On the very early Saturday morning, eight days before Casey was killed in Baghdad, I received a phone call from him. He was still in Kuwait. He talked about the heat; about heading to Baghdad the following week; he was on his way to mass; then he told me about stopping in Shannon Airport, Ireland on the First Cav’s way to Kuwait.
My doomed son told me about an employee that he met there who saw his name badge “Sheehan” and she told him about the origins of the name and where it was located in Ireland. After some sleepy expressions of love, we hung up and that’s the last time I heard Casey’s dear voice. If I only knew, I would never have let him hang up.
I am back here in Ireland working again with the Irish Anti-War Movement (IAWM). One of the group’s main goals is to close down Shannon Airport to US military use. Over one-million of US soldiers have passed through Shannon and a documented 150 US rendition planes have landed there. Whether there were detainees being tortured, or not, no one knows because the Irish government has accepted assurances from the known liars in our government that there is no torture or “enhanced interrogation techniques” going on in those planes. Either the Irish government is very gullible or very complicit: the anti-war movement here seems to think that it is the latter.
I traveled to Shannon Airport with IAWM the other day. We landed in Shannon on a flight from Dublin and were met there by the local anti-war movement. We were also met by two Iraqi families who are refugees from Iraq temporarily living in Ireland. One of the families had two darling little girls who are so unbelievably lucky to have been able to leave their Bush-torn country, (where one out of eight children dies before they are five years old), with both parents alive. Another couple met us there and the wife, heavy with child, is due in two weeks. The Iraqis made the four hour drive up from Dublin to support us. They all desperately want to return to their country. Being in Shannon was hard for all of us. It was extremely difficult for me because this is one of the last places Casey was before he died and because we talked about it the last time he phoned. It is difficult for the IAWM because they don’t want their government to be complicit in US war crimes, and it was difficult for the Iraqis because Shannon is a launching pad for carnage in their homeland.
If it was difficult for all of us, traveling with us, also, was Rhuhel Ahmed, one of the so-called Tipton 3 who were sold to the Americans by the Northern Alliance back in 2001 when the young British-Muslims had the awful luck to be in Afghanistan when the US invaded and were incarcerated in Guantanamo Bay torture camp for two and a half years before they were released. I have also met Asif Iqbal who is one of the Tipton 3 and who traveled to Cuba with me last January. The stories that Asif and Rhuhel tell are horrifying and sickening and documented in the fine film The Road to Guantanamo by Matthew Whitehouse. The film is gruesome in its true-to-life detail but cannot do justice to the injustice and inhumanity that is going on still in many of our torture prisons around the world. Asif and Rhuhel have both related stories to me of beatings, being chained in stress positions for hours, extremes of temperatures, ear-drum breaking music, psychological torture, and the worst of all to them: sodomy. I would challenge anyone in BushCo, interrogators, or anyone who supports torture (i.e.: Mitt Romney, Republican presidential candidate, or Dana Rohrbacher, R-Ca), to agree to submit themselves to these “enhanced interrogation techniques” to help them decide if the methods are torture or just cute fraternity hazing.
King George was giving the Coast Guard commencement speech the same day that Rhuhel and I were in Shannon calling for the Irish government to stop aiding and abetting him in his war crimes and crimes against humanity. He told the graduates about some “intelligence” that points to the fact that Osama bin Laden (remember that guy? He is being resurrected from neo-con hell to justify the continued surge in violence in Iraq that has accompanied George’s troop surge) is planning on using Iraq as a staging area for further attacks here on American soil. Exploiting phony intelligence and playing the farcical politics of fear worked for the neo-cons before, but we must not allow it to work again. Why should the world believe anything that comes out of the mouths of the lying BushCo? The only reason would be for profit — and the Irish elite are profiting off of the use of Shannon while our soldiers are dying, BushCo are lying and the people of Iraq are trapped in a seemingly endless cycle of violence.
May, 2007, is on tragic pace to be the bloodiest month in Iraq, yet. Fifteen soldiers were killed over the weekend, nine yesterday, no word on the amount of Iraq’s killed, as usual, and one of our captured soldiers was found dead. I wonder how many of those killed flew through Shannon and I wonder how many Iraqis were killed by those that flew through Shannon? I only pray that Pfc. Joseph Anzack, Jr., and the other captured soldiers were not, or are not, being treated anywhere near as harshly as Asif, Rhuhel and tens of thousands of others have been treated by the USA, which has lost any semblance of moral authority or standing in the world that we may have once enjoyed — particularly in this part of the world. We lost any credibility in the Arab world decades ago with such despicable antics as the CIA assisted military overthrow of Mohammed Mossadegh (Democratically elected Prime Minister who resisted foreign meddling) in Iran in the 1950’s which led to the current domination by the Iranian Ayatollahs.
The Iraqis who came to support us at Shannon broke my heart with their beauty and eyes filled with compassion for me and their presence touched me deeply. Rhuhel and Asif’s story makes me ashamed to be American and a human. The most profound thing I have heard both Asif and Rhuhel say is that when they were turned over to the Americans in Kandahar by the Northern Alliance, they were filled with joy and greatly relieved because they believed that their ordeal was over. They actually thought that the Americans would treat them like human beings — it would take only about five minutes for American barbaric treatment to dispel that myth to the young captives.
I have the sinking feeling that the torturers of Guantanamo and other American torture chambers treat their hound dogs better than they treat mostly innocent human beings. It is a sad truism that torture degrades the humanity of the torturer more than that of the tortured.
We must insist that the governments of the world stop supporting their “friends” the American government: Nothing good will come from torture or demolishing an entire country for corporate profit and domination of natural resources. Evil begets evil.
Now is the time for the governments of the world to band together and call for a closure of all torture facilities and put political and economic pressure on the USA until they end the illegal and immoral occupation of Iraq. There is a new caucus in Ireland and several members are standing for election on this platform that should be a mantra for the entire planet:
People Before Profit.