Posted by: Kevin | May 11, 2007

More on Habeas Corpus

Just following up on my Habeas Corpus post from earlier in the week.  My friend Mike forwarded me a link to the radio program “This American Life” on Chicago Public radio.  Their April 27th show, entitled “Habeas Schmabeas” (transcript here, pdf file) detailed the stories of several individuals who were taken to the Guantanamo and held there for several years. 

Here a sample of how one individual got sent to Guantanamo.

HITT: As best as we can tell, Badr Zaman Badr and his brother were imprisoned in Guantanamo for three years for telling a joke. Actually, for telling two jokes. They ran a satire magazine in Pakistan that poked fun at corrupt clerics. Sort of the Pashtu edition of “The Onion.” The first joke that got them into trouble was when they published a poem about a politician called “I Am Glad to be a Leader.” Here’s Badr:
BADR: Let me translate a few lines for you.
HITT: Sure.
BADR: “Before, I was so thin and weak. Now, I have big stomach.” Uh, stuff like that. (Laughs)
HITT: So, the guy with the big stomach called up Badr and his brother. He threatened them, and, as best as they can tell, told authorities that they were linked to Al Qaeda, which landed them in Guantanamo, and which leads us to the second joke. This one was in an issue of Badr’s magazine that came out in the ‘90’s, after our government set a $5 million reward for Osama bin Laden. Badr’s magazine issued its own bounty for the capture of an American leader.
BADR: President Bill Clinton, giving the details of how to identify that he has blue eyes, and he’s cleanshaven, and the most important thing is the recent scandal going on between Clinton and Monica Lewinsky.  (Laughs) Yeah. If someone finds that man, he will be rewarded 5 million Afghani, that’s Afghanistan currency, which was equal to $113 at that time. That’s impossible (unintelligible, laughing.)

Remember as you listen, or read, that the people sent to Guantanamo have been billed as the worst of the worst, threats to America, terrorists.  They were tortured and cut off from the outside world for years.  Yet many of them were people picked up off the streets or from their home for the most mundane of reasons.

It’s possible that some of them are in fact threats to America but these stories clearly illustrate that many, if not most, are not.  Yet their incarcerations lasted over three years.  This is what happens when you combine an administration’s inability to admit a mistake with a lack of the traditional safeguards of individual liberty.  Restore Habeas Corpus now!

EDIT: fixed spelling error


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