Tuesday, July 3, 2012

NPR on Syria - "Through the looking glass darkly"

Had to run some errands today, but Son #1 was using my car. The husband was home early so I asked him to take me (Yes, I can drive myself, but er, uh -- long story). As we rode, NPR was on, broadcasting the above story and all I could do for the duration, was suck my damned teeth -- and seethe (Yes, I realize I have issues -- with people who lie, either by omission, or outrightly.  But I have a particular disdain for those whose job it is to provide taxpayer-funded, "fair and balanced reporting").

NPR's "pot, calling the kettle black" story was American sensationalism at its best.  Other than the infamous Abu Ghraib, whose story was only accidentally told as a result of a soldier with some conscience,  how much have they reported, in detail, about the goings on at either Bagram, or GITMO (which the Changeling vowed he'd close -- even as he crowed about Afghanistan being the "necessary war," -- if you'd just vote for "Change you can believe in."  And getting  a damned Nobel Peace Prize for it to boot!)?  Yes, the Fourth Estate certainly gives me the dry heaves.

But when I got home and checked my email, seeing Clara Gutteridge's, How the US Rendered, Tortured and Discarded One Innocent Man in The Nation, I heard my Gra'mama say, "Chile, you thought that right up!"  And it seemed I had:

At our first meetings in Stone Town, the crumbling capital of Zanzibar, Suleiman would turn up wild-eyed, refusing food because eating upset his stomach. We soon forged a routine of driving together into the bush, where, he said, he could find peace. On our first trip, Suleiman drove to a derelict underground prison that had once been used by Arab slave traders, a dungeon that presumably resembled the first place he was held in Afghanistan, a secret prison he called “The Darkness.”

When Suleiman arrived there, he thought he was back home in Zanzibar, so overwhelming was the distinctive smell of the coral reef. (A clinical psychologist would later explain that olfactory hallucinations are a common response to extremely stressful situations. They are the brain’s way of making one think there is something familiar to hold on to.) In fact, Suleiman was thousands of kilometers from his familiar Indian Ocean reefs, in an underground prison in central Afghanistan.

“It was pitch black, with constant noise and not enough food,” he recalled. His American interrogators would pour freezing cold water on him and beat him, saying, “We know you are a sea man, but here we have more water than out there in the sea. It never stops raining here.” Suleiman also describes being hung from the ceiling in the “strappado position,” slung in chains so that his toes just touched the floor. He also says American interrogators would take the ablution jug (used by Muslims for ritual cleansing before prayer), and stick its long spout up his rectum.

In mid-2003, Suleiman arrived at Bagram, where he was ordered to stand within the outline of a square drawn on the floor. “From today onward, your name is 1075,” the American guards told him. “You are in our box, and we have five basic rules: One: No talking. Two: Don’t look around. Keep your face down. Three: Don’t touch anything around the cage. Four: Don’t speak. Five: Don’t run.” Later, one of the guards looked at tall, skinny Suleiman and said, “You must be related to Snoop Dogg. Maybe he’s your father.” After this Suleiman’s name at Bagram was Snoop Dogg.

At Bagram, Suleiman never saw the sun, only the constant, blinding lights hanging just above his wire-mesh cage. He says he would look at the birds flying among the rafters, swooping down to peck around his cage. Bird droppings fell from the high ceiling through the mesh. Watching them, Suleiman would think, “Look at me today! I am on the side that the birds ought to be. I am in the cage, and they are free!”

Suleiman was finally released in July 2008. What prompted the decision is unclear. Authorities most likely realized that he had little intelligence to offer and posed no threat. So they let him go. (emphasis mine)

Syria's "war crimes" are no better, nor worse than those of my countrymen. I say to NPR, "Look in the mirror!  If you want to contribute to a better country, expend your energy on the schizophrenic, "American exceptionalism" in your own backyard (either before, or as, you point the finger at other folk)!" Anything else is simply taxpayer-funded hypocrisy playing handmaiden to imperialism.

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