There is much debate in the press about what to do with the prisoners at the Guantánamo Bay Detention Camp. Most people seem to agree on one proposition: “We need to close it, but how?”
Well, I’m not an expert in these matters, but one procedure does occur to me: Open the doors.
I mean, if the problem is that there are people in this prison, and they shouldn’t have been put in there, then one solution would be to open the fucking doors, so that anyone who has had enough American hospitality can leave.
“It’s complicated,” folks are saying. “These people are terrorists — we can’t just let them go.”
Oh, it’s complicated, all right — but not for that reason. One of the main reasons to close this “detention camp” (and every other prison run by military personnel) is that we don’t know if these people are terrorists.
I repeat: “these people are terrorists” is not the real problem, because we do not know that these people are terrorists. If we had real evidence against them, we could put them through a real trial and let a real jury decide. But our military has been keeping these people in this despicable place, under the most godawful conditions, without such evidence. For the military, the “problem” is that they “know” that the prisoners are terrorists, although they don’t have any court-admissible evidence. So they want to keep these guys locked up, on the basis of — I don’t know, their gut feelings or something.
But it’s not as if there’s court-admissible evidence, and then there’s another kind of evidence, not valid in a court of law but, for most rational beings, just as convincing. No. We have standards for evidential validity, and they don’t depend on whether a guy was picked up in Baghdad or Baltimore. If you can’t show me some really good reasons why you think this guy committed a crime, then he shouldn’t be in jail. You never should have “detained” him, and you need to let him out, now. You need to let him out now. Let him out now.
From the point of view of the U.S. legal system, if you don’t have some damned good evidence against this man, he is innocent. It’s that simple! So, in that case, he needs to be released now. Don’t you see? It’s immoral to keep him confined even one more minute! What part of LET THEM OUT don’t you understand?
Someone will say, “Well, that’s just silly. You open the doors, and they walk out, and they’re in Cuba. That’s not a good solution!”
How do you know? I bet most of them would rather be in Cuba than in a military prison, hooded and shackled and tortured every day. — Remember? Gitmo isn’t just a cage. It’s a torture chamber. We know that now. It was designed to be a torture chamber by the fascist administration we’ve just recently voted out of office, thank God. Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld demanded that torture be conducted there. “It’s a no-brainer,” Cheney famously declared.
The number one reason that these men are in prison is that the prison helps make the Republicans’ “war on terror” seem more plausible. This exactly the same reason we have so much “security theater” at the airport. It serves to remind us that the “war on terror” is real, and that we’ll never be safe unless we let the Republicans take away all our civil rights, along with all our money. But the “war on terror” is not real. It never was real. It’s bullshit, and it was always bullshit, from beginning to end. Some terrorists destroyed the Twin Towers — yes. And ever since then, the U.S. government has used that attack as an excuse for their violent, deceitful, misanthropic, nihilistic policies. They have done almost nothing to prevent another similar attack. Instead, they have stoked the fires of hatred against this country and waited eagerly for another attack. But the armies of terror who might have come back at us with some new, staggering blow are not there. They don’t exist. The war in Iraq was not fought to bring those people down — that was an excuse, remember? It’s all been revealed, it’s common knowledge! The war was based on lies, we know that now!
The whole thing stinks. It has to end. There was never a good reason for any of these men to be put into a U.S. military prison in the first place. Why are they there? — mostly because the Bush administration declared war on Iraq. And the war was utterly unjustified and utterly immoral. It was rationalized with bewildering lies and prosecuted with bone-chilling fury. It should never have been started. And the people who are in this prison now were picked up as part of the prosecution of the war. If you wanted to set up a situation where perfectly innocent people would be picked up and thrown in jail and tortured, perhaps to the point of death, with no consel, no contact, no recourse, no hope of any kind — if you wanted that, you could not have orchestrated a more perfect setup.
Soldiers in a war they know in their guts is wrong, sent to round up “enemies” in the street. Who the fuck are they going to pick up? How do you find the enemies? You can’t, so you pick up whoever gets in your way or looks at you funny. And when you get them into their cells the shame picks at your nerves and the horror dusts your breath. Why not “soften him up” for interrogation, you’ll ask. None of this matters. We’re all going to Hell anyway, that’s for damn sure. This whole world is sick from top to bottom, left to right, inside to out. None of it matters anymore.
That’s Gitmo. It’s downtown Nihilon. And it was deliberately set up to be that way.
The people in there should not be there. They were captured for unknown but probably spurious reasons, during a war fought for the most evil of purposes. Let them go. Let them go now.
Someone might say, “Well, I kind of agree with you but I happen to know that some of these guys really are dangerous.” I suppose that’s conceivable but 1. I think it’s mighty unlikely, and 2. it’s a risk we’ll have to take. You see, the people who captured these poor sods were military men under the command of some of the most evil men the world has ever seen. The commanders responsible for ordering the roundups are now known to be liars of such passion and versatility that we would be morons if we ever believed anything they said ever again. So, I repeat: we do not know that anyone at Guantánamo has ever committed a crime. If you rounded up a thousand people in downtown Sacramento and put them all in prison, and I wanted you to met them go, you could say, “But there’s a good chance some of them are criminals!” And I would say: “As stated, that is indeed statistically plausible. But the bigger picture is that you just put a thousand people in prison without reasonable cause. That makes you a much, much worse criminal than any of them are likely to be. You are the danger and you are the flight risk, not them. You are the one against whom we have good evidence, not them. So we are going to let them go, every single one of them, no delays, no excuses, no “soul-searching” or “problem-solving” — we are going to let them go right now, and you are going to jail.”
It’s the people who put us into that war who should be in prison. We know what they did. They’ve told us. They are war criminals. The rest of our citizens deserve to be protected from them. Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, and the rest of them should be in jail. For the rest of their lives. Meanwhile, the men who were put into that prison in Cuba should be released immediately. They should not be considered criminals; rather, their confinement is a crime, one of thousands perpetrated by the last administration. It needs to end, not next year, not next month, but right now. No other course embodies the slightest justice.