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April 29, 2006


You seem to have forgotten to mention that the US wants to repatriate these guys but their own countries are known to torture, and nowhere else will take them.

You were surely aware of this, so presumably it is something which you prefer that your readers not know.

a: actually, I have written about these cases extensively before, and have mentioned it repeatedly. However, based on some of the hearing transcripts, the judge seems to have his doubts about exactly how hard we're trying.

For various reasons, a poem by Donald Justice:

"The Wall"

The wall surrounding them they never saw;
The angels, often. Angels were as common
As birds or butterflies, but looked more human.
As long as the wings were furled, they felt no awe.
Beasts, too, were friendly. They could find no flaw
In all of Eden: this was the first omen.
The second was the dream which woke the woman:
She dreamed she saw the lion sharpen his claw.
As for the fruit, it had no taste at all.
They had been warned of what was bound to happen;
They had been told of something called the world;
They had been told and told about the wall.
They saw it now; the gate was standing open.
As they advanced, the giant wings unfurled.

From Browning's "Childe Rowland to the Dark Tower Came":

[...] I think I never saw
Such starved ignoble nature; nothing throve:
For flowers--as well expect a cedar grove!
But cockle, spurge, according to their law
Might propagate their kind, with none to awe,
You'd think; a burr had been a treasure-trove.

No! penury, inertness and grimace,
In some strange sort, were the land's portion. "See
Or shut your eyes," said Nature peevishly,
"It nothing skills: I cannot help my case:
'Tis the Last Judgment's fire must cure this place,
Calcine its clods and set my prisoners free."

If there pushed any ragged thistle-stalk
Above its mates, the head was chopped; the bents
Were jealous else. What made those holes and rents
In the dock's harsh swarth leaves, bruised as to baulk
All hope of greenness? 'tis a brute must walk
Pashing their life out, with a brute's intents.

"Perfect alchemists I keep who can transmute substances without end, and thus the corner of my garden is an inexhaustible treasure-chest. Here you can dig, not gold, but the value which gold merely represents; and there is no Signor Blitz about it. Yet farmers' sons will stare by the hour to see a juggler draw ribbons from his throat, though he tells them it is all deception. Surely, men love darkness rather than light."



You seem to laboring under the misaprehension that your informaiton makes the US government look better, somehow. But think about what you just said: the US government knows that the men they are treating as prisoners cannot be returned home since they will likely be torured and/or killed. And yet isntead of granting them asylum, they keep them locked away at Gitmo, where they cnaot have newspapers, or vistis from family, or even flowers.

Knowing that makes me think even less of the people who ordered this travesty than I did before. It escapes me how anyone could think it somehow mitigates the actions of the US government.

That's a heart breakingly sad little story.

http://quran.eyesalve.org/0259.htm matches for garden (Jannaat)in the Quran. There are over 80, many of which are repetitions of the phrase "gardens with rivers flowing beneath", heaven in otherwords. Creating a little bit paradise with plastic spoons.

a; You were surely aware of this, so presumably it is something which you prefer that your readers not know.

As you might have noticed had you read Hilzoy's post with the attention it deserved, one reason Saddiq can't be repatriated is that his "opposition to Osama bin Laden makes him too hot to handle in his native Saudi Arabia".

What kevin said. The existence of diplomatic efforts to find a way to release these innocent people does not justify the treatment they are receiving.

Here's a previous article on the">http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/12/14/AR2005121402125.html">the same prisoner.


When U.S. forces freed Saddiq Ahmad Turkistani from a Taliban prison in Kandahar, Afghanistan, in late 2001, the detainee met with reporters at a news conference and told U.S. officials that he had been wrongly imprisoned for allegedly plotting to kill Osama bin Laden.

An ethnic Uighur who was born and raised in Saudi Arabia, Turkistani said he believed in the U.S. campaign against terrorism. He professed hatred for al Qaeda and the Taliban -- groups he said tortured him in prison -- and offered to help the United States. Intelligence officials and U.N. representatives told Turkistani they would seek to find him refuge, possibly in Pakistan, according to accounts he later gave his lawyers.

Instead, Turkistani was taken to a U.S. military base in Afghanistan, where he was stripped, bound and thrown behind bars. U.S. officials then strapped him into an airplane, fitted him with dark goggles and sent him to the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in January 2002, according to U.S. lawyers who represent him.

Nearly four years later, Turkistani remains there, despite being cleared for release early this year after a government review concluded he is "no longer an enemy combatant." It is unclear exactly when that determination was made, but Justice Department lawyers gave notice of it in an Oct. 11 court filing.

Turkistani wrote a letter to his lawyers in recent months, in which he asked about the welfare of his family, whom he has not heard from in eight years: "Now, I have been under the control of the Americans for the past three years and eight months. Six months ago, I was told by the Americans that I am innocent and I am not an enemy combatant."

It remains a mystery why Turkistani was sent to Guantanamo Bay at all. Some officials and his lawyers speculate that he has been held by mistake. Or, they say, some officials may have believed he had intelligence value because bin Laden accused him of trying to plot his killing in 1998. U.S. officials have offered no public explanation....

Turkistani told his lawyers that he was deported to Afghanistan from Saudi Arabia sometime in 1997, after he was jailed for alleged possession of hashish. Turkistani said he was given fake Afghan identification and put on a plane from Jeddah to Kabul because the Saudi government did not recognize him as a citizen. He said that Afghan officials detained him for six days before releasing him.

He said he made his way to Khost, Afghanistan, and befriended an Iraqi man. Before long, he and his friend were arrested by four Arab al Qaeda members. Turkistani said he was accused of being a Saudi spy, interrogated and tortured.

Fearing for his life, after 20 days of severe beatings and sleep deprivation, Turkistani said he ultimately gave what he called a "lengthy story" about how the Saudis had sent him there to kill bin Laden. He was turned over to the Taliban and held in Kandahar for more than four years.

Susan Baker Manning, another lawyer representing Turkistani who met with him last month, said he denies allegations that he tried to kill bin Laden and confessed only under torture. Bin Laden, however, asserted in a statement in December 1998 that Turkistani and two accomplices had been hired by Saudi Arabian officials to kill him and failed.

Foreign news reports have indicated that the attack, allegedly by poison, caused bin Laden's kidneys to fail and netted Turkistani and his alleged accomplices hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Manning said that the government has been challenging lawyers' efforts to represent Turkistani, and that he has become intensely frustrated by his lengthy confinement.

"It's entirely possible that it's just a mistake," Manning said. "The enemy took away his life for 4 1/2 years, and we reward him for that by taking away his life for another four years. He clearly opposed al Qaeda and the Taliban, and he still feels that way. He's not a huge fan of the U.S. anymore."

also, according to Amnesty International, in Guantanamo Turkestani "was held in solitary confinement for one and a half years. He has also reportedly described being repeatedly abused by guards, and subjected to psychological abuse by medical staff."

Presumably this is from descriptions by his lawyers since I don't know who else it could be from. Amnesty doesn't cite to its primary source, though.

But George believes in fairies, er, freedom, right? He wouldn't be kidding us would he?

I'm optimistic about our future, and the reason I am is because I believe so strongly in what America stands for: liberty and freedom and human rights, and the human dignity of every single person.

GWB, 1/23/06

Our commitment to democracy is tested in countries like Cuba and Burma and North Korea and Zimbabwe -- outposts of oppression in our world. The people in these nations live in captivity, and fear and silence. Yet, these regimes cannot hold back freedom forever -- and, one day, from prison camps and prison cells, and from exile, the leaders of new democracies will arrive.

GWB, 11/6/03 (emphasis supplied)

There is only one force of history that can break the reign of hatred and resentment and expose the pretensions of tyrants and reward the hopes of the decent and tolerant. And that is the force of human freedom.

From the day of our founding, we have proclaimed that every man and woman on this Earth has rights, and dignity and matchless value because they bear the image of the maker of heaven and Earth.

GWB, 1/20/05

Hmph. I wonder what a better man who faced far more trying times might say about the current occupant of the White House.

Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves; and, under the rule of a just God, cannot long retain it.

A. Lincoln, 4/6/1859

Let every American, every lover of liberty, every well wisher to his posterity, swear by the blood of the Revolution, never to violate in the least particular, the laws of the country; and never to tolerate their violation by others.

A. Lincoln, 1/27/1838

An utterly depressing little story. I couldn't finish.

Nice to know that A can find a bright side in it that lets the US government off the hook. In his mind, anyway.

I had a different reaction, Donald. Maybe it's because I'm a gardener. I cried and cried, but the bit of hope and spirit that Saddiq and his mates show with their plantings keep the story from being utterly depressing. Our grotesquely stupid and cruel government is trying hard to break these people, but not succeeding.

I'm going to think of the plastic spoons and mop handle when I'm slogging through some job I wish I didn't have to do to oppose the corrupt clowns who rule us...

"Here's a previous article on the same prisoner.


I don't actually want to throw up, reading this, but I, you know, want to throw up, it's so enraging.

What sort of people have we become, who can do this?

Who are we? What has become of us?

What monsters are those who defend this?

"I don't actually want to throw up, reading this, but I, you know, want to throw up, it's so enraging."

I wrote an elegy for Sérgio Vieira de Mello back in the day and expressed something like the above sentiment. Maybe it ruins the poem - I don't know, just how I felt & feel.

What would happen if we all started sending seeds and gardening supplies? Maybe Charliecarp could give us an address. I know at first the supplies would just be thrown away or something, but maybe if enough people sent things, along with letters..... I write letters to people for Amnesty International because often prison officials will treat people better if they know someone outside cares. Maybe it would work with our government, too.

Jesus. Turqistani was waterboarded by al Qaeda:

One of his cellmates, Sadiq Ahmed Turkestani, the Saudi-born stateless man, said he also was interrogated by al-Adl in Khost, a city in Paktia province where the al Qaeda network operated several training camps and where many of the families of foreign fighters lived.

Turkestani, whose family was originally from Xinjiang, China, said he traveled to Khost in early 1997 with an Iraqi friend because they wanted to smuggle electronics equipment. The Taliban arrested them there and accused them of spying. The Iraqi, he said, was killed when an Arab hit him below the ear with a rifle butt.

"The Taliban took me and handed me over to the Arabs," he said. "They took me to a camp. The Arabs said, 'If you tell us the truth, we will help you.' Their first question was, 'What's your rank? What's your real name? And what about weapons training?' "

"I said, 'I don't know what you're talking about,' so they brought a funnel and put it tightly over my neck and began to fill it up with very cold water, like I was going to drown," he said.

Beatings continued for almost a year, he said, and al-Adl was present on numerous occasions. In 1998, Turkestani was transferred to the Kandahar jail. Beating continued there, he said

source: John Pomfret, "Inside the Taliban's Torture Chambers," Washington Post, December 17, 2001, p. A14.

Just spent an hour or so ripping out wild Garlic Mustard around my yard, from the roots. If each time you do it, you say "Take that, John Thullen", it gets you into kind of a rhythm.

Amnesty Intenational may have published one report about Cuba in 2005 and a couple in 2003, but really do they give a damn about Cuba? Elian Gonzales didn't have immigration rights. Who is marching for him? My take: Nobody. Nobody gives a rats a$$ about Cuba because frankly they would rather complain about the imaginary offenses against people in the US than Cuban librarians improsomed in Cuba.

Lily: see this link.

Maybe you should talk to Charles as he's a member of Amnesty...

It's funny, but my wife repeats the same mantra when she rips out the dandelions in our yard. I remark on how rhythmic it appears from my vantage point and she wonders how even her anger makes me overly freindly.

she wonders how even her anger makes me overly freindly.

Oooo, the 'you're cute when your angry' ploy. Fun if it works, but when it doesn't, watch out...

"friendly". She also says when I learn to spell, we can talk.

Incidentally, we liberal outside agitators, when given a choice between family values for Elian and his Dad, and blowing up their country, bad as it is for baseball, usually opt for putting families back together.

On the other hand, if someone will raise my taxes a whole bunch, youse guys can go off on any adventure you care too. With body armor. ;)

'a' writes:
| You seem to have forgotten to mention that the US wants to repatriate
| these guys but their own countries are known to torture, and nowhere
| else will take them.

And you seem to have forgotten that the US is one of those places that
won't take them. The US have kidnapped these people, so they are now
responsible for them; they are morally obliged to grant them asylum. (Yes,
I am in Australia, whose government has an equally worthless moral
stance for asylum; I despise my government for their stance here as much
as the USA's government for theirs.)

Thank you, Katherine, Now that made me cry.

The most important point is that we all KNOW that he is innoncent. That way when post GB inmates go out and murder innocent people we know it won't be him and we can sleep well at night.

I've never heard of a GB inmate we couldn't trust more than the US government.

Since no one has mentioned Voltaire...

Do we all realize that, as our governments are merely our representatives, WE ARE ALL WAR CRIMINALS? That the citizenry of USA, Britain & Australia are in fact and in deed 'The Koalition of the Killing'! ALso, ever heard of D.U.? Depleted Uranium particulates are spewing out of US weaponty in the Middle East as I write, 20-40,000 tonnes since the first Gulf War. Ever heard of Agent Orange? This shit is gonna make A.O. seem like a head cold!
"When Injustice becomes Law, Resistance becomes Duty". Regards.

While not on the same level of sadness as the piece above, the WaPo had this editorial that touches the same places.

DaveC: Amnesty Intenational may have published one report about Cuba in 2005 and a couple in 2003, but really do they give a damn about Cuba? Elian Gonzales didn't have immigration rights.

He did, however, have the right to be reunited with his father, stepmother, and half-sister. Which he was and is. You have a problem with a boy who's lost his mother going to live with his father?

Who is marching for him? My take: Nobody.

Nothing to stop you organizing a march, DaveC. Why aren't you doing it? What precisely would you be marching for - the right of free travel between countries and a less messed-up system of immigration into the US? (There were marches to support immigration and immigrants in several cities recently - did you take part in any of them? If not, why not? Is it just Elian Gonzalez you care about, or are you prepared to extend your care to all children of illegal immigrants who need your help and support?)

Nobody gives a rats a$$ about Cuba because frankly they would rather complain about the imaginary offenses against people in the US than Cuban librarians improsomed in Cuba.

Interesting claim, Dave. Here's Amnesty International's 2005 report on the USA. Which of these offenses against people are you claiming are "imaginary"?

If you want to join Amnesty International and focus on the issue of prisoners of conscience in Cuba, you can: nothing in the world is stopping you. Why don't you?

Dear friends,
After reading this blog for the past six months, I am finally overcoming my laziness and technological incompetence enough to post something. What a joy to read Gerard Manly Hopkins' (and others') poetry as an expression of artistic resistance to oppression. This story moves me to invoke that fragile quality that makes us human : "pity like a naked new born babe striding the blast, ...will blow these deeds back in every eye that tears shall drown the wind". (Macbeth, I, vii)
Realizing the incredible strength of this fragility, (as knowing the costly price that is paid by all those who renounce and destroy what allows them to remain human -- a never-ending struggle --) does not exempt us from doing all in our individual and collective power (letters, political pressure, calls to our representatives) to bring an end to these injustices...

DaveC, My governemt isn't responsible for what the Cubans do. My government is responsibile for imprisoning indefinately people who have been determined by my government to be innocent of any crime. The buck for what our government does stops with us.

"Since no one has mentioned Voltaire...."

You know, it has occurred to me more than once lately that Voltaire is due for a revival. In fact, we may need to reenact each second of the Enlightenment just to unload Bin Laden and Dobson from the scene.

I suspect hizoy will say "What lily said" here as well.

Jes, on the AI Cuba page it says that AI hasn't been in Cuba since 1988, for what it's worth.

DaveC: Jes, on the AI Cuba page it says that AI hasn't been in Cuba since 1988, for what it's worth.

Amnesty International members are never asked to write to prisoners of conscience in their own country. However, if you want to support AI's work in Cuba, which has (from their report) "focused on the continuing imprisonment of a number of prisoners of conscience; the harassment of perceived dissidents; and the ongoing recourse to the death sentence" then your best recourse is to join Amnesty International and do so. If you're not prepared to support AI's work in Cuba, why complain about it?

Completely OT, I put a garden in my back yard over the weekend.

Any grouchiness I might exhibit today is probably coincidental, and completely unrelated to sunburn, muscular aches, etc from wrestling the rototiller around.

We've been on a roll to landscape more using native plants, partially because they require less extra of everything, and partly because not many others around here are doing so, and so it's got a novel look to it.

On the off-chance that anyone's interested in such things:

Walter's Viburnum
Simpson's Stopper
Spiderwort (which is a native plant practically everywhere)
Gopher apple
Tropical sage
Coontie (not exactly rare, but an uncommon-ish cycad)

And a half-dozen other plants (including a couple of species of ornamental grass) whose name failed to stick in my head, although we've got a record of them at home.

Oh, and a vegetable garden, in which we've planted pole beans, five kinds of tomatoes, cukes and some other things I cannot remember because I was busy digging up the roots of the hedge that (until last weekend) lined the south edge of our pool screen. We couldn't find any swiss chard seed, so that'll have to wait a couple of weeks.

On our brand-new back fence we're going to plant (and trellis) coral honeysuckle, whose flowers are vivid, dark pink rather than white.

I've been helping my dad garden. He is nearly blind so I help determine the diference between weeds and baby veggies.

DaveC, I have tried unsuccessfully twice to thank you for your essay about Mamaw. So here it is again:thanks. It helped. My mom isn't dead yet, but she will be soon and I hope, behfore that happens that we will be able to get past all of our baggage express love for each other the way you could for your Mamaw..

wrestling the rototiller around

On first glance, I thought you wrote 'rottweiler'.

"wrestling the rototiller around

On first glance, I thought you wrote 'rottweiler'."

This creates a very different punch line to the old joke: What's brown and black and looks good on a lawyer?

I'm guessing it's not two-tone loafers?

Slarti, for the answer listen to the Capitol Steps' song, "Atsa Lawyer."

The punch line I've always heard is "a rottweiler", which is why the misreading creates a different answer. Attacking with a rototiller creates a very different way of expressing one's feeling for a lawyer than siccing a rottweiler on him does.

Yes, but my rototiller is red. Still, funny.

But I'm not sure if I want lawyer all over my innocent lil veggies.

I dunno. According to numerous other lawyer jokes, they would make good fertilizer. Most famous of them is:

Q. Why don't lawyers go to the beach?

A. Cats keep trying to bury them.

Fresh manure has to rot for a while before you can use it as fertilizer, just as a point of interest.

I always said that when I die, I want to be composted and then put back in the garden. I doubt that's a possibility, but...only partially cribbed from Poi Dog Pondering's Bury Me Deep.

You mean you think lawyers are pieces of manure, but not rotten pieces of manure? How kind.

Since we've ventured far from the beaten path, here's what you do:

Drive your squeaky old 1968 Ford F250 (with mildly perforated bed: not from rust so much as dense items having been dropped into it hard enough to punch through) to the stables down by the river, and lay a couple of fivers on the fellow who maintains the place. For that price, he'll fork your truck as full as you like with an unsavory sounding mixture of horse manure, hay, and horse urine that has been trampled into a dense layer on the bottom of the stalls. Tarp required but technically optional; I never once saw a cop anywhere in the drive from the stables back to my place, and the stuff is so dense that only little bits of hay blow out as you drive. The conversation while he does the manure-tossing is worth every dime. If you're nice and give him a decent conversation, he'll in turn load up your truck until it's sitting pretty much flat on its springs. I figure 1500 lbs. I've had as much as a ton in the bed without bottoming out, but I had to drive VERY slow.

Take the drive home as slow as you can get away with, because you haven't yet noted that the odd instability of your vehicle under heavy load is completely due to the fact that the shocks in your truck are not only original equipment, they're the same shocks it rolled out of the factory with. When you get home, you just fork all of that stuff right back out into a conical pile whose exact shape is defined by the angle of repose of manure-straw-urine. Then you let it sit for a week or two, periodically walking out and shoving your arm into it to take its temperature. Still hot? Let it cook a while longer. When it's only lukewarm, it's ready to go.

THEN you spread it out over your garden. Till it in, or use it for mulch. If you absolutely must, you can do this to simultaneously safely fertilize whilst limiting weed-growth between the rows: spread out your old newspapers, and then carefully load fresh manure on top. When the manure's done rotting, you can just till it in, newspaper and all. The paper will be so rotted by the nitrogen that it'll break right up.

Or you can just have Lowe's deliver a pallet of Black Kow, but that's less of an adventure.

"Then you let it sit for a week or two, periodically walking out and shoving your arm into it to take its temperature."

Please tell me elbow-length gloves are permitted equipment for this step.

Not. It grossed out my wife, too, although she didn't blink at using bare hands to distribute Black Kow. Actually, I'd use a stick to poke into it; if a cloud of steam didn't emit, then I'd use the arm. By the time it's cooked out to that point it's practically sterile.

As another point of comparison, a truckload of manure can be had rather cheaply as compared with the shredded bodies of at least five lawyers. And for that, I'd want the full-body biohazard suit, with respirator.

I'd do the shredding myself, but my 8hp chipper/shredder wasn't really designed for flesh. Maybe if the bodies were frozen, first?

If you're offended by any of the above, I'd really only use personal-injury attorneys. For the garden. Other kinds I'd use as fish food.

Hold that thought, Slart. While I memorize it and steal it from you. ;)


Lily, Thanks for your kind words.

My best wishes to you and your family. And if your mom seems down on things, well remember that getting old is damned frustrating and hard. Some people, like your dad apparently, can kind of take it easy and appreciate the small pleasures of life, and others "Do not go gently into the night". All you can do is be there when you can, and keep in mind that you can't make everything right for your mom, because a lot of bad feelings can remain from the accumulated burdens of our lives. None of us can completely fix somebody else's problems, though I think that you are the kind of person who would do that if you could.

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