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Nowhere Man:  George Bush and the Disappeared


We could win the war in Iraq. We could have the best economy in

history.  But we would still be honor bound to relieve George Bush of

his duties.  The last year has proven that he used lies and fear to

start a war.  This is reason enough for George to go, but there is

one more reality that leaves us no choice.


When they finished the Constitution, the Founding Fathers had

developed a system of  government, a democracy.  At that point, they

realized that they had a great system...but no rights.  Therefore,

they added the Bill of Rights.  At the heart of these is the 5th

Amendment.  It states:


No person shall] be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without

due process of law.


So you can't be arrested without cause.


The 6th Amendment adds:


In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right of a

speedy and public trial.


You can't be held indefinitely. So together the 5th and the 6th

amendments promise the ultimate right.  They guarantee that you will

never be disappeared.  There is one more we must not forget, the 8th

Amendment, which outlaws "cruel and unusual punishment." In America,

it is your right not to be disappeared and not to be tortured.

George Bush has taken the 5th, the 6th, and now even the 8th

amendments out of our constitution.  He is not fit to rule.


Step One Towards Abu Ghraib:


Soon after 9/11, we imprisoned 761 non-citizens and there was no due

process of law.  Almost all were detained without probable cause.

Many were not allowed lawyers.  Many were not allowed to see the

evidence against them because it was "classified". People were

detained indefinitely... literally for years.  There were no trials.

To this day, we still do not know the names of all 761 people.  For

many, even their families did not know where they were or that they

had even been arrested.  Remember, we're not talking about a few

souls, we're talking about hundreds!!  They were just disappeared. 

In fact, not one of them has since been linked to terrorism.  Most

were eventually deported.


Naturally, abuse followed.  People were beaten and kicked.  They were

hooded and deprived of sleep.  They were sexually humiliated and had

things crammed up their asses  (Appendix A).  As it turns out,

Americans are no better and no worse than any other people.  When

given absolute power, we are absolutely corrupted  too.


Human rights organizations such as Amnesty International and Human

Rights Watch were denied access to the prisons.  And we, the people,

allowed all this to happen.  It was the first step towards Abu Ghraib.


Step  2


Since they had gotten away with it in the United States, the pattern

was repeated in Afghanistan.  The Administration declared that the

Geneva Conventions, the international bill of rights, did not apply.

So they invented a new label, the "enemy non-combatant."  As a

result, people in Afghanistan, too, were disappeared.  Even teenagers

were imprisoned for years!  Again Human rights organizations were not

allowed to observe their conditions.  Again, families had no idea that

their kin were imprisoned (Appendix B).  Newspapers reported torture,

but it was hard for us to believe that Americans might do these

things.  We, the people, half believe that absolute power only

corrupts others, not Americans.  We forget that the Bill of Rights

was written because we are human and because we have human

weaknesses like anyone else.


Human Rights Watch reports:


Mistreatment of prisoners by U.S. military and intelligence personnel

in Afghanistan is a systemic problem and not limited to a few

isolated cases (Appendix B).


People were beaten and kicked.  They were deprived of sleep, exposed

to freezing temperatures while naked, and they were also sexually

abused (Appendix B).  Guilty until proven innocent doesn't apply

because no one has had the right to prove their innocence.  It has

been two years and no trials have taken place.


Thus, the 2nd step towards Abu Ghraib had been taken and they got

away  with it again.  In addition, there are a select few al Qaeda of

such importance, that they do not receive even the limited rights of

Guantanamo Bay.  No one knows who they are.  No one knows where they

are held, not even "President" Bush.  They have been disappeared even

from the disappeared!  God know what is being done to them, but the

International Red Cross and Amnesty International do not (Appendix

C).  Let's just trust the administration on this one, shall we?


Step 3


So now we have Abu Ghraib.  Gee, maybe we should investigate to see

if it's systemic!  Donald Rumsfeld tells us it's "only a few bad

apples."  For once, I concur.  The bad apples are the Secretary of

Defense, the so-called President of the United States, and that Black

lackey guy (the Secretary of State)...  You remember him?  Two months

ago, he denied that anyone was being abused in Afghanistan or

Guantanamo Bay saying, "...Because we are Americans, we don't abuse

people in our care."  At the time, he already knew about Abu Ghraib,

but after 3 years, Colin Powell has gotten used to lying.


Our leaders are responsible for disappearing people all over the

world.  The tenor of their decisions has led to the same resulting

abuse in America, Afghanistan, Guantanamo Bay, Iraq, and no doubt

many other places that have yet to surface.  A man who starts a war

based on lies, does not deserve to lead.  A man who disappears

people, does not deserve to rule.  If George Bush gets even

1% of the vote in November, I will be embarrassed as an




Appendix A:  Disappearances, Torture and Abuse of 9/11 Suspects in

American Prisons:


Activity that would later become famous at Abu Ghraib occurred in the

Brooklyn Metropolitan Detention Center.  According to a Justice

Department Inspector General report (12/24/03), prisoners were

slammed into walls and dragged across the floor while shackled.  We

know this because it was videotaped.  They were denied access to

lawyers.  Egyptian Ehab Elmaghraby says he was "mockingly displayed

naked to a female staff member" (NY Times 5/3/04).  Anything sound

familiar?  This activity occurred in the United States!  Elmaghraby

adds that inmates were punched and kicked until they bled and cursed

as "terrorists" and "Muslim bastards."  At one point, a flashlight

was inserted up his rectum until it bled.  Elmaghraby was innocent.


Other common Abu Ghraib practices occurred here.  In addition to the

beatings, Javaid Iqbal describes being left out in cold rain without

shoes or a jacket, and being returned to his cell where the air

conditioning was turned on.  His stepson, Paul Harrison said, "I

never knew what happened.  I felt he fell off the face of the earth."

NY Times (5/3/04).


Benamar Benatta was cleared of terrorist charges in November of 2001

but no one bothered to tell Benatta.  As of last January, over 2 years later,

he was still in custody (Washington Post, 11/29/03).


Abdallah Higazy "confessed" to having an aviation radio in his room

near the World Trade Center.  In fact, he confessed to obtaining it

three times under three entirely different circumstances.  First he

said he found it in a subway station.  Then he said he had found it

underneath the Brooklyn Bridge.  Finally, he admitted to having

stolen it from the Egyptian Air Force.  Higazy was released 8 months

later when another guest came looking for the radio.  Higazy had

never even possessed it.  I guess he confessed for the fun of it.



Perhaps the most disturbing case is the detention of Maher Arar who

holds both Canadian and Syrian citizenship.  Arar's requests for a

lawyer were ignored.  He begged not to be sent to Syria because he

knew he would be tortured.  (Almost all of the detainees from 9/11

were eventually deported, often to governments like Syria known for

torture.  This is against international law.)  With no hearing, Arar

was  deported.  Here is Arar's description of his Syrian cell: "It was

like a grave.  It had no light.  It was three feet wide.  It was six feet deep.

It was seven feet high.  It had a metal door, with a small opening

in the door, which did not let in light...


There was a small opening in the ceiling, about one foot by two feet

with iron bars.  Over that was another ceiling, so only a little light

came through this.


There were cats and rats up there, and from time to time the cats

peed through the opening into the cell.  There were two blankets, two

dishes and two bottles.  One bottle was for water and the other one

was used for urinating during the night.  Nothing else.  No light.  I

spent 10 months, and 10 days inside that grave."


For a description of his detention and torture, please check out his

vivid recollections.  They are not unique among 9/11 deportees.




Appendix B:  Disappearances, Torture and Abuse in Afghanistan:


In an interview with The New York Times today, police officer

Sayyed Nabi Siddiqi says he was falsely accused of being a member of

the Taliban last summer and spent some 40 days in detention at

various U.S. bases in Afghanistan.  He alleges he was subjected to

beatings, sleep deprivation, and sexual abuse.  Siddiqi said he was

repeatedly photographed naked by his U.S. captors, like the Iraqi

prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison.  http://www.rferl.org


John Sifton of Human Rights Watch (5/13/04):


Mistreatment of prisoners by U.S. military and intelligence personnel

in Afghanistan is a systemic problem and not limited to a few

isolated cases...  Detainees who were held in Kandahar airport in early

2002 reported being stripped naked, kicked and punched, and forced to

endure freezing temperatures.  U.S. officials have told journalists

and Human Rights Watch that U.S [personnel] in Afghanistan employ an

interrogation system that includes the use of sleep deprivation,

sensory deprivation, and forcing detainees to sit or stand in painful

positions for extended periods of time.  "We know now that abuse of

detainees was an established part of the interrogation process."



Below is a description by 2 men from totally different detention locations:


SK [In western Afghanistan]: The Americans blindfolded us, and worst

of all, they made us completely naked and made us to sit in a cold

room and we were shivering and trembling because of the cold air...  

[Upon arrival at airbase in western Afghanistan:]  At the airport,

someone who was pretty strong held my neck under his arm and pressed

it hard and meanwhile kept punching me hard on my face and one punch

hit me hard on my mouth and two front teeth of my upper jaw fell out,

which you can see now. [interviewee is missing both teeth]


Other detainee (In Kandahar): ...they were beating us mercilessly,

without any reason.  They were kicking and punching us.  Mostly they

were beating us on our backs....  After that they took me for an

interrogation and before asking any questions they started beating

me.  One person picked me up high over his head and threw me onto a

desk and made me lie there.  And then two or three other persons hit

me with their knees on my back and shoulders....  In short, everyone was

beaten in Kandahar.  It was a bad place.



Massacres in Afghanistan:


Recently released from Guantanamo Bay, British citizens Shafiq Rasul,

Ruhal Ahmed, and Asif Iqbal discussed a near escape from massacres

while detained in Afghanistan.  They described how hundreds of

prisoners were forced into airtight containers.  Approximately 280

of 300 prisoners died of suffocation.  They claim their survival

came only because someone machine gunned the side of the container

which killed several prisoners but also allowed a few to breathe and

thus survive  (Guardian, 3/14/04).


It is probable that thousands were killed in this manner.  American

ally and Northern alliance commander Gen Abdul Rashid Dostum was

known for his massacres in previous Afghan Wars.  For more

information on these suffocations:




Appendix C:  Disappearances, Torture and Abuse of 9/11 Suspects at Guantanamo Bay:


Dozens of videotapes of American guards allegedly engaged in brutal

attacks on Guantanamo Bay detainees have been stored and catalogued

at the camp....  The disclosures [were] made in an interview with Tarek

Dergoul, the fifth British prisoner freed last March, who has been

too traumatized to speak until now...: “They pepper-sprayed me in the face,

and I started vomiting.  They pinned me down and attacked me, poking

their fingers in my eyes, and forced my head into the toilet pan and flushed.

They tied me up like a beast and then they were kneeling on me, kicking

and punching.  Finally they dragged me out of the cell in chains, into the

rec[reation] yard, and shaved my beard, my hair, my eyebrows...."

Rasul said they led to a new verb being coined by detainees: 'to

be ERFed'.  That, he said, meant being slammed against a floor by a

soldier wielding a riot shield, pinned to the ground and beaten up by

five armed men.  However, it is Dergoul who now reveals that every time

the ERFs were deployed, a sixth team member recorded on digital video

everything that happened.  Lieutenant Colonel Leon Sumpter, the

Guantanamo Joint Task Force spokesman, confirmed this last night,

saying all ERF actions were filmed so they could be 'reviewed'

by senior officers (Guardian, 5/16/04).


Jamal Udeen gave a description of Guantanamo Bay  (He is a recently

released British citizen):


Inmates were kept in wire cages with concrete floors and no

protection from the elements.  "The beatings were not as nearly as

bad as the psychological torture - bruises heal after a week but the

other stuff stays with you...  The whole point of Guantanamo was to get

to you psychologically....  After awhile we stopped asking for human

rights––we wanted animal rights."



Udeen also claims that female prostitutes were brought to the prison

about 10 times to "embarrass and degrade [young Muslims] including

some who had never seen an unveiled woman before" (NY Times, 3/12/04).


The International Red Cross has been allowed into Guantanamo Bay, but

will not comment publicly.  Independent human rights observers have

been refused access.  Steve Crawshaw of Human Rights Watch reports:


"If the problems are less than have been described, the US has

everything to gain from allowing people to look into conditions and

talk about them."


By the way, teenagers were incarcerated as enemy combatants and

denied the rights of the Geneva Convention along with the other

prisoners.  Assadulah, who thinks he is 12 or 13, was kicked so hard

by American soldiers that his stomach still hurt when he arrived at

Guantanamo Bay several months later.  Mohammad Ismail Agha, 15, said

his family spent 10 months searching for him after his disappearance

in Afghanistan.  After over a year, they have both been released

because they had nothing to do with terrorism (NY Times, 3/12/04).


According to the Amnesty International, other teenagers remain in



"Holding the children was wholly repugnant and contrary to basic

principles of human rights," said Angela Wright of Amnesty

International, and contravened UN rules with "near-universal

acceptance" regarding the treatment of juveniles....  The precise legal

ramifications are unclear, since many experts argue that the US is

already in breach of international law by holding any of the detainees

indefinitely without trial or charge, regardless of age (Guardian




[Originally published in NHS 2004, http://www.poetspath.com/napalm/nhs04/Kenny_Lerner.html.]