Not Gitmo. Kafka.
Guantanamo’s Chained Innocents
Pierre Tristam/Candide’s Notebooks, June 2, 2006
If you still doubt that the United States’ prosecution of this vague war on terror has reduced the country’s justice system to an East German revivalist replica, you need only read today’s account in the Wall Street Journal of the fate of five Chinese Muslims wrongly imprisoned at Guantanamo. It’s the seemingly minor details that show up the brutality a system that has lost all pretense to fairness and conscience, like the way, even after the five were declared “no longer enemy combatants”—that is, innocent—they were not told so for months, and were kept shackled to the floor of their cells; the way even after they were told, they were not transferred to a less punishing camp for another month; the way they were held there for another year and a half because, out of supposed concern for the inmates, the United States didn’t want to send them back to China, where they would be executed (the Chinese government considers the group to which the Muslims belong a terrorist organization, and of course point to their detention t Guantanamo as proof. It isn’t Gitmo. It’s Kafka.) “The U.S.,” the Journal reports, “is in a predicament it never expected: What should it do with Guantanamo inmates who have been found deserving of release but who face jail or execution if retu7rned to their homelands?” As if Guantanamo’s location on Cuban soil wasn’t a hint: Take them into the United States. Pay them back for the years you’ve taken away from them, illegally and wantonly (those five Chinese Muslims, incidentally, had escaped China and had holed up in Afghanistan, waiting for a chance to move to Turkey, and were turned over to U.S. troops by bounty hunters in 2001). Set them up on a Nebraska farm, in a Florida suburb, in one of umpteen chinatowns across the country, give them a life-long pension, show a dime’s remorse and apology. But no. The United States won’t take “the chance,” even though there is no chance being taken. They’re imprisoned in Guantanamo, land of a million Cuban refugees who’ve made it to the United States, no questions asked (ex-prisoners included), there’s just a few of them, they’ve been wronged, outwardly stigmatized and inwardly scarred for the rest of their life, but the United States, in its shabby for-God-and-Country wisdom, won’t have them. Albanian, whoring itself in every way to win acceptance into NATO, agreed to take them, though the five have never been there and don’t speak the language. Here’s one final insult the United States couldn’t resist: when the five were put on a plane to Albania, they were shackled to the floor of the plane. And in Albania, their windows’ sights are onto barbed wire. Freedom, one of the five tells the Journal, “is not what we expected.” And we wonder why eighty-nine Guantanamo inmates are staging a hunger strike. Or who barely a media in the United States gives a shit. Not to worry. Katie Couric is sure to jump on the story as soon as she returns from her botox vacation.