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The (Unfinished) Story of Majid Khan, Dick Cheney and the Torture Memos

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FROM THE UNPUBLISHED ARCHIVES: This post is among several unpublished, unfinished drafts — all of them works-in-progress, when I set them aside to speak out on behalf of other issues. The news in America is relentlessly bad, and it’s only getting worse. It’s difficult for the average person to stand still long enough to make sense of one horror story, before another one overtakes it. Torture is promising to be an ongoing horror — past, present and future.  And I remain unconvinced that the Obama Adminstration has done enough — or intends to do enough — to ensure, “Never again.”

In this vein, we should never stop shedding light on all the terrorist acts Dick Cheney committed under the false flag of fighting terrorism. We should never stop demanding that Cheney and his gang be held accountable for their war crimes. Even as this post is unfinished, it holds value as a reference tool for shedding light onto the complex legal sleights-of-hand Cheney used to “legalize” torture.

Equally important is the need to continually shed light onto the victims of the Cheney-era war crimes. Many of these victims — if not most — are believed to be innocent. And who’s to say otherwise? Few have ever been officially charged with a crime and none have been permitted the basic right of a trial — their every effort to do so having been defeated by Team Cheney’s devious legalese, which is still a de facto part of American law. The number of these victims is seemingly countless. Majid Khan is but one of these human souls left to rot in jail, his guilt long ago sealed by accusations and confessions extracted under torture.

My apologies for not finishing this post, and for any loose ends I didn’t tie up.

The (Unfinished) Story of Majid Khan

Dick Cheney and his torture regime are like the vampire in the B-grade movie that refuses to die. Until someone drives a stake through its heart — that is, until the Department of Justice sees fit to take the gloves off and conduct an honest investigation into Cheney’s regime of corruption and torture — the monster will continue to re-injure our country, our laws, our integrity, our standing in the world. Not to mention the victims, whose stories are the stuff of nightmares. Problem is, the more time passes, the easier it becomes for Dick Cheney and daughter, Liz (who is — mark my words — being groomed to run for the vice-presidency in 2012), to re-write history and for the American public to then blindly accept their bill of goods. But, make no mistake, the rest of the world — the good, the bad and the ugly — aren’t buying.

Obama’s refusal to acknowledge America’s war crimes and hold these criminals acountable is not only short-sighted — permitting this history to exist unimpeded and ripe to repeat itself — but it also makes  Obama party to the crimes.  Obama’s neglect does not abrogate the DOJ from their duty to investigate these crimes to the fullest extent of the law. But that’s not how things are done in America today. Ultimately, it is up the American people to demand this. Perhaps we can pencil this fight into our busy agendas, somewhere between our battle for health care reform our own personal struggles with the collapsing American economy.

I want to be absolutely clear with our people and the world: the United States does not torture. — George W. Bush, September 6, 2006

By the time George Bush uttered those words, he was (technically, anyway) correct. That is, according to the precise letter of the law, as interpreted by Dick Cheney’s crackerjack team of attorneys at the Dept. of Justice Office of Legal Council (OLC) and published in the four Bybee and Bradbury memos, dating from August 2002 and May 2005. According to Team Cheney, we never did torture, and even if we did, the point was moot. Here’s why, according to the Bybee and Bradbury memos:

  • Intention is nine-tenths (plus one-tenth) of the law: Unless the interrogators intended to inflict pain and suffering, it was not torture. And since the specific intention of the interrogators was to gather intelligence — and not to inflict pain and suffering, per se — it was not technically torture.
  • Location, location, location: Under the terms Article 16 in the Geneva Convention Against Torture (CAT), the torture prohibitions apply specifically to “territories under [United States] jurisdiction.” To ascertain whether we were in compliance with this treaty obligation, the memo authors repeatedly consulted dictionary definitions of “territory” and “jurisdiction,” which neatly supported their argument that it is was not illegal for the U.S. to torture prisoners, so long as the torture took place in non-U.S. territories. Thus, the network of secret black site prisons around the globe (e.g. Afghanistan, Poland, Syria, Morocco, Thailand, etc.) where torture took place were determined to be, technically, legal, as were enhanced interrogations on any ships not registered with the U.S.  (see pages 17-21 in the May 30, 2005 Bradbury Memo)
  • Look that up in your Funk & Wagnalls: An existing U.S. Senate reservation states the the U.S. is bound to the obligations of the Geneva Convention Against Torture “only insofar as the term ‘cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment'[ means [that] prohibited by the Fifth, Eigth and/or Fourteenth Amendments to Constitution of the United States.” Scrutinizing the language of this reservation, Team Cheney again consulted the dictionary for clarity on the precise definitions of key words and terms, such as “torture” and “calculated” and “severe physical suffering” and “severe mental pain or suffering” and “prolonged mental harm.” After careful consideration of the dictionary definitions, they concluded that  the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques, including waterboarding, were legal. Waterboarding cannot be considered “severe physical suffering” because, according to the dictionary, for distress to be “severe,” the intensity and duration of the distress must be taken into account. The memo explains that, by definition, waterboarding does not constitute “severe physical suffering,” since (a) the physical distress of waterboarding ends as soon as the session is over, and since (b) these sessions were, by their estimation, brief (with the maximum time set at 12 minutes per day, total, of actual waterboarding per day, with each session to last no longer than 40 seconds.) A similar argument is used to explain why waterboarding does not cause “prolonged mental harm,” as the length of these sessions do not conform to the dictionary definition of “prolonged.” You’d have to read the memos to appreciate the beauty of these definitions, as they apply to the blow-by-blow legalization of torture, as construed in these memos. Here are a few examples, as they apply to each of the following Constitutional Amendments:
    • 8th Amendment – This amendment protects against the infliction of “cruel and unusual punishments.” As the memo argues, however, this amendment only applies after an individual has been convicted of a crime. Thus, the memo concludes that “Because the high-value detainees on whom the CIA might use enhanced interrogation techniques have not been convicted of any crime, the substantive requirements of the Eighth Amendment would not be relevant here.” Accordingly, so long as the due process is denied ( per the provisions of the 14th Amendment, below) then a detainee could be detained forever, being subjected all the while to “cruel and unusual punishments.”
    • 5th Amendment — Unlike the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments, the Fifth Amendment allows that NO person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law. Setting aside the dictionary for a moment, the memo’s authors turned to case law, citing a 1952 ruling, which stated that the due process component of the 5th Amendment protects, specifically, against executive action that “shocks the conscience.” And to determine whether an action “shocks the conscience,” it is necessary to determine whether it is “arbitrary in the constitutional sense,” which, in turn, depends on whether the action is justifiable “in the service of a legitimate government objective.” The memo authors devote several pages to this concern before ultimately determining waterboarding and other enhanced interrogation techniques do not “shock the conscience” and therefore do not violate the 5th amendment.  Building on this argument, the memo asserts that — since aliens (non-U.S. citizens) are not entitled to Fifth Amendment rights outside of the sovereign territory of the United States — it is not illegal to subject aliens to “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”so long as this takes place in the above mentioned black prison sites. This argument was no doubt used to justify the extraordinary rendition of Canadian citizen Mahar Arar to Syria. (To be sure, since the Constitution technically only applies to U.S. citizens, it stands to reason (and this is painstakingly spelled out in the Bybee-Bradbury memo) that it is perfectly legal to subject non-U.S. citizens to “cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment.” )
    • Fourteenth Amendment — While this amendment provides that “No State shall deprive any person of life, liberty or property without due process of law,” this provision does not *technically* apply in the District of Columbia, which is coincidentally where the White House is located. This gave the Bush-Cheney Administration additional license, as if they needed it, to deprive anyone they jolly well pleased — from American citizens to aliens — of life, liberty or property, without due process of law.

In other words, (according to the authority of Dick Cheney and his crackerjack team of lawyers) there are no domestic or international laws to prohibit the U.S. from torture, illegal detainment, extraordinary rendition or the denial of due process. Which brings me to the case of Majid Khan.

It is only appropriate (since his incarceration and torture would have been deemed illegal in pre-Bybee-Bradbury years) that his name is physically present in these memos. In the May 30, 2005 Bradbury memo, if you look at the 2nd paragraph on page 10, you’ll find his name. Look closely, because the words “Majid Khan” — much like the actual person — have been partially obliterated by the ubiquitious redactions.

In broad brushstrokes, the story of Majid Khan  can be given in two sentences: Majid Khan, a legal U.S. resident from Baltimore, was arrested in 2003, based on accusations from a torture victim, who has since acknowledged giving false information under torture, simply to make the torture stop. Majid Khan has spent the past 6 years — and counting — in prison, without charges, during which time he, himself, has been reportedly subjected to torture, under which he confessed to crimes he never committed.

Majid Khan is seen in year in high school in Baltimore, Maryland. Khan, 27, is now jailed at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Majid Khan is seen in 1999 during his senior year in high school in Baltimore, Maryland. Khan, 27, is now jailed at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Again, my apologies to Majid Khan and his family for not finishing this post. I hope that this post will be a starting point for others to take an interest in his story.  By all appearances, Mr. Khan is an innocent man: he has yet to be charged with any crime — much less been granted the basic right of a trial — and, as such, appears to be guilty of nothing more than getting mired in the web of Dick Cheney’s deceitful war on terror.

Below is a synopsis of Majid Khan’s story, quoted from the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change. CCR has been actively involved in litigation on behalf of many Guantanamo detainees, including Mr. Khan, whom they’ve represented since Sept. 2006, a timeline of which can be found here, at the CCR website, along a list of PDF files of their actions throughout this case:

Mr. Khan was kidnapped in 2003 while visiting relatives in Pakistan, imprisoned in secret CIA detention for three-and-a-half years and subjected to “alternative interrogation methods” that amount to torture. He has never been formally charged with a crime.

Majid Khan had immigrated with his family to the United States in 1996. They settled in Baltimore, where he attended Owings Mills High School, graduating in 1999. Majid was granted legal asylum in the U.S. in 1998 and subsequently worked for the State of Maryland. In 2002, he went to Pakistan to get married and then came home to the United States to continue working. Shortly after returning to his wife in Pakistan, Majid and other relatives were kidnapped from their residence.

In the middle of the night, on March 5, 2003, individuals identified as Pakistan security officials pounded on the door of the home of Majid’s brother in Karachi, and rushed into the flat. The family members at home included Majid, his brother, his brother’s wife and their month-old daughter. As the family was trying to wake up, the officials hooded and bound them before placing them in a vehicle. They were all taken to an unknown location.

Majid’s sister-in-law and infant niece were imprisoned for about a week. Pakistan officials imprisoned his brother for approximately one month. When Majid’s brother was released, officials threatened him not to make any public statements or inquire after Majid. As a result of the threats, Majid’s family in Baltimore and Karachi waited anxiously and fearfully for his return. He was never released or heard from again.

Back home in the U.S., Majid’s family cooperated with U.S. authorities in every way they could; Majid’s older brother, a U.S. citizen, was interviewed hundreds of times by the FBI and he asked repeatedly about Majid’s whereabouts. Nonetheless, Majid’s family did not learn he was in U.S. custody or even that he was alive until a news reporter knocked on their door and told them President Bush announced Majid’s name in a speech before the nation on September 6, 2006.

Majid now has a young daughter he hasn’t seen.

For more on Majid Khan from the Center for Constituional Rights archives:

Khan v. Bush / Khan v. Gates Synopsis: CCR’s representation of Majid Khan involves two cases: Khan v. Bush is a habeas corpus … of former Baltimore, MD resident and U.S. asylum-holder, Majid Khan, who was transferred from three-years in secret C.I.A. detention to …
Going to See a Ghost: Majid Khan and the Abuses of the ‘War on Terror’ … wrote this op-ed in The Washington Post on CCR client Majid Khan, a former Baltimore resident who was “disappeared” into a CIA …
Redacted Motion to Declare Interrogation Methods Used on Majid Khan Are Torture Cleared By CIA … the government to preserve evidence of Guantanamo detainee Majid Khan’s torture by the CIA, a second motion filed by the Center for … the motion is due to the court on December 20. “Majid Khan was subjected by U.S. personnel to a ruthless program of …
CCR Attorneys Release Revelations of Torture of Former Ghost Detainee Majid Khan Sub Heading: Motion Filed to Preserve Evidence of Majid‘s Torture While at CIA Black Site Last week, a motion that … attorneys filed in the case of former ghost detainee Majid Khan was made public. The heavily redacted motion, which was filed in order to …
Government Declassifies Majid Khan Torture Motion … by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) on behalf of Majid Khan, a former CIA ghost detainee now held at Guantanamo. The motion and its …
Freedom of Information Act: Ghost Detention and Extraordinary Rendition Case … tortured in Syria for nearly a year. CCR also represents Majid Khan, a former resident of Baltimore, Maryland, who was detained in secret for …
Dixon, J. Wells … Yemen. He also represents former Baltimore-area resident Majid Khan, who was imprisoned and tortured in secret CIA “black sites” for more …
CCR Files Important Brief in Khan v. Bush … response to the government’s efforts to deny CCR access to Majid Khan, on whose behalf CCR previously filed a petition of habeas corpus. Mr. …
Gutierrez, Gitanjali … Convening Authority in May 2008.  She also represents Majid Khan, a Baltimore resident and citizen of Pakistan transferred from secret CIA …
CCR Attorney Gives Unprecedented Classified Briefing to Senate Intelligence Committee on Details of CIA Torture Program … provided a thorough account of what was done to CCR client Majid Khan and of the on-the-ground implementation of the CIA’s “enhanced …

Court Orders Government Not to Destroy Torture Evidence … to preserve” evidence relating to Guantanamo detainee Majid Khan, including evidence of his torture by the CIA. The U.S. Court of Appeals …

FAQs: What Are Ghost Detentions and Black Sites … In addition, CCR provides legal representation to Majid Khan, one of the 15 men transferred from secret CIA custody to Guantanamo Bay. …
House Votes to Outlaw Waterboarding … was released on the same day that the government brought Majid Khan, who is represented by the Center for Constitutional Rights, and others to …
CIA Acknowledges It Has More than 7,000 Documents Relating to Secret Detention Program, Rendition, and Torture … of men. These include some of our clients, like Majid Khan, who were known to be in the program. The public needs to know what …

Sources plus more info for further reading:

April 17, 2009 Letter from Attorney General Eric Holder to  Sen. John D. Rockefeller in response to the Senator’s Feb. 2009 request for declassification and release of a narrative regarding advice provided by the CIA on the legality of certain interrogation techniques

World Socialist Website: More Revelations from Bush Torture Memos

Security Dilemmas (A blog dedicated to examining issues of international and national security, international politics, and international law): Legalizing Torture? Part II: The 30 May 2005 Bradbury Memo

Emptywheel/Firedoglake: The Gestation of Bradbury’s Torture Memos

Congressional Research Service: The U.N. Convention Against Torture: Overview of U.S. Implementation Policy Concerning the Removal of Aliens (January 21, 2009)

The United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment: The text

ACLU: FAQs on the U.N. Convention Against Torture

ACLU: On April 16, 2009, the Department of Justice released four secret Bybee-Bradbury Memos, which were used by the Bush-Cheney Administration to justify torture. This page includes links to the texts of the following memos:

  • The Bybee-Memo: An 18-page memo, dated August 1, 2002, from Jay Bybee, Assistant Attorney General, OLC, to John A. Rizzo, General Counsel CIA. [PDF]
  • Bradbury Memo: A 46-page memo, dated May 10, 2005, from Steven Bradbury, Acting Assistant Attorney General, OLC, to John A. Rizzo, General Counsel CIA. [PDF]
  • Bradbury Memo: A 20-page memo, dated May 10, 2005, from Steven Bradbury, Acting Assistant Attorney General, OLC, to John A. Rizzo, General Counsel CIA. [PDF]
  • Bradbury Memo: A 40-page memo, dated May 30, 2005, from Steven Bradbury, Acting Assistant Attorney General, OLC, to John A. Rizzo, General Counsel CIA. [PDF]
    • NOTE: This is the memo where you will find mention of Majid Khan in the 2nd paragraph on page 10, which reads:

More specifically, we understand that KSM [Khalid Sheikh Mohammed] admitted he had tasked Majid Khan with delivering a large sum of money to an al Qaeda associate… Khan subsequentgly identified the associate (Zubair) who was then captured. Zubair, in turn, provided information that led to the arrest of Hambali. the information acquired from these captures allowed CIA interrogators to pose more specific questions to KSM, which led the CIA to Hambali’s brother, al-Hadi. Using information from multiple sources, al-Hadi was captured, and he subsequently identified the Guraba cell…. With the aid of this additional information, interrogations of Hambali confirmed much of what was learned from KSM.

The footnote (#6) to the above section was redacted in entirety, except for this sentence:

We discuss only a small fraction of the important intelligence CIA interrogators have obtained from KSM.

2007 International Red Cross report This ICRC report, dated February 2007, details the treatment of fourteen “high value detainees” in CIA custody. The leaked report was first published by the New York Review of Books. This report cites specific instances of ill-treatment as reported by these 14 detainees. Below are the passages that mention Majid Khan:

  • Prolonged Stress Standing (Section 1.3.2): Ten of the fourteen [detainees] alleged that they were subjected to prolonged stress standing positions, during which their wrists were shackled to a bar or hook in the ceiling above the head for periods ranging from two or three days continuously, and for up to two or more months intermittently. All those detainees who reported being held in this position were allegedly kept naked throughout the use of this form of ill-treatment. For example…. Mr. Majid Khan [was shackled] for three days in Afghanistan and seven days in his third place of detention…. While being held in this position some of the detainees were allowed to defecate in a bucket. A guard would come to release their hands from the bar or hook in the ceiling so that they could sit on the bucket. None of them, however, were allowed to clean themselves afterwards. Others were made to wear a garment that resembled a diaper… Three other detainees specified that they had to defecate and urinate on themselves and remain standing in their own bodily fluids. Of these, on Mr. Bin Lep agreed that his name be transmitted to the authorities.
  • Prolonged Nudity (Section 1.3.6): The most common method of ill-treatment noted during the interiews with the fourteen was the use of nudity. Eleven of the fourteen alleged that they were subjected to extended periods of nudity during detention and interrogation, ranging from several weeks continuously up to several months intermittently. For example…. Mr. Majid Khan alleged that he was kept naked for three days in Afghanistan and for seven days in his third place of detention….. Most of the detainees commented that the provision of clothes was determined by how cooperative they were perceived by the interrogators.
  • Deprivation/Restricted Provision of Solid Food (Section 1.3.12) Eight of the fourteen alleged that they were deprived of solid food for periods ranging from three days to one month.This was often followed by a period with the provision of food was restricted and allegedly used as an incentive for cooperation. Two other detainees alleged that, whilst they were not totally deprived of solid food, food was provided intermittently or provided in restricted amounts. For example…. Mr. Majid Khan alleged that he did not receive any solid food for seven days in Afghanistan.
  • In addition, the dates of the ICRC’s written interventions to the U.S. authorities, requesting information on Majid Khan are given in Annex 2 of this same report.

The Washington Post:

  • Human Beings Without Humanity — (Excerpt: “The profoundly disgusting memos made public yesterday — in which government lawyers attempted to justify flatly unconscionable and illegal acts — provide a depressing reminder of a time when the powerful and powerless alike were stripped of their humanity. These memos gave the CIA the go-ahead to do things to people that you’d be arrested for doing to a dog. And the legalistic, mechanistic analysis shows signs of an almost inconceivable callousness. The memos serve as a vivid illustration of the moral chasm into which the nation fell — or rather, was pushed — during the Bush era. President Obama deserves great credit for defying members of the intelligence community who wanted to keep these memos secret. But in calling for the nation to move on without any further looking back, Obama put his political needs above his moral and legal obligations…..”)
  • Too Embarrassing to Disclose? (Excerpt: “President Obama’s approach to government transparency is disturbingly opaque in places, particularly when it comes to disclosing information about the Bush administration’s torture legacy….”)

Salon.comIs waterboarding torture? Ask the prisoners (November 6, 2007)

Long Excerpt: If senators such as Charles Schumer and Dianne Feinstein have doubts about whether waterboarding is torture, they should — and should be allowed to — interview the men who have likely experienced it in secret CIA detention facilities in American hands.

For example, they should interview Majid Khan, a Baltimore resident abducted and held for years in secret CIA prisons. He was a “ghost detainee” who this past year was among the “reappeared” at Guantánamo.

President Bush himself has clearly stated that Khan was held at a secret CIA facility before being transferred to Guantánamo. Bush also made clear that an “alternative set of procedures” were enforced — procedures widely believed to include waterboarding.

So, was Majid Khan really waterboarded? I don’t know. Khan has been prohibited from speaking to anyone except my colleagues, lawyers at the Center for Constitutional Rights who were finally allowed to visit him recently. One of those attorneys, Gitanjali Gutierrez, and her colleagues have also since been silenced: The government forced them to sign a protective order because Khan knew about “enhanced interrogation techniques.” Likely translation: Khan was tortured and the government is trying to cover it up by silencing him — and even his attorneys….

Those senators are perfectly within their rights and powers to pick up the phone right now and demand to interview Khan and others who were likely tortured at CIA secret sites. They can conduct classified interviews with the lawyers for the Center for Constitutional Rights about their milestone visit with Khan. They can learn exactly what happened to these men. And, if the men were waterboarded, they can learn exactly what the practice entails.

What they will likely hear are descriptions like one written by Henri Alleg, a French journalist who suffered waterboarding during the Algerian war: “I had the impression of drowning, and a terrible agony, that of death itself, took possession of me.”

…. And so the question is extremely simple: Do the men and women who serve on the Senate Judiciary Committee want to know, or not? Do they care about whether our nation has tortured?

….I believe that upon talking to victims of waterboarding any reasonable senator — or citizen — will define it as torture. There is no reasonable disagreement on this point. It was a technique invented in the Spanish Inquisition and used to terrible effect in the centuries since. The only question is whether there is any institution or group of politicians in this nation with the will to stand up for our Constitution, even at the risk of their own political prospects. If there are such men and women, then there is yet hope that our nation will rescue the Constitution from those who would shred it.

This is not a moment for political theater. This is not a moment for politics at all. This is the moment for good and decent leaders to remember that the truth still matters and to act accordingly.

POTENT QUOTABLES:

This is a highly classified area. All I want to say is that there was “before” 9/11 and “after” 9/11. After 9/11 the gloves come off. Nearly three thousand al-Qa’ida terrorists and their supporters have been detained. In Afghanistan the al-Qa’ida who refused to surrender have been killed. The hunt is on. — Cofer Black (former Director of the CIA’s counterterrorism center from 199 to May 2002) in his Sept. 2002 testimony before the House/Senate Intelligence Committee Hearing in their joint investigation into September 11th

The gloves are coming off gentlemen regarding these detainees…. we want these individuals broken. — U.S. Senate Committed on Armed Services report, titled “Inquiry Into the Treatment of Detainees in U.S. Custody” November 2008, pg. 199 [quoting an August 2003 email sent by Capt. William Ponce (the battle captain in the Combined Joint Task Force 7’s Human Intelligence and Counterintelligence Office in Iraq) to interrogation elements in the field, in which he requested they submit “interrogation techniques wish lists.”]

The danger facing us is enormous. The efforts we take to meet it must be just as enormous. The time has come to remove the gloves! We must use our fists now! ….Those who do not understand this fight today will thank us on bended knee tomorrow that we took it! — Joseph Goebbels, from his 1943 speech, “Nation Rise Up and Let the Storm Break Loose”

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183 Times is the Charm: The Accusation (by Torture) of a Young Mother Named Aafia Siddiqui

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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)

"Water Torture" 16th century woodcut by Joos de Damhouder, illustrating how to interrogate witch suspects under torture

"The Water Torture" 16th century woodcut by Joos de Damhouder, illustrating how to interrogate witch suspects under torture

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.

2891436BG002_Ottawa_CitizenNow 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).

[see also: Patrick Leahy’s interrogation of Gonzales on the Maher Arar case here, and the 1-1/2 hour video of the U.S. Congressional hearing on Maher Arar’s case here].

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.

Ibrahim JassamNow 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.”

A young boy hopes for the release of his father, Sami al-Haj -- a journalist and cameraman, better known to U.S. officials as Prisoner 345 at Guantanamo, where he spent 6-1/2 years without charges.

2007 photo: A young boy hoping for the release of his father, Sami al-Haj -- a journalist and cameraman, better known to U.S. officials as Prisoner 345 at Guantanamo, where he spent 6-1/2 years without charges.

[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.

(continued page 2 —–>)

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Aafia Siddiqui and Her 3 Children: Victims to an America that has lost its soul

with 2 comments

Aafia, You Are Not Alone

Aafia, You Are Not Alone

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.

UPDATE: New links added 9/19/08 at the bottom of the post in blue 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.

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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

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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.

Pakistani Protesters Demonstrate on August 29th to Show Solidarity with Aafia Siddiqui

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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.

Over 4,000 Demonstrate in Pakistan in a Show of Solidarity with Aafia Siddiqui

Over 4,000 Demonstrate in Pakistan in a Show of Solidarity with Aafia Siddiqui

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.

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UPDATE: Aafia Siddiqui’s court hearing was yet another sad turn in this case, as she refused to attend the hearing — the same as she has refused meetings with her attorneys — solely to avoid the pain and degradation of the invasive, full-body strip searches she is required to undergo before these meetings.
According to one article, Siddiqui’s lawyers and the 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 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. Aafia’s attorney, Elizabeth Fink, continues to claim, as stated in her letter released this past Wednesday, that Aafia Siddiqui was held by the United States following her 2003 disappearance. Fink wrote that The Washington Post told her of “reliable sources in both the American and Pakistani government who have verified” that Siddiqui was held, first by Pakistani intelligence in 2003, and subsequently by the CIA. The Post declined to comment.

According to prison staff, Aafia spends most of her time in the cell crying, a description eerily similar to the accounts written about Prisoner 650, “the grey lady of Bagram,” who was described in exactly the same terms. Aafia is also reported to be terrified for her three children, and terrified that her 11-year-old son, in the custody of Afghani intelligence officials, is being denied food. Despite repeated requests by her attorneys, and repeated orders by judges in the case, Aafia continues to be denied medical care for her injuries, and continues to be denied psychological care, including a mental health evaluation by a therapist trained in evaluating torture victims. Aafia Siddiqui has fallen through the cracks of international law, and has fallen through the safety net of a U.S. Constitution unraveled by this administration. These facts speak for themselves as much as the speak for the truth that her case is proving to be a worst-case scenario — a case that proves, regardless of its outcome, the consequences of removing the checks and balances from the tenets of human justice. No human being should be allowed to endure the suffering of this particular hell. (see the updated links in green, below)

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A Disclaimer, of sorts, regarding the facts of the Aafia Siddiqui case

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.

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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.

TheNewsAfghan 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.
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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.

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by Mantis Katz, for the canarypapers

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The tragic case of Aafia Siddiqui: How each of us can help

with 4 comments

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.

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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.

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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:

cageprisoners.com page with updates on protests/campaigns to help with this case

dictatorshipwatch.com article containing the text of a Human Rights Watch letter to President Bush, regarding the illegal detention of Aafia Siddiqui and others in secret CIA prisons.

Human Rights Watch article on demands to free Aafia Siddiqui’s 11-year old son, too young to be treated as a criminal suspect.

Christian Science Monitor article, “The case against Aafia Siddiqui, who has been missing since 2003, raises questions about illegal detention centers across Pakistan”

muslimmatters.org article: The Grey Lady of Bagram: Dr. Aafia Siddiqui

muslimmatters.org info from August 26, 2008 press conference on Aafia Siddiqui

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).

canarypapers post, August 25, 2008: What did the Bush Administration do with Aafia Siddiqui and her three children?

What did the Bush Administration do with Aafia Siddiqui and her three children?

with 5 comments

NOTE: The post, below, is from August 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

An American Story

The disappearance and torture of Aafia Siddiqui at the hands of the U.S. government is also the story of a country that has lost its soul.

UPDATE: TO LEND YOUR VOICE TO HELPING WITH THIS CASE, SEE “CONTACT INFO” IN RED TEXT, BELOW, and OUR MORE RECENT POST ON AAFIA’S STORY.

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Aafia Siddiqui is but one of many human beings over the past 7 years who have been labeled as terrorists, then covertly ‘disappeared’ into a secret system of prisons, where they are systematically tortured by the agents of the Bush Administration — a government that can no longer lay claim to being quite human. Aafia’s story is particularly disturbing because, in 2003, along with Aafia, ‘disappeared’ her three young children, aged 7 years, 5 years and 6 months of age.
Massive protests have been waged in Pakistan, demanding the release of Afia Siddiqui and her children.
To those uninitiated with the torture practices (and the laws, or lack thereof, regarding torturing, including the torture of children) used by our government — whether at our own hands, or at the hands of those with whom we contract to carry out this torture — this story can perhaps be read with a comfortable detachment. To those of us who have studied the methods used by our government, and have read the stories of those who have — and who have not survived — the story of Aafia and her three children is unbearably haunting.
We cannot add more to her story than has already been published. We can, however, provide links to those stories. We can also add our voices to those who proclaim her innocence. After all, we live in a country where a person’s innocence is presumed, until they have proved otherwise. Or, at least, we once did. The Bush Administration has removed this right for any human deemed a terrorist suspect. For this reason, until our government restores the right of due process to “terrorist suspects” we, at the canarypapers, have taken the stance that our government must be presumed guilty, until proven otherwise.
And, lest any of us think we’re safe from those hands that would secretly imprison and torture innocent human beings, please know that, just by virture of our researching Aafia Siddiqui’s story, we at the canarypapers could legally be deemed terrorist sympathisers or even terrorist suspects. Fact is, our reading habits likely long ago placed us among the hundreds of thousands of Americans already on the FBI’s terrorist watch list. The Bush Administration would like us to believe that such truths belong to the realm of conspiracy theorists. Which leaves us but two choices: shall we resign ourselves to blind complacency or be banished to the minions of the conspiracy theorists? We choose the latter.

Were there nothing to hide, our government would not work in secrecy, would not hold suspects for years in secret prisons, torturing them to extract evidence, while denying their existence or, alternately, claiming the secrecy as ‘necessary’ to their investigation. Were there nothing to hide, our government would not discredit those who, in seeking the truth, ask questions of our government’s secret activities. Were our government not committing war crimes, there would be nothing to hide. We, at the canarypapers, join those who demand answers to the many questions about Aafia Siddiqui and her children. We hope that others will read her story and add their voices to the call for the truth.

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CONTACT INFO #1:

Call the Capitol Hill switchboard at (800) 828-0498

HOW TO: If you would like to help with this case, you can call your Senator/Representative via the above number to express your concern for the welfare of Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakastani prisoner being held in a federal detention center in Brooklyn, NY. When you call the number, above you will reach a general operator. Ask, by name, for the office of your Senator/Representative. Once connected, you will either be able to leave a voice mail or leave your message with an assistant. (Alternately, you could locate email addresses for your representatives and/or phone their local offices. Snail mail may be too slow, due to the urgency of Aafia’s needs).

Five primary issues of importance to mention in your calls regarding the case of Aafia Siddiqui (pronounced: OFF-ia Sa-DEEK-ia) :

(1) She is in need medical care. According to her attorney, Aafia Siddiqui’s condition has grown critical. As of Tuesday, August 26, her condition was deteriorating, and her attorney is urging that she be admitted to a hospital,

(2) that Aafia Siddiqui’s 12-year old son (who is legally a U.S. citizen, and is said to be in U.S. custody in Afghanistan) be returned to the U.S., to the care of his uncle, in Texas,

(3) that an investigation be started immediately to determine the whereabouts of her other two children, now aged 9 years and 5 years of age,

(4) that Ms. Siddiqui be afforded the right of habeas corpus and be allowed unencumbered access to her attorneys, including the ability to have legal counsel without being strip-searched beforehand, and

(5) that an independent investigation be conducted to determine exactly where Aafoa Siddiqui has been for the past 5 years, and the role of the U.S. and Pakistani ISI in this case, as has been alleged by human right groups.

CONTACT INFO #2

LINK: Asian Human Rights Commission: URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME

The Asia Human Rights Commission (AHRC) site at the above link has an Urgent Appeal Program, where you can direct letters (select from a pre-written letter, or customize/draft your own letter) to President George Bush and various officials in Afghanistan and Pakistan, urging them to immediately release Dr. Afia Siddiqui and her 12-year old child. The governments of Pakistan and the U.S. are also urged to reveal the whereabouts of her other two children. (The AHRC has written separate letters to the UN Special Rapporteur on the Question of Torture calling for intervention in this case.)

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LINKS FOR MORE INFO ON THIS CASE

The links, below, are listed in approx. chronological order, beginning with the April 2003 announcements of Aafia Siddiqui’s arrest (later denied by U.S. & Pakastani authorities) and ending with the July 2008 announcement of her arrest after her 5-year disappearance, during which time Aafia alleges she was imprisoned and subjected to horrendous torture and repeated rape at the hands of Pakastani and/or U.S. authorities while imprisoned at Bagram Airbase in Afghanistan. As certain news articles have a way of ‘disappearing’ we have cut and paste the 2003 reports of her arrest:

2003
AP (Associated Press) article excerpt, April 22. 2003: Woman sought for ties to al-Qaida in custody in Pakistan Dateline: WASHINGTON A former Boston woman sought by the FBI for questioning about possible ties to the al-Qaida terror network is in custody in Pakistan, U.S. law enforcement officials said Tuesday.
Two officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Aafia Siddiqui, 31, was detained by Pakistani authorities in the past few days and was being interrogated at an undisclosed location. She originally is from Pakistan. The FBI in March put out a global alert for Siddiqui, who has a biology degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and wrote a doctoral thesis on neurological sciences at Brandeis University in 2001. She also visited the Maryland suburbs near …
USA Today: Pakistani woman in custody unlikely the one sought
WASHINGTON (AP) — After initial optimism Tuesday, U.S. law enforcement officials backed off claims that Pakistan had detained a former Boston woman wanted by the FBI for questioning about possible links to al-Qaeda. Two federal law enforcement officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, initially said 31-year-old Aafia Siddiqui recently was taken into custody by Pakistani authorities. Pakistani officials never confirmed the arrest and later the U.S. officials amended their earlier statements, saying new information from the Pakistani government made it “doubtful” she was in custody. It was not clear whether a different woman had been arrested or if the initial information was wrong or misconstrued by U.S. officials. There had been several reports out of Pakistan prior to Tuesday claiming Siddiqui had been detained, but all turned out to be untrue. The U.S. officials said that while earlier reports never were given much credibility by federal authorities, Tuesday’s information at first appeared legitimate. The FBI in March put out a global alert for Siddiqui, who has a biology degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and wrote a doctoral thesis on neurological sciences at Brandeis University in 2001. She also visited the Maryland suburbs near Washington in December or January, officials say. Authorities have not charged that Siddiqui is a member of al-Qaeda but believe she could be a “fixer,” someone with knowledge of the United States who can support and help get things done for other operatives. She is not charged with any crime in the United States. The FBI also is seeking to question Siddiqui’s estranged husband, Dr. Mohammed Khan. His whereabouts are unknown. Alerts for Siddiqui and Khan followed the FBI’s announcement last month of a worldwide search for Adnan El Shukrijumah, a 27-year-old Saudi native nicknamed “Jafar the Pilot.” He lived for a number of years in South Florida and authorities believe he is an al-Qaeda operative who may have been planning new attacks. His family denies any terrorist ties and he has not been located.

UPI (United Press International) article excerpt, 4/22/2003: Report: First woman al-Qaida suspect detained: A woman with suspected links to al-Qaida has been arrested in Pakistan, NBC News reported Tuesday, although Pakistani officials said they didn’t know of any such arrest. Aafia Siddiqui, a former Boston resident, is wanted for questioning by the FBI. Her mother, Ismat Siddiqui, said her daughter disappeared from her hiding place in Karachi 10 days ago. She said that FBI and Pakistani officials she contacted told her that they had no information about their daughter’s whereabouts. Pakistan’s Interior Secretary Tasneem Noorani told United Press International that Pakistani authorities were not aware of …

2004
U.S. National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) website “Wanted” bulletin on Aafia Siddiqui
Boston Magazine, October 2004: Who’s Afraid of Aafia Siddiqui? She went to MIT and Brandeis, married a Brigham and Women’s physician, made her home in Boston, cared for her children, and raised money for charities. Aafia Siddiqui was a normal woman living a normal American life. Until the FBI called her a terror.
Daily Times (Pakistan) Nov. 1, 2004: The strange story of Aafia Siddiqui
2006

CommonDreams: 9/22/2006 Boston Globe article: Fate of Some CIA Detainees Still Unknown — Missing Boston woman among them, kin say.

2008

Asian Human Rights Commission: URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME (This human rights appeal was issued July 24, 2008. The publicity and outcry from this and other appeals is said to have prompted the FBI’s recent “discovery” and arrest of Aafia Siddiqui).

AafiaSiddiqui.com: This site includes a YouTube video of Al Jeezera news report on this case, which includes testimony by Aafia Siddiqui’s family.

US Dept. of Justice: Aafia Siddiqui Arrested for Attempting to Kill United States Officers in Afghanistan

FBI Bulletein on Aafia Siddiqui: Wanted/Seeking Information/In Custody

The Hindu: The mystery of Aafia Siddiqui A diamond-smuggling Al Qaeda operative or an innocent Pakistani woman whose only crime was her Islamic identity and her headscarf?

Asian Human Rights Commission’s August 4, 2004 article on Aafia’s ‘reappearance,’ as her arrest is announced by U.S. and Pakastani authorities): PAKISTAN: FBI is responsible for disappearances, illegal detention and torture. The American Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), initially admitted that they had arrested Dr. Afia and then later denied it. Now, due to the coverage of the UA both in Pakistan and internationally, the FBI has now announced that “Dr. Afia Siddiqui is alive, she is in Afghanistan but she is injured”. No further details have been provided and the AHRC is especially concerned about the three children who were also abducted along with her. It is reported that after receiving hundreds of responses to the UA initiated by the AHRC, the American and Pakistani authorities were compelled to issue information of the whereabouts of Afia Siddiqui who had been missing for five years after being arrested by the Pakistani Intelligence Agency…..

YvonneRidley.org Hoover, the FBI, and Aafia Siddiqui. (British journalist Yvonne Ridley’s account of the story.) Ms. Ridley began investigating Aafia Siddiqui after hearing reports of a female prisoner, called Prisoner 650 at Afghanistan’s Bagram prison. According to reports, the Prisoner 650 had been tortured to the point where she has lost her mind. Britain’s Lord Nazeer Ahmed, (of the House of Lords), asked questions in the House about the condition of Prisoner 650 who, according to him is physically tortured and continuously raped by the officers at prison. Lord Nazeer has also submitted that Prisoner 650 has no separate toilet facilities and has to attend to her bathing and movements in full view of the other. In the course of Yvonne Ridley’s investigation, she came to call Prisoner 650 “the gray lady of Bagram.” As Ridley explained, “I call her the ‘grey lady’ because she is almost a ghost, a spectre whose cries and screams continues to haunt those who heard her.” Ridley’s investigation added to the outcry which is said to have prompted Aafia’s release and simultaneous “discovery” by U.S. and Pakastani authorities in July 2008).

LA Times: Siddiqui arrest brings attention to the ‘disappeared’ issue in Pakistan

Times Online UK: Female ‘terror’ scientist Aafia Siddiqui facing US court after extradition

Dawn.com: Aafia Siddiqui appears in US court, denied bail

Free Detainees.org: Aafia Siddiqui & Children

Asian Human Rights Commission: URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME: The US Congress must investigate Dr. Afia’s case (This human rights appeal was issued August 8, 2008, after Aafia was brought to the U.S. and her allegations and condition became better known).

Action in Solidarity with Asia and the Pacific: (series of three August 2008 articles on Aafia Siddiqui’s case)

Reuters: Pakistani accused of U.S. troop attack gets doctor (Reuters report on Aafia Siddiqui — a prisoner in U.S. care — as she finally receives medical care, 4 weeks after being shot in the abdomen).

YouTube, August 8, 2008: Protest in Pakistan includes Aafia Siddiqui’s sister. Protesters’ signs include one reading, “Can a 6-month old baby be a terrorist?”

YouTube, August 8, 2008: ABC propaganda news report, which makes the “official” case that Aafia Siddiqui is a terrorist, calling her “a female bin Laden,” with the CIA deeming this “the most significant capture in 5 years,” along with the ludicrous, inflammatory and totally unsubstantiated charges including one that she was “told by leaders to have lots of babies; raise little jihadists.” No attempt is made to substantiate these charges but, rather, a jubilantly shocking account is given of her case, with no attempt to fake concern or even make mention of the fate of 2 of Siddiqui’s children, aged 6 months and 5 years of age when they disappeared with their mother in 2003.

YouTube, August 12, 2008: Press Conference in Islamabad on the legal and human rights issues, along with the many unanswered questions in the Aafia Siddiqui case.

YouTube, August 12, 2008: Protest for Dr Aafia Saddiqui/Speech by Yvonne Ridley

UPDATES FROM AUGUST 24, 2008 ONWARD:

Associated Press of Pakistan (August 26, 2008): Lawyer demands Dr Aafia’s shifting to hospital for urgent treatment

Washington Post (August 26, 2008): Afghan Officials Detain American Boy, U.S. Says Mother Held by U.S. as Al-Qaeda Suspect

UPI: Al-Qaida suspect’s U.S. son held

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Links to Human Rights Reports that Discuss/Detail U.S. Involvement in Secret Detention, Renditions and Torture:

Amnesty International (pdf file): United States – Below the radar: Secret flights to torture and ‘disappearance’

Amnesty International (pdf file) Off the Record: U.S. Responsibility for Enforced Disappearances in the “War on Terror” There are 3 mentions of Aafia Siddiqui in this report

Amnesty International (pdf file): Pakistan: Human rights ignored in the “war on terror” In this report, Aafia Siddiqui is #33 on the list of “individuals about whom there is some evidence of secret detention by the United States and whose fate and whereabouts” were listed as unknown at the time of the report.

Human Rights First (pdf file): Still Missing: Gaps in the U.S. State Department Human Rights Reports on Secret Detentions and Renditions

Parliamentary Assembly, Council of Europe (pdf file): Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights: Alleged secret detentions and unlawful inter-state transfers involving Council of Europe member states

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We will add more links as time allows, particuarly links to assist with any activism to help ensure that Ms. Siddiqui is afforded the dignity of human rights and due process. A hearing is scheduled for September 3rd, so the timing is urgent. Please feel free to do your own research and to do whatever you can to help her.

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Why Are the FBI and Attorney General Mukasey in Cahoots with Barney Fife?

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Earlier this week, while America’s attention was fixated on the Olympics, John Edwards’ love child, and the Georgia-Russia war (necessarily in that order) this tidbit quietly slipped into the headlines: FBI to get freer rein to look for terrorism suspects. Herein, Attorney General Michael Mukasey announced that the FBI and the Department of Justice have formed a brand new front in the war on homegrown terror. Working with the existing Joint Terrorism Task Force, this new effort will borrow what little is left of our constitutional rights, and hand them to the care of, say, your local Barney Fife.

Reading the above-mentioned article, it takes a little doing to get to the facts, because — if there’s one thing this administration does well, it’s cloaking outrageous truths in the most innocuous language possible. It takes either a skilled translator or a patient researcher to glean facts from the language of this administration — seeded as it is with vague euphemisms and benign jargon.

Here is one example, pertinent to the article. The word ‘agent’ was repeatedly used, in reference to those specific individuals, who will be empowered with violating our constitutional rights, while tracking terrorists. While the term ‘agent’ is nothing new, the word drew our attention after its ninth mention in the article. Just to be sure, we decided to check on the official meaning of the word, ‘agent’ with specific regard to our government’s work in tracking terrorists.

The answers can be found in White House press releases from 2001-2008, along with various documents from the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, the Joint Terrorism Task Force, and the Department of Justice. As it turns out, until 2005, the word ‘agent’ referred to only federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement officials. Beginning in 2005, however, the language morphed to federal, state, local, tribal and private sector officials. Just to be sure, we decided to check on the official meaning of the term, ‘private sector.’

Are You a Terrorist? Only Your Hairdresser Knows for Sure

Turns out, a ‘private sector’ agent can be most anyone. All that’s needed is a keen eye for spotting terrorists and the opportunity to spot them. Is your neighbor a computer specialist? A department store security guard? A meter maid? A city sanitation worker? A private eye? A sheriff’s deputy? A dog catcher? A beautician? An unemployed mama’s boy? An ex-con? A murderer? He or she may have a keen eye for spotting terrorists.

Or maybe you, yourself, have a keen eye for spotting terrorists. If so, the FBI will pay you royally to work as an informant. How about your co-worker? Your ex-spouse? Your ex-spouse’s lover? Any of these people have a grudge against you? They could become a paid informant. What about your meter reader, the cable guy, the garbage man, the clerk at city hall? Have any neo-Nazi friends? Know anyone who needs a few extra bucks? If so, they can become a paid informant and finger you to a keen-eyed official, who has the authority to deem you a terrorist suspect, then launch an investigation — tapping your phone, monitoring your computer and cable TV habits, and physically spying on you. You may even get to be the focus of a real live sting operation! Naturally, there are many in this country who wouldn’t feel the least bit threatened to investigated as a terrorist suspect, because they know they’re not terrorists and, besides, as President Bush often reminds us, eternal vigilance is the price of freedom.

Are You Sure You’re Not a Terrorist?

So you think the FBI could never accuse you of being a terrorist? Before taking that leap of faith, it’d be good — just to be sure — to make sure you know the offical definition of a ‘terrorist suspect.’ (<—- our apologies for the source, but this was the clearest copy we could find on the fly).

You May Be A Terrorist, and Not Even Know It

The reality is, just because *you* know that you’re not a terrorist suspect, doesn’t mean that *they* will also know. For instance, if you write a letter-to-the-editor speaking out against cruelty to animals, or in defense of free speech or environmental issues, or if you are a vegan, or a peace activist, or a protester, or have a bumper sticker related to any of these issues, the FBI (via local law enforcement or a tip from a keen informant) may deem you a domestic or homegrown terrorist. Alternately, your name (and the names of your friends & associates) may be entered into the FBI’s terrorist database. Do you wear certain ethnic clothing, or associate with certain ethnicities, or are you a black activist, or do you resemble one, or are you a Muslim, or do you resemble a Muslim? You may be a terrorist suspect.

 

 

Do you have fingerprints? You may be a terrorist suspect.

And what if you’re some (or none) of the above, yet get stopped for a speeding ticket by the local Barney Fife….? Are you wearing bulky clothing? Did you forget your driver’s license? Are you alone and nervous? You may be a terrorist suspect.


Of course, the Bush Administration has been using these tactics for years now. But as the FBI, the CIA and Department of Justice reach further into our lives, who’s to say any one of us couldn’t be shoe-horned into their profile? We, here at the canarypapers, are free-thinkers. We disagree with nearly everything. We especially disagree with everything the Bush Administration has ever done. So I guess you could say we’re defenders of the Constitution. We certainly make enough references to it in our rantings on the Bush-Cheney regime. We’re vegans too, which is another strike against us but, fortunately, we’re too anti-social (woops) to attend vegan potluck dinners. Of course Zeus — darn him to heck — insists on using his nickname, which is another strike against him and, by association, me.

We’d like to think that justice would prevail if our viewpoints were ever used as evidence to accuse us of heinous crimes we didn’t commit. Better still, we’d like to think we live in a country where something like this could never happen. But the truth is, justice doesn’t always prevail.

“If all that Americans want is security, they can go to prison. They’ll have enough to eat, a bed and a roof over their heads. But if an American wants to preserve his dignity and his equality as a human being, he must not bow his neck to any dictatorial government.”

–Dwight D. Eisenhower
 
 
 
 

 

The power to arbitrarily brand people as terrorist suspects is serious business. It becomes dangerous business when placed in the hands of the wrong person, even if that person happens to be the Attorney General of the United States. This sort of power belongs in corrupt dictatorships, not democratic societies.

This would be a good time to call and/or write your state representatives and any other member of Congress inclined to respond to such issues. Protest this dangerous intrusion into our constitutional rights. Tell your representative you are AGAINST implementing Attorney General Mukasey’s 5 new guidlines to transform the FBI/Department of Justice anti-terrorism unit into an elite national security organization, as announced on August 13th.

Tell ’em Checkpoint Chickie sent you.

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A Tragic Death: American Justice is Laid to Rest with Dr. Bruce Ivins

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For colleagues, a ‘quiet, giving kind of guy’

Our condolences on the tragic death of Dr. Bruce Ivins, the lastest casualty in the war of terror. We are particularly saddened by the smear campaign and scapegoating that led to his death, as Dr. Ivins fell prey to a legalized form of witchhunting — known as the Dick Cheney One-Percent Doctrine — which, beginning in 2001, replaced over 200 years of justice. A strategy for determining criminal guilt, the One-Percent Doctrine disregards the need for factual evidence, so long as there is a probability that such evidence exists — and a small probability, at that. According to the Cheney’s One-Percent Doctrine, if a perceived threat seems 1% true, you should act as if it’s 100% true. According to Cheney’s One-Percent Doctrine, I may be a terrorist, and you may be, too.

This was the doctrine used to take our country to war in Iraq. This was the doctrine used to accuse Dr. Ivins of heinous crimes against humanity. This was the doctrine used to smear Dr. Ivins’ good name, to subject him to a relentlessly invasive investigation for evidence that appears to be non-existent, and to then try him posthumously in the court of the media: guilty, case closed.

The problem with shoehorning an investigation toward pre-conceived evidence — and, ultimately, a pre-conceived verdict — is that, well, this only works in dictatorships, and only because the people are powerless to protest the injustice. America is not quite there. Not yet. Which means that I can still use my voice to protest this injustice — to correct the story of Bruce Ivins — because the official version is riddled with discrepancies. In re-telling his story, we can only aspire to a closer truth. In this, we hope to restore some of the justice robbed from Bruce Ivins in the course of the shoddily-constructed allegations and the investigation that have been waged against him.

The FBI and Department of Justice have announced that they may decide, as early as today, to pronounce Ivins guilty, case closed. We would like to assure the FBI and the Department of Justice that this in no way kills the truth. There are still many in this country who believe in the basic tenets of justice in a democratic society. It is in this shared spirit of justice and human kindness that we begin his story by offering the following truths about Dr. Ivins, as spoken by those who, perhaps, knew him best:

  • Ivans’ attorney, Paul F. Kemp, asserted Ivins’ innocence and stated that Ivans had been cooperating with the anthrax probe for more than six years, using his expertise as a scientist to help the government, and had also been cooperating for over a year, after the investigation was turned toward Ivins. In a statement made after Ivins’ death, Kemp said, “We are saddened by his death, and disappointed that we will not have the opportunity to defend his good name and reputation in a court of law.” In another statement, Kemp said, “We assert his innocence in these killings, and would have established that at trial. The relentless pressure of accusation and innuendo takes its toll in different ways on different people, as has already been seen in this investigation. In Dr. Ivins’ case, it led to his untimely death.”
  • Dr. Russell Byrne — Bruce Ivins’ friend and colleague for 15 years — believes that federal investigators were going after the wrong person, and that it was their pressure on Ivins that led to his suicide. In an interview with MSNBC, Dr. Byrne describes the effect the investigation had on Ivins, starting a year ago, as it incapicatated him to working. Dr. Byrnes scoffed at the “ridiculous motives” offered by federal investigators, and cited examples to disprove their claims against Ivins.
  • Arthur O. Anderson, a medical doctor and scientist at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Disease at Fort Detrick, and a co-worker for many years, said of Dr. Ivins, “He was concerned with how the Institute was perceived and how he was perceived. That manifested itself in the care he took in conducting his research.” Dr. Anderson futher described Ivins as “a hard-working individual with a high level of integrity and pride in both his workplace and his individual work.” Dr. Anderson believe in Ivins’ innocence and believes that Ivins has been used as a scapegoat in the anthrax case.
  • Retired Army Lt. Col. Jeffrey Adamovicz — former director of the bacteriology division at USAMRIID — told The News that the FBI’s probe into the 2001 anthrax killings had upended the work of the lab by turning scientists into suspects – and pushed his pal over the edge. “I just cannot see that Bruce would in any way, shape or form be responsible for something like that,” he said. “I’d like to see these charges substantiated, because just like [with] Dr. Hatfill, there could be nothing to these allegations.” He said the FBI has created a psychologically toxic atmosphere for scientists at Fort Detrick. “We were there processing information for agents and then one day they turned around and treated us all like suspects,” he said. The agents’ criteria for additional suspicion was “who’s working the most overtime,” said Adamovicz, who also was questioned by the feds. “The Bruce I knew,” Adamovicz said, “would not have anything to do with this.” In statement to the Washington Post, Adamovicz said, “I really don’t think he’s the guy. I say to the FBI, ‘Show me your evidence’.” He added, referring to the intense investigative pressure on Ivins, “A lot of the tactics they used were designed to isolate him from his support. The FBI just continued to push his buttons.”
  • Friends and neighbors said he was an avid gardener, an active walker and a volunteer with the Red Cross. Ivins and his wife of 33 years, Diane, had 24-year-old twins, whom they raised in a modest white house with red shutters across the street from Fort Detrick in Frederick, where Ivins worked at the U.S. Army’s institute for infectious diseases.
  • “Anybody that knew Bruce through his church affiliation is just dumbfounded,” said Bill McCormick, who attended St. John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church in Frederick with Ivins for 25 years. He said Ivins was a “quiet, giving kind of guy,” and the news that he was about to be charged in the attacks did not fit with the Ivins he knew.
  • David Danley, who worked with Ivins at Fort Detrick to develop a new anthrax vaccine for almost 10 years until 2003, says he has a hard time believing Ivins could be the anthrax killer. He remembers a cute gesture he would make to his daughter when they would see Ivins at their church. “My daughter was involved in a little theater in Frederick,” Danley said. “And whenever she was in a musical, she would walk into church, and [Ivins] would be at the piano. And he would start playing a tune from the musical she was in … just as a quiet sort of hello.”
  • Two military scientists who had worked closely with Ivins on projects for years, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said yesterday they were stunned and angry that he was being depicted as a suspect in the attacks without hard evidence being released by the FBI.
  • “Nobody thinks Bruce did it,” said one scientist. He described Ivins as “socially awkward” but he “certainly wasn’t a recluse or a hermit.” He added, “He was kind of a geeky scientist.”
  • Dr. Kenneth Hedlund, who worked with Bruce Ivins at Fort Detrick, says he thinks the government needed a scapegoat. He says the FBI was under a lot of pressure after paying nearly $6 million to Steven Hatfill — another researcher who had been under suspicion in the anthrax attacks. “Unfortunately, Bruce Ivins was a good guy — he was probably more vulnerable, and with the pressure they applied to him, they forced him to this position,” Hedlund remembers the scientist as an outgoing, friendly man who juggled at parties.
    Hedlund says he feels sorry for Ivins’ wife and children, and he is bothered by what he calls the government’s rush to say the problem is solved. “It’s a damn shame that they’ve chosen him as a fall guy, and I think they’ve chosen him as a fall guy because he was too human,” Hedlund says.
  • Another colleague said, “I’ve talked to several friends, and we’re all just really sad and shocked. I hate to see him painted as a person who could’ve done this.”
  • The official statement issued by USAMRIID said “The agency mourns the loss of Dr. Bruce Ivins, who served the institute for more than 35 years as a civilian microbiologist.” Time magazine commented: “That seems like an unusual thing to say if you believe one of your employees had something to do with an anthrax attack. It now remains incumbent on the FBI to reveal what information it had linking Ivins to the attacks. Given the federal government’s record on the anthrax investigation, and the national security interests involved, Ivins’ death should not be used as an excuse for the case to be closed without a full, public airing.”
  • Several of Ivins’ neighbors said they believe the government had the wrong man — and suggest that perhaps the real killer is still out there.
  • “I feel so badly for his family,” said Duggan, an adult-education worker who has lived next to the Ivinses since they bought the 1,500-square-foot house in 1990. It was just the opposite, she said. Whenever she saw him on the street, he would wave heartily and they would chat. She said he walked regularly, perhaps to help his bad back. When she needed a chain saw for some yard work, Ivins showed up and did the job. “Bruce was the kind of neighbor that anyone would want to have,” Duggan said.
  • Ivins was the son of a Princeton-educated pharmacist, and one of his ancestors had opened a pharmacy in town in 1893, in Lebanon, Ohio. His family had deep roots in the small town near Cincinnati.

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It is apparent to many who truly knew Dr. Ivins — as well as many who didn’t — that the official story, as painted by the FBI and the Department of Justice, has so far failed to accomplish more than weaving a case built on innuendo and unsubtantitated allegations. Below, we offer a corrected and more comprehenisive version of the story than has been offered in the official version. The version you will read below begins with some background, then details a total of 11 counterpoints to the case against Dr. Ivins, following a somewhat surreptitious, but relevent, sequence of events that began after September 11, 2001, when all the world was reeling in a shell-shock of horror. All the world, that is, except for the henchmen in the Bush Administration. There was work to be done….

A Constitution to Dismantle

…beginning with the September 13th passage of Senate Amendment #1562, — the “Combatting Terrorism Act of 2001,” which, in effect, gave our government license to brand me a terrorist and to wiretap my phone and computer, based solely on the above paragraph I just wrote. And it gave them license to do so, based solely on the say-so of, say, the local Barney Fife.

In the wake of 9-11, the pressure was understandably immense on Capitol Hill to create strong anti-terrorism legislation. But a different sort of pressure was felt by at least one lawmaker on the Hill — to not trample the Constitution in the panic over 9-11. While Attorney General Ashcroft was urging speedy passage of wire-tapping legislation, Senator Patrick Leahy urged calm deliberation. “I worry that we may run into the situation,” Leahy said, “where all of us have joined together in our horror at these despicable, murderous acts in New York and at the Pentagon–we do not want to change our laws so that it comes back to bite us later on.”

Tensions flared between Ashcroft and Leahy, as Leahy argued against rushing the amendment through, in the absence of the customary hearings and discussion that would normally accompany such legislation. Equally concerning to Sen. Leahy, as seen in his statements, was the balancing act between civil liberties and constitutional law, against the vagueness and ambiguity of the bill’s language on wiretapping and terrorism.

“We are going to amend our wiretap laws so we can look into anybody’s computers,” Leahy said during the Amendment 1562 deliberations.

“Maybe the senate wants to just go ahead and adopt new abilities to wiretap our citizens. Maybe they want to adopt new abilities to go into people’s computers. Maybe that will make us feel safer. Maybe. And maybe what the terrorists have done made us a little bit less safe. Maybe they have increased big brother in this country.

“If that is what the Senate wants, we can vote for it. But do we really show respect to the American people by slapping something together, something that nobody on the floor can explain, and say we are changing the duties of the Attorney General, the Director of the CIA, the U.S. Attorneys, we are going to change your rights as Americans, your rights to privacy? We are going to do it with no hearings, no debate. We are going to do it with numbers on a page that nobody can understand….

If we are going to change habeas corpus, change our rights as Americans, if we are going to change search and seizure provisions, if we are going to give new rights for state investigators to come into federal court to seek remedies in the already overcrowded federal courts, fine, the Senate can do that. But what have we done to stop terrorism, and to help the people in New York and the survivors at the Pentagon?

“We do it to fight terrorism on computers…. but how is a terrorist defined? We know what terrorism was at the trade towers…. We do not (in this amendment) define terrorism…. I guess some kid who is scaring you with his computer could be a terrorist and you could go through the kid’s house, his parents’ business or anything else under this language. It (the language in the amendment) is that broad.

Amendment 1562 nonetheless passed within hours of Leahy’s statements. Within one month, Amendment 1562 and others were combined into the first version of the US PATRIOT ACT — introduced on Oct. 2 and passed on October 12. Eleven days later, on October 23 *(and in the wake of the September 18th and October 9th anthrax mailings) the ‘new and improved,’ 300+ page version of the US PATRIOT ACT was introduced. And in the minds of civil libratarians, constitutional scholars and citizens across the country — this new version of the US PATRIOT ACT also introduced a full-scale assault on the U.S. Constitution. But the mood was urgent. After all, the terrorists were mailing anthrax all over the country. What next? Who next? Where next? The rest is history.

Tracking Terrorists. Or Not.

The pertinence of these events to the alleged suicide of Bruce E. Ivins is threefold. (1) These events reveal the fervor of our government to staunch terrorism — even to the extent that U.S. laws were perplexingly changed, in the interest of tracking terrorists, to allow our government to surveil our cable television viewing habits. (2) Two of the most powerful voices on the Hill — Senators Leahy and Daschle, the head of the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Senate Majority Leader, respectively — waged strong dissent to passing the US PATRIOT ACT and were also the only two lawmakers targeted in the anthrax mailings. (3) Senate Amendment #1562 — passed only two days after 9-11 — issued a congressional directive to President Bush to ensure, within 60 days, proper safety standards for government labs that handle biological pathogens, as follows:

“Commencing not later than 60 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the President shall undertake appropriate actions to enhance the standards for
the physical protection and security of the biological pathogens described in subsection (a) at the research laboratories and other government and private facilities in the United States that create, possess, handle, store, or transport such pathogens in order to protect against the theft or other wrongful diversion of such pathogens.”

That this congressional directive was specifically applicable to Fort Detrick, and to the manufacturing and handling of anthrax, and to an Army scientist named Bruce E. Ivins, makes all the more curious the events that then transpired, from September 13, 2001 to Dr. Ivin’s death on July 29, 2008. It is in the spirit of due process that we offer the following counterpoints to the ‘trial by media’ now being conducted against a man who is still, under the existing laws of this country, innocent.

In the Spirit of Due Process

(ONE)

Its ludicrous to think that our government would allow — either before or after the Amendment 1562 legislation — a lifelong homicidal sociopath (as Dr. Ivins has been painted since his death) to work for 18 years at Fort Detrick, a high-security Department of Defense laboratory, as a scientist entrusted with biological warfare agents, such as anthrax. Ask any one who has been through a background check for a Q-Level security clearance with the Department of Defense. It’s ludicrous.

(TWO)

Equally ludicrous are the recent media reports suggesting that the administration’s “bungling” of the investigation was responsible for the fact that — for the past 1-1/2 years since the FBI began investigating him — Ivins continued to work at Fort Detrick until just a few weeks ago, when he was removed “because of fears he had become a danger to himself or others.” Just ask any person in this country, who has flown, post-9-11 (ask Maher Arar, who can attest) — this administration spares no stealth or effort to scrutinize potential terrorists, and will pursue the faintest molecule of a lead with the intensity of a corpse-sniffing dog. Were Dr. Ivins truly seen as a threat — a “terrorist” by definition, if he were 1% guilty of the anthrax mailings — he would not have been allowed to board a plane in this country, much less work with biological warfare agents in a DOD laboratory.

(THREE)

The media’s cherry-picking of quotes and their lack of factual context is reprehensible, unethical, and unbalanced. In some instances, the reports smack of propaganda. One such is example , is the reporting on the allegations of guilt, waged by Bruce Ivans’ brother, Tom, who had not even spoken to Bruce since 1985 — the reasons for this 23-year distance unknown to us. Lacking this context, the media nonetheless sees fit to repeat ad nauseam that Ivins’ brother, Tom, believes Bruce to be guilty of the anthrax mailings. “He considered himself like a god,” said Tom, and the media glommed onto this statement, as if to somehow bolster the FBI’s case against Bruce Ivins.

This armchair verdict, delivered by Dr. Ivins’ brother, would perhaps carry some weight, if not for the fact that brother Tom presents as a petty, embittered, puffed-up old man, jealous of Bruce’s intellect and success. Tom paints both of his brothers (Bruce and Charles) as wooses, for their lack of athletic prowess in high school, a million years ago. Were the media responsible, rather than acting as complicitious flesh-eaters with the FBI, they would disregard entirely this guilty verdict, delivered by a brother whose heart is so filled with bile, that he can only speak ill of his dead brother and of his other brother, Charles, currently recovering from heart open-heart surgery. In the interest of balance, here is the report of an exchange between the media (NPR) and brother Tom:

Tom Ivins, who lives in Middletown, Ohio, admits he hasn’t spoken to his younger brother Bruce since 1985. He won’t say why, except that there’s no law that requires him to maintain contact.
“I don’t owe him anything,” Tom Ivins says.

Tom says he used to give his little brother rides in his bicycle basket when they were kids, but “we didn’t play together because I was very athletic myself.”

Their father was a pharmacist and their mother was a homemaker in Lebanon, Ohio. Tom played football in high school, while Bruce ran cross-country. But Tom says his brothers, Bruce and Charles, shared a disturbing family trait. “They grew up with that attitude — I didn’t — that they were omnipotent,” Tom Ivins says.

He says there were no signs that something was wrong with his brother when they were younger, but he thinks pressure from law enforcement probably led to Bruce’s suicide.

Tom says he is a much stronger man than Bruce was — proven by the way Tom says he handled questioning about the case by the FBI. “They asked me a few questions, like ‘What were you like growing up,’ like family history questions, and I didn’t buckle like the walls of Jericho coming tumbling down under their questioning, but it seems my two brothers did,” he says. “Charles was not as strong as I am, nor was Bruce.”

When asked if there’s anything he liked about his brother, Tom replies, “No, I didn’t.”

He says he isn’t sorry his brother is dead.

(FOUR)

Ivans allegedly mailed the anthrax letters as part of a “warped plan to test his vaccine for the deadly poison.” For one thing (and we don’t claim to be experts on anthrax vaccines) aren’t vaccines given before, rather than after exposure to a pathogen? The antidote of choice for anthrax exposure is the antibiotic Cipro, which Bush, Cheney and other White House staff began taking on September 11th, one week before the first anthrax letters were mailed out.

Another thing, regarding Ivins’ alleged diabolical plot to test his vaccine — how did this plan interface with mailing anthrax to Leahy and Daschle, two of the most outspoken voices against the PATRIOT ACT? Were these targets mere coincidence? And was it mere coincidence that these letters were mailed 3 days before the first version of the US PATRIOT ACT was voted into law? Also, in the interest of “testing his vaccine,” why would Ivins have chosen to scatter the other letters across the county? The impracticality of this plan defies common logic. And why were these letters sent to media outlets? What possible purpose would these targets serve, to a mad scientist, bent on testing his latest invention? You do not have to be a conspiracy theorist to notice who stood to gain the most from scaring the hell out of the media and our lawmakers — and, by extension all of America — at a time when our Constitution was being systematically dimantled.

In this light, a little-known truth is that the most logical culprit — the CIA — was being investigated as early as December 2001, as reported in Washington Post. The CIA was found to be involved in anthrax research and testing, and was named as possible suspects in the anthrax mailings. The CIA and their contractor, Battelle Memorial Institute were under fire before 9-11, as reported in a September 4, 2001 New York Times article, which described some of the CIA’s work throughout 2001, conducting secret tests with biological weapons, specifically anthrax. According to teh article, the CIA’s goal was to first “engineer genetically a potentially more potent variant of the bacterium that causes anthrax,” and then to “assess whether the vaccine now being given to millions of American soldiers is effective against such a superbug.” Accused of testing “the limits of the global treaty banning such weapons,” the CIA claimed their experiments were for ‘defense’ purposes only and, therefore, allowed under the treaty.

Regardless of their purposes, the fact is that the CIA experiments with myriad strains of anthrax and, in September 2001, the CIA actually held in their possession the identical strain (Ames) sent to Senators Leahy and Daschle. This fact, in itself, constitutes nothing. But the fact that the CIA initailly concealed this information from the FBI during their early investigation constitutes something.

(FIVE)

Ivins’ alleged diagnosis of ‘sociopath, homicidal killer’ was delivered secondhand, in the form of hearsay, by his therapist of 6-months — a social worker, named Jean Duley — who said: “He has been forensically diagnosed by several top psychiatrists as a sociopath, homicidal killer.” Diagnosed by several top psychiatrists? Who? Who are these ‘top psychiatrists’ that diagnosed Ivins? And why were their names not given? Did Dr. Ivins, in death, lose the right to at least have the names of his accusers posted along with the accusations that have now been so freely and publicly waged in the media? Or are we to accept the hearsay of Jean Duley as fact? Does her position as a mental health counselor give her license to broadcast hearsay, as if it were sanctified fact?

Of course, the records clearly indicate that Dr. Ivins was increasingly distressed and depressed, possibly to the point of a breakdown, as evidenced by his recent behaviors and psychiatric hospitalization. Most people, it is safe to say, would experience at least some of this, were they subjected to an intense FBI investigation for 1-1/2 years — particularly if being investigated for a crime that wasn’t committed, as may have been the case with Dr. Ivins. We don’t know.

We have not been made privy to Dr. Ivins’ mental state before the FBI investigation began, nor to what medications he may have been on for depression, nor for the time frame of this prescription and how this may have factored into his recent behavior. There is ample medical precedence for anti-depressants causing uncharacteristic anger, rage and violent tendencies — the very behaviors allegedly exhibited by Dr. Ivins in the weeks before his death, which prompted Jean Duley to place a restraining order against him.

What was his behavior before medications? How did this compare to his behavior after he started taking meds? Was he given additional medications while in the psychiatric hospital? Was he given the benefit of proper oversight for possible adverse effects from his prescription(s)? The questions are myriad, and are important enough that they should have been asked and properly answered by qualified, unbiased, caring professionals, before the media broadcast the Jean Duley allegations, as if they were fact.

Regarding ‘facts,’ we, in America, have been conditioned over the past 7 years to believe, without question, what we read and hear in the media, even as the sources for the news are rarely given. In recent, important news stories (e.g. as happened in the lead- up to, and the ongoing war in Iraq) the presented ‘facts’ are all-too-often quoted to us by ‘anonymous’ sources (e.g. “military officials said,” or “White House sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity” or government sources said”) The same has now happened with Dr. Ivins. In reporting Dr. Ivins death, the AP story reads, “Several U.S. officials, all of whom discussed the ongoing investigation on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media…”

These anonymous officials who were ‘unauthorized to speak to the media’ nonetheless spoke to the media, to annouce that “prosecutors were closing in on the 62-year-old Ivins for the 2001 anthrax attacks.” That our own government has been implicated in the anthrax letters of 2001 makes highly innappropriate their role in this posthumous trial-by-media, sans an independent investigation into both the anthrax allegations and the mental health allegations made against Dr. Ivins. The media abrogated their professional responsibility to substantiate the facts as delivered by Jean Duley and the agents of our government. The media abrogated the ethics of their profession –choosing, instead, complicity in the campaign to paint Dr. Ivins as a homicidal monster, a terrorist who — but for the grace of suicide — would have gone on ‘another’ murdurous, terrorist rampage.

To put this in a historical context, it bears mentioning that in both Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, “psychiatric” records of dissidents were kept and used to document the “illnesses” prior to sending the “patients” for “rehabilitation” in the concentration camps of Germany and the gulags of Siberia. Under the circumstances of Dr. Ivins’ case, our government cannot be considered as either a valid or unbiased source for the accusations and diagnoses made against Dr. Ivins. Particularly so long as these quoted sources of these allegations remain anonymous in the media. The fact that these sources belong to the government body accused of the very crimes for which they were building a case against Dr. Ivins reeks of corruption.

(SIX)

Bruce Ivins had no prior criminal record before the restraining order placed against him by Jean Duley — a social worker/counselor, whose behavior can only be called outrageous — as she is now waging more unsubstantiate allegations in the media, accusing Dr. Ivins of additional heinous crimes, such as plotting to poison and murder people as far back as 2000. “He attempted to murder several other people,” she alleges. “He is a revenge killer.” Unlike Bruce Ivins, whose criminal record was squeaky clean before his mental breakdown last month, Jean Duley is alleged to have a long criminal record dating back to the 1992, with charges ranging from criminal battery, to DUI, to reckless to driving, to possession of drug paraphenalia. The ethics of her professional betrayal of Ivins over the past month — beginning with the hearsay she used to obtain the restraining order, and leading, now, to her current allegations being broadcast to the media — have been called to task by at least one health care professional. Arthur O. Anderson, a medical doctor and scientist at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Disease at Fort Detrick, said Duley’s description of Ivins doesn’t match his impressions of a man with whom he worked for many years. Dr. Anderson believes Ivins is being used as a scapegoat in the anthrax case. Of Jean Duley, Dr. Anderson said:

The remaining allegations about murderous ideas and plans sound so foreign to me that in the absence of contemporaneously documented evidence I would have to consider them items of Ms. Duley’s vivid imagination or information fed to her by the people she communicated with outside the therapeutic environment. It is not at all surprising to me that a patient whose therapist is serving as a double agent ‘therapist’ and ‘accuser’ would become very angry with the therapist and might make some rather dramatic expressions of that anger.

On this note, we do not know the nature of the information exchanged between the FBI investigators and Jean Duley, nor do we know how this information might have influenced Jean Duley’s assessment and treatment of Dr. Ivins. What we do know is that the FBI investigators travelled to Dr. Ivans’ hometown of Lebanon, Ohio and searched through Ivin’s high school yearbooks. They investigated Ivins’ family home to determine who built it, and who designed it. They spent 45 minutes to an hour in the basement of the family pharmacy. They scoured the background of Ivins’ family. It stands to reason that they had at least one conversation with Jean Duley.

(SEVEN)

Not all of the anthrax letters contained the Ames strain sent to the two senators — an impracticality for a mad scientist bent on testing his new Ames strain vaccine. On a related note, not all of the anthrax letters even contained anthrax. Or did they? A mystery yet-to-be explained is the existence of the Nevada-Malaysia anthrax letter. This letter tested postive, then negative, then postive, then negative for anthrax. It was postmarked Reno, Nevada (not from Ivans’ home state of Maryland) and addressed to Malaysia, where it travelled, then received a Malaysian postmark, before returning back to Nevada. The letter was discovered, upon opening, to be filled with pornographic pictures and anthrax. How did Ivans get that letter all the way to a Nevada mailbox, then arrange for someone in Malaysia to fill it with pornography & anthrax and return it back to Nevada? Of course, the presence of anthrax in this letter was later dismissed as false. True or false, who can say? And what difference would it make? The fear had already done its duty and was permanenly fixed in our minds. All that most Americans can recall from those days is the general horror of terrorists mailing anthrax all over the country, and of the overwhelming fears: Who next? What next?

The media and this administration never bothered to set the facts straight on the Nevada-Malaysia letter, although, at this point, whose ‘facts’ could we even trust to believe? This type disinformation was to become a pattern, which still exists — in which false news is reported to great fanfare, often generating much fear, but is never corrected once the true story emerges. The laws of probability negate the possibility that the level of disinformation disseminated by our government is anything but intentional. (And it bears mention, in relation to the Nevada-Malaysia anthrax letter, that Malaysia was a key player in the events leading up to 9-11, as the CIA had monitored a January 2000 meeting of the alleged 9-11 al Qaeda terrorists in Malaysia at the “Kuala Lumpur summit of 2000,” where the CIA is accused of having “literally watched as the 9-11 scheme was hatched–and had photographs of the attack’s mastermind” and of then not using this intelligence to prevent the events of 9-11).

EDITOR’S NOTE: WE WILL BE REFINING OUR RESEARCH ON THE NEVADA-MALAYSIA LETTER, AS WE BELIEVE THIS TO BE A SMOKING GUN IN THE CASE, WITH PARTICULAR REGARD TO THE CIA’S INVOLVEMENT.

This convoluted mish-mash of details no doubt factored into the repeated requests made by Congress for the Bush Administration to divulge their investigation into the anthrax letters, a request that was first stonewalled with silence then, finally, a flat denial. The Bush administration has refused all congressional requests for information on the investigation for nearly seven years. Even the two Democratic officials whose offices were targets of the anthrax mailings, Daschle and Leahy, have been denied any significant briefing on the progress of the case. In this light, it seems interesting that the FBI has now annonced plans to brief the families of the anthrax victims — in the wake of Ivins’ death, and in the absence of a full and complete intestigation into the facts of the case.

(EIGHT)

According to recent media reports, the governments case against Ivans was based, in part, on “Unusual behavior by Ivins was noted at Fort Detrick in the six months following the anthrax mailings, when he conducted unauthorized testing for anthrax spores outside containment areas at the infectious disease research unit where he worked, according to an internal report.” Dating his alleged “unusual behavior” and “unauthorized testing” to the anthrax mailings is foul play — an intentional ploy to weave guilt-by-association. Moreover, the allegations of “unauthorized testing” by Dr. Ivins are a lie. Dr. Ivins has never accused of this. The media’s false allegation apparently stems from a December 2001 anthrax contamination incident at Fort Detrick. According to the report from the internal investigation, the contamination was caused by “inadequate decontamination to the outside of shipping containers” during transport inside the facility. Ivans is reported to have cleaned the contamination, but to have delayed reporting it until April 2002. There is zero mention in the 2002 investigation of “unauthorized testing” by Ivans.

Ivans’ statement to Army investigators during the investigation echoes this truth: “In retrospect, although my concern for biosafety was honest and my desire to refrain from crying ‘Wolf!’ was sincere, I should have notified my supervisor ahead of time of my worries about a possible breach in biocontainment. I thought that quietly and diligently cleaning the dirty desk area would both eliminate any possible [anthrax] contamination as well as prevent unintended anxiety at the institute.” There were no charges, nor accusations waged against Ivans. In fact, the Army’s high esteem for Ivans, and for the integrity of his work, was publicly lauded the following year, in 2003, when Ivans awarded the Pentagon’s highest civilian award for resolving technical problems afflicting the Army’s anthrax vaccine.

(NINE)

Particularly odd, is that Congress has been virtually blocked from information on the anthrax investigation, despite repeated requests. On October 23, 2006 Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa sent a six-page letter to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales requesting a briefing on the anthrax investigation. By December 2006, a total of 33 members of Congress demanded that the Attorney General update them on the investigation. By mutual agreement between the FBI and the Department of Justice, the request was denied. One year later, in a September 2007 interview, Sen. Patrick Leahy commented, midway throughthe interview, on the anthrax case:

***

Interviewer: Yeah, I don’t think there’s any other way to look at it. And when you call it what it is, it was biological warfare conducted against the highest levels of the US government.
Leahy: What I want to know — I have a theory. But what I want to know is why me, why Tom Daschle, why Tom Brokaw?
Interviewer: Right. That all fits into the profile of a kind of hard-core and obviously insane ideologue on the far Right, somebody who would fixate on especially Tom Daschle, who at that point was the target of daily, vitriolic attacks on Right-wing talk radio.
Leahy: [Slowly, with a little shake of the head] I don’t think it’s somebody insane. I’d accept everything else you said. But I don’t think it’s somebody insane. And I think there are people within our government — certainly from the source of it — who know where it came from. [Taps the table to let that settle in] And these people may not have had anything to do with it, but they certainly know where it came from.

***

Tom Daschle (the other senator who, along with Leahy received an anthrax letter) has said about the case: I think the FBI owes us a complete accounting of their investigation and ought to be able to tell us at some point, how we’re going to bring this to closure. I think the American people deserve to know more than they do today.

(TEN)

There is so much disinformation, innuendo and unsubstantiated allegation being peddled in the media right now, that it’s impossible to dismantle it all, short of 500,000 more words, plus a week’s worth of hours to research to document the facts vs. lies. The fact is, we do not know the circumstances surrounding these allegations, not do we know the integrity or conflicts of interests that may exist in the sources who make these allegations. To the extent the media have allowed this “trial by media” in the absence of honest, journalistic reporting makes them complicitious in what can only be called a reprehensible smear campaign against Dr. Ivins. Perhaps he is, indeed, guilty of all the accusations. Or of only some of the accusations. Or of none at all. We may never know. But one thing is certain: Dr. Ivins deserves better than the trial by media he is now receiving. This travesty is but one example of how corrupt our democracy has become.

(ELEVEN)

On that note, it’s important to remember that Dr. Ivins was not the first bioweapons researcher to be named as “a person of interest” by the Department of Justice in the anthrax investigation. He was not the first to be surreptitiously accused of terrorism — of murdering 5 people — and to then be subjected to an intense investigation and a trial by media, with unsubstantiated allegations and innuendo waged against him and leaked to the media by anonymous government sources. Dr. Ivins was not the first to shed tears, as his life became destroyed by the harrassment of the investigation. Dr. Ivins’ predecessor in this travesty of justice was Steven Hatfield, who sued the U.S. government for leaking his name to the media http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=12838368 and ruining his reputation — and he won his case. On June 27th of this year, Hatfield was awarded $5.85 million in his settlement with the U.S. government. In the wake of his settlement, Hatfield’s lawyers offered these statements to the press:

“We can only hope that the individuals and institutions involved are sufficiently chastened by this episode to deter similar destruction of private citizens in the future – and that we will all read anonymously sourced news reports with a great deal more skepticism…. The good news is that we still live in a country where a guy who’s been horribly abused can go to a judge and say, ‘I need your help,’ and maybe it takes a while, but he gets justice,”

The tragedy today is that Dr. Ivins will never realize this promise of justice. It is up to the rest of us to demand that his good name be cleared and his memory be given the justice that was robbed from him in life.

***************************

Inscription at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out –
because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out –
because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out –
because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me.

***************

For more reading, see:
These are the court documents on the “Amerithrax” case (a stupid name obviously intented to evoke a discordant mix of warm fuzzy patriotic feelings of horror over the anthrax letters ). Released by the Department of Justice on August 6, 2008, this dossier of weak, circumstantial evidence — much of it based on suppositions, made by unnamed sources, with no tangible evidence to back them up — documents the valiant efforts by the FBI and DOJ to substantiate the case that Bruce Ivins carries “sole responsibility” for the anthrax letters. http://www.usdoj.gov/amerithrax/

This site contains an interesting chronology on the events surrounding the anthrax letters and other biowarfare-related topics surrounding 9-11, including the off number of deaths of many microbiologists connected to the U.S. government’s biowarfare programs. Most of the links on this site are dead, but we’ve researched and found credible sources to verify the validity of many claims: http://911review.org/Wget/www.cooperativeresearch.org/timeline/main/AAanthrax.html

A compilation fo Ivins’ letters to the editor at the Frederick Newspost from 1997-forward: http://www.fredericknewspost.com/sections/news/display.htm?StoryID=78274