Torture and Terrorism: In the Middle East It’s 2011, In America It’s Still 2001

1.4.11

The gulf between what’s happening on the ground in the Middle East and the way it is perceived by the US intelligence services — as well as the gulf between how critics perceive America’s counterterrorism policies in the Middle East, and how those policies are perceived by US intelligence — were recently exposed in an article in the Wall Street Journal by Julian E. Barnes and Adam Entous, entitled, “Upheaval in Mideast Sets Back Terror War.”

“For nearly a decade,” the article explained, “the US has conducted a major cloak-and-missile campaign against al-Qaeda, teaming up with friendly Arab leaders to swap intelligence, interrogate suspects, train commandos or carry out military strikes from Morocco to Iraq … Now popular movements sweeping the region have knocked some counterterrorism allies from power, and left others too distracted or politically vulnerable to risk open cooperation with the US. Intelligence-sharing has already slowed in some areas as the US struggles to identify reliable counterparts in reshuffled governments.”

One official said, “It’s difficult to share information when you don’t know who the players are.”

The article also claimed, “The upheaval has upended US foreign policy in the region, with old friends shaken or gone and the allegiance of emerging leaders uncertain. The effects on counterterrorism efforts are one of the aftershocks that worry the intelligence community the most.”

Barnes and Embus also quoted government officials as telling them that they had “lost track of many former Guantánamo detainees who had been sent home to the Middle East and North Africa,” and that losing track of these former prisoners was “a sign that unrest in the region is disrupting critical terror-fighting relationships America has built up since the Sept. 11 attacks.”

Why US intelligence officials’ statements to the Wall Street Journal are disturbing

There were problems with these claims that neither journalist picked up; namely, that the claim about “losing track” of former prisoners is, to put it bluntly, a lie, and also that the revolutionary “unrest” that has toppled the regimes of Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali in Tunisia and Hosni Mubarak in Egypt can legitimately be viewed not as “disrupting” what US intelligence agencies regard as “critical terror-fighting relationships” but as hugely popular revolutionary movements that have removed from power two hated dictators whose oppression of their people was only possible because they were backed by the US and by other Western countries.

For these home-grown revolutionary movements, the description of their hated dictators as “friendly Arab leaders,” with whom the United States was cosily involved in “swap[ping] intelligence” and “interrogat[ing] suspects,” will, if widely disseminated in the region, only reinforce the notion that America cannot be trusted. This is because one of the drivers of the revolutionary movement in Egypt was a thorough disgust at how the government’s “emergency powers,” enforced continually throughout Mubarak’s 30 years in power, underpinned an essentially unaccountable regime of torture prisons run by the state security services, and secretive courts handing down punitive sentences and laundering information derived through the use of torture, without anything resembling due process. Similar complaints also drove the Tunisian uprising, which lit the spark of revolution throughout the Middle East in the first place.

The tension between America’s perceived security needs and the desires of the people of the Middle East was clearly recognized in the Wall Street Journal article, which noted, “Publicly, the Obama administration has embraced the democratic tide, arguing that political freedoms will diminish the standing of al-Qaeda in the Middle East and beyond,” and quoting defense secretary Robert Gates stating that “the pro-democracy protests ‘give the lie’ to al-Qaeda’s message that change is possible only through violence,” and that they “are an extraordinary setback for al-Qaeda.”

This ought to be the key message that America takes from the upheavals sweeping the Middle East, although the Wall Street Journal also noted, “Privately, counterterrorism officials in the US and Europe are watching the sweeping changes with a mixture of alarm and dread,” worried about Yemen, long regarded as a dangerously unstable nation, and also “worried that the level of cooperation from security services in Tunisia and Egypt, longtime partners, will decline as new leaders distance themselves from past abuses.”

It should also be noted that, when Robert Gates referred to the pro-democracy movements giving the lie to al-Qaeda’s message that “change is only possible through violence,” he ought to have reflected that the same message should apply equally to the US. Such an epiphany seems unlikely, but although this places America in an unusual position with regard to the bigger picture of the upheavals in the region — largely confined to watching as people’s movements take the initiative themselves — on other details, such as claims about the value of America’s relationship with regimes notorious for their use of torture, and the significance of prisoners released from Guantánamo, it is more than possible to refute claims that seek to suggest that the crimes, mistakes and distortions of the Bush administration’s “War on Terror” are in any way justified.

Why there is no threat from former Guantánamo prisoners in Egypt or Tunisia

In the first instance, to thoroughly undermine the claim that the US government is “losing track” of former prisoners — and to demonstrate that this encounter between the Wall Street Journal and US intelligence was therefore something of a propaganda construct — it is only necessary to consider that, in the only countries where “unrest” has toppled dictators — Tunisia and Egypt — only four former Guantánamo prisoners have been released, and none of them are even remotely involved in anything to do with terrorism.

In Egypt, one of the two men is Sami El-Laithi (aka El-Leithi, and spelled Allaithy by the US authorities). Now 55 years old, he had been teaching at the University of Kabul when the US-led invasion of Afghanistan began in October 2001, and, like many hundreds of others, he was seized and sent to Guantánamo after escaping to Pakistan. Unlike any other Guantánamo prisoner, however, El-Laithi was so brutally set upon by guards in Guantánamo one evening that they broke his spine, and he has been confined to a wheelchair ever since. Returned to Egypt on October 1, 2005, he was then held by Egypt’s state security agency at a special prison section in Cairo’s El-Qasr Al-Eini Hospital, and has stated his belief that, had he not been physically handicapped, he would not have been released. Now largely confined to his home village, outside Cairo, he is neither a threat nor an unknown quantity.

Had El-Laithi not been crippled, his thoughts about how he would not have been released from Egyptian custody reflect what happened to Reda Fadel El-Weleli (identified in Guantánamo as Fael Roda Al-Waleeli), the first Egyptian transferred from Guantánamo to Egypt, who arrived in Cairo on July 1, 2003, and subsequently disappeared. In October 2009, Martin Scheinin, the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, complained that, after a visit to Egypt in April 2009, he “regrets that the Government of Egypt did not reply to his questions on the fate of … El-Weleli,” although I was later told that UN representatives finally succeeded in tracking him down, and that he was a broken figure, and very obviously a threat to nobody, who explained that, after his return from Guantánamo, he had been held and tortured in a secret prison in Egypt for three and a half years.

In Tunisia, the US government also knows the whereabouts of the two men it transferred to Tunisian custody in June 2007, who, it should be noted, had been cleared for release by a military review board convened under President Bush. Until very recently, both were in prison, having been imprisoned after show trials on their return, despite the signing of a “diplomatic assurance” between the US government and President Ben Ali, which purported to guarantee that they would be treated fairly when repatriated.

One of the two, Lotfi Lagha, was freed after his three-year sentence came to an end last year, and the other, Abdallah Hajji, was freed in February this year after the flight of Ben Ali. The eight-year sentence he had been given in 2007 was overturned, amidst the recognition that he had never been involved in any kind of terrorism, and was, instead, a member of Ennahdha, the Islamic opposition group, banned by Ben Ali, whose members were conveniently labeled as terrorists during the “War on Terror.” Both men can easily be found in Tunisia, as a former exiled political opponent of the regime, Fathi Messaoudi, explained to me when I met him a few days ago.

Having recently returned to Tunisia for the first time in 20 years, Messaoudi, a charismatic blind man who was regarded as such a threat by Ben Ali that he had been given a 75-year prison sentence by the former regime, told me that he met Abdallah Hajji and that, although he relished his freedom, he too was a broken man, and had been haunted, since his imprisonment on his return to Tunisia, by threats that his wife and daughters would be brought before him by the secret police and raped.

Why America’s intelligence services still love arbitrary detention and torture

In addition, another intention regarding the US claims about former prisoners in Tunisia and Egypt appears to be to cast doubts on the security of both countries following their popular revolutions and the flight of their dictators. This, too, is groundless, and is nothing more than scaremongering, because, although there are policing problems in Tunisia, the country is ruled by an interim government that consists primarily of Ben Ali’s former colleagues (in other words, America’s long-standing allies in the region). Similarly, in Egypt, the interim government — the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces — consists of Mubarak’s former colleagues, even though, in the end, the army’s senior generals chose to seize power themselves rather than entrusting it to Hosni Mubarak’s chosen successor, Omar Suleiman.

As was noted before Mubarak’s fall, if there was to be meaningful change in Egypt, it could not involve Suleiman, the former spy chief who not only symbolized the brutality of Egypt’s police state to its own citizens, but was also central to the key role played by Egypt as a partner in the Bush administration’s “War on Terror,” personally overseeing the brutal torture of terror suspects seized by the CIA, including the Australian Mamdouh Habib, the Pakistani scholar Mohammed Saad Iqbal Madni, and the Libyan Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, the emir of a training camp in Afghanistan. Under torture — almost certainly at Suleiman’s hands — al-Libi falsely confessed that Saddam Hussein had met two al-Qaeda operatives to discuss obtaining chemical and biological weapons, a tortured lie that, although retracted by al-Libi (who was later returned to Libya and a suspicious death by “suicide” in 2009), was used by the Bush administration to justify its illegal invasion of Iraq in March 2003, when Secretary of State Colin Powell was persuaded to use it in a key presentation to the United Nations the month before.

Even so, positive perceptions of Omar Suleiman and Hosni Mubarak are at the heart of the US intelligence officials’ complaints about the changing political landscape in the Middle East. “Obviously, our most important relationship over the last decade has been Egypt,” a senior US intelligence official told the Wall Street Journal. “And clearly that is in line for significant change. We won’t re-create the relationship we had with Mubarak.”

Examining the importance of that relationship, the article proceeded to mention — with obvious approval — how, “Before this year’s revolts, the secret police in authoritarian countries like Egypt and Tunisia had far more leeway than the US and its European allies to hold detainees indefinitely and use interrogation methods widely regarded by human-rights groups as torture to try to extract information,” and that the Egyptian government also “secretly held and interrogated Islamist militants who had been captured by the CIA and the US military under a practice known as rendition, widely condemned by human-rights groups.”

Remove the careful caveats from the sentences above, and what you have is a clear statement that the US and at least some of its Western allies enjoyed the fact that, under Hosni Mubarak, prisoners could be kidnapped anywhere in the world and rendered to Egypt, where they could be detained indefinitely and tortured — and it is, to be honest, rather disturbing to be hearing US officials stating so openly, in 2011, how they wish that torture was still something they could use.

Why there is no threat from former Guantánamo prisoners in Libya or Yemen

With the US intelligence services’ love of torture exposed, and the misinformation about former prisoners in Tunisia and Egypt debunked, it is clear that the central premises of the Wall Street Journal article — that former Guantánamo prisoners, unmonitored, are on the loose in the Middle East, and that the governments responsible for monitoring them have either been toppled or are too distracted by their own revolutionary movements — do not stand up to any kind of scrutiny.

Moreover, looking at countries other than Tunisia and Egypt, similar problems can be perceived. The article, for example, also specifically mentioned Libya and Yemen. “The flow of information from Libya, Yemen and other governments in the region about the whereabouts and activities of the former Guantánamo detainees, along with other Islamists released from local prisons, has slowed or even stopped,” officials told the Wall Street Journal, adding that “they fear that former detainees will re-join al-Qaeda and other Islamist groups.”

Again, on close inspection, what is portrayed as a problem engendered by the revolutionary movements spreading across the Middle East, and also as one on a significant scale, is easily dismissed when the facts are introduced. In Libya, for example, where, rather terrifyingly, the counterterrorism relationship between the US and Gaddafi, another blatant torturer, was described by a senior US official as “especially productive,” only two former Guantánamo prisoners have been released, and as I explained in a recent article, “Deranged Gaddafi Blames Ex-Guantánamo Prisoners for Unrest in Libya, Even Though Only One Ex-Prisoner Has Been Released,” one of these men is still imprisoned in Tripoli, and the other, freed last summer, is verifiably not involved in any al-Qaeda activities. Nor, outside of wild claims by Colonel Gaddafi, has there been any serious suggestion that al-Qaeda, as such, is involved in the Libyan people’s uprising against their hated dictator, which, as elsewhere, is led primarily by young people rather than religious organizations, and supported by trade unionists and intellectuals.

With this in mind, it is noticeable that the Wall Street Journal‘s commentary on the Guantánamo prisoners repatriated to Libya was nothing more than a succession of errors. “In Libya, the US has been completely cut off,” the article claimed, citing an Obama administration official stating, “It’s dead with Gaddafi. We don’t know the status of the people [the returned prisoners].” The article then falsely claimed that both men had been returned in 2006, when one was returned in October 2007, and although it was correctly stated that, since their return, “US officials have paid multiple visits to the men in Libyan prisons,” it was, again, mistaken to suggest that, “once the uprising in Libya boiled over into a full-blown rebellion and the US called for Col. Moammar Gaddafi to step down, American officials lost track of the two men,” because, as indicated above, one remains in prison, and the other can easily be traced, and is very clearly no threat to anyone — as the Americans realized when they released him in 2007.

Similarly, in Yemen, the explicit claims made in the article that “US and European officials are increasingly concerned that former Guantánamo detainees are no longer under much, if any, government surveillance” is, fundamentally, nothing more than unjustifiable scaremongering. The authorities may well be concerned because they have, according to the article, “detected an uptick in activity by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula,” with a senior counterterrorism official claiming that “the group is ‘very actively’ plotting new strikes against the US during the lull in American and Yemeni counterterrorism operations” caused by the revolutionary upheavals in Yemen in the last two months.

However, this has nothing to do with the prisoners released from Guantánamo. According to US intelligence, a handful of Saudi ex-prisoners released by President Bush have been involved in al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, but only one Yemeni ex-prisoner — Hani Abdo Shaalan (aka Hani Abdu Shu’alan), released in June 2007 and apparently killed by Yemeni security forces in December 2009.

To get the Yemeni story in perspective, only 23 Yemeni prisoners have ever been released from Guantánamo, and in the last 15 months, just one Yemeni — Mohammed Hassan Odaini, a student seized by mistake while visiting other students in a university dormitory in Pakistan, who won his habeas corpus petition — has been freed.

Of the other 89 Yemenis still held in Guantánamo, 58 were cleared for release by President Obama’s interagency Guantánamo Review Task Force, which reviewed all the Guantánamo cases throughout 2009, but they are still held because of an ongoing and open-ended moratorium on releasing any Yemenis, which was announced by President Obama in January 2010, after it was claimed that the failed plane bomber on Christmas Day 2009, the Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, had been recruited in Yemen.

Of the prisoners returned to Yemen, it is not actually difficult to establish that the overwhelming majority of them can be located easily, and are trying, with varying degrees of success, to rebuild their shattered lives. I recently, for example, spoke to David Remes, the attorney for several of the released prisoners, who told me about his recent meetings with them on a visit to Yemen, and updated me about their working lives, their hopes and aspirations, and their families.

Behind the headline-grabbing fears, this is the norm for Yemenis returned from Guantánamo, and the biggest problem Yemen causes to the US, when it comes to Guantánamo, is not those who have been released, but those who have not, because clearing men for release, and then not releasing them because of the perceived threat of terrorism from Yemen in general, tars the entire Yemeni population as terrorist sympathizers, and is, essentially, “guilt by nationality,” which is a deep insult to the Yemeni people, and a guaranteed basis for ill-feeling. In addition, as I have been explaining all year, it makes those held into political prisoners, no longer held because of any just or judicial process, but because of the whims of an unaccountable government.

If the US should draw one obvious lesson from what is happening throughout the Middle East, it ought to be that it is time for the paranoia and state-sanctioned violence of the “War on Terror” to be brought to an end. After all, Islamist militants have been conspicuously absent during the upheavals, which have been led primarily by young people, and the Islamic groups who have appeared have shown themselves willing to take part in the democratic process.

Nearly ten years after the 9/11 attacks, there is now an historic opportunity for the US to recognize that it is time to move on from a decade dominated by the lawlessness and brutality of al-Qaeda, and the lawlessness and brutality with which America responded, and to learn a lesson from the revolutionaries of the Middle East — that living in hope is far better than living in fear.

POSTSCRIPT April 3: A misleading article in the Wall Street Journal has focused on the role played in the resistance to Gaddafi by former opponents with alleged ties to al-Qaeda; specifically, Sufyan Ben Qumu (aka Abu Sufian Hamouda or Abu Sufian bin Qumu), the former Guantánamo prisoner who was freed from Libyan custody last year, after returning to Libya in 2007 and being subsequently imprisoned. Described by the Wall Street Journal as “training many of the city’s rebel recruits [in Darna],” which may be true, but sounds like an attempt to beef up a suggestion that he has volunteered to join the resistance to Gaddafi, it was also claimed that he was a “Libyan army veteran who worked for Osama bin Laden’s holding company in Sudan and later for an al Qaeda-linked charity in Afghanistan,” whereas, as I explained in a recent article:

[H]e had served in the Libyan army as a tank driver from 1979 to 1990, but was “arrested and jailed on multiple occasions for drug and alcohol offenses.” Having apparently escaped from prison in 1992, he fled to Sudan, where he worked as a truck driver. In an attempt to beef up the evidence against him, the Department of Defense alleged that the company he worked for, the Wadi al-Aqiq company, was “owned by Osama bin Laden,” and also attempted to claim that he joined the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group … even while admitting that an unidentified “al-Qaeda/LIFG facilitator” had described him as “a noncommittal LIFG member who received no training.”

After relocating to Pakistan, [he] apparently stayed there until the summer of 2001, when he and a friend crossed the border into Afghanistan, traveling to Jalalabad and then to Kabul, where [he] found a job working as an accountant for Abdul Aziz al-Matrafi, the director of al-Wafa, a Saudi charity which provided humanitarian aid to Afghans, but which was regarded by the US authorities as a front for al-Qaeda … while working for al-Wafa, he traveled to Kunduz “to oversee the distribution of rice that was being guarded by four to five armed guards.” In Guantánamo, it seems, even the distribution of rice can be regarded as a component in a military operation.

Please note that no evidence was ever produced to establish that al-Wafa was “an al-Qaeda linked charity,” as the Wall Street Journal suggested so casually, and everyone connected with the organization, including al-Matrafi, was released from Guantánamo.

Fathi Messaoudi, the Tunisian dissident mentioned above, also told me that I was incorrect in describing Abdallah Hajji, the former Guantánamo prisoner freed in Tunisia following Ben Ali’s fall (after serving over three years of a sentence he was given after a show trial on his return in 2007), as a member of Ennahdha, even though that has been reported widely for many years. According to Messaoudi, Ennahdha members sought refuge in European countries, and none of them traveled to Afghanistan or Pakistan like other opponents of the regime.

Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed (and I can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, Digg and YouTube). Also see my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, updated in July 2010, details about the new documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (co-directed by Polly Nash and Andy Worthington, on tour in the UK throughout 2011, and available on DVD here — or here for the US), my definitive Guantánamo habeas list and the chronological list of all my articles, and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.

As published exclusively on the website of the Future of Freedom Foundation.

32 Responses

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    On Facebook, Maria Allison wrote:

    Dugg, Tweeted and Shared, Andy. Excellent analysis.

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    Christine Casner wrote:

    Shared and printed (as always). Thanks, Andy!! Your words and your passion take the wind out of George Orwell’s quote (paraphrasing): “Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give the appearance of solidarity to pure wind.” Are you feeling better I hope?? Peace, Chris ♥

  3. Andy Worthington says...

    Carla Josephson wrote:

    sharing!

  4. Andy Worthington says...

    George Kenneth Berger wrote

    I’ll share this tomorrow, Andy. I hope you are feeling better. I think I was wrong to say that hope is almost an act of desperation. You convinced me that hope should be based on even the smallest amount of evidence. For if not, hope in an afterlife is fine, which I’d never admit. Now if a wee bit of evidence *is* present, one has some grounds for being optimistic, however small. So perhaps the difference is one of degree, not of kind.

  5. Andy Worthington says...

    Esther Angel wrote:

    Another great article – sharing it now!

  6. Andy Worthington says...

    Patrick O’Brien wrote:

    ‎… excellent !!!

  7. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, everyone. Very glad indeed that so many of you are picking up on this analysis — and agreeing that the government’s concerns only sound good if you don’t examine them, because they completely fall apart under scrutiny.

    On the health front, it’s not been the greatest of days, although I shouldn’t complain because, this morning, although I had to go for a blood test in Lewisham, it revealed that my blood is responding well to the blood-thinning drug I’m on (Warfarin), which is intended to prevent my blood from clotting — and endangering my life, and not just my toes.

    Hello, getting older! Apparently guaranteed to be extremely challenging …

    Later, my toes weren’t entirely happy when I took a trip out of town (3 hours each way, mostly on trains) for a meeting that I’m not at liberty to discuss just now. This was very worthwhile, but on the pain front it served only to confirm that I’m not actually at all ready to do anything more than potter around my immediate neighbourhood … goddammit …

  8. JAN (Cosmic Surfer) says...

    As always, well done, my friend.
    The US has kept the same vision of the world for over 3 decades – “they hate us for our freedoms” is the chant of the willfully ignorant and arrogant American exceptionalists promoted by a government that acts like every day is 9/11 and everyone of Middle eastern descent is going to fly a plane into a building.
    There is no justification for the abuses we allow in our name in America but the people would prefer their fear over truth.
    Keep writing the truth – sooner or later, it will sink in. It must or we will not stand as a nation

  9. Andy Worthington says...

    Yes, Jan. Thanks: “Keep writing the truth –- sooner or later, it will sink in. It must or we will not stand as a nation.” Thats’s exactly what i think — it’s do or die for America as anything other than a brutal, wilfully stupid place in which Dick Cheney’s “dark side” has taken over.

  10. Andy Worthington says...

    George Kenneth Berger wrote:

    Good luck Andy. I’ll read and share later today. Been busy for me yesterday. Do take care.

  11. Andy Worthington says...

    Esther Angel wrote:

    I second that, do take care of yourself. We want you around for a heck of a lot longer yet!

  12. Andy Worthington says...

    Tony Smith wrote:

    Shared

  13. Andy Worthington says...

    Shahla Nuh wrote:

    Excellent analysis Andy.

  14. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Tony and Shahla and the 100 other readers who have so far shared this. Thanks to your interest, it will hopefully be read by many thousands of readers.

  15. Andy Worthington says...

    Anne McClintock wrote:

    Brilliant analysis, Andy, as ever. Your concept of “guilt by nationality” is so important. All good healing and good luck with the pottering. Many of us wish we could be there to keep you company.

  16. Andy Worthington says...

    Thank, Anne. Your support is very much appreciated.
    In addition, what I’d like to say to you — and to my Facebook friends in general — is that you’re welcome to drop by while I’m housebound, but I recall that one of the miracles of the Internet is how it enables us to be friends with people all over the world — and that many of my friends here are indeed from all over the world, and extremely unlikely to be pottering around in south east London!

  17. Andy Worthington says...

    John Penley wrote:

    Andy, I am not sure but have you issued a statement about the treatment of PFC Bradley Manning ?

  18. Andy Worthington says...

    Janice Lato wrote:

    Shared. Thank you for the analysis.

  19. Andy Worthington says...

    Anne McClintock wrote:

    Andy, yes, writing to you now from Madison, Wisconsin, where your work continues to inspire me long distance. But I will be in London in early June, when it would be wonderful to see you if possible.

  20. Andy Worthington says...

    George Kenneth Berger wrote:

    I just shared it, Andy. The analysis of the important and evil role that Egypt played is excellent, as is your description of how events have stymied the American authorities. I did not realise that the current situation all over the Middle East gives the US a superb chance to change its policy for the better. I hope this gets widely read.

  21. Andy Worthington says...

    Willy Bach wrote:

    Andy, prior to reading this, I think you are correct. Most of what the Obama Whitehouse/Pentagon has said has been a mere extension of the Bush regime’s lies. What is left when hardly anything the government says can be believed? Not much credibility – and that is their own fault for lying about everything else. Thanks again.

  22. Andy Worthington says...

    Tamzin Jans wrote:

    If the US had made an effort to make friends with the people of the region instead of aiding the dictators to stay in power and to help in torturing people, I think they wouldn’t have a security problem.

  23. Andy Worthington says...

    Rubia Dar wrote:

    Great article!

  24. Andy Worthington says...

    Ann Alexander wrote:

    Thanks for this brilliant article, Andy. I would love to see it translated to Arabic. Our North African and Middle Eastern cousins deserve to read it too.

  25. Andy Worthington says...

    Roger Liebmann wrote:

    If you want to hear what other’s think you want to hear; torture them and that is what you will hear.

  26. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, everyone. Lovely to hear from you all.

    John, I haven’t written about Bradley Manning since he had another 22 charges filed against him a month ago:
    http://www.andyworthington.co.uk/2011/03/03/death-penalty-for-bradley-manning-the-alleged-wikileaks-whistleblower/
    And I did a radio show to discuss it:
    http://www.andyworthington.co.uk/2011/03/09/andy-worthington-discusses-bradley-manning-wikileaks-and-the-spanish-torture-case-against-the-bush-administration-with-kevin-gosztola-of-op-ed-news/

    Anne, it would be great to meet when you’re over here. Do stay in touch about it!

    And Ann, Fathi rang me yesterday to make a few corrections, although he also mentioned that my articles are being translated into Arabic, which is great news!

  27. Torture and Terrorism: In the Middle East It’s 2011, In America It’s Still 2001 « Dandelion Salad says...

    [...] Andy Worthington Featured Writer Dandelion Salad http://www.andyworthington.co.uk 3 April, [...]

  28. Andy Worthington says...

    Tashi Farmilo-Marouf wrote:

    It seems to me that helping to keep people under oppressive regimes would actually create more ‘terrorism’ – when people will feel unhappy and repressed, they are more likely to lash out with anger. Even the US, one of the most liberal countries in the world, has managed to create their own ‘terrorists’, Timothy McVeigh, for example. Why aren’t we humans making an effort to make this world a better place for one another?

  29. Andy Worthington says...

    Roger Liebmann wrote:

    RE: “Even the US, one of the most liberal countries in the world”

    What a hoot… I had to laugh at this one.

    Nothing liberal about the US these days.

    Searches with out a warrent of your person as well as your house & homeland security as well as the FBI & CIA and who knows what the thugs at the airport are called. The president even has an assassination list. Does not sound all that liberal to me.

  30. Andy Worthington says...

    Tashi Farmilo-Marouf wrote:

    Seriously, compared to the repressive regimes in the Mid East and North Africa… the US is still liberal in comparison.

  31. Andy Worthington says...

    Roger Liebmann wrote:

    You sure pick your comparisons, Tashi.

    Compared with Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark and even Singapore, the US is a Fascist state.

  32. The 14 Missing Guantánamo files says...

    [...] Reda Fadel El-Waleeli (ISN 663), identified by the US as Fael Roda Al-Waleeli, is an Egyptian, apparently born in 1966. The first Egyptian transferred from Guantánamo to Egypt, he arrived in Cairo on July 1, 2003, and subsequently disappeared. As I explained in an article in April this year: [...]

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