Abu-Jamal's Radio Broadcasts
history is longer, larger, more beautiful, and more terrible than
anyone has ever said about it." James Baldwin (1963)*
years now, the US government has been operating prisons and detention
centers, under the direction of an Executive Order (or Military
Order), signed by US President, George W. Bush, on November 13,
established military tribunals to be used to try non-citizens with
As lawyer and
writer, Barbara Olshansky, and the Center for Constitutional Rights
(CCR) has written:
With a single
swipe of his pen, President Bush replaced the democratic pillars
of our legal system with that of a military commission system
in which he, or his designee, is rule-maker, investigator, accuser,
prosecutor, judge, jury, sentencing court, reviewing court, and
jailer or executioner. This new system radically abandons the
core constitutional guarantees at the heart of American democracy;
the rights to an independent judiciary, trial by jury, public
proceedings, due process, and appeals to higher courts. In the
newly authorized military tribunal system, all of these safeguards
against injustice are gone. [Olshansky, B., and the CCR, *Secret
Trials and Executions: Military Tribunals and the Threat to Democracy*
Stories, 2002), p. 7-8.] According to the presidential Military
Order, Bush is allowed to: > Identify the persons to be tried
in the tribunals;
- Set up the
rules of the tribunal *and change them at will*;
- Choose judges,
prosecutors & defense lawyers;
- Decide sentences
(after virtually certain convictions);
- Resolve appeals;
- Conduct the
entire process, and even executions, in secret, with no input,
nor accountability of Congress, the courts, or the American people.
[Similar to Olshansky's p. 12]
This is essentially
the erection of a secret court system that is answerable to only
one man: George W. Bush.
how does this strike you?
Not only do
these events occur in secrecy and isolation; much of the 'evidence'
relied upon by the US must, assuredly, have come from tainted and
What we have seen in Iraq should give us some inkling of what goes
on in Guantanamo Bay, in Cuba.
What is astounding
is how anyone can look at the events at Abu Ghraib prison, and *not*
call it "torture", as did Defense Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld,
who suggested, as he wasn't a lawyer, it was simply "abuse."
Much has been
made of the Geneva Convention, as the legal basis for the treatment
of prisoners and detainees abroad.
the US has agreed to follow the provisions of the International
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). As with all treaties,
once this instrument was ratified by the Senate, it became the "Supreme
Law of the Land" under the US Constitution. It is therefore,
the law that Bush, and all major members of the Cabinet, and all
the judges, and all the soldiers swore upon, to 'protect and defend.'
Under the ICCPR's
Article 7, all people have the right to be free from "torture,
and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment or punishment"
Indeed, under the Statute of the International Criminal Court, torture
is named as a "crime against humanity."
Call it what
you will, what we have already seen from Abu Ghraib is physical
and psychological torture. If Rumsfeld was subjected to it, he wouldn't
dare to question it!
But, we are at a disadvantage; for hundreds, perhaps as many as
a thousand photos, are being held in secrecy. The American people,
it seems, are too gentle to view what their soldiers and intelligence
officers have done in their name.
the philosopher, Baruch Spinoza, wrote, of government secrecy:
It has been the one song of those who thirst after absolute power
that the interest of the State requires that its affairs should
be conducted in secret.... But the more such arguments disguise
themselves under the mask of public welfare, the more oppressive
is the slavery to which they will lead... Better that right counsels
be known to enemies than that the evil secrets of tyrants should
be concealed from the citizens. They who can treat secretly of the
affairs of a nation have it absolutely under their authority; and
as they plot against the enemy in time of war, so do they against
the citizens in time of peace. [Fr. Spinoza's *Tractatus Politicus*,
Ch. 7; Fr. Will & Ariel Durant's *The Story of Philosophy*,
(1961), p. 147.]
We are witnessing
the wisdom of Spinoza's insight today.
[*Fr. "A Talk to Teachers", *Saturday Review*, (12/21/63).]
2004 Mumia Abu-Jamal
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© copyright 2003 by Mumia Abu-Jamal.
All rights reserved.
Reprinted by permission of the author.