Thu Jan 10, 2013, 08:38 AM
marmar (70,152 posts)
Amy Goodman: John Brennan, Sami Al-Hajj and the Blight of Guantanamo
John Brennan, Sami Al-Hajj and the Blight of Guantanamo
Posted on Jan 10, 2013
By Amy Goodman
It takes courage to enter a war zone willingly, armed with a microphone and a camera as a journalist. That is what Al-Jazeera cameraman Sami al-Hajj was doing in Dec. 2001, as he was entering Afghanistan from Pakistan to cover the U.S. military operations there. While his colleague was allowed in, al-Hajj was arrested, in what was to be a harrowing, nightmarish odyssey that lasted close to seven years, most of it spent as prisoner 345, the only journalist imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay—without charge. Al-Hajj is out now, back at work at Al-Jazeera and reunited with his family. His recollections of the horror of detention by the United States should be front and center in the forthcoming confirmation hearings for President Barack Obama’s choice the lead the CIA, John Brennan. It has been 11 years since the Guantanamo prison was opened, and four years since President Obama promised to close it within a year.
“He speaks very eloquently (about) what many hundreds of other detainees suffered, who cannot tell their story,” Baher Azmy, legal director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, told me. “The brutality he suffered in Afghanistan, the fact that he was turned over for political reasons or for a bounty, the arbitrariness of his detention in Guantanamo and the brutality of his treatment there.”
I sat down with Sami al-Hajj last month at Al-Jazeera’s headquarters in Doha, Qatar. He now heads up the network’s human rights and public liberties desk. Tall, dignified, in his flowing white robe that is standard attire for the men in Qatar, al-Hajj told me in his best English what he endured.
“They put me in Kandahar airport with the people there. We submit five months in Kandahar. And in Kandahar also they starting interrogated me, from beginning, from when I was born until they arrested me.” Shackled and hooded, he was pushed off the transport plane, when he fell and broke his kneecap. He was forced to march anyway, into a building where people were screaming. He was put in the middle of a circle of U.S. soldiers who held guns to his head. .......................(more)
The complete piece is at: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/john_brennan_sami_al-hajj_and_the_blight_of_guantanamo_20130110/
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