Arrested by the Taliban in Afghanistan in January 2000, Rahim says al-Qaida leaders burned him with cigarettes, smashed his right hand, deprived him of sleep, nearly drowned him and hanged him from the ceiling until he "confessed" to spying for the United States.
U.S. forces took the young Kurd from Syria into custody in January 2002 after the Taliban fled his prison. Accusing him of being an al-Qaida terrorist, U.S. interrogators deprived him of sleep, threatened him with police dogs and kept him in stress positions for hours, he says. He's been held ever since as an enemy combatant.
Rahim's story is one of several emerging from the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay as defense lawyers make bids to free their clients while the Bush administration tries to use a new law to lock them out of federal courts.
Now it's quite possible that Rahim's story is not true, but how would we know? He's being held without charges, without trial, in the black hole that George W. Bush and the Republican Congress have created in American justice.
Once upon a time, the American justice system was hailed as an example of fairness. It's not perfect by any stretch, especially for the lower classes, but with the Constitutional rights established very clearly in the United States Constitution, the accused could expect a speedy trial with a fair and impartial jury, a right to confront the evidence, a right to cross-examine witnesses -- and (duh) a right to actually know the charges being filed and challenge their validity. The system is run by people, and therefore is fallible. Injustice has happened all too often.
However, the Bush Administration has managed to take away even those rights, on an arbitrary basis. And now we have prisoners being held in Guantanamo Bay and secret torture interrogation bases in foreign countries, following in the footsteps of the French Bastille and the Soviet Gulags. Is this the road to follow? As more and more Guantanamo prisoners are released, can we truly believe the claim that these people are guilty until proven innocent until the Bush Administration decides otherwise?