Those Pesky Terrorists again

The Washington Post headlined yesterday with a another article detailing detainee abuse in Guantanamo.

FBI agents witnessed possible mistreatment of the Koran at the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, including at least one instance in which an interrogator squatted over Islam’s holy text in an apparent attempt to offend a captive, according to bureau documents released yesterday.

In October 2002, a Marine captain allegedly squatted over a copy of the Koran during intensive questioning of a Muslim prisoner, who was “incensed” by the tactic, according to an FBI agent. A second agent described similar events, but it is unclear from the documents whether it was a separate case.

In another incident that month, interrogators wrapped a bearded prisoner’s head in duct tape “because he would not stop quoting the Koran,” according to an FBI agent, the documents show. The agent, whose account was corroborated by a colleague, said that a civilian contractor laughed about the treatment and was eager to show it off.

Of course the administration is more than willing to point out that there have never been official policies for abusing people. (They obviously don’t count having to work for someone like Rumsfeld as an official policy.) Indeed the administration will often go on to point out that those people detained in Guantanamo at the time these abuses were taking place were all top terrorists, really, really bad guys, a threat to national security and maybe even, golly I don’t know, Busch Garden vistors or panda pimps. Arguably, if they weren’t terrorists going in, the unofficial practices tolerated at Guantanamo and the other ‘black sites’ have probably convinced them it might be a good thing.

But we all know that America only jails terrorists right? Oh – in the heat of the moment some people might have gotten crushed under the wheels treads of justice, but that is over. 9/11 isn’t a theme the president spends as much time hammering home any more, the lynch jusctice is over. Muslims aren’t second class citizens.

There won’t be any repeats of ‘mistakes’ like the case of Khalid el-Masri, the German citizen held for months after being falsely accused of being a terrorist.

No more mistakes? Well – not quite. Speigel online has an English article (and a much more detailed German version) about a Syrian born German citizen held just prior to the New Year.

Majed Shehadeh wanted to pay a surprise visit to his daughter, who had just passed the California bar exam. The 62-year-old German businessman of Syrian descent planned to fly from Frankfurt to Las Vegas, meet his American wife there, and then drive to Bakersfield, California to spend New Year with their American-born daughter.

But when he arrived in Las Vegas last Thursday, instead of being ushered through immigration like thousands of other Germans who enter the US every year, Shehadeh was denied entry. US authorities put him in jail for four days, then sent him back to Frankfurt.

“I gave them my German passport and he looked to see which countries I visited,” Shehadeh told Associated Press Tuesday in a telephone interview from his home in Bavaria. “He found I had stamps that looked like Arabic and asked if they were fake.”

He was interrogated by Border Protection and FBI agents for more than 12 hours at the airport. “Nobody ever informed me why I was being questioned,” he told AP. “All that was ever told to me was this had to do with Washington.” According to Shehadeh’s wife Joanne Mulligan, officials told family members they had denied Shehadeh’s visa waiver, which grants citizens of several countries, including Germany, the right to enter the US without applying for a visa.

This business man, married to an American and with a daughter who just passed the California Bar Exam managed to get caught up in the anti-terror policies put into place to protect you – dear reader. I feel safer just thinking about it. Of course they didn’t actually torture him. The German version of the article does dramatize the fact that the police refused to give him his high blood pressure medication and thus he had nose bleeds and was worried about having a heart attack. I’d be worried about having a heart attack without high blood pressure.

I’m sure you feel much safer knowing that your government is protecting you. That your border officials are putting their butts on the line, sitting in airports everyday, ferreting out those evil-doers who want to sneak into America and cause mayhem. Or was it those who wanted to go to Cuba on vacation? Or … um… wait?! Who are the terrorists again? And whatever happened to that Obama Osama fellow anyway?

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4 comments so far

  1. frecklescassie on

    How do we know those people are terrorists anyway? Maybe some of them are really innocent. Isn’t that why they are returned to their countries when the US finishes torturing them?

    We should be ashamed of our government for doing this!

  2. blc303 on

    Do ya think? I’m not so sure. Sneaky foreigners – some of em don’t even speak English!

    And anyway, real terrorists would probably go somewhere really dangerous. I’d don’t know like – um – Virgina?

  3. Teresa on

    When people argue that the government is curbing civil liberties and due process in order to protect us from terrorists, I answer with a page from Thomas Paine, who argued that it is a grater indignity to be victimized by your own government, since you have supplied them with the means to victimize you.

    Terrorists have limited rescources and ability to harm us (though, as 9/11 showed, they can sometimes succeed). Our government has vast resources that we have supplied them with.

    I would rather keep my rights to protect myself against abuses of my government, and take my chances with the occasinal terrorist slipping though our normal law enforcement and defense capabilities.

    As you mention Virginia, wasn’t Eric Rudolph from Virginia?

  4. blc303 on

    According to Wikipedia Rudolph was born in Florida. I was thinking more along the lines of Reprehensible Goode.


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