Crusader Shrimp Slayer
Rep. Dennis Cardoza, Shrimp Slayer-Merced, visited Guantanamo Bay last month. Although he did not actually talk to any of its prisoners, held without being charged for four years because they are not in US territory (or are on US territory in a US military base in Cuba, or for some other reason) and are “enemy combatants” (and therefore, according to UC Berkeley law professor and former White House lawyer, John Yoo, can be tortured) is reported to have enjoyed “an abundance of what he characterized as delicious food.” He noted wonderful soccer fields, volleyball courts and a library stocked with Harry Potter novels, apparently particularly relished by childlike Muslims terrorists-in-recovery in the Caribbean.
The Shrimp Slayer, always an observant man and quick to connect dots, said Guantanamo Bay reminded him of the two county jails in his congressional district – Stanislaus and Merced county jails.
He also commented to his loyal chronicler, Mike Doyle of McClatchy’s Washington bureau, "The war on terror may never be over.”
Once again, in this balanced view, we are stunned by the Shrimp Slayer’s grasp of world events.
This weekend three prisoners at Guantanamo hung themselves. No one is suggesting that they did it because other prisoners had checked out the latest Harry Potter novels. Nor is there any suggestion that the suicides arose from disputes on the volleyball court. While Cardoza found the food “delicious,” there may have been some disagreement among the 220 hunger strikers in the last year and a half, because reliable sources report that when this delicious food is fed to someone through a tube in his nose forced down to his stomach, the pain( interferes with the enjoyment. UC Yoo would not consider this form of dining torture, but the United Nations does.)
Rear Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr., Commander, Joint Task Force, Guantanamo, knew exactly what was going on.
“They are smart, they are creative, they are committed,” he said. “They have no regard for life, neither ours nor their own. I believe this was not an act of desperation, but an act of asymmetrical warfare waged against us.”
With people like these prisoners committing acts of “asymmetrical warfare” by hanging themselves against war contractors like Halliburton and Bechtel, Lockheed and UC (working on new generations of weapons of mass destruction) and congressmen like Cardoza, busily stomping fairy shrimp while developing his view of world affairs in the sweatshops of the Marianas, the theocratic fortress of Israel, the Azores (where the US, the UK and Spain launched the Iraq Crusade) and Guantanamo’s lovely, Caribbean dungeons, what chance does America have, anyway?
Since the invasion we have seen the rear end of St. George W and his horse charging that asymmetrical Muslim dragon. What has now become clear is that the knight bumping along behind him on a tottering, doped up Holstein cow, that crusader with the insignia of two dead fairy shrimp on his shield, is none other than our congressman.
In the medieval tradition of crusading heraldry, the insignia is complex and worth detailed discussion. Two white fairy shrimp occupy the center of the shield, their broken necks artfully crossed, their wings limply hanging lifeless at their sides, skewered for the barbecue. Above, a yellow Ranchwood land leveler hovers, it blade dripping white fairy shrimp vital bodily fluids. Above the Ranchwood Big Toy is the UC Mushroom Cloud.
Hot damn! That’s our boy, the Shrimp Slayer, also known as the Knight of the Grand Posterior, currently running for reelection in the 18th Congressional District of California. Like the hereditary monarchs of old, he faces no political opponent in the upcoming election, and is free to help levy troops of peasants to fight in the Holy Land against these ingrate Muslim tribesmen, relatives no doubt of prisoners at Guantanamo (they are all related, you know) who do not appreciate the delicious food forced down their noses, volleyball, soccer, Caribbean breezes wafting through their cages, and are clearly not appreciative enough of Harry Potter novels to ever achieve full conversion to evangelical Christianity.
We confess we do not understand how this fine, religious and chivalrous 13th-century knight, the Shrimp Slayer, could mistake Modesto and Merced for Cuba and American county jails for Gitmo. But the medieval mind has always been a mystery to the modern mind and perhaps he knows things about local sheriffs’ offices that we don’t know. But, where does the Shrimp Slayer think Iraq is? What does he think it is?
Cardoza tours prison in Cuba...Michael Doyle, Sun-Star Washington Bureau
May 24, 2006
WASHINGTON -- A five-hour trip to Guantanamo Bay this week left Rep. Dennis Cardoza, D-Merced, with a brief sense of deja vu...physical aspect of one detainment facility reminded him of the Stanislaus County Jail. Another, Cardoza said Tuesday, reminded him of the Merced County Jail. Cardoza and his traveling colleagues, including Republican Sen. Robert Bennett of Utah, did not talk to any of the alleged enemy combatants detained at Guantanamo Bay. They did see them from afar. A member of the House International Relations Committee, Cardoza said he was impressed even if lingering legal questions remain unanswered. Cardoza essentially aligned himself with Bennett's glowing assessment...the availability of soccer fields, volleyball courts, a well-stocked library whose most popular offering is reportedly the Harry Potter series, and an abundance of what he characterized as delicious food. "The war on terror," Cardoza noted, "may never be over” …
By Marjorie Cohn
t r u t h o u t | Perspective
Monday 12 June 2006
They are smart, they are creative, they are committed. They have no regard for life, neither ours nor their own. I believe this was not an act of desperation, but an act of asymmetrical warfare waged against us.
-- Rear Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr., Commander, Joint Task Force, Guantánamo
Three men being held in the United States military prison camp at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, killed themselves by hanging in their cells on Saturday. The Team Bush spin machine immediately swept into high gear.
Military officials characterized their deaths as a coordinated protest. The commander of the prison, Rear Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr., called it "asymmetrical warfare."
Colleen Graffy, the deputy assistant secretary of state for public diplomacy, said taking their lives "certainly is a good PR move."
Meanwhile, George W. Bush expressed "serious concern" about the deaths. "He stressed the importance of treating the bodies in a humane and culturally sensitive manner," said Christie Parell, a White House spokeswoman.
How nice that Bush wants their bodies treated humanely, after treating them like animals for four years while they were alive. Bush has defied the Geneva Conventions' command that all prisoners be treated humanely. He decided that "unlawful combatants" are not entitled to humane treatment because they are not prisoners of war.
Article 3 Common to the Geneva Conventions requires that no prisoners, even "unlawful combatants," may be subjected to humiliating and degrading treatment. Incidentally, the Pentagon has decided to omit the mandates of Article 3 Common from its new detainee policies.
Bush resisted the McCain anti-torture amendment to a spending bill at the end of last year, sending Dick Cheney to prevail upon John McCain to exempt the CIA from its prohibition on cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of prisoners. When McCain refused to alter his amendment, Bush signed the bill, quietly adding one of his "signing statements," saying that he feels free to ignore the prohibition if he wants to.
Bush & Co. are fighting in the Supreme Court to deny the Guantánamo prisoners access to US courts to challenge their confinement. The Court will announce its decision in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld by the end of this month.
This hardly sounds like a man who believes in humane treatment for live human beings.
The three men who committed suicide, Mani bin Shaman bin Turki al-Habradi,Yasser Talal Abdulah Yahya al-Zahrani, and Ali Abdullah Ahmed, were being held indefinitely at Guantánamo. None had been charged with any crime. All had participated in hunger strikes and been force-fed, a procedure the United Nations Human Rights Commission called "torture."
"A stench of despair hangs over Guantánamo. Everyone is shutting down and quitting," said Mark Denbeaux, a lawyer for two of the prisoners there. His client, Mohammed Abdul Rahman, "is trying to kill himself" in a hunger strike. "He told us he would rather die than stay in Guantánamo," Denbeaux added.
While the Bush administration is attempting to characterize the three suicides as political acts of martyrdom, Shafiq Rasul, a former Guantánamo prisoner who himself participated in a hunger strike while there, disagrees. "Killing yourself is not something that is looked at lightly in Islam, but if you're told day after day by the Americans that you're never going to go home or you're put into isolation, these acts are committed simply out of desperation and loss of hope," he said. "This was not done as an act of martyrdom, warfare or anything else."
"The total, intractable unwillingness of the Bush administration to provide any meaningful justice for these men is what is at the heart of these tragedies," according to Bill Goodman, the legal director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, which represents many of the Guantánamo prisoners.
Last year, at least 131 Guantánamo inmates engaged in hunger strikes, and 89 have participated this year. US military guards, with assistance from physicians, are tying them into restraint chairs and forcing large plastic tubes down their noses and into their stomachs to keep them alive. Lawyers for the prisoners have reported the pain is excruciating.
The suicides came three weeks after two other prisoners tried to kill themselves by overdosing on antidepressant drugs.
Bush is well aware that more dead US prisoners would be embarrassing for his administration, especially in light of the documented torture of prisoners at Abu Ghraib and the execution of civilians in Haditha.
More than a year ago, the National Lawyers Guild and the American Association of Jurists called for the US government to shut down its "concentration camp" at Guantánamo. The UN Human Rights Commission, the UN Committee against Torture, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, and the Council of Europe, have also advocated the closure of Guantánamo prison.
Bush says he would like to close the prison, but is awaiting the Supreme Court's decision. At the same time, however, his administration is spending $30 million to construct permanent cells at Guantánamo.
Marjorie Cohn is a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, President-elect of the National Lawyers Guild, and the US representative to the executive committee of the American Association of Jurists. She writes a weekly column for Truthout.