The Finger Wags And Then Moves On

(10 am. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

cross posted at The Dream Antilles

I’m afraid that, when all is said and done, I don’t understand blog reactions and what makes something a big story on blogs and in the traditional media.  And no, I’m not complaining about the response to my eight pieces about the federal death penalty or how many people signed the petition.  This isn’t about me.  Not at all.

It’s about something astonishing.  Now appearing on the recommended list of this blog is a piece by Valtin, US-UK Torture Cover-up, While Conditions Worsen at Guantanamo (Updated).  It’s about the rendition and imprisonment and yes, torture, of Binyam Mohamed and the suppression of information in his UK legal case.  It’s extremely important to read the entire essay.

In the essay, I find alarming items about torture:

The 25 lines edited out of the court papers contained details of how Mr Mohamed’s genitals were sliced with a scalpel and other torture methods so extreme that waterboarding, the controversial technique of simulated drowning, “is very far down the list of things they did,” the official said.

This statement was in the original essay before it was updated and it remains there.  When the essay was cross-posted at at GOS, I wrote as a comment in response to the quote:

How in the world can you have this line in a diary and have the diary receive as of this writing 21 comments and 27 recommendations?  I don’t get it.  Why isn’t this story all over dKos?  Why isn’t there a ruckus about it?

Maybe somebody can enlighten me.

The GOS diary ultimately received a total of 34 comments and 47 recommendations. It should have been on the recommended list and it should have had 1,000 indignant comments and recommendation.  But, alas, it didn’t.

I cannot understand or accept that.  

When the diary was updated here at dd, it contained further information from Reprieve, a UK human rights group, about the torture of Binyam Mohamed:

On 21 July 2002, Binyam was rendered to Morocco on a CIA plane. He was held there for 18 months in appalling conditions. To ensure his confession, his Moroccan captors tortured him, stripping him naked and cutting him with a scalpel on his chest and penis. …snip

Binyam’s ordeal in Morocco continued for about 18 months until January 2004, when he was transferred to the ‘Dark Prison’ near Kabul, Afghanistan, a secret prison run by the CIA, which resembled a medieval dungeon with the addition of extremely loud 24-hour music and noise.

Speaking of his time in the ‘Dark Prison’, Binyam said:

“It was pitch black, no lights on in the rooms for most of the time. They hung me up for two days. My legs had swollen. My wrists and hands had gone numb. There was loud music, Slim Shady [by Eminem] and Dr. Dre for 20 days. Then they changed the sounds to horrible ghost laughter and Halloween sounds. At one point, I was chained to the rails for a fortnight. The CIA worked on people, including me, day and night. Plenty lost their minds. I could hear people knocking their heads against the walls and the doors, screaming their heads off.”

From there he was taken to the US military prison at Bagram airbase, and finally, in September 2004, to Guantánamo Bay, where he remains.

This is a report of horrific, brutal, barbaric, illegal treatment.  There cannot be any debate about whether this is or is not torture.  It’s torture plain and simple.

Yet, I don’t see the ruckus about it.  I don’t see it breaking through in the traditional media.  I don’t see a serious response of outrage on the blogs.  If you google “binyam mohamed,” you see that virtually no US media are discussing this case.  I simply cannot understand or accept that.

I may be sorely out of step with others on this. So be it. As I’ve said before, I’d rather be out of formation than off course.  I just don’t understand how this kind of torture can be exposed, and how the US can suppress information about it in UK courts, and why we, that’s you and I, aren’t up in arms about this and pushing the story into the sunlight.


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  1. Thanks for reading.

  2. about these torture cases.

    what is also disturbing is that there are some progressive bloggers who write at their own blogs (not DK or DD) and they have taken the position of supporting what is now viewed as “legal” rendition by Obama. this is not the view of all progressive bloggers, but many will interpret as our view because the ones who disagree, like Valtin, do not get the same size audience.

    all we can do is keep blogging and hope that more people hear our voices.

    thanks DS

  3. davidseth.  No innocents should go to their death.  The only time I feel the death penalty is warranted is in the event of a proven “serial killer.”  I feel there is little hope of rehabilitation of such an individual and that taking the life of one who has killed multiple times is just!

    Huhummm!  Sounds a little like what we’re actually dealing with in terms of the highest level criminals of our time!

    But there are so many problems with our penal system period.  The penal system does little or nothing or actually rehabilitate an individual, and, then, should he be thrust later into society — society doesn’t accept him/her, no one accepts them and they then become recidivists — through virtually, what they see, as no other means of survival.

    • ANKOSS on February 10, 2009 at 16:20

    Once you abandon the notion that we are all alike, there will be no mystery. To do this, you must understand the Lifeboat Paradigm.

    A dozen survivors of a shipwreck face days of drifting in the open ocean in a lifeboat, with limited supplies and no certainty of rescue. Some of them will decide to preserve the lives of all by sharing the supplies. Others will begin to think of killing the weak so that the strong may survive. The reason for this sharp difference in survival strategies is that both selfish and altruistic behaviors have been favored by evolution under differing environmental conditions. The concurrent existence of selfish and altruistic human populations are evolution’s “insurance policy” guaranteeing our survival in circumstances that favor either trait.

    It is important to understand that the impulses of the selfish people in the lifeboat feel just as “natural” and genuine to them as those of the altruists. All of the lifeboat survivors believe that they are following the dictates of common sense and logic, but their individual bias is dictated largely by their behavioral inheritance.

    The people who don’t give a damn about torture in the United States are the lifeboat killers. They are not evil people; they are simply behaviorally programmed to discount the suffering of others in favor of their own interests. There is no mystery here. All you need to understand the callousness and brutality of half of the American electorate is the willingness to confront the terrifying indifference of natural selection to moral issues.


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