The horror and outrage of Guantanamo Bay continues to this day. A legal and moral black hole sanctioned by the highest levels of the US government. No justice. No mercy.
This New York Times feature on just one man, innocent and never charged, shows how America has become a country that proudly shuns international law. A pariah:
It was James, a thickset American interrogator nicknamed “the Elephant,” who first told Lakhdar Boumediene that investigators were certain of his innocence, that two years of questioning had shown he was no terrorist, but that it did not matter, Mr. Boumediene says.
The interrogations would continue through what ended up being seven years, three months, three weeks and four days at the prison camp at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.
An aid worker handling orphans in Sarajevo, Mr. Boumediene (pronounced boom-eh-DIEN) found himself swept up in the panic that followed Sept. 11, 2001. He likens himself to a caged cat, toyed with and tormented by fate and circumstance.
“I learned patience,” Mr. Boumediene, 46, said. He is a private man, trim and square-jawed and meticulously kempt, his eyes set in deep gray hollows. “There is no other choice but patience.”
The United States government has never acknowledged any error in detaining Mr. Boumediene, though a federal judge ordered his release, for lack of evidence, in 2008. The government did not appeal, a Defense Department spokesman noted, though he declined to answer further questions about Mr. Boumediene’s case. A State Department representative declined to discuss the case as well, except to point to a Justice Department statement announcing Mr. Boumediene’s transfer to France, in 2009.
More than a decade has passed since his arrest in Bosnia, since American operatives shackled his feet and hands, dropped a black bag over his head and flew him to Guantánamo. Since his release three years ago, Mr. Boumediene, an Algerian by birth, has lived anonymously in the south of France, quietly enraged but determined to start anew and to resist the pull of that anger.
He calls Guantánamo a “black hole.” Islam carried him through, he says. In truth, though, he still cannot escape it, and is still racked by questions. “I think back over everything in my life, all the stages, who my friends were, who I did this or that with, who I had a simple coffee with,” Mr. Boumediene said. “I do not know, even now, why I was at Guantánamo.”
Mr. Boumediene arrived at Guantánamo on Jan. 20, 2002, nine days after the camp began operations. He was beaten on arrival, he said. Refusing food for the final 28 months of his detention, he was force-fed through a tube inserted up a nostril and down his throat, he said. There was a hole in the seat of the chair to which he was chained, sometimes clothed, sometimes not; as the liquid streamed into his stomach, his bowels often released.
He emerged gaunt, with wrists scarred from seven years of handcuffs, almost unable to walk without the shackles to which he had grown accustomed, he said. Crowds terrified him, as did rooms with closed doors, said Nathalie Berger, a doctor who worked with Mr. Boumediene shortly after his release.
Dr. Berger was moved, she said, by his equanimity and his “strength to live.”