Harvard Square Observer: Words Written on the Scene

Ernest Cassara


The Land of the Free and the Home of the Fearful

It was inevitable, with the observance of 9/11, and the upcoming congressional elections, that the Bush administration, and Republicans generally, would play the fear card.  The president tells us that we are more safe, but, on the other hand, we are not.  This dual message may serve his purpose, but, what is the public supposed to make of such confusion?

We’re told that it is possible members of Al Qaeda are among us, planning to follow up the destruction of the World Trade Center twin towers, and the attack on the Pentagon, with new attacks.  Of course, they never remind us that the outrage in Oklahoma City was not the work of Al Qaeda, but of a true, blue, American-born terrorist.  Timothy McVeigh, in case he has slipped your mind.

And, constantly, Mr. Bush reiterates that the war in Iraq is the same as the “war on terror.”  “If we don’t face them in the streets of Baghdad, we will face them in our cities,” he says.   Scare, scare, scare! 


The Myth That We Are Different

At last President Bush has owned up to the fact that the CIA has been operating secret prisons abroad.  Opponents of the U.S. have been snatched and spirited away.  And, there is every reason to believe that some have been tortured.

Now Mr. Bush has informed us that fourteen of them have been transferred to the prison camp at Guantánamo, where they will be put on trial.  Now, the president must get Congress to adopt legislation on trial procedures that will pass muster with the Supreme Court.

Hearing Mr. Bush’s announcement, I could not help but ask myself how snatching folks and imprisoning them in secret prisons differs from the kind of charges brought against Saddam Hussein in his trial on war crimes.

It is still a mystery as to which countries in Europe have played host to these secret prisons, and continue to do so, for the president has made clear that they are not going to be closed.

The European Union has a great interest in which countries have cooperated with the CIA, allowing the prisons on their territory, and their airports for transit.  If they should turn out to be countries that eagerly seek membership in the Union, they had better watch out!  Despite the denigration of Europe by right-wingers, such as David Brooks, Europe has learned from its mistakes in two horrendous wars, and promotes peace, as opposed to the present U.S. administration.



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Harvard Square Commentary, September 11, 2006