In 2002 Binyam Mohamed, an Ethiopian national, but legal seven year resident of the UK, like so many before him and since, was scooped up in Afghanistan and 'rendered' to three different countries (Pakistan, Morocco, Afghanistan) before being sent to Guantanamo in Cuba, where he languishes still.
No evidence against Mr. Mohamed existed, so the brave defenders of democracy and freedom had their Pakistani, Moroccan, and Afghan proxies beat him, break some bones, take a razor blade to his genitals, pour a 'hot stinging liquid' into the wounds, subject him to loud music for prolonged periods, confine him to a cell containing raw sewage for a month, and threaten him with rape, electrocution, and death (no empty threats by those loyal allies on the 'war against terror'. You know, just the usual stuff that's now so typical of American 'values')
Mr. Mohamed's British lawyer (!) stated that any trial or commission would find evidence 'not of terrorism, but of torture'. Indeed.
But two British High Court Judges were prevented from releasing (unclassified) evidence of torture, because the US threatened to stop sharing security intelligence with the UK if the information were released. Not that they denied the torture; they just didn't want the embarrassment of its being made public. Even Mr. Cheney might have a hard time dismissing razor blades on genitals as being un-torture, and Mr. Mohamed is by no means the only victim of that.
America's crusty reach into the British court system was facilitated by tame Foreign Secretary David Miliband, who also perceived an interest in shielding Britain's own spooks from complicity in torture, no new sideline for them either. Just ask the Irish.
What makes the case even more troubling is that Mr. Miliband stated that while the original crude threat had come from the Bush Administration, it had been upheld by the new Obama Administration on January 22, 2009. This is change?
As for Mr. Mohamed, he faces no charges.
He is still incarcerated under harsh conditions at Guantanamo, where his lawyer reports he is near mental collapse.
And Mr. Cheney? No charges. So far.
Just as Mr. Mohamed has been broken and left teetering on the brink of insanity (and who knows how many others, if they even survived) so American national polity seems to lurch ever further into an abyss of moral derangement, one it may not be able to escape. It is a form of collective moral and intellectual insanity of a type witnessed for sixty years in Israel, during the Chinese Cultural Revolution, Nazi Germany, and plenty of places elsewhere.
Is Mr. Obama going to stop torture, or is he just going to cover it up better?
Is he going to close Guantanamo? What about all the other dank prisons, some of which are known only to the military and/or CIA?
Is he going to put a stop to the practice of 'extraordinary renditions', or just become more crafty about carrying them out?
Is he going to end that disgraceful, illegal invasion of Iraq and all the ensuing crimes against humanity that are now occurring on his watch? Generals Odierno and Petreaus say no, not anytime soon. Will he give them a five-star boot in the butt?
Is he really going to become even more impossibly mired in Afghanistan, where the only beneficiaries are corrupt politicians, warlords and druglords (under American protection, poppy growth is at an all-time high, with most of the finished product exported to the US). Do people need to die so that organized crime and KBR (if they're not one and the same) can make more money? Oh, and there's that oil pipeline...
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