Saturday, May 08, 2004

Gary Farber at Amygdala is expressing some of my own thoughts. He argues that the U.S. government should hold elections in Iraq ASAP -- "We should now hold those elections, flawed as they will be, in the next two months, and follow the desires of that government. If we don't, I have no truck with what our government does in Iraq, I will not honor it, and I will not stand by it."

Elections would certainly help, but I am starting to feel that what is happening in Iraq now has irredeemably ruined any good intentions that we had. I feel taken for a fool by my government. Rumsfeld and Rice and the President still feel that we should trust them to do what's best in Iraq. But why? They planned the invasion brilliantly, but almost everything that's happened since then has been a disaster. And now this. Why didn't Rumsfeld insist on knowing what was happening in those prisons? Why didn't he tell the President, for heaven's sake?

I think I know the reason -- he didn't care. It simply didn't matter to him what happened to some imprisoned Iraqis. And it doesn't seem to have mattered to any other powerful figures in the administration until the photographs came out. I don't know if they're reacting now out of any true feeling of indignation, or if all they care about is saving their own rear ends. And what's happening in all of the other prisons we've set up for the war on terrorism -- in Afghanistan, in Guantanamo?

A couple of weeks ago I was watching PBS's Frontline, and they were interviewing a man who had been on the side of Al Qaeda in Afghanistan until he realized that what they were about was murdering innocent people. (His family lived in Canada). Then he turned on them, and eventually began working for the CIA. The CIA wanted to learn what the prisoners in Guantanamo were saying to each other in private, so they convinced him to go there (as a fake prisoner) to listen in on their conversations. He had a horrible experience. He was tied up for ten days at Bagram airbase (sitting for hours and hours with his hands tied behind his back, hooded, etc.), thrown on a plane, and brought to Cuba. There he was in with the general population of prisoners. He finally told his CIA bosses that he had to get out. He said that his ten days in Afghanistan as a prisoner on his way to Guantanamo had broken him. He was put into more comfortable quarters in Guantanamo and finally released -- without being paid the money the CIA had promised him. Now he is back in Canada, shunned by his family and other Muslims. He totally disagrees with the jihad philosophy his own father had espoused.

One thing he said in the interview was that "The worst part of these 10 days is the flight. Since they took us out from our rooms, washed us up and put us on the ground. There was points, you know, I just … in my heart I wished to God that one of these MPs would go crazy and then shoot me. Just get up and shoot me. I was so depressed. I was so sick of anything. You lose hope sometimes of everything, you know. You go to Allah, you just try everything around you and then you lose hope of everything. … I just wished for a bullet. … I was like, please God, do something but just take away my life, you know. It was a horrible experience. …"

We should not be doing this to people, even those whom we suspect are terrorists. It's inhuman, it's wrong, and it's ruining us.

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