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is the title of this op ed by John Grisham in the Sunday, August 10, New York Times.

It will tell you about  Nabil Hadjarab, who

is a 34-year-old Algerian who grew up in France. He learned to speak French before he learned to speak Arabic. He has close family and friends in France, but not in Algeria. As a kid growing up near Lyon, he was a gifted soccer player and dreamed of playing for Paris St.-Germain, or another top French club.
 He has been at Gitmo for 11 years, having been sold to the Americans when we were paying bounties for any Arab found in Afghanistan.  He has been cleared of any wrongdoing several times, and yet we have refused to set him free.  

How did Grisham come to know this man?  

ABOUT two months ago I learned that some of my books had been banned at Guantánamo Bay. Apparently detainees were requesting them, and their lawyers were delivering them to the prison, but they were not being allowed in because of “impermissible content.”
 Because of curiosity, Grisham followed up and thus began to know about Hadjarab.

Please keep reading.

You may wonder why detainees at Guantanamo would be interested in the work of Grisham.  Perhaps this paragraph from the column will help you understand:

In the past seven years, I have met a number of innocent men who were sent to death row, as part of my work with the Innocence Project, which works to free wrongly convicted people. Without exception they have told me that the harshness of isolated confinement is brutal for a coldblooded murderer who freely admits to his crimes. For an innocent man, though, death row will shove him dangerously close to insanity. You reach a point where it feels impossible to survive another day.
Here let me stop and remind readers about a few people

Jose Padilla, the so-called "dirty bomber" taken into custody (without bombs) in Chicago, has been held incommunicado in a military brig, and his mind has basically been destroyed.  You can read what a fellow at the CATO Institute had to say about his case.

Bradley Manning - the UN Torture Reporter was barred from testifying at his court martial about how the treatment of Manning would be viewed under the responsibilities of that Reporter.

The idea that someone who has not been convicted of a crime can be held under conditions normally reserved for the worst of felons, and even then in the eyes of much of the world conditions that are human at perhaps breaching what should be acceptable in civilized society should shock the consciences of all feeling people.

I want you to read all of Grisham's powerful piece.

Then I want you to raise a ruckus with your elected federal Representatives and Senators - it is long past time to close Gitmo, and merely rendering those held there to other nations where they will be subjected to abuse or worse is unacceptable.

Moreover, it is past time that this nation face up to the idea that how we treat those in custody needs to be reexamined.  We have recently heard of another series of abuses involving isolation, and if you have not yet done so you should read this diary by jpmasser

I have known a few very unusual humans who could live without regular contact with other people - almost all were serious monastics who chose that path after serious spiritual testing.

To impose it on people is abusive.

To impose it upon those accused but not convicted of a crime seems to me a clear violation of the intent of the 8th Amendment.

Hell, in the vast majority of cases, it would be a violation of the 8th Amendment for those convicted of serious felonies.

It is inhumane,  it is uncivilized, it dehumanizes not only those subjected to it, but to some degree those who subject them.  

Yet we are applying to people who have been cleared of any potential charges.

And then we are prepared to wash our hands, not admit our responsibility for the wrong we have done.

For this our government taxes us.

This is the result of the "war on terror" that is used as a justification for violation not only of the rights of those in custody, but the rest of us in the NSA's dragnet approach to our data and communications.

Guantánamo has been a huge injustice, and continues to be a blot on our nation.

Read the Grisham.

Get angry.

Get involved.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (26+ / 0-)

    "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

    by teacherken on Sat Aug 10, 2013 at 05:37:27 PM PDT

  •  I remember reading in the LGBT press (11+ / 0-)

    Early into this farce that Gay Iraqis were being sold to the Americans to dispose of them.

    We are the country terrorizing others, not the other way around.

    •  My comment in the Times + Bradley Manning (0+ / 0-)

      Absolutely despicable. The torture unfortunately is what OUR government did to Bradley Manning in our own country...11 months in isolation, sleeping on a concrete floor with no bedcovers...stripped naked, allowed out of his cell once every 24 hours. Whoever is doing this and feels it's OK should be committed to the same kind of treatment. When people like us speak up about it, we are labelled as traitors or enemy sympathizers and a loud chorus of voices begin droning (pardon the pun) about "National Security." We are escalating the hatred against our country. These horrific actions are being done in OUR name's. Over 3800 people have signed my petition to serve Bradley Manning's sentence I will proudly serve
      Our policies will kill us, not the leaks.

  •  IMO there is a certain component of the psyche... (5+ / 0-)

    ...of America that condones brutal and inhuman punishment.  The consequences range from the prison/industrial complex to Guantanamo and from torture to "stand your ground" and also the difference of the military budget vs. say the Peace Corps.

    This psych operates even subconsciously.  It causes people to tolerate all sorts of evil.

    Strangely also IMO, I believe that the most effective thing that can be done is to get more women into politics.

    Just thinking aloud.

    Daily Kos an oasis of truth. Truth that leads to action.

    by Shockwave on Sat Aug 10, 2013 at 07:04:47 PM PDT

    •  maybe, but then consider (5+ / 0-)

      Sarah Palin

      Anne Coulter

      Virginia Foxx

      Michele Bachmann

      or what immediately came to mind in a slightly different "political" context is someone at whose trial a dear departed friend of mine served as a translator:

      Ilsa Koch

      "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

      by teacherken on Sat Aug 10, 2013 at 07:21:22 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Excellent diary, Ken (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shopkeeper, basquebob, koNko

    The other prison never mentioned is Bagram.
    Even after (if) the US leaves, they want to continue remaining in control of it.
    Obama keeps telling us that he stopped torture.
    Not at Bagram.
    Common Dreams had an article about it, and guess what happens?  
    Torture. Beatings, mock executions, rape.
    Holder lied when he said the US does not torture.

    Gitmo is a Concentration Camp. Not a Detention Center. Torture happens at Concentration Camps. Torture happens at Gitmo. How much further will US values fall? Where is YOUR outrage at what the United States does in OUR names? SORRY FOR THE TYPOS :)

    by snoopydawg on Sat Aug 10, 2013 at 09:47:03 PM PDT

  •  When Obama wouldn't close Gitmo, I knew (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    koNko, hassanm

    he was weak.

  •  we have sick humans leading this nation and have (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    koNko, hassanm

    for over a decade now.

    •  it is unhealthy to have so little empathy (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      OBL is dead. the actual killers of 911 have been dead for over a decade. 100,000 innocent Iraqi citizens are dead, millions wounded, Saddam is beheaded, 10,000 of Taliban and Afghanistan people are dead or wounded permanently. this continuing blood thirst is not healing the nation it is leaving the wound open to fester. The sickness of congressional members and weakness of others continue this because it festers and that festering makes them money, gives them more power, or satisfies some blood thirst.
        History is not going to be kind to our leaders, they will be placed next to some of the worst humans of modern history post WW2.  

  •  I think Obama actually tried (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    To do something about Gitmo but could not get Congressional support, so gave up.

    Since then, events have only expanded the problems as detainees linger in custody and whistle-blowers get treated like convicted murderers.

    I hope, after the Manning show trial, that will change. HOPE.

    Congrats, Ken, on your new teaching job, you must be excited.

    400ppm : what about my daughter's future?

    by koNko on Sun Aug 11, 2013 at 05:36:29 AM PDT

    •  a bit overwhelmed is more like it (0+ / 0-)

      well behind where I wanted to be on planning, for a variety of reasons.  Will spend a chunk of next three days in new teacher orientation for the school system - attendance is voluntary.  The following week I will begin to get access to my classroom to set up.  My first day with students will not be until Tues 8/27 - that Monday is classes just for freshman, and I do not have any.

      I am eager to get to know my students.  It is hard to plan in detail when I really do not know them, or know the ethos and culture of the school.  I have met a few faculty members, and there are two with whom I had taught at the school where I was for most of my career.

      Trust me, I will find some time to write about the experience.

      "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

      by teacherken on Sun Aug 11, 2013 at 06:14:12 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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