20 Jul



Was that a collective gasp of recognition we heard as Americans viewed the video of their soldier now in the custody of a Taliban group in Afghanistan?  Did Americans finally fully recognize what the Bush/Cheney administration took from them?  As they watched the young soldier talking about his love for his family and sitting cross-legged eating, did they realize that they have lost the moral ground to stand in judgment of others holding our soldiers captive and  to demand just and humane treatment of our soldiers?  Did they finally realize that the Bush administration set a new standard for the treatment of prisoners and that standard is obscene?

Oh, we tried to be outraged:  “They are exploiting the soldier in violation of international law.” our country’s spokesperson said.  And what international law would that be?  The Geneva Convention?  Those international laws that the Bush administration, through their lackeys in the Justice Department, deemed “quaint,” those international laws that the Bush administration viewed as irrelevant in their war on terror.

The official’s statement of outrage at the treatment of our soldier would be laughable if it were not so tragic.  We no longer have moral standing in the realm of ethical and legal treatment of prisoners of war.  It is gone and it will not soon return.  It will not return while Guantanamo remains the black hole of injustice that it has been since its beginning*; it will not return while we make plans to continue to incarcerate even those captives who have been found innocent of any crime; it will not return until we investigate and indict those who justified, ordered, and committed acts of torture in America’s name.

What is left to us and our soldier?  We can hold this young man in our loving thoughts.  And we can hope that his captors will not do unto him what we have done to other young men in our custody.

We can only hope.

Mary Oleary McGlinn

* See We Still Torture: The new evidence from Guantanamo, Harper’s Magazine, July 2009

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