Thursday, April 26, 2007

Outraged Yet? This Is Being Done In Our Names

The Center For Constitutional Right released new testimony regarding the torture, rendition and other outrages inflicted on Majid Khan. The problem with these stories is that they all start to blend together and we become numbed to their horror and what they say about our country. But this one is a little different because Najib was raised in Baltimore, MD and attended high school there. Also, his brother, Mohammed, with his wife and infant were imprisoned with Najib. Najib's father and his other siblings are legal residents who were granted assylum in the U.S. ten years ago and still live in Baltimore.

Najib's father, Ali, filed a statement in his son's Combatant Status Review Tribunal (CSRT) proceeding which details the sorry history of his son's abuse.

[T]he Americans tortured him for eight hours at a time, tying him tightly in stressful positions in a small chair until his hands, feet and mind went numb. They retied him in the chair every hour, tightening the bonds on his hands and feet each time so that it was more painful. He was often hooded and had difficulty breathing. They also beat him repeatedly, slapping him in the face, and deprived him of sleep. When he was not being interrogated, the Americans put Majid in a small cell that was totally dark and too small for him to lie down in or sit in with his legs stretched out. He had to crouch.

Yes, we've heard this all before. We have also heard things like this -

This torture only stopped when Majid agreed to sign a statement that he was not even allowed to read. But then it continued again...

It all started on March 5, 2003.

What I can tell you is that Majid was kidnapped from my son Mohammed’s house in Karachi, along with Mohammed, his wife and my infant granddaughter. They were captured by Pakistani police and soldiers, and taken to a detention center 15 minutes from Mohammed’s house. The center had walls that seemed to be 80 feet high. My sons were hooded, handcuffed and interrogated. After eight days of interrogation by U.S. and Pakistani agents, including FBI agents, Mohammed was allowed to see Majid. Majid looked terrible and very, very tired.

But as outrageous as this four year ordeal has been it is made even worse by by the total sham justice that is the CSRT. Majid tried to have his family in Maryland testify on his behalf, but those efforts were thwarted.

Majid sent questions to his family in preparation for his CSRT and hoped to call them as witnesses in his defense. In a series of exchanges between CCR attorneys and the Office for the Administrative Review of the Detention of Enemy Combatants (OARDEC) over the last two weeks, the Defense Department explicitly refused to provide his family - asylees living legally in the United States for over a decade - with a guarantee that they would be able to safely re-enter the U.S. after their appearance as witnesses at the tribunal.

Can't guarantee their safe return? You have to be kidding. They aren't even willing to pretend this proceeding has even a patina of fairness.

Mohammed Khan, Majid's brother expressed the outrage we should all be feeling.

"Our imprisonment in Karachi and interrogation by Americans was a terrifying experience," said Majid's brother Mohammed Khan, by phone from Pakistan. Mohammed, along with his wife and one-month-old daughter, was abducted with Majid from the family's apartment in Karachi, Pakistan, in March 2003. "I still cannot believe that for the last four years the U.S. government has held my brother in secret detention and now won't even let him see our family or his lawyer. When I think about the detention of my newborn daughter, Majid's torture that made him sign a confession without reading it, and his disappearance into a secret prison, I feel our family is caught in a nightmare. No human being should have to go through what my brother endured - and is still enduring."

Lest anyone have any doubt as to the thoroughness of our government, rest assured that Ali was not spared his own version of American justice. From his statement to the CSRT he details how we treat people living right here in the "homeland" (How I hate that word)

At the time Majid was kidnapped and these events were happening in Pakistan, our family’s home in Maryland was also raided by government agents. Our whole house was searched from top to bottom, and our life was so disrupted that we eventually had to move out of our neighborhood. I was also interrogated by FBI agents for several days, as was each of my sons and daughters. We were threatened, and when we asked about lawyers we were told that they could not help us. The FBI pressured us to talk and to speculate about Majid. They followed us everywhere we went for a long time, requiring us to tell them in advance where we were going and what we were going to do there. They followed us so closely that we even asked them for directions sometimes when we got lost driving.

Despite all that we have endured, we have always cooperated and continue to cooperate with the government. At this point, the FBI has probably questioned us for hundreds of hours. I think they have opened our mail. And they seem to have placed
listening devices in our house, our phones and probably our computers. They have also tried to recruit my sons to spy on other Muslims by bribing them with money. I am also not allowed to leave the country. But the government still refuses to show us any evidence against Majid. This is not right. We expected much more in America, particularly because Majid has political asylum here and grew up and went to high school here in Maryland. He has legal status in the United States.

And what of the evidence against Majid. Well, we don't know much, but his father's statement suggests that it may not qualify for "slender reed" status.

I have not seen my son in more than four years, since before he was kidnapped from his brother’s home in Karachi on March 5, 2003. Now I am told by the military that my son wants to know whether I said in March 2003 that he became very religious and developed anti-American feelings, and whether one of my other sons said that Majid might be involved with Al Qaeda. Where and when did we make these statements that you claim we made? Who did we make these statements to, exactly? The government has refused to give us this information. Anything we may have said about Majid was simply out of shock because we only knew that Majid had disappeared, and was pure speculation based on what FBI agents in the United States told us and pressured us to say.

Maybe Khan actually did something for which he deserves punishment. Or maybe he's just another in a long list of hapless guys who have become pawns in the Bush campaign to terrorize America. I would guess that if he had really done something we would have witnessed a news conference from Moscow or Katmandu telling the world about it. Which leaves us with the second choice. Four years and counting in America's Shame for who knows what, if anything.

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