Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Behind the Walls of Guantanamo Bay

Sheilah Hill

Behind the Walls of Guantanamo Bay

The bay of Guantanamo is said to be beautiful, sheltered by hills and mountains. In my imagination I try to picture it. Kicking off my shoes and letting them rest in the sand, I walk along the shore letting the water make little splashes. A bird circles overhead and there’s another one resting, standing on a little leg. This scene of peace is a place where the sun rises as though nothing has happened. It sets—sometimes in glorious fire. I love sunsets and used to take pictures of them in Sarasota’s Siesta Key in Florida where my father lived.

Where is the prison? Can it be seen from the shore—perhaps if I walk around the bend? As I linger on the edge of this sleepy seaside village hearing only the sound of the lap of the water or the call of a bird, at the same time not far are walls holding hell. A place where prisoners—-fathers, uncles, brothers, sons—have been tortured having been neither charged nor tried. And by America the Beautiful. Can it be? Not My Country Tis of Thee!

           Many were sold for bounty given by my government. “The leaflets fell as snowflakes in winter in Chicago,” said Donald Rumsfeld. Leaflets? Yes, leaflets promising from $5,000 to $25,000 for members of the Taliban and al-Qaeda—such money as you could not make in Afghanistan working your whole life. These promised bounties led to black market and abductions in Afghanistan and Pakistan. And this is how many detainees found themselves behind the walls of Guantanamo’s prison.

      “When I initially learnt of my deployment to Guantanamo and the purpose we were going for, I was ready to go and face the world’s most dangerous men; these terrorists who had plotted and killed thousands of people in my country on 11 September 2001. I was ready to seek my own personal revenge on these people in whatever manner I could.

“Then the day came when these ‘world’s most dangerous men’ arrived, and they were not what I expected to see. Most of them were small, underweight, very scared, and injured. I was expecting these people to come off that bus looking like vicious monsters. . .” (From an interview by Brandon Neely as part of the Guantanamo Testimonials Project--to read full transcript visit manrights.ucdavis.edu)

It was in 2002 that the Bush administration began using Guantanamo as a prison camp for detainees picked up from Afghanistan and Iraq. In responding to the injustice, the vicious beatings, the torture at Guantanamo, there were cries of protest demanding that the camp be closed.  President Obama, in his campaign, pledged to do just that.
“ In the dark halls of Abu Ghraib and the detention cells of Guantanamo, we have compromised our most precious values.”  Barak Obama
January 20, 2009, President Obama, on the very day of his inauguration, directed Defense Secretary Robert Gates to stay Guantanamo cases for 120 days until they could be reviewed.  Subsequently, two days later on January 22, the President signed an executive order to close Guantanamo Bay within a year.
He did not anticipate how difficult it would be.
And now in 2018?
 Though the population is much reduced—from more than 700 to 41—Guantanamo is still open.  President Trump signed an executive order, January 30, 2018, to keep it open. “Don’t tell me torture doesn’t work. It does,” he says.  He is not one to read or investigate to see the whole picture.  Without knowledge, he jumps to judgment.
 For the future of our country it is important to address what happened at Guantanamo Bay. If we wish to “make America great again”, we cannot ignore the seeds sown at Guantanamo.  President Obama says it is the sharpest regret of his presidency that he was not able to close Guantanamo.   

Members of Congress voiced their objection to any prisoners coming to their states. "Not Fort Leavenworth," said Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas along with 50 community leaders. "We don't want them around the United States," said Democratic Senate Leader Harry Reid.

The New York Times, May 23, 2009, quoted a resident, Tom Baron of Canon City, Colorado, “An Area Packed With Prisons”. He said, "People here are good Christian conservatives." He thought that large numbers of Muslims--the family members and friends of inmates--would move into town if the transfer occurred. Property values would fall, he said, and some family members of terrorists might be terrorists, too.
"That would destroy this community," Mr. Baron concluded.

This impasse strikes me as wrongly addressed. First of all, is it the place that is wrong or what has happened in this place? Guantanamo has become a worldwide symbol of injustice and torture. Conceivably, the prisoners could be moved, but the same thing could happen in a different place with a different name. And to move detainees to prisons within the United States would not necessarily guarantee better treatment. Our prison system is notorious—as investigations have proven.

“We seem to have a gap between our cherished ideals about justice and the realities of the prison environment," said Nicolas Katzenbach, who served
under presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson. "Despite these numbers and some compelling evidence of abuse and safety failures... there is little public knowledge about the nature and extent of the problems in our prisons and how to solve them.".

Secondly, to know what to do with the prisoners, shouldn't we know who they are and under what circumstances they came to be at this now infamous Bay of Guantanamo?

In 2002, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld referred to Guantanamo prisoners as "the worst of the worst." Senator Pat Roberts who doesn’t want the prisoners in his state said, "These are people who are sociopaths and terrorists and killers and would stop at nothing to do harm to the United States." Are these correct evaluations of the prisoners—many of whom have not been charged or tried?

Among Rumsfeld’s “worst of the worst” were an estimated 60 children, 13-18 years old at the time they were brought to Guantanamo. Then there’s the British detainees who were released to the UK. They sued the US, saying they were stripped, shackled, beaten, tortured and intimidated with military dogs. They were made to give false confessions saying they appeared in a video with al Qaeda chief Osama ben Laden and Mohammad Atta when it could be proven that they were in Britain at the time. These men were tried in Britain and were totally exonerated.

A former Guantanamo guard, Chris Arendt from Michigan, united with them to expose the torture at the camp. He had joined the army shortly after September 11 when he was 17. Two years later he was sent to Guantanamo as a guard. Being disillusioned with what he saw there, he left the army and joined Iraq Veterans Against the War. “It was like sitting down with a bunch of brothers,” he said. Now, he feels compelled to speak about what he experienced at Guantanamo. Moazzam Begg, a former detainee speaking with Arendt, said the experience of being reunited with a former guard is “truly unique. We embraced as brothers.”

Michael Scheuer, of the CIA from 1999 to when he resigned in 2004, said,” By the fall of 2002, it was common knowledge around CIA circles that fewer than 10 percent of Guantanamo's prisoners were high-value terrorist operatives” ...

Torturing Democracy is an invaluable, accurate and thorough documentary of what happened at Guantanamo--it should be distributed widely. (I first saw it on PBS.) You can go directly to the web site, http://torturingdemocracy.org/, and listen to it in its entirety. The transcript is backed up with specific citations, footnotes and links.

How many Americans know that many of the prisoners came to the US through bounty hunters? To offer such payments in poor areas makes almost anyone fair game.

From Torturing Democracy:

NARRATOR: Tens of thousands of leaflets promising “enough money to take care of your family (and) your village for the rest of your life” were dropped. . .

Javed Ibrahim Paracha: “Where is Arab? Where is Arab? Where is Arab? You get thousand dollar for one Arab. Thirty thousand, forty thousand, sixty thousand. And helicopter loud speaker announcing these things.”

NARRATOR: Any Arab in the region was at risk of being turned in as a terrorist.

. . .

SHAFIQ RASUL – Detainee #086: As soon as we were handed over to the U.S. military, they tied our hands behind our back and put sacks over our heads.

NARRATOR: Twenty-four-year old Shafiq Rasul10 was among hundreds of men who had been rounded up by a warlord in northern Afghanistan.

SHAFIQ RASUL – Detainee #086: We couldn't see what was going on. We couldn't see anything around. We didn't know where they were taking us. We didn't know what was happening. They kept shouting things like we were the ones responsible for 9/11. We killed members of their family, and they were going to take their revenge out on us. And they had rifles in their hands and they could have shot us at any time.

Words of Mohamed Mazouz – Detainee #294:11 “We were hauled like animals, one drawing the other in its walk.”
Words of Jumah al-Dossari – Detainee #261:13 “They started making us run towards the unknown. The prisoners started shouting and crying because of their severe pain. There were many young people with us, and the soldiers increased their insults and beatings.” ...
At Guantanamo Bay:

Colonel STUART COUCH: And so, I walked down the hallway and the door was open. And I saw a detainee sitting on the floor. He was shackled. And the room was blacked out with exception of the strobe light. And he was just, he was rocking back and forth... There was an Air Force attorney that was accompanying me, giving me the tour. And I just said, "Did you see that?" And he goes,” Well, yeah." And I said, "You know, I got a problem with that." And he goes, "Well, that's approved."

Narrator: Colonel Couch was not the only one troubled by the tactics Secretary Rumsfeld approved. FBI agents at the prison camp were keeping what they called a "war crimes" file--noting what they witnessed.
"I entered interview rooms to find a detainee chained hand and foot in a fetal position to the floor, with no chair, food, or water. Most times they had urinated or defecated on themselves, and had been left there for 18-24 hours or more."
. . .

VICE PRESIDENT CHENEY (November 14, 2001): “We think it’s the appropriate way to go. We think it guarantees that we’ll have the kind of treatment of these individuals that we believe they deserve.”
RICHARD SHIFFRIN: That, of course, was premised on the idea that everyone we captured and detained really was a bad person. As it turns out, a large percentage of them were merely shepherds.
. . .

NARRATOR: In other words, the President has the power to suspend - or simply ignore - the fundamental laws of war. That includes Geneva and its guarantees of basic human rights to prisoners and civilians alike.

RICHARD ARMITAGE – Deputy Secretary of State (2001-05): Our views were well known in this matter. We were not on board.

NARRATOR: Richard Armitage served three combat tours in Vietnam.

RICHARD ARMITAGE: For the most part, the Department of State was left out of this discussion, I think precisely because we'd have no part of it.

NARRATOR: The State Department’s top lawyer called John Yoo’s legal reasoning “seriously flawed” 39 - and warned that if heading to the dark side meant violating Geneva:
“This raises a risk of future criminal prosecution for US civilian and military leadership and their advisers, by other parties to the Geneva Conventions.”

NARRATOR: The photographs of shackled and blindfolded prisoners provoked alarm – and an urgent letter from Amnesty International reminding Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld that:
“The term ‘cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment’ should be interpreted…to extend the widest possible protection against abuses…including the holding of a detained or imprisoned person in conditions which deprive him…of the use of any of his natural senses.”
(Press Conference, Department of Defense - January 11, 2002):
Q: How do you respond to charges – hooding, shaving, chaining, perhaps even…”
Secretary Rumsfeld: “What are the words?”
Q: “Hooding, shaving, chaining, perhaps even tranquilizing some of these people – violating their civil rights.”
Secretary Rumsfeld: “Uh, that –uh– that’s not correct.”
Q: “That you’ve done it?”
Secretary Rumsfeld: “That it’s a violation of their rights. It simply isn’t.”

. . .

MOAZZAM BEGG – Detainee #558: It goes beyond being scared now. You just want to sleep. They produced pictures of my wife, my children, and waved these pictures in front of me, asking me if I knew what had happened to my wife and kids that night. If I thought they were safe, if I thought I’d ever see them again. If I really cared about them so much, I would tell them everything.

NARRATOR: A woman began to scream in a nearby cell. Threats against a prisoner’s family were called “second degree torture”  during the Spanish Inquisition – and were commonly used by the Soviet KGB.
For two days and two nights, he heard the woman he thought might be his wife being tortured. . .

NARRATOR: During the eleven months Moazzam Begg was imprisoned in Bagram, at least two men in U.S. custody there died.
In Guantanamo, he was locked into a 6-by-8 foot cage where he would spend the next two years, in isolation. His nightmares were filled with the screams of a woman.

NARRATOR: Now, his interrogations would intensify. An hourly log – leaked from Guantanamo - narrates the harsh details.
He is forced to wear a woman’s bra. A thong is draped over his head – sexually taunting and humiliating – a Muslim man.
A leash is tied around his neck.
1115: Began teaching the detainee lessons such as stay, come, and bark to elevate his social status up to that of a dog. Detainee became very agitated.
1300: Dog tricks continued and detainee stated he should be treated like a man.

NARRATOR: Nine hours later, while women are in the interrogation booth, he is stripped naked.
2200: After approximately five minutes of nudity the detainee ceased to resist…. He stated that he did not like the females viewing his naked body.
NARRATOR: Besides the physical coercion, an interrogator posing as a Navy captain sent by the White House told Slahi that his family was “in danger” if he didn’t cooperate,  that his mother had been imprisoned – and implied she might be raped in custody.

Colonel STUART COUCH: If you tell me that Slahi gave up information because you told him, and showed him in a letter, that you’re bringing his mother to Guantanamo and that she could be abused by men, is anything that he tells you from that point, you know, is that credible?
Colonel STUART COUCH: God means what he says. And we were created in his image, and we owe each other a certain level of dignity – a certain level of respect. And that’s just a line we can’t cross. If we compromise our own ideals as a nation, then these guys have accomplished much more than driving airplanes into the World Trade Center and into the Pentagon.
Please go to the website and listen to the whole documentary.

Remembering what I learned in Torturing Democracy, I watched another powerful documentary, Children of the Taliban, shown on PBS Frontline.

Sharmeed Obaid-Chinoy undertook a dangerous journey to her native Pakistan to document how the Taliban are repressing young girls and recruiting children to carry out suicide attacks. Poor parents who cannot feed their children, let alone educate them, often allow the Taliban to do so.

From Children of the Taliban (transcript):

In one video, 25 children appear wearing the traditional Pakistani shalwar kameez. Sitting cross-legged on the ground, they rock back and forth reciting the Koran...
Housed in a bare compound, three young boys watch over the group holding automatic guns. Their teacher, dressed in brown military fatigues, paces the room reading from a book called, "Justifications for Suicide Bombing." Moving to a white board, he writes, "Reasons for killing a spy."

…In another video, three teenage boys talk about their desire to become suicide bombers. We meet Zainullah, who later blows himself up killing six; then Sadique, who blows himself up killing 22; and Masood who kills 28. We're shown footage glorifying their attacks...
"Suicide" schools run by the Taliban are preparing a generation of boys to commit atrocities against civilians. Last year, suicide attacks struck right across Pakistan, killing more than 800 people. Pakistan's war is no longer confined to the lawless Tribal areas along the Afghan border, it has moved to the cities. Children are being killed, but they are also being turned into killers...
(Please go to PBS and watch the entire documentary.)

As I watched Children of the Taliban, I thought of my grandchildren--a little boy like my four-year-old grandson, Philip, or Patrick or Jonathan or Robert--a little boy like my son, Jack, used to be. A little boy taken in his formative years and trained. He is told about being a suicide bomber, and how it pleases God, and that America is the Big Satan. All of these little boys are some mother's child. So, the little boy grows up and becomes what we think of as a terrorist and now is a prisoner at Guantanamo Bay. How shall we combat this? I'm sure those who were tortured felt that what they had been taught was certainly true. They had fallen into the Big Satan.

Before we know what to do with the prisoners, we must know who they are and how they got there. However, to get to know the prisoners is not part of the military agenda. Charge and trial being absent, many were just judged as terrorists. Chris Arendt, the Guantanamo guard, who joined the British detainees, said that he would talk to the inmates to learn about their lives. However, this was thought to be "fraternizing with the enemy". So, he was given other responsibilities. If we don’t know them, how do we know they are enemies?

Brandon Neely said almost the same thing:
“I know that being in the position I was in, as an active duty Military Police officer guarding the most dangerous men in the world, that I was not supposed to really interact with the detainees. But it’s hard. Especially when you realize that some of these guys are no different than yourself. The military trains you not to think and just to react and not feel any compassion for anyone or anybody. And do what you are told. No questions asked.”

When Mahvish Rukhsana Khana, an American lawyer born to Afghan immigrants, heard of the illegal detainment of the detainees, she felt she had to do something and applied to be a translator. She visited Guantanamo nearly 30 times, and also made trips to Afghanistan and Pakistan to substantiate the stories of the prisoners--sometimes visiting the families of some of the prisoners.

In the Author’s Note of her book, My Guantanamo Diary, she writes:

The U.S. prison camp at Guantanamo Bay stands as a challenge to our
nation. It challenges our readiness to do the right thing in times of
crisis, the times when it’s most difficult, to adhere to our
founding principles and to follow the rule of law. What lies at the heart
of the Gitmo debate are the beliefs upon which the United States of America was founded and for which it has long been celebrated: the conviction that no one should be imprisoned without charge and that everyone has a right to defend him or herself in a fair and impartial trial. . .

While I believe that Gitmo may hold evil men as well as innocent
ones, I also believe that only a fair and full hearing can separate the good
from bad. .I can honestly say that I don’t believe any of the
Afghans I met were guilty of crimes against the United States. Certainly, some of the Guantanamo detainees were, just not the men I met. . .

She further writes:

Most of the prisoners I met spoke of harsh beatings, being stripped naked in
front of females, sleep deprivation, extremes of cold and heat, stress
positions. 80-year old Haji Nusrat, who is a paraplegic, spoke about
injuries to his arm during one beating. . .Some of the men I’ve
profiled in my book speak of sexual humiliation, multiple full cavity searches,
disrespect toward their holy book, restrictions on religious performance.

(Her testimony agrees with that of ex-guards.

One prisoner asked in his journal, “Is America really able to be establishing democracies?”

Colonel Stuart Couch said after visiting the prison, “God means what he says. And we were created in his image, and we owe each other a certain level of dignity—a certain level of respect. And that’s just a line we can’t cross. If we compromise our own ideals as a nation, then these guys have accomplished much more than driving airplanes into the World Trade Center and into the Pentagon.” (See Torturing Democracy.)

So, what shall we do with these prisoners for whom we are responsible? These prisoners whom Congress does not want to touch our righteous soil? This was the question facing President Obama.

          What if our enhanced interrogation policies had included:

 "If your enemy hunger, feed him." Make sure every prisoner has adequate food and if their religion has certain dietary rules, comply. Make sure he has clean water to drink, a clean bed to sleep on, a place to wash, and can use the restroom in privacy. If he wishes, supply him with reading material, paper and pen, music. Make him comfortable. Make him feel he is among people who love God, who love freedom and democracy. In this way he may question his false training.
Pray for him--he doesn't need to know you pray for him. By the Spirit of God, watch for opportunities of conversation. He should know why he is there--tell him about 9/11. Get to know him. What is his background, his childhood--did he grow up in a school of the Taliban?

Some may think this is crazy na├»ve interrogation. Contrast it with what is described in Torturing Democracy.

Some having compassion, making a difference. . .” Jude

The man in Colorado said they were "good conservative Christians." Are they? What would Jesus do?

Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you, and persecute you. That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven. . . Matthew 5: 43,44

Wouldn't "a good Christian" look at this as an opportunity to show the love of Christ and win such a person to the Kingdom of God?

Closing Guantanamo Bay is not the first step–it is not the place that must be changed, but the treatment. The first step is to treat them humanely and find out who they are–which can begin immediately. The second step is that our consciousness as a nation needs to change. Yes, there are people of compassion. There are people who understand what has happened at Guantanamo Bay. But it is hidden from most Americans if what is expressed by some of our legislators and some of our newscasters is any indication.

"I was in prison and you visited me..." Matthew 25

Here is our job description:

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings to the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound... Isaiah 61

Because that he remembered not to shew mercy, but persecuted the poor and needy man, that he might even slay the broken in heart. Psalm 109:16

Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy. . . Matthew 5:7

Who is a God like unto thee that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? He retaineth not his anger forever, because he delighteth in mercy. Micah 7:18

He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God? Micah 6:8

He that despiseth his neighbor sinneth; but he that hath mercy on the poor, happy is he. . .He that oppresseth the poor reproacheth his Maker: but he that honoureth him hath mercy on the poor. Proverbs

For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment. James 2:13

These prisoners have been judged “the worst of the worst” without knowing them.

Judge not, lest ye be judged. Matthew 7:1

Judge not according to appearance but judge righteous judgment. John 7:24

He shall not judge after the hearing of the ear or the seeing of the eye but with equity shall he judge the poor. . . Isaiah 11

Brandon Neeley: (2009)

"After speaking with the detainees and realizing they had families who loved them, just as I had, I started to realize that these people are no different than me. Hell! I was older than some of the ones there.
"I think everyone can agree that, at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, there are some really bad people. And there are a lot of good people there as well. But – innocent, guilty, black, white, Muslim, or Jew, no matter what you are – there is no excuse to treat people in the manner that I and other people did. It’s wrong and just downright criminal, and it goes against everything the United States of America stands for.
"Since we started this interview President Barack Obama has said the detention facility in Guantanamo Bay will be closed within a year. That's great, but what are WE as the United States of America, the people who kidnapped and tortured these people going to do for them? Just send them home like nothing happened? In the USA if you are sentenced to prison and later you are found not to be guilty through DNA or what not you are given compensation. Are we going to give compensation to these individuals that were so wrongfully held for so many years? We should. We started this mess and it's time we attempt to help this people move on with their lives. The sad part of this all is the people who are responsible. Former President George Bush and Former Vice President Dick Cheney will never be held accountable for the decisions they made. It's the detainees and the guards like myself that will have to live every day with what they went through, saw, and did while there. "

 "In my long experience in Washington, few matters have inspired so much contrived indignation and phony moralizing as the interrogation methods applied to a few captured terrorists.”—Dick Cheney

“We think it’s the appropriate way to go. We think it guarantees that we’ll have the kind of treatment of these individuals that we believe they deserve.” –Dick Cheney

In a comment to Chris Arendt’s testimony, Mark Read Pickens wrote:
“Let me see if I've grasped the theory. Someone in Afghanistan has a personal enemy. He captures that guy and sells him to the U.S. The U.S. imprisons the guy indefinitely. And this makes us safer.”

From The New York Times, August 25, 2009:
Investigation Is Ordered Into C.I.A. Abuse Charges:
By Mark Mazzetti and Scott Shane

Washington—Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. named a veteran federal
prosecutor on Monday to examine abuse of prisoners. . .Mr. Holder chose John H.
Durham, a prosecutor from Connecticut who has been investigating the
C.I.A.’s destruction of interrogation videotapes. . .

He said that he agreed with President Obama's oft expressed desire not to
get mired in disputes over the policies of former President George W. Bush but
that his review of the reports of the C.I.A interrogation program left him no

“As Attorney General, my duty is to examine the facts and to follow the
law,” Mr. Holder said in a statement. “Given all the information currently
available, it is clear to me that this review is the only responsible course of
action for me to take.”

. . .Although large portions of the 109-page report are blacked out, it
gives new details about a variety of abuses inside the C.I.A.’s overseas prison,
including suggestions about sexually assaulting members of a detainee’s family,
staging mock executions, and intimidation with a handgun and power drill. .

As I was writing the above, as though on cue, I saw this headline:

Dick Cheney blasts CIA Interrogation Probe-- Lara Jakes.

WASHINGTON (Aug. 30) -- Former Vice President Dick Cheney says politics are
driving the Justice Department's decision to investigate whether CIA
interrogators abused terror suspects detained after the Sept. 11
"It's clearly a political move," Cheney said in an interview aired
on "Fox News Sunday." "I mean, there's no other rationale for why they're doing
(No other rationale? I mean, compassion, human rights and justice, American values, The Geneva Convention? None of these could be possible motivations?)

Cheney called the techniques "good policy," saying he was comfortable in cases
where interrogators went beyond what they were specifically authorized to do.
The CIA report found they included cases of interrogators threatening a detainee
with a handgun and an electric drill. . .

“I’m very proud of what we did in terms of defending the nation for the past eight years successfully,” Cheney said in a recorded interview.
"I just think it's an outrageous precedent to set, to have this kind of, I think, intensely partisan, politicized look back at the prior administration."

Having just finished reading My Guantanamo Diary on this very day, I found the views of Dick Cheney especially, yes, “outrageous”! The contrast was so extreme. There must be an investigation! In AOL's poll 58% gave Dick Cheney a thumbs up! Clearly people do not know the truth!

Matthew Alexander, who spent 18 years in the U.S. Airforce, conducted missions in over 30 countries and received the Bronze Star Medal, wrote to President Bush through Amnesty International:
. . .I witnessed with my own eyes, while supervising over a thousand interrogations, a majority of foreign fighters state that the number one reason they came to Iraq to fight was because of our policy that allowed torture and abuse to occur at Abu Graib and Guantanamo Bay. These foreign fighters killed hundreds, if not thousands of American soldiers. Torture and abuse did not keep America safe. It cost us lives.

        How could Mr. Cheney even suggest that we should be grateful for these polices—that the present administration should copy them?

        No, not my government! We must stand and denounce that which is not us and purge it from us!

       It is said to be a sleepy seaside village.  However, what seeds have been sown at Guantanamo? The vibrations and energy from these prison policies are even now circling the globe and hurting us as a nation. All around is the crescendo of gathering storm waiting to erupt. We must stop the momentum, turn it around, and show the world we are once again Americans and champions of justice and freedom. They must know we are divorced from these policies.

         There is One who knows all secrets behind the walls—who is guilty and who is innocent—who did what and why they did it. He also answers prayer.

       The ground is full of blood. Events done in a place affect that place until they are cleansed. I am reminded of a prophetic opening from the journal of George Fox, founder of the Quakers. He wrote:

I was commanded of the Lord to pull off my shoes of a sudden; and I stood still, and the word of the Lord was like a fire in me; and being winter. . .as soon as came within the town, the word of the Lord came unto me to cry, “Woe unto the bloody city of Litchfield!” . . ..As I went through the town, there
ran like a channel of blood down the streets and the market place was like a
pool of blood; this I saw as I went through it crying, “Woe to the bloody city
of Litchfield.’ . . .And so, at last I came to a ditch and washed my feet and put
on my shoes, and when I had done, I considered why I should go and cry against that city and call it a bloody city. . . But after, I came to see that there were a thousand martyrs in Litchfield in the Emperor Diocletian’s
time and so I must go in my stockings through the channel of their blood in
their market place. So I might raise up the blood of those martyrs that
had been shed and lay cold in their streets, which had been shed above a
thousand years before. So the sense of this blood was upon me, for which I
obeyed the word of the Lord. And the ancient record will testify. . .

      What hast thou done? The voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto Me from the ground.” (Genesis 4:9) God asked this of Cain after he murdered his brother Abel.

       So God hears the cries and sees the blood of the prisoners. He sees the wives and the children, the brothers, the grandparents who agonize at home wondering if they will ever see their loved ones again.      

     We cannot neglect Guantanamo Bay—we cannot forget the prisoners in our nation’s care. Even if we are selfish—we cannot forget--not just for their sakes, but also for our own and the sake of our children. Needed is the power of strong words:

Thus, saith the Lord; Execute ye judgment and righteousness, and deliver the spoiled out of the hand of the oppressor, and do no wrong, do no violence to the stranger, the fatherless, nor the widow, neither shed innocent blood in this place. . .But if ye will not hear these words, I swear by myself, saith the Lord, that this house shall become a desolation. Jeremiah 22:3-5

For if ye thoroughly amend your ways and your doings; if ye thoroughly execute judgment between a man and his neighbor; If ye oppress not the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, and shed not innocent blood in this place, . . Then will I cause you to dwell in this place, . . .behold, ye trust in lying words, that cannot profit. . .Jeremiah 7:5-8

The people of the land have used oppression, and exercised robbery, and have vexed the poor and needy: yea, they have oppressed the stranger wrongfully and I sought for a man among them that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none. Therefore have I poured out mine indignation upon them; I have consumed them with the fire of my wrath: their own way have I recompensed upon their heads, saith the Lord God. Ezekiel 29-31

And I will come near to you to judgment, and I will be a swift witness against those that oppress . . .the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger from his right, and fear not me, saith the Lord of hosts. For I am the Lord, I change not. . .Return to me and I will return to you. . .Malachi 3:5-7

They slay the widow and the stranger, and murder the fatherless. Yet they say, The Lord shall not see, neither shall the God of Jacob regard it. Understand, ye brutish among the people: and ye fools, when will ye be wise? He that planted the ear, shall he not hear? He that formed the eye, shall he not see? Psalm 94:6-9

I was eyes to the blind, and feet was I to the lame. I was a father to the poor; and the cause which I knew not I searched out. Job 29:15, 16

     Job said that if he didn’t understand a cause, he searched it out—he investigated it to find the truth. Contrary to what Dick Cheney says, the CIA investigation. is just, proper and necessary. There is so much confusion and we must know the truth.

 Then the Lord put forth his hand, and touched my mouth, And the Lord said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth. See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant.” Jeremiah 1:9,10

       Before we can build and plant, sometimes we must first uproot, pull down and destroy. What needs to be uprooted and destroyed? Whatever in us that has allowed this great tragedy to be done with American hands. Lies, not listening, false accusation, greed, not caring about the poor and the one who has no helper. Truth and justice must come forth so that we can build and plant with integrity and compassion.

     Just a few weeks ago while I was staying with my daughter, Rebecca, my son-in-law, Matt, came out in the morning and told us of a dream he had just had. A meteor hit the earth. A blind was pulled down between him and the meteor. But what kind of protection was the blind, he thought. Just because you cannot see something, does not mean it is not there. Let’s pull up the blind and see what we face as a first step for finding wisdom to know what to do. We must investigate. Truth can bear examination. To get things right in the future, we must know what went wrong in the past.
     Guantanamo Bay—the very words now evoke injustice and torture indicative of a shameful part of our present history. The longer we wait to acknowledge the truth and do something about it, the greater will be the price we as a nation have to pay. May we uproot the wrong that was done in this place and turn it around to plant and build and multiply as seed for good—that the suffering of those who suffered here be not in vain. Is redemption possible? This symbol of torture be transformed—this bay be a haven of understanding, justice and hope--an example of what we really are and want to be as Americans.

What better could be done with an enemy that to make him a friend, and especially to make him a friend of God...It enables you to see unlimited possibilities in everyone and even in the most tragic of situations
—J. Rufus Moseley

A holy person is concerned about the suffering of other people.

A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices;
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn;
Stand on your feet,
O hear the angel voices!

The bay is beautiful—do you hear the sound of children playing? Let’s run down to the shore and join them!.