“Guantánamo”: Torture, Blowback,
and Innocence by James J Murtagh, M.D.
movie spoiler alert. If you have not seen Guantánamo, consider seeing the film
before reading further. However, most people know this is a docu-drama about
mistreatment of prisoners, this spoiler alert may not be necessary.
"They said we will make you
wish to die and it will not happen." - Ameen Saeed Al-Sheik, detainee No.
Does Innocence Matter? Does truth matter? Can American democracy spread through torture camps?
The searing docu-mentary “Road
to Guantánamo” shows Americans the vivid depictions of beatings, torture,
interrogation and death in the American gulag just 90 miles from our shore. This is
the story of the “Tipton Three,” British citizens in the wrong place at the wrong
time, captured and sent to American camps “X-ray” and “Delta” with absolutely
no due process, and absolutely no evidence of any wrongdoing.
Worse, the film reveals none of
the roughly 600 detainees in Cuba have been found guilty of crime, and not one piece
of usable intelligence was obtained. This reflects what courageous European
journalists like David Rose have written in acclaimed books. Unfortunately, despite
the books in evidence, the US press has been slow to alert the public to the true
Ameen Saeed Al-Sheik said the
prisoners at Abu Ghraib and at Guantánamo were told they would wish for death, but
not be allowed to die. Can there be a better description of true torture? More than
sixty Guantánamo prisoners at least attempted suicide testifies to the Ameen’s
Identical torture methods have
been exposed at Guantánamo and Abu Ghraib. It is clear torture was systematic,
planned, and sanctioned by the highest Dept. of Defense officials. Torture was not
from a few “bad apple” low ranking solders. As David Rose exposed, Guantánamo
was actually the prototype for American torture camps elsewhere, including Abu Ghraib.
High-ranking U.S. officials
decided in 2001 that torture would be used as an instrument of American policy.
Administration apologists try to
redefine the meaning of torture, or to redefine the Geneva convention. But these same
apologist officials lost all credibility with their claims of “Weapons of mass
destruction.” Fool me once, shame on you. A series of supposed “slam-dunk”
evidence proved absolutely false.
Americans can now see what happens
at Guantánamo, and hear the words of the Tipton trio. Americans know torture when
they see it, and no amount of artful dodging from Rumsfeld can change the stark,
brutal fact of unjustified American gulags.
The victims of torture at Guantánamo
and Abu Ghraib suffer, but so do our own soldiers who are forced to inflict the
“Blowback,” the unintended
consequences of secret military operations on US society at home, was examined in the
recent film, “Why we fight.” Torture incites the worst of all possible blowback,
and we will all suffer the consequences. Torture not only inflames our enemies, it
inflames our friends, and it inflames our own citizens to despair on our own pledge
to support “justice for all.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel
stated “An institution like Guantánamo in its present form cannot and must not
exist in the long term.”
Guantánamo proves due process is
essential to any real anti-terrorist program. Instead of torturing the Tipton trio
for years, these resources could have been used to find the real terrorists.
Americans have been hardened by
abuses at Guantánamo and Abu Ghraib to the point that some give up the hope of due
process even here at home. The films “The Exonerated,” and “After Innocence”
showed that absolutely innocent Americans can and do end up on death row.
is a kinship in the horrors of some of these films.
That leads me to the final outrage
I felt as I watched Guantánamo: why is the mainstream press relatively silent? Where
are the investigative journalists who can expose torture camps and abuse of
civilians? Why did network news anchors not debate blowback as the tanks were rolling
in to Baghdad?
My friends in the media tell me
that network news is intensely competitive, and that they must emphasize
entertainment values, and they must keep their corporate masters happy with the
bottom line. News is a business, after all.
Now it seem the most important news is now coming to Americans through documentary films, and not through the networks. Is this a consequence of media consolidation, and that large conservative corporations now own our networks?
This never would have happened
during the Vietnam war.
When I was growing up, I went to
networks for the news, and I went to the movies for entertainment. Now, the roles
appear reversed. In recent months I went to films to learn everything from global
warming, to fraud in elections, to electric cars, to death in Africa.
Thank God movie makers now make
news a priority. Shame on the networks if they do not reverse course. Shame on
Americans if we do not return to our core values, and do not end torture camps
does matter, both in our domestic justice system, and the justice we impose on
others. I fear for my country if we do not remember the founding principles that made
us who we are.