Love My Fear More Than My Money

Shocker! Guantanamo Bay is a complete waste of money. The Miami Herald‘s Carol Rosenberg – uber guru on all things Gitmo – has a new article up that estimates that the facility costs the US Government $800,000 annually, per detainee. That comes out to roughly thirty times the cost of holding a prisoner on US soil. Mother Jones adds on an interesting factoid:

The irony is that with only 171 detainees left, there are more convicted international terrorists in federal prisons in the United States than there are detainees remaining at Gitmo.

Our inability – here, in 2011 – to close the prison at Guantanamo is the most damning indictment of the cowardice and ignorant fear that lies at the heart of American politics. I could ramble on all day in regards to the shame of that place, but instead I thought I’d provide a solid list of material that has helped shaped my mind on it.

Web Sites:
Guantanamo Bay Section, Miami Herald. By Carol Rosenberg.
Carol Rosenberg won the Robert F. Kennedy award for Journalism (Domestic Print) in 2011 for her body of reporting from Guantanamo. By all accounts she has spent more time down at Gitmo than any other reporter; indeed, she has probably spent more time there than most military personnel. If you want one news source on Gitmo, this is all you need.

Audio:
Habeas Schmabeas, This American Life. by WBEZ Chicago
Ira Glass and his merry band of radio wunderkinds produced this episode, which actually won them the 2006 Peabody Award for “clarifying and emphasizing the significance of a fundamental American legal right and for giving voice to victims of its abuse.” (Peabody Award citation.) It’s worth your time.

Books:
The Least Worst Place, by Karen Greenberg
The best book to start with. Karen Greenberg goes through the very first 100 days that Gitmo was open in meticulous detail. The narrative focuses on Marine General Michael Lehnert who fought tirelessly, and ultimately in vain, for the Geneva Conventions to be upheld at the camp. It’s worth it alone as a case study in the costs and difficulty inherent in living out true moral courage and leadership.

The Eight O’clock Ferry To the Windward Side, by Clive Stafford Smith
Clive Stafford Smith was one of the first lawyers to arrive at Gitmo, and this book is a cataloging of much of his time spent at the camp and with the detainees he represented. Well written, engaging, insightful.

Five Years of My Life: An Innocent Man in Guantanamo, by Mernat Kurnaz
It doesn’t get any more personal than this: the author, Mernat Kurnaz, was wrongfully imprisoned at Gitmo for five years. This is his story.

Enemy Aliens: Double Standards And Constitutional Freedoms In The War On Terrorism, by David Cole
This book does not focus solely on Gitmo, but places it in the context of the War on Terrorism and the legal framework (or lack thereof) for much of what was happening. An excellent read.

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Al Jazeera: Bush confesses to torturing prisoners

http://aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/D704AE2F-30F9-47FE-AF19-8D5DCA909729.htm?

Khalid Shaykh Muhammad is accused of being the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks.

The Washington Post reported that former American President, George Bush, confessed in his memoir that he gave permission to members from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to use waterboarding in the interrogation of Khalid Shaykh Muhammad, a Pakistani who was accused of being the mastermind of the attacks on September 11, 2001.

Human rights experts told the paper that Bush’s confessions regarding his authorization of torture, made in his upcoming memoir that will be released next week, opened up the possibility of him being prosecuted, in principle, despite the small chance of that happening.

The Washington Post added that in his memoir, Bush confessed that he personally authorized the use of different torture methods and techniques against Khalid Shaykh Muhammad, and he was prepared to take the same measures against other detainees to save American lives.

The paper claimed that an unnamed individual close to Bush mentioned that he read the book and said that Bush said “Yes” to members of the Central Intelligence Agency when they asked him if they were able to use waterboarding in the interrogation of Khalid Shaykh Muhammad.

Saving Americans

The paper explained that Bush, in his book “Decision Points”, said that Khalid Shaykh [Muhammad], who was accused of planning the attacks on 9/11, possessed a lot of critical information regarding terrorist attacks against the United States that were still in the planning stages.

America’s [current] president, Barack Obama, along with Attorney General Eric Holder, have already described the technique [of waterboarding] that Bush’s administration introduced during the “War on Terror” as a torture technique.

Feelings of drowning

The torture technique of waterboarding is done by continuously pouring water over the mouth and nose of those being tortured, while they are shackled with their head covered with a wet rag, pointed towards the floor, and they feel as if they are drowning, moment by moment.

In the same book, the former American president starts off his memoir talking about his personal problems with alcohol abuse and addiction during his younger days, before he was “born again” and began following the teachings of “the savior” as taught by the evangelist church when he was around 40 years old.

Despite Bush’s insistence that he had recovered from his addictions, rumors continued to hound him even after he took the helm of the presidency, indicating that the man in the White House might have truly broke with his old addiction. What is certainly true though is that Bush never lost the “language” of addiction, such as when he described the United States, in one of his famous speeches as president, as “a nation addicted to oil.”