Thursday, September 1, 2011

A Tale of Three Terrorists/Freedom Fighters

If it's not entertaining, it's not really happening
The Christian Science Monitor (syndicated by MSNBC) has this cheery story of a Math major from UCLA who has decided to spend his summer vacation—wait for it—fighting with Libyan rebels. How exciting! He's just a young man who knows how to have a "'sick' vacation" as he told his classmates. It's a plucky little story.

But it's hard not to think about Detainees number 001 & 002 at Guantanamo Bay: John Walker Lindh and David Hicks.

Hicks' new book has brought about this uninforming pile of dreck from David Penberthy at The Punch "Maybe Dave Just Shouldn't Have Joined the Taliban." The chief complaint here being that Hicks should have known that the tides of history were going to shift against the former US-sponsored freedom fighters and now the kid's gotta take his lumps for being in support of a currently-unpopular political group that most of his compatriots probably knew next to nothing about before the war spectacle began in 2002. Never mind the serious violations of international law that put Hicks in a US kangaroo court and illegally held by the US government.

What's really compelling, though is the narrative of how John Walker Lindh was acquired by the US military in Afghanistan as told by his father in The Guardian this July. This is a must-read.

The Quebec Provincial Police had to eventually admit that these three terrorists captured during last year's G20 summit in Toronto were actually police operatives used to justify the state of exception and suspension of civil rights.
I'm not saying that either Hicks or Lindh were not morally wrong, although I suspect there was systemic violations of their rights by the US government (just as was the case for dozens of citizens from the UK and Germany, etc.) The truth is neither Lindh nor Hicks were guilty of the crimes for which they were tortured and mistreated and held captive and paraded as bogeymen by the US government. Laws matter, it's what makes a country worth defending and living in; Lindh and Walker were made to serve as homo sacer.

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