Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Gratuitous cruelty: we do these things because we can

For far too long, Carol Rosenberg of the Miami Herald has been doing bitter and worthy work, bringing the story of our gulag at Guantanamo to a forgetful nation.

Here's her latest dispatch:

Military bans Big Macs
... a new rule going into effect Wednesday at the U.S. Navy base in Cuba forbids food at legal conferences for the first time in a decade.

The prison says the ban is for health and safety reasons, but the move has been criticized by lawyers who argue that breaking bread has been crucial to the coexistence of American attorneys and their captive Guantánamo clients through years in legal limbo.

“It's actually quite tragic for the clients. Sometimes the food we bring is the only thing from the outside world they’ve seen in months, and they really look forward to it,” said attorney Alka Pradhan, who has brought to meetings, after military inspection, everything from Egg McMuffins and traditional Middle East sweets to fresh fruit and granola bars.

The lawyers point out that they are strangers representing men who have been yanked out of societies they knew and dumped into conditions without meaning or recourse. An Egg McMuffin from the base fast food joint or Middle Eastern sweets flown in with the lawyers can be vital in establishing confidence.

Fifty-seven of the remaining 122 prisoners have been cleared for release, many for years. As I write, it has been 734 days since President Obama renewed his pledge to close the prison in May 2013. The "military tribunals" judging the prisoners and other jerry-rigged pseudo-legal proceedings have ground to a halt, choked by their own absurdity. A significant fraction of the remaining prisoners can never be tried because we tortured them.

And now these men can't even get Big Macs during legal visits ...

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