issue, I'm a nazi apologist because our perspectives differ and we've had different life experiance. Yeah, I really suck. What a narrow mind I have.

Hmm...I believe I said somewhere that it is a soldier's duty to disobey an illegal order. The fact that I include events occuring in Gitmo within what I consider "illegal" and you, apparently, assume I dont given your assertion that my reasoning aligns with Arendt's on responsibility is instructive as well. Perhaps you should reconsider what it is you're arguing. Or reading into what I'm saying.

Of fucking course one is responsible for one's actions. There is however a difference between killing on behalf of one's country in time of war and torturing - at any time.
But again, don't get on any REAL white supremacists or Nazis or apologists or folks defending the actions of this administration or anything, get on my case because I'm not exactly aligned with your POV as to how one should see things in opposing the administration's actions at Gitmo. Minutiae about how we define "honor" differently. Yeah, that'll get things done. Nice job there semantics. You win.

"how would you deal with the Nazi who was simply following orders?"

Precisely as one would deal with anyone provably comitting crimes against humanity and participating in genocide.
And I've covered this bit of it, but - history lesson - Hitler (re)introduced the draft in 1935.
So, tomorrow, some men knock on your door and say you have to fight in say, Afghanistan. Or they'll imprison you and confiscate all your and
your family's property.
My rationale is based on practicality. Should we have imprisoned every German soldier in the war effort? If so, how? And how do we pay for that.
Futhermore how do the trials go down? Or should we target the leadership and those directly involved in committing atrocitys as opposed to those merely doing the
fighting?

"Quite frankly, your "I have served and you haven't" schtick has grown way too thin."
posted by bardic

Totally, because I so often go around telling people their opinions are invalid because they haven't been in the military. That's so me, isn't it? I've never consistiently stood on the opposite side of that argument. Never.
And indeed, where would one possibly find evidence of such a thing? Huh. And even in this thread I've been castigating people for not doing things the way I think they should be done. Totally, just check.

But really - you don't like it, why don't you do something about it?
Oh, wait, that'd be a real problem for your philosophy as expressed in this thread wouldn't it?
Which is what? Win an argument with someone on the internet who otherwise completely agrees with you, but from a somewhat different perspective and you are the most noble of men - particularly in not actually investing yourself fully in any fight, even the ones you believe in. (and 'cause y'know, I'm just lording my military service over people).

Indeed, because those veterans for peace guys? Just like nazis. So I'm sorry my service to the country colored my perspective in such a way that is unpalatable to you, and all I got was this lousy t-shirt.
Tell you what, the lawyers, computer techs, IT guys, etc. etc. etc. stop talking about/from their experiance, I'll stop talking about mine. But that's all I'm doing, sharing about it. I don't know dick about IT or any of the myriad skills and wealth of knowledge other people have shown here. My own experiance is all I have. That and my compassion for other humans in situations like this. Apparently the compassion has to be a certain frigging flavor though.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:16 AM on January 13, 2007


(Which, actually, is exactly what I've been arguing. I'd work with the communist party on this if it would help (and in a way, I am). My differences with communists on other issues be damned, we agree on this. And this is now. And this is very important. But wait - how do communists define "honor"? Oh, well, screw 'em, let Jumah rot.)
posted by Smedleyman at 12:24 AM on January 13, 2007


"how would you deal with the Nazi who was simply following orders?
I'll give you a hint -- that excuse didn't fly with international courts."

And indeed, given that response I see my initial response to you was condescending. I apologize for that. It's not what I intended. I meant to express irritation with the ambiguity of the word. I mean everyone thinks they have "honor" but they don't really. Or they consider it as some form of personal code of action.
Ask a Japanese teacher what is meant by honor. That social consideration is closer to the (U.S.) military definition.
The point I poorly made is that there are rigid definitions of the term and there are common-use definitions.
But I'm sure someone here could school me in depth on the Japanese version.
But this insipid implication that I think - or indeed anyone who's graduated 8th grade thinks - that "just following orders" tripe is in anyway valid is really poor rhetoric. I think the way the Nazis were dealt with after the war was fairly practical.
I would perhaps have been a bit more harsh in prosecution, but at the time everyone and his brother thought (in retrospect, wrongly) the Soviets we're going to crush us so they co-opted a lot of them. Well, maybe that saved more lives - I'm not talking operation paperclip - I'm talking just the engineers and scientists and bureaucrats, etc who needed to build sewers so thousands and thousands of more people didn't die of dysentery.
If some sanitation engineer was a high up party bigwig, I might look the other way if all he did was tacitly approve and hate Jews in his off time and not actually kill anyone - that's if it comes down to employ him or the water filtration plants break down.
(And hell, didn't we take a hard line in Iraq with the old guard and shitcan all of them based on ideology? That worked out well, didn't it?)
But some stooge following an order to put people in a gas chamber? I dunno. I'd go after the leadership first. And I'd try to nail as many of them as I could. The stooge is accountable, yes. And laws are based on more than the paper, there's the spirit of the law. I think what the guy in Hawaii is doing is honorable. He thinks the war is illegal, he's fighting it (I don't know how many times I've said that). I think the people serving are acting honorably. They obviously don't think the entire war is illegal, they think maybe some illegal stuff is going on and they're not directly in it. But that begs the question - where the hell is congress then?
But at some point all this becomes logistics and mistakes can be made and I'd rather err on the side of not punishing anyone who might be guilty, but I can't get solid evidence that they are.
Otherwise you get a guy who maybe was in the death camps and maybe knew but you don't have any solid evidence that he actually put anyone to death himself or there's a paper trail that shows he was something more than a file clerk or something.
So what do you do, hold the Nazi until you can prove it?
And how long? And can you insure he isn't mistreated in the meantime or doesn't that matter because he's a "Nazi"?

Because isn't that EXACTLY what's happening in Gitmo now?
posted by Smedleyman at 12:51 AM on January 13, 2007


Smedleyman, well put. And I wasn't tyring to liken US troops to Nazis by any means, but there is a tipping point. I happen to think we (speaking as an American) are close to it. If anything, guilt should start at the top. And I think that's why Bush fired Rumsfeld, IMO. It isn't just Cindy Sheehan who's skeptical, but he wives and sons and daughters of US troops going into their fourth and fifth rotations.

In the coming weeks with "the surge," with US troops embedded in Iraqi units for god's sake (Bush's own promise), we're going to see some incredibly fucked up things. Well, not see so much as hear about. And seriously, I feel bad for the enlisted guys having to go through this. They are going to be shot at by the guys they're supposed to be "democratizing."

It's a complete fucking mess. Honor and morality are important concepts, but it'll be decades before America realizes just what a complete debacle it's stepped into. Hopefully those words will still mean something.
posted by bardic at 2:19 AM on January 13, 2007




"And I wasn't tyring to liken US troops to Nazis by any means, but there is a tipping point"

Yeah, I didn't think you were. Sorry if it came off that way.

"It's a complete fucking mess. Honor and morality are important concepts, but it'll be decades before America realizes just what a complete debacle it's stepped into."

Yep. As I said, we agree on the important stuff man.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:45 PM on January 13, 2007


Colbert Defends Alberto Gonzalez
posted by homunculus at 2:09 PM on January 23, 2007


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