Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Shaker Aamer—Stories from the Dark Side

Last Thursday marked an anniversary for one of the individuals described in the report, “Globalizing Torture: CIA Secret Detention and Extraordinary Rendition”, commissioned by the Open Society Justice Initiative.  For Shaker Aamer, the day marked eleven years since his transfer to the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay.  From the report:

“Shaker Aamer, a Saudi national and British resident, was reportedly captured in Afghanistan after September 11, 2001.  Bounty hunters sold Aamer twice to different groups of soldiers before Northern Alliance transferred him to U.S. custody at Bagram Air Base in December 2001 where he was severely abused.  He was also held in CIA custody at the ‘Dark Prison’ in Kabul, where he was tortured.  He was transferred to Guantanamo Bay in February 2002, where he has been detained without charge or trial since” (30).

Aamer has twice been cleared for release from Guantanamo, but remains at the prison, and example of the mockery that the U.S. war of terror makes of both law and decency.  If Aamer’s accounts are accurate (and they reflect what other prisoners have described), his case is also an example of the collusion of U.S. authorities with their foreign counterparts, MI5 in this case. 

Aamer’s case has been taken up by Amnesty UK, which is asking that the British prisoner either be released or allowed to face a trial in accordance with international law.  There is no sign that this U.S. administration, which like its predecessor has precious little time for international norms or basic humaneness, will respond to the request.

Given the durability of the U.S. war of terror, its attractiveness to U.S. officials, and the indifference of our public, Aamer and other victims of U.S. abduction and torture will likely spend many more Februaries in Guantanamo.


“We also have to work, through, sort of the dark side, if you will.  We’ve got to spend time in the shadows in the intelligence world.  A lot of what needs to be done here will have to be done quietly, without any discussion, using sources and methods that are available to our intelligence agencies, if we’re going to be successful.  That’s the world these folks operate in, and so it’s going to be vital for us to use any means at our disposal, basically, to achieve our objective”—Dick Cheney

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