FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Gulag Americana

by ELAINE CASSEL

The November 22 Washington Post reported an alarming story about a Virginia resident and American citizen, 22 year-old Ahmed Abu Ali. In June, as he was preparing to return home to Falls Church from Saudi Arabia where he is a student. He was detained by Saudi Arabian authorities, at the request of the U.S., supposedly for the purposes of “interrogation” about his involvement in a plot, along with other Northern Virginia residents, to provide aid to rebels in Kashmir, who are fighting the Indian takeover of that region. Ali disputes his involvement in the activities of some of his acquaintances who have pled to vague charges of training to fight against a friend of the U.S. (India) in a prosecution in Alexandria, Virginia federal court.

We have no way of knowing what, if anything, Ali did that might be illegal under our broad and far-reaching anti-terrorist laws. That is beside the point at this time. What is the point, however, is that an American citizen can’t come home, and the U.S. government is working with a foreign country to keep him locked up without a charge, without an attorney, without a trial, and with no hope of returning home. Because the U.S. set up his “detention,” he has none of the protections normally afforded to a U.S. citizen who may be imprisoned in a foreign country, such as access to help from the State Department and consular personnel.

Ali’s case brings to mind that of Maher Arar, the Canadian citizen whom the U.S. conspired to ship to Syria for interrogation, with the help of the Canadian government. Arar was returning to Canada through New York with federal agents captured him and put him on a plane to Syria. He was imprisoned in Syria for several months, where he says he was tortured. Neither the U.S. or Canada cared about returning him home-Syria let him go because, according to the Syrian ambassador to the U.S., it could find no cause t hold him.

Maybe I have been naive, but I had no idea that our government could do what was done to Ali, an American citizen. Or that it would do what it to do with a citizen of another country–literally put a hood over his head and take him out of the country.

In a communication with his family, said that he was being threatened with being declared an enemy combatant and shipped to Guantanamo Bay. If this were the case, it would be yet another outrageous act by President Bush, to imprison an American citizen and deny him access to U.S. courts. Attorney Ashraf Nubani, who has been on the front line of dozens of cases against alleged “terrorists,” has tried in vain to find legal help for Ali in Saudi Arabia. He says no attorney there will touch the case. Not that he would gain access to Ali, anyway. No doubt the Saudis would be as unlikely to give him access to counsel as the U.S. would. As I write that sentence, I am stunned by the fact that this is no longer a surprise to me, an attorney of 24 years, who never thought she would be routinely writing about Americans who are captured and imprisoned by their government without being charged with any crime.

It has been a bad week for Americans caught up in the “war” on terror. Attorney Lynne Stewart was reindicted on new terrorist charges, after the judge threw out earlier charges. The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals seemed ready to cede power to the president to keep Jose Padilla in prison forever, without charge, trial, or attorney, because he has been designated an “enemy combatant.” And now, an American abroad is imprisoned in Saudi Arabia.

There is no safe harbor for anyone whom the government wants to do in. Where is our Alexander Solzenitsyn, whom you may recall penned a classic of dissidence literature, The Gulag Archipelego. Where is our collective outrage?

ELAINE CASSEL practices law in Virginia and the District of Columbia, teachers law and psychology, and follows the Bush regime’s dismantling of the Constitution at Civil Liberties Watch. She can be reached at: ecassel1@cox.net

 

More articles by:
June 28, 2016
Jonathan Cook
The Neoliberal Prison: Brexit Hysteria and the Liberal Mind
Paul Street
Bernie, Bakken, and Electoral Delusion: Letting Rich Guys Ruin Iowa and the World
Anthony DiMaggio
Fatally Flawed: the Bi-Partisan Travesty of American Health Care Reform
Mike King
The “Free State of Jones” in Trump’s America: Freedom Beyond White Imagination
Antonis Vradis
Stop Shedding Tears for the EU Monster: Brexit, the View From the Peloponnese
Omar Kassem
The End of the Atlantic Project: Slamming the Brakes on the Neoliberal Order
Binoy Kampmark
Brexit and the Neoliberal Revolt Against Jeremy Corbyn
Ruth Hopkins
Save Bear Butte: Mecca of the Lakota
Celestino Gusmao
Time to End Impunity for Suharto’’s Crimes in Indonesia and Timor-Leste
Thomas Knapp
SCOTUS: Amply Serving Law Enforcement’s Interests versus Society’s
Manuel E. Yepe
Capitalism is the Opposite of Democracy
Winslow Myers
Up Against the Wall
Chris Ernesto
Bernie’s “Political Revolution” = Vote for Clinton and the Neocons
Stephanie Van Hook
The Time for Silence is Over
Ajamu Nangwaya
Toronto’s Bathhouse Raids: Racialized, Queer Solidarity and Police Violence
June 27, 2016
Robin Hahnel
Brexit: Establishment Freak Out
James Bradley
Omar’s Motive
Gregory Wilpert – Michael Hudson
How Western Military Interventions Shaped the Brexit Vote
Leonard Peltier
41 Years Since Jumping Bull (But 500 Years of Trauma)
Rev. William Alberts
Orlando: the Latest Victim of Radicalizing American Imperialism
Patrick Cockburn
Brexiteers Have Much in Common With Arab Spring Protesters
Franklin Lamb
How 100 Syrians, 200 Russians and 11 Dogs Out-Witted ISIS and Saved Palmyra
John Grant
Omar Mateen: The Answers are All Around Us
Dean Baker
In the Wake of Brexit Will the EU Finally Turn Away From Austerity?
Ralph Nader
The IRS and the Self-Minimization of Congressman Jason Chaffetz
Johan Galtung
Goodbye UK, Goodbye Great Britain: What Next?
Martha Pskowski
Detained in Dilley: Deportation and Asylum in Texas
Binoy Kampmark
Headaches of Empire: Brexit’s Effect on the United States
Dave Lindorff
Honest Election System Needed to Defeat Ruling Elite
Louisa Willcox
Delisting Grizzly Bears to Save the Endangered Species Act?
Jason Holland
The Tragedy of Nothing
Jeffrey St. Clair
Revolution Reconsidered: a Fragment (Guest Starring Bernard Sanders in the Role of Robespierre)
Weekend Edition
June 24, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
A Blow for Peace and Democracy: Why the British Said No to Europe
Pepe Escobar
Goodbye to All That: Why the UK Left the EU
Michael Hudson
Revolts of the Debtors: From Socrates to Ibn Khaldun
Andrew Levine
Summer Spectaculars: Prelude to a Tea Party?
Kshama Sawant
Beyond Bernie: Still Not With Her
Mike Whitney
¡Basta Ya, Brussels! British Voters Reject EU Corporate Slavestate
Tariq Ali
Panic in the House: Brexit as Revolt Against the Political Establishment
Paul Street
Miranda, Obama, and Hamilton: an Orwellian Ménage à Trois for the Neoliberal Age
Ellen Brown
The War on Weed is Winding Down, But Will Monsanto Emerge the Winner?
Gary Leupp
Why God Created the Two-Party System
Conn Hallinan
Brexit Vote: a Very British Affair (But Spain May Rock the Continent)
Ruth Fowler
England, My England
Jeffrey St. Clair
Lines Written on the Occasion of Bernie Sanders’ Announcement of His Intention to Vote for Hillary Clinton
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail