Former Vice President Dick Cheney, obviously in perpetual fright mode, is continuing to do his best to frighten the American people. He claims that 61 of the inmates that have been released from Guantanamo have “gone back into the business of being terrorists.” He also predicted a “high probability” of a nuclear or biological terrorist attack on the United States.
Human Rights First and others have debunked Cheney’s Guantanamo statistic, contending that it’s overblown. According to HWF, the numbers are “incoherent and baseless.”
Nonetheless, Cheney’s statistic raises an interesting question: Why did the Pentagon release those prisoners, especially since it obviously contended that they were guilty of acts of terrorism? After all, they’ve got their kangaroo court system all set up. All they had to do was to present their evidence before their military tribunals and the men would have been quickly convicted and sentenced to serve time or be executed.
One possibility that cannot be ruled out is that at least some of the released prisoners who have “gone back into the business of being terrorists” were innocent.
Cheney and other neo-conservatives would respond that the “return” of the “terrorists” to the battlefield would constitute definitive proof that they were terrorists in the first place.
Not necessarily though. After all, what greater incentive for a man to hate the U.S. government than to be forced to give up seven or so years of his life in isolation in a prison faraway from home, where he has been tortured, sexually abused, and humiliated, without any hope of due process and a fair trial that would establish his innocence?
Suppose hundreds of American men were kidnapped by the government of Iran and taken to a secret Iranian prison, where they were treated the same way that the Pentagon has treated the prisoners at Guantanamo — isolation, torture, sex abuse, humiliation, no trial, no hope of release, and indefinite incarceration. Finally, after 7 years of this treatment, the Iranian government suddenly lets the men go.
Now, granted, some of those American men would say, “Forgive and forget. No big deal. The Iranians were waging a war on terrorism. It’s time to move on.”
But isn’t it reasonable to assume that some of those American men would be terribly angry, perhaps even vengeful, over what was done to them? Wouldn’t some of them jump at the chance to wreak vengeance for the seven years that were taken away from them without cause?
Cheney and the neocons might respond, “Well, they don’t have to wreak vengeance with terrorism. If they’ve been wronged, that’s what the courts are for. Let them sue and seek damages.”
Not so. The Bush administration took the position that whenever someone sues for wrongful detention, torture, sex abuse, or whatever under the government’s “war on terror,” the courts should not even consider the lawsuit at all because it would threaten national security. Unfortunately, that “state secrets” doctrine has been upheld by the federal courts.
Those who were hoping that President Obama’s election would bring “change” to such a policy had their hopes dashed this week when a Justice Department attorney told a federal appellate court that it was endorsing the Bush position, which seemed to have surprised even the judges.
Cheney’s fear of a nuclear and biological attack is also interesting. It’s obviously reminiscent of the paranoid mind with which he is afflicted, which everyone experienced during the infamous “mushroom cloud” scare, when Cheney was scaring the American people into believing that Saddam Hussein was about to attack the United States with nuclear and biological weapons.
The problem, however, is that paranoid people are in fact sometimes followed. Given that the U.S. government has continued to engaged in the same types of pro-empire, pro-intervention foreign policy that gave rise to the 1993 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center and the 9/11 attacks, terrorist blowback continues to be a very distinct possibility.
That is, since 9/11 the U.S. government has killed and maimed countless people in Iraq and Afghanistan, and it continues to do so. The killing and maiming is not going to cease under Obama, given his steadfast determination to keep the occupations of both countries going for at least another year. There is also the unconditional financial and military aid that the U.S. government continues to furnish the Israeli government.
What better prescription for more terrorist blowback against the United States than that? In principle, the U.S. killing and maiming and U.S. foreign aid have been no different after 9/11 than before 9/11.
Meanwhile, the American people continue to innocently put their trust in their federal government, refusing to recognize that it is the policies of the government that have not only caused the problem but are also exacerbating it.
Of course, the principle is no different on the domestic scene, where Americans are innocently trusting their federal officials to extricate the nation from its economic woes, refusing to recognize that it’s the economic policies of the federal government that caused the problem and that are now exacerbating it.