The Fallen: Secret Prisons of Capitalism

“On his last day in CIA custody, Marwan Jabour, an accused al-Qaeda paymaster, was stripped naked, seated in a chair and videotaped by agency officers. Afterward, he was shackled and blindfolded, headphones were put over his ears, and he was given an injection that made him groggy. Jabour, 30, was laid down in the back of a van, driven to an airstrip and put on a plane with at least one other prisoner.
His release from a secret facility in Afghanistan on June 30, 2006, was a surprise to Jabour — and came just after the Supreme Court rejected the Bush administration’s assertion that the Geneva Conventions do not apply to prisoners like him.
Jabour had spent two years in “black sites” — a network of secret internment facilities the CIA operated around the world. His account of life in that system, which he described in three interviews with The Washington Post, offers an inside view of a clandestine world that held far more prisoners than the 14 men President Bush acknowledged and had transferred out of CIA custody in September.”

Washington Post’s scathing analysis of CIA operatives and its secret prisons has not gone without notice. Definitely worthwhile attempts have been made to uncover the scandals after human rights commissions of all shapes and sizes and conventions of all possible dimensions have forwarded their resentments at the torture camps. However the irony lies therein. Is this as groundbreaking a story as it is being made out to be? Should it come as a shock? Or even much less, a surprise?

The Pax Americana Syndrome:
CIA’s activities are neither recent nor surprising. In fact CIA or any other such organization functioning on behalf of any ruling government in the world is meant to be a secret agency. They are supposed to be kept confidential, in large cases unaccountable, and they are required to report to few authorities, if at all. Not only in the functions of the secret agencies, in their nature of origin as well, intelligence agencies are created for the very reason to maintain the status quo of the government they serve and interfere in the business of those that they are meant to.

The idealistically driven would perhaps imagine of a world where there would be secret services that function without interfering with anyone, howsoever illusive such a possibility may sound, considering that this would then invalidate the purpose of having such organization, to begin with. From policing to maintain internal order (which is to say, to repress freedom of people on their own land), to conducting internal intelligence activities (which is to say, to create organizations like FBI that have historically been of the most terrifying nature for people that make up the land), to infiltrating external lands for the sake of maintaining supremacy (which is to say to facilitate formation of international secret services like CIA)—the system of power depends on its system of coercions.

Condemnation of President Bush on grounds of secret prisons is as naïve and uncritical as expecting that prisoners at secret prisons be subjected to some form of equal treatment with domestic prisoners. Only a lack of foresight and political wisdom can lead to such demands that are nothing but a bunch of wishful and/or populist thoughts. These presuppose, of course, the following:
1. That, Geneva Convention is the just world order
2. That, CIA is guilty of the crimes against the prisoners

Nothing could be farther from the truth. In fact, putting forth such arguments only stand to strengthen the conservative foothold on issues of terrorism. If United Nations and the existing international laws had any value worth a dime, there would have been no aggression and war on sovereign peoples to begin with. And this is not to indicate some recent flaws in the hands of the present world supremo, rather one can sketch back to the cold war period to trace the saga of “hot wars” on hapless people despite the existing norms. The sad reality is the convention to protect the interests of the war victims hardly enjoys punitive jurisdictions that can enforce its strictures. At the worst, it can be used to teach the warring African nations a lesson.

A just world order is not established through formation of norms of human rights that do not address the root cause of violations of those rights. That would tantamount to hypocrisy of the order that can be observed when one notes how big business houses conduct charity. This would mean that we would tend to the victims after causing the havoc. Nothing is more sarcastic than such a thought, and when such thoughts apply to human sufferings at a massive scale, it ceases to be merely sarcastic.

The forces of capitalism that reinforce war and military supremacism must be checked with due action plans. Then only a world order that is a larger dream of working people can be established. Until then Geneva or no Geneva, we will have a series of League of Nations to heed to a plethora of CIAs in their collaborative efforts at interfering with lives after damages have been done. That is the current pathetic saga. Its not a single news article. It’s a historical pattern validated by realities.

Secondly, one must acknowledge that some CIA officers are not the party that is guilty. We assumed the same when we looked in disgust at Hoover, some FBI officers and McCarthy during the Red Scare last century. It was as though these fallen guys were the crux of the problem and that following their ouster, we will have a safer world where people will be able to think freely without being followed.

What followed instead was that, this country, once a great site for labor union activism and farmers parties and international communists was reduced to a numbed down version where few “liberals” would substitute for alternative thoughts and become televised celebrities. This was possible because these liberals themselves contributed in furthering the notion that America had ultimately been rid of the vices of Red Scare after America became finally democratized (so from 1776 to 1976, admittedly there was no such thing as democracy) with the ouster of officers.

Let such illusive and sympathique understanding of international relations not dupe us one more time. It’s not the bad guys we need to be after. The problem is with the structural settings. As long as there is market economy, there will be need for security by the monopolists to safeguard their laundered money. To imagine a capitalist world without their lethal defendants would be commit to historical idiocy as guiding spirits of collective inactions.

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Author: Saswat Pattanayak

Journalist, Generalist, Atheist, Poet, Lover, Photographer, Communist, Third wave Feminist, LGBT ally, Black power comrade, Peacenik, Anti-capitalist, Critical media theorist, Radical film critic, Academic non-elite…

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