Imagine for a moment that you are in a country to provide humanitarian aid. Imagine now that that country is Afghanistan. Imagine that you got caught in a round up of suspected terrorists and carted off to Guantanamo Bay in Cuba where you’ll spend the next seven years being tortured into making false confessions with little hope of any due process. The guy in this news article doesn’t have to imagine it:
The detainee is Fouad Al Rabiah, a 50-year-old Kuwiati who was captured in Afghanistan in 2001 and sent to Guantanamo where he’s been ever since.
In a heavily redacted decision released today, Judge Colleen Kollar Kotelly said the overwhelming evidence was that Al Rabiah was in Afghanistan as a humanitarian aide worker.
She said that the Bush administration had used harsh and unapproved interrogation techniques to provoke “confessions” that government interrogators themselves later admitted were not believable. “If there exists any basis for holding Al Rabiah,” said the judge, “the government certainly hasn’t presented it to this court,” and she ordered the government to take all steps to facilitate his release.
That should not be difficult since the government of Kuwait has long asked that al Rabiah be returned home.
Seven years of your life spent in misery at the whim of the United States government because you were trying to do a good thing by helping people. Almost a decade of your life gone for no good reason. At the very least you’d think this man deserves an honest apology, if not some form of compensation, for what we put him through. It’s true that mistakes happen and sometimes the innocent get caught up in the rush to stop the bad guys, but that’s why we have due process rules in our judiciary. The Bush Administration did everything it could to ensure that any chance of due process was denied the captives they rounded up whether it be under our own Constitution, by keeping them in places beyond the jurisdiction of our courts and arguing that the Constitution didn’t apply because they weren’t Americans, or under the Geneva Conventions, by labeling them Enemy Combatants and not Prisoner’s of War for which there are rules regarding how they are to be handled.
We should be ashamed that we allowed something like this to happen in our name. We should be outraged that the people who made it happen have not been held to account. We should be demanding that Obama follow through on his campaign promise to close Gitmo within one year of his election. How many more innocent people have been sitting in Guantanamo wondering if they’d ever be free again?