These memoirs bring to the mainland detailed, day-to-day workings of a shadowy prison located outside the legal territory of the U.S., each subjecting the prison camp to “public observation” and political accountability. Although “prevailing U.S. policy has persistently, consistently, sought to suppress” such narratives, and thus used the “very premises of Guantánamo — its location, its legal rationales, its political prevarications — as an excuse to warrant the denial of narrative and its demands on accountability,” this bibliography renders the atrocities at Guantánamo Bay visible.
Inmate narratives join the tradition of the “scandalous memoir,” in which the writer publishes and publicizes “gross misconduct” in order to “shame” the powerful into correcting wrongdoing and to redirect our understanding of persons who have been disappeared under deliberate misconstructionsas Michael Mascuch explains in The Origins of the Individualist Self: Autobiography and Self-Identity in England, 1591 — 1791. As such, detainee memoirs share an impulse with Wikileaks and whistleblowers. They respond to over-reaching actions of a government obsessed with classifying information as too dangerous for public consumption. The “leaks” in memoirs force government to acknowledge these deletions, and intend to foster public outrage and encourage citizen involvement.
Moqbel writes in order to reveal. He asks a public and a political system to act by informing a greater public about what is done behind walls of secrecy. Of the remaining group of 166 prisoners, 86 have been cleared for release. This remaining group remains at the facility because of restrictions imposed by Congress (and because the Obama administration has concerns that they will join militant groups if they are sent back to their “unstable” home countries). It is this unbearable state of suspension that prompted Moqbel and other striking prisoners to use their bodies in addition to and in conjunction with the op-ed format, in order to attempt some movement in their case."
thanks for the Sunday Reading nod (“Fact and Fetish”)!
Today I said the words “selfish and honest” and wondered suddenly how that had become one of my...