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Guantanamo: Empires Grow Through Terror

Guantanamo: Empires Grow Through Terror

By Sara Correa (2/23/14)

Editor’s note: These are excerpts from a student paper in response to the Close Guantanamo Now! program at Cal Poly Pomona on 1/17/14. Her comments address directly the question of why Obama refuses to close Guantanamo despite promises to the contrary and what it will take to force him to close it.

Guantanamo Bay is very important symbolically because it allows the U.S. to maintain its power... Intimidation is the best way to keep control under those who you see as your competition or enemy… These people who are incarcerated were arrested on no actual charges, just on mere suspicion of committing a terrorist act… These acts are all characteristics of a tyrannical empire. In the United States we pride ourselves on being a democracy, yet we invade other countries and kill innocent people under the name of [combating] terror from other countries while terrorizing others. Perhaps we believe that the lives of Americans are more valuable than lives from other countries.

The United States is an Empire that grows on subordinating other countries; this is how Empires grow. An Empire does not grow by befriending others with good acts; it grows by demonstrating power and subordinating other countries. Obama understands that in order for the U.S. to remain as a top Empire, threat and terror must occur. This is the foundation to imperialism.

They [Obama and members of Congress] believe that the men [held]... are for the protection of the American public and if released they must [first] show signs of never committing a terrorist act. What is interesting is that you can never prove that someone will not do something. That is impossible unless we have real fortune-tellers to predict crime. We as people do not have that capability nor the technology to predict people’s future acts. [Similarly] Obama has drones in Pakistan and Afghanistan hovering over people and shooting people that the U.S. suspects would be a possible threat to the United States.

As Americans, we are thinking very one-sidedly… The act of incarcerating others under preventative action is not logical. We cannot predict any crime done by people. All we can do is try to make things better at an international level. We must understand that the lives of Americans are not more precious than others. We cannot kill people because we believe our lives are more valuable.

There needs to be massive action to guarantee the closing of Guantanamo Bay. The United States cannot continue to incarcerate people in a torture institution because of mere suspicion of terrorist acts. Americans must unite and protest the existence of Guantanamo and demand that Obama close it forever. We must think of the families that are suffering because of missing loved ones. We must not look at these prisoners as the “worst of the worst” but rather as people like us that have been picked by our government as possible terrorists. Change in our criminal justice system must occur and it starts with the structure. If we do not find a way to stop the government from making up their own rules as they go, things will never change.


0 # rrr96 2014-02-24 04:17
GTMO is very unethical on many different levels. The author has many interesting points that I completely agree with. Something I noticed about the GTMO issue is that many people have turned a blind eye to the situation even though it is still impacting people’s lives. For example, I was talking to a friend that writes articles for his school newspaper and I mentioned that he should do a piece on GTMO and he basically said that the topic was to out of date for him to write about. Although it is very important people do not want to hear about it. Maybe this is why people are so caught up in celebrity gossip or other forms of rubbish news because it is easier to ignore it than face the reality. Also I do believe that some people feel powerless when it comes to political issues. Feeling hopeless can really discourage people from trying to make a change in a system of corruption. Edward Snowden is a great example of the way people are treated when they speak up or take action.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-02-24 05:12
Thanks for suggesting it to your friend.

Edward Snowden's story is two-sided. He is a hero to much of the world and his actions have already changed the political situation with the potential for much more. He knew when he decided to act that he would pay a big price but he could no longer live with what he knew and decided that he could no bear living in a world where the gov't was spying on everyone.
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0 # rrr96 2014-02-24 05:37
Very good point. Snowden took action and had to face extreme consequences. Some people are afraid of what will happen if they speak up. Snowden is a good example because even though he was trying to inform people about the corrupt spying that is going on in the United States he was ostracized because of the swayed news broadcasting that filled some people’s minds with ideas that he was the enemy. They were convinced that his heroic act was an act of terror. Some people believe outlandish lies because sometimes it is easier than facing the truth about our government. No one wants to believe that they are powerless or that their vote does not count, just as they do not want to believe that political officials, such as our president, would lie to them. It is much easier for some people to live a blind life than face reality.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-02-24 14:51
I disagree. When u say that peo believe falsehoods because it's easier than facing the truth, you're overlooking the fact that those who buy those falsehoods don't in fact know the truth fully & are persuaded by the media & their respect for pub officials into accepting an erroneous framing of Snowden's actions. See The US Government is a Paper Tiger."

"The public is overwhelmingly poorly informed and lied to and they largely do not know the truth about what’s going on in foreign and domestic policy. That is the main reason why they are going along, because they don’t know what they need to know. They do not know that they don’t know what they should know. If you don’t know that you are being lied to systematically, then why would you go searching to find out the truth if you didn’t know that you didn’t know the truth already?"

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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-02-24 14:52
"The fact of the matter is that the vast majority of people in any society are going to rely exclusively or primarily upon the mainstream media and the pronouncements of public officials for their understanding of what is going on unless and until there is a mass movement in opposition to the government"
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0 # mart909 2014-02-25 19:59
This actually made me think of something that just happened in Mexico with the capture of Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán Loera. I heard that there were several reporters at the scene on Saturday waiting to cover the story and yet officials actually escorted a not well known reporter from the area that arrived a day later from the rest of the reporters and gave him all the details and allowed him entrance to the scenery. I believe this just shows how government officials use their power to manipulate stories because who knows what the terms were in order to let this reporter have the advantage over the rest.
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0 # jorigby 2014-03-01 09:24
The power to manipulate stories of actual events is the power of bureaucracies controlling every aspect of every individuals' life. Since the Press is a branch of the country's bureaucracies, the information discovered is heavily censored or altered to the public. Therefore, the majority of the people will never know the truth.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-03-01 15:24
Will they NEVER know the truth? Can you envision a situation in which the society is organized in a radically different manner, including the media, in which social needs are foremost and the overall guiding principle and people are mobilized around that principle? This has existed for a time in human history under genuinely socialist governments - several decades in the 20th century.
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0 # jorigby 2014-03-02 00:12
The majority of the people will know the truth if they are truly interested in finding out. However, it's sad to say that I feel it is difficult for the majority of the people to WANT to know the truth since most of them do not care, or are heavily distracted by what is going on with their lives individually. I feel that the majority of the people would want to know the truth if it is directly and intimately aim towards them or their loved ones. Besides that, the majority of the people would not engage in any drastic actions.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-03-02 03:42
The vast.majority don't know they're being lied to so why would they go looking for the truth if they have no reason to think they're being misled?
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-03-02 04:54
How can u blame people for not seeking the truth if they don't know and have no reason to think they're being misled by politicians and mass media? Was it literally the fault of every single student who went to the Gitmo program that they did not seek out the truth before they attended the program and discovered at the event that what they knew before was largely false? Why do u think pal will only respond when it affects them directly? Is that what u see your classmates or even yourself doing?
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0 # TiffyWiffy 2014-03-02 06:31
I don't think that jorigby is actively blaming anyone for not seeking the truth. I interpreted his or her comments in such a way that I felt he or she is just lamenting on the lack of transparency within the media, and readily available information. And it is through no fault of the people that we are kept in the dark. Rather it seems like knowledge of current issues that haven't been doctored, are only privy to those who know how to look for it. And the general populace on average would not look too hard into an issue if it does not personally affect them. Without that motivation provided by personal involvement, most people would not look deeper than the information put forth by the media. Much like how most people do not look past page 3 on a google search, unless they were desperate.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-03-02 09:34
It's very important to make distinctions where differences exist rather than conflating things as you're doing here. What is the primary reason why more people are not resisting?
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-03-02 15:38
Tiffy: you're conflating two different things that need to be kept separate even though they interpenetrate with each other. Jorigby is saying that the reason the people aren't more aware is because they either don't want to know the truth or they're distracted. S/he is also saying that "the majority of the people would no engage in drastic actions" which would mean that there have never been social movements and revolutions, which of course isn't historically correct, including in our very own times.

You're agreeing with him/her that people are mainly only going to move on something if it hits them directly. That is also not exactly how movements have happened - the more altruistic lead others who are less conscious and less altruistic.
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0 # PD06 2014-02-25 05:32
I do agree with what Sara Correa is saying, that there needs to be change in our criminal justice system. I would go as far as saying that not only do we need to close Guantanamo but we also need to reform and release some people that are being held today in prison under the War on Drugs. The War on Drug has been used by the government to strip citizens of their rights and imprisoning them since the 1970s. Closing is something that needs to be done, but what we really needs to be done is to address the actual problem, the United States Government.
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0 # Rod24 2014-02-26 21:30
I agree with you PD06, the real problem here is the gov't and the way which it functions. Maybe if they truly start showing democratic leadership instead of letting the bureaucracies run every bit of the show, may be then we could really represent a nation of freedom and liberty. Not just say the U.S. represents something but in reality represent the complete opposite. We don't need to take a trip to GTMO to see how cruel the U.S. gov't is, all we need to do is take a trip to any of the many prisons that stand on U.S. soil
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0 # mart909 2014-02-25 19:50
I agree with the points brought up within this article, GTMO serves the United States to demonstrate that we are not afraid of taking extreme actions to show superiority, however this is not in any aspect right. No one deserves to go through what the prisoners at GTMO are going through. There has to be a change soon because who knows of how further is the gov't willing to go. When it comes down to the idea that Americans may value their life more than other individuals, it is something that can be argued when it comes to those politicians whom are actually in favor of these type of actions but not on those who are not fully aware of the controversial events the government is involved with.
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0 # Rod24 2014-02-26 21:25
I agree with the message the author of this article is getting across. It is not fare how these men are taken to GTMO against their will and left there to be forgotten and tortured. The sad truth is that some of these men do not even belong there and are basically kidnapped and taken to GTMO. This reminds me of an excerpt from Michelle Alexander's book, The New Jim Crow, in which she explains how criminals and those suspected of being criminals are discriminated against based on an assumption that they are doing something bad. She says, "...allowed agencies to bar applicants believed to be using illegal drugs or abusing alcohol-whether or not they had been convicted of a crime. These decisions can be appealed, but appeals are rarely successful without an attorney-a luxury most public housing applicants cannot afford." (p.145)
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0 # mart909 2014-03-02 04:52
All this is something unimaginable and undesirable but the sad truth of what happens when a country wants to give out a message to others. This government uses all types of techniques in order to get what it wants. They impose certain laws that people break and give them a chance to fight back against them yet they do not have the resources to have a higher probability of demonstrating their innocence.
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0 # Crystal 2014-03-09 08:38
I agree with "mart909". Its sad to see how the government is treating the "Guantanamo Bay" situation. Its devastating yet terrifying because the government is sending out the message, "If you do x, then you are going to get y amount of torture and punishment for doing x." This logic refers to "laws." The government has full control on us and thats what makes this whole situation terrifying.
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0 # CH 2782 2014-02-28 06:50
I agree with the comments above. I will also like to address the similarities I find between GTMO and minorities in prison. The only differences I find between the two is that GTMO prisoners never get to see the sunlight whereas, Blacks have the chance to get released, but are put back in prison because of the lack of opportunity minorities and Blacks face. GTMO and Black prisoners feel the” lost of hope” to survive in society, seems like the system makes it impossible for these prisoners to successes and advance. Prisoners have to carry that stigma the system/ government has imposed on them whether they are terrorist or labeled as criminals. I imagine they feel defenseless of the denial of opportunity they get towards everything.
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0 # CH 2782 2014-02-28 06:59
Blacks experience the rejection of education, public housing, welfare benefits, police discrimination, under and over policing, overpopulation in prison, rape, and torture, while GTMO prisoners also face the discrimination, overcrowding in prison, torture, possible rape in prison as well. My main point I am trying to advocate is the way the system/ government oppress prisoners both GTMO and Blacks, to feel unworthy and empty human beings. The way the system is structure for them to fail or expect them to fail by denying their freedom and liberty, a way for the system to be in control over them, since they (system) see them as a threat to society to its people.
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0 # mv46 2014-02-28 22:27
I agree with the nature of this paper in the idea that GTMO is used as a way for the United States to stay as the world’s most powerful nation. This idea of fear is bestowed upon U.S. citizens as well. There is a very close correlation between this fear GTMO brings and the fear the United States criminal justice system puts upon its people. This fear of the government that we as citizens have helps the U.S. become more and more controlling over us. We have become the puppets to this corrupt system. The main problem is how the main targets are minorities. Low income communities tend to be oppressed and not have the will power to fight against the government because in most cases the government is the provider for them as well. There comes the conflict when you have someone or something that is both the enemy and the provider. We have come to a point where we deny that these types of things are going on in our government.
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0 # mv46 2014-02-28 22:27
It’s not because we have so much pride for our country, but I believe it’s because the normality of these situations have been engraved throughout our lives. The media portrays certain individuals whether terrorists or blacks as being the main outcry for the “War on Terror” or “War on Drugs”. They have justified the mass incarceration of individuals for unjust reasons while we as citizens just watch it happen. Over time instances like the stop and frisk rule applied to New York by the NYPD which can be described on page 135 of The New Jim Crow by Michellle Alexander happen. “By 2008, the NYPD was stopping 545,000 in a single year, and 80 percent of the people stopped were African Americans and Latinos”. Now let’s bring this to present times where SB1070 in Arizona legalized racial profiling targeting Mexican immigrants based on physical appearances. These types of laws have brought about fear in its people.
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0 # mv46 2014-02-28 22:28
The minority usually don’t stand up to these legislations being passed because they are the targets and will become even bigger targets if they become involved. The already oppressed group is looking to stay under the radar so nothing is done. Rights continue to be taken away as our criminal justice system has put away so many people for minor reasons. Dr. Loo stated in his notes that 77% people in prison where for nonviolent offenses and more than ½ for petty crimes. There is a new group of oppressed people and those are former or current inmates. The United States Empire as described by Sara Correa is an Empire growing not only because of the fear other countries has toward it, but the fear its own people have as well. The criminal justice system has brought this not only to other countries, but our country as well. This will continue as she stated until we find a way to change the root cause of this corrupt Criminal Justice System.
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0 # jorigby 2014-03-01 09:17
I appreciate the points the author has stated. I also believe that America is ran like an Empire, only feeding itself what it wants and destroying everything around it. However, I was just wondering are there other reasons why most of the innocent men are held captive within the walls of the Guantanamo prison, besides possible preventative action?? I mean, if that is the only reason the Bush Administration and Obama's "logic" reason to the public and the majority of the Americans believe it, then that's just horrendous! I would believe that most Americans would not buy the BS and revolt against the issue. It is such a shame how credulous people are due to the lack of knowledge and education.
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0 # jorigby 2014-03-01 23:58
I appreciate the points the author has stated. I also believe that America is run like an Empire, only feeding itself what it wants and destroying everything around it. However, I was just wondering are there other reasons why most of the innocent men are held captive within the walls of the Guantanamo prison, besides possible preventative action?? I mean, if that is the only reason the Bush Administration and Obama's "logic" reason to the public and the majority of the Americans believe it, then that's just horrendous! I would believe that most Americans would not buy the BS and revolt against the issue. It is such a shame how credulous people are due to the lack of knowledge and education.
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0 # GA23 2014-03-02 00:46
The government will never let the public know what is actually happening. They will be biased in news coverage along with giving false stories to the media. It seems that they use certain stories in the news that will shock people in order for them to take focus away from things the government is actually doing. As long as the public is concerned with some other story they will not question what the government is doing while they are not "paying attention." It is true that the government instills fear into not only its own people but other countries. The more people are afraid the more power the country will have. Like how people say "rather be feared than loved," fear makes sure no one will betray you or threaten your power.
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0 # TiffyWiffy 2014-03-02 06:45
I agree with Sara on the hypocrisy of the American government's actions, compared to what is said by our politicians. What I found really interesting is in one of the excerpts, Sara wrote that "perhaps we believe that the lives of Americans are more valuable than lives from other countries." I personally see this sentiment on everything ranging from news outlets to online message boards. When news outlets report on the casualties of a certain battle, U.S. casualties are always titled "American deaths". While when speaking about the opposition, the deceased are usually labeled as "terrorists", and collateral lives lost are simply labeled as "civilian". Our government has succeeded in creating a divide between the citizens of the U.S. and the rest of the world where we see other countries as "others". What this has resulted in is a lack of empathy for the people who are truly suffering, the civilian citizens of these war torn countries.
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Elaine Brower of World Can't Wait speaking at the NYC Stop the War on Iran rally 2/4/12