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Tuesday, Feb 24, 2009, 3:14 pm

Bush’s Irony-Free Terror Regime

By Jeremy Gantz

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Barbara Ehrenreich has a deeply disturbing post on her blog about how an article she wrote 20 years ago played a role in the torture of Binyam Mohamed.

Note that I am not inserting the word "alleged" before "torture": if ever there were a clear case of abuse during the Bush terror regime, Mohamed's would be it.

Mohamed, who was released from Guantanamo yesterday and transferred to Britain, where he was a resident until 2002, spent a total of seven years in U.S. custody, beginning with his arrest in Pakistan. As if being tortured and held without charge for years were not bad enough, Mohamed's "rendering" and imprisonment appears to have been in part based on the man's "confession" about reading an article online that detailed how to build a H-bomb. (Mohamed was charged with war crimes last year, but those charges were later dropped.)

That article, co-written by Barbara Ehrenreich, was satire. U.S. authorities didn't get the joke, as she notes:

It's not clear how the news of Mohamed's H-bomb knowledge was conveyed to Washington - many documents remain classified or have not been released - but Smith speculates that the part about the H-bomb got through, although not the part about the joke. The result, anyhow, was that Mohamed was thrust into a world of unending pain - tortured at the U.S. prison in Baghram, rendered to Morocco for 18 months of further torture, including repeated cutting of his penis with a scalpel, and finally landing in Guantanamo for almost five years of more mundane abuse.

And here's an excerpt from Ehrenreich's 1979 article, published in a now-defunct left-wing magazine named Seven Days:

First transform the gas into a liquid by subjecting it to pressure. You can use a bicycle pump for this. Then make a simple home centrifuge. Fill a standard-size bucket one-quarter full of liquid uranium hexafluoride. Attach a six-foot rope to the bucket handle. Now swing the rope (and attached bucket) around your head as fast as possible. Keep this up for about 45 minutes. Slow down gradually, and very gently put the bucket on the floor. The U-235, which is lighter, will have risen to the top, where it can be skimmed off like cream. Repeat this step until you have the required 10 pounds of uranium. (Safety note: Don't put all your enriched uranium hexafluoride in one bucket. Use at least two or three buckets and keep them in separate corners of the room. This will prevent the premature build-up of a critical mass.)


God save us all from the anti-terrorism hysteria and brutal ineptitude of the U.S. government.

Jeremy Gantz is a contributing editor at the magazine. He is the editor of The Age of Inequality: Corporate America's War on Working People (2017, Verso), and was the Web/Associate Editor of In These Times from 2008 to 2012.

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