Monday, February 05, 2007

Gitmo, Still

I'm listening to Chicago Public Radio's "The Story" right now as Chicago lawyer H. Candace Gorman is talking about Abdul al-Ghizzawi, a Libyan held in Guantanamo. Like pretty much the 395 others still there, he's been there 6 years and has never been charged with a crime.

Al-Ghizzawi is married to an Afghani and was arrested in Afghanistan as "enemy combatant." The first time the government reviewed his status once he got to Guantanamo, he was found NOT to be an enemy combatant. In violation of US government procedure, the government then held a second review and reversed its own decision. (Doing so violated promises that the Justice Department made to Congress that it would never hold a second panel.) As far as Gorman can tell, al-Ghizzawi is innocent and was turned in by somebody who got a bounty for ratting him out. (Like 85% of Guantanamo detainees, Al-Ghizzawi was NOT picked up on a battlefield.)

(For more details about al-Ghizzawi and Gorman see Gorman's blog.)

Innocent or not, Al-Ghizzawi has Hepatitis-B, which he had (though didn't know he had) upon arriving in Guantanamo. He also has tuberculosis, which he contracted in Guantanamo. He's fought for about 6 years to get a lawyer in large part because he's been getting sicker and wants to be released to seek treatment.

That's right: released to seek treatment. Because he's not gettting any in Guantanamo. The US government is saying that he doesn't want treatment. He says that's crazy, of course he does. He has tuberculosis. He has Hep-B. He's jaundiced. He wants to get healthy.

In American prisons, we give mass murders medical care. In our prisons, we give medical care to lying bastard CEOs and CFOs who raided pension funds medical care and, in some cases, made it hard or impossible for their former employees to pay for good medical care. We give all prisoners, regardless of what hideous crimes they've committed, medical care. We should. Because they're human beings. Because we're human beings, and if you withhold medical care from somebody whose life you hold in your hands, you become a monster.

And here's this guy who we haven't even charged with a crime who has a couple potentially life-threatening illnesses. And Justice officials and Guantanamo officials are refusing to let a doctor look at him because, no matter how much he begs for medical help, he doesn't want medical help.

How much longer are we going to put up with this disgusting nonsense happening in our name? How much longer are we going to let paper-pushing and fear-mongering deprive people not just of the freedom we supposedly stand for but even of the right to see a doctor?

If we let it stand much longer, we'll be monsters.

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