‘Now that the words “Guantanamo Bay” have become synonymous with torture, it’s easy to assume that the tiny isolations cells where Omar and many others were kept, are something new, invented for the Muslim bogeyman. But solitary confinement in America’s “supermax” prisons didn’t begin at Gitmo; it began long before 9/11, long before the War on Terror, long before al-Qaeda or the Taliban. In the 1970s, “control units” were put in place, first in Marion prison (which replaced Alcatraz) and then elsewhere.
These control units were largely implemented to neutralize activists imprisoned for struggling for Black and Third World liberation – people like Robert King, Ojore Lutalo, Ray Luc Levasseur, Siliva Baraldini, Leonard Peltier, Assata Shakur, and many others. The idea has always been to break prisoners by invoking in them a sense of total dependence on their captors. As Ralph Arons, a former warden at Marion, once testified in federal court, “The purpose of the Marion Control Unit is to control revolutionary attitudes in the prison system and in the society at large”.’