Abu-Jamal's Radio Broadcasts
empires do not die by murder, but by suicide."
A.J. Toynbee, Historian (1889-1975)
The U.S. Supreme
Court is hearing arguments today in the cases arising from the unlimited
detentions of hundreds of foreigners (and several Americans) who
have been ensconced in a modern-day Black Hole. For these men, there
are no trials, no 'due process', and for many, no charges even.
They are held under the thumb of the United States as "enemy
combatants", who have no rights, nor any real opportunity to
challenge their unlimited incarcerations.
Some have been
subjected to physical torture, and many have been subjected to psychological
torture, so much so that many have been forced to the brink of suicide.
For some of
these men, the future holds the illusory prospect of 'military tribunals'
under the auspices of the U.S. executive, a quasi-process where
no judicial officers
will ever hear, or even have an opportunity to hear, any semblance
of a defense against the charges.
What they really
face are secret trials, where the president, or his designee, perhaps
the Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, makes the final decision,
whether they shall live, or die.
It is difficult
to predict what the Supreme Court will do, for they are a conservative
Court, and it may be hard for them to vote against the Administration
that they put
We shall soon
What may, or
may not be decided, however, is the pivotal question of international
law, or the laws of treaties signed by the United States and other
nation-states. Under the U.S. Constitution, once a treaty is signed,
and ratified by the Congress, it becomes a part of the "Supreme
Law of the Land."
In 1992, the
U.S. ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political
Rights (ICCPR); it thus became part of U.S. law. Many scholars and
thinkers have argued
that the president's order of Nov. 13, 2001 is in violation of that
lawyer Barbara Olshansky, and other researchers at the Center for
Constitutional Rights (CCR) have pointed out several problems with
military Order setting up military commissions to try people held
in Guantanamo Bay brigs, in Cuba:
Military Order raises significant concerns regarding whether the
United States will comply with its obligations under the ICCPR.
Like other agreements ensuring the protection of human rights,
the ICCPR permits a country to deviate from some of these obligations
in times of public emergencies. However, the Covenant also provides
that certain rights and privileges are *so* fundamental that they
may *not* be suspended even in a time of public emergency. These
to live your life (Article 6); the prohibition against torture
and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment or punishment (Article
7); the prohibition against slavery (Article 8); the prohibition
against convictions based on retroactive laws (Article 15); and
the right of religious freedom (Article 18).
[fr. B. Olshansky/CCR,
*Secret Trials and Executions: Military Tribunals and the Threat
to Democracy* (Open Media/Seven Stories, '02), pp. 48-49.]
How the Supreme
Court comes down on this question will certainly make history, one
way or another.
What is uncontroverted
is that the U.S. put hundreds, and at times, over a thousand people,
some as young as 14, under torture, psychologically disabling conditions,
under the very real threat of death, many scooped up off the battlefields
of Afghanistan, for essentially, protecting their country from U.S.
Many of those
men are facing a lifetime of uncertainty.
a recent PBS special, an al-Qaeda CIA snitch, who did several months
in Guantanamo, claimed that a small minority, perhaps 10% of those
were, in fact, associated with al-Qaeda. Most were turned in by
jealous or greedy relatives or neighbors, for the thousands of dollars
paid out by CIA and military officers.
If that is correct, then Guantanamo Gulag is a crime against the
human rights of all.
2004 Mumia Abu-Jamal
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© copyright 2003 by Mumia Abu-Jamal.
All rights reserved.
Reprinted by permission of the author.