George Bush’s newest “new strategy” on Iraq looks for all the world like the same old strategy that hasn’t worked for the last four years. Nothing’s changed, not even the soldiers, many of who are being deployed for the third time in a foolish attempt to rescue Bush’s failed and reckless war.
Before the beginning of the Iraq war, which was falsely linked to the so-called “War on Terror,” we found out that our government had imprisoned hundreds of people at Guantanamo Bay Cuba, and deprived them of the right to counsel, to see the charges against them, and to receive a fair and speedy trial. If this was being done in Iran or Syria, we’d be demanding United Nations sanctions, or threatening war. But, we are the Empire, and no one challenges us.
Our own FBI says that the prisoners have been chained in a fetal position to the floor for at least 18 hours, urinating and defecating on themselves; subjected to extremes of temperature; gagged with duct tape; held in stress positions while shackled; and subjected to loud music and flashing lights. Don’t believe it? You can read the FBI’s own report, released last week under the Freedom of Information Act. It’s gruesome.
And now there’s a letter from one of them to me and you. His name is Jumah al-Dossari, he’s 33 years old, and from Bahrain. His heart-breaking epistle is reprinted in today’s Los Angeles Times. He writes:
During the first few years at Guantanamo, I was interrogated many times. My interrogators told me that they wanted me to admit that I am from Al Qaeda and that I was involved in the terrorist attacks on the United States. I told them that I have no connection to what they described. I am not a member of Al Qaeda. I did not encourage anyone to go fight for Al Qaeda. Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden have done nothing but kill and denigrate a religion. I never fought, and I never carried a weapon. I like the United States, and I am not an enemy. I have lived in the United States, and I wanted to become a citizen. I know that the soldiers who did bad things to me represent themselves, not the United States. And I have to say that not all American soldiers stationed in Cuba tortured us or mistreated us. There were soldiers who treated us very humanely. Some even cried when they witnessed our dire conditions. Once, in Camp Delta, a soldier apologized to me and offered me hot chocolate and cookies. When I thanked him, he said, “I do not need you to thank me.” I include this because I do not want readers to think that I fault all Americans.
Jumah al-Dossari is our responsibility, for he resides on land we claim as our own, under the eye of the government we have elected, and he sends us a word that can only be called a Word from the Lord: “I would rather die than stay here forever, and I have tried to commit suicide many times. The purpose of Guantanamo is to destroy people, and I have been destroyed. I am hopeless because our voices are not heard from the depths of the detention center. If I die, please remember that there was a human being named Jumah at Guantanamo whose beliefs, dignity and humanity were abused. Please remember that there are hundreds of detainees at Guantanamo suffering the same misfortune.”
If he dies, his blood is on us, for we allowed this to happen.