Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Last Man Standing

A Reuters article attempts to address the last man in custody at Gitmo after the post 9/11 sweeps (apparently about 1,200 were arrested, most were released and/or deported).

The article lists his charges against the U.S. Government, which are mostly of physical abuse.

The staff at the jail where he was first held "poured hot coffee on my body, they also poured cold ice water on my body," he wrote in one, claiming that staffers also cuffed his hands and feet, which caused "my ankle and lower extremities to swell abnormally."

"It is my firm belief that I am constantly subjected to physical abuse (because) of my ethnicity, I am Iranian of Persian birth," he wrote in another, filed this summer. In that lawsuit he claimed that immigration officers forced him to kneel while handcuffed, and then kicked and punched his stomach and kidneys.
When I read this, however, I can't help but think of the Manchester Document -- an Al Queda Manual found in England.

In Lesson 18, the first two instructions are:

1) At the beginning of the trial, once more [em. mine... making these claims is apparently very important and has been brought up earlier in the document at least once] the brothers must insist on proving that torture was inflicted on them by State Security (investigators) before the judge.
2) Complain [to the court] of mistreatment while in prison

and it's brought up again in the sixth instruction

6) During the trial, the court has to be notified of any mistreatment of the brothers inside the prison.

It's a huge part of the Al Queda strategy. They know how we in the West feel about mistreatment. They are instructed to lie to gain sympathy for themselves and to question those who hold them. It is designed to wear down support for the government. And it works.

Then there's this passage from the epitome of the type of people in the West Al Queda seeks to elicit sympathy from:

"People lost years of their lives and families were ripped apart in the frenzy of fear," said Kerri Sherlock, director of policy and planning at the Rights Working Group, an advocacy organization in Washington D.C. "Do we really want to be a country that locks people up without guaranteeing their basic constitutional rights?"
To which I ask, what Constitutional Rights are guaranteed to an alien trying to enter the country with fraudulent documentation? (he was caught trying to enter the country on a fraudulent Italian passport).

He's the last one being held. Why could that be? Because the ReThuglican Meanies love holding him? I kinda doubt it. Otherwise a lot more of the 1,199 others would still be around.

As to the "Frenzy of Fear" -- Islamic radicals basically declared war on the West in the 1980's. The west ignored them -- batting at them like so many flies. They began taking advantage of our openness and insistence on giving the benefit of the doubt, and then a group of them flew 3 airplanes into buildings in the US -- and failed to get the fourth one to it's target, our Capitol. So when we find an Iranian Muslim shortly afterward trying to enter our country fraudulently, I wouldn't call it a frenzy of fear, I'd call it a frenzy of prudence.

I'm sure our policies have been fine-tuned by court battles and legislative haranging. To answer the question, no, we don't want to be a country that locks people up without guaranteeing them their constitutional rights (assuming that person is a constitutionally protected citizen). We don't even want to just hold people willy-nilly who have not had such rights bestowed upon them. Next time we go through this (and unfortunately no matter how hard we try there will be a next time) -- it'll go better.

Remember, if this guy had gone free and was found later to be involved in some future attack, Bush would have "failed". Instead, it looks like we're pretty sure this guy is involved somehow or he would've been released earlier like the others. And of course, that means Bush "failed".

Because it's not about Constitutional Rights or Homeland Security. It's about how Bush "failed".

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