Mike Whitney: INJUSTICE AS STATE POLICY

2005-01-04

Richard Moore

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Date: Tue, 04 Jan 2005 14:40:28 -0500
Subject: INJUSTICE AS STATE POLICY
From: The Wisdom Fund <•••@••.•••>
To: Richard Moore  <•••@••.•••>

THE WISDOM FUND News & Views
MORE AT http://www.twf.org/News/Y2005/0102-Gulag.html

January 4, 2005
CounterPunch

INJUSTICE AS STATE POLICY
The  Guantanamo Gulag

By  Mike Whitney


"The power of the executive  to cast a man into 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 the foundation of all
totalitarian government whether Nazi or Communist."--Winston Churchill

"No exceptional circumstances  whatsoever, whether a state of war or a
threat or war, internal  political instability or any other public
emergency, may be invoked  as a justification of torture."--U.N. Convention
Against  Torture; Article 2, Section 2


The prison facility at Guantanamo Bay  is the brightest star in the Bush
firmament. It towers over the political landscape like a monument to human
cruelty. That's  why the administration chose to slap it up in full view of
the world. It's their way of announcing that the fundamental rules  of the
game have changed.

There's no need for Guantanamo.  The United States has plenty of experience
concealing political  prisoners from the public. The CIA has been
transporting enemy suspects to hidden locations since its inception.
Certainly,  an increase of 600 prisoners or so wouldn't have caused much
of a stir if they were tucked away in some remote corner of the  earth.
But, that's not the purpose of Guantanamo. Guantanamo  is intended to send
a message that the internationally accepted  norms of justice have been
rescinded. From now on, all law proceeds  from Washington.

The world seems oddly bewildered  by this development. Individuals have
protested the particularly  heinous aspects of the new system, like the use
of torture, or detention without charges. But, these are just the trimmings
 and don't get to the heart of the matter. Guantanamo is a deliberate
effort to overturn every legal protection that safeguards the  individual
from the arbitrary actions of the state. Simply put, it is the end of the
law.

What is it that we fail to  grasp about Guantanamo? Are we so blinded by
the assuring narrative  of democracy and personal freedom that we don't
recognize the symbols of tyranny when we see them? The reality of
Guantanamo  is quite stark; a dull-gray world of cinder-block and wire
situated  beyond the reach of any law or regulation. Is their some doubt
about what this really means?

Just yesterday the Washington  Post reported that the "Bush administration
is preparing  plans for possible lifetime detention of suspected
terrorists, including hundreds whom the government does not have enough
evidence  to charge in courts." Isn't this conspicuous power grab  by the
president enough to awaken even the most blasé  observer? Remember, these
prisoners have never been charged with  a crime and, yet, the
administration is paving the way for permanent incarceration.

The Washington Post report  comes on the heels of last week's article by
the ACLU which confirmed  that "President Bush issued an Executive Order
authorizing the use of inhumane interrogation methods against detainees in
Iraq."

So, now there's a paper trail  connecting the President directly to the
torture that was "systematically" conducted at Guantanamo.

Torture? Permanent imprisonment  without charges? These are the most
fundamental violations of  the law. How can we continue to ignore the
gravity of this situation?

Guantanamo embodies the ethos  of the Bush administration; an aggressive
and inflexible dogma that regards force as the organizing principle of
society. In  this respect, Guantanamo is less notable as a jail than it is
as a summary of a particular world view. In fact, the facility  is a
realization of the new world order; a chilling vision of  oppression in
brick-and-mortar.

Guantanamo wasn't created to  address the nebulous threat of global
terrorism. As Neil Lewis  confirms in a Jan 1, New York Times article,
"very few of  the prisoners had much value." (This has been corroborated by
many other sources who acknowledge that the more dangerous  Al Qaida
suspects have been spirited away to other locations  for interrogation)
Rather, it was built to broadcast the launching  of a global police state,
administered by the United States and  in brazen defiance of universally
accepted standards of justice. This explains the administration's growing
hostility towards  the UN. Beyond the inflammatory rhetoric, the Bush team
is battling  the world body to be accepted as the final authority on
international  affairs. Guantanamo ensures that a change in world
leadership is not forthcoming. (As the Iraq war proved, 70% of Americans
still support the UN as the legitimate authority on issues like  military
intervention)

Guantanamo is the collaborative  vision of American plutocrats who are
close to the administration  and who affect policy decisions through their
respective think tanks and lobbyists. If that wasn't true, we would have
heard  squeals of protest echoing from every corner of the nation. Instead,
 (apart from a scattering of human rights groups and the ACLU)  there's
been hardly a peep from the country's elites. For the  most part, "the
privileged few" have no problem with  a system that categorically denies
its victims even minimal human rights. The disparity in wealth sadly
disposes many of these plutocrats to more autocratic government.

The UN has failed miserably  in providing moral leadership on the issue of
Guantanamo. None  of the member states have stood up and openly condemned
the US or suggested that it be penalized for its despotic conduct. The
question of sanctions has never even been seriously considered.  How can we
expect change in the face of such abject cowardice?

Removing Guantanamo won't be  easy. Bush has assumed absolute power over
the detention of prisoners,  and he won't surrender that without a fight.
His supporters see  the enhanced power of the executive as a critical to
their long-range  plans. It allows them to sidestep Congress to achieve
their goals. They want a president who is free to operate unilaterally and
according to his own inclinations. This means that rolling back these
exaggerated presidential powers will be a daunting task.

Guantanamo is symptomatic of  a much graver disease. Time and again, the
administration has  taken aim at the laws that protect the individual. The
Homeland Security Bill, the Patriot Act and the new Intelligence Reform
Bill all seriously undermine basic constitutional rights. Guantanamo
follows this tendency to its logical conclusion. It offers us  a glimpse of
the void; a vision of the world stripped of justice.  Guantanamo is not
anomaly, but the full-flowering of the Bush  ideology. The "shining house
on the hill" is actually  a ghoulish shrine to cruelty and oppression. No
public relations  scheme can obscure its real meaning. Guantanamo is a
distress signal from a sinking republic; an early warning sign that
personal  liberty is under siege.

Guantanamo is the logical extension  of the corporate system. It focuses on
dispatching potential  enemies with maximum efficiency. The prison's main
architect, Secretary Rumsfeld, has tried to meet the requirements of global
commerce by producing a precision model of detention; applying  his
Germanic sensibility for organization with a "top-down"  business strategy
that sidesteps all the burdensome laws of due  process. He has, in fact,
created the modern-day terror-camp,  free from any legal encumbrances and
operating with complete impunity. However horrible the crime, no one is
ever held accountable  at Rummy's private Buchenwald.

The Gulag at Guantanamo casts  a pall over American political life. It
illustrates a seismic  shift in our fundamental values as Americans and a
wholesale betrayal of our commitment to human rights. Concentration camps
are anathema to democracy and Guantanamo is asphyxiating the promise of
American justice. Institutions that once were counted  on to protect the
individual have been casually discarded by the perpetrators of the most
despicable crimes against humanity.  The Bush administration has assumed
the role of Grand Inquisitor;  dispensing "cruel and inhuman" punishment
without remorse  or hesitation. They've elevated injustice to a level of
state  policy. Guantanamo is a fitting testimonial to their tragic lack  of
compassion.

---
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