Aid Worker: Chewed Up, Spit Out

Scott Sayare in the NY Times on Saturday, 5/25/12 reminds us, with a brief update on Lakhdar Boumediene, of the effect  of unrestrained government criminal behavior on people’s lives. He was in Sarajevo as director of humanitarian aid for children who had lost relatives during the Balkan conflicts, for the Red Crescent Society of the United Arab Emirates. On the morning of October 19, 2001, he was taken into custody and not released for 2,677 days.

IT was James, a thickset American interrogator nicknamed “the Elephant,” who first told Lakhdar Boumediene that investigators were certain of his innocence, that two years of questioning had shown he was no terrorist, but that it did not matter, Mr. Boumediene says.

The interrogations would continue through what ended up being seven years, three months, three weeks and four days at the prison camp at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

Boumediene himself had a piece in January 2012: My Guantanamo Nightmare:

I still had faith in American justice. I believed my captors would quickly realize their mistake and let me go. But when I would not give the interrogators the answers they wanted — how could I, when I had done nothing wrong? — they became more and more brutal. I was kept awake for many days straight. I was forced to remain in painful positions for hours at a time. These are things I do not want to write about; I want only to forget.

I went on a hunger strike for two years because no one would tell me why I was being imprisoned. Twice each day my captors would shove a tube up my nose, down my throat and into my stomach so they could pour food into me. It was excruciating, but I was innocent and so I kept up my protest.

Kafka had less reason that Boumediene to fear the hand of authority, and didn’t come up with a story as arbitrarily cruel as this one.  Some day, may we have a memorial tower,  around which thousands congregate, for those chewed up and spit out by governments, with out regard to truth or evidence, or compensation for the disasters brought into the lives of innocents.

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