Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Extra-legal Prisons East & West

Today's bloggence notes the spread of extra-legal, supralegal, illegal, and sublegal prisons with a comparative juxtaposition.

Labor camps in China hold some 300,000 prisoners today (yes I double-checked and the year is 2005 not 1955). These labor camps detain anyone for any reason up to about 4 years without formal charges, without a lawyer, and without even a trial or a judicial order. Prisoners are held in a parallel underworld by the police, with merely police authority. Here's a photo of one such house of the dead, Shandong No. 2:

Labor Camp in China

Issue in China: Labor Camps That Operate Outside the Courts - New York Times

Meanwhile, back in the world of occidental petroleum, we are reminded again that despite all the sadistic porn pictures in the news, the public outcry and official anguish and liberal handwringing and court martialled scapegoats, that nothing has been improved in the U.S. treatment (elsewhere called "torture") of its P.O.W.s in Gitmo and Afghanistan and Iraq and in illicit "ghost flights" of arrestees out to countries that routinely practice torture. Reportedly things have even gotten worse in some prisons.

I recommend the sensible approach to stuffing these same jail cells with corpulent cons like Dick Cheney and Rumsfeld and the rest of the usual suspects. Then we'll see how much worse conditions there become.

The Guardian investigated Afghanistan for instance, and titled their story about that country as: One Huge U.S. Jail. Here's the beef:

"Washington likes to hold up Afghanistan as an exemplar of how a rogue regime can be replaced by democracy. Meanwhile, human-rights activists and Afghan politicians have accused the US military of placing Afghanistan at the hub of a global system of detention centres where prisoners are held incommunicado and allegedly subjected to torture. The secrecy surrounding them prevents any real independent investigation of the allegations. "The detention system in Afghanistan exists entirely outside international norms, but it is only part of a far larger and more sinister jail network that we are only now beginning to understand," Michael Posner, director of the US legal watchdog Human Rights First, told us."

Read the rest of their report here:,1284,1440836,00.html

China's totalitarian extra-legal prison complex is part of its national security state apparatus. The U.S.'s extra-legal prison complex is part of its international imperial apparatus. The parallax view here strongly suggests that the "integrated spectacle" of East & West that Debord predicted back in 1967 has already run into this global crisis which has led to a redeployment of the old discipline and punish routine.

Anti-terrorism is the new panoptic surveillance, while capitalist expansion is the new disciplinary normalization.


At 5:10 PM, Blogger E. Heroux said...

Update: 06 June 2005

Rights Group Leader Says US Has Secret Jails

Top GOP senator says Gitmo hearings might be appropriate.

Washington - The chief of Amnesty International USA alleged Sunday that the Guantanamo Bay detention camp is part of a worldwide network of U.S. jails, some of them secret, where prisoners are mistreated and even killed.

William Schulz, executive director of Amnesty's Washington-based branch, speaking on "Fox News Sunday," defended the human rights group's recent criticism of U.S. treatment of detainees at the naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

"The U.S. is maintaining an archipelago of prisons around the world, many of them secret prisons, into which people are being literally disappeared, held in indefinite, incommunicado detention without access to lawyers or a judicial system or to their families," Schulz said.

"And in some cases, at least, we know they are being mistreated, abused, tortured and even killed."

Schulz's comments were the latest in a volley of incriminations and denials between Amnesty and the White House.

London, England-based Amnesty International's report, released May 25, cited "growing evidence of U.S. war crimes" and labeled the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay as "the gulag of our times." . . . .

[ as I was saying, the integrated disciplinary apparatus ]


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