February 5, 2006

Detainee 032 and the American Taliban

The National Journal has a great piece about Detainee 032, who has been at Guantanamo since he was 18 years old.

"Like many of the men who came handcuffed to Cuba, Detainee 032 has never been accused of fighting against America. He fell into U.S custody far away from any battlefield. But today, after four years of interrogations and investigations, he is still an "enemy combatant," even though he was never an enemy or a combatant."

The article does a great job picking apart the case, explaining the failures of justice in the "enemy combatant" system, the use of torture and resulting unreliable information, and the legal complications that the Bush administration have laid down to prevent these detainees access to court. I highly recommend reading it. The conclusion is, in the end, that Detainee 032 absolutely does not belong in prison. The article itself, however, concludes with this:

"The Defense Department, following orders and procedures, still considers Farouq Ali Ahmed, Detainee 032, a threat to America. Two months after his review board, on December 18, Farouq turned 22, passing his fourth straight birthday behind bars in Guantanamo. Who would do differently? Who would raise their hand to release the man who might fly into the next skyscraper?"

Also, check out The Real Story of John Walker Lindh. After his capture, the media and American public went into a feeding frenzy against this despicable traitor. It's difficult to recall the mindset we all had in the days following 9/11. Well, it turns out that Lindh wasn't a Taliban soldier. In his court case, every charge was dropped except for one of violating economic sanctions, which this 20-year-old will spend 20 years in prison serving a sentence for.
The story is an amazing one, of what brought him to Afghanistan, how he survived mass killings and war crimes committed by our ally, the Northern Alliance, being tortured by the US military, and being the focal point of seething hatred from the American public. On the basis of misinformation and emotional response, Lindh became one of many Taliban soldiers who had no interest in fighting the US, and no relation to Al-Qaeda that will unjustly fester in prison. It should be some consolation that Lindh, as an American, at least got access to a trial, but apparently the protections of the American judicial system only apply selectively.

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