Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Another Guantánamo Survivor

The International Herald Tribune reports on the release from custody of Muhammad Saad Iqbal. His incredible story is now coming to light. Arrested in Jakarta in 2002, he was shuttled around the world to different American-run prisons, aggressively interrogated and ended up spending almost 6 years in Guantánamo. Not unlike the Muslim family we talked about the other day, this guy was arrested for having said something suspicious.

But the full stories of individual detainees like Iqbal are only now emerging after years in which they were shuttled around the globe under the Bush administration's system of extraordinary rendition, which used foreign countries to interrogate and detain terrorism suspects in sites beyond the reach of American courts.

Iqbal was never convicted of any crime, or even charged with one. He was quietly released from Guantánamo with a routine explanation that he was no longer considered an enemy combatant, part of an effort by the Bush administration to reduce the prison's population.

How far should the American Security Forces go to protect us from terrorism? Do you feel like Cheney said last week that it's acceptable to torture people? Wasn't America supposed to be a safe haven from this kind of activity? Weren't we called "The Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave?"

One thing occurs to me about this is that it's not only Muslim men who look like Iqbal who have been subjected to this kind of treatment. We've got a long history of incarcerating real Americans who turn out to be innocent, as we've discussed before.

Please leave a comment.


  1. Mike,

    I think it is disingenuous of you to link torture with false imprisonment.

    Yes, the justice system isn't prefect but to try to imply that America condones torture simply because of those mistakes is wrong.

    Or did I completely misunderstand this comment:

    One thing occurs to me about this is that it's not only Muslim men who look like Iqbal who have been subjected to this kind of treatment. We've got a long history of incarcerating real Americans who turn out to be innocent, as we've discussed before.

  2. false imprisonment does not equal torture, no.

    here's a few links to evidence that the USA has condoned and inflicted torture during this past (still current) administration:






    so, mike was indeed careless and clumsy to link torture with false imprisonment. he could have just linked U.S. torture with, y'know, any of the tons of solid evidence that we have been committing torture --- as well as false imprisonment, kidnapping, and whathaveyou.

    really, at times like this i start to wonder (even if only somewhat) just why i bothered taking on the citizenship and passport of a country like this one.

  3. Perhaps Nomen because even at its worst, America still tends to be better then most other countries?

  4. only because "most" other countries include a majority of third-world hellholes, Bob. Europeans like myself... no, the USA isn't significantly better than where i came from; it's better in some ways, worse in others, about a wash in total.

    when it comes down to it, i naturalized because (1) i'm going to live here the rest of my life, be this country good or bad, and therefore (2) i have almost an obligation to help make this country as good of a place as i can manage. my efforts won't be enough by themselves to tip any scales, of course, but that's true for any one random citizen.

    for me to live here, permanently and long-time, and not take as full a part in the workings of the country as i can would be freeloading. it'd be lazy and irresponsible of me, and it would leave me with absolutely no excuse when the country went on to do bad things i hadn't even tried to influence it against to the limit of a citizen's ability to influence their country.

    in the end that's why i naturalized, even knowing the country i swore allegiance to commits kidnapping, torture and murder and will now do so in my name. at least now, i can vote against it and in good faith campaign against it in the streets, along with all my fellow citizens... the good ones, anyway.

  5. I'm curious about the perception that America versus other countries.

    I would find it incredulous to think that other countries-besides the "third world hellholes"-, even European countries haven't engaged in torture, extraordinary renditions, etc.

    What does everyone else think?

    Is America alone in these activities or is America one of the few countries that continually airs it's dirty laundry in public?

  6. dirty laundry of this kind seems to pile up higher the more a country wants to exert influence --- of the forceful, superpower kind --- over other parts of the planet.

    Russia's got piles and oodles of this shit going on. but (1) the russkies have been acting this way since forever, so nobody expects any better out of them, and (2) they really don't like to air their dirty laundry in public, at all.

    China doesn't air even its clean laundry, anywhere. but there's scads of it, too, even though China's only just begun to act like a regional power and project its force outside its borders particularly far. the more it tries to step into that sort of dominant, and dominating, role, the more crimes like this it will commit.

    Europe has a lot less of this going on than perhaps ever before, in no small part because all the Europeans gave up keeping colonies. less imperialism, less crimes against humanity. there's still some going on, of course --- remember that greenpeace ship the French sank? well, France's secret services haven't been disbanded or anything, nor Britain's either --- but not nearly so much as the USA and Russia has. they do talk about their own flaws, somewhat, but it seldom attracts attention outside Europe's borders.

    the USA is willing to show off its flaws and discuss them, more than almost any other nation is. that's one of this country's greatest positive traits, and one of the reasons i can feel in some ways proud to be an American. if Europeans were willing to talk about their racism the way Americans are, they'd have fewer riots and fewer immigration problems too.

  7. Agreeing with Nomen on a point, I've always said that America is the most self-critical nation in the world --we believe in probing our sins and righting the wrongs--airing the dirty linen --especially of the other party!

    Of course we shouldn't "torture" per se --The incidents reported at Abu Graib were perpetrated by people of the MTV/reality show mentality --it's very funny to make naked Muslims form a pyramid --they thought. Some American soldiers are products of the rougher segments of our society and abuses surely have occured. We would hope that leadership would be entirely ethical and by the book. But then, think of the couple who were students at our military academies --after having murdered a girl in high school together. Fortunately, they were found out by the girl's big mouth, as I recall.

    Hopefully, we don't have crazy sadists in charge of interrogations at these prisons. One wonders if everything the Pakistani "victim" alleges is true.

    On the other hand, think of Elliot Stabler in Law and Order --and how he and the other detectives of American entertainment "rough up" the bad guys to force them to tell where the girl is buried before she runs out of air in her box --recall how you watch a really mean guy get what he deserves and you find it satisfying. The man who would imprison and rape a series of girls underground for months in unspeakable surroundings --shouldn't he be castrated?

    If any of these prisoners would like to behead or bomb somebody, they deserved a bashing. But how would the innocent prove to be innocent? And what are we doing with the guilty? I heard some of the released have already re-joined the Taliban.

    Why didn't we put those guys through re-hab while we had them, a humanizing western culture course? I'd show translated movies "Places in the Heart" --"A Beautiful Life"? (the one about the little boy in the prison camp.) movies about the holocaust, schindler's List --A Wonderful Life -- the Jesus movie --The Passion -- funny movies (the three stooges?) --show them Jewish entertainers. Challenge their hatred and joyless view of life --and their lack of compassion for Jews, children, women.

    I assume we wasted our opportunity.

  8. Nomen & Bob- I enjoyed your tit-for-tat on this topic. It was quite a good point and counter-point volley.

    Bob asks, What does everyone else think?

    I suppose that it really doesn't matter if other nations do more torturing than we Americans. The real question ought to be: when and why did America fall into the torture category?

    We have always stood out among the nations of the world for our liberty and justice, yet when we, too, torture that pretty much drops us down from the perch. It's like losing our virginity.

    Perhaps that's why Obama chose Panetta for CIA- to clean up the Bush-Cheney torture and rendition fiasco that has put us on par with Iraq, Egypt, China and Russia.

    Although we can't get our virginity back, at least we ought to close the brothel.

  9. Good for you, Mudrake! Substantive contribution! : )

    I doubt we know when this so called virginity was lost. Maybe tactics for getting the truth from someone are nothing new in military or CIA practice. Of course, terrorism is somewhat new as a foe, isn't it with their surprise and senseless tactics against civilians all over the world? I'm sure we wanted to squeeze the whereabouts of Osama out of someone.

    I doubt all our interrogators would cripple someone as this Pakistani claims happened to him. I hope that those who know what really happened will tell the truth and hold law-breakers accountable --whatever that law is. I'm sure we don't have license to maim and cripple --not even from Bush and Cheney.

  10. Barb, You say the word "muslim" just like they used to say the word "nigger" when I was growing up. Do you mean it like that? Or am I hearing it wrong?

  11. barb says, I'm sure we don't have license to maim and cripple --not even from Bush and Cheney.

    Good for you, barb. That was the very first time that I saw any comment of yours on any blog that criticized Bush and Cheney. I think you are finally free of the Kool Aid stupor caused by the massive consumption of the stuff.

  12. MR: Did I criticize Bush and Cheney? No. I don't think they gave license for maiming anyone. I'm saying I don't believe that anyone had such license from them to maim--despite all the negative press on the pres and veep. So if maiming occured, it's because some sadists have become interrogators.

    sorry to dash your hopes for my enlightenment! : )

    Mike, no, you didn't hear Muslim same as the N word. Muslim is what Muslims are. N---- was an insulting label; Muslim is not an insulting label. There are some insulting labels I've heard for mid easterners and I do not use them.

    But too many of them are giving the label a bad rep. I'm not impressed with Islam--no matter who tries to call it peaceful. There is something wrong with it as a religious philosophy because so much bad comes out of it. you can say that about Christianity if you wish, but more good has come than bad from Christianity--when the Christians got ahold of the Bible themselves --they eradicated slavery, rejected the oppressive aspects of Catholicism (selling indulgences, for one), created the Salvation Army and the Sunday School and ended child labor, taught the Golden Rule and the Ten C's to all children in schools and tried to live by them, sent money and missionaries to establish schools and hospitals in 3rd world countries.

    My husband (and I) got along VERY well with his Muslim partner --who has since moved to another city for family reasons. He helped her get established. They are a pleasant family. But ALL the Muslims seem to agree about Israel. And they keep the men and women separate at parties --which is OK. But I don't know that they don't ultimately expect to dominate the world by population majority and impose sharia law --and persecute those who would try to propagate Christianity (which Christians are supposed to do according to Christ.) They really don't seem to believe in much religious freedom in any country they run. The tensions within their own religion --sunni vs. shia --are explosive, literally. Killing is obviously even more justified in their religion than ours. They beheaded strangers without any shred of shame and didn't denounce the beheaders very well. I think they fear criticizing their own with good reason. We've heard of thieves with hands cut off --girls stoned for being raped or having sex with a boyfriend --adulterers shot. Iranian women tell of oppressive laws about their sleeves having to reach down to the back of their hands. Very hard to be a dissenter or an individualist within a Muslim community, i think. And Christians are routinely harrassed, tortured or worse.

    I was afraid to discuss anything religious or political with this lady --for fear of her husband and their mosque community and what I fear they think about proselytizing --and questioning of their beliefs. I believe they would have a Mudrakian intolerance.

    This is all scary to me. Though I do agree with them that we should rid the world of porn and get a better standard of public modesty in the west. I wish our culture would quit supporting the most egregious of the reality shows, demonstrating catty, witchy with a b, nasty behavior by young women --and rampant promiscuity. I saw briefly a show that was featuring a pole dancer/stripper who was telling how good she felt about her chubby body since she got involved in this business --a nice documentary on the value of strutting your stuff for all to see. There is that awful show about looking good naked, too. Do we want our young girls to emulate these women? Probably not. Then why allow or finance such programming? Too many working parents will NOT teach their kids to not emulate this lady --won't even know they are watching her on tv. Won't know their sons are hooked on porn and be able to prevent it. The culture needs to clean itself up voluntarily in America --for the children's sake --for the sake of national morals --to prevent unwholesome addictions which are nearly unavoidable to curious, vulnerable youth if people have tv and internet. Our culture's decadence is one reason they call us "the Great Satan" I believe --but I don't know how they defend their belly dancers.

    Of course, I certainly don't recommend stoning and killing and jail or even laws to achieve moral improvement in the USA. I think we need to clean up our acts voluntarily. Heed the preachers. Use the clout of financial backing/putting advertising dollars behind the wholesome programming, e.g. and drying up the resources for the unwholesome. Nothing wrong with boycotts to influence tv programming. But it would be better if people developed a conscience and exercised it in media production.

    Yes, I digressed. Get over it, MR.

  13. Barb, Your taking the examples of religious fanatics and applying those to the whole of Islam is wrong.

  14. Well, Mike, I just think I'm making an honest observation that the religion produces too many really dangerous fanatics --in the Wahabi schools where the boys sit and bob and weave while memorizing and reciting the Koran all day long --out of this radical group comes the al qaeda folks and the Islamic school texts used all around the world, even in Wash. D.C. --that call Christians and Jews apes and monkeys. Now I got this from the secular media.

    I don't know how else to interpret a religion that produces so much bad news the world over --and does so little to denounce their radicals --which, I said, I do understand --because i think they have to fear their own.

    I believe there are nice Muslims --know some --but at their core, do they think it is prophesied that they will someday dominate the world with Islam by majority rule or force? Are they ALL convinced that Israel is the bully and Hamas the victims? I think they all do believe Israel has no legitimate homeland. and that will be the sticking point preventing world peace until Christ comes.

    Christians want to Christianize the world through teaching/preaching --and we expect Christ to return and establish a kingdom here --or there or somewhere -- a kingdom of love and not of brute force.

    I recommend the works of the Caner brothers --Muslims turned Christian who are profs. in this country.

  15. I just think I'm making an honest observation that the religion produces too many really dangerous fanatics

    OH THAT'S FOR SURE!!!!!!

  16. Mudrake, show me the Christians that have been beheading, stoning, and committing random acts of violence around the world because they don't want Israel to be a nation. show me the Christians who will cut off your hands for stealing or cut off a stranger's head because we didn't give in to their demands? Show me the Christians who are shooting adulterers in the name of God? doing all of the above in the name of their God?

    So who are the fanatics again, Mudrake? Just because Christians don't approve gay marriage and abortion, they are fanatical. Yeah. Right!