I just returned from a prison where only the detainees, a judge, prosecutors, defense lawyers, witnesses, a lottery selected press pool, a lottery selected group of NGOs, and 5 lottery selected people like me, close family members of those nearly 3000 people were killed on September 11th, 2001 can observe the so called TRIAL OF THE CENTURY.
The name of the prison is Guantanamo, but we all know it as GITMO.
Gitmo is really two places.
The one I saw is seemingly a civilized, orderly courtroom where the pretrial hearings of the 5 men accused of masterminding the events of 9/11 take place. But from the arraignment on May 5, 2012 until now the defense operates under the complete control of the prosecution, so that access to their clients is an arduous process, rules limiting all material brought into those meetings with their clients is argued over in front of the judge making it impossible for a smooth client attorney relationship, where material is removed from the prisoners’ cells without notice to either prisoner or attorney, where listening devices in rooms where attorney and client meet have been discovered, and then argued about before the judge, where in the course of the hearings someone, not the judge, who is supposed to be the only one to do so, listening in a remote spot outside of Gitmo can stop the procedures. Where only the privileged few can see what the whole world should be able to see.
If 9/11 changed the world as we have been told endlessly, the whole world has the right to see this process.
I am haunted by the other Gitmo. The one I did not see. The hidden Gitmo. In that place over 100 men are on a hunger strike, and many of them are strapped into a chair, and force fed through a tube inserted into their nose and into their stomach. I was shown the chair in which this occurs and asked by our marine escort,”Isn’t that a comfortable chair?” In that other prison, there are detainees who have been cleared of all charges and eligible for release but who are still there because politicians argue about where to send them. In that other Gitmo there are many men who are being held indefinitely, in a limbo more like a hell.
We, the American people were told repeatedly after that day in September, “They Hate Us For Our Values.
And I ask
ARE THESE OUR VALUES?