Battlepanda: Detainee No. 200343


Always trying to figure things out with the minimum of bullshit and the maximum of belligerence.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Detainee No. 200343

American guards arrived at the man’s cell periodically over the next several days, shackled his hands and feet, blindfolded him and took him to a padded room for interrogation, the detainee said. After an hour or two, he was returned to his cell, fatigued but unable to sleep.

The fluorescent lights in his cell were never turned off, he said. At most hours, heavy metal or country music blared in the corridor. He said he was rousted at random times without explanation and made to stand in his cell. Even lying down, he said, he was kept from covering his face to block out the light, noise and cold. And when he was released after 97 days he was exhausted, depressed and scared.

His name is Donald Vance and he is a former navy veteran who was working in Iraq as a defense contractor when he was siezed, ironically in connection with suspicious activity at his company that he exposed as a whistleblower.

Why is Donald Vance important? He is not brown. He is not Muslim. He is an American citizen who committed no crimes. As much as I wish we live in a world where this isn't so, Vance is important because he is a living, breathing wake-up call that even more egregious cases of abuse like the Mahar Arar case can never be. If it could happen to Donald Vance, no demographic group can mentally file away detainee abuses and the attack on constitutional rights as something that does not apply to them.

Rawls called it the veil of ignorance. Religious folks might say "there but for the grace of God goes I." Liberals talk about empathy and the obligations that binds us all together as human beings. Conservatives, on the other hand, never seems to see the injustice until it happens to them. Here's John Derbyshire, coming around on the idea that our "free market" healthcare system might not be the best in the world after all:
My health insurer has just notified me, in a brief form letter, that my monthly premiums are to rise from $472.33 to $857.00 on January 1st. That's an increase of 81 percent. ***E*I*G*H*T*Y*-*O*N*E* *P*E*R*C*E*N*T*** Can they do that? I called them. They sound pretty confident they can. Ye gods!

Can't really talk about this, I'm still in shock. But yes, anyone who says right now that our entire health-care financing system is nuts to the fourth power, won't be getting any argument from me.
"Can they do that?", he asks incredulously. One can't help but get the feeling that he really meant to say "Can they do that to me?"