H e a r t S o n s & H e a r t D a u g h t e r s of A l l e n G i n s b e r g
N a p a l m H e a l t h S p a : R e p o r t 2 0 1 4 : A r c h i v e s E d i t i o n
Nowhere Man: George Bush and the Disappeared
We could win the war in Iraq. We could have the best economy in
history. But we would still be honor bound to relieve George Bush of
his duties. The last year has proven that he used lies and fear to
start a war. This is reason enough for George to go, but there is
one more reality that leaves us no choice.
When they finished the Constitution, the Founding Fathers had
developed a system of government, a democracy. At that point, they
realized that they had a great system...but no rights. Therefore,
they added the Bill of Rights. At the heart of these is the 5th
Amendment. It states:
No person shall] be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without
due process of law.
So you can't be arrested without cause.
The 6th Amendment adds:
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right of a
speedy and public trial.
You can't be held indefinitely. So together the 5th and the 6th
amendments promise the ultimate right. They guarantee that you will
never be disappeared. There is one more we must not forget, the 8th
Amendment, which outlaws "cruel and unusual punishment." In America,
it is your right not to be disappeared and not to be tortured.
George Bush has taken the 5th, the 6th, and now even the 8th
amendments out of our constitution. He is not fit to rule.
Step One Towards Abu Ghraib:
Soon after 9/11, we imprisoned 761 non-citizens and there was no due
process of law. Almost all were detained without probable cause.
Many were not allowed lawyers. Many were not allowed to see the
evidence against them because it was "classified". People were
detained indefinitely... literally for years. There were no trials.
To this day, we still do not know the names of all 761 people. For
many, even their families did not know where they were or that they
had even been arrested. Remember, we're not talking about a few
souls, we're talking about hundreds!! They were just disappeared.
In fact, not one of them has since been linked to terrorism. Most
were eventually deported.
Naturally, abuse followed. People were beaten and kicked. They were
hooded and deprived of sleep. They were sexually humiliated and had
things crammed up their asses (Appendix A). As it turns out,
Americans are no better and no worse than any other people. When
given absolute power, we are absolutely corrupted too.
Human rights organizations such as Amnesty International and Human
Rights Watch were denied access to the prisons. And we, the people,
allowed all this to happen. It was the first step towards Abu Ghraib.
Since they had gotten away with it in the United States, the pattern
was repeated in Afghanistan. The Administration declared that the
Geneva Conventions, the international bill of rights, did not apply.
So they invented a new label, the "enemy non-combatant." As a
result, people in Afghanistan, too, were disappeared. Even teenagers
were imprisoned for years! Again Human rights organizations were not
allowed to observe their conditions. Again, families had no idea that
their kin were imprisoned (Appendix B). Newspapers reported torture,
but it was hard for us to believe that Americans might do these
things. We, the people, half believe that absolute power only
corrupts others, not Americans. We forget that the Bill of Rights
was written because we are human and because we have human
weaknesses like anyone else.
Human Rights Watch reports:
Mistreatment of prisoners by U.S. military and intelligence personnel
in Afghanistan is a systemic problem and not limited to a few
isolated cases (Appendix B).
People were beaten and kicked. They were deprived of sleep, exposed
to freezing temperatures while naked, and they were also sexually
abused (Appendix B). Guilty until proven innocent doesn't apply
because no one has had the right to prove their innocence. It has
been two years and no trials have taken place.
Thus, the 2nd step towards Abu Ghraib had been taken and they got
away with it again. In addition, there are a select few al Qaeda of
such importance, that they do not receive even the limited rights of
Guantanamo Bay. No one knows who they are. No one knows where they
are held, not even "President" Bush. They have been disappeared even
from the disappeared! God know what is being done to them, but the
International Red Cross and Amnesty International do not (Appendix
C). Let's just trust the administration on this one, shall we?
So now we have Abu Ghraib. Gee, maybe we should investigate to see
if it's systemic! Donald Rumsfeld tells us it's "only a few bad
apples." For once, I concur. The bad apples are the Secretary of
Defense, the so-called President of the United States, and that Black
lackey guy (the Secretary of State)... You remember him? Two months
ago, he denied that anyone was being abused in Afghanistan or
Guantanamo Bay saying, "...Because we are Americans, we don't abuse
people in our care." At the time, he already knew about Abu Ghraib,
but after 3 years, Colin Powell has gotten used to lying.
Our leaders are responsible for disappearing people all over the
world. The tenor of their decisions has led to the same resulting
abuse in America, Afghanistan, Guantanamo Bay, Iraq, and no doubt
many other places that have yet to surface. A man who starts a war
based on lies, does not deserve to lead. A man who disappears
people, does not deserve to rule. If George Bush gets even
1% of the vote in November, I will be embarrassed as an
Appendix A: Disappearances, Torture and Abuse of 9/11 Suspects in
Activity that would later become famous at Abu Ghraib occurred in the
Brooklyn Metropolitan Detention Center. According to a Justice
Department Inspector General report (12/24/03), prisoners were
slammed into walls and dragged across the floor while shackled. We
know this because it was videotaped. They were denied access to
lawyers. Egyptian Ehab Elmaghraby says he was "mockingly displayed
naked to a female staff member" (NY Times 5/3/04). Anything sound
familiar? This activity occurred in the United States! Elmaghraby
adds that inmates were punched and kicked until they bled and cursed
as "terrorists" and "Muslim bastards." At one point, a flashlight
was inserted up his rectum until it bled. Elmaghraby was innocent.
Other common Abu Ghraib practices occurred here. In addition to the
beatings, Javaid Iqbal describes being left out in cold rain without
shoes or a jacket, and being returned to his cell where the air
conditioning was turned on. His stepson, Paul Harrison said, "I
never knew what happened. I felt he fell off the face of the earth."
NY Times (5/3/04).
Benamar Benatta was cleared of terrorist charges in November of 2001
but no one bothered to tell Benatta. As of last January, over 2 years later,
he was still in custody (Washington Post, 11/29/03).
Abdallah Higazy "confessed" to having an aviation radio in his room
near the World Trade Center. In fact, he confessed to obtaining it
three times under three entirely different circumstances. First he
said he found it in a subway station. Then he said he had found it
underneath the Brooklyn Bridge. Finally, he admitted to having
stolen it from the Egyptian Air Force. Higazy was released 8 months
later when another guest came looking for the radio. Higazy had
never even possessed it. I guess he confessed for the fun of it.
Perhaps the most disturbing case is the detention of Maher Arar who
holds both Canadian and Syrian citizenship. Arar's requests for a
lawyer were ignored. He begged not to be sent to Syria because he
knew he would be tortured. (Almost all of the detainees from 9/11
were eventually deported, often to governments like Syria known for
torture. This is against international law.) With no hearing, Arar
was deported. Here is Arar's description of his Syrian cell: "It was
like a grave. It had no light. It was three feet wide. It was six feet deep.
It was seven feet high. It had a metal door, with a small opening
in the door, which did not let in light...
There was a small opening in the ceiling, about one foot by two feet
with iron bars. Over that was another ceiling, so only a little light
came through this.
There were cats and rats up there, and from time to time the cats
peed through the opening into the cell. There were two blankets, two
dishes and two bottles. One bottle was for water and the other one
was used for urinating during the night. Nothing else. No light. I
spent 10 months, and 10 days inside that grave."
For a description of his detention and torture, please check out his
vivid recollections. They are not unique among 9/11 deportees.
Appendix B: Disappearances, Torture and Abuse in Afghanistan:
In an interview with The New York Times today, police officer
Sayyed Nabi Siddiqi says he was falsely accused of being a member of
the Taliban last summer and spent some 40 days in detention at
various U.S. bases in Afghanistan. He alleges he was subjected to
beatings, sleep deprivation, and sexual abuse. Siddiqi said he was
repeatedly photographed naked by his U.S. captors, like the Iraqi
prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison. http://www.rferl.org
John Sifton of Human Rights Watch (5/13/04):
Mistreatment of prisoners by U.S. military and intelligence personnel
in Afghanistan is a systemic problem and not limited to a few
isolated cases... Detainees who were held in Kandahar airport in early
2002 reported being stripped naked, kicked and punched, and forced to
endure freezing temperatures. U.S. officials have told journalists
and Human Rights Watch that U.S [personnel] in Afghanistan employ an
interrogation system that includes the use of sleep deprivation,
sensory deprivation, and forcing detainees to sit or stand in painful
positions for extended periods of time. "We know now that abuse of
detainees was an established part of the interrogation process."
Below is a description by 2 men from totally different detention locations:
SK [In western Afghanistan]: The Americans blindfolded us, and worst
of all, they made us completely naked and made us to sit in a cold
room and we were shivering and trembling because of the cold air...
[Upon arrival at airbase in western Afghanistan:] At the airport,
someone who was pretty strong held my neck under his arm and pressed
it hard and meanwhile kept punching me hard on my face and one punch
hit me hard on my mouth and two front teeth of my upper jaw fell out,
which you can see now. [interviewee is missing both teeth]
Other detainee (In Kandahar): ...they were beating us mercilessly,
without any reason. They were kicking and punching us. Mostly they
were beating us on our backs.... After that they took me for an
interrogation and before asking any questions they started beating
me. One person picked me up high over his head and threw me onto a
desk and made me lie there. And then two or three other persons hit
me with their knees on my back and shoulders.... In short, everyone was
beaten in Kandahar. It was a bad place.
Massacres in Afghanistan:
Recently released from Guantanamo Bay, British citizens Shafiq Rasul,
Ruhal Ahmed, and Asif Iqbal discussed a near escape from massacres
while detained in Afghanistan. They described how hundreds of
prisoners were forced into airtight containers. Approximately 280
of 300 prisoners died of suffocation. They claim their survival
came only because someone machine gunned the side of the container
which killed several prisoners but also allowed a few to breathe and
thus survive (Guardian, 3/14/04).
It is probable that thousands were killed in this manner. American
ally and Northern alliance commander Gen Abdul Rashid Dostum was
known for his massacres in previous Afghan Wars. For more
information on these suffocations:
Appendix C: Disappearances, Torture and Abuse of 9/11 Suspects at Guantanamo Bay:
Dozens of videotapes of American guards allegedly engaged in brutal
attacks on Guantanamo Bay detainees have been stored and catalogued
at the camp.... The disclosures [were] made in an interview with Tarek
Dergoul, the fifth British prisoner freed last March, who has been
too traumatized to speak until now...: “They pepper-sprayed me in the face,
and I started vomiting. They pinned me down and attacked me, poking
their fingers in my eyes, and forced my head into the toilet pan and flushed.
They tied me up like a beast and then they were kneeling on me, kicking
and punching. Finally they dragged me out of the cell in chains, into the
rec[reation] yard, and shaved my beard, my hair, my eyebrows...."
Rasul said they led to a new verb being coined by detainees: 'to
be ERFed'. That, he said, meant being slammed against a floor by a
soldier wielding a riot shield, pinned to the ground and beaten up by
five armed men. However, it is Dergoul who now reveals that every time
the ERFs were deployed, a sixth team member recorded on digital video
everything that happened. Lieutenant Colonel Leon Sumpter, the
Guantanamo Joint Task Force spokesman, confirmed this last night,
saying all ERF actions were filmed so they could be 'reviewed'
by senior officers (Guardian, 5/16/04).
Jamal Udeen gave a description of Guantanamo Bay (He is a recently
released British citizen):
Inmates were kept in wire cages with concrete floors and no
protection from the elements. "The beatings were not as nearly as
bad as the psychological torture - bruises heal after a week but the
other stuff stays with you... The whole point of Guantanamo was to get
to you psychologically.... After awhile we stopped asking for human
rights––we wanted animal rights."
Udeen also claims that female prostitutes were brought to the prison
about 10 times to "embarrass and degrade [young Muslims] including
some who had never seen an unveiled woman before" (NY Times, 3/12/04).
The International Red Cross has been allowed into Guantanamo Bay, but
will not comment publicly. Independent human rights observers have
been refused access. Steve Crawshaw of Human Rights Watch reports:
"If the problems are less than have been described, the US has
everything to gain from allowing people to look into conditions and
talk about them."
By the way, teenagers were incarcerated as enemy combatants and
denied the rights of the Geneva Convention along with the other
prisoners. Assadulah, who thinks he is 12 or 13, was kicked so hard
by American soldiers that his stomach still hurt when he arrived at
Guantanamo Bay several months later. Mohammad Ismail Agha, 15, said
his family spent 10 months searching for him after his disappearance
in Afghanistan. After over a year, they have both been released
because they had nothing to do with terrorism (NY Times, 3/12/04).
According to the Amnesty International, other teenagers remain in
"Holding the children was wholly repugnant and contrary to basic
principles of human rights," said Angela Wright of Amnesty
International, and contravened UN rules with "near-universal
acceptance" regarding the treatment of juveniles.... The precise legal
ramifications are unclear, since many experts argue that the US is
already in breach of international law by holding any of the detainees
indefinitely without trial or charge, regardless of age (Guardian
[Originally published in NHS 2004, http://www.poetspath.com/napalm/nhs04/Kenny_Lerner.html.]