19 January 2007

Gulag

Today I have a passage from Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's The Gulag Archipelago.
I would rather die than stay here forever, and I have tried to commit suicide many times. The purpose of the gulag is to destroy people, and I have been destroyed. I am hopeless because our voices are not heard from the depths of the gulag.

If I die, please remember that there was a human being named Aleksandr in this gulag whose beliefs, dignity and humanity were abused. Please remember that there are hundreds of detainees here suffering the same misfortune. They have not been charged with any crimes. They have not been accused of taking any action against the Soviet Union.

Whoops. Actually, no, that's not Solzhenitsyn, it's a letter from Guantanamo detainee Jumah al-Dossari which I found via Al at In Pursuit of the Mysteries.

I changed a few words. Alexandr for Jumah. Gulag for Gitmo. Soviet Union for United States.

I am horrified that this is possible. I am ashamed that this is possible.

There's another passage I want to quote.

I am not a member of Al Qaeda. I did not encourage anyone to go fight for Al Qaeda. Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden have done nothing but kill and denigrate a religion. I never fought, and I never carried a weapon. I like the United States, and I am not an enemy. I have lived in the United States, and I wanted to become a citizen.

I know that the soldiers who did bad things to me represent themselves, not the United States. And I have to say that not all American soldiers stationed in Cuba tortured us or mistreated us. There were soldiers who treated us very humanely. Some even cried when they witnessed our dire conditions. Once, in Camp Delta, a soldier apologized to me and offered me hot chocolate and cookies. When I thanked him, he said, “I do not need you to thank me.” I include this because I do not want readers to think that I fault all Americans.

I honor Mr al-Dossari's magnanimity of spirit. But I hope that he will forgive me a disagreement with his sentiment.

I do fault all Americans. We have not done enough to stop this. I have not done enough to stop this. I know because it is still happening.

8 comments:

Brent Roos said...

But Johnathon, what exactly has this man done to be put there in the first place? Was it because he was trying to kill all Americans?

What would you suggest we do then? Should we let the man commit suicide, so long as it isn't going to hurt anyone else? That's cool with me. Put the poor guy out of his misery. There's only one problem with this. He probably has information that will help save many INNOCENT lives.

Jonathan Korman said...

I don't know what this man has done that resulted in him being tortured. He has not been tried. The military has not revealed the evidence against him to anyone. He has not had regular access to legal counsel. Even the Red Cross has been forbidden to see him.

You are confident that he probably has information that will save innocent lives. How do you know this? Are you sure that because he has been imprisoned, his jailers and torturers are of course inerring in their judgment?

If his malice and importance is so clear that his jailers think they can justify the five years of torture that have made this man suicidal, why are they not more forthcoming?

And even if he had murderous intent toward innocents, what is accomplished by his five years' torture other than the moral debasement of the United States?

Hecate said...

But Johnathon, what exactly has this man done to be put there in the first place? Was it because he was trying to kill all Americans?

Many of the detainees in Gitmo did nothing. They were in the wrong place at the wrong time and got swept up. They were turned in to the US by someone with a grudge against them or their tribe. If we gave the man a trial with due process, we'd find out what he'd done. If he'd done nothing. What I'd suggest we do then is release him.

And you need to watch a whole lot less 24.

Brent Roos said...

Ha ha. I love 24, but it is only TV. I love Scrubs too, but hospitals are not really like that.

As far as due process goes, I find it a bit unfortunate that the rest of the world isn't more cooperative with this. Should we try this man in our own courts? Do our laws apply to more than just Americans? If we apply our laws to others, then won't the rest of the world just see this as yet another reason to hate us, since we would be applying our standards to others who don't apply?

The whole thing is a mess. I will admit this. However, what if he does have information that will save innocent lives? Should we just assume that he doesn't?

Yes there have been some false imprisonments at Gitmo. Many have been released, as I'm sure you are aware. But we need to be very cautious, because we certainly do not want to release dangerous terrorists, so they can go on with their terror plans.

You see, many people assume that these terrorists did not exist before we actually declared this war on terror. This is simply untrue. This enemy has existed for years and years, and this is the struggle of the modern age. Just like the Cold War, this will last decades, no doubt. Should we just give up, and allow these people to have their way, or should we stand together and fight them; defeat them, just as our forefathers would have?

Again, this is very debatable, in terms of what we should do with individuals. As far as the Red Cross goes, what exactly would they do anyway?

It is very unfortunate that we have to deal with this to begin with, but I cannot blame America as the cause for this. It is caused by the brainwash of radical Islam, not the freedom that America espouses.

And so far, the last time I remembered there has been no actual proof of torture, only accusations made by the prisoners, many of which are associated with terrorist groups such as al-Qaida. I don't know about you, but I tend to find it a bit easier to believe America than al-Qaida. What say you?

It is obvious to me that many, even here in our own country, are just trying to find reasons to legitimize their hatred for America.

Jonathan Korman said...

Don't confuse things with your blather, Brent. There are two simple core questions here. Should the US imprison people without due process of law? Should the US torture people?

My answers are simple. No and no. Never and never. Imprisonment without due process is the mark of tyranny. Torture is morally wrong. Period.

Torture is also thoroughly useless as an interrogation technique, by the way, so there is no moral dilemma about “protecting innocents” in play.

Is the US doing these things? Yes and yes. It is conceivable that this particular case is spurious, but there is no debate such cases do exist, which leads me to believe in the plausibility of this one.

Brent, you are saying that the US should be imprisoning people without due process, and that the US should torture people.

Don't kid yourself about what kind of America you're saying you stand for.

Al said...

Imagine my horror at seeing Brent Bauer here.

Dude, if he had any information, I think we're FIVE YEARS overdue to find out about it.

You can't really believe that we leave people in situations for five years which cause them to attempt suicide (hell, he attempted to hang himself in the bathroom when his lawyers visited if you do some research) simpy because they MIGHT have information.

He's held by the U.S. authorities, who claim jurisdiction over him. Put him on trial, give his lawyers access to both him and the evidence and allow a real U.S. court with judges to hear the case.

That would be a step towards justice. I doubt if it would give him back his five years if he won his case though.

Don't be such a tool.

John C said...

Here in the UK we had *30 years* of deadly IRA terrorism, (supported in part by the American sympathisers in NORAID...there's irony for you.) They killed soldiers and policemen and women; they killed thousands of ordinary men, women and children; they assassinated Prince Charles' uncle, Lord Mountbatten; they killed Tory politician Airey Neave with a car bomb; they bombed shoppers in Harrod's; they nearly killed Thatcher and a large portion of the Cabinet with the Brighton bomb; they fired mortars at Downing Street...........

AT NO TIME during their campaign was it felt necessary for the UK authorities to set up an offshore gulag, deny people trials or torture prisoners. If that's too difficult for you to understand, Brent, then consider some words from Neill Ferguson in the LA Times:

"As Winston Churchill insisted throughout the war, treating POWs well is wise, if only to increase the chances that your own men will be well treated if they too are captured. Even in World War II, there was in fact a high degree of reciprocity. The British treated Germans POWs well and were well treated by the Germans in return; the Germans treated Russian POWs abysmally and got their bloody deserts when the tables were turned."

"Few, if any, American soldiers currently find themselves in enemy hands. But in the long war on which Bush has embarked, that may not always be the case. The bottom line about mistreating captive foes is simple: It is that what goes around comes around. And you don't have to be a closet liberal to understand that."

Maxi said...

For the record, it was the Irish National Liberation Army that killed Airey Neave, not the IRA. Furthermore,the IRA did not kill "thousands of ordinary men, women and children". Around 3500 were killed during The Troubles, of which Republicans were responsible for around 2000. The remainder were victims of Loyalist paramilitaries and the security forces. Over half of those killed by Republicans were members of the security forces or Loyalist paramilitaries. Fewer than a fifth of nationalists/Catholics killed were linked to Republican groups.