The War on Terror charade: 14-year-old terrorists and the fight for western civilization
"I'll go along with the charade
Until I can think my way out
I know it was all a big joke
Whatever it was all about"
— Bob Dylan, "Tight Connection To My Heart"
Whatever one may think about the so-called "War On Terror", there are certain stories that both boggle the mind and dramatically highlight just how ridiculous this war without end really is. One such recent story concerned the release of yet another innocent man, Mohamed el-Gharani, from America's notorious gulag down there in Guantanamo Bay.
Now sadly the release of an innocent man from Guantanamo is hardly a rare or unique occurrence, but this case as you'll see was particularly disturbing.
As I'm sure just about everyone's well aware by now, the vast majority of those who have been locked up at Gitmo over the years have not been the sinister terrorists we were initially led to believe and, as a result, most have now been freed; including, most recently, those Uighurs who had been held at Gitmo for seven long years for the "crime" of resisting the occupation of their homeland—by China!
The fact remains that of the 775 detainees that have been held at Gitmo over the years, most were either completely innocent or nothing more than small-time, low-level fighters—hardly the "most dangerous terrorists in the world" that Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and their ilk assured us were being held there since the camp's inception back in early 2002.
In fact, the Americans have so far released nearly 450 of these "Oops, sorry, we actually had the wrong guy, you can go home now" "terrorists" without charge. And, as Lawrence B. Wilkerson, an ex-Bush Administration official, recently admitted, many of the remaining prisoners still held at Gitmo are also innocent.
So, in the face of all this, the release of yet another man who should never have been locked up in the first place is hardly news, but what makes this story of special interest is that Mohamed el-Gharani was just 14 years old when they locked him up back in October 2001.
Yes, that's right, a 14-year-old was imprisoned for seven and a half years at Gitmo. Aside from the natural response of "WTF?!", the question remains, why?
Did the American military really see this guy as a threat to the free world, to western civilization as we know it? Did they think he might have been capable of, say, wiping out New York City with a suitcase nuke? Was he perhaps going to take out an entire platoon of American soldiers single-handedly? Or were they just concerned that he might illegally download some Britney Spears CDs and DVDs? Who knows?
The fact remains that they locked up a 14-year-old kid for seven years at Guantanamo Bay as one of the "worst of the worst terrorists" and if that doesn't say something about this ridiculous "War On Terror", then I don't know what does.
What I do know for sure is that he's now back home in Chad and the Department of Homeland Security's scary colour-coded terrorist threat thingamajig hasn't been upgraded even one scary shade of fear since his release.
The 11-Year-Old Terrorist
The sad thing is that this Mohamed el-Gharani kid wasn't the only child locked up in this Kafkaesque netherworld known as Gitmo. Back in 2004 I wrote about the sad, pathetic case of the 11- and 12-year-old terrorists held there for two long years.
That's right, people, they at one time even had pre-teens locked up at Guantanamo Bay. Does it get any more pathetic than that? I think not.
Now this—locking up pre-teens and teens indefinitely in a military prison camp—is something you'd expect China, North Korea, Burma, or even Iran to do. But not America.
Actually, I'm guessing that even the Chinese would consider it a ridiculous waste of valuable space to lock up pre-teens in their gulags, though they might be reconsidering this now that they've seen that the Americans think it's such a good idea.
Iran, Texan Hick, and Obama
As for Iran, the brutal crackdown on protestors that's been taking place over there over the past two weeks is sadly exactly what you'd expect from such a regime. But, without sounding too naive and simple-minded, you really expect more from America than torture, indefinite detention without trial, and holding children incommunicado in military prison camps for years at a time.
It's one thing for this kid to have remained locked up all these years under the Texan Hick and his Sidekick Dick, but how the hell did he remain incarcerated for five more months under the Obama regime? Why wasn't he immediately released when Obama came to power? That's what I want to know.
After all, back in January 2009, a U.S. court had ordered his freedom after ruling that there was no evidence to prove he was an "enemy combatant". Nevertheless, he remained locked up until earlier this month.
But, hey, what's an extra five months when you've already unjustly incarcerated someone for seven years?
Omar Khadr and Canada's Confounding Complicity
Which brings us, once again, to the sad case of Canada's very own Omar Khadr, the 15-year-old Canadian kid the Americans locked up back in 2002 and still hold today.
It seems that Khadr is now not only the last remaining Western prisoner being held at Gitmo, but he's also the lone remaining child soldier.
That the Americans, even under Obama, are so caught up in their ridiculous "War On Terror" that they can't see the senselessness, pointlessness, and immorality of locking up children is bad enough, but that the Canadian government refuses to even try and have Khadr brought back home is beyond comprehension.
Does anyone actually think the world is a safer place by locking up 11- to 15-year-olds in a fucking gulag? I'm guessing probably not. So, how is it that Khadr and, until a couple of weeks ago, el-Gharani have remained there all these years?
The bizarre thing is we—rightfully—see kids in Africa who have been dragged into wars in places like Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast, and Uganda as victims of war. And we, understandably, support their rehabilitation in camps run by the U.N. and other agencies. Many of these kids have done horrific things—many have even personally killed dozens of people—but sensibly, the goal is not punishment; it's rehabilitation.
But not in the self-righteous, glorious "War On Terror". No, these kids are "terrorists", these kids are "evil", these kids belong in the gulags.
The whole thing is truly a big joke—whatever it's all about.
Mike Cowie is a freelance writer who writes about politics, music, film, travel, and much more. You can read more of Mike’s views on his Web site.