Two weeks ago, news broke that Noam Chomsky's writings aren't suitable reading for Guantanamo detainees. The Miami Herald reports that a Pentagon defense lawyer sent an Arabic translation of Chomsky's Interventions, published in 2007, to the prison camp's library earlier this year. The lawyer's donation was rejected without explanation, but was returned with a list of restricted literature, including that supposedly espousing "anti-American, anti-Semitic, anti-Western'' ideology. Chomsky, the prolific 80-year-old professor emeritus of linguistics at MIT, has been a prominent critic of American foreign policy since the Vietnam era. When he received news of the prison's decision, he said: "This happens sometimes in totalitarian regimes.'' The post-9/11 essays comprising Interventions were originally distributed by the New York Times Syndicate as columns. (Earlier this year, In These Times began publishing Chomsky's monthly column; the Times Syndicate told us no other U.S. publication publishes it.) The book discusses America's international policy in the era of George W. Bush, fiercely criticizing the interventionist mentality that guides decision-making. Gitmo's library currently houses over 16,000 works, with Harry Potter a popular favorite. Although President Obama pledged to shut down the facility by early 2010, Guantanamo staff say they are trying to improve the quality of life at the polarizing prison until then. A founding In These Times sponsor, Chomsky has been a good friend to the magazine since its inception. The affection is mutual: Last year, ITT offered Interventions as a gift to donors. The magazine's staff is deeply disturbed by this blatant act of government censorship. Chonsky's most recent monthly column, "Barack Obama and the Unipolar Moment," can be read here.
Chenault Taylor, a former In These Times web intern, is a student at Northwestern University.