Posts Tagged ‘Afghanistan’
Patting Ourselves on the Back
Shortly before Christmas, President Obama called Yemen President, Ali Abdullah Saleh, to congratulate his success in their recent air strikes. On the surface, this would seem odd, since Obama was the one who ordered the deployment of the U.S. missiles and drones that successfully blew apart upwards of 80 to 100 human beings, many of them collateral damage, as they’re called — the innocent men, women and children who were killed during the pre-Christmas blitzes. Odder, still, are the mixed messages that came from the White House in the wake of the air strikes. In one breath, we were told that President Obama ordered the bombings (which is, yes, every bit as odd as if some foreign president were to order air strikes on U.S citizens to retaliate for our leaders’ terrorist acts). In the next breath, we were told that America could neither confirm nor deny a U.S. role in the air strikes. “We are not going to get into any details at this point,” one US official said.
But if you consider the source for a moment, it begins to make better sense.
There are two Americas, you see. One is the idealized America. This is the America that created the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights; the America that finally found the gumption, even if it was an act of self-preservation, to put an end to slavery. This is the America that initiated the New Deal during the Great Depression; the America that — 45 years ago this week — waged a War on Poverty and created programs such as Medicare and Head Start and, for a while, made progress in dismantling the cycle of illiteracy, poverty and oppression; the America that passed the Voting Rights and Civil Rights Acts; the America that created national parks and has at times, despite opposition, persevered to protect the environment. This is the America that drafts historic documents professing our aspirations to the democratic ideal that all men are created equal, endowed with certain unalienable Rights, among these life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. This is the America that voters overwhelming voted for in the fall of 2008.
The other America, our alter ego, is not quite the stuff of lofty, historic documents but, instead, weaves history from the shadows. Our alter ego is, for lack of a better word, the real America. This is the America that was secreted to North American shores with the Puritans and unleashed onto the Salem witch hunts; the America that justified the industry of kidnapping and selling human beings into slavery; this is the America that turned a blind eye to the Red Shirts and to Jim Crow law; this is the America that stonewalled anti-lynching laws; the America that violently fought to preserve slavery then, 100 years later, violently fought to preserve segregation; this is the America that replaced slave code with black code with Jim Crow with racial code; the America that dismantled Johnson’s War on Poverty and told us that greed and ostentatiousness were sterling qualities, if not inalienable Rights. This is the America that touts the values of democracy, then overthrows democratically elected leaders so that we may install corrupt dictators of our choosing; the America that sleeps in the shadows with Pol Pot, Pinochet, Rios Mont, Noriega, Sadaam Hussein and Osama bin Laden; the America that simultaneously demonizes, yet arms, trains and funds war criminals from Israel to Afghanistan and Colombia; the America that trades arms, drugs and money to bankroll our crimes against humanity, then pretends under oath to not recall these deeds.
On special occasions, our alter ego parades its idealized twin, vociferously waving flags and extolling the virtues of our Constitution, our Bill of Rights, our Declaration of Independence, while secretly loathing and warring against both the spirit and letter of the law contained within these documents.
When politicians such as Michelle Bachmann and Sarah Palin talk about the “real America,” this is the one to which they are referring — our alter ego — the America of Westwood Pegler, Joseph McCarthy, Lee Atwater and Karl Rove; the secret America of Richard Nixon, Oliver North, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, George Bush Jr. and Sr. This is the America that believes that the ends (money, oil, gas, gold, diamonds, titanium, etc.) justify the means (death squads, torture, extraordinary rendition, buying corrupt leaders, dealing in drugs, funding and arming terrorists, genocide, covert wars, and bending & breaking the spirit and the letter of the law). This is the America of Dick Cheney. Turns out, this is also — much to the dismay of the American voters — the America of Barack Obama.
Given the source, then, Obama’s congratulatory call to Yemen President is not really so odd. The mixed messages coming from the White House are understandable, given the inherent difficulty of keeping the facts straight on those occasions when necessity summons our alter from the shadows to perform front and center on the world stage. Americans will surely forgive Obama, too, for his lack of recall on who actually ordered the bombings. After all, we are engaged in a (call it what you will) war on terror, which means anything goes.
According to the official version of the story, our best intelligence tells us that there are “credible threats” being waged against our interests in Yemen. As proof, we need look no further than the outrage being expressed by the Yemen people over the bombings, followed in quick succession by the underpants bomber. The official version, however, has neatly ignored three other facts that have been alleged to be part of the story: (1) that a well-dressed Indian man tried to assist the underpants bomber to board the plane without a passport in Amsterdam, (2) that one, possibly two men videotaped the flight from Amsterdam to Detroit, and (3) that a second man from this same flight was arrested at the airport after being fingered by bomb-sniffing dogs, while waiting in the room with the other passengers who had been sequestered for questioning in Detroit.
Regardless of the facts, it is clear to anyone watching the news or listening to our president that Yemen is — as accused — a hotbed of al Qaeda danger, intent on attacking American “interests” in the area.
What has not been made clear is the exact nature of our “interests” in the area. Sure, we have embassies there. And these embassies have been the target of threats for decades now. Why the sudden impetus for a pre-emptive strike on the people of Yemen? It can’t be oil. After all, as the media has repeatedly and painstakingly tutored us over the past week or so, Yemen is slated to run out of oil in 10 years. This proves that the recent air strikes and the underpants bomber are not, as the more skeptical among us have become conditioned to automatically suspect, another war for oil. Therefore, it must indeed be true: Yemen has replaced Afghanistan (and, later, Iraq) as the new world hub of terrorist activity.
Either that, or its the gas.
According to a 2007 issue of the Oil and Gas Journal, Yemen’s proven natural gas reserves totaled 16.90 trillion cubic feet. Construction began in 2005 to build the $4.1 billion plant to liquefy the natural gas for shipment, with Hunt Oil (part of the Bush-Cheney rat pack) holding a 17.2% stake in the project and poised to share with Asia two-thirds, or 4.5 million tons of Yemen’s liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports per year. The first LNG shipments reportedly left Yemen within the last 2 months. Also integral to U.S. “interests” in Yemen is, of course, its location (location, location) on the Bab el-Mandeb Strait that connects the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden, through which the U.S. must pass to ferry its loot.
The Yemen LNG deal is similar, albeit not nearly as lucrative as the LNG deal tentatively struck in Iraq via the 2008 “‘Heads of Agreement” with Shell, (aka “the Shell gas agreement rip-off”), set to be finalized after the Iraqi elections in early 2010. This agreement would give Dick Cheney’s partners in crime at Shell full control of all the Iraqi gas wealth in the south for 25 years. Add to this whatever other progress the Cheney rat pack has made with privatizing Iraqi gas and oil, plus the various PSAs, PSCs, TSAs and other acronyms that now form the jewels in America’s crown in the wake of our heroic battle with al Qaeda in Iraq, and you have what George W. Bush might call, “Mission Accomplished.”
Our pipe dreams in Afghanistan are a bit more complex and yet to be fully hammered out, but the tentative arrangement is to send a surge some 30,000 troops who will be deployed at strategic locations along the pipeline in time for the TAPI construction start sometime in late 2010 or early 2011.
Regardless of the ends, the means are more or less the same, no matter what the country — Iraq, Afghanistan, Colombia, Nigeria, Somalia, Sudan or Yemen. The blueprint works something like this:
The Bush-Obama Doctrine (or, A 12-Step Program for Seizing Control of a Country’s Assets)
- Determine what you want from the country (e.g. control of oil, gas and other minerals, and/or control of pipelines and shipping lanes).
- Build a case for a war on terror.
- If there is no terrorist group in the country, just make something up. Your paid AIPAC counterterrorism experts can help you with this by fabricating evidence of terrorism and terrorist plots. Alternately, you can create a terrorist/insurgent/rebel presence by staging a pre-emptive, covert war, which will not only destabilize the government, but will cause a spike in violence that can be blamed, rightly or not, on al Qaeda. (NOTE: Sometimes a terrorist attack — either “real” or thwarted — can help to rally a stubborn American public into supporting a war. Here, your pals at the CIA and the aforementioned counterterrorism experts at SITE, IntelCenter and MEMRI will be invaluable, as they can raise false flags faster than you can say, “underpants,” plus manufacture the necessary evidence, such as fake audios, videos and intercepted terrorist communications to substantiate the terrorist attacks and/or threats).
- Direct your media to report 24-7 on the official story, giving them ample fodder for speculation and fearongering. Stick to your story no matter what. And don’t worry if your facts don’t add up, or if the only leaks you can provide are from White House sources and military officials who are “only authorized to speak on the condition of anonymity.” As Dick Cheney proved, when it comes to terrorism, people are so easily scared, that they will view any threat of a terrorist plot as credible, no matter how flimsy the set-up.
- Ignore people who complain that the facts don’ t match up. If witnesses come forward and dispute the official story(as the Haskells and others did with the underpants bomber story), either forbid them to talk, (in the interest of national security) or ignore them. This way, no one will listen to them but the alternative and “fringe” media, which will brand these witnesses as crackpots or conspiracy theorists.
- Pat yourselves on the back as you watch Congress and the American people — as if on cue — begin waving flags, thumping Bibles and demanding war.
- Escalate the existing war, meting out both clandestine and overt efforts as Congressional funding and oil/gas-field strategy dictate.
- When international humanitarian and civil rights groups express outrage at the massive human suffering (genocide, ethnic cleansing, violence, brutality, murder, rape, starvation, disease, etc.) we’ve inflicted on the innocent citizens of the country, either blame it on the terrorist/insurgents/rebels, or declare the accusations to be nothing but a bunch of liberal propaganda lies. If Amnesty International or any of your other enemies accuses you of war crimes, label them naive terrorist appeasers.
- Grease the requisite palms to foster the creation of a specialized NGO humanitariaGn relief agency, and/or utilize some of the existing Christian relief agencies (such as Save the Children, CARE and others who similarly funded by the defense industry) to respond to the humanitarian crisis in the country. The promise of protection, food, shelter and medical care to a brutalized population of sick, starving, scared, homeless people is an excellent tool for coercing cooperation and compliance. Too, these relief agencies are very efficient at re-directing their contributions into the “right” pockets.
- When the citizens in the attacked country fight back (aka “playing right into your hands”) label them terrorists, insurgents and/or rebels, which will neatly vindicate your justifications for going to war in the first place.
- Escalate the war to crush the terrorists/insurgents/rebels.
- Repeat steps 10 and 11 until you’ve achieved your goal (see Step 1).
Or fester like a sore…
Once upon a time, Barack Obama conjured dreams of our forefathers, of the men upon whose shoulders he stood. He spoke to the American dream — to that idealized notion of a country and a people who aspire to do good things, to live up to that democratic ideal that all men are created equal, endowed with certain unalienable Rights, among these life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. This is the America that voted Obama into office, and this is the America that will suffer the repercussions of his turncoat presidency. But it was, for a time, a lovely dream, wasn’t it?
America simply cannot continue on this path. The need to drastically change our energy policy is no longer a debatable proposition. It is not a question of whether, but how; not a question of if, but when. For the sake of our security, our economy, our jobs and our planet, the age of oil must end in our time. – Barack Obama, May 2007
Our cause is just, our resolve unshaken. — Barack Obama, speaking in early December, 2009, on his decision to deploy a surge in Afghanistan
America will forgive Obama for omitting words such as liquefied natural gas, profit sharing agreements, TAPI, pipelines, death squads, mercenary armies, torture, war crimes, or extraordinary renditions to CIA black sites in Yemen in his Nobel Peace Prize speech and in his recent statements on Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan, Israel, Iraq and Afghanistan. We’ll forgive him, too, for neglecting to mention crimes against humanity in the soaring rhetoric of his lovely speeches. After all, we are embroiled in a war on terror. This is no time to quibble over semantics.
by Mantis Katz for the canarypapers
FOR A CLOSER LOOK:
American Everyman Blog - An informative compendium of well-researched information contained in 3 articles from the author’s “Understanding the Panty Bomber Mythology” series:
- Part 1 – Billions in Recent Yememi Investments and The Underwear Bomber’s Daddy. It’s a Small World Ain’t It?
- Part 2 – Operation Scorched Earth and the Underwear Bomber
- Part 3 – Dancing With Snakes
Library of Congress (Federal Research Division) Country Profile: Yemen, August 2008 (see page 11 for info on Yemen’s proven natural gas reserves plus info on 2/3 split (4.5 million tons per year) slated to be exported to the U.S. and Asia beginning in 2009)
The Public Record: Halliburton, KBR Plead Guilty to Cheney-Era Bribery Charges (February 2009) Article detailing the bribes paid by Cheney-Halliburton-KBR and Shell to the notoriously corrupt Nigerian dictator Sani Abacha and some of his subordinates to win a lucrative construction contract for a natural gas liquefaction plant.
Voltaire.net – ’Nigerian Terrorist Patsy Yet Another CIA Ploy in US-backed Buildup of al Qaeda in Yemen Civil War’ (includes video)
Voltaire.net - Interview with Webster Tarpley : “The War on terror is a myth” Webster Tarpley’s analysis of U.S. imperialism and the events since 9-11, including Obama’s war on Pakistan and on the geopolitical relationships between the U.S., Russia, Iran, Pakistan and China.
Voltaire.net – Africom’s Covert War in Sudan: Under the Guise of Humanitarian Intervention (by Keith Harmon Snow)
Canarypapers: The U.S. War Machines Leaves an Ugly Slick of Oil & Blood Takes a closer lo0k at Africom and the coincidence of alleged al Qaeda activity near the shipping channels, mineral mines and oil/gas fields where, for years now, the clandestine U.S. wars on terror have been reaping lucrative deals for the Cheney rat pack.
Radio Free Europe: U.S. Airport Terminal Closed Over Security Alert U.S. authorities temporarily closed a terminal at the Newark, New Jersey, airport in the eastern United States after a man walked through a screening checkpoint exit into the secure side of the terminal without apparently undergoing a security check. (RHETORICAL QUESTION ON THE ABOVE ARTICLE: Are we to believe that a man simply walked past security at the screening checkpoint? Does any one who’s been to an airport in recent years actually believe this story?)
Salon: Cruise Missile Attacks in Yemen by Glenn Greenwald
St. Pete for Peace: This site has a host of links detailing Obama’s statements, stances and “accomplishments” throughout his political career
Telegraph UK: Abu Ghraib abuse photos ‘show rape’ – Photographs of alleged prisoner abuse which Barack Obama is attempting to censor include images of apparent rape and sexual abuse, it has emerged.
Washington Post: U.S. announces more security aid to Yemen; Britain to host meeting on nation Typical media article that parrots the official story.
ThinkProgress: Hersh: Cheney ‘Left A Stay Behind’ In Obama’s Government, Can ‘Still Control Policy Up To A Point’ Article on Seymour Hersh interview with Terry Gross (NPR). Quote from interview:
“They call it a stay behind. It’s sort of an intelligence term of art. When you leave a country and, you know, you’ve driven out the, you know, you’ve lost the war. You leave people behind. It’s a stay behind that you can continue to contacts with, to do sabotage, whatever you want to do. Cheney’s left a stay behind. He’s got people in a lot of agencies that still tell him what’s going on. Particularly in defense, obviously. Also in the NSA, there’s still people that talk to him. He still knows what’s going on.”
Asia Times: Big Oil’s ‘secret’ out of Iraq’s closet Article that untangles the web of lucrative oil, gas and pipelines deals that have emerged from the U.S. wars on terror in Iraq and Afghanistan
Dennis Kucinich interview in which he proposes to restore the constitutionally mandated role of Congress in declaring (or not) war.
Lastly, consider these words — any of which would not sound at all odd coming from the mouth of Barack Obama:
Five days or five weeks or five months, but it certainly isn’t going to last any longer than that. It won’t be a World War III…. It has nothing to do with oil, literally nothing to do with oil. It has nothing to do with the religion…. People say ‘Where’s the smoking gun?’ Well, we don’t want to see a smoking gun from a weapon of mass destruction. With a weapon of mass destruction you’re not talking about 300 people or 3,000 people being killed, but 30,000 or a hundred thousand.”” — excerpts from Donald Rumsfeld’s CBS interview in November 2002 (4 months before the start of the Iraq war) explaining both the brevity of the impending war, along with the insistence that the impending pre-emptive strikes were about weapons of mass destruction, period. Not oil.
If we were to allow our enemies to prevail in Iraq, the violence that is now declining would accelerate — and Iraq would descend into chaos…. Out of such chaos in Iraq, the terrorist movement could emerge emboldened — with new recruits, new resources, and an even greater determination to dominate the region and harm America. An emboldened al Qaeda with access to Iraq’s oil resources could pursue its ambitions to acquire weapons of mass destruction to attack America and other free nations. — George W. Bush March 2008
For us to walk away from Iraq I think would have at least that bad an effect, probably worse, because if al Qaeda were to take over big parts of Iraq, among other things, they would acquire control of a significant oil resource. Iraq has almost 100 billion barrel reserves, producing 2.5-3 million barrels of oil a day. If you take a terrorist organization like al Qaeda and give it that kind of revenue, there’s no telling the amount of trouble they could get into.– Dick Cheney April 2008
The United States pursues no claim on Iraq’s territory or resources. — Barack Obama, February 2009
No faith justifies these murderous and craven acts. No just and loving god looks upon them with favor. — President Obama, speaking at the Fort Hood memorial service on November 10, 2009
Listening to the radio yesterday, I heard Obama speak at the memorial for the 13 slain soldiers at Fort Hood. I listened to another mourner call the shooting rampage a “mini 9/11.” I listened to Obama.
At the risk of committing blasphemy, I’m going to state the obvious. When it comes to honoring tragedy, violence and death, Americans rise to the occasion. But only so long as these can be turned into a cause, of sorts: a cause for waving the flag and waxing patriotic about how great we are, as a people and a country — a cause, ultimately, for uniting against a common enemy. Because without our enemies, we’d be nothing.
I say this not to dishonor the victims of this horrible tragedy, but because it is incomprehensible that the American people have not embraced, with an equal degree of passion and mourning, the estimated 738 innocent American lives that have been lost — due to the simple inability to afford medical care — since the November 5th shooting rampage at Fort Hood.
Traditionally, Americans don’t rally around common enemies like poverty, racism or injustice. Quite the opposite, in fact. Our enemies are whatever bogeyman currently embodies our centuries-long hatred of other races, of other cultures, and most especially of non-Christians. And — as we learned during the Bush-Cheney Administration — it makes no difference whether these enemies are real or imaginary. The important thing is that we have them.
Without our enemies, around whom would we unite? Against what would we fight? What would be our common cause? Certainly not a reverence for the living.
If we’ve learned nothing from the health care wars of 2009, it’s that here in American, there are some folk who wouldn’t give a slug nickel to buy a poor man 5 minutes with the doctor — and who would, in fact, fight to the death to ensure he doesn’t get a red cent. By no coincidence, these are the same folk who have proved they don’t give a rat’s ass how big the price tag, when it comes to war.
The proof of this is in the pudding of the last 8 years. The rabid mobs who took to the streets this summer in protest against health care reform are the same folk who raised nary a squeak over the trillions of their grandchildrens’ futures that were mortagaged by Bush, Cheney & Co. Not a single pip was heard over the trillions that have been squandered to foot the bill for two wars that were waged on false pretenses and lies — wars which have accomplished little more than generating new armies of enemies, while making billionaires out of oil men, defense contractors and the myriad other for-profit agents of modern warfare.
And in the wake the shootings at Fort Hood, we’ve learned something else. Americans easily unite to shed tears and decry the tragedy of 13 soldiers whose lives were brutally cut short by an irrational act of insanity. Yet we, as a people, are unable to extend this same level of sadness and outrage over the 123 Americans whose lives are brutally cut short each and every day — lives that could be saved, were these human beings simply given access to medical care.
In America, we readily unite around our wars, our enemies and our soldiers. We generously open our pocketbooks to bullets and bombs and missiles. And we turn a blind eye to the repercussions of our purchases — millions maimed and slaughtered, falsely imprisoned and tortured, the women and children forced by American mercenaries into servitude and sex slavery, the uncounted number of babies born grossly deformed and dead in the wake of our depleted uranium bombs. Even as we don’t dare look our deeds in the eye, we rejoice in their righteousness.
Yet, we fracture at the prospect of peace; ridicule peacemakers as weak; label them “terrorist appeasers.” We resent humanitarian causes, squabble over whose job it is — and isn’t — to protect and care for the sick, the oppressed, the hurt, the weak and the hungry.
It should come as no surprise, then, that we were unable, as a country, to unite during the summer of 2009 to ensure that — never again — would any American citizen suffer fear, hunger, destitution, bankruptcy or homelessness due to medical bills — or, worse, that any American citizen would die for simple a lack of money to pay for medical care. It should come as no surprise, but yet it caught us all by surprise to find our nation split in two, with many citizens taking to the streets with guns and threats of violence, sedition, assassination and lynching.
Could it be that — for all our claims of being a godly nation — the moral pulse of our country is driven less by love than by hatred? Could this be the reason why Christians want to embed their religion into our laws, post their commandments in our national parks, plaster their piety on bumper stickers — cramming their hypocritical holiness down the throat of every non-Christian — so that we may, as a country, legitimize greed, ignorance, fear and intolerance? So that we may, on paper, divide the godly from the godless — and, in doing so, elevate our wars, our hatreds, and our petty missions into something they’re not? Is this why — whenever our leaders have attempted to pass legislation to protect people from racism, discrimination, lynching and hate crimes, or to protect the earth, feed the hungry or heal the sick — the Christians are the ones who take to the streets, armed to the teeth in protest?
Could this be the reason why the American people seem almost obsessed with the need to know that the tragedy in Texas was not a random act of insanity but was, indeed, the long hand of the Muslim bogeyman reaching out to get us?
Here, the tension is palpable. Patriotic Americans everywhere are waiting with bated breath — flags in hand — for the answer to that question. The media and our leaders wait with us, their fingers on the trigger, ready at a moment’s notice to shoot the answer to this all-encompassing question: Was Nidal Hasan’s shooting rampage part of a *gasp* Muslim terrorist plot?
They hope the answer is yes.
They hope the answer is yes: permission granted to loathe and fear Muslims. Permission granted to believe that all Muslims are secretly planning to wage jihad against America. Permission granted to label all Muslims — and anyone who resembles, sympathizes or socializes with Muslims — as terrorists. Permission granted to elevate them all to the status of enemy. And because all foreigners look alike to Americans, permission granted to fear and loathe all foreigners.
They hope the answer is yes. Otherwise, Nidal Hasan’s rampage wouldn’t be so different than that of a disgruntled, white Protestant American worker who — perhaps suffering one more ounce of burden, stress or perceived injustice than he could handle — simply snapped. He succumbed to insanity; we went “postal” and slaughtered innocent people.
By the same token, what if Nidal Hasan were, indeed, on a self-appointed mission from God? Americans have never, in the wake of similar tragedies, waged war against postal workers or factory workers. Nor have they persecuted Christians in the wake of crimes by men such as Timothy McVeigh, Jim Jones, Warren Jeffs and others who have committed equally heinous acts, including mass murder, under the delusion that they were on a mission from God:
Gog and Magog are at work in the Middle East…. The biblical prophecies are being fulfilled…. This confrontation is willed by God, who wants to use this conflict to erase his people’s enemies before a New Age begins.” — George W. Bush in early 2003, before the US-led invasion of Iraq began, speaking to French President Jacques Chirac, in the hope of drawing his country into the “coalition of the willing.”
I am driven with a mission from God. God would tell me, ‘George go and fight these terrorists in Afghanistan’. And I did. And then God would tell me ‘George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq’. And I did. — George W. Bush four months after the U.S. led invasion of Iraq, speaking before a Palestinian delegation in Egypt during the Israeli-Palestinian summit, four months after the US-led invasion of Iraq began.
As the child and grandchild of World War veterans, I am grateful to those who lay their lives on the line to protect America and our allies from real enemies. But being an American does not commit me to leave my mind and my conscience on the doorstep every time the decision is made to go to war. History has already shown — and one day the history books will catch up: America’s invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan — be they Christian crusades, wars for oil, or a crude mix of the two — were unnecessary and avoidable.
Had the shoe been on the other foot — had, say, Timothy McVeigh et al been accused of flying suicide planes into the heart of Afghanistan, we would have responded exactly as the Taliban did in the wake of 9-11: Show us the evidence that these people committed this horrible crime, and we will turn the criminals over to the courts for prosecution. Specifically, America was told:
“Punishment must only be brought once clear evidence of the crime has been established, and that must come through the relevant judicial channels.”
Judicial channels. What a novel concept. The Bush cabal cast such quaint notions aside, in what was to be their first successful abuse of the “state secrets” priviledge to deny accountability for their actions. To provide evidence that al Qaeda was responsible for 9-11 would have been “in conflict with the imperative of keeping intelligence information secret.”
“The United States is going to do nothing that jeopardises the investigation,” opined Condi Rice.
“The American people take encouragement from the fact that this government will not have loose lips,” bragged White House spokesman Ari Fleischer.
But “In the near future,” promised Colin Powell, “we will be able to put out a paper, a document, that will describe quite clearly the evidence that we have linking him to the attack.” Of course, these documents never materialized. And the American people, it seems, didn’t really care, anyway.
And as the 8 years wound on, around the world, in dark, secret places, America accumulated prisons full of accused bogeymen — prisoners for whom, we were assured, the normal judicial channels and international law didn’t apply. Indeed, to have provided things like evidence, formal charges and jury trials against any man on the planet accused of terrorism would have also been “in conflict with the imperative of keeping intelligence information secret.” These bogeymen were so very bad, that they didn’t even deserve the normal channels of justice. In fact, these men were so evil that the only way to proving their crimes was to torture them into making confessions.
Imagine a court of law in Podunk, USA pronouncing a man guilty of murder, yet refusing to allow the evidence of his guilt, based on the argument that to do so would jeopardize the police investigation. Or that the only way to proving his guilt was to torture him — beat him, starve him, keep him awake for weeks on end, cut his genitals, rape him with broom handles, suffocate him with water, threaten to torture or kill his wife, his sons, his daughters — whatever means were necessary to making him ‘fess up.
It would be equally unjust, under the scenario above ( with Timothy McVeigh being accused of flying a suicide mission into the heart of Afghanistan) if Afghanistan simply refused to follow judicial channels and, instead, chose to invade American soil and kill tens or hundreds of thousands of innocent men, women and children. Or if Afghanistan were to go on a worldwide crusade to round up and imprison whatever Christians they deemed terrorists. No evidence necessary, of course, beyond whatever confessions could be extracted under torture. After all, as we now know, Christians can and do commit heinous crimes under the delusion that they are on a mission from God.
My heart goes out to the victims and the families who suffered from the brutal violence and murders commited by Nidal Hasan at Fort Hood on November 5, 2009. My gripe is not with those who fight real enemies. My gripe is with people who hurt innocent people. My gripe is with those who try to elevate ignorance, fear, intolerance, indifference, greed and violence into something they are not. Namely patriotism, capitalist enterprise, or a mission from God. There is nothing noble or heroic in murdering or allowing harm to come to innocent people, no matter what your religion, nationality or office, and no matter how justifiable your fear, anger or rage.
A blind reverence to those institutions and individuals who claim license to kill innocents flies in the face of all gods. Obama got that much right yesterday.
No faith justifies these murderous and craven acts. No just and loving god looks upon them with favor. — President Obama, speaking at the Fort Hood memorial service on November 10, 2009
Similar words were spoken 3 years ago, by the United States Conference for the World Council of Churches, in their criticism of the Bush Administration’s response to the 9/11 attacks:
We are citizens of a nation that has done much in these years to endanger the human family and to abuse the creation. Our leaders turned a deaf ear to the voices of church leaders throughout our nation and the world, entering into imperial projects that seek to dominate and control for the sake of our own national interests. Nations have been demonised and God has been enlisted in national agendas that are nothing short of idolatrous.
by Mantis Katz for canarypapers
All that’s missing is the hero’s welcome: that ubiquitous twenty-four/seven media circus that accompanies every Big Story on the latest media darling (heroes, victims, pop stars and nutwings alike) to capture the American fancy. No doubt, every network is clamouring to be among the first to claim an Exclusive Interview with Laura Ling or Euna Lee (or with anyone who’s ever known these women, from 1st grade onward). Queues of talking heads have been lined up and put on standby. No doubt, the two freed journalists’ homes have already become backstage lots for the paparazzi, some being drawn from their previous posts at the gates of Neverland.
Freedom-loving Americans everywhere are poised with flags in hand, ready at a moment’s notice to roll out their teary-eyed patriotic rhetoric: By golly, here in America, we know a thing or two about freedom! Not like these godless countries that imprison innocent people and throw away the key!
It is, of course, an occasion for celebration anytime a wrongfully imprisoned human being is released. Today, Euna Lee and Laura Ling know this firsthand. And they surely feel a great debt of gratitude to Bill Clinton for serving as ambassador to their liberation — which gives these women a unique voice for the cause of falsely imprisoned journalists everywhere. They could do this; they could use their voices. After all, they have the media’s ear — but only for a moment, because it’s only a matter of time before they are usurped by the next media darling. Laura Ling and Euna Lee can use their voices to deliver this most powerful message: silencing the voice of even one journalist anywhere silences the voice of truth everywhere.
The question is, will they do this? Or will they succumb to the lure of fame — to the whirlwind of the media frenzy, the magazine covers and book deals, so that they can tell us exactly what we already know? Namely, that oppressive regimes routinely silence journalists — whether through intimidation, imprisonment or death — specifically to keep people from knowning the truth.
Should Euna Lee and Laura Ling choose the path of right — which is to serve as ambassadors to liberate journalists around the world who are currently being held in captivity by oppressive regimes — I have a suggestion for their first assignment: go to bat for Ibrahim Jassam. Tell the world about how this Reuters photographer has been falsely imprisoned for nearly a year now, held without formal charges, without even a semblance of due process.
Tell the world about how, on September 1, 2008, Ibrahim Jassam’s home was stormed in the middle of the night by men with dogs, who broke down his door — barking orders and terrifying the grandparents, children and grandchildren inside. Tell them how Ibrahim Jassam was taken into custody and thrown into jail, without charges. Tell the world about Ibrahim Jassam, even if it means poking a sharp flag-stick in the eye of your liberators. Tell the world that the United States — with the approval of both the Bush and Obama Administrations — used imprisonment to silence the voice of a journalist in Iraq. And while you’re at it, maybe you can tell the stories about the others. Because Ibrahim Jassam is not the only voice to be silenced in Iraq.
Iraq has remained in 2008 the most dangerous country [in the world], with 15 deaths since January. This is, however, significantly lower than the 50 journalists killed in 2007 (a drop of 70% in the number of victims) and the 48 killed in 2006. Since the beginning of the war in March 2003, at least 265 journalists have perished in this country. — from the Press Emblem Campaign, Geneva report, released in December 2008: 95 Journists Killed in One Year in 32 Countries
A media watchdog group [the Committee to Protect Journalists] said it has urged President Barack Obama to end the US military’s practice of detaining journalists without charges and asked for a full investigation into killings of journalists by US military forces. . . . Officials with the New York-based group took the United States to task, saying the detention of journalists without trial by US authorities in such countries as Iraq has reduced America’s standing in the world and emboldened other countries to do the same. . . . [Wall St. Journal editor] Paul Steiger noted in [the letter to Obama] that 14 journalists have been held without due process for long periods in Iraq, Afghanistan and at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base. Sixteen journalists have been killed by US fire in Iraq, he said. “We don’t believe that these are deliberate attacks, but they have not been adequately investigated,” Simon said. — excerpted from an Associated Press report published in the New Zealand Herald, February 11, 2009
Granted, using your voices to reveal these ugly truths would be a real buzz-kill to the media frenzy surrounding your release from North Korea. But it’s the right thing to do. And someone needs to do it. If not you, then who?
Obama should follow Iran’s example and release Ibrahim Jassam. But, in the absence of outcry and protest from other journalists, Obama has little to lose by ignoring Jassam’s case.– excerpt from Jeremy Scahill’s May 2009 piece, Iran Freed Saberi; When Will US Free Jassam?
The question is, will you do it? Will do everything in your power to free Ibrahim Jassam? And, if you choose not to, will it be because you prefer the path of fame and fortune? Or because (be truthful now) you are afraid of the consequences — even as the worst you will likely suffer here on American soil is obscurity?
Truth is, it’s become clear that no U.S. president, former or current, has any intention of taking a stand against the false imprisonment of our own. That role is, and always has been, carried by the media — by journalists like yourselves. The media rose to your cause, Laura Ling and Euna Lee. To what cause will you now choose to rise? To uphold the integrity of your profession? Or to become, much like the paparazzi covering your story, a cheap and gaudy farce — mere clowns, masquerading as journalists?
Ibrahim Jassam’s brother, Walid, visited him recently in Camp Bucca, the desolate, tented U.S. prison camp in the desert in southern Iraq, and found him close to breaking point.
“He used to be handsome, but now he’s pale and he’s tired,” said Walid, who insists his brother had no contacts with insurgents. “Every now and then while we were talking, he would start crying. He was begging me, ‘please do something to get me out of here. I don’t know what is the charge against me.”
“I told him we already tried everything.”
– excerpted from from the May 24, 2009 Los Angeles Times article, U.S holds journalist without charges in Iraq: Ibrahim Jassam is the latest journalist the U.S. has arrested and not presented evidence against. A media group notes such actions hurt U.S. standing when it speaks for press freedom and rule of law.
Mantis Katz for the canarypapers
For more reading:
NPR: July 20, 2009 U.S. Military Holds Iraqi Journalist Without Charge
Salon: May 11, 2009 Roxana Saberi’s plight and American media propaganda
New York Times February 2008 When We Torture (by Nicholas D. Kristof) The most famous journalist you may never have heard of is Sami al-Hajj, an Al Jazeera cameraman who is on a hunger strike to protest abuse during more than six years in a Kafkaesque prison system….
The New York Times May 1, 2008 Sami al-Hajj Reported Freed (by Nicholas D. Kristof) I’ve heard that Sami al-Hajj, a journalist who has been held — and mistreated — for six years in Guantanamo is now in a plane en route back to his native Sudan. His plane is supposed to arrive this evening.
The Independent UK: September 25, 2008 Six years in Guantanamo: Sami al-Haj, an Al Jazeera cameraman, was beaten, abused and humiliated in the name of the war on terror. He tells our correspondent about his struggle to rebuild a shattered life….
Glen Greenwald: October 2006 Unclaimed Territory What the Bilal Hussein detention reveals about the Bush administration: Bilal Hussein is the Pulitzer Prize-winning Associated Press photographer who was detained by the U.S. military in Iraq back in April — almost six months ago. Along with 14,000 other people around the world (at least), he continues to remain in U.S. custody without being charged with any crime….
American Journalism Review: January 2007 Behind Bars The story of Pulitzer Prize winning AP photographer, Bilan Hussein, who was ultimately held for two years, without charges, by U.S. forces.
Associated Press: April 16, 2008 AP Photographer Bilal Hussein Released (also see the video, below, for the emotional reunion between Bilal Hussein, his family and his AP colleagues, upon his release from prison).
NOTE: The post, below, is from June 2009. To see our most recent post on Aafia Siddiqui, published 1/19/2010, see: The New American Justice: Aafia Siddiqui’s Trial by Water
HAS IT BEEN ONLY 317 YEARS?
From June through September of 1692, nineteen men and women, all having been convicted of witchcraft, were carted to Gallows Hill, a barren slope near Salem Village, for hanging. Another man of over eighty years was pressed to death under heavy stones for refusing to submit to a trial on witchcraft charges. Hundreds of others faced accusations of witchcraft. Dozens languished in jail for months without trials. Then, almost as soon as it had begun, the hysteria that swept through Puritan Massachusetts ended. (“An Account of Events in Salem,” from the University of Missouri — Kansas City website)
The hunt was characterized by unrestrained torture and and an obsession with getting tortured witches to name other witches. (from Witch Hunts in Europe and America: An Encyclopedia, by William E. Burns)
By now, most Americans — having heard the word “waterboarding” at least 183 times over the past month — seem to have grown immune to the visceral horrors attending to that particular techinque that the International Red Cross terms “suffocation by drowning.” We’ve surely grown immune to human suffering. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have reduced the topic of torture to a mere parlor game — an exercise in sophistry — as the left and the right mentally wrestle with questions whose answers have been known for centuries: Is waterboarding torture? Does torture ‘work’?
[Click here to read the rest of this introduction on U.S. policy and torture. Or just skip the intro entirely, and keep reading onward, into the stories of several individuals (with particular focus on Aafia Siddiqui) who have been falsely arrested, illegally imprisoned, "disappeared," subjected to extraordinarily rendition and/or tortured over the past 8 years -- and counting.]
An American Story
Imagine this: You are a 41 year-old man, a U.S. citizen, born in Kansas, an Army veteran, married with three children, practicing family law in the suburbs of Portland, Oregon; you pay your taxes on time, have never had a brush with the law. You are the quintessential “average American citizen.” Imagine, then, your surprise when the FBI descends on your home and fingers you as the mastermind of the 2004 Madrid train bombing that killed 191 people and injured over 2000. Your name is Brandon Mayfield, and it’s official: You have just been arrested as the mastermind in an international terrorist plot.
“But I haven’t left the country in over 10 years!” you protest. “And I’ve never even been to Spain! How could this happen?”
Turns out it was your fingerprint. The FBI’s Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) identified your fingerprint as a possible match to the one found on a plastic bag near the Madrid bombing. The match was then verified in quadruplicate by FBI fingerprint experts, which lent full credibility to the claim in their affidavit: “….the FBI lab stands by their conclusion of a 100 percent positive identification.” It was the fingerprint, see.
‘Lucky’ for you, your incarceration lasted only 2 weeks. The Spanish police identified the real mastermind (some guy from Algeria), prompting the FBI to dismiss the charges against you. In return, you file a a civil-rights lawsuit against the U.S. government. Herein, more facts emerge. Turns out, the Spanish police had already rejected the FBI’s identification of your fingerprint — twenty-three days before your arrest — as “conclusively negative.” Perhaps that would have been the end of that, if not for the smoking gun: you were also a Muslim convert.
Convinced of your guilt, the FBI spent those twenty-three days doggedly pursuing a case against you, with an intensity that the Spanish Police found perplexing. As one commissioner said, “It seemed as though they [the FBI] had something against him, and they wanted to involve us.” Lacking probable cause for search and seizure, the FBI turned to the nifty new provisions in the Patriot Act, which allowed them to entirely sidestep your Fourth Amendment rights, via “sneak and peak” warrants.
Turns out, you and your wife hadn’t been imagining things. Your door lock had been tampered; someone had been in your home. You were being watched. It was the FBI who, in your absence, snuck into your home, your office, and even the family farm in Kansas,“surreptitiously, photographing papers, downloading hard drives, and planting listening devices.”
But you were ‘lucky.’ You had, at your disposal, due process — stuff like habeas corpus, and an attorney to represent you in a U.S. court of law. Your case was fairly clear-cut, too. That is, once the facts were allowed to see the light of day. In the end, the FBI aplogized and you were awarded a $2 million settlement. And in 2007, a federal judge ruled that those nifty Patriot Act provisions used by the FBI to sneak into your home actually violated the U.S. Constitution.
Now imagine that you are a 34-year old man — married, a father, a Canadian citizen for 17 years, Syrian-born. And, oh, a muslim. Imagine yourself going on vacation with your family to Tunisia in 2002 and, upon your return flight home to Canada, passing through the JFK airport in New York City. Here, you are detained in solitary confinement and interrogated for 12 days, then shackled and flown to Syria, where you are imprisoned inside a coffin-sized underground cell for 10 months + 10 days, being subjected throughout this time to beatings and torture sessions to extract information which the U.S. government is certain you own.
While you initially refuse to admit to something you didn’t do, the torture finally becomes so unbearable, that you will say anything to make it stop — up to and including making false confessions, admitting guilt to whatever terrorist acts your torturers accuse you. Your name is Maher Arar and — even as you are ultimately determined to be 100% innocent — your case is not as clear cut as Brandon Mayfield’s. You are, after all, a Canadian citizen. And, oh, a muslim of Arab descent.
Still, the facts of your case do eventually see the light of day. The Canadian government launches a Commission of Inquiry into your case and, in 2006 (three years after your release from your extraordinary rendition to Syria), you are cleared of all accusations. The Canadian government issues an official apology, and you are awarded a settlement of $10.5 million Canadian dollars. For their part, however, the U.S. government and the FBI refuse to extend an apology, official or otherwise (even as there were a few notable lawmakers of integrity on Capitol Hill who did issue personal apologies on behalf of the U.S. government).
Seeking to clear your name, you file a lawsuit against the U.S. government for violating your civil rights. But the Bush Administration refuses to allow your case to come to trial, for reasons of “national security.” To this day, you are still on the U.S. terrorist watch list and are forbidden to enter the country.
The likelihood of your case going to trial in the U.S. is slim, as the Obama Administration has, so far, aligned itself with the Bush Administration, — having recently used the “state secrets” argument to deny trials to 5 other Bush Administration victims who were similarly flown to other countries to be tortured. According to Obama, the Bush Administration was right: allowing these innocent victims a trial could threaten national security.
Now imagine this: You are a 31-year old man, an accredited freelance cameraman and photographer, working for Reuters in Iraq. On September 1, 2008, U.S. forces, accompanied by dogs, storm your home in the middle of the night — breaking down your door, barking orders and terrifying the grandparents, children and grandchildren inside. You are taken into custody and thrown into jail, without charges. Three months pass. Still, no formal charges, no evidence, no due process.
In a stroke of democracy, the Iraqi central criminal court orders your release, for lack of evidence. The U.S. bars your release, however, saying you are a threat to Iraq security and stability. The protests of your family, of Reuters and international human rights and media rights groups fall on deaf ears. More months pass. To this day, you are still in jail, without charges. Your name is Ibrahim Jassam, and you are but one of dozens of journalists imprisoned — without charges — under the Bush Administration.
You are, so far, luckier than some. According to Reporters Without Borders, hundreds of journalists have been killed in Iraq, with many more forced into exile, imprisoned or simply disappeared. Too, some have been imprisoned for much longer than you. Pulitzer-prize winning journalist, Bilal Hussein, for instance, was imprisoned for two years. Al Jazeera journalist, Sami al-Haj was imprisoned for over 7 years, with 6-1/2 of these years spent at Guantanamo, where America sends “the worst of the worst.”
[Here it must be said that Sami al-Haj's story, alone, is evidence enough that our leaders and media should give pause to the Bush Administration's "intelligence" that has effectively colored the entire population of 240 Guantanamo detainees -- including those who have been long-pronounced innocent, but also those whose guilt was cemented under confessions extracted through torture -- as a mix of terrorists and men so dangerous that they cannot safely be released anywhere on the planet Earth, much less allowed fair trials that would, in all likelihood, clear the names of some of these prisoners, the only "threat to national security" being that their trials would reveal the extent of the U.S. government's tyranny.]
(video, above) Associated Press report (39 seconds long) on Bilal Hussein’s release in 2008, with footage of his reunion with his AP colleagues and his family
Both Bilal Hussein and Sami al-Haj were released in 2008. Neither was ever charged with a crime, even as their incarcerations were justified by a series of shifting accusations, based on top secret evidence that, for national security reasons, could not be divulged: Bilal Hussein (see AP timeline of his case here) was accused, at one point, of being caught in possession of bomb-making materials, while Sami al-Haj was alternately accused of videotaping Osama bin Laden, sending money to suspicious Muslim charities, and arranging for the transport of a Stinger anti-aircraft system from Afghanistan to Chechnya. Despite these ludicrous accusations, in appears that these journalists were guilty of nothing more than practicing journalism.
Your name is Ibrahim Jassam, and you’ve been in jail for 9 months, without charges. Your misfortune is that you are being detained by the U.S. government. Had you been detained by, say, Iran you would have been afforded at least some semblance of due process — formal charges, an attorney, a trial, an appeals process. Had you been detained by, say, North Korea, your injustice would be given a voice in the U.S. media. Had you been arrested by anyone but the American government, you would be a poster child, of sorts, for media suppression under tyrannical regimes.
Your name is Ibrahim Jassam, and your story is almost, but not quite, unknown in America. According to your family, which has been allowed only a handful of visits, you used to be handsome. “But now he’s pale and he’s tired,” says your brother, describing one of these visits: “Every now and then while we were talking, he would start crying. He was begging me: ‘Please do something to get me out of here. I don’t know what is the charge against me.‘ I told him we already tried everything.”
Now imagine this: You are a 31-year old mother of three; you are also an MIT graduate with a PhD in cognitive neuroscience. [In hindsight, there is cruel irony to the topic of your dissertation, in which you explored how people learn -- specifically, the interaction between visual memory and perception. In your abstract, you wrote, "Without a visible trail, it is difficult for the subject to form a picture or story."] . It is late March of 2003. Just a few days earlier, the U.S. went to war in Iraq and — as is now known — the CIA, the FBI and the Bush Administration at large were working around the clock to put together the intelligence necessary to justifying this war.
Up until a year earlier, you’d spent 12 years living in America as a dual citizen of the U.S. and Pakistan. You’d originally moved to the U.S. in 1990 to attend college and be nearer your sister and brother — a Harvard-trained neurologist and a Houston architect, respectively. While living in the U.S., you married a medical student in Boston, who went on to work as an anesthesiologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. You gave birth to 2 children. Neighbors and friends described you as a devoted mother, spending the bulk of your time in the everyday routines of raising your children, overseeing play groups with their friends. You were also a devout Muslim and donated both time and money to charitable causes and missionary work to help less fortunate Muslims.
Because contributing to Muslim charities constituted a red flag in post-9-11 American, the FBI was watching you and had been since the fall of 2001. According to U.S. intelligence sources, your husband purchased night goggles and body armor off the internet in 2001, which he claimed were intended for big game hunting. Because of these purchases, you, yourself, were brought in for questioning by U.S. officials. Although you were released after questioning, this interrogation served as further evidence that the post-9-11 hostility toward Muslims was escalating. This factored into your decision to return to Pakistan — a debate that had already caused considerable strain in your marriage: you you wanted to raise your children in America, while your husband wanted to raise them in Pakistan. In 2002 — with your marriage now on the rocks — you and your husband returned to Pakistan.
By March of 2003, you’d been estranged from your husband for over 7 months, during which time you lived with your mother and gave birth to your third child, who was now 6 months old. Three months earlier, in December 2002, you’d returned to the United States to apply for jobs in the Baltimore area, where your sister was now working at Sinai Hospital. After making several applications — and interviewing with both Johns Hopkins and SUNY — you opened a post office box to receive replies from prospective employers, then returned to your children and your mother in Pakistan.
Now imagine that the FBI believes the only reason you opened that post office box was to receive communications as part of an al Qaeda plot to blow up gas stations and fuel tanks in the Baltimore area. Imagine, too, that during the course of the FBI’s 18-month surveillance of you and your husband, they discovered that, during the summer of 2001, one of your former Muslim acquaintances from Boston had been wired $20,000 from Saudi Arabia (a sum which, according to the explanation given by a Saudi official to the Boston Globe, was sent to pay for medical treatment for the man’s wife). Lastly, imagine that, the FBI believes that this $20,000 is connected to a purported diamond smuggling trip, made by a mysterious woman in the summer of 2001, to fund al Qaeda operations. According to the FBI, that mystery woman is you.
To this story add water, then quickly spin
It is now March 28, 2003. Just a week earlier, on March 20th, the U.S. invaded Iraq. Several weeks earlier, on March 1st, the alleged architect of 9-11, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, was captured. It seems that — during one of his 183 waterboard interrogation sessions — your name came up.
The post, below, is from October 2008. To see our most recent post on Aafia Siddiqui, published 1/19/2010, see: The New American Justice: Aafia Siddiqui’s Trial by Water
NOTE: SEE UPDATED LINKS FROM 11/19/08 and 11/27/08 AT BOTTOM OF POST
Interestingly, but to no surprise, you will find no recent information/updates in the U.S. media regarding this case. This is particularly unfortunate, because there appears to be some misunderstanding, which is too complicated to go into, but which is surely compounding the heartache of this situation. I wish I could reassure Aafia Siddiqui’s family that Carwell Prison in Texas is no Bagram. At the same time, I certainly understand their fears. Below, please find links to recent news stories, as well as the (3) links to my previous posts on Aafia Siddiqui.
canarypapers: What did the Bush Administration do with Aafia Siddiqui and her three children?
canarypapers: Aafia Siddiqui and Her Three Children: Victims to an America that has lost its soul
canarypapers: The Tragic Case of Aafia Siddiqui: What each of us can do to help
DailyTimes: PAKISTAN, Oct. 9: Aafia in better health but vague about missing years — Aafia tells Pakistani senators charges against her baseless, has no confidence in her lawyers, US court; Claims she was tortured, made to sign documents, being forced to admit things
Daily Times: KARACHI, Oct. 7: Bring my sister back immediately — Dr Fauzia Siddiqui, the sister of the imprisoned Dr Aafia Siddiqui, has alleged that despite court orders being issued, the United States government has not made arrangements for Dr Aafia’s treatment and Dr Fauzia expressed grave concern over her sister’s deteriorating health. Dr Fauzia was addressing a press conference at the Karachi Press Club on Monday. Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) Secretary General Iqbal Haider was also present and he too demanded the immediate return of Dr Aafia. Dr Fauzia thanked the Pakistani government for its support but urged the government to ensure her immediate return so that she can receive medical treatment.
The Nation: KARACHI, October 6: Sister rejects psychiatric evaluation orders of Aafia — Dr Fouzia Siddiqui, sister of detained Dr Aafia Siddiqui, has thanked government of Pakistan for all its cooperation through resolutions and statements in support of her illegally incarcerated sister in United States. She said that the best treatment that her sister should get was to be repatriated to Pakistan immediately.
The Nation: LAHORE, Oct. 11: Lawyers demand Aafia repatriation — Lawyers have called for immediate extradition of Dr Aafia Siddiqui from America and asked the government to employ every means in this direction.
Associated Press of Pakistan: NEW YORK, Oct 9 (APP): Dr Aafia Siddiqui, who is under U.S. detention on charges of attempted murder, does not have faith in the American judicial system and insists that the case against her is false and baseless, according to the head of a Pakistani parliamentary delegation which met her in Texas on Tuesday. Mushahid, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told a press conference in New York on Wednesday evening that Dr. Siddiqui, a U.S.-educated Pakistani neuroscientist, wanted the case against her dropped and she wished to be returned to Pakistan.
UPDATE 11/19/08: This link contains information from an October 2008 interview with Aafia Siddiqui: http://rainbowwarrior2005.wordpress.com/2008/11/19/dr-aafia-siddiqu-unfit-for-us-trial-torturemental-illness/
UPDATE 11/27/08: Includes updated information on Aafia Siddiqui’s arrest and details on her imprisonment and her children. Painful, very difficult, but important to read. http://rainbowwarrior2005.wordpress.com/2008/11/29/sindh-high-court-issues-notice-to-respondents-in-aafia-siddiqui-case/
You can also click on this GOOGLE search link to get updated news.
The post, below, is from September 2008. To see our most recent post on Aafia Siddiqui, published 1/19/2010, see: The New American Justice: Aafia Siddiqui’s Trial by Water
UPDATED: If ever the official version of a story did not pass the smell test, it is the case of Aafia Siddiqui. The canarypapers recently published two posts on this case (on August 25th and on August 29th) in an effort to urge protest against her mistreatment, to urge due process and proper medical care, and to spread what little is known of the facts regarding her case. Here, we offer updates on this case, as made available in the media and various web sites. We are also re-posting information to add your voice to those who are (1) urging a Congressional investigation into the facts of this case, (2) demanding proper legal rights, medical care and humane treatement for Aafia, and (3) demanding an investigation into the whereabout of Aafia’s two children, who are still missing, and demanding the return of her third child — 11-year-old Ahmed, who is a U.S. citizen — to her family, as he has been in the custody of Afghanistan intelligence officials for over one month now.
UPDATES: New links added 9/4/08 at bottom of post; new information in green text hroughout post.
UPDATE: New links added 9/8/08 at bottom of post in purple text.
Aafia Siddiqui’s son, Mohammad Ahmed, was finally released this week into the custody of his aunt, Dr. Fauzia Siddiqui. She described him to be traumatized, afraid and mentally disturbed, but in good health. He has so far given no details on his experiences while in custody. This is according to a Dawn Media Group story. The accounts in U.S. papers (e.g. NY Times, Washington Post) are deplorably inaccurate — for instance, suggesting the boy was Aafia Siddiqui’s ADOPTED son, despite well-publicized DNA tests to the contrary. This story continues to be heart-wrenching for the utter dearth of factual truth, and for the media perpetuation, without even a modicum of journalistic curiosity, of the myths in this case. The very real human tragedy of this story has yet to be told.
Here’s how each of us can help Aafia Siddiqui and her children:
(1) Demand a Congressional investigation into this case by calling your Capitol Hill representatives via the Capitol Hill switchboard at 800-828-0498. Ask for your state representative, by name. You will be transferred to either voice mail or an aide. Leave a message that you, as a concerned American, want (1) an independent Congressional investigation into the case of Aafia Siddiqui (pronounced AUF-ia Sa-DEEK-ia) and her three children, and that (2) you request that her current medical and legal needs be met according to U.S. and International laws regarding prisoners.
(2) Sign and send the letters of protest at the Asian Human Rights Commission site. These letters are forwarded to President Bush, to NATO headquarters, and to various authorities in Pakistan and Afghanistan. It is important that these officials know the world’s eyes are focused on this case.
(3) Attend her court hearing in Manhattan on September 3rd, 2008. Protests are scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. Her hearing is scheduled to begin at 10:00 a.m. at the United States District Court (U.S.D.C.) for the Southern District of New York (S.D.N.Y), located at 500 Pearl Street, Manhattan. It will be held in the Magistrates Court, 5th floor. Siddiqui refused to appear at this hearing, as she refused to undergo the pain and degradation of the requisite full-body strip-search. Her lawyers and court-appointed psychologist have requested she be transferred to a “less restrictive setting where she would not be subjected to strip searches and where she could receive more extensive (medical) care.” Judge Berman set a deadline of Friday, Sept. 12 for the defense to brief this issue, Wednesday Sept. 17 for the prosecution, with the next court appearance on Monday, Sept. 22. We will give more information on this as it becomes available.
(4) Send mail, publications or money to Aafia Siddiqui. There are specific regulations regarding these, which can be found, along with contact information and addresses, at the muslimmatters.org website. There is also contact information for her attorney at this site. NOTE: According to a September 1, 2008 report, Aafia is due to soon be transferred to a “better facility” where she will supposedly receive proper medical care. We will update this information as it becomes available.
See the bottom of this post for media updates on the Aafia Siddiqui case
QUESTION AND ANSWER: Is the writer of this post “anti-American” or pro-terrorism? No. I am pro-human rights, and I am in favor of both due process and the protections provided by the Geneva Convention and (formerly) the U.S. Constitution, as I will explain:
In reading, it has come to my attention that, by making “anti-American” statements in my writings on the Aafia Siddiqui case, I may be promoting the agenda that I am (1) anti-American, and/or (2) in favor of a terrorist suspect attempting to murder U.S officials, Nothing could be further from the truth. First, I write as a U.S.-born, caucasion citizen, a enlightened and spiritual human being with no religious affiliation whatsoever, In fact, my own spirituality precludes identification with any organized religion, as I abhor the long history of violence generated from the divisiveness that seems inherent between religions. I have never met, nor spoken with, or corresponded in any way with a Muslim or any representative of any one from the Muslim community. In the same breath, I add that I am not afraid of Muslims, the same as I am not inherently afraid of any person, based on their race, creed, religion, ethnicity or nationality. I am not a champion of Muslim causes, per se, except in cases, such as the Aafia Siddiqui case, where human rights are being grossly violated under the Geneva Convention, the U.S. Constitution and the basic common tenets that we should all hold in common, as human beings.
I write as an American citizen who is profoundly saddened, alarmed and, ultimately afraid of the loss of these basic human rights through the Bush Administration’s flagrant disregard of these rights. I would, and I do, extend the same concern and outrage to any trampled citizen of the earth, no matter their race, creed, ethnic origin, or location on the map. The Aafia Siddiqui case is but one such example. HIstory has shown that — throughout the world, and even withn the U.S. — over-reaching power, when driven by fear and a disregard for establised law, is a dangerous combination. Nazi Germany is one of the most notorious examples, but plenty of precedent exists on U.S. soil: slavery, ethnic cleansing of Native Americans, the Tuskegee experiment, the Jim Crow era, Japanese internment camps, the McCarthy hearings, and the current xenophobia (hatred/fear) toward Muslims that seeks to paint them all with the “Islamic terrorist” paint brush, thereby justifying a certain persecution of them, and a certain bending of their constitutional rights. There are many in the U.S. who feel that we have come dangerously close over the past 8 years to re-living a similar history to Nazi Germany through the over-reaching abuse of power, under the banner of “the war on terror.” Conversely, that the viewpoint of many Americans is fear-driven (much of this by the administration’s design) and are ignorant of the facts (also by design) has only allowed this abuse of power to flourish. It is a fact, not a conspiracy theory, that this administration has employed duplicity, lies, misinformation and propaganda to promote their lawlessness and to, indeed, prod the American people to condone and cheer on this lawlessness, in the name of doing “whatever it takes” to keep us safe.
We, at the canarypapers, find special exception in the case of Aafia Siddiqui. Here, we have a “terrorist suspect” who is accused of acts which she vehemently denies and, instead, claims that she has been imprisoned and tortured for the past 5 years, more than likely at the hands of U.S. officials in Afghanistan. Her physical, mental and emotional condition easily support this claim, as do the investigations of human rights organizations throughout the world. In this, we must — absolutely must — consider the alternative to the “official” version of her story: What if Aafia Siddiqui is telling the truth? WHAT IF Aafia Siddiqui is telling the truth? As stands — and by virtue of the built-in lack of due process for terrorist suspects — the chance of this truth seeing the light of day is slim. As fellow human beings, we must — absolutely must — demand due process and an independent and/or Congressional investigation into this case.
If we — as American citizens — have become so estranged from our humanity, our better selves, that we would condone persecuting another human being out of a fear and anger so great, that we give ourselves authority to presume the facts, rather than allow their proper discovery, then we have become like those very terrorists we claim to abhor. If we believe that it is fair for an innocent human being to be punished for the actions of others, then we are no different from those very terrorists we claim to abhor. If, in writing on Aafia Siddiqui, I have — in any way — seemed to embrace anti-Americanism, or a terrorist agenda, or have promoted a xenophobia of the Muslim community, it has not been my intention. In fighting for a just America — an America that adheres to both constitutional and international laws and treaties regarding human rights — I believe that I am fighting for the America envisioned by our founders, over 200 years ago, which is a very patriotic and American thing to do. My stance on the Aafia Siddiqui case is mine, alone, and has been influenced by no individual or group, beyond the Aafia Siddiqui, herself, as known to me by the research I have conducted on her case.
We, at the canarypapers, continue to allege, along with her family, her attorneys, human rights groups and many concerned individuals around the world that Aafia Siddiqui is a victim of the Bush Administration’s over-reaching “war on terror” that has secretly and illegally imprisoned and tortured hundreds, if not thousands of citizens around the world. We also allege, against the official versions given on this case, that Aafia Siddiqui was indeed arrested in April 2003, as then-reported (and later denied) by Pakistani and U.S. authorities/the FBI. We further allege that she spent the following 5+ years imprisoned and tortured, with most or all of those years spent in the United States’ notorious Bagram prison in Afghanistan, which serves a similar function to Guantanamo Bay, only without the facade of adhering to international laws regarding torture.
If this case is “for real” how come most of us have never heard of it before?
The events and questions surrounding Aafia Siddiqui’s case have received little press in the U.S. media — a deplorable oversight, given — if nothing else — her deplorable treatment in U.S. custody at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, NY. Her case is well known, however, in other parts of the world, especially her native country of Pakistan, where citizens have been gathering by the thousands for months now — demanding the release of Aafia and her 3 children from their secret detention. Her case is also well-known to human rights groups around the world, all of whom have reported for several years now, “credible evidence” that she was been held in secret detention facilities by U.S. and ally authorities, most likely in Afghanistan. Her case is also well-known by her own family, who has spent the past 5 years fighting for the truth on her disappearance, even as Aafia’s mother was threatened by Afghani authorities, at the time of Aafia’s disappearance in 2003, and warned to not make a case of her disappearance (the implication being that harm could come to Aafia and her children if the silence was not held).
Aafia’s case was also known to other prisoners at Bagram — by those “lucky” ones who didn’t die at the hands of their captors, or who were later deemed innocent and released after days, months or years of torture. One such “lucky” captor, held at both Bagram and Guantanamo, lived to write a book, in which he detailed the story of Prisoner 650. His story captured the attention of British journalist, Yvonne Ridley — a former “terrorist suspect” herself, who was imprisoned for a short time at Bagram. Earlier this summer, Ms. Ridley investigated Prisoner 650, who came to be known as “the grey lady of Bagram,” for the haunting screams of a woman being tortured in a prison that — according to the FBI and the CIA — did not detain females. In the wake of Yvonne Ridley’s investigation, the public outcry over Aafia Siddiqui’s imprisonment grew overwheleming. Soon thereafter, she mysteriously re-appeared on a street in Afghanistan and was promply arrested — allegedly carring in her purse an arsenal of chemical and biological weapons and maps to NYC landmarks. The offical versions between the Afghani and U.S. authorities widely contradict each other, particularly regarding the events that led to Aafia being shot several times in the abdomen.
The power of protest and why it’s our duty, as American citizens, to do this
If not for the protests of the many concerned individuals and groups, Aafia Siddqui might still be in Bagram. One would think that she might at least receive humane treatment, once on U.S. soil. Not so. She has been denied medical treatment, on the grounds that she is a “security risk” and despite that, according to her attorneys, her condition has being both frail and deterioating, with her wound oozing blood. She has been denied proper medical despite the urging of the Pakistani consulate, her attorneys and her family. It is our duty as fellow human beings and American citizens to continue the outcry. Demand that Aafia be allowed due legal process; demand that she be afforded proper medical care; demand that an independent investigation be conducted to determine the facts about her case; demand that her 12 year-old child, Ahmed, who is a U.S. citizen, be released from Afghan custody; demand an investigation into the whereabout of her other two children — her daughter, Miriam, and her son, Suleman — aged 5 years and 6 months, respectively, at the time of their disappearance in 2003.
We’re no amateurs at researching the goings-on by the Bush Administration. If we’ve learned anything over the past 8 years, it’s that this administration excels in disseminating disinformation. This disinformation is then served up to the American public as if it were news, when, in fact, it’s little more than a PR campaign to promote their various agendas: propaganda, by definition. Under these circumstances, fact-finding becomes an onerous task. One cannot take, on face-value, the offical accounts as given by our government, but must wade through a convuluted trail of (past and present-day) government and congressional documents, reports and investigations, along with independent investigations, individual accounts, and media reports & investigations — most of these drawn from select media outlets elsewhere in the world, where information and perspectives tend to be more factual. Doing this type of research over time, one develops a sixth-sense: something is just not right here; this does not pass the smell test.
As any one who’s ever concoted a big lie could tell you, it’s difficult to maintain a watertight case. Over time, the loose ends begin to fray. Things start to leak. The bigger the lie, the more complicated and, ultimately impossible it becomes to keep the lies straight. As my mother used to say, “Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.”
While this administration excels at disinformation, deception and outright lies (while discrediting their detractors, via the ‘conspiracy theorist’ or ‘terrorist appeaser’ labels) they are fairly sorry at covering their asses. To this end, when they can’t discredit the facts/fact-finders, they will alternately resort to more lies, resort to defamation of character, resort to withholding answers behind a cloak of “security reasons,” and so on. As a last resort, as we’ve recently seen with Karl Rove, they will simply thumb their noses at the Congress and the American public. Because of these things — not to mention that both our President and Vice-President have been accused of myriad war crimes and have been brought up on charges of impeachment for these crimes, all of which were born from sytematic campaigns of lies and duplicity about supposed terrorist activities around the world — we tend to err on the side not believing the offical statements issued by this administration, particularly regarding their ‘intelligence’ on terrorism and terrorist suspects. The way we see it, if the Bush-Cheney Administration can cook the intelligence to deceive this country into going to war with Iraq, it would surely be a snap to do the same for an individual human being — which is exactly what many allege this administration has done to hundreds, if not thousands of human beings throughout the world since September 11, 2001.
With the above caveats in mind, we can state with utter certainty that, in our research of the Aafia Siddiaui case, we find that the “official” accounts do not pass the smell test. In recent weeks, we’ve seen various “new” information crop up, bolstering the terrorist charges waged by this administration’s against Aafia Siddiqui: money trails, alleged contacts, her travels, etc. After researching these allegations, we’ve chosen to not provide links to them, as we find no credible evidence to support these allegations, beyond the say-so of anonymous “U.S. officials.”
The fact is (and, if you’ll read/listen carefully to the news, you’ll see that this is true) nearly all of the accusations waged by the U.S. against other countries and individuals in this unholy war on terror have been sourced from un-named “U.S. officials,” nearly always speaking only on the condition of anonymity, usually for ‘security reasons.’ Our belief — and we believe history will one day bear this out — is that each and every official statement quoted by un-named or anonymous “U.S. officials,” (aka White House sources, military analysts, Pentagon spokesmen, etc. ,etc.) was originally sourced from none other than the Grand Poo-Bah, himself: Dick Cheney, the man behind the curtain in Emerald City.
Our own facts about the Aafia Siddiqui case — arrived at through careful research and deliberation — may be imperfect (Is her son 11 or 12 years of age? Is her mother living or not? Where were Affia and her three children before their disappearance in 2003 — en route to her uncles’ house, or in hiding from the FBI’s terrorist alert against her?) Alternately, our facts may be dead-on accurate. One thing for certain: the Bush Adminsistraton did a particularly poor job of covering their asses in this case. Of all the reports and incidents we’ve researched over the past 7 years, the official version of Aafia Siddiqui’s case has been the most convoluted, the most contradictory, the most gap-filled, the most deception-filled, the most suspicious and, ultimately, the most tragic case we’ve seen.
Worst-case scenario, if she is indeed guilty of any of the charges waged against her, she deserves a thorough, independent investigation into these charges and to the imprisonment and torture she alleges she suffered over the past five years. She deserves the basic human rights afforded by international treaties: the right to due legal process, the right to proper medical care, the right to know what happened to her children who, at the ages of 7 years, 5 years and 6 months were surely not deserving of whatever treatment has since befallen them.
Feel free to question our facts on Aafia Siddiqui. As always, we’re proud of the research we do, and are glad to share it with others.
LINKS TO MORE RECENT NEWS REPORTS ON THIS CASE:
PakTribune: September 1, 2008 – Dr Aafia to be shifted to better facility soon: US authorities have indicated to the Pakistan government that Dr Aafia Siddiqui, who is suffering from bullet wounds, will be shifted to another facility by next week, which is less intrusive and offers better medical care.
RadianceViewsWeekly: September 1, 2008 – Musharraf’s Nemesis: What luck for rulers that men do not think, said Adolf Hitler. The Fuhrer should know, having proved himself a successful, if rather demented, leader of men. Successive rulers of Islamic Republic of Pakistan seem to have been driven by this cynical piece of wisdom….. Perhaps, Musharraf could have gone on and hung on in there for some more time, if only he had not so enthusiastically enlisted Pakistan in Bush’s war. Maybe our man had no option but jump on the neocon bandwagon when Colin Powell made that rather persuasive call on a cold day in September, the day the greatest military power on earth was shaken to its roots. Maybe it has spared Pakistan the fate of Afghanistan and brought it billions in US aid. But what the country has gained by joining this directionless, disastrous war is nothing compared to what it has lost. Thousands of innocents have paid with their lives for the Bush-Mush war. And God only knows how many individuals like Dr Aafia Siddiqui, the MIT-educated scientist, have simply disappeared into the nameless gulags around the world. And the whole country, coupled with Afghanistan, has been transformed into a vast battlefield; the main front of the war that, we are reassured, is being fought for the promotion of Democracy and Human Freedom, whatever that means.
NewsPostOnline: September 1, 2008 – Boy found with “terrorist suspect” Dr. Aafia is her son, but denies: Ahmed, the 11-year-old boy said to have been apprehended along with ‘terror suspect’ Pakistani-American doctor Aafia Siddiqui was identified as her son, although he denies that he is in any way related to her.
(Editor’s note: A reminder: this 11 year-old boy is legally a U.S. citizen. He was arrested with his mother in mid-July. International law forbids treating children as criminals, yet he has been interrogated serveral times by the FBI and has been held in the custody of Afghan’s intelligence service for the past month. Knowing that the U.S. does not necessarily bar torturing the children of terrorist suspects, in order to gain information (see video below), it is haunting to contemplate the circumstances that would lead to an 11 year-old boy to deny being related to hs own mother, while yet being unable to give details on his ‘real’ family.)
ThaindianNews: August 31, 2008 – Afghan Government to Free Pakistan Terror Suspect Dr. Aafia’s Son Soon: After repeated requests from Islamabad, the Afghanistan Government has reportedly promised to Pakistan to return soon one of the three sons of Pakistani scientist and terror suspect Dr Aafia Siddiqui, who was arrested in Afghanistan earlier this month and presently being tried in the US for terror charges. The New York-based human rights body the Human Rights Watch had also urged the Afghan government earlier this week to free the child, who is said to be a US citizen by birth.
AFP: August 30, 2008- Afghanistan will free son of Pakistani scientist ‘soon’: The young son of Pakistani scientist Aafia Siddiqui will be returned to his family “soon” by Afghanistan after he was arrested with her more than a month ago, Foreign Minister Rangeen Dadfar Spanta said Saturday.
Two letters from Aafia Siddiqui’s uncle, written in 2004: These two letters are said to be written by Dr. Aafia’s maternal uncle, published in Dawn daily English newspaper, Karachi, Pakistan in 2004. These letters offer a detailed timeline of this case, according to her uncle.
UPDATE: New links added 9/4/08
Daily Times: Aafia Siddiqui refuses to appear in court, in protest -Dr Aafia Siddiqui refused to appear in a New York court on Thursday in protest against the humiliating treatment to which she is being subjected and because of her traumatised physical, mental and emotional condition.
Voice of America: Mystery Shrouds Case of Pakistani Scientist Linked to Terrorists - A Pakistani woman who is charged with trying to murder U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan refused to appear for her arraignment in New York City Thursday. Defense lawyers say Aafia Siddiqui is unable or unwilling to submit to a required strip-search due to wounds she suffered when she was arrested nearly two months ago and that she urgently needs medical and psychological care. VOA’s Walter Wisniewski has more.
Washington Post: Pakistani Tortured, Her Attorney Says Lawyer Calls for Mental Evaluation — Lawyer Elizabeth Fink told a federal judge in New York that Aafia Siddiqui, who disappeared in Pakistan with her three children in March 2003, needs a full psychological evaluation to determine whether she has post-traumatic stress disorder and is competent to help in her own defense. Fink also urged that Siddiqui, 36, be examined by experts on the effects of torture.
Press Trust of India: Pakistani neuroscientist Aafia Siddiqui, suspected of having links with al-Qaeda, would plead innocent to the charges of attempted murder of US personnel during interrogation in Afghanistan in July, her lawyer said.
TheNews: Afghan Government Contacts Aafia’s Sister (Sept. 1, 2008) The government of Afghanistan contacted the family of Dr Aafia Siddiqui late on Sunday night and assured Aafia’s sister that they were ready to hand over her 11-year old son Ahmed Siddiqui to the family.
The Muslim News: Alleged al-Qa’ida suspect denied medical treatment (August 29, 2008) Wheelchair-bound and only able to communicate with her lawyer through a hole at the bottom of her cell door, Dr Aafia Siddiqui is a ghost of the vibrant woman she was six years ago, and looks a far cry from the stark picture painted by US authorities as the vicious al-Qa’ida suspect charged with assault with a deadly weapon and attempted murder on FBI officers while in custody.
NDTV Pak-born U.S. scientist’s hearing deferred (September 5, 2008) The indictment hearing of Pakistan-born US scientist Aafia Siddiqui, with suspected links to Al-Qaida, was postponed as she refused to be strip searched. The 36-year-old neuroscientist has been charged with trying to kill the American interrogators after her arrest in Afghanistan. She was expected to plead innocence to the charges. But Aafia could not be brought to court as she refused to be strip searched, which is mandatory while moving prisoners from lock up to court.
Office of the High Commisioner for Human Rights (UNHSHR): THE GENEVA CONVENTION Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War
LINKS ADDED 9/8/08:
GEO TV: Pakistan seeks repatriation of 5 Pakistani held in Guantanamo
Daily Times: Six Pakistani women have fuelled international headlines in the past week. Five of them are the hapless victims of the grotesque live burial that took place in rural Balochistan earlier this month, punished for going against tribal tradition and flouting the will of the men for whom they were mere chattel. The sixth is Dr Aafia Siddiqui, the MIT-trained Pakistani neuroscientist who was recently indicted in a court in New York “for attempting to murder and assault US nationals” while incarcerated at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan.
LINKS ADDED 9/19/08:
Daily Times - Pakistan (9/14/2008): Asian Human Rights Commission slams detention of Dr. Aafia’s son (Editor’s note: This story was written 1 day before the release of Aafia Siddiqui’s son, as detailed in accounts, below)
Washington Post: Family Frees Son of Pakistani-Al Qaeda Suspect (Editor’s note: Reading this article, the lack of journalistic curiosity in this case is both puzzling and deplorable.That this paper perpetuates the myth that Aafia’s son, Mohammad Ahmed, was adopted — despite well-publicized DNA tests to the contrary — and that his name is Ali Hassan, despite well-publicized records to the contrary, reads more like complicity with the criminal activities of U.S. officials than an account written by the independent media in a supposed democracy.)
New York Times: Afghans Repatriate Son, 12, of Pakistani Indicted in U.S. (Editor’s note: Again, a deplorable lack of journalistic curiosity to report on a case that is so riddled with inconsistencies, that it reads like jibberish. Note also that they persist in calling him Ali Hassan, despite that his name is Mohammad Ahmed).
LA Times: Afghanistan frees son of alleged ally of al Qaeda (Editor’s note: Again, a profound lack of journalistic integrity to this story)
International Tribune: Son of al Qaida suspect returned to Pakistan (Editor’s note: ditto the above, although there are a few additonal details included, concerning the name change)
BBC: Detainee’s son handed to Pakistan (Editor’s note: Finally a story that appers to be mostly factual and actually calls the boy by his correct name.)
Associated Press: Afghanistan frees son of al Qaida suspect (Editor’s note: again, another account riddled with inconsistencies, not the least of which is calling Mohammad Ahmed by the name Ali Hassan, one of several name changes given to him by Afghani authorities. What a farce)
Counterpunch: The Horrendous Case of Aafia Siddiqui: Where Are Her Children?
Asian Pacific Post: Family Fear Siddiqui’s Death
DAWN: Aafia’s Son Freed by Kabul, Flown to Islamabad
DAWN: Aafia Siddiqui suffering from psychosis
Arab News: Afghanistan frees son of Pak scientist held by US
Daily Times – Pakistan (editorial) Periscope: The Wrong Side of Right
Daily Times – Pakistan: Pak Senators Refused Access to Guantanamo Detainees, Granted Permission to See Aafia Siddiqui
The International News: Chid of Conflict
Ohmy News: Aafia Siddiqui’s Son Released to his Aunt — Pakistani rights activist lauds deposed top judge for taking up issue
Online International News Network: Fauzia Siddiqui refuses to allow media to talk to Aafia’s son:
ISLAMABAD: Dr. Fauzia Siddiqui sister of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui has refused to allow media to talk to Ahmad Siddiqui son of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui saying that he was yet in a state of shock.While talking to Private TV Channel she expressed Ahmad’s profound happiness on return of Ahmad Siddiqui and said that Aafia’s son name was changed many times. “Though, Ahmad had matured but he was mentally disturbed, therefore, Ahmad cannot be allowed to talk to media, “ She maintained. In response to a question she said that Ahmad Siddiqui would be shifted from Islamabad within two or three days and government was also assisting them in this connection. She also thanked the government for making efforts for return of Ahmad Siddiqui, and expressed her gratitude to media, civil societies and people for projecting the issue, hoping that Dr. Aafia Siddiqui would soon return to Pakistan along with her two other children. Similarly, in letter addressed to President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani, Interior Minister and other officials she has thanked them for helping Siddiqui family at all fronts.
Could the Bush Administration Order the Torture of Children and Burying Alive of Prisoners?
A simple yes or no would have sufficed. In this House Judiciary Hearing, White House attorneys John Yoo and David Addington are asked this very question, to determine the administration’s torture policies regarding children and burying prisoners alive. Yoo and Addington are the two leading architects of the Bush administration’s policies on torture. Their testimony revealed few answers (none, actually), as even the simplest questions yielded evasive sleights-of-hand maneuvers, such as the sort of ‘legal speak’ lawyers are known to employ when evading answering a question. Here, with a 5-minute time limit on the testimony, we see the Judiciary committee members grow increasingly frustrated and, at turns, outraged (accusing Yoo, at one point, of playing “Beat the Clock”) as each attempt to get a straight answer is stonewalled by Yoo and Addington. Longer versions of this testimony are available on YouTube.
by Mantis Katz, for the canarypapers
NOTE: The post, below, is from October 2008. To see our most recent post on Aafia Siddiqui, published 1/19/2010, see: The New American Justice: Aafia Siddiqui’s Trial by Water
There are pitifully few answers to the flood of questions surrounding the case of Aafia Siddiqui and her three children. We know this much: their five-year disappearance began in April 2003, at precisely the same time the FBI announced (then quickly denied) arresting her.
Aafia Siddiqui’s family, attorneys, human rights groups and others charge that she spent at least some of these years imprisoned at Bagram, the U.S. detention prison in Afghanistan, notorious for its brutal treatment of prisoners. It is also alleged that Aafia Siddiqui was Prisoner 650, known as the Grey Lady of Bagram. If this is true, the fate of her children is, for some, too haunting to contemplate. At the time of their disappearance in 2003, her children were aged 7 years (son, Ahmed), 5 years (daughter, Miriam), and 6 months of age (son, Suleman). Her two younger children have not been seen since their disappearance in 2003. Her eldest child — Ahmed, now aged either 11 or 12 — was with Aafia at the time of her arrest last month.
The Story of Ahmed
Ahmed is a U.S. citizen, born in this country. According to the FBI, he is currently in the custody of the Afghan National Security Directorate (NDS), an agency that is, according to Human Rights Watch, “notorious for its brutal treatment of detainees.” The NDS is Afghanistan’s equivalent of the CIA, and is alleged to work in collaboration with the U.S. intelligence agencies in a system of secret detainee prisons and torture in Afghanistan. The FBI recently performed DNA testing to confirm Ahmed’s identity. They have also interrogated Ahmed several times. Ahmed is said to be confused about his identity and about his own whereabouts since 2003. Aafia’s attorneys, along with human rights groups throughout the world, are protesting the illegal detention of 12 year-old Ahmed, decrying his treatment as a criminal suspect, and demanding that Ahmed be freed and released to the custody of relatives. While the FBI has obviously had contact with Ahmed in recent weeks, they claim he is under the control of Afghan authorities, his whereabouts unknown.
“Something is really dirty here. Everything about the government’s story smells…. Whatever happened to this woman is terrible, and it’s incumbent on us to find out what it was.” — Elizabeth Fink, U.S. attorneys for Aafia Siddiqui
The reports on the arrests of Aafia and Ahmed Siddiqui by U.S. and Afghanistan officials are contradictory, except in the fact that Aafia Siddiqui was shot twice during her arrest. The Bush administration alleges that she was involved in a terrorist plot, and that she was arrested on July 17, 2008 outside Ghazni governor’s compound in Afghanistan with manuals on explosives, maps to NY landmarks, and ‘dangerous substances in sealed jars’ on her person. She is alleged to have grabbed a gun and shot at U.S. officials during the interrogation, a scenario that contradicts the Afghan reports on her arrest. She is now charged with attempting to murder U.S. officials, and is currently being held at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, NY.
Aafia Siddiqui’s Medical Condition
According to her attorney, Elizabeth Fink, Aafia’s condition has grown critical, as she has not received proper medical care for her gunshot wounds. Fink is demanding hospitalization for Affia’s physical and psychological injuries. Fink also charges that Aafia continues to be subjected to invasive strip searches in violation of international law, the U.S. Constitution, international human rights norms and standards of decency. The Pakistan National Assembly has issued a resolution demanding that the U.S. authorities provide urgent medical care, including hospitalization, and to provide a female doctor, in consideration of Affia’s religious beliefs.
Those of us following this case feel helpless. Where to direct our voices? The following needs are vital: (1) that Aafia Siddiqui receive proper medical attention for her wounds, and (2) due process that reflects the values of our pre-Bush system of justice in America, that conforms to international laws for the treatment of prisoners, and (3) a full investigation into the events surrounding her disappearance in April 2003, when the FBI announced (then denied) her arrest, and (4) a full investigation to determine where Aafia Siddiqui and her three children spent the past five years, (5) a full investigation into the current whereabouts of her 3 children.
Here’s how each of us can help Aafia Siddiqui and her children:
(1) Demand an independent investigation into this case by calling your Capitol Hill representatives via the Capitol Hill switchboard at 800-828-0498. Ask for your representative, by name. You will be transferred to either voice mail or an aide. Leave a message that you, as a concerned American, want an independent Congressional investigation into the case of Aafia Siddiqui (pronounced AUF-ia Sa-DEEK-ia) and her three children, and that you request that her current medical and legal needs be met according to U.S. and International law regarding prisoners.
(2) Sign and send the letters of protest at the Asian Human Rights Commission site. These letters are forwarded to President Bush, to NATO headquarters, and to various authorities in Pakistan and Afghanistan. It is important that these officials know the world’s eyes are focused on this case.
(3) Attend her court hearing in Manhattan on September 3rd, 2008. Protests are scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. Her hearing is scheduled to begin at 10:00 a.m. at the United States District Court (U.S.D.C.) for the Southern District of New York (S.D.N.Y), located at 500 Pearl Street, Manhattan. It will be held in the Magistrates Court, 5th floor.
(4) Send mail, publications or money to Aafia Siddiqui. There are specific regulations regarding these, which can be found, along with contact information and addresses, at the muslimmatters.org website. There is also contact information for her attorney at this site.
From the Asian Human Rights Commission statement on Aafia Siddiqui:
“We uphold supremacy of law, an independent judiciary and condemn in unequivocal terms all transgressions of law, abduction, illegal incarceration, and transfer of prisoners from one territory to another without due process. We demand a thorough investigation by independent UN- mandated agencies into the whole affair and that all the agents of injustice and law- breakers be brought to the International court of Justice at The Hague.”
ADDITIONAL LINKS ON THIS CASE:
AP news report: NY charges for womann in Afghan military shooting (Please note that Aafia Siddiqui is a neuroscientist, not a microbiologist, as often suggested in U.S. media reports. Also, note the discrepancy, in this story, between the Afghan and U.S. accounts of her arrest).