Sunday before Memorial Day the president flies to Afghanistan to speak to the troops about how they have been “defending our freedom” in this dusty, poor rocky region where something less than 1% of the population could even imagine going to the U.S. much less invade and conquer the mighty U.S. As I watch Obama on T.V. I think about the Arab unfortunates picked up in that country in late 2001 or early 2002 tortured there (of course) and then sent to Guantanomo in those orange jump suits over diapers shackled hand and foot for the day and night long flight. As was eventually discovered, they were turned in for a bounty of ten thousand dollars which was worth many years labor in Afghanistan. Still they were held 4 years in Guantanomo. Then when two of them had been told they would finally be released, the three of them were alleged to have committed an “act of war” where they all tied themselves up with white sheeting in their individual cells and at the same time hung themselves in mass terrorist suicide. Back in late 2006 when this all happened I cached the incident away in the back compartments of my brain because it was one of stories whose bizarre construction begged for further investigation. In 2010 the journalist and writer on matters of the security state and the law, Scott Horton, published a story saying he had testimony from 4 Guantanomo NCO’s (Non-Commissioned Officers i.e. sergeants) on perimeter detail that night that the three bodies did not come from the cell blocks where the supposed “act of war” suicides took place but from a secret C.I.A. interrogation center outside their wall. The story was put out by venerable Harper’s Magazine but no other U.S. media discussed it. Ye olde cover up in plain sight. The classic blank out. The editor of Harper’s even wrote a letter to the editor of the NY Times complaining that a quotation “everyone else ignored it’ referred not to his magazine (as the Times interpreted it) but to Scott Horton’s story. They did publish the letter but only those who knew the story would fully understand it. The publication of this story came right after the “underpants’ bomber over Detroit had put the Republicans in full bay and as Obama was trying to find a way to deal with the fact that it was over one year since his order to close Guantanomo in one year and Guantanomo was still open. The Repubs held hearings to show that the medical care at Guantanomo was better than that of many Americans (since tens of millions of Americans had only emergency room access, I guess). Their endless talking point was that ‘we have nothing to be ashamed of about Guantanomo’. Meanwhile (in reality) the NCO’s on guard duty that night in 2006 had gone to the Obama administration in 2009 a year before. That the highest levels of the command staff at Guantanomo had covered up the homicide by torture of three innocent detainees would seem pretty shameful, but no one in the U.S. media or the Obama administration said a word. Now four years later Scott Horton is back with an official document, an e-mail written by another of the security guards that night in 2006 who was called to the camp emergency room to find one of the “act of war” detainees on a gurney with his legs being tied up “act of suicide” style but when he took the man’s pulse he was still alive and so despite the fact that there was still a noose around the man’s neck the security agent began CPR and indeed on the way to the hospital from the E.R. he managed to cough up orange material and foam before finally expiring. Interestingly, Scott Horton had managed to obtain this document because it was redacted using a white out program which investigators have learned to reverse thus revealing the whole redacted document and ultimate proof of the cover up of homicide. The torture technique applied to these three men is called “dry boarding” where instead of pouring water down the detainee’s mouths they jammed rags down their throats (old orange jump suits?). There have been other cases of this suffocation technique including in the U.S. at a brig in S.C. One of these “act of war” suicides had actually written an ecstatic letter to his father saying he would soon be home which was received after the official death notice. Meanwhile Obama is now sitting on 6000 page report on the C.I.A. special ops torture program completed by Dianne Feinstein and the Senate Intelligence Committee (don’t even think oxymoron) which (of course) has been given to the C.I.A. for redaction. Feinstein, a former prosecutor, has been the protector of the C.I.A. through the at least ten year cover up of the crimes committed under the “enhanced interrogation” program since the cover up went public back in 2004 in Iraq with the release of the Abu Ghraib photos. But Feinstein has finally admitted that what went on in these programs as detailed in her report is much worse than previously known. In fact she made a speech on the floor of the Senate saying her staff had been threatened with prosecution by the C.I.A. through the Justice Dept. for taking documents from Langley where the C.I.A. forced them to work to their offices on Capitol Hill. The C.I.A. had demanded that they use only C.I.A. computers but then documents kept disappearing from the staffers’ files, so they downloaded documents onto their own computers and took them to the Capitol. The C.I.A. called this espionage. Hence, I guess, the logic of the Obama-ites that the C.I.A. should be able to redact the Senate report on their “enhanced interrogation” program. Oh, what a tangled web we weave when we practice torturously to deceive. Then my mind now a clogged toilet with all this detail, I go to my computer and my favorite web site Counterpunch where I see a story about the “war on terror” locale, Columbia, which tells about 4 union members shot by special ops Columbian style trained by U.S. special ops in the “war on drugs”. The picture shows the bodies of the four young union members were wrapped in white sheeting and put on display at a nearby village decorated with signs saying they were insurgents in the civil/ drug war there. All this murder with ritual display is done on regular basis in order to justify the hundreds of millions of dollars Columbia gets from the U.S. every year. It is estimated that 6,000 Columbians have died this way over the last decade of the drug war. As I read this story I remember a lamestream media story that reported a mass grave outside a Columbian military base containing hundreds, perhaps, thousands of bodies right next to the where U.S. special ops were training Columbian special ops. On the news they announce that the U.S. is opening 4 new bases in sub-Saharan Africa in order to train special ops there and, of course, the U.S. will leave 10,000 troops in Afghanistan to train their security forces. Obama will return to the U.S. to give a major policy speech to the graduating West Point cadets and to justify his actions (or not) in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Ukraine which his “critics” will characterize as “weak” and ‘feckless”. Oh, how can poor Afghanistan support its hundreds of thousands of U.S. trained security forces with a GNP of a few billion dollars a year (exactly the question I asked when Obama surged in Afghanistan in 2009-10 tripling U.S. troop levels and expenses but none of the current critics said a thing then). Meanwhile I’m back in the very old U.S. of A. riding on trains on the N.E. corridor that can’t be on time because of drawbridges that go up but don’t come down and this is the finest part of passenger rail transit in the U.S. train schedule. And soon the president will order troops back into Iraq to fight the Islamic state whose leadership first met in a U.S. detention center in Iraq and who came to leadership as U.S. special ops night time raids “took out” the al Qaeda cadres above them leaving them the perfect core of a “terrorist” caliphate in Syria. Torture. In our face. The Great Big All One Thing Torture of Torture. Corporate Caesar, Congress and Supremes. Torture, torture.


James Van Looy has been a fixture in Boston’s poetry venues since the 1970s. He is a member of Cosmic Spelunker Theater and has run poetry workshops for Boston area homeless people at Pine Street Inn and St. Francis House since 1992. Today marks his one year anniversary as a poet columnist for Oddball Magazine.