On November 19 I tuned in to the radio news program The World and a story was already in progress. In it a voice with a British accent was describing his treatment at the hands of his captors. He described being tortured, stripped naked and beaten, threatened with execution, and heard the sound of a woman screaming in the next room and was told that it was his wife being tortured.
My mind immediately pigeon-holed the speaker as someone who had been captured by ISIS/ISIL or one of the many groups whose atrocities are regularly reported on in the media. So it was with a sense of mild surprise to realize a little later that the speaker was describing his treatment at Guantanamo. The speaker was Moazzam Begg, a British citizen, who had been taken by the US in Pakistan in 2002 and after shuttling between the various black sites in the region, ended up in Guantanamo until 2005, when he was released without charges after being tortured into signing a confession.
It is a tribute to the propaganda system that we are immersed in in the US that even when someone like me, who knows full well that the US and UK have also engaged in severe torture, heard someone talk about being treated brutally by his captors, my first reaction was that it was done by some foreign group. It is hard to fight against the pervasive message that we are surrounded by that bad things are only done by those ‘other’ people, not people like us.