Wrongly held at Gitmo for seven years an innocent man is about to be set free.

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?

31 thoughts on “Wrongly held at Gitmo for seven years an innocent man is about to be set free.

  1. Yeah, Les, but the guy’s probably a Muslim, so he deserves whatever happened to him.  Let him serve as a lesson to Muslims everywhere.

  2. The extent of this travesty of justice is staggering. In fact its things like this, along with others that makes me suspect more and more that America dosent really care about terrorism and cares very much about oil. Its a very blunt thing to say but I really mean it.

  3. I can’t help but wonder…

    When this guy saw the Twin Towers collapse. Did he see it as progress, or a shame.

  4. Gelta, the sad truth is that we didn’t go there for the oil. We went there to A) show the rest of the Muslim nations that we can blast the shit out of them if they get out of line and B) to establish a toehold right smack dab in the middle of them from which we can launch campaigns against any country in the Middle East that pisses us off.

    I don’t think it was ever about the oil. It was all about waving our big dick around.

  5. I was against the invasion of Iraq.

    Afghanistan with respect to Bin Laden and Al Queda and anyone associated with the Taliban should be contained.

    Muslims are really Fucking Ignorant people. I have been to the Middle East. They do not embrace peace or have any use for it. They are the most Barbaric people on the Earth. They treat their women and children like shit. And believe that anyone who does not bow down to Allah should be forced to, or murdered.

    Christian Philosophy is rather mild compared to these fuckers.

  6. Christian Philosophy is rather mild compared to these fuckers.

    I’m not sure people on the receiving end of cruise missiles and cluster bombs would agree with you there, Paul.  But yes, in some ways we’re more socially advanced than traditional Muslim societies.  And all too prone to congratulate ourselves for it.

  7. It’s also worth pointing out that Christian philosophy wasn’t always so mild itself. History shows us that in the past the Christians did more than their fair share of persecution and infidel killing.

  8. Socially Advanced ?

    As in we don’t stone women to death for suspecting they were out after dark without permission.

    And really the media in the middle east is focused on, and reports on, issues in large cities. Smaller more rural areas are more extreme.

    I am glad to see the people ( minorities ) stand up in Iran against the Government. I think there is hope if we ( The US ) will stay out of it. With the exception of the on going UN General assembly, with regards to Nuclear Proliferation.

    But Afghanistan is not like Iran. Apples and Oranges.

  9. As in we don’t stone women to death for suspecting they were out after dark without permission.

    Yep, I’d definitely call that an example of social advancement.  My greatest hope for the Muslim world is that they’ll see how secular freedoms work in other countries and insist on them for their own countries.  That’s pretty optimistic, I know.  I have a hard time thinking that us bombing the hell out of them helps anything.

  10. DOF – Just for the record, I want you to know that I respect your opinions, always have. I listen to you and you are one of the main reasons I show up on SEB…. That said… Back to Topic…
    ———————-
    Even understanding the concept of secular freedom and Radical Islam extremeism are at opposite ends of the spectrum. I too would like to see hope for Afghanistan. And others as well.

    But the Taliban is a different Animal. It will never accept change. In many ways, and I can’t seem to think of another example. So here go’s.

    The Taliban is like a Child Molester. You can never get this out of them. It’s embedded in their mentality from the womb. This mentality is a huge sweeping movement in Islam. I hate it, I really hate it. But the only recourse for the sake of others who could embrace moderation is to destroy it.

    Reasoning with a Religious fanatic ( depending on the faith ) but if that faith includes martyrdom in the name of a deity. It is unusual if not near impossible to achieve.

  11. Thanks Paul. 

    You’re right the Taliban are probably not going to change.  I read somewhere that there’s 10,000 of them opposed by nearly 40,000 of our troops.  Something’s not working and it seems like a good opportunity for creative thinking.

    When the Taliban were thrown out of power a few years ago, forbidden musical instruments suddenly appeared out of nowhere.  The people had been hiding violins, flutes, guitars. It makes me think the Taliban don’t really have popular support, but foreigners would have even less.  Trouble is, the common person may not really have much exposure to the rest of the world to know the difference.

    Just blue-sky thinking, maybe we should airdrop a few million solar-powered satellite Internet terminals.  Those devices would disappear overnight, but they wouldn’t vanish.  Some would be used to watch Al-Jazeera reports, but others would be used to read Western news, blogs, or to audit MIT courseware.  The Taliban would forbid them of course but they couldn’t keep them from being used.  As our bombs seem to make the Taliban more powerful, maybe episodes of How I Met Your Mother would undermine them.

  12. Quick Quiz

    In which country was a census taker recently lynched, with an anti government slogan scrawled on his chest?

    No, they scrawled “FED” on his chest. To let everybody know the man was given a last meal before he was lynched. wink

    /Aisle seat, please.

  13. Let us not forget Paul your vitriol is spewing forth on a post written about an innocent Arab being tortured. He was over in Afghanistan helping and trying to make things better. If he is Muslim he sure doesn’t fit your description does he?

  14. Again I ask..Did this man see the Twin Towers collapse as progress or shame.

    This man was captured on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border far from his home in Kuwait. He may have personally met with Bin Laden. I am not against this man being released. But I am not confident that the investigation was entirely comprehensive. 

    And just for the record. The Judge who presides over these types of proceedings was put there by Rehnquist. She is there without the Joint Chiefs of Staff agreeing to her overseeing the proceedings.

    The current rate of detainees returning to active duty ( Al Queda ) is 1 in 7. And that is under Military Tribunal hearings. Now with this Judge, I expect it to go far beyond that figure.
    ————————
    As for your spewing forth vitriol comment:

    I paid at the door to express my opinions after High School in Southeast Asia. So I will continue to say whats on my mind. You are free to critique.

    Semper Fi

  15. Paul, your assertion that 1 in 7 of the prisoners return to fight with al Qaeda is questionable. Yes, I know there was a report released back in May that suggested that might be the number, and a lot of news outlets including the NYTs took that number as gospel, but a closer look by Peter Bergen, who is CNN’s national security analyst, suggests the number is actually closer to 1 in 25:

    However, our analysis—based on previously released Pentagon reports, news stories and other publicly available documents—indicates that when threats to the United States are considered, the true rate for those who either have taken up arms, or may have, is barely 4 percent, or 1 in 25.

    The claim that one in seven “returned to the fight,” as some represent it, is seriously flawed in several ways, primarily because the Pentagon’s list of supposed recidivists included not only those “confirmed” of “re-engaging in terrorist activity” but also those “suspected” of terrorism or militant activities anywhere in the world, whether or not those actions were directed against the United States.

    […]  We conducted our own investigation to determine how many Guantanamo ex-prisoners have engaged in what could be construed as any form of militant activity, covering the spectrum from murderous acts of terrorism to simple speech, such as giving an anti-American media interview.

    Using The New York Times Guantanamo docket database and previously released Pentagon reports, news stories and other public records, we examined the cases of the 544 prisoners transferred out of Guantanamo and have been able to identify by name 64 individuals who could possibly fall into the category of recidivist.

    We divided the 64 individuals into three categories. In the first category are those, such as Abdullah Ghulam Rasoul who can pose a real risk to U.S. interests. Rasoul, who was transferred under the Bush administration to Afghanistan in 2007 and then released by the Kabul government, is now reported to be the commander of operations for the Taliban in southern Afghanistan.

    In the second are those who have targeted or attempted to target non-U.S. interests. And in the third category are those former detainees, such as the British “Tipton Three” and Muslim Uyghurs from China who were sent to Albania, who have criticized the U.S. government or military.

    (When an individual fit into more than one category, we placed him in the highest category, and in cases where we could not independently verify the Pentagon’s assessment of a named individual’s confirmed or suspected involvement in any form of militant activity, we took the Pentagon’s assessment at face value.)

    Our analysis found 21 former detainees who either subsequently engaged or may have engaged in anti-American terrorist or insurgent activities, representing 3.9 per cent of the men transferred from Guantanamo. Among them are Said Al-Shihri, sent back to his native Saudi Arabia in 2007, who is now a leader of al Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen.

    The Pentagon sticks by its 1 in 7 claim, but then the Pentagon also stuck by its claim that Saddam Hussein definitely had Weapons of Mass Destruction and we all know how accurate that claim turned out to be.

    That said, given how these people have been treated while at Gitmo is it any wonder that some of them go back to the battlefield when they’re finally released? Hell I’m surprised it’s not a 7 to 1 ratio where people who weren’t terrorists before they went into Gitmo came out as one due to how they were handled.

    In this particular case, however, there doesn’t appear to be anything that suggests this man was anything other than a humanitarian. Yes, he was captured far from his home. Yep, it’s possible he may have met with bin Laden himself. Do you have any reason to assume that he did other than he’s a Muslim in the Middle East?

    Here’s a copy of the judgment for his case. Perhaps you can find something in there to justify your suspicions:

    al rabiah

                  

     
    I seriously suggest reading it. It lays out the case made by the government and why the court found it unconvincing. If you can see reason to say otherwise in the judgment then I’d be happy to hear it.

  16. Paul, any number of Americans feel that it’s progress when any Muslim village is burned to the ground.  Who Al Rabiah may have met, and what he may have felt, is hardly reason to incarcerate him for seven years, or to torture him in our name. It’s true that Al Queda recruiting goes on, but there’s no reason we need to make it so easy for them.  Bombings, no-recourse incarceration, and torture just play right into their hands.

    I paid at the door to express my opinions after High School in Southeast Asia. So I will continue to say whats on my mind. You are free to critique.

    What are you trying to say, that combat experience makes it OK to simplistically tar all Muslims with the actions of a few?  That tracer bullet works both ways.  To millions of Muslims, we’re all Dick Cheney.  It would certainly be worth the effort to prove them wrong, but we can’t do that by killing more of them.

  17. 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?

    The Constitution was designed to accomplish two things: 1) provide for a strong enough central government to be effective, 2) provide enough checks and balances so that the central government could NOT become too strong and infringe on the rights of its citizens. Recent history has shown that point 1) has been accomplished. Point 2) is somewhat in controversy. How much power should our central government, or any government, have and exercise over its citizens?

    I agree with George Carlin (RIP) that

    By and large, language is a tool for concealing the truth.
    George Carlin

    and

    I’m completely in favor of the separation of Church and State. My idea is that these two institutions screw us up enough on their own, so both of them together is certain death.
    George Carlin

    Peace

    And, Norman,

    No, they scrawled “FED” on his chest. To let everybody know the man was given a last meal before he was lynched.

    I thought that was an add for FedEx. smile

  18. I think I am being seriously confused with another Paul…

    No I do not want to see every Muslim village bombed back into the stone age. I am pro-World Peace.

    I admit I am not fond of some groups of Muslims, But then I am not fond of The Westboro Baptist Church. I don’t despise all Baptist, just them, and others that share their views about protesting at Funerals. I am not fond of Israel either because I think they are elitist. That does not keep me from seeing my Jewish Doctor however, or having Jewish friends.

    I think this is the issue that I mainly disagree with in a nutshell.

    I disagree that a US Federal Judge has jurisdiction over a suspected enemy combatant. That is the job of the Defense Department to oversee these issues. And it’s not like they lack the ability, or are completely blind to justice.

    If anything they understand the issue on a deeper level. An Attorney who is selected to represent the accused is a regular Attorney. Who could if he so decided. Could work in the same Federal Courthouse where these cases are being heard.

    So what makes the difference ?

    A Military tribunal acts within International boundary of common law “without” respect to specific US legislation. A for instance would be ” Miranda Rights ” They don’t apply to an enemy when being tried.

    War Sucks…I know…But if we want to avoid more of it. Then it has to be clear to our enemy’s that we will eliminate them. Nor will we tolerate their supporters.

    And for the record I am not, nor have I been a supporter of the Bush Administration. The War in Iraq is shameful beyond words.

    The war in Afghanistan is taking a peculiar shape. It has the appearance of a long drawn out conflict.

    Do I want that…? NO

    Is there a fix, or best case scenario ? Yes

    Let Secretary Gates handle the matter with complete control. The information systems do not need to be further compromised. CNN FOX ABC NBC or any other news media outlet makes this only worse by speculating and making it a spectacle for the sake of ratings.

    Fianlly..Well maybe not finally. Innocent people are going to be damaged and harmed. That’s what makes war hell. Children not being given a chance to grow up. People learning to hate on a level than cannot be comprehended.

    I actually thought that DOF’s idea of dropping computers was an excellent idea. It beats dropping bombs.

  19. Paul- the problem is that BushCo stated that those captured were outside the auspices of the Geneva Convention, and not PoWs- hence the invention of “Enemy combatants”.  The second that the detainees are confirmed as PoW, Bush becomes a war criminal.  I could believe that Obama has been advised against military tribunials for this reason- Spain tried to extradite Pinochet, and the intervention of That Bitch stopped it. While I doubt the US would ever give up Bush, Cheney et al, it could then fall foul of the international rules it introduced about sheltering war criminals.  Nothing would happen- the US is still too powerful, but it would certainly find less co-operation when it tried to use such treaties against its enemies.

  20. Paul writes…

    I disagree that a US Federal Judge has jurisdiction over a suspected enemy combatant. That is the job of the Defense Department to oversee these issues. And it’s not like they lack the ability, or are completely blind to justice.

    This man has been locked up for seven years on what appears to be the flimsiest of evidence. The Defense Department has had plenty of time to do something about it yet they did not. Are you seriously suggesting this guy should be left rotting in Gitmo until the DD gets around to figuring out he’s innocent of the charges? How long would be too long?

    Don’t want the judicial branch getting involved? Fine, declaring them prisoners of “The War On Terror™” and handle it per the Geneva Conventions like we should have from the start. Declaring them “Enemy Combatants” and then holding them indefinitely is complete bullshit. If any other country tried to do that to an American we’d be rattling our sabers so hard you’d be able to hear it from the moon.

    If anything they understand the issue on a deeper level. An Attorney who is selected to represent the accused is a regular Attorney. Who could if he so decided. Could work in the same Federal Courthouse where these cases are being heard.

    So what makes the difference ?

    The seven years it took to bring about this man’s release is what makes the difference. It seems clear to me that the Department of Defense was of the opinion there was no pressing need to address this case.

    Fianlly..Well maybe not finally. Innocent people are going to be damaged and harmed. That’s what makes war hell. Children not being given a chance to grow up. People learning to hate on a level than cannot be comprehended.

    Yes, innocent people are going to be damaged and harmed. The fact that that is inevitable doesn’t mean we don’t try to help the innocent whom we accidentally harmed as quickly as we can. We gain nothing by ignoring the plight of the innocent in our zeal to get the enemy. It makes us look callous, selfish and arrogant and it makes a mockery of the ideals we claim to be protecting.

  21. First of all, keep in mind that they are (hopefully) closing Gitmo, but not releasing or promising to get on with trying any of the prisoners there.  They’re getting rid of the symptom, but I haven’t seen any movement on the cause.

    Secondly, why did it take 7 years to figure out this guy wasn’t a terrorist?  Was this something that Obama started or was it something in the works that just took 7 years to produce results?  Either way, we deserve an explanation.

    And of course the ever popular (but no less important) “Why aren’t we charging the remaining prisoners with crimes or setting them free?”

    I can’t help but wonder…

    When this guy saw the Twin Towers collapse. Did he see it as progress, or a shame.

    Did you, Paul?  The people that blew up the Trade Towers were no more Muslim than a serial killer telling people that God talks to him is a Christian.  They are deluded, or being used by people who are deluded, or worse being used by people who don’t even believe in Allah.  There are only a few “guilty” terrorists in the world, and none of them are in custody.  The rest are victims as surely as the 3,000 who lost their lives on 9/11.  The War on Terror is not going to be won in places like Gitmo.  It’s not going to be won in places like Iraq and Afghanistan.  You kill a terrorist, more will take his place.  You accidentally kill a civilian, or arrest the wrong people, or hold people without trial, you create ten, maybe a hundred, maybe a thousand more terrorists.  The only way to combat terrorism is to show them we are not what they think we are.  The sooner we come to grips with that uncomfortable reality the faster we can start dealing with the problem of “terrorism” effectively.  Until we do, the body count will just keep going up.

    GITMO has to go.  Secret trials have to go.  Any trial has to be as public as we can make it and open to scrutiny by the most skeptical among us.  If we can’t make the charges stick in that kind of environment, then we shouldn’t be arresting these people.  We keep making up the rules as we go and dumping our ideals whenever we get frightened, we make the terrorists right.

  22. Yep.  The way we’re going at it, we’re making enemies faster than we can kill them.  Aside from all humanitarian issues, it’s just bad tactics.

  23. Aside from all humanitarian issues, it’s just bad tactics.

     

    A pity that it would even be necessary to make any other case than humanitarian.  But the bad tactics aspect is exactly what Gen. McChrystal was saying.

  24. The only way to combat terrorism is to show them we are not what they think we are.  The sooner we come to grips with that uncomfortable reality the faster we can start dealing with the problem of “terrorism” effectively.  Until we do, the body count will just keep going up.

    Ummm – you do realize you’re dealing with True Believers™? WE ARE WHAT THEY THINK WE ARE. They are thinking wrong. DUH!  cheese

  25. you do realize you’re dealing with True Believers™? WE ARE WHAT THEY THINK WE ARE. They are thinking wrong. DUH!

    Well… no.  They obviously need someone to “connect the dots” for them or they wouldn’t need to keep preaching their bullshit.  A few religious fanatics (or clever secularists) are using the religion to CREATE other fanatics.  Contrary to popular belief, entire populations do not hate the western world.  They need to be told to hate us and provided with incentives to fight us.  We need to go after those potential recruits and make it clear to them that they do not need to risk or give up their lives just to kill us in order to improve the lives of their people.

    Make no mistake, there is little difference between those fanatical Muslims and people like the Westboro Baptists except the standard of living we have here in the U.S.  If our country was wracked with poverty and continually kicked around politically by people from some other region on Earth, you can bet those Baptists will be able to find quite a few religious people who have nothing left to lose by fighting or even dying for some stupid cause the the WB’s convince them is worth it, but they won’t be fanatics until the WB’s get a hold of them.

  26. Contrary to popular belief, entire populations do not hate the western world.

    That’s what I said. Your remarks were targeting (pun intended) terrorists, as were mine. TERRORTISTS are the fundies, not entire populations.

    Now, the problem becomes how do we deal with those fundies who are developing and encouraging terrorists? Those fundies KNOW what they are doing, even if their followers do not, or are programed to ignore the evidence. I submit the likelihood of eliminating such fundies is very remote.

    I heard a remark this week that makes a lot of sense to me: “This world is ruled by the aggressive use of violence.” I don’t like the statement, but I have to agree with its wide application. I’m hoping to find some way to raise a generation that does not require the perpetuation of this rule.  smirk

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