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The Inhuman Stain

Chris Floyd

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There is a horrible scandal eating away the heart of the American body politic. Among the many corrupted currents loosed upon the nation by the Bush Regime, this scandal is perhaps the worst, for it abets all the others and breeds new pestilence, new perversions at every turn.
A safe, but not happy, ending to Maher Arar's story, but how many others subjected to Bush-style justice have not been so lucky?
Last week, Maher Arar of Canada detailed his ordeal at the hands of Attorney General John Ashcroft’s security “organs.” Returning from a family holiday in Tunis, the Syrian-born Arar—16 years a Canadian citizen—was seized at a New York airport. Jailed and interrogated without charges, on unspecified allegations of unspecified connections to unspecified terrorist groups, he was then deported, without a hearing, to Syria. When he told the Homeland Chekists he would be tortured there—his family was marked down as dissidents by Syria’s Baathist regime—the Chekists replied that their organ “was not the body that deals with the Geneva Conventions regarding torture.” They shackled him and flew him to the America-friendly regime in Jordan; from there he was bundled across the border to Damascus, The Washington Post reports.

But this is not the scandal we were speaking of.

For 10 months, Arar was held in a dank cell in Syria: a “grave,” he called it, a closet-sized unlighted hole filled with cat and rat piss falling down from the grating overhead. He was beaten, often with electrical cable, for weeks on end, kept awake for days, made to witness and hear even more exquisite tortures applied to other prisoners. He was forced to sign false confessions. Ashcroft’s Baathist comrades had a preset storyline they wanted filled in: that Arar had gone to Afghanistan, attended terrorist training camps, was plotting mayhem—the usual template. Arar, who had spent years working as a computer consultant for a Boston-based high-tech firm, had done none of those things. Yet he was whipped, broken and tortured into submission.

But this is not the scandal we were speaking of.

Arar’s case is not extraordinary. In the past two years, the Bushist organs have “rendered” thousands of detainees, without charges, hearings or the need to produce any evidence whatsoever, into the hands of regimes which the USA government itself denounces for the widespread use of torture. Apparatchiks of the organs make no secret of the practice—or of their knowledge that the “rendered” will indeed be beaten, burned, drugged, raped, even killed. “I do it with my eyes open,” one renderer told The Washington Post. Detainees—including lifelong American residents—have been snatched from homes, businesses, schools, from streets and airports, and sent to torture pits like Syria, Morocco, Egypt and Jordan.

But this is not the scandal we were speaking of.
Bringing justice home from Afghanistan, 2001. One authenticated record of the USA's brutal treatment of prisoners.
Of course, the American organs needn’t rely exclusively on foreigners for torture anymore. Under the enlightened leadership of Ashcroft, Bush, Donald Rumsfeld and other upstanding Christian statesmen, America has now established its own centres for what the organs call “operational flexibility.” These include bases in Afghanistan and Diego Garcia, the Indian Ocean island that was forcibly depopulated in the 1960s to make way for a USA military installation. Here, the CIA runs secret interrogation units that are even more restricted than the American concentration camp at Guantanamo Bay. Detainees—again, held without charges or evidentiary requirements—are “softened up” by beatings at the hands of military police and Special Forces troops before being subjected to “stress and duress” techniques: sleep deprivation (officially condemned as torture by the USA government), physical and psychological disorientation, withholding of medical treatment, etc. When beatings and “duress” don’t work, detainees are then “packaged”—hooded, gagged, bound to stretchers with duct tape—and “rendered” into less dainty hands elsewhere, The Washington Post reports.

But this is not the scandal we were speaking of.

Not content with capture and torture, the organs have been given presidential authority to carry out raids and kill “suspected terrorists” (including Americans) on their own volition—without charges, oversight or evidence—anywhere in the world, including on American soil. What’s more, through a series of executive orders, Bush has asserted the right to designate anyone he pleases “an enemy combatant” and have them “rendered” into indefinite detention or simply killed at his order—again, without charges, evidence, oversight or appeal. The life of every American citizen—every person on Earth—is now at the mercy of his arbitrary whim.

But this is not the scandal we were speaking of.

All of the above facts—each of them manifest violations of international law and/or the USA Constitution—have been cheerfully attested to, for years now, by the organs’ own apparatchiks, quoted in numerous high-profile, mainstream publications, including The New York Times, The Economist, Newsweek and others. The stories appear—then they disappear. There is no reaction. No outcry in Congress or the courts—the supposed guardians of the people’s rights—beyond a few wan calls for more formality in the concentration camp processing or judicial “warrants” for torture. And among the great mass of “the people” itself, there is—nothing. Silence. Inattention. Indifference. Acquiescence. State terrorism—lawless seizure, filthy torture, official murder—is simply accepted, a part of “normal life,” as in Nazi Germany or Stalin’s empire, where “decent people” with “nothing to hide” approved and applauded the work of the “organs” in “defending national security.”

This is the scandal, this is the nation’s festering shame. This acquiescence to state terror will breed—and attract—a thousand evils for every one it supposedly prevents.


Published Saturday, November 15th, 2003 - 06:14am GMT

Article courtesy of Moscow Times

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