Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Did We Buy Our Guantanamo Prisoners?

If You Want to Know the Real Story, Follow the Money. It seems the money trail leads to a ring of hell even Dante wasn’t aware of. I expect Bush or Cheney tomorrow to discount this story. These unfortunate people who were sold by bounty hunters to U.S. forces will be discounted as people who hate freedom and hate America. Our leaders will say that with a straight face, without irony. Cheney and Bush will be right in one sense. If these unfortunate souls didn’t hate America before, they will have plenty of reason to hate us now.

AP May 31, 2005: . . .a wide variety of detainees at the U.S. lockup at Guantanamo Bay,
Cuba, alleged they were sold into capture. Their names and other
identifying information were blacked out in the transcripts from the
tribunals, which were held to determine whether prisoners were
correctly classified as enemy combatants.

One detainee who said
he was an Afghan refugee in Pakistan accused the country’s intelligence
service of trumping up evidence against him to get bounty money from
the U.S.

"When I was in jail, they said I needed to pay them
money and if I didn’t pay them, they’d make up wrong accusations about
me and sell me to the Americans and I’d definitely go to Cuba," he told
the tribunal. "After that I was held for two months and 20 days in
their detention, so they could make wrong accusations about me and my
(censored), so they could sell us to you."

If anyone pays attention to this story, its details will only get uglier. It combines the worst of what the rest of the world thinks of America, a sad and sordid synergy of war and commerce, commerce in bodies, in a war obliterating the spirit of not just the conquered but the conquerors as well.

AP There have been reports of Arabs being sold to the Americans after
the U.S.-led offensive in Afghanistan, but the testimonies offer the
most detail from prisoners themselves.

In March 2002, the AP
reported that Afghan intelligence offered rewards for the capture of
al-Qaida fighters _ the day after a five-hour meeting with U.S. Special
Forces. Intelligence officers refused to say if the two events were
linked and if the United States was paying the offered reward of 150
million Afghanis, then equivalent to $4,000 a head.

That day, leaflets and loudspeaker announcements promised "the big prize" to those who turned in al-Qaida fighters.

one leaflet: "You can receive millions of dollars. … This is enough
to take care of your family, your village, your tribe for the rest of
your life _ pay for livestock and doctors and school books and housing
for all your people."

Helicopters broadcast similar announcements
over the Afghan mountains, enticing people to "Hand over the Arabs and
feed your families for a lifetime," said Najeeb al-Nauimi, a former
Qatar justice minister and leader of a group of Arab lawyers
representing nearly 100 detainees.

Al-Nauimi said a consortium of
wealthy Arabs, including Saudis, told him they also bought back fellow
citizens who had been captured by Pakistanis.

This is where are country has been. We have dealt in cruelty to prisoners who were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Now we are masters of a heinous slave trade, a degradation of our ideals in service to questionable and ignoble ends. We stand in dubious battle on the American plains of heaven. We have entered the Bazaar of the Bizarre


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