Something special in the air
(Thanks to Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying)
The comments section are becoming a great place to exchange links and ideas. Please keep commenting.
Make Some Noise! reminds us about the Slate Torture Primer. It's a handy little resource that includes a list and summary of legal issues, which can be an otherwise difficult subject to get one's head around.
I have been dismayed to see certain sectors successfully diminish the recent suicides by presuming that the men in Guantanamo are too low for our concern. Never mind that we know that innocent men have been kept in there. Never mind that it's the kind of place where "evidence" against a 17 year old boy is acquired by torturing another detainee until he is cowering under his bedsheets and muttering to himself. We even have a study, based on data supplied by the Defence Department, saying that 55% of detainees are not determined to have committed any hostile acts against the United States or its coalition allies. But a "boo freakin hoo" is enough to render all of that irrelevant.
I wanted to write a post about the tortures that the men at Guantanamo have suffered. The tortures at the rendition sites from which they're sent are especially horrific. But the above made me pause. Unfortunately, it is well known that humans have difficulty empathising with those outside of their own cultural group, and let's be frank, it's not exactly Middle Easterners that we need to convince here. So instead I'll post about what happened to Sean Baker.
Spc. Sean Baker is an American. There's a picture of him on the left. In January of 2003, Baker volunteered in the role of an uncooperative detainee at Guantanamo for the purposes of a training drill. The MPs weren't told it was a drill. They were told that he was an unruly detainee who had assaulted an American sergeant. They subsequently inflicted a beating upon Baker so severe that it resulted in a traumatic brain injury, leaving him with seizures, blackouts, headaches, insomnia and psychological problems.
Baker was lucky. He was wearing his uniform under the orange jumpsuit, and he had enough time to groan "I'm a U.S. soldier" to his abusers to make them check. I wonder how it would have gone for him if his name was Abdul Kareem. What recourse is there for someone who has no rights?
UPDATE: Donkephant links in the comments with a first-hand account of conditions in Guantanamo from one of the Tipton Three. Don't miss what Shafiq has to say about his torturers' reaction to his false confession (towards the end).
Wednesday there is a panel discussion about torture being held at the Martin Luther King Jr Library, Washington. You can find out more here.
Thursday night Frida Berrigan, co-founder of Witness Against Torture, is holding a slide-show and discussion at Carnegie Mellon Uni, Pittsburgh (more here).
Friday night is National Call In Night, which you can participate in from anywhere. There's a rally during the day in Pittsburgh, and the movie The Road to Guantanamo is opening.
Finally, a random sampling of recent Torture Awareness Month posts: