Sunday, August 13, 2006

King, Torture, Imprisonment Without Trial and the Innocent

When Peter King had the opportunity to vote with John McCain and against the use of torture, he chose to vote with 121 other republicans for the use of torture.
We covered this when it first happend this last December.
In regards to people being held without trial or charges and the propposed changes to give the detainees thier day in court, King has an interesting take "Some lawmakers have already indicated that they believe the court-martial process is too lenient for terrorism suspects. "We can't be turning over evidence and discovery and giving, you know, the benefit of the doubt to terrorists in these cases," Rep. Peter King, a Republican of Long Island, said Sunday on CNN's "Late Edition." "This is different from other wars. This is not like capturing uniformed soldiers in World War II or the Korean War or even Vietnam."
There is a little sticking point on a moral level but that doesn't get in King's way.
Maybe he should meet Benemar "Ben" Benatta.
"The date was Sept. 12, 2001, but Benemar "Ben" Benatta was clueless about the death and destruction one day earlier.
About a week before, Canadian officials had stopped Benatta as he entered the country from Buffalo to seek political asylum. On that Sept. 11, he was quietly transferred to a U.S. immigration lockup where a day passed before sullen FBI agents told him what the rest of the world already knew: terrorists had attacked the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

"It slowly dawned on Benatta that his pedigree - a Muslim man with a military background - made him a target in the frenzied national dragnet that soon followed. The FBI didn't accuse him of being a terrorist, at least not outright. But agents kept asking if he could fly an airplane.
He told them he couldn't. It made no difference.
They gave me a feeling that I was Suspect No. 1," he said in a recent interview.
The veiled accusations and vehement denials would continue for nearly five years - despite official findings in 2001 that he had no terrorist links and in 2003 that authorities had violated his rights by colluding to keep him in custody.
Of the estimated 1,200 mostly Arab and Muslim men detained nationwide as potential suspects or witnesses in the Sept. 11 investigation, Benatta would earn a dubious distinction: Human rights groups say the former Algerian air force lieutenant was locked up the longest.

"I say to myself from time to time, maybe what happened ... it was some kind of dream," he said. "I never believed things like that could happen in the United States."
In a nation reeling from unthinkable horrors inflicted by an unconventional enemy, it could. And did.

"Prison guards, he said, dispensed humiliation in steady doses - rapping on his cell door every half hour to interrupt his sleep, stepping on his leg shackles hard enough to scar his ankles, locking him in an outdoor exercise cage despite freezing temperatures, conducting arbitrary strip searches."

Ben Benatta didn't get the "benefit of the doubt" as King would say and it cost him 5 years of his life with no apologies.
We cannot be as bad or worse than the regimes we seek to topple or the people we defend our freedoms against. When our policies match those of Saddam or Castro or Iran and North Korea, we have lost the moral high ground.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We are Americans. Our concern is for legal American citizens born in this country. The United States, while showing compassion and a certain degree of concern, is not required to give a lick about the rights of foreigners. If this was an American citizen, born into this country whose lineage goes back for generations, then there would be cause for concern. But whether an individual is here illegally or under political asylum, the rights and freedoms of America only belong to its citizens. Canada cares about its Canadians, Russia its Russians, and Algeria, Algerians. There is no reason to provide foreigners the same rights that American citizens have. If what the government does makes this nation and its legal CITIZENS safer, then I say it should continue to do whatever is necessary.