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“In the Penal Colony” wasn’t just a Kafka story

1 May 2013

It’s something of a mystery to U.S. pols and pundits why the rest of the hemisphere fails to listen to the U.S. when it talks about the dodgy human rights record on the Island.  The Republic of Cuba may be a police state, and dissidents get themselves arrested now and again, but everyone in the Americas knows one thing about Cuban prisons.  The worst of them isn’t Cuban:


… the decision to transport captured individuals in the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT) to Guantanamo did not happen because of some popular fear or anxiety amongst Americans after 9/11. That may have insulated the administration of President George W. Bush from immediate criticism, but, as Mark Mazzetti shows in his book, The Way of the Knife: The CIA, a Secret Army and a War at the Ends of the Earth, it was torture tapes destroyer and torture advocate, former CIA Counterterrorism Center head, Jose Rodriguez, who suggested holding individuals at Guantanamo Bay.

During a CIA meeting, where Rodriguez and then-director George Tenet were present:

Everyone around the table laughed, thinking about how much it would anger Fidel Castro if the United States were to jail the prisoners of its new war on the American military base in Cuba. But the more they thought about the prospect, the more everyone thought Guantanamo actually made sense. It was an American facility, and the fate of the prison would not be jeopardized there as it could be in another country if the government changed leadership and decided to kick the United States’ prisoners out. And, the CIA officials figured, a prison at Guantanamo Bay would be outside the jurisdiction of American courts. A perfect location, it seemed…

CIA officers dubbed it “Strawberry Fields” because “prisoners presumably would be there, as the Beatles sang, ‘forever.’”

(Kevin Gosztola, Obama’s Deluded Remarks Ignore His Role in Keeping Prisoners at Guantanamo,

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