Sunday, September 17, 2006

Positively Kafka-esque

There are two AP articles that have got to be some of the most chilling things I've ever read:

From "U.S. War Prisons Legal Vacuum for 14,000":

the U.S. military has created a global network of overseas prisons, its islands of high security keeping 14,000 detainees beyond the reach of established law... Many say they were caught up in U.S. military sweeps, often interrogated around the clock, then released months or years later without apology, compensation or any word on why they were taken. Seventy to 90 percent of the Iraq detentions in 2003 were "mistakes," U.S. officers once told the international Red Cross... Every U.S. detainee in Iraq "is detained because he poses a security threat to the government of Iraq, the people of Iraq or coalition forces," said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Keir-Kevin Curry, a spokesman for U.S.-led military detainee operations in Iraq... Reports of extreme physical and mental abuse, symbolized by the notorious Abu Ghraib prison photos of 2004, have abated as the Pentagon has rejected torture-like treatment of the inmates. Most recently, on Sept. 6, the Pentagon issued a new interrogation manual banning forced nakedness, hooding, stress positions and other abusive techniques... The new manual banning torture doesn't cover CIA interrogators.

This is the sort of thing we used to hear about the Soviet Union. People picked up in the dead of night, and shipped off somewhere. I had no idea that this number of people were being held. Gitmo is a few hundred prisoners, and the number removed from CIA torture facilities secret prisons is barely over a dozen. But 14,000 people?

If we're detaining "security risks" (and, by the way, exactly what does that term mean?) but getting it wrong 70 to 90% of the time, something is seriously wrong. If we're not getting it wrong that often, why are we releasing these people from detention?

The next story, "U.S. Holds AP Photographer in Iraq 5 Mos," puts a face on one of the 13,000 detainees in Iraq:

The U.S. military in Iraq has imprisoned an Associated Press photographer for five months, accusing him of being a security threat but never filing charges or permitting a public hearing... In [the AP photographer's] case, the military has not provided any concrete evidence to back up the vague allegations they have raised about him, [[AP executives]] said.

This is an AP photographer that is being detained. One of his photos was part of a group of 20 that won a Pulitzer Prize. If he's a terrorist, fine, detain him. If things are going as well in Iraq as the Bush administration says, fine, give him a trial, show the evidence, and punish him. If all they have are vague accusations, unsupported by evidence, let him go.

We're told that if we give into the terrorists and live in a climate of non-stop fear, then the terrorists will have won. I say, if we give up the very things that make us a civilized nation, then the terrorists will really have won.

UPDATE: On a somewhat related note, Glenn Greenwald responds to a completely lickspittle editorial by John Yoo in today's NY Times. He quotes some little-known "lefty blogger" to explain why the President should not be allowed to break the law, even in the face of the "Islamofascist Nazi" threat. Go read it. I'm seriously starting to think that reading Greenwald's stuff should be a prerequisite to citizenship.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

you're famous! It's Matt's World thinks you are as great as I do. MFN