Saturday, August 23, 2008

Heart-Hurt

Remember back in 2006 when the news hit that three Guantanamo Bay detainees had committed suicide on the same night? If so, then you will also probably remember the response from our government, that the three men were "engaging in 'asymmetric warfare' against the United States."

Fortunately, those deaths raised enough of an uproar that the military couldn't just leave it with that chilling assessment. An investigation into the suicides and how they could have happened was ordered, and the Washington Post has obtained a copy of that report via a Freedom of Information Act request.

While the report and the article raise some important policy questions, what scalded my innards was a suicide note left by one of what this administration likes to call "suiciders."

"I am informing you that I gave away the precious thing that I have in which it became very cheap, which is my own self, to lift up the oppression that is upon us through the American Government," wrote Ali Abdullah Ahmed Naser al-Sullami, of Yemen, a 26-year-old detainee who had been on one of the longest hunger strikes at Guantanamo, ultimately earning him forced feedings through a tube. In a note neatly folded into his shirt pocket, Sullami wrote: "I did not like the tube in my mouth, now go ahead and accept the rope in my neck."

26 years old.

And here's the really tragic part of Mr. Sullami's story: he was not going to be prosecuted but he was never going to be released by the US.

The military's Criminal Investigation Task Force had decided years earlier that Sullami, who was arrested near his college in Pakistan in March 2002 and was turned over to U.S. authorities on May 2, 2002, in Afghanistan, was not someone they could prosecute.

"Although many of the individuals apprehended during the raid have strong connections to al Qaeda, there is no credible information to suggest Ahmed received terrorist related training or is a member of the al Qaeda network," investigators wrote in a previously "secret" document.


After four years, during at least two of which Mr. Sullami protested his captivity with a hunger strike, Mr. Sullami finally gave in. It's not hard to understand why, at least not hard for anyone with even a scintilla of compassion.

Rest in peace, young man.

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3 Comments:

OpenID lakelobos said...

America's gulag. If you did nothing, you get life in brutal conditions.

McCain seems to be winning because we the Democrats have the yet undiscovered talent of choosing bad candidates to run for presidents. We should blames ourselves as well in running the gulags.

Wes Clark as ready to savage McCain; he was told to stay away from the convention. Now we have the mummy called Biden. (I am about Biden's age, I wouldn't nice to Republican; hack I am not nice to some of the idiots I work with.)

6:05 AM  
Blogger Deb said...

I wouldn't be surprised if other countries started prosecuting American tourists for war crimes since with every election we become more complicit.

Except they seem to have rules and regulations against trying and holding people for no reason. Not that our daily news doesn't supply ample examples of our fear and stupidity.

10:39 AM  
Blogger Nora said...

In any moderately just system, once the people doing the arresting discovered that the person arrested wasn't guilty of anything, they would release him. Maybe even apologize to him.

Only in this fucked up system can someone say with a straight face that because this person did nothing wrong, he will never be prosecuted and therefore he can never be released.

It breaks my heart that he had to find his own release. Karma on this one is going to be ugly.

3:21 PM  

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