Beware of Guantanamo Bay Blowback
by Carlos Kelly
Hands up how many even knew The U.S has a naval base in of
all places, Cuba? Yes? You did? Well, you're smarter than
I am. I never knew until a few weeks back.
I remember my initial shock when I first heard the NPR newscaster
say that the Taliban and Al Qaeda prisoners rounded up in
Afghanistan were being transported to the U.S naval base at
Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Cuba? I thought. The same Cuba that is demonized by many
in the U.S as being the last bastion of The Evil Empire? That
same Cuba? Surely not. There must be another Cuba somewhere.....maybe
it's a part of Pakistan. Or could it be a US military base
in Florida? After all, there is a Rome in New York, and a
Birmingham in both England and Alabama, so maybe this Cuba
they speak of is somewhere in the "Lower 48."
But no... it was Castro's Cuba they spoke of. I was flabbergasted,
to say the least.
Then to further compound my confusion, I switch on my favorite
cable station, C-SPAN, to hear everyone's favorite Secretary
of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, call these Taliban and Al Qaeda
"folk," (as the Pretzel-dent likes to call them)
who have been rounded up in Afghanistan and summarily shipped
off to Club-Med Cuba, not "prisoners-of-war," but
Boy, was I getting more confused by the minute.
I mean, here I was just getting over the shock of there being
a U.S naval base in Cuba when low and behold, Rummy Rumsfeld
slips it out that there is no longer such a thing as a "prisoner-of-war."
Instead these violent vagrants would be called "illegal
Hmmmmm, I thought to myself, I wonder why he'd call them
that? After all, Dubya's always going on about his "War on
Terrorism," not his "Combat against Illegal Combatants."
So if this is a war against terrorism, surely that makes any
enemy forces captured by The U.S prisoners-of-war.
No. They're illegal combatants. Go figure.
So, I mused, there has to be a reason why they are
being called illegal combatants and not prisoners-of-war.
I wonder why that would be? Hmmmmmmmm.........
Being one who despises everything about the bought for, lazy
and inept mainstream media in America, I gather practically
all of my news off the Internet from places like Britain,
Canada, Australia and Iceland. And it was while visiting one
of the British news websites that I found my answer.
Good ol' Rummy and Dubya and He Of The Undisclosed Location
Dick Cheney, are calling these Guantanamo Bay bound Taliban
and Al Qaeda "folks" illegal combatants so that they are not
bound to treat them too nicely, as they would have to under
the Geneva Convention that applies to prisoners-of-war. Talk
about sneaky. Who would've thought, huh? The Bushies... being
sneaky. Whatever next?
And also talk about yet more good ol' "Texas Two-Step." In
what could be the contradiction to end all contradictions,
the Bush administration has prohibited any US news outlets
from filming or photographing any of the "folk" they have
held at Guantanamo Bay, saying that to allow such a thing
would be in direct violation of... you guessed it, the Geneva
Convention. Gotta protect the interests of the prisoners,
they say. HA!
They really do take us for fools... but who can blame them?
After all, they've been able to do as they please for some
time now. Heck, they were able to steal a whole election and
devise an energy policy solely for their rich, corporate pals
without as much as a whimper from the majority of Americans.
So why would a simple contradiction worry them?
But alas. Today, while I was surfing around the internet,
I came across this little story
from an Australian newspaper.
Titled "Brutal Conditions Inside Cuban Cages," the story
tells of the conditions the "illegal combatants"
are being held under in Guantanamo Bay. (That's in Castro's
Cuba, by the way.) They've had their heads shaved, their beards
lopped off and are kept in outdoor cages, like chickens in
a coop. The article even has photographs. I guess they weren't
taken by any U.S press photographer, huh?
Now, if any of these "folks" held at Guantanamo Bay had any
desire to inflict a massive loss of life on innocent people
anywhere in the world, then I have no sympathy for them. They're
getting their just desserts. But just as there is no doubt
in my mind that George W. Bush signed off on the death warrants
of some innocent people while he was imitating a Texas governor,
I also have some doubts as to whether every single one of
the "folk" shipped off to Guantanamo Bay are in fact seeking
to destroy The U.S and all its infidel allies.
Sure, many of them may have been seeking to destroy Afghanistan's
Northern Alliance but heck, let's be honest here. When most
of these "folk" did take up arms to fight with the Taliban,
they were fighting against the Northern Alliance forces only,
forces who themselves were not all that loved in Kabul and
the rest of Afghanistan. Forces that when they were last in
power, had laws and behavior not that far removed from the
And let us not also forget that many of the Taliban fighters
were also "persuaded" by the Taliban to go fight for them.
Kind of like the.... "If you don't go and fight for us we
will kill you and your family..." type of persuasion,
if you know what I mean? So there has to be some doubt at
least as to who The U.S has caged down there in Cuba. (Castro's
Cuba, by the way.)
And this is what has me worried. Imagine for a moment that
you were taken off the streets of Kabul and "persuaded" to
go fight for the Taliban, and then you were at Mazir-e-Sharif
when US B-52's rained bombs down on top of you, and then you
were captured by the Northern Alliance forces and handed over
to the U.S forces who then sedated you, strapped you onto
a plane and sent you on a journey half way around the world
to a sunny island where you were caged up in a chicken coop
for most of the day, had your beard and hair shaved off, and
were generally treated like crap by the Americans there. Wouldn't
you think that once they sent you back to Afghanistan or Pakistan
or Saudi Arabia or Egypt or wherever else you were from that
you would have a pretty pissed attitude and would want to
avenge your treatment at Guantanamo Bay? I would think you
would. And that is a huge worry for us all.
Those running this so-called "War on Terrorism"
on behalf of The United States and its people are making some
very bad moves. They are, as usual, not taking into consideration
the ramifications of their actions.
They are so hell-bent on avenging September 11 that they
have never considered the future results of them. Could their
current actions lead to yet more terrorism in the future?
For like the illegal combatant, captured and sent to Guantanamo
Bay, or like the Afghani who has seen his home bombed and
his family killed by stray U.S bombing, there are many, many
who will want to seek revenge against the U.S as a result
of bad decisions and actions by our government.
So beware of Guantanamo Bay Blowback. Unlike the average
Gulf of Mexico hurricane, it will blow in without warning
and wreak a lot more damage and pain for us all, if the people
calling the shots currently on our behalf, do not get it right.
And we cannot afford that to happen.