Monday, January 29, 2007

A Note on the Kafka

After reading a post about H. Candace Gorman on Majikthise, Lawrence Krubner posted this reflection:

"Gorman doesn't yet know what one of her clients is alleged to have done, even though she's been his lawyer for some time. "

Seriously though, if you just change "Gorman" to one of the character's names, couldn't this sentence be straight from Franz Kafka's novel The Trial? A man forced to defend himself against charges he is never allowed to know? Lawyers who agree to help, also without knowing the charges? The parallels with the novel are surprising. Who would have thought a nation with a supposedly strong allegiance to the rule of law could end up in this situation?
In The Trial, a young bank employee is charged with an unstated crime and forced through an absurd bureaucratic process before his inevitable execution. Just as the Bush admnistration's manipulation of language can be described as Orwellian (see recent semantic acrobatics with the term "torture"), its approach to due process can rightly be described as Kafkaesque.

These days, a news search on "Kafka" or "Kafka-esque" will produce any number of articles and editorials on Guantánamo and the Bush administration's detention policies. Like Josef, the protagonist in Kafka's novel, hundreds of designated "enemy combatants" being held in George Bush's dungeons have never been charged with a crime. They live at the mercy of seemingly arbitrary authorities that will inexplicably release some prisoners after insisting for years that the government possessed secret evidence of their unspeakable crimes. Others, like Mr. Al-Ghizzawi, will continue to languish in Guantánamo into the indefinite future.

- Adrian Bleifuss Prados

On Alternet:

Alternet, the internet's progressive media digest, has picked up Diary of a Guantánamo Attorney, H. Candace Gorman's recent piece in In These Times.

Post Script:
The article has also been picked up by After Downing Street.