Penjihad's Blog

"To comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable"

America, a mockery of Democracy?

Your should take a few minutes to read the article, “Eleven Years On: Being Imprisoned at Guantanamo Worse Than Being Confined by Totalitarian State” at the end.
 
Some of you will experience a knee-jerk, protective reaction in favor of what the US is doing. There may even be some invitations aimed at me, to “Go back where I came from” if I don’t like it here. I AM here and this is my country as much as it is yours and even our collective “ownership” of this land is open to debate unless you happen to be a native, First-Nation person who has miraculously, survived the series of genocides perpetrated upon your peoples.
 
This country was created with proclamations of greatness which it failed to reach, even at its birth. The people who followed, continued to struggle (“Jihad“) to make this a better and better nation, with the rule of law, with equal protections and with the freedoms that follow as a result. In spite of its achievements towards human dignity, this country often had to be dragged to its greater heights, kicking and screaming, but it got there and the people were happier for it.
 
Today, it appears that we have taken several steps backwards. We have started to re-interpret our much-cherished Gold Standards of human dignity and human equality…the very foundation of our constitution, as being applicable only to select elites; the citizens of this country. What began as minor scrapes and scratches on the monument of the constitution, is cascading today at record-breaking levels that would make the Founding Fathers wonder if their creation is today, any better than the oppressive, capricious regime of King George III.
 
We have developed euphemisms to help play the game of “Pretend-we-Live-in the-Greatest-Democracy-in-the-World” and the American people, desperate to believe in our national greatness, play the game, embracing new rules that are made up as we move forward into the sewers of depravity.
 
Today, we imprison people without charges or trials in the name of patriotism. Just a short decade ago, we built a special prison where we could and did, imprison people without regard to their guilt…they were presumed guilty just because someone said they were and once they were imprisoned, the monolithic State machinery focused on defending the decision to imprison them and it became a treasonous act to even question why “the worst of the worst” were in prison in the first place.
Today, the entire American leadership is dedicated to maintaining the delusion that we are incapable of imprisoning an innocent person and that once we have imprisoned someone in Guantanamo Bay Prison, he cannot be allowed free because he would only have been imprisoned in our worst prison because he is the “the worst of the worst“.
 The power to imprison arbitrarily, has been encoded into law, we have changed our language to not call this an imprisonment, but to call it a “Detention“, to sugar-coat an extremely bad medicine…so bad, that it promises to poison us all, unless we spit it out, sugar or no sugar.
 
A short decade ago, we tortured our prisoners, directly or, simply by withholding pain medication and allowing the injured prisoners to suffer from their injuries…we were not torturing, the pain was God-ordained! the practice of torture started to smell so we re-framed it as being “Robust Interrogation” and then, “Enhanced Interrogation” a term that we continue to use today. We re-defined torture to mean something indefinable, “It is not torture unless the person feels pain equivalent to massive organ failure and even then, it is not torture unless the person applying it, intends it to be torture“, said White House Counsel John Yoo. The White House and the National psyche embraced it without hesitation.
 
To avoid the smell, we started the practice of grabbing people and taking them to our willing accomplices overseas and let them do the dirty work of torture; we called that “Extra-ordinary Rendition“. The prisoners were taken from the US and from other countries, sent to cooperating nations known for their brutality, we then gave them the methodology of torture, the questions we needed answered and even the answers we were looking for. To be on the safe side, we even sent our FBI and CIA to watch the interrogations.
 
When this began to smell, we passed a law saying US personnel will not engage in torture…but we have exempted special prisons run by our Special Forces and locations that are not part of the US; we deftly excised that part in our constitution, that holds us responsible for equal justice and equal protection anywhere where we have jurisdiction. This would include US bases, our ships, our embassies…any place where we exercise control.
 
Today, our “Extraordinary Rendition” practices have disappeared from the radar (we may still be doing them), but we have developed methods to signal cooperating nations and point them to people we would like “held” and “questioned” and then letting them do whatever they would like, to get information although we still send out FBI agents to present the questions which we would like answered from the “Detainees“. We still maintain prisons in places where we have control, such as Afghanistan and we can be certain that the brutal practices we were notorious for, have not disappeared.
 
Our leaders have spread the myth that people who are not citizens, are not protected by the constitution and the American people, desperate to believe in the greatness of the USA and perhaps, also desperate to feel they have a special, favored status as citizens, are embracing the concept that the constitution is for citizens and all others are here by sufferance.
 
Still, to maintain the myth that we are after all, a nation that observes the Rule of Law, we developed special show-trials, called “Military Tribunals“. However, the only thing “Military” about these “Tribunals” is that the “Judges” are military officers. All rules of procedure and evidence have been eviscerated and Justice is only the façade behind which they operate. The goal pursued by these “Tribunals” is to convict, convict and convict; There is no appeal to the Supreme Court, as guaranteed by the constitution.
 
We have declared that this country is at “War!” and as such, must rally all our resources towards “victory”. We have failed to explain who the “enemy” is, where or, what “victory” would look like. This in fact, allows us a carte-blanche to do as we like, where we like and to whom we like, without accountability.
 
We are now in the midst of killing people day and night, using drones and sending out Special Forces teams, every day and every night. We have stopped listing when our teams or drones go out and when they kill because we are at “War!” and “War!” is Hell. In order to avoid charges of Crimes Against Humanity because we are killing people without the certainty of knowledge that they are in fact, active enemies, we no longer keep count of the people we kill. We have also re-interpreted who is a “militant” and thus, a legitimate target and who is an innocent civilian, by stating that anyone who is in the vicinity of a “suspected militant“, is automatically a target because s-he has no business to be there unless they are accomplices…men, women or children.
Our field of operations has expanded from Afghanistan and Iraq, where the “War!” began, to include Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Uganda, Kenya, Eritrea, and God only knows, how many other countries.
 
No longer is every citizen an equal citizen; we have re-interpreted which citizen is deserving of constitutional protections and which citizen may be dispensed with as we please. It has long been held that anyone in a battlefield is in danger of getting killed because of the so-called, “Fog of War” and anyone participating in the battle is a legitimate target, citizen or not. We however, have re-interpreted the definition of “Heat of War” and the legitimacy of the “target“; anyone who is overseas and promoting resistance against what we are doing is involved in a “War!” against the United States and is therefore, a legitimate target as if s-he were holding a gun in a battlefield.
 
Our President has arrogated to himself, the power to decide which citizen or person to kill and which one to allow to live, without charges, without trails and certainly without any constitutional backing. The American people, again, desperate to cling on to their delusions of Divine Greatness, embraced this new concept of citizenship and “Heat of War“; it is now okay to kill American citizens as long as they are opposing our Divinely chosen position and our “War!” against the forces of Evil.
 
It helps, of course, that the victims of our straying from the constitutional path, are foreign-looking people who pray to a different god, smell different, speak different languages and are not part of our “Judeo-Christian Civilization”….Muslims.
Historically, America has been comfortable allowing its minorities to suffer and to be identified as less than American, even less than human, Muslims fit well in making such exceptions without raising a public concern that American values are being threatened.
 
I suggest that the best form of patriotism is NOT to stand blindly behind every act the US commits, but to hold this nation to the best standards that we the people, have chosen, over the generations it has taken to get us here. With greatness comes great responsibility and great vigilance to continue being great otherwise we fall into the trap of great arrogance where anyone questioning what we do, is seen as a traitor and punished as such.
 
Every single one of us has to be in a continuous state of struggle (“Jihad“), to continue to help make this a great country where everyone feels equal and equally safe. We can only do so if and when we hold our leaders responsible, regardless of their party affiliations, regardless of our party affiliations. There is a fine balance between a democratic free state and a state where democracy is selective and from there, where oppression can grow to unfettered lengths until it becomes irretrievably corrupted.
 
In the end, we only get the nation we work towards.
 
Jeff Siddiqui
Our system works, we did not need to use a secret military tribunal, or detain the defendant indefinitely as an enemy combatant, or deny him the right to counsel…our courts have not abandoned our commitment to the ideals that set us apart. We can deal with the threats to our national security without denying the accused fundamental constitutional protections. Federal District Judge John C. Coughenour (at Ahmed Ressam’s trial in Seattle)
 
 
 
Excerpts:
Eleven years ago, the United States began to imprison detainees in the Guantanamo Bay prison camps. One hundred and sixty-six prisoners remain imprisoned. One hundred and fifty-seven have not been charged with any crime. Eighty-six of the prisoners have been cleared for release. Yet, all three branches of the United States government, the vast majority of the US media, and most Americans do not seem to find the ongoing injustice at Guantanamo to be all that significant or troubling.
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
forty prisoners were cleared for release as early as five years ago but were still imprisoned.
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January 15, 2013 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , ,

4 Comments »

  1. Hi Jeff,

    The problem is that being right will always trump being democratic and, as long as so much of humanity continues to suffer from one god delusion or another, the deluded will be always be right and their various delusional rights, no matter how wrong in reality, will always trump human rights. We can never expect true democracy – or peace, or justice -until we have a secular and federated world.

    Cheers,

    Ian.

    Like

    Comment by Ian | January 16, 2013 | Reply

    • As I see the issues, the problem is not religion or God, but fanaticism and fanaticism exists even in places where they don’t believe in God. Barry Goldwater once said, “Extremism in the pursuit of virtue is no evil “. It could have been a religious fanatic who said this just as easily.

      “Being right” is a pursuit to which every fanatic is devoted, whether the fanatic is a religious one or, a secular one; whether the fanatic is a supporter of the so-called “Democracy”, Free-Market or Communism. What we need to do is to challenge and stop the lurch towards fanaticism or extremism, no matter how “good” they may seem at the time.

      Like

      Comment by penjihad | January 16, 2013 | Reply

  2. Jeff,

    It is ironic that you should seek to change the subject from religion to extremism and fanaticism, which all rational beings would acknowledge as harmful. My point, which you clearly missed, is that most religions – and the irrational certainties they espouse – inevitably breed both. History is littered with the evidence for this. Medieval Europe, Post-Partition India, the bible-bashing belts of the USA, the Zionist-inspired state of Israel and today’s Islamic countries or other countries hosting Islamic minorities are all awash with examples.

    Like

    Comment by Ian | January 17, 2013 | Reply

    • You and I are close yet not so close.

      I am not seeking to change the subject, I am simply focusing on the offensive aspect of religion…intolerance.

      I consider religion to be a philosophy…Islam, Christianity Hinduism…just like other philosophies that are not “religion” as such, but are or were, practised with the fervor of religion such as Democracy, Communism and the so-called, “Free-Market”.

      Religion can serve as a stabilizing factor but it can be disastrous in the hands of fanatics, just like the non-religions I noted above. Today, we see the murderous expression of religion in Islam, Hinduism, Christianity, Judaism and even in Buddhism just as we also see the murderous examples of “Free Market” and Democracy, as expressed by the US, followed by its European allies. In the past, we saw the murderous expression of the anti-religious forces of Communism.

      Irrational expressions are not a monopoly of religion, but of people who have power, even when they are against religion. Still, we can differ and yet, concur…

      Like

      Comment by penjihad | January 17, 2013 | Reply


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