Category Archives: U.S. prisons

When the Prison Nation Goes International

Mumia Abu Jamal is one of the longest serving political prisoners in the United States.



[Speech Writ. 4/2/05] Copyright 2005 Mumia Abu-Jamal

 Thanks for your kind invitation to join the ‘Attica to Abu Ghraib’
 Conference; *Ona Move!*

 When we think about the atrocities of Attica, and the abominations at Abu
 Ghraib, we are sometimes caught searching for a common denominator.  What
 could it be, we wonder, as we look at the brutal state assault on both
 prisoners and staff at Attica, and the human rights violations, and yes –
 torture, that marked American behavior at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq?

 The commonalities, however, are more than first meets the eye.  Of course,
 they are both prisons (but that’s obvious).  They both came to public
 consciousness through the actions of people who were prison guards. And
 they both were, initially, defended by the State by a flood of lies.

 What matters really least, is that they occurred in different
 countries.  They both happened in the same empire.

 What marked the differences between them is the critical element of time,
 and even this quality does not speak well of things to come.  For, as time
 is the difference, yet it tells us how far things have fallen; how the 30
 years between Attica and Abu Ghraib have marked a coarsening of American
 character, and a brutishness of imperial defenders.

 Attica opened up an era of prison reform across much of the nation, and
 fueled the movement to attempt to eradicate the most depraved elements of
 the nation’s repressive prison systems.

 Abu Ghraib was met by quasi-official justifications, government
 obfuscation, and the incredible spectacle of right-wing pundits likening
 the torture and human rights abuses there to ‘college pranks.’  The
 humiliation of naked Arab men was compared to the field displays of
 cheerleading squads!

 There is, of course, another monstrous difference: the architects of Abu
 Ghraib, and high-level defenders of torture, have been rewarded by higher,
 and more prestigious posts in government!

 In a nutshell, torture pays!

 We have not spoken of the pivotal American issue of race.

 Without prisoners actively advocating Black liberation, there would have
 been no Attica.

 The tortured, maimed, and humiliated prisoners at Abu Ghraib were targeted
 by the U.S. Army because they were seeking to intimidate and eliminate
 people who were trying to fight to free their country from foreign
 occupiers.  In other words, they were fighting for their own national
 liberation.  In an empire, which picks puppets for other nations, this is
 not acceptable. It wasn’t acceptable under the Roman Empire, the British
 Empire, nor its North American successor empire, the American Empire.

 To this latest global incarnation of the White Nation, Arabs are but sand
 niggers, to be beaten into submission and obedience.  It is the refusal to
 accept this status that is fueling what the U.S. media calls ‘the insurgency.’

 There is another element that arises from the evidence: American
 cruelty.  Big Black, the late veteran of Attica, told stories of the
 torture and beatings that he endured, as he was naked, and held under
 gunpoint.  It is an eerie precursor of the treatment of Arab prisoners at
 Abu Ghraib.

 Nor is it mere coincidence that some of the most brutal, most vicious
 actors at Abu Ghraib were U.S. Reserves, who, in their civilian lives, were
 prison guards. How else could they learn it?

 One of the most infamous was from SCI-Greene, in Southwestern Pennsylvania,
 named Charles Graner.  Recently his ex-wife came forward to tell of the
 terrors to which she was exposed daily.  She said Graner promised to cut
 her into little pieces, and that no one would ever find her body.

 Welcome to U.S. ‘corrections’ as the Prison Nation goes Global.

 Copyright 2005 Mumia Abu-Jamal
To download Mp3’s of Mumia’s commentaries visit or
 Write to Mumia at:

Mumia Abu-Jamal
 AM 8335
 175 Progress Drive
 Waynesburg, PA 15370