Saturday, November 22, 2008

Sami Al-Haj, Al Jazeera camerman

What hath the monsters done?

Thursday, a right-wing US judge decided that the Bush Administration had no grounds whatsoever to continue holding five Algerians held at Guantanamo and ordered their immediate release. Greewnald blogs:
The five Algerians were joined for most of their stay at Guantanamo by Al Jazeera camerman Sami Al-Haj, who was abducted in 2001 while attempting to enter Afghanistan to cover the war there for Al Jazeera, imprisoned at Guantanamo without ever being charged with any acts of terrorism, questioned almost exclusively not about Al Qaeda, but about the work of Al Jazeera, and then, after more than six years, unceremoniously released with no charges or findings of any wrongdoing whatsoever. As Reporters Without Borders summarized:

Regularly tortured and subjected to close to 200 interrogation sessions by his jailers, Sami Al-Haj began a hunger strike on January 7, 2007, in protest against his detention and to demand that his rights be respected. In retaliation, his jailers force-fed him on several occasions. His lawyer, Clive Stafford-Smith, who visited him in July last year, said he had lost about 40 pounds and was suffering from serious intestinal problems. He was also subject to bouts of paranoia and was finding it increasingly difficult to communicate normally.

The same bipartisan political class which endorsed all of this and which -- to this day -- wants to deny detainees in U.S. custody any rights to challenge their detention in a court of law, now all agree in perfect unison that it's time to let bygones be bygones; that any high U.S. officials who broke the law in spawning these injustices should be immunized; and that the crimes that were committed by government officials over the last eight years should be ignored.

For the Bush Administration to have kept a journalist behind for years and years -- while abusing him and asking him questions about the TV station he works for -- defies humanity and reason. Those who sanctioned the detainment and of Sami Al-Haj are war almost certainly war criminals. And these people must be accorded what they denied Sami Al-Haj: Justice.

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