I'm Home, but Still Haunted by Guantanamo

Originally posted Sun, 08/17/2008 - 07:50, giving it a little bump to the top - standingup

So many times in history policy and the inability to deviate from policy has often led to disastrous consequences. World War 1 where for reasons known only to themselves the various governments of Europe believed they fully understood their counterparts when they did not. The Domino Theory and Vietnam is just another example of this. People want to believe that we learn from our mistakes yet governments do not.

Given recent revelations it would seem the Bush administration was incapable of learning histories lessons. How does this relate to Guantanamo Bay and the detention center there currently holding almost 500 people without any realistic judicial recourse. Because in both conflicts there were humanitarian abuses that the world supposedly learned from but did not. World War II is the best example. Governments should have learned from the atrocities of Nazi Germany. One could argue that in most cases they did but of course there are many examples where they did not. Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia come to mind.

So we come once again to the Bush administration who with little or no thought to the consequences of policies held so dear that what ever moral or legal standing once held by the U.S. has since been tossed onto the moral and ethical landfill of history.

So, if you were held in Cuba for almost five years but were subjected to what this administration calls "enhanced interrogation techniques" known to the rest of the world as torture how could one blame any former prisoner jailed at Guantanamo Bay Cuba for being bitter at their treatment.

I'm Home, but Still Haunted by Guantanamo
I've covered the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, since 2004 as military correspondent for The Post. Jumah al Dossari first caught my attention in October 2005, when I heard the story of his gruesome suicide attempt during a visit from his lawyer. Then known as Detainee #261, Dossari clearly was making a public plea for help. Though the U.S. military has said many times that all detainees at Guantanamo are treated humanely and that Dossari had been getting the help he needed, detention in Guantanamo apparently became more than he could bear. His wish to die humanized the desperation of many detainees held indefinitely at the facility.

Jumah al Dossari is haunted by his dentition in Cuba because all of his basic human and civil rights were violated by an administration that believed that the American television series 24 was reality when it was just fiction.

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I started to read, and realized I was going to need some fortitude to look into the eye of what Bush has wrought.

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.

And consider the amazing spirituality of the writer, held for 5 and 1/5 years who could forgive, as he does in closing:

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.