As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Monday, June 02, 2008

Wooden Ships, On The Water, (Not) Very Free

Jack Welch, the former CEO of General Electric, once said that his ideal factory would be situated on a barge, so it could be "hauled around the world to law-wage areas, where it could operate without labor rules, environmental protections or other standards." The US government under Bush and Cheney took it one step further - the ideal prison would be on a ship, where they could best avoid human rights standards and laws.

The United States is operating "floating prisons" to house those arrested in its war on terror, according to human rights lawyers, who claim there has been an attempt to conceal the numbers and whereabouts of detainees.

Details of ships where detainees have been held and sites allegedly being used in countries across the world have been compiled as the debate over detention without trial intensifies on both sides of the Atlantic. The US government was yesterday urged to list the names and whereabouts of all those detained [...]

Ships that are understood to have held prisoners include the USS Bataan and USS Peleliu. A further 15 ships are suspected of having operated around the British territory of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean, which has been used as a military base by the UK and the Americans.

Reprieve will raise particular concerns over the activities of the USS Ashland and the time it spent off Somalia in early 2007 conducting maritime security operations in an effort to capture al-Qaida terrorists [...]

The Reprieve study includes the account of a prisoner released from Guantánamo Bay, who described a fellow inmate's story of detention on an amphibious assault ship. "One of my fellow prisoners in Guantánamo was at sea on an American ship with about 50 others before coming to Guantánamo ... he was in the cage next to me. He told me that there were about 50 other people on the ship. They were all closed off in the bottom of the ship. The prisoner commented to me that it was like something you see on TV. The people held on the ship were beaten even more severely than in Guantánamo."

Clive Stafford Smith, Reprieve's legal director, said: "They choose ships to try to keep their misconduct as far as possible from the prying eyes of the media and lawyers. We will eventually reunite these ghost prisoners with their legal rights.

We have to remember that this Administration is run by a self-described "CEO President." It should come as no surprise that they're putting to use practices like offshoring, outsourcing, etc., to avoid American law. That's why Guantanamo has been put into service and that's the point of these ghost ships. Operating in secrecy and outside the auspices of the law, whether to avoid taxes or labor standards or the penalties for environmental degradation, is a tactic used often by the more psychopathic of corporations. This was about burying the evidence, hiding the extent of the abuse, and floating on that barge to hide away.

Your tax dollars at work.

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