Our very own Gulag

This is the story of a man without a name. For the past four years he has been a prisoner of the United States government; yet if our leaders had their way, the fact he even exists would remain unknown to anyone but themselves. According to the administration, this man is a terrorist, and therefore deciding whether to imprison him indefinitely without trial is the sole and unreviewable prerogative of the president.

His real crime is that he was born in Afghanistan. This negligent act caused him to be conscripted by Taliban soldiers, who forced him to become a cook’s assistant in the city of Narim. When Narim was attacked, he fled the city before surrendering to the Northern Alliance. These soldiers then turned the cook’s assistant over to the American military, who imprisoned him at Guantanamo Bay.

The administration takes the view that being conscripted into the Taliban as a cook’s assistant makes someone a terrorist, and that fleeing from aerial bombardment constitutes “engaging in hostilities” against United States forces. The administration also believes that such people should have no access to lawyers or courts, and that they should be “detained” – this is a polite word for being locked in a cage – and subjected to “coercive interrogation techniques” (which is a polite phrase for torture) until the end of the global war on terror, which is to say for the rest of their lives.

There is nothing unusual about this nameless man’s tale. Most of the 500 men being held at Guantanamo Bay can tell a similar one, or would if they hadn’t been forbidden from speaking to anyone in the outside world. Because the Supreme Court has finally allowed lawyers to examine the allegations against these men, we now know that almost none of them are terrorists in even the loosest sense of the term, and that indeed most of them are guilty of nothing.

Click the headline for this interesting report by Paul C. Campos, a law professor at the University of Colorado.

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