'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Goodie Ashcroft Saw You in the Forest Dancing Naked with Osama Bin Laden

No one does witch-hunts like the good old US of A. One of the biggest ongoing under-reported news stories of the last several years has been the continued state-run persecution of Muslims.

The Washington Post reports that last Thursday the Justice Department's inspector general announced the existence of hundreds of videotapes documenting the cruel and unusual punishment of foreign nationals at a New York detention facility just after 9/11. Here are some highlights:

The report concluded that as many as 20 guards were involved in the abuse, which included slamming prisoners against walls and painfully twisting their arms and hands. Fine recommended discipline for 10 employees and counseling for two others who remain employed by the federal prison system. He also said the government should notify the employers of four former guards about their conduct.

"Some officers slammed and bounced detainees against the wall, twisted their arms and hands in painful ways, stepped on their leg restraint chains and punished them by keeping them restrained for long periods of time," the report said. "We determined that the way these MDC staff members handled some detainees was, in many respects, unprofessional, inappropriate and in violation of BOP policy."


During two incidents captured on videotape, the report said, "We observed officers escort detainees down a hall at a brisk pace and ram them into a wall without slowing down before impact." In the numerous "slamming" incidents recorded on tape, the report said, there was no evidence that the detainees had provoked or attacked the guards.

etc. Not that it should matter in a just society, but nonetheless, none of these detainees were ever charged with terrorism-related crimes.

The other big under-reported Muslim witch-hunt is, of course, the Yee saga. This one even has the sort of mob hysteria and xenophobic irrationality that characterizes actual hunts for witches! For those not up on this case, the facts go as follows: several months ago, with much media hoopla, James Yee, a Muslim chaplain at Guantanamo Bay, was taken into custody by the state under suspicion of being a spy for al-Qaida. He was never officially accused of any espionage charge but was detained for seventy-six days. With much less media hoopla, a couple of weeks ago he was charged with adultery and downloading porn on a government computer, I kid you not. The army says that Yee transported classified documents out of Guantanamo Bay but it needs more time to figure out if the documents were really classified. Yee's back home on leave now, I guess, awaiting trial on the porn rap; here's the latest. Yee actually seems like a pretty nice guy.

There's also another similar witch-hunt in the making. It's a strange case -- full of hysteria and hot right on right action -- and it involves the blogger of American Leftist feeling sorry for Grover Norquist, but unfortunately it is beyond the scope of this post.

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