For the Guardian’s Comment is free, “Will Guantánamo Bay ever close?” is one of several articles that I’ve written marking the seventh anniversary of the opening of the Bush administration’s “War on Terror” prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, where the remaining 248 prisoners — out of 779 prisoners in total — are still held neither as prisoners as war, protected by the Geneva Conventions, nor as criminal suspects who will face trial in federal courts.
In this article, I look at what Barack Obama will need to do to fulfil his promise to close Guantánamo, suggest that the UK needs to accept cleared prisoners to atone for its disturbing complicity in rendition and torture in the “War on Terror,” and reflect, sadly, on how recent news that 30 prisoners have embarked on a hunger strike to protest their conditions of confinement is understandable both as a cry of desperation and as a response to the repatriation in November of Salim Hamdan, a driver for Osama bin Laden who had been convicted of providing material support for terrorism last summer, but — unlike the supposedly less significant prisoners held without charge or trial — had received a surprisingly lenient sentence that came to an end two weeks ago.
Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK). To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed.
Seven years. Absolutely Biblical.The same amount of time that Jacob labored for Laban to earn Rachel as his wife.
We all know the story of how Jacob was deceived under the wedding canopy. The heavily veiled woman he married was Leah, not his beloved, not the object of his heart’s devotion. The treachery was justified by social customs and quickly normalized by all concerned–an illegitimate, but de facto betrayal, to which he capitulated.
An alternative version:
“But, a bargain is a bargain, and a promise is a promise!” cried Jacob, standing his ground even though he was vastly outnumbered. Laban, Leah, and Rachel smiled tolerantly as if they were dealing with a small and babbling child. Jacob saw in an instant that they had no intention of honoring the contract. He mounted his camel, rode it hard toward the horizon, and did not look back.
But even this ending is problematic. Where did Jacob go? Did he simply withdraw and swallow his indignation? Or something else?
Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo, co-director, We Stand With Shaker. Also, singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers) and photographer.
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