Bellum Americanum
July 02, 2003

Guest posting

Another guest posting over at Bush Wars.

Remembering Rockefeller at Attica and Elsewhere

I was just listening to the tune "Remember Rockefeller at Attica" by the great jazz musician/composer Charles Mingus. I remember reading an interview with Mingus in which he was asked what the music had to do with the prison uprising and subsequent massacre ordered by New York State Governer Nelson Rockefeller. As I remember, Mingus admitted that the music had nothing to do with the uprising, but that he felt that Rockefeller's name should never be separated from that crime so he just applied the title to the song, one of Mingus's dark, brooding specials. Since the September 2001 20th anniversary of the Attica uprising was eclipsed by the WTC and Pentagon attacks it seems appropriate to also remember Rockefeller's name in the War on Terra, which is leading to more and more brutal incarcerations.

Guantanomo Bay: there are currently 680 prisoners being held at the new Camp Delta. The New York Times describes the conditions they are being held in:

Each prisoner lives in a separate cell that is 6 feet 8 inches by 8 feet. The door and walls are made of a tight mesh through which it would be hard to pass anything larger than a pencil. Unless rewarded for good behavior, each prisoner is allowed out of the cell only three times a week for 20 minutes of solitary exercise in a large concrete-floored cage, followed by a 5-minute shower. Before coming out of the cell, he must submit to a shackles-connected-to-handcuffs arrangement known as a ''three-piece suit.''
Conditions are only slightly better for the child detainees, ranging in age from 13 to 15. Since the opening of the camp there have been 28 suicide attempts, and indication of the suffering of the detainees.

Afghanistan: Not all of the "enemy combatants"/prisoners of war from Afghanistan are being held at Guantanamo. Many are still being held at various camps inside Afghanistan, including the CIA's "interrogation" center at Bagram, surrounded by secrecy and swirl of accusations about torture techniques. According to one U.S. official involved in the detentions, "If you don't violate someone's human rights some of the time, you probably aren't doing your job." The fact that another detainee, the third so far, died while in custody just as Bush was making promises not to use torture suggests that such promises might be designed for little more than public consumption.

Iraq: 200 more individuals are reported to have been swept up in "Operation Sidewinder," the latest effort by the U.S. to suppress resistance to the occupation. According to a recent Amnesty International report:

Detainees arrested by US forces after the conflict have included both criminal and political suspects. Detainees held in Baghdad have invariably [emphasis mine] reported that they suffered cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment immediately after arrest, being tightly bound with plastic handcuffs and sometimes denied water and access to a toilet in the first night of arrest.
Once again, there are widespread allegations of torture and a number of prisoners have been shot and killed "while trying to escape."

Indonesia: Of course, I don't want to give the impression that Americans are the only ones violating human rights. In Aceh, home of the separatist movement GAM, Indonesia recently launched a massive assualt that imitated Bush's War on Terra down to the "embedded" reporters. Given the Indonesian military's record in East Timor, a record that many (including this writer) would characterize as genocide, reports that the Indonesian military has been indiscriminate in its treatment of GAM fighters and innocent Acehnese civilians are hardly surprising. This report details truly horrifying conditions at one of the military's detention centers.

Israel: While Israel's reputation for arbitrary detention of Palestinians is already notorious, new reports have emerged of a secret detention center in which Palestinians and foreigners are simply disappeared.

The Homeland: Finally, it shouldn't go without mention that the U.S. incarcerated population recently topped 2 million here at home. This is the highest incarceration rate of any country in the world. The vast majority of these prisoners are in jail because of the so-called War on Drugs, the beginnings of which many trace to the laws enacted in NY by Nelson Rockefeller in 1973. While remembering Rockefeller at Attica, people should also join the growing calls to drop the rock.

June 30, 2003


Sorry for the lack of content lately. Will have more in the next few days. Meanwhile, check out my guest post over at Bush Wars.

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