Goddamn it!Gitmo Files: We Can Handle the Truth, But We Just Don't Give a Damn About It
Just... just god damn it!
Here I am, at work today, composing something relatively lucid about Mohammed Basardah in my head, and I get home, have dinner, sit in front of the computer, and the fucking Rude Pundit has already said it, and better than I was going to.
Some day in the near future, in the post-apocalyptic hellscape America that will be left after Republicans refuse to raise the debt ceiling unless President Obama publicly hangs himself from the Lincoln Memorial, when we're all squatting in ditches, foraging around for the food scraps dropped from the sky mansions of the mega-wealthy that hover hundreds of feet above our heads, some European or Asian student, who is writing a thesis about just what the fuck happened to drive a once-near-great nation off the cliff of civilization, will come to a conclusion, one that can be debated and argued over and torn apart, as hypotheses ought to be. She will decide that the most significant marker of eventual American doom was people's adamant refusal to give a shit about what happened to detainees during the long, hopeless war that began in 2001.
Indeed, an engaged, active electorate should have greeted the leak of hundreds of files on prisoners at Guantanamo Bay with something more than a sigh about having to think about this shit... again, or with a half-hearted scoff at those who would dare leak classified documents. No, one might think that a nation that once worked itself into a frenzy over a president lying about getting his cock sucked in the Oval Office would be able to grip the outrage tube a little harder and squeeze a little smudge of anger out. Alas, it is not to be.
No, there will be no reckonings, great or small, other than the cruel, cruel treatment of Bradley Manning (and if Manning is being treated according to any rules, those rules are fucked and need to be changed) for allegedly daring to break a single law in order to reveal the breaking of many. There will be no arrests of people responsible for the creation or implementation of a system of torture and imprisonment that, at its base, makes hypocrites and fools of every single American citizen.
The documents from Gitmo reveal a level of absurdity in our detention policies that'd make a Catch-22-composing Joseph Heller put down his pen and say, "Fuck it. I can't top that shit." It's amateur hour, and it's been run by people who insist on saying that it's not. Check this out, just one story we can piece together from the files:
There's this former Gitmo prisoner, Mohammed Basardah, a stoner from Yemen who was arrested in Pakistan. He claimed he did the usual shit - trained in camps, fought in Afghanistan. But, and here's where it gets really fucking funny, Basardah decided to just say whatever the fuck his interrogators at Gitmo wanted. Unlike Abu Zubayah, who was tortured like a son of a bitch, Basardah just liked fucking talking, making himself seem bad-ass, giving up names, saying he knew tons of things about al-Qaida and the Taliban. For seven years. Hell, one analyst wrote of Basardah, "The current US government knowledge base of the personnel and activities within Tora Bora would not have been possible without the co-operation and truthfulness of this detainee whose reporting has directly supported US tactical operations in Afghanistan." Yeah, he even told of a London-based al-Qaida cell about which U.S. intelligence created an entire dossier based on his information. In 2008, he was transferred out of Gitmo, sent to Spain, and released. In essence, he said enough to get himself freed.
Now hold onto your sides: motherfucker was lying. Pretty much about everything. Yeah, and other analysts suspected it from the start. "Research into the other detainees' timelines does not readily support [Basardah's] information," they wrote. "In every interview where [Basardah] was questioned on detainee, [Basardah] has changed his story. Detainee's identity as a bodyguard has not been substantiated through other known sources," they warned. So basically, what Basardah did was play his captors. You gotta admire a man for keeping his wits about him in a fucked-up situation. You gotta wonder just why the hell they kept questioning him and why the hell they didn't just let him go to begin with.
And that London sleeper cell? Well, one of the men Basardah said was part of it was 11 years old at the time Basardah said he joined. And others, who had been tracked for years, had never even visited Britain. But, like Curveball later, we just bought his shit. Basardah was a pot dealer in Mecca. You can bet he sold some schwag weed. You can bet that the CIA would have purchased it and pretended they were stoned from tits to toes because of it.
Because Mohammed Basardah said so, there are men being held without charge, men who will never be released, men who were tortured, more than likely. And President Obama continues the detentions, with no more hope than a loaded military commission.
Yet we don't care, as a nation, that any of this is done in our names. We are tired of it and want it to go away. We don't want to make the effort anymore. That's why the new Gitmo files are greeted with a shrug and a turn to whatever stupid shit stupid asshole Donald Trump has said (god, isn't he so stupid?). A decade of a certain action makes that action into the new normal. If it's normal, if it's just the way we do things now, then we don't want to be bothered with changing it. When you beat a populace into apathy, you can get away with, well, murder.