“If you wish to rule a people, you must first convince them that they are only fit to be ruled. On the first day, they will laugh. On the second, they will protest. On the third, they will be convinced.”
19th Century Philippine proverb
For six years now, Marines have been passing through Guantãnomo Bay learning the art of torture. What can our government be preparing for?
Perhaps, I lack empathy as well as understanding of my government’s motives. For my immediate reaction on watching the film, The Road to Guantãnomo, was to rail at the waste of tax payer money Guantãnomo Bay is.
The film traces the actions of three young Britons of Pakistani descent who travel to Pakistan in October 2001 ostensibly to attend a friend’s wedding, only to spend the next three years as detainees in Guantãnomo, where they are both tortured and witnesses to torture. The film won an award for its director in 2006 at the Berlin Film Festival and is available today on DVD.
While in Pakistan, waiting for the wedding day, the threesome, bored, decide to bus to Afghanistan just to see what’s happening. An analogy would be the Pump House gang heading up from La Jolla to the outskirts of Watts in the mid 1990's to view the burning buildings. An alternate and less charitable point of view is the three went to Afghanistan specifically to join up with the Taliban in a Moslem jihad. Either way, they fail to make contact with the Taliban and never hold a weapon. Regardless, they are captured by the Northern Alliance and turned over to the Americans who then send them to US-occupied Cuba for extended detention.
Why were they held in Guantãnomo for three years? What could be learned from them that could not be learned in three months or three days?
The objectives of torture (barred by the Geneva convention) are short term, immediate. “Where is the bomb? When is it set to go off?” Yet the torture of the three Britons continued for a three-year period without yielding any tangible results, not that there have been tangible results from the interrogations of any of the other prisoners held at Guantãnomo.
When torture was used by the Nazi’s as well as by the Chilean Military after the U.S. backed coup which toppled the Chilean government in September 1970, its objective was to find out the names of other opponents to the regime, as well as to bring pleasure to the torturers, of course. Used by the Americans at Guantãnomo Bay, its sole function appears to be training torturers for future employment.
In the film, the “torture” practiced at Guantãnomo is not all that different from the harassment integral to Marine bootcamp and in some ways resembles the practices used in retraining a “boot” who deliberately shoots himself in the foot. No slivers of bamboo are applied under the fingernails, no “waterboarding” is shown. But other Guantãnomo prisoners have described having an electric shock device applied to their genitals (Jumah al-Dossari) and abroad US Soldiers have used beatings, waterboading, and electroshocks.
The face-to-face interrogation methods depicted in this film are laughable. It is one thing to make the American public believe there are weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, it is quite another to convince an individual that he’s the one standing next to Bin Laden in a photograph.
Which leaves the question: Just what are the Bush Administration and the American Military up to in Guantãnomo? Are they preparing for mass arrests here at home? Sometime in the coming year, can I look forward to being plucked off the street, hauled to the nearest football stadium and held there until I reveal the names of all my neighbors who are Democrats or Greens?
Torture is nothing new as far as the U.S. is concerned. When 9/11 witnessed the U.S.- sponsored assassination of Chilean President Allende, representatives of the U.S. military were immediately on hand to advise the Pinachot dictatorship as it tortured and disappeared some 3,200 Chileans, imprisoned 80,000 others, and drove 200,000 more from their native land. Subsequently, U.S. military personnel were to train the torturers of Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay.
What is unique about the torturers of Guantãnomo Bay is that for the first time large number of Americans, not Chileans or Argentineans or Brazilians or Nicaraguans, are being trained in the art of torture. Feel free to protest or laugh according to your nature. Either way, after the Democrats fail to rescue the American economy from the bottomless pit into which it is descending, January 1 2009 will mark the fascist takeover.