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Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Eight years is a long time - and longer for some than for others

Nearly eight years ago, I started writing this blog. Eight years is a long time. You know what else happened eight years ago. Two men, one a Russian ballet dancer and the other an Algerian who was a top-rated Italian chef in Austria, were imprisoned by the United States in Guantanamo. Like so many others, they were never charged with any crime, much less convicted. In fact, they have now been "cleared" (whatever that means exactly in the context of not ever having been charged with a crime). But they're still in Guantanamo.

Now, the Berkeley City Council is considering inviting them to come live in Berkeley. That's lovely, although I wonder if they've given any thought to the fact that the men might just want to actually go home after all this time. Well, that's their choice, of course.

What's interesting about this story isn't the Berkeley angle, at least to me. What's interesting is that, on those rare occasions when we actually learn something about the men buried alive in Guantanamo, we learn over and over again how the claim that the prisoners in Guantanamo were the "worst of the worst" was, not to put too fine a point on it, unadulterated bullshit. And we learn over and over again about the atrocities that have been done in our name. Even if these particular men suffered no physical torture (and I don't know if they did or didn't), eight years of indefinite imprisonment without charges is torture in and of itself. And, by the way, that "our" doesn't just apply to Americans. It applies to anyone whose government has cooperated with these continuing human rights outrages (ones that Hillary Clinton curiously neglected to mention today), and really even anyone whose government has not vociferously objected to those outrages (which probably includes about 99% of the people reading these words).

And while we're on the subject of human rights abuses, here's something else Clinton neglected to mention today while she was preaching about freedom of speech - the fact that American journalists re-entering the U.S. can have their documents, computer, phone, and camera SD cards seized and copied without any kind of warrant or suspicion of wrongdoing. Of course that wasn't all she left out. She mentioned Iran seven times, but Bahrain not once. Bahrain, where two protesters have been killed by police and hundreds or thousands more beaten, but the King of Bahrain is a U.S. ally, so you won't be hearing any unkind words from Clinton about Bahrain until and unless the handwriting is on the wall, as it was in Egypt.

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