21 June 2005
’It's very difficult to run a perfect prison anywhere, but the United States does that better than any other country in the world’, Senate Republican Majority Whip Mitch McConnell said during his appearance on CNN's ‘Late Edition’ program last month.
The senator was responding to charges by Amnesty International that since the beginning of the war on terror, the United States has created a system reminiscent of Soviet 'gulag' labour camps.
The United States runs the world largest prison system that houses more than 2.1 million inmates, according to the latest government statistics. That means that one in every 138 residents of the country is now behind bars.
Deborah Davies from BBC 4 takes us on a journey through the US prison system, of which the Republican Senator is so proud, & suggests that the horrors of Guantanamo Bay & Abu Ghraib should come as no surprise, given the record of brutalisation meted-out by the US on its own prison population.
Q: This is a question that's been asked by many Americans, but especially by the widows of September 11th. How were we so asleep at the switch? How did a war targeting civilians arrive on our homeland with seemingly no warning?
Rumsfeld: There were lots of warnings. The intelligence information that we get, it sometimes runs into the hundreds of alerts or pieces of intelligence a week. One looks at the worldwide, it's thousands. And the task is to sort through it and see what you can find. And as you find things, the law enforcement officials who have the responsibility to deal with that type of thing -- the FBI at the federal level, and although it is not, it's an investigative service as opposed to a police force, it's not a federal police force, as you know. But the state and local law enforcement officials have the responsibility for dealing with those kinds of issues.
They [find a lot] and any number of terrorist efforts have been dissuaded, deterred or stopped by good intelligence gathering and good preventive work. It is a truth that a terrorist can attack any time, any place, using any technique and it's physically impossible to defend at every time and every place against every conceivable technique. Here we're talking about plastic knives and using an American Airlines flight filed with our citizens, and the missile to damage this building and similar (inaudible) that damaged the World Trade Center. The only way to deal with this problem is by taking the battle to the terrorists, wherever they are, and dealing with them.
DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: And to change that way of living, would strike at the very essence of our country.
And I think all of us have a sense if we imagine the kind of world we would face if the people who bombed the mess hall in Mosul, or the people who did the bombing in Spain, or the people who attacked the United States in New York, shot down the plane over Pennsylvania and attacked the Pentagon, the people who cut off peoples' heads on television to intimidate, to frighten -- indeed the word "terrorized" is just that. Its purpose is to terrorize, to alter behavior, to make people be something other than that which they want to be.
And there is even more, folks!
The secretary was in his office, really not that far away from the side of the building that got hit by the plane. He and another person immediately ran down the hallway and went outside and helped some of the people, some of the casualties getting off the stretchers, etc. When he came back in the building about half an hour later, he was the first one that told us he was quite sure it was a plane. Based on the wreckage and based on the thousands and thousands of pieces of metal. He was the one that told us, the staff that was in the room. So he was really the first one who told us that it was most likely a plane.
The plot thinkens. From The Guardian:
The American military air defence command was told by the federal aviation administration that a hijacked commercial airliner was heading towards Washington 12 minutes before it hit. But during that crucial time the defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, and his top aides remained unaware of any imminent danger.
But while officials knew of the attacks in New York, few imagined that the Pentagon itself could be a target. Following the second attack, John Jester, chief of the defence protective service, which guards the Pentagon, raised the building's state of alert just one level, from normal to alpha, which demanded no more than spot-inspections of vehicles and increased police patrols.
It has become quite obvious that something is just not kosher, and the USA government is covering up some very serious stuff. Where is the missing United Airlines plane and all of the people who were on board?