|I just returned from Guantánamo, where I met with my client Ghaleb Al-Bihani, a Yemeni citizen who began his thirteenth year of detention without charge there this month. He has been deprived of a third of his life, from ages 22 to 35, because the United States government says that in 2001 he was a cook for a Taliban affiliate that no longer exists. In a few months, he will go through another government review that will either recommend his transfer from Guantánamo or his continued and indefinite imprisonment. We have words and images to describe waterboarding; it is harder to convey the suffocation of perpetual detention.
The crisis of Ghaleb’s continuing detention—its injustice and pain—was at one time more visible. Guantánamo began as a prison the Bush administration declared was outside the law, and there was little pretense about it. People were shoved off the first transport planes in shackles and hoods and locked into outdoor cages. For two years, they were held incommunicado and denied the right to know or contest why they were being detained. When it came to torture, the “gloves were off,” to paraphrase top military and civilian officials.
The wrongful detention and abuse of the men who remain are less overt now. Today, as the result of years of legal challenges and advocacy, detainees have the right to challenge the legality of their detention in federal court; indeed, it is a federal court that sanctioned Ghaleb’s indefinite detention for being a cook. Today, the cages of the makeshift “Camp X-Ray” are overgrown with weeds; the majority of detainees are held in “state-of-the-art” facilities that resemble maximum-security prisons in the United States and mask similar cruelties. Today, torture is the mental torment of 4,380 days behind the walls of an island prison without good reason or end. It is that which Ghaleb says is excruciating.
A colleague, the first civilian attorney allowed access to the prison in 2004, talks of that first visit. The barbarity of the way human beings were being treated was raw and exposed. My visits nowadays begin with a mint on my pillow in my lodging quarters. I can bring pizza to my clients. The crisis at Guantánamo is as present now as ever, but it has been given legal cover, sanitized, normalized. It took a mass hunger strike at the prison last year to wake us up to it.
A few years ago, at an event in January marking yet another anniversary of the Guantánamo prison’s existence, I met the father of Fahad Hashmi, a US citizen of Pakistani descent who grew up in New York City. Fahad is incarcerated at another infamous US prison—the Administrative Maximum Facility (ADX) in Colorado. As a lawyer, I had spent the last several years trying to extend the protections of the American legal system to Guantánamo. But that meeting was an introduction to a slice of unjust punishment and torture on American soil—another outrage born of the “War on Terror,” where government zealotry produces grotesque outcomes, the façade of legal process can legitimize profound unfairness, and barbarity is masked by utter normality.[...]
Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2013—'We pay the same for food, we pay the same for gas ... even though we're getting paid less':
|Recognizing that the fight for fair pay doesn't end the day after the fourth anniversary of the signing of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act any more than it ended on any random day in the four previous years, Democratic senators spoke out for the Paycheck Fairness Act on the floor of the Senate Wednesday. Maryland's Barbara Mikulski, California's Barbara Boxer, Michigan's Debbie Stabenow, Washington's Maria Cantwell, and, apparently representing the boys, Alaska's Mark Begich called for the Senate to take up the bill, which would close loopholes in the Equal Pay Act of 1963.
On today's Kagro in the Morning show, it's the Great American Rich People's Freak-Out! The WSJ says Kristallnacht Perkins was right. Greg Dworkin brought us one of his trademark flu updates and told us Christie is still toast, Hillary's way out front, Avik Roy tipped the Gop hand on "repeal & replace," and relatively strong economic growth shows the US is a socialist hellholle. "Politics is predation, organized crime by a prettier name," says Scott Raab at Esquire. (Story illustrated by DonkeyHotey!) Outrage of the day: school lunches confiscated from students who owed money & dumped! And Politico explains "Why the rich are freaking out."