Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Naomi Wolf Six Months Into Obama

Last time I posted on Naomi Wolf was back in November, 2008.

Someone along the line, I think a commenter at Bob Murphy's blog labeled her a leftist, and pretty much that was that. She was clearly anti-Bush, and from the left, but I also saw her speak in Los Angeles and got the sense that she was an honest broker.

Now that President Obama has roughly six months under his belt in the White House, I decided to check in on her blog to see if she was caught up in the Obama adoration, or if she saw passed it.

She doesn't blog much, but when she does, they are well worth reading.

Her second most recent post is from July, but it is her report from a visit to Guantánamo. The entire post is well worth reading. It is a guided tour of Guantánamo. It is like nothing else you will ever read. Here's one excerpt:

As the military handlers made pleasant jokes about the heat, I took in a low-tech vision of Hell. This was the site of the first scenes from Guantánamo, where men sweltered in kennel-like cages. These were the cages themselves: about 50, each about 8ftx12ft, an aisle down the centre for guards to move in, a slab of corrugated iron on top of each cell, and a pipe with a funnel at groin level, in which to urinate; open to the elements; no walls, no true shade. Concrete floors. There had been buckets for defaecation, MC1 Dwight told us; but the prisoners had thrown the faeces at the guards. There was a communal shower, now crumbling — but the prisoners had not liked to shower in groups, naked...

...we went in the afternoon, to Camps 5 and 6 — hulking state-of-the-art maximum-security prison...

At the end of the hall I opened a door. Before me was an unused cell, packed halfway to the ceiling with hundreds of cans of Ensure, the liquid nutrient used in force-feeding. (Jen Nessel, of the Centre for Constitutional Rights, had told me that 24 detainees were being force-fed daily, in restraining chairs, because they were on hunger strike.) Lieutenant Fulghum came to get me, annoyed. “No one is supposed to go this far down the hall,” he snapped. I asked if anybody was on hunger strike. “We are not allowed to say. The medical staff handles that,” Lieutenant Fulghum said...

Outside, all around us, we saw a facility — one scheduled to be closed by December 2009 — under massive new construction: dozens of labourers were digging, surrounded by the grinding noise of building. A facility that Congress thinks it is discussing the “how” of closing — and that the President has claimed for six months is already slated for closure — was metastasising under our very eyes. When I asked about this I was told that the money had been allocated already and so it would be more expensive to stop construction than to keep it going. Through that open causeway of construction, the detainees in their central cage caught sight of us.

A sharp, sudden roar arose from the knot of men who spotted us. One of the prisoners looked straight at me and, his face twisted with an emotion that I could not read, screamed: “Go! Go!”

“Why are they saying ‘Go?’” I asked.

The handler looked at me. The Muslim men in the cage were being managed by guards who were mostly African American, and who shouted in colloquial English to get their attention: “Yo! 289! Stop that!” “They learn English from the guards,” he explained. “They aren’t saying ‘Go’.”

What they had screamed out to us — across the greatest possible distance — was: “Yo!”...

Here's an excerpt from her most recent post, made last week and titled, The Bush in Obama:
... six months after he ordered an end to torture and CIA “black sites,” and promised to close Guantánamo within a year, Obama seems to be re-branding Bush’s worst excesses. He has brought in planeloads of journalists to Guantánamo Bay to show them a “safe, transparent, and humane” facility that now offers fresh baklava and video viewing from a shackled loveseat. But the roughly 240 detainees remain incarcerated without having been charged with any crime, and will still not get a fair trial, even under Obama’s proposed military commissions. After all, the prosecutor, the judge, and the “panel” are all to be US government employees.

Furthermore, Obama’s Justice Department has invoked Bush’s argument that the State Secrets Act bars evidence about torture from being disclosed, which means that anyone who was tortured can never appear in court. Moreover, Obama has sought to suppress hundreds of photographs depicting sexual assault in US-run prisons, and has done nothing to roll back the Patriot Act.

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