American Empire, War Violence - Torture

Methodist Paper on Guantanamo, Part II: “Because” They Want To

In the first post about this article I quoted the line from John 3 about men loving darkness because their deeds are evil and they fear exposure.

“Because” their deeds are evil they love darkness.

But I was under the impression that this is America, and we are Americans. And that some of us claim to be Christian.
Is it assuming too much to say this? – if we find a group of people devoted to hiding their deeds we may have found a group that really needs watching. Seems sensible to me – especially if that group is the top levels of the US government and certain parts of US military or para-military operations.

I think that word “because,” from the Bible, about analyzing people’s motives and behavior, is indeed relevant.

Here’s another “because” from the article about Guantanamo by the federal public defender (I added emphasis and outline).

…when President Bush declared war on terrorism, he declared that the government could and would seize people from around the world that were “terroristsâ€? and send them, regardless of the international laws, to a detention facility in Cuba. There, these men could and would be detained

  • without legal process,
  • without access to a lawyer,
  • and without basic protections of the Geneva Convention.

That meant, among other things, without protection from any kind of abuse or from actual torture. The President made it his business and a priority of his government not to extend American rights and freedoms, but to remove and destroy them.

Now here comes the “because”.

Bush;s administration chose Guantanamo BECAUSE the lease agreement the government had with Cuba for the land basically made it a legal vacuum. Bush’s legal advisors determined that no laws applied, so no laws had to be followed.

America was founded, at least in theory – and it is a very good theory – on the idea that no one would be above the law. We have a government of laws, not government by the unrestrained whims of the most powerful.

But that restraint, derived from morality, enshrined in law, was just what the Bush administration was determined to avoid. So Bush picks Guantanamo because he wants to ignore that principle, that restraint.

The Guantanamo detainees could be treated however Bushss administration pleased. They could be tortured under standard definitions of torture, and they could remain there without a trial, or virtually forever.

“Virtually” in this case means, until they die or we kill them; because they will only be released at the whim of the government. Fortunately the government has so “whimmed” in a number of cases.

But we Americans are still holding many innocent and uncharged men without reason and without recourse, AND abusing them while holding them – and abusing their families BY holding them.

One of the tactics that interrogators at Guantanamo had used was to pretend to be defense attorneys. The interrogator would go in and interview a detainee and tell them he was there to defend him and to get him out of custody, in an attempt to gain the detainee’s confidence.

Of course, these betrayals added an additional burden when real defense lawyers went to meet their clients for the first time. Not only was there a language barrier, a cultural barrier, a “I’m from the country that tortures you and I’m here to help you” barrier, there was now a “no, really, I’m a defense lawyer, unlike the last” barrier.

From my studies of the “interrogation” tactics that the government used in Guantanamo and other prisons, I parceled out what they had done.

They starved them at first – giving them only an orange and seven beans once a day, and then punishing them if, in their hunger, they ate the orange peel. They made them feel like animals. They hurt them, they psychologically broke them down.

In an offhand comment, Muhibullah told me he doesn’t even have the ability to taste food anymore. They make them wish they weren’t alive – several have already attempted, some successfully, to commit suicide.

We may think we could survive that. Some of us could. Unfortunately, that is not a description of the abuse, only a skimpy summary of it.

But I was under the impression that this is America, and we are Americans. And that some of us claim to be Christian.

I wonder if his religion teaches him to forgive. I know that mine does, but I can’t say if the roles were reversed I could …

… I pray that the torture stops. I pray that Americans are stronger and kinder than our government. I pray that we can go back to doing unto others as we would have them do unto us



You sympathized with those in prison …

Heb 13:3

Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.

The Bible repeatedly brings us up against very high standards – standards which are consistently ignored in the practical behavior of many, many churches.

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