Monday, August 18, 2008

In The Washington Post Yesterday

Photo of Camp X-Ray downloaded from

I'm Home, but Still Haunted by Guantanamo

A horrifying, touching essay by one of the "enemy combatants" the Bush Administration deemed unworthy of being treated as a human being. His name is Jumah al Dossari.

Some excepts:
I arrived in Guantanamo in January 2002 after Pakistani forces handed me over to the United States, probably, I suspect, for a bounty. I had been in Afghanistan to assess the progress of a mosque-building project there, funded by people in my native Saudi Arabia. I knew that Afghanistan was a dangerous place, but I was paid for the trip and I needed the money, so I went. It is a decision I will always regret. When the U.S. began bombing Afghanistan in November 2001, I fled to Pakistan. At a border checkpoint, I asked Pakistani guards for help getting to the Saudi embassy. Instead, they put me in a prison, where I was kept for days with shackles on my legs.

Physical brutality was not uncommon during those first years at Guantanamo. In Camp X-Ray, several soldiers once beat me so badly that I spent three days in intensive care. My face and body were still swollen and covered in bruises when I left the hospital. During one interrogation, my questioner, apparently dissatisfied with my answers, slammed my head against the table. During others, I was shackled to the floor for hours.

Between suicide attempts, I tried desperately to hold on to the few fleeting moments of light that presented themselves to me. I met every few months with my attorneys and felt better whenever they were in Guantanamo, but my despair would return within a day of their departure. On occasion, I was helped by compassionate guards. After the beating in Camp X-Ray, a young female guard appeared at my cage, looking to make sure that no other guards were watching. "I'm sorry for what happened to you," she whispered to me. "You're a human being just like us." These words were a temporary balm for my bruises and loneliness. Ultimately, though, I believe it was God who did not allow me to die.

When I was watching "United 93," I thought of the soldier who had offered me compassion in Guantanamo. Her words reminded me that we all share common values, and only by holding on to them can we ensure that there is mercy and brotherhood in the world. After more than five years in Guantanamo, I can think of nothing more important.

This is important. This is not something redacted or euphemized beyond all recognition of language. This man was tortured. The "information" he gave was twisted and fabricated by the torturers and parroted by the victim in order to get the abuse to stop for a few minutes.

This is also being done in our name.

Two thoughts that struck me while reading this. Maybe the Cross in the Dirt story isn't complete and utter fabrication. Not bloody likely, but I will give him a maybe, maybe. I still think that I saw something just like that in "Quo Vadis" or maybe "The Robe." Still, there are times when human decency and compassion can shine through the darkest stuff. I will give him a maybe, maybe.

The other is that this man who endured five years of reprehensible, unjustified, and most certainly illegal dentention and torture is finding himself capable of forgiveness. That's far beyond something I would be capable of bringing. To this day I would be unsure of my reaction to meeting the rat bastard motherfuckers who put me through SERE training. I'm fairly certain that there would be blood as a result. Here's the nicest thing I have to say about that.
It accomplished jack fucking shit. It didn't train anybody in any kind of knowledge except that there were a lot of pissant low rent bastards who wore the same uniforms as us. Fuck SERE. Fuck their instructors. Fuck the shitheel dog breathed pissants who thought it up, fuck the horse they rode in on, the mail they carry, and the stamps they sell. It was nothing but a waste of time.

That we have allowed our President to bring our nation to the moral equivelant of Serbia, or Stalinist Russia, is something that needs to be remembered daily. And fought without ceasing.

Read this whole essay. Never forget what has been done in our name.