Truthout

Perversity and Injustice at Gitmo

Saturday, 02 February 2013 00:00 By Bryan K. Bullock , Truthout | Op-Ed
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Bryan Bullock comments on the upside-down world in which beauty queens and cheerleaders have enjoyed apparently easy access to the US prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, while prisoners' attorneys had to fight for access to their clients.

Horror movies have a tried and true theme: sex and violence. For the prisoners locked away at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, life has been an 11-year horror movie of indefinite detainment without charge, in many cases, torture, little due process and no hope. For the "detainees," life is stranger than fiction."

The sex in this morbid tale, just like the violence, has been supplied by the USA. A few years back, news stories covered the arrival of cheerleaders and beauty queens to the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The stories were covered as normal excursions of cheerleaders visiting military bases and few commentators asked what they were doing there or the role of cheerleaders in American society; and even fewer talked about the utter strangeness of cheerleaders and beauty queens visiting a base that is the international poster child for American injustice.

AOL.com reported in 2010 that, "Since 2002, more than 400 entertainers - rock bands, rappers, celebrity chefs and cheerleaders - have quietly visited Guantanamo Bay to perform for the troops stationed there." The report mentions that some of the bands performed within earshot of the detainees and that many of the guests toured the prison camp. The report goes on to note that one performer, a former National Ms. Black Teen, Margot B. observed, as far as Margot sees it, the detainees "have an awesome lifestyle. You know, as good as it's going to get for a terrorist. There are little houses that are completely furnished. It's almost amazing to know that it's their jail. So some of the stuff you see on TV, that these terrorists are living these hard lives and they're being tied up or whatever, that's a bunch of bull." Truth, is not only stranger than fiction at Gitmo; it is not even truth, and sadly, it is not fiction.

But, Gitmo has always been a perversion of the truth. The first, and lasting perversion of facts was the lie that every single man and boy locked in Guantanamo was "the worst of the worst." This lie has had lasting staying power even as the US has quietly released the overwhelming majority of the 700 or so detainees back to their home countries. If the "worst of the worst" label applied to every one of them, then surely at least 600 of the released men would be doing bad things by now. Margo B's assertion that "they" are terrorists also exemplifies the propagandized, twisted web of deceit that poses as truth at Gitmo. Given that no one at Gitmo has been charged with the crime of terrorism under US law, how then does Ms. "B" know these people are terrorists? The "awesome lifestyle" that she describes these men and boys living can only exist on the set of a "B" movie, pun intended.

The AOL article was written in 2010, but the orgy of perversion of Gitmo continues. Numerous cheerleaders have visited Gitmo, adding to the sex and violence storyboard. The Atlanta Falcons', the Dallas Cowboys' and the Miami Dolphins' cheerleaders have all visited the military base. The cheerleaders did not go to Gitmo to cheer on the rule of law, nor did they come to dance to celebrate the primacy or legitimacy of human rights. Instead, they came to "support the troops," the never-defined, mindless slogan of the American right wing. They took pictures and signed autographs with the service members of the island, who, by the way, are not in a combat zone while stationed at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, while it is the prisoners, the US Constitution and the rule of law that really needed the "support" of the cheerleaders. That the perversion of reality, the orgy of violence and death and injustice could exist and be juxtaposed with the high-heeled, dancing, skimpily attired cheerleaders, is a plot line that Hollywood writers could only dream of. The "war on terror" and "protecting the homeland" and "supporting the troops" mantras mask the pornographic quality of the endless loops of lies and the normalization of scenes that should repulse the mind and spirit.

The supposed dignity of the rule of law is flaunted and mocked as cheerleaders and debutants easily gain access to the island gulag, while the lawyers of the prisoners had to undergo extensive background checks and had to fight tooth and nail just to be able to gain access to the island to interview and represent their clients.

Pomp and circumstance, it seems, trumps the attorneys' oath to zealously represent their clients and to uphold the US Constitution. The access allowed people involved in the shallow world of entertainment - access that was initially denied to those engaged in the solemn field of law - is representative of the American culture that exalts form over substance.

It is doubtful that the cheerleaders asked about human rights, or habeas corpus or how it is that children as young as 14 years old could be considered a terrorist. AOL certainly didn't report it if they did. It is also doubtful that cheerleaders asked about the parents of the children or the wives and families of the men being held prisoner. Ms. B probably did not question how it is that men and boys from all over the world could be picked up and held in Gitmo for years without a single charge being filed against them. Amy Goodman, the host of Democracy Now!, calls the media "cheerleaders for war." The professional cheerleaders and beauty queens who have visited Gitmo and not spoken out against its perversion of law and facts, are cheerleaders for injustice.

Copyright, Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission.

Bryan K. Bullock

Bryan K. Bullock is a human rights and civil rights attorney and former habeas counsel for detainees in Guantanamob Bay. He has been published in the Jurist.org and Voxunion.com.


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