Obama to Gitmo Prisoners: "Welcome to the Hotel California.”
By Dennis Loo (4/25/13)
Last thing I remember, I was
Running for the door
I had to find the passage back
To the place I was before
"Relax, " said the night man,
"We are programmed to receive.
You can check-out any time you like,
But you can never leave! "
--Final lines of "Hotel California” by the Eagles
Yesterday, as I was driving to give a talk at University of California Riverside about some themes in my book Globalization and the Demolition of Society (the text of which I will be posting soon here, along with some comments about the discussion that ensued), I heard an interview that Jeremy Scahill did with Amy Goodman on KPFK.
Scahill was talking about his just released new book Dirty Wars: The World is Battlefield. It's a highly informative interview that I strongly recommend. The point of his book's title is that the Obama Administration has gone beyond what Bush et al did in explicitly turning the entire planet into a battleground. While Obama very publicly ordered the secret prisons shut down upon taking office, Scahill found that they continue the practice of rendering (rendition) prisoners, kidnapping them and then turning them over to third party countries for interrogation and torture. What Obama has done, in other words, is shut down the more well-known egregious practice of CIA-run secret prisons while retaining the third-party sites run by others where the same practices of cruel and inhumane detention and breaking of individuals can continue unabated. This is the typical MO of this president: make a show of being a good guy while maintaining or even ratcheting up the use of repression.
The main reason that I'm mentioning Scahill's book and interview here, however, is to draw out the connection between Obama's policy towards the 166 remaining prisoners at Gitmo who are so disheartened and so desperate that ninety-nine of them at this writing are carrying out a hunger strike, quite likely to the death, entering its sixth week for the original hunger strikers. When the entire planet is now being treated as a battlefield, where one's geographical location and citizenship are no barriers to the reach of the POTUS, his Special Ops teams and drone strikes, then "you can check-out any time you like, but you can never leave!" "I will find you," he's saying, "and you can't get away. There are no barriers, no laws, no treaties, no age limits, and no national borders that restrict the U.S. Empire's willingness and ability to strike you down."
As Scahill says during the interview, and as I point out in GDS, these policies of drone attacks and indefinite and preventive detention are sowing the seeds of a whole generation of people with a reason to lash out within and outside the U.S. at U.S. targets, including especially innocents like the ones killed at the Boston Marathon. In this sense, the lines of the Eagles' song also refer to those in power in the U.S. who are ordering and carrying out these tactics that make little to no distinction between "militants" and innocents. Given that terrorist tactics, whether those of states or that of anti-state actors, make no distinction between combatants and non-combatants, indeed, terrorism is specifically marked by its utter indifference to that distinction or even purposely targets innocents because it only "works" if it's indiscriminate, then all of us "can never leave!" so long as the "war on terror" and its perfidious logic is allowed to prevail.