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Update [2005-2-22 13:57:15 by SusanHu]: New info below fold. Latest: Court memorandum + more bio details

There's a big but. A couple weeks ago, Plutonium Page e-mailed me, thinking I'd like to do a diary about Ahmed Abu Ali, a U.S. citizen from Virginia, a high school valedictorian who was being tortured incommunicado, without access to counsel, in a Saudi Arabian prison.  He was, the article reported, one of the now infamous CIA "ghost detainees."  His parents have been frantically trying to get help for him.  I did a lot of research and saved it on -- of course -- my broken computer.  Bear with me while I piece this together again.

This morning, AM radio and TV news are reporting  :

ALEXANDRIA, Va. - A former Virginia high school valedictorian who had been  in Saudi Arabia as a suspected terrorist was charged Tuesday with conspiring to assassinate President Bush and with supporting the al-Qaida terrorist network.

: continued below :

Update [2005-2-22 19:51:27 by SusanHu]: At the end of the diary, there's a stunning direct quote from the court memorandum on habeas corpus that directly places responsibility for Abu Ali's detention in Saudi Arabia on the U.S.

Update [2005-2-22 13:55:2 by SusanHu]: What? Where did the assassination plot come from?

Update [2005-2-22 14:42:23 by SusanHu]: For starters, as Pete Williams just reported on MSNBC, none of the filed charges mentions an assassination plot, only participation in terrorist-type groups.

In 2003, according to attorney Elaine Cassel in Counterpunch:

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.
How did we get from aiding rebels in Kashmir to plotting to assassinate Bush? It's just a question.
Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, 23, a U.S. citizen, made an initial appearance Tuesday in U.S. District Court but did not enter a plea. He contended that he was tortured while detained in Saudi Arabia since June of 2003 and offered through his lawyer to show the judge his scars.  MSNBC

Abu Ali's parents have fought hard to publicize their son's "extraordinary rendition" to a Saudi prison and to compel the government to disclose what it " it knows about Abu Ali and his detention."

His appearance today in a U.S. court is a shock because the government had not disclosed he'd been transferred from Saudi Arabia.  I do not know if his parents had any idea of his whereabouts before today; I will endeavor to find out.

First, a bit of background:

Abu Ali was born in Houston and moved to Falls Church, Va., where he was valedictorian of his high school class. Federal prosecutors say Abu Ali joined an al-Qaida cell in Saudi Arabia in 2001. The alleged Bush plot occurred while he was studying in that country. MSNBC

Update [2005-2-22 16:11:3 by SusanHu]: This from the new New York Times article on the case:

... Mr. Ali was valedictorian of his 1999 high school class at the Islamic Saudi Academy in Alexandria, where school officials described him as "an exceptional student," with special talent in mathematics and science. Bending to the wishes of his parents, Omar and Faten Abu Ali, Mr. Ali entered the University of Maryland in the fall of 1999 to study engineering on a scholarship, The Post reported. But he was unhappy and left the next year to further his Islamic studies, first in Fairfax County, Va., and later in Medina.

Update [2005-2-23 2:10:26 by SusanHu]: Midnight special: Here's more detail from the latest New York Times article:

Mr. Abu Ali is the oldest of five children of Omar and Faten Abu Ali, who moved to Houston from their native Jordan in the 1970's for the father to study mathematics. The father has worked at the Saudi Embassy in Washington for more than 20 years in computer operations, embassy officials said.

After the family moved to Northern Virginia in the suburbs of Washington, Mr. Abu Ali attended high school at the Islamic Saudi Academy, a private school in Alexandria that serves hundreds of children of Saudi citizens and is subsidized by the Saudi government. ...

Mr. Abu Ali taught Islamic studies to young children at the Dar Al Hijrah Islamic Center in Falls Church in his spare time during high school. After studying engineering briefly at the University of Maryland, he moved to Saudi Arabia in 2000 to study the Koran at the Islamic University of Medina. ,,,

[H]e wanted to be a teacher or a Muslim scholar."

Mr. Abu Ali returned to Virginia in 2000 but resumed his studies in Saudi Arabia in the fall of 2002. It was then, the Justice Department asserted in Mr. Abu Ali's indictment, that he sought to become an operative of Al Qaeda through contacts with his former roommate at the Islamic University of Medina.

It's possible he was a jihad wannabe or an actual plotter, although the U.S. may have blown the case by allowing him to be a "ghost detainee" in a Saudi prison. Update [2005-2-22 16:11:3 by SusanHu]: The New York Times reports that "cores of his supporters laughed when the charges were read [in court today]."

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usLook. I have no idea what Abu Ali was up to in Saudi Arabia in 2001.  He could have been plotting assassination, bombings, or god knows what.

But a seminal legal problem here is that we may never know what he really was up to.  Why?  Because he was tortured in a Saudi prison, perhaps through the CIA's extraordinary rendition system whereby citizens of any country can be secretly detained, without arrest warrant, and forcibly taken to countries such as Egypt where torture is known to be practiced.

Update [2005-2-22 14:42:23 by SusanHu]: Then there's this astonishing revelation in the Nov. 2004 Washington Post by Salem Ali, an attorney on behalf of Abi Ali, who says that Assistant U.S. Attorney Gordon D. Kromberg told him, "He's no good for us here, he has no fingernails left."

Now, if that isn't a concession -- albeit of the most perverse sort -- that Abu Ali's torture renders him unable to be charged in a U.S. court, I don't know what is. (And, in a press conference just aired on MSNBC, Abu Ali's attorney said that testimony obtained through torture is unreliable.)

As we all know here, torture is not only unreliable, but an affront to our basic decency. Further, evidence obtained through torture is not supposed to be used in a court of law (at least officially, and to date).

From my diary, Outsourcing Torture: Secret History (FBI v. CIA):

Serving U.S. intelligence officials had no idea why [Mamdouh] Habib, described by an Australian Embassy official "as a person of security interest" who had not violated any laws, was chosen for rendition.

"It makes no sense," said former chief of CIA Afghanistan operations Milt Bearden. "Any time you send a foreign national to a place where he knows he's going to have his fingernails ripped out, he'll sign any sort of confession, he'll make any sort of admission. You don't get intelligence worth squat as a result." ...

Richard Sale

What if we had -- instead of entombing this kid in a Saudi prison for interrogation and torture -- let highly experienced FBI interrogators have a go with him?

In his revealing analysis of rendition, UPI intelligence reporter Richard Sale points out:

"I think the greatest mistake of this administration has been that they have ignored the expertise of the FBI in these matters," said [former CIA and State Department official Larry Johnson]. "The FBI is enormously skilled in extracting information from people in a non-threatening way.

"Instead, this administration has given control to U.S. Special Forces and the U.S. military, who frankly don't have a clue. Look at Abu Ghraib. It's dispiriting."

Larry Johnson's opinion -- that the FBI's ability to succeed in getting information without torture is the only way to go -- is furthered in the exceptional New Yorker  essay on extraordinary rendition:

For ten years, [Dan Coleman, an ex-F.B.I. agent]  worked closely with the C.I.A. on counter-terrorism cases, including the Embassy attacks in Kenya and Tanzania. His methodical style of detective work, in which interrogations were aimed at forging relationships with detainees, became unfashionable after September 11th, in part because the government was intent on extracting information as quickly as possible, in order to prevent future attacks.

Yet the more patient approach used by Coleman and other agents had yielded major successes. In the Embassy-bombings case, they helped convict four Al Qaeda operatives on three hundred and two criminal counts; all four men pleaded guilty to serious terrorism charges. The confessions the F.B.I. agents elicited, and the trial itself, which ended in May, 2001, created an invaluable public record about Al Qaeda, including details about its funding mechanisms, its internal structure, and its intention to obtain weapons of mass destruction. (The political leadership in Washington, unfortunately, did not pay sufficient attention.)

Abu Ali's U.S. attorney, Ashraf Nubani:

"He was tortured," Nubani told the court. "He has the evidence on his back. He was whipped. He was handcuffed for days at a time."

When Nubani offered to show the judge his back, O'Grady said that Abu Ali might be able to enter that as evidence on Thursday at a detention hearing.

"I can assure you you will not suffer any torture or humiliation while in the (U.S.) marshals' custody," O'Grady said.

Abu Ali is charged with six counts and would face a maximum of 80 years in prison if convicted. The charges include conspiracy to provide material support to al-Qaida, providing material support to al-Qaida, conspiracy to provide support to terrorists, providing material support to terrorists and contributing service to al-Qaida. MSNBC

Update [2005-2-22 16:11:3 by SusanHu]: [NOTE THE NAME-DROPPING] From the New York Times:

"It was defendant Abu Ali's intent to become a planner of terrorist operations like Mohamed Atta and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed." ...

Mr. Ali was arrested by Saudi authorities in Medina on June 9, 2003, on suspicion of being associated with bombings in Riyadh four weeks earlier that killed more than 30 people, including 9 Americans.

A week after his arrest ... a search of Mr. Ali's home in Falls Church turned up documents praising the Sept. 11 attacks, audio tapes in Arabic promoting the killing of Jews and a battle by Muslims against Christians and Jews. ...

The indictment says that Mr. Ali traveled between Virginia and Saudi Arabia between 2000 and 2002, and that from September 2002 on he received lodging from Al Qaeda members who taught him such skills as using hand grenades and forging documents.

... Mr. Ali tried to travel to Afghanistan through Iran to attack American soldiers ... but he could not get the necessary travel documents.

The accusation that Mr. Ali plotted to kill President Bush was included in a count charging him with conspiracy to provide material support and resources to foreign terrorists. ... Mr. Ali and another conspirator discussed two possibilities: that Mr. Ali would get close enough to the president "to shoot him on the street," or that he would detonate a car bomb to kill the president ... [and] discussed two possibilities: that Mr. Ali would get close enough to the president "to shoot him on the street," or that he would detonate a car bomb to kill the president.

Whatever becomes of this young man, remember -- REMEMBER -- that the U.S. got its information by turning Abu Ali [and surely his "co-conspirators"] over to torturers, and don't be afraid to question. He may be guilty as hell. But he deserves all the protections of the Constitution and our courts.

Update [2005-2-22 19:51:27 by SusanHu]:


OMAR ABU ALI, et al., Petitioners, v. (JDB) JOHN ASHCROFT, et al., Respondents. Civil Action No. 04-1258

"The writ of habeas corpus commands general recognition as the essential remedy to safeguard a citizen against imprisonment by State or Nation in violation of his constitutional rights." United States v. Morgan, 346 U.S. 502, 506 n.3 (1954) (quotation omitted). This case requires the Court to give substance to those words. Petitioner Ahmed Abu Ali ("Abu Ali") is a citizen of the United States who, through his parents, has filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus against several officials of the United States ("respondents" or "United States") challenging his ongoing detention since June 2003 in a prison of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia allegedly at the behest and ongoing supervision of the United States.

Petitioners have provided evidence, of varying degrees of competence and persuasiveness, that: [READ THESE SECTIONS] (i) the United States initiated the arrest of Abu Ali in Saudi Arabia; (ii) the United States has interrogated Abu Ali in the Saudi prison; (iii) the United States is controlling his detention in Saudi Arabia; (iv) the United States is keeping Abu Ali in Saudi Arabia to avoid constitutional scrutiny by United States courts; (v) Saudi Arabia would immediately release Abu Ali to United States officials upon a request by the United States government; and (vi) Abu Ali has been subjected to torture while in the Saudi prison.

The United States does not offer any facts in rebuttal. Instead, it insists that a federal district court has no jurisdiction to consider the habeas petition of a United States citizen if he is in the hands of a foreign state, and it asks this Court to dismiss the petition forthwith. The position advanced by the United States is sweeping. The authority sought would permit the executive, at his discretion, to deliver a United States citizen to a foreign country to avoid constitutional scrutiny, or, as is alleged and to some degree substantiated here, work through the intermediary of a foreign country to detain a United States citizen abroad.

The Court concludes that a citizen cannot be so easily separated from his constitutional rights. ...

[I can't grab the link to the PDF file.. using a Mac and am unfamiliar with some commands. It's in the comments section, under the habeas comment.)

Originally posted to SusanHu on Tue Feb 22, 2005 at 10:44 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  What was it I read about Gonzales? (4.00)
    that he's trying to be a kinder, gentler AG?  This is a fine start.

    The only tiny consolations are that his parents know where he is now and perhaps the judge is right, that the U.S. marshals will not torture him.  I'd like to believe that the marshals will treat him right; they're good Americans who do dangerous work.

    It will be fascinating to see how the court handles this case, considering how much of the evidence was obtained.  If "witnesses" were interrogated in Saudi prisons, will their testimony be allowed?  Dunno.

    Susan in Port Angeles (my cat)

    by SusanHu on Tue Feb 22, 2005 at 10:44:50 AM PST

    •  My god. (4.00)
      A local paper in Falls Church, Va. reported on him:

      ... Salim Ali, the attorney for the detained man Ahmed Abu Ali, has alleged in an affidavit filed Oct. 12 that Assistant U.S. Attorney Gordon D. Kromberg "smirked and stated that 'He's no good for us here, he has no fingernails left,'" when Ali asked Kromberg about petitioning Saudi Arabia to bring his client back to the U.S. to face charges.

      "Falls Church Man Could Be Participant in U.S. Torture Program," Nov. 2004

      Susan in Port Angeles (my cat)

      by SusanHu on Tue Feb 22, 2005 at 10:58:18 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Right wing Morals in action (none)
        Unbelievable how free and easy the right is becoming with the language of hatred. Every time I hear it I still shudder to think that this is what our country has come to symolize under Republican rule... bigotry, hatred and torture.
        •  Nag (great handle, btw) (4.00)
          Let's see if -- maybe -- our courts can do something about this case.  There's been pressure to transfer this U.S. citizen's case to the U.S. courts.  Of course, with the truly sensational charge of plotting an assassination against the president, who knows if the courts will have the courage:

          [from Nov. 2004 story in WaPo] Morton Sklar, executive director of the World Organization for Human Rights USA, a group assisting Abu Ali's family with its petition, said court decisions have held that a U.S. judge does have jurisdiction in such a case if presented with evidence that "shocks the conscience of the court." Allegations about torture of a U.S. citizen would be an example of such evidence, he said.

          Sklar has argued in court papers that Salim Ali's affidavit "demonstrates exactly the type of circumstance that 'shocks the conscience of the court,' and indicates a 'joint venture' between the governments of Saudi Arabia and the United States with respect to [Abu Ali's] arrest, detention and interrogation."

          Sklar also has argued that the U.S. government has "not even taken the minimal step of requesting . . . Abu Ali's return to the U.S. in response to indications from Saudi officials that they would be responsive to such a request."

          The matter is pending before U.S. District Judge John D. Bates.  Official Allegedly Hinted at Saudi Torture of Va. Man, WaPo, Nov. 19, 2004

          Susan in Port Angeles (my cat)

          by SusanHu on Tue Feb 22, 2005 at 11:21:04 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Hatred and bigotry (none)
          Are unbelievably the current watchwords for Americans and what we stand for.  It makes me want to move somewhere, anywhere.
        •  what's (none)
          what's the best way to strike a balance between extracting information to protect us, and doing it in a humane fashion?

          it's scary to think that one of us can be arrested, sent to (fill in the blank), tortured, and indefinitely detained without due process.

          "Those that can give up essential liberty to obtain temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." -benjamin franklin

          losing faith in democracy...

          by Raiyan on Tue Feb 22, 2005 at 11:13:49 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Thank you Susan (4.00)
      For your work on this story and others.  The drum beat starts somewhere and you my dear are providing the steady rhythm.

      Would that I could share your optimism on the U.S. Marshalls.  They are working with the information our government, their bosses, provide and would be in the same situation as U.S. military in "protecting their country" at all costs. This violence is inherit in the system.  Justice must be brought to the system so the system can be brought to justice.

      •  I'm just hoping... (4.00)
        I've known some "feds" along the way and the ones I knew were truly decent, hard-working people.  But how will they treat an Arab kid, U.S. citizen or no, especially if they believe he tried to plot to assassinate Bush?  Even if they believe all that, and detest him, they'd be smart not to touch him.  

        I also wonder how in the hell the U.S. government got from accusing him of aiding rebels in Kashmir to plotting against Bush?  What is the real purpose of this?  (Tin-foil speculation, I admit, but...)

        And, thank you for your thoughtful comments.

        Susan in Port Angeles (my cat)

        by SusanHu on Tue Feb 22, 2005 at 11:12:36 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Thinking the same question (none)
          why this, why now? Could it be the beginning of a change of subject from SS back to National Security? I've seen comments here and elsewhere that it's only a matter of time before the fear factor creeps back into daily talking points. The scary thing is that every time this cycle comes around to fear, the rhetoric of hate gets a bit more discernable. The Fascists seem to be showing more fang in their snarl.
          •  Yep (none)
            This is quite clearly timed to distract. I predict several more big "revelations" the worse doo-doo Bush gets into on social security.
            •  and, just me or (none)
              is it getting very coincidental that just about the time the media gets a handle on reality it's time for a TERRA'LERT, or time for a BIG BIG ARREST...or whatever?   It seems to me that not too long ago the New Yorker had an article about the US hanky-panky in Iran, and lo and behold the administration started trotting out reasons we should all fear the Iranians right down to and including today's incredibly silly "no attack on Iran but all the cards are still on the table," message.

              Now, if I remember my last issue of the New Yorker correctly there was an article about how torture and extraordinary renditions don't work...and surprise: A Big Arrest (that won't last twenty minutes in front of a real judge). And then of course there's the doo doo about the French sending one officer to Iraq, college republicans chanting "Social Security has to go," and a budget no one likes.

        •  My guess (4.00)
          Aiding rebels in Kasmir is a much tougher sell than plotting against Bush, both for PR and legalistic purposes.  This administration needs to keep terrorism front and center and claim some victories along the way.  Charges of plotting against the president achieves both.  

          I suspect that any one of us could be charged with plotting against the president, especially when the government holds the keys to the evidence, legal representation and legal theories. The common link between all recent Bush nominees is the demonstrated ability to lie - to the public and to congress.  Manufacturing evidence is certainly something they are quite skilled in as well. Yellow cake or aluminum tubes anyone?

          •  i'm wondering how (4.00)
            i'd feel, locked up far from home, handcuffed to a wooden chair in the dark for days.
            or with  my arms strapped down and my fingernails pulled from my fingers...
            or electrodes hooked up to my genitals and fingertips.

            this is all under the watch of the great liberators, too...the people who told us they want to spread freedom and democracy.
            apparently, only to those who agree with them.

            ...i wonder how i'd feel...i'm not brown-skinned, i don't worship a god they dislike, so I may not ever know, if I keep my mouth shut...

            that's what they want to get across, huh?

    •  this could be huge if it's a precedent-setting (none)
      case. Just imagine...a judge throws out the charges because the evidence was obtained under torture. It would give new legal hope to god knows how many "prisoners."
      •  Torture victims and Bush (none)
        Jane Mayer's excellent New Yorker article, which I believe is linked as well as quoted above, makes the point that in the beginning, the "extraordinary rendition" program was a last resort for persons who were convicted in court in absentia by us or another country, and who were living abroad.  After 9/11, as Susan explains, it became the modus operandi for the Bush Admin, who wanted results but hadn't the wit or the patience to find out how to get them.  As a result, there are people who can't be tried because it would expose what was done to them even if in fact they are guilty of nothing more than being in the wrong place or knowing the wrong people, as well as people who may be guilty of something but also can't be tried.  What are we going to do with them?  Start dropping them from planes over the South Pacific like the Chileans and Argentines?

        Andrew Sullivan made a really good point on Chris Matthews Sunday.  It completely undercuts and belies Bush's "democracy" initiative in the Middle East when we send people to places like Egypt and Saudi to be tortured.  It was funny to see his fellow panelists and Tweety look dumb at that thought.

        If you're going in the wrong direction and you stay the course, where, exactly, do you wind up?

        by Mimikatz on Tue Feb 22, 2005 at 03:02:51 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Fox News (none)
      I made myself switch to Fox News .... "a plot to kill the president" ... plotted "in Saudi Arabia ... "MADE IN AMERICA !!!!"-  Shepherd Smith

      THIS is all most people will see:
      "Man Accused of Plotting to Assassinate Bush"

      Okay.  So how does one defend -- not the individual per se -- but the rules of law and basic decency that have been abridged in this case?  The word frame is way overused. But, how do we frame this?

      Susan in Port Angeles (my cat)

      by SusanHu on Tue Feb 22, 2005 at 12:11:17 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  The judges in the Eastern District... (none)
        ...are actually not the worst on the planet.  Yes, they have a very, very fast system, and they're answerable to the ultraconservative Fourth Circuit, but the judge handling the Moussaoui case has issued some pretty enlightened rulings.

        I don't know of any U.S. district judge who would look favorably on questions of torture, and I also don't see how the government could sidestep the issue if it seeks to admit evidence obtained while the defendant was under extreme rendition.  Fourth and Fifth Amendment law are pretty damn specific on these points, and the evidence is inadmissible.

        Piss off Frank Luntz: don't use Republican issue frames like "Social Security crisis."

        by DC Pol Sci on Tue Feb 22, 2005 at 12:40:01 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  How about this? (none)
        "A man tortured in Saudi Arabia will admit to anything."  More at 11...

        Alternate state, a blog about different choices, globally and locally.

        by zenbowl on Tue Feb 22, 2005 at 01:37:33 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Just keep repeating: (none)
        Torture doesn't work--even if you like the idea, it just doesn't do the job.  

        Why?  Most people under torture will say anything to make it stop.  The only ones who won't are those who believe that martyrdom is a good thing for them, and so aren't afraid to die, even painfully.  Thus, we simply can't get good intelligence about terrorist plots by torturing people.  Much better to use the FBI methods that DO result in good information, and are not in violation of human rights.

        The Sri Lankan torture expert who says it can be effective in saving lives was dealing with Tamils, who aren't Muslim and aren't jihadists.  

        If you're going in the wrong direction and you stay the course, where, exactly, do you wind up?

        by Mimikatz on Tue Feb 22, 2005 at 03:09:32 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  FYI (none)
      I just updated the diary with some more info from the New York Times article.... easier than trying to insert it in the comments section.

      Susan in Port Angeles (my cat)

      by SusanHu on Tue Feb 22, 2005 at 01:03:30 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  UPDATES INCLUDE (none)
      A quote from the Memorandum of the USDC, D.C., on the petition for habeus corpus ... it's powerful ... and it describes how Abu Ali was nabbed by the United States in Saudi Arabia and placed in a Saudi prison.

      It further describes how Ashcroft/Gonzales et al. do not think habeus corpus applies to a U.S. citizen outside the country.  Woah.

      Susan in Port Angeles (my cat)

      by SusanHu on Tue Feb 22, 2005 at 04:49:13 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Oh come on! (none)
      He's probably guilty after all. Better a hundred innocent men be tortured than a guilty terrorist go free, right? What's wrong with you people?!

      If anything, the travesty here is the whole "law & order" process which has demonstrably demonstrated how outmoded it is in the post 9/11 mentality. You don't hate America do you?

      I didn't think so. So what if they tore out some hang nails? You don't like see American citizens killed do you? We have to protect this country and if it simply in convienences someone, I think that's a fair trade.

      After all, you're with us or against us!!!

      --- If I were employed, my opinions would be my own and not my employer's.

      by Aexia on Wed Feb 23, 2005 at 12:25:57 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  recommended (none)
    this story definitely needs to be fleshed out more.

    But the key problem here is that we may never know what he really was up to.

    I'd say the key problem here is that a United States citizen was (until now) denied due process and likely tortured with the approval of the United States government.

    •  Amen to that. (none)
      Almost surely tortured with the approval of the U.S., hell probably in the presence of U.S. "representatives."  That's what happened to Mamdouh Habib, about whom I've written, and countless other Guantanamo and Bagram air base (Afghanistan) detainees.

      Due process.  Oh yes.  That.

      Susan in Port Angeles (my cat)

      by SusanHu on Tue Feb 22, 2005 at 11:05:19 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Torture (none)
      I'd say the key problem here is that a United States citizen was (until now) denied due process and likely tortured with the approval of the United States government.

      Didn't you get the memo?  That's official US policy now.  Sigh.

      I hope they do this guy to a US court - if his "evidence" was elicited under torture, torture enabled by the US government on an American citizen, I'd love to see the whole shitstorm come and slap Bushco on the face.

      "The state has no place in the bedrooms of the nation." - Pierre Trudeau

      by fishhead on Tue Feb 22, 2005 at 10:32:51 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Great diary (none)
    Very well researched, and truly frightening.  I hope it doesn't go under the radar.

    Alternate state, a blog about different choices, globally and locally.

    by zenbowl on Tue Feb 22, 2005 at 11:03:45 AM PST

    •  Thank you. (none)
      I sure wish I had the original article Page sent me but am doing more hunting ... that little local Falls Church newspaper account is quite good....

      That U.S. attorney smirking about him having no fingernails left.  (See quote above in comments.)  My god.

      Susan in Port Angeles (my cat)

      by SusanHu on Tue Feb 22, 2005 at 11:07:21 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Amnesty (none)
        I linked to Amnesty's report on him recently:
        US citizen tortured in Saudi Arabia.
        There was also an article about him on NPR, Morning Edition, so you could try searching there.
        Hope that helps and kudos to you as always for keeping these issues to the forefront.
        •  Your diary, BemusedBrit (none)
          is very good.  I completely missed it on Feb. 10, sigh.  I think because you rudely posted it about 2 hours before I arise and make coffee :)  I wish our subscription list were still on the home page -- I've added you but it's an extra step, these days, to check it, and I sometimes forget.

          Susan in Port Angeles (my cat)

          by SusanHu on Tue Feb 22, 2005 at 03:56:45 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Article (none)
        Here's one:

        Rendition Case Takes a New Twist - is that the one you meant?

        I also sent you this one from the WaPost.

        I'm a little tired right now, so I hope this comment makes sense, heh.

        Speaking the truth in times of universal deceit is a revolutionary act. -- George Orwell

        by Page van der Linden on Tue Feb 22, 2005 at 11:38:57 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Great work... (none)
          as always, Susan.  

          I think this diary could benefit from a chronological structure or timeline as well.  The reason I raise this is that this WaPo editorial appeared yesterday, and then, "Voila!" today Ali suddenly appears in D.C. District Court.

          The WaPo editorial was extremely troubling in that it identified the outrageous extralegal procedures the Justice Dept. was insisting, i.e. secret evidence and most disturbing, SECRET ARGUMENTS!!  The latter is truly unbelievable.  The arrival of the defendant now raises BIG legal questions, many of which you have identified.  This is a fascinating development to this case.  Please keep us updated!

          •  Max (none)
            I did find this article from CNN International :
            Saudi Arabia handing over U.S. citizen

            Man held for 20 months expected to face charges

            Tuesday, February 22, 2005 Posted: 0148 GMT (0948 HKT)

            WASHINGTON (CNN) -- An American detained in Saudi Arabia for 20 months without being charged is being sent back to the United States where he is expected to be charged Tuesday, his father and a family friend told CNN.

            Susan in Port Angeles (my cat)

            by SusanHu on Tue Feb 22, 2005 at 04:12:29 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Imagine his family's shock ... (none)
              no wonder the NYTimes reports they laughed when the charges were read in court today (linked in the diary):

              Abu Ali's family said it has been told he will face unspecified charges in federal court. He is expected to make an appearance in U.S. District Court sometime Tuesday.

              His father Omar Abu Ali, said he got a call from the FBI telling him his son was coming back from Saudi Arabia Monday night.

              "I feel that the truth will come soon," he told CNN. "He will be a free man soon."

              He said his son's return to the United States shows this was never a Saudi case....

              They laughed.  But as the charges sink in, his family and supporters are going to be in an utter state of panic.  Especially with Abu Gonzales in charge of their son's indictment.  

              He may be lucky if he ends up with 20 years like Lindh.

              Susan in Port Angeles (my cat)

              by SusanHu on Tue Feb 22, 2005 at 04:16:34 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  A little clearer to me now... (4.00)
              Tell me if I have it right: Ali's family filed a habeas lawsuit before Judge Bates in D.C. District Court.  Last December, Bates refused to dismiss the lawsuit over the strenuous objection of the DOJ.  Then, the DOJ advanced these ex parte "secret evidence/secret arguments" theories, which Bates seems to (fortunately) hold a dim view of.  So, it seems DOJ would have been forced to produce Ali or respond to some questions about his whereabouts, wellbeing, the procedures under which he was detained, etc... in the near future.

              Then, today, Ali shows up in the Eastern District of Virginia.  This is in the 4th Circuit, which is where the Rumsfeld/DOJ transferred Jose Padilla after Judge Mukasey ruled he was entitled to a lawyer (among other protections.)  The Supreme Court blessed the Padilla forum shopping transfer without ruling on the constitutionality of his detention.  As you probably know, the 4th Circuit is regarded as one of the most conservative in the nation.  

              Very interesting civil liberties case.  One that we all should be watching.  Where's the ACLU on this one?

              •  Thanks, Max! (none)
                Great summary.  It'd be great if you could diary the legal aspects as they develop -- you have the expertise.

                I searched the ACLU site and could find nothing.  But several attorneys have been on this, and so have human rights groups -- I have a quote above that refers to "Human Rights USA, a group assisting Abu Ali's family with its petition."  You know, the other day -- for a different diary -- I tried to find a link to this group but couldn't.  Might you know?

                Susan in Port Angeles (my cat)

                by SusanHu on Tue Feb 22, 2005 at 06:15:26 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

              •  Max, here's more (none)
                "The following is a sequence of events in the ground-breaking lawsuit filed by the World Organization for Human Rights USA and the family of Ahmed Abu Ali in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia challenging the US government's detention of a US citizen in Saudi Arabia. ..."

                ... from Human Rights USA  And I finally found the Web site for this group.  

                Susan in Port Angeles (my cat)

                by SusanHu on Tue Feb 22, 2005 at 07:32:41 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Wow..great stuff, Susan! (none)
                  Website gives a wonderful summary of the disposition of the case.  

                  Interesting footnote...Judge Bates was appointed by none other than.....

                  ....G.W. Bush.

                  I think the intersection of the law, the war, the media and the exigencies of Administration propaganda in this case is fascinating.  I will work on some legal analysis and consult with some friends about predictions for likely resolution.  

  •  Secret Legal Theory (none)
    Why did the Justice Department use this tactic in the habeas corpus case. Could they not have disposed of the whole action by confirming that this man was to be charged?

    Surely the purpose of habeas corpus proceedings is to force officials to either free a detainee or demonstrate a legal basis for the continuing detention, such as that there was a pending criminal case.

    •  Justice used this tactic (none)
      because it saw it was going to lose in the habeas case and didn't want to set a precedent that would make extraordinary rendition more difficult in the future.
    •  I have an awful suspicion (none)
      that they didn't have a f--king clue what they were going to charge him with and then came up with this diabolical charge of planning to assassinate Bush.

      Susan in Port Angeles (my cat)

      by SusanHu on Tue Feb 22, 2005 at 10:28:46 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  If the evidence for the charge turns out (none)
        to be virtually nonexistent, and the judge dismisses the case out of hand, will this guy have adequate grounds to sue the feds for malicious prosecution, as well as conspiracy to violate his constitutional rights?  Can you say Bivens?
      •  I hope I didn't miss this... (none)
        ... anywhere in the comments.

        But, what were the dates in 2001 that are in question? I assume everything is after 9/11. But when exactly was he supposed to have been trying to get to Afghanistan? The war started on Oct. 7, I think (I was in Mexico on my honeymoon) and it didn't last very long. Was this bright student suicidal?

        I read that he could not get to Afghanistan because he couldn't get the proper paperwork. Well, I thought he was trained in forging documents.

        It just all seems odd to me that he wanted to be like Atta so early after the attacks. Did anybody really know that much about Atta at that time? I remember knowing his name, but that's about it.

        I'm not sure if this all adds up or not.

        hinky dink

  •  okay (none)
    This is the third diary I've commented in this morning about this story. I won't cut & paste those comments here, (one of those diaries disappeared), except to say that the focus on the torture aspect of this story is the key. Thank you for focusing on that aspect, Susan, and thank you for your continuing diaries about the issue of torture.

    "I have lived with several Zen masters -- all of them cats." - Eckhart Tolle

    by catnip on Tue Feb 22, 2005 at 11:27:02 AM PST

  •  Just as Krugman of NYT says (4.00)
    as soon as Bush faces trouble on domestic policies, he plays the terrorism card.  How f--ing convenient - - even Republicans are backign away from his SS plans, and voila!  Out pops a 'terrorist' who plotted to kill the beloved leader.

    The sad thing is, Rove & Co don't need smoke & mirrors to fool 51% of the populace.  They smile & lie & smile again, and the people believe.

    If this doesn't take the focus off the SS non-crisis, maybe they'lll produce some poor torture victim who confessed to trying to scare Cheney to death.

    •  n/t (none)
      The juxtaposition on the New York Times home page -- now -- is amazing:

      Man Charged in Alleged Plot to Kill President Bush

      * Krugman: Terrorism Card

      Susan in Port Angeles (my cat)

      by SusanHu on Tue Feb 22, 2005 at 11:51:04 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  This is exactly it. A red herring. (4.00)
      I've been waiting. They've taken so many hits lately. So they started out with domestic terror alerts, but they've cried wolf too many times and no one really bought it. So now they're escalating it.

      "Someone's trying to attack Bush! Just like those liberals attack Bush! And liberals want these scum to have human rights! No one opposed to our president deserves rights! Which side are you on??"

      Just like, around election time 11/04, they released first a home-made terrorist tape, and then when that had no legs, they released another Bin Laden tape, that they'd probably been sitting on for a month at least, to throw out some noise and swing things their way.

      "Think. It ain't illegal yet." - George Clinton

      by jbeach on Tue Feb 22, 2005 at 11:56:42 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  good catch (none)
      I read that Krugman article this morning. Wag the dog indeed.

      "I have lived with several Zen masters -- all of them cats." - Eckhart Tolle

      by catnip on Tue Feb 22, 2005 at 11:57:07 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  There were other distractions last week (none)
      Bush's White House has been dropping strange pointless bits and pieces of plans or announcements left and right since this Gannon thing broke.  I point to renominating rabidly conservative nominees for judge positions that have already failed in the Senate.  I point to calling for expanding the Patriot Act at Gonzales' swearing in.  I point to the yoyo that is the terror alert system lately.  And of course this diary fits right in: a federal indictment alleges some young man from Virginia was plotting to kill the President.  Correct me if I'm wrong, but federal indictments can be authored by the Attorney General's office, no?  What other treats can we expect in the next few weeks as the Gannon and other propaganda cases get fleshed out with further damning detail?
  •  My pe-indictment diary on the topic is (4.00)
  •  Ruling from the habeas case is found (4.00)
    here.  It is not friendly to the government and sets forth the allegations of torture in detail.
    •  "Not friendly to the government" (none)
      is putting it lightly.  That particular ruling tore this administration a new one.

      It basically accuses the government of trampling the Constitution 5 ways from Sunday.

      Of course, we've known for a while that si what is happening.

      Unfortunately, the adminsitration has 3 things going for it:

      1.  The charge of conspiracy to assassinate.  (My best guess is that sometime during the torture taking place Ali said something about wishing Bush were dead)

      2.  The name and ethnicity of the defendant.  Unfortunately, that alone will condemn him in many eyes.

      3.  That fact that he was in Saudi Arabia.  (After all, where did most of the hijackers on 9/11 come from?)

      This is where we find out if our distinguished journalists have learned anything from the Gannon episode and actually try to live up to their title.

      Bush, so incompetent, he can't even do the wrong things right.

      by JAPA21 on Tue Feb 22, 2005 at 12:18:15 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Our judiciary is all that stands between (none)
      us and some truly frightening stuff.  Of course, Bush is trying to demolish the courts...

      The arguments of the Administration, as represented in the linked judicial decision posted by ohwilleke, are nothing short of diabolical.

    •  I added this to the diary -- THANKS! n/t (none)

      Susan in Port Angeles (my cat)

      by SusanHu on Tue Feb 22, 2005 at 04:50:47 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I'm absolutely serious (none)
    I'm not kidding.
    Go to the diary I posted the other day, and connect the dots.
    W is going to use this as the "attempted assassination."

  •  More on the CIA and Ghost Detainees from (none)
  •  I Think the Timing is important here (none)
    Why was this released/made public now?  Is it another distraction for the MSM to become consumed with?  If the news is hawking "Assassination plots" then no one is hearing about the real issues.

    What goes around comes around.

    by kharma on Tue Feb 22, 2005 at 12:02:16 PM PST

    •  timing (none)
      Can we source this story? MSNBC had a headline this morning that referred to an un- atttributed AP story. Who writes the AP stories? who at MSNBC decides story is news worthy? Who did these people talk to? This US citizen has been held for twenty months. Why the story now?

      I smell the south end of a north bound dog.

  •  I'd admit to the Sharon Tate murders (none)
    if they tore just my pinkie fingernail off....

    this business is absolutely insane and out of control....

  •  Don't know why today is any different... (4.00)
    I usually read the daily horrors in a state of semi-numbness.

    Today I started crying.

    There's nothing to be done about any of this, you know. This country is dead. It just doesn't know it yet.

    Rage, rage, against the lying of the Right.

    by Maryscott OConnor on Tue Feb 22, 2005 at 12:09:27 PM PST

    •  No (4.00)
      This country is dead. It just doesn't know it yet.

      I admit that I feel this way more often than I'd like, but I disagree today. It's not dead until we stop pointing out the outrages. It's not dead until people won't listen to dissent anymore. And that time has not come.

      Something from last night that gave me hope.

      Last night I went to dinner with my wife, my mother and my mother's best friend. We ran into an old neighbor of ours who used to be our Mayor, Police Chief and all around activist. The old neighbor is black and from the south. In 1947 he moved here with his family. In 1952 he was Student Body President. Now I kind of figured that since we live in a very liberal city that it wasn't all the extraordinary. Well my mothers friend who went to school with him said that it was extraordinary even here at the time and he was elected because of his wonderfull personality and intelligence. We're all sitting there in rapt attention because this guy has such an amazing presence. Just friggin brilliant and so damn personable. The kind of guy that changed minds and perceptions and you just know by talking to him that he was one of those people that made civil rights changes possible. This guy, with people like Ozzie Davis and MLK, was able to change mindsets, impressions and biases through his incredible mind. This man and those like him made it impossible for thinking people not to see the inherent truth that "All men are created equal." I can't even begin to describe how excited I was after this conversation.

      My point with this story of last night is that when you are right, you fight with your heart and intellect and you don't give up, you can change the world. But you can't give up. You can't just say "we're dead."

    •  I feel like I'm witnessing the slow death of a (none)
      very close relative.  As much as I try not to be, I'm about as pessimistic about the future as I've ever been in my life, and that's saying a lot (I was born depressed). But not YOU Maryscott -- come on, give us one of your brilliant rant diaries, maybe that will help you get over your funk.  Anyway, you're not alone.  But I guess you knew that already.
    •  It's hard but... (4.00)
      Please keep your chin up MSO. Too many people here look forward to your rages against these goons. We may not win now, or next year, or even the next. But eventually we WILL win.

      "If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground, they want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did, and it never will. Find out just what people will submit to, and you have found out the exact amount of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them; and these will continue until they are resisted with either words or blows, or both. The limits of tyrants are proscribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress ... People might not get all that they work for in this world, but they must certainly work for all they get."
      -- Frederick Douglass, 1857

    •  same here (none)
      shouldn't have read this before bed.

      it's sick, scary and ...(I run out of words)

      Fascism: it's the new black.

      by marjo on Tue Feb 22, 2005 at 09:25:12 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I'm sorry you cried (none)
      But this country isn't dead yet.

      As long as we've got people like Howard Dean and John Kerry and Barbara Boxer we ain't going down without a fight.

      Wipe those tears and have a chalupa!  (sorry I'm just hungry)

      I voted for John Kerry and all I got was this lousy sticker...

      by diplomatic on Wed Feb 23, 2005 at 12:13:46 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'm reading "Perilous Times" (none)
        by Geoffrey Stone right now.  The war hysteria of the 1790's enabled the Federalists to dominate American politics for a while, to push through the Alien and Sedition Acts, and even to have hopes of eliminating the Jeffersonian Republicans and creating national "unanimity" (Hamilton used the word in a letter of the time).

        It didn't work out that way.  Revulsion at the policies led to Jefferson's winning the presidency in 1800, and to the gradual extinction of the Federalist Party over the next one or two decades.

  •  Susan, (4.00)
    Powerful diary, as always.


  •  Torture of U.S. citizens (4.00)
    Eventually, if it has not already happened, our government will end up torturing someone who is truly innocent.  Mistaken identity or mistaken intelligence will make it so sooner or later.

    We should clearly articulate from the top on down that torture is never, ever acceptable.  We are the good guys.  We shouldn't run torture chambers at Abu Ghraib prison--or anywhere else.  We should abhore and never participate in the practice of "rendition" to accommodate off-shore torture.

    The rejoinder that we need to be somewhat vague about our torture policy to keep the bad guys guessing about their treatment only makes the policy unclear to our guys as well.  If our policy on torture is so ambiguous that the prisoner won't know if it is allowed or not, then neither will U.S. agents, who may believe they have the green light... just as M.P. reservists on active duty with the U.S. Army might so believe.

    What about the ticking bomb scenario, where torture will help save an entire city?  Shouldn't we have the option even then to use torutre to save so many lives?  No, in my view, it should still be illegal even under those circumstances.  

    If some CIA or FBI agent, or the member of some Delta Force, believes that torture will save millions of lives, then he should put it on the line and do what has to be done.  It will still be an illegal act.  If he is truly right and saves thousands of lives through torture, then there is always the institutional relief valve of our criminal law system--the Presidential Pardon.  And the Republicans have shown little reluctance to use that power, pardoning Elliot Abrams for lying to Congress about U.S. activities in Central America.

    Well, if torturing someone is an illegal act, won't that make it tough on the CIA or FBI who guesses wrong and tortures someone who doesn't have crucial information to stop a ticking bomb?  Yes, it will--absolutely.  We want to deter torture not condone it, not give it a wink and a nod and tell our CIA that we don't care so long as they don't get caught.  If a truly unusual hypothetical situation arises that would justify torture, something that seems highly unlikely, then the burden should be on those in favor of torture to justify their actions.

    Right now, Bush, Gonzales, and Yoo have given torture a green light.  It should never be so in our country.

    •  Ticking speciousness (none)
      What about the ticking bomb scenario, where torture will help save an entire city?

      It's a specious scenario:

      It's well documented that people under torture will say whatever they believe the torturers want, just to make the pain stop. As a result, a torturer is going to get ONLY what they want to hear from the victim, which is not necessarily the truth.

      In short, torture is a very effective way to force someone to back-up the conclusion to which you've already jumped, but a completely ineffective way to find actual information. If the torturer jumped to the right conclusion, he or she may be lucky enouhg to have accidentally extracted the right facts from the wrong person.

      Beware the everyday brutality of the averted gaze.

      by mataliandy on Tue Feb 22, 2005 at 09:23:59 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  What do you mean by (none)
      "Truly innocent"?

      The man who has secretly been tortured on instructions from the awful office stands accused of a THOUGHT CRIME!! Old ladies at checkout counters murmur such things to each other when they scan the newspaper headlines. Farmers in fields, pickers in orchards, guys up ladders, GI's in humvees, pool men and cleaning ladies, travellers, foreigners everywhere wake up wondering whether Today is the Day.


      •  I don't know (none)
        all the facts of the situation you refer to.  You may be right that all the accused did was voice hatred of Bush.  He may be "truly innocent."  I simply don't know.

        I do condemn any torture though.  

  •  I hope (none)
    he doesn't end in Brooklyn, because if he does, God help him, cause the U.S. Marshalls won't.

    Note to GWB, numbers don't lie, unless you lie about the numbers.

    by Ralfast on Tue Feb 22, 2005 at 01:12:18 PM PST

  •  Rendition (none)
    Is it technically extraordinary rendition, if he was in Saudi Arabia of his own volition, was arrested there by local authorities and held there without charge?  Obviously, there are all sorts of other issues about torture, lack of consular representation etc, but extraordinary rendition is typically when the CIA sends someone they have captured/arrested out to another country for "coercive interrogation".
  •  "...torture is not only unreliable,.. (4.00)
    but an affront to our basic decency."

    Fortunately, we have so many good friends around the world for whom torture is no affront. None of that new-fangled chaining-'em-to-the-floor and playing-rap-music-at-100-decibels stuff, either. Fingernail pulling. Whuppings.

    If the crew in charge here had its way, fingernail pulling and whuppings would be enshrined in the law and all the protections of our Constitution and courts would not amount to toilet paper.

  •  Great Diary. I thought about posting something (none)
    when I read the story on What got me was the headline "American charged in alleged plot to assassinate President Bush" versus a line in the VERY SAME ARTICLE: "The indictment offered no evidence that the discussions ever advanced into a plan." Without Kos and the like, I never would have noticed that a few years ago.

    What makes me really sad is how blind people are. I was one of them not too long ago. When Lindh was brought in, I remember saying how he deserved the death penalty. Of course, I'm now ashamed of that kneejerk, go with the mob reaction. (Just as I am that I bought into the WMD argument.) Jesus- I don't even believe in the death penalty!

    The question is, am I one of a few lucky ones that have finally seen the light and refuse to believe everything we read, or am I part of some sort of mass awakening? I really hope it's the latter.

  •  The Score (4.00)
    FBI and thier non-violent approach to interrogation for the first WTC bombing:
    Four convicted (Mohammed A. Salmeh, Ahmad M. Ajaj, Nidal A. Ayyad, and Mahmud Abouhalima) for planning and executing the attack, and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman and nine other convicted of conspiracy in the bombing. Ramzi Ahmed Yousef and Eyad Ismail convicted of masterminding the bombing and sentenced to life without parole. Six others conspirators convicted in 1997 and 1998 and sentenced to 240 years each.
    Major convictions = 22

    George, John, Alberto and other administration goons with thier thier torture squads:
    Thousands arrested, hundreds tortured, two wars, thousands of Americans troops killed or injured, tens of thousands innocent civilians killed.
    Major convictions = 0

    This whole thing isn't about justice. It's about a bunch of schoolyard bullies who have seized the massive power of the United States government. It's about intimidation, fear, and control. And just under the seething puss-infected wound these guys have inflicted on America lies thier thinly veiled threat; If you say or do the wrong thing, you might be next.

    And every time the wound starts to heal, this band of bloodthirsty hyenas does not hesitate to pounce and rip the flesh open again. Because they are afraid that unless you can see the dripping blood you might just get all uppity and think about trying to stop them.

    There's a special place in hell for these guys.


  •  Goddammit! This is nonsense! (none)

    Right here.

    I'd like to personally kill George Washington Bush, his whole family, his whole administration, and his MOTHERFUCKING DOG.

    Now come knock on my door, physically assault me, and send me to Saudia Arabia to pull my fingernails out why don't you?

    Yes I'm angry. I'm really fucking angry, and you people haven't even lauched an imperial war against my family, my culture, and my religion!

    Lord knows how much angrier I'd be if it was that personal!

    I feel so angry, sometimes I'd like to see my elected leaders sent to the guillotine, BUT THAT DOESN'T MEAN I SHOULD BE TORTURED!

    When are you stupid, self-important, CHILDREN going to grow the fuck UP!?!

    Jesus H. Christ Bush. You should be ashamed to call yourself anything close to a christian.

    Bring it on.

    (Oh and Cheers! Bitch.)

    "We need to get back to basics and start listening to people from outside Washington." - Howard Dean

    by deafmetal on Tue Feb 22, 2005 at 07:31:11 PM PST

    •  I don't have violent fantasies (none)
      But occasionally I allow myself to dream of George W., Cheney, Rummy, Condi, Wolfowitz, et al. in shackles, boarding a plane for The Hague.

      Then I wake up.  Sigh.

      "The state has no place in the bedrooms of the nation." - Pierre Trudeau

      by fishhead on Tue Feb 22, 2005 at 10:43:21 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  There is an AHA moment in all of this (none)
      IF it is true that Ali talked about offing Butch, multitudes world wide have secretly congratulated him while deploring the rotten luck which placed him the the clutches of the outfit I privately name The Phalange. JimmyJeff got undisputed, unsupervised Access - Ali got no fingernails left and - worse - sneering goons are pleased with themselves. Good grief.

      Personally, I doubt very much that he did. This entire Secret Arguments thing (Kos, Front Page Feb 21, 2005; interesting thread) is yet another appalling example of IpsoFacToriness. His main problem is that he is brown, poor and helpless.

      But here's a proposal: The Phalange has - in their usual contemptible - made a hero of him. Can we not appoint him - by plebicite - Field Marshal General and place him on the Army Chiefs of Staff?

      This would achieve two major objectives: Firstly, Ali would have the status necessary to defend himself - and the Army could throw it's weight behind him, because, secondly, as Field Marshal General Chief of Staff Ali has [..would have: IpsoFacto] saved the honour of America's military.

      It's a win-win one for everyone except....ha ha: guess!

  •  The reason for tribunals (none)
    As we all know here, torture is not only unreliable, but an affront to our basic decency. Further, evidence obtained through torture is not supposed to be used in a court of law (at least officially, and to date).

    This is why I believe the administration is/was trying to get away with using secret military tribunals instead of the court system.  Betcha the tribunals would not reject statements made at the height of desperation while being whipped and having your fingernails ripped from your hands...

    Beware the everyday brutality of the averted gaze.

    by mataliandy on Tue Feb 22, 2005 at 09:07:13 PM PST

  •  There Is An Opportunity Here (none)
    and I assume that his family will take it - immediately sue Ashcroft, Gonzales, Bush, et al. under Section 1983 for violation of his civil rights under color of state law.  They have the legal grounds, and it would change the msm frame, or at least provide an alternative frame.  I would think it would get some play, particularly if the msm picked up on the details of the torture, if he did some TV interviews (picture Katie Couric looking tearily at young valedictorian as he describes the pain of having his fingernails pulled out one by one).  He has the benefit of prior international attention, a media-savvy family, and good legal representation -- Jose Padilla had none of these.
    Where the heck is the Padilla case anyway?  I thought he was supposed to have had a habeas hearing by now.  He still seems to be locked up in the Star Chamber.

      So far, the courts still respect the law, and even most Republican-appointed judges have been slapping down Bushco's reach for fascist powers -- I was astonished by Scalia's opinion in the Hamdi et al case (where he really stuck up for the principle that this country was founded on the concept of freedom from arbitrary imprisonment by the executive).  It's the only time in my life I ever approved of anything I'd read that was written by Scalia.

     In any event, no evidence procured by torture will be admissible against this kid, unless I missed some major development in the law.  They are going to be forced to let him go.  They'll probably try to strike another of those deals where he "voluntarily" renounces his US citizenship and they get him taken in by a third country (not Saudi Arabia this time, obviously).  They'll do a news dump on a Friday afternoon, quietly so that it fades away, like all of their attempted terrorist prosecutions have when they've actually been forced to go to trial.  If the kid has some guts, he'll refuse the deal and make them suffer the legal consequences (and I pray PR consequences) of their own evil.

    •  Technical Legal Quibble. (none)
      Technically, I think you can only sue officials of state and local governments under section 1983.  However, the Supreme Court established Bivens actions to be used for similar misdeeds by federal officials, and I believe the courts have made it clear that the standards for both kinds of actions are essentially the same.
  •  Depressing (none)
    I'm watching "House," a decent drama about doctors on Fox.  And the Fox 10 PM news promo comes on about a man who wants to assassinate Bush.  I think to myself, again, that that is all most Americans will know about this story.

    Susan in Port Angeles (my cat)

    by SusanHu on Tue Feb 22, 2005 at 10:13:09 PM PST

  •  Just asking (none)
    Susan, I know this comment is off your topic, but...

    You report that the NYT has him graduating from an Alexandria school called the Islamic Saudi Academy. I wonder if that is a Wahabbe school.

  •  Not unforseen (none)
    This shocks me, but it doesn't surprise me.

    Look at the recent headlines over the past few days -- or at least since the 9-hour Bush Waterbong tapes surfaced.

    Bush uses radio address to discuss European trip
    Bush Discusses Iran, Russia
    Bush Stresses Importance of European Tie
    Bush insists Middle East peace is 'immediate goal'

    Ad nauseum... It only seems that there is a torrent of communications coming from the administration on a lot of things that the pResident not only never before had an opinion of, but that which he never before knew existed.

    This blather seems only to be a distractionary tactic, and this particular story seems to be along the lines of "Oh, it's quite OK that he smoked pot and snorted cocaine even if he is leader of the free (haha) world, because some terrorist tried to kill him."

    A new bumper sticker? Valedictorian Assasins for Bush

    Chaos. It's not just a theory.

    by PBnJ on Wed Feb 23, 2005 at 12:05:20 AM PST

  •  Just a brief note (4.00)
    First of all, SUPER Diary as always

    a search of Mr. Ali's home in Falls Church turned up documents praising the Sept. 11 attacks, audio tapes in Arabic promoting the killing of Jews and a battle by Muslims against Christians and Jews...

    This may just be normal Saudi government-issued material.  I wrote a Diary on this a couple weeks back, and the kid going to the Saudi school in NOVA (which I know very well and remember the M-16 armed guards outside - there's now an identical one in MD) and his dad working for the Saudi Embassy means he had several routes to get this kind of material.

    Sounds inflammatory but its the stuff being printed by the Saudi gov't and put in their schools and mosques.


    Night and day, you can find me Flogging the Simian

    by Soj on Wed Feb 23, 2005 at 01:11:06 AM PST

  •  When SECRET ARGUMENTS go public (none)
    It occurred to me that although this Reuter's piece is signed James Vicini, the writing has a certain hasty quality about it which - apart from the content - got me wondering about the backroom boys, that inimitable pair Jeff Guckert and James Moore. James Moore still has a, cough, job.  

    I saw the scene as though I'd been there: all God-given Authority is now touring Europe - security, top PR, legal bastards, heh heh, all 700 or 800 of absolutely essential minders have been displaced by a diversionary, recreational permanent-campaign event (there's a German word for it, which now escapes my memory). This is where dedicated backstops make a name for themselves: the leading lady has a broken leg and the understudy surges irresistibly forward. A Star is Born!

    Although Reuters' Writer (the righter rooter) seems to have scrambled the Original Intent and reorganised the piece to conform to the Style Book, somewhat, a US Citizen is now being tried by the United States' Government for a Thought Crime.

    Furthermore, if a Born-Again Chief Executive were actively organizing Armageddon on behalf of God Almighty Himself for any time he feels like it but preferably as soon as possible I find it extraordinary that such a one (while forbidding 2000 Burssels administrators from occupying their desks while he's in the building) would be putting off his personal Ascension to the Kingdom of Heaven in such an unseemly and deeply unjust manner.

    Go with the flow, George! Third time lucky: You could finally make a success of that boring day-job.

  •  Susan (none)
    Don't travel ANYWHERE alone. Not even to the grocery store.

    Promise me that.

    When the PEOPLE lead, the LEADERS follow!

    by mlkisler on Wed Feb 23, 2005 at 02:14:09 AM PST

  •  The case of Abu Ali (none)
    shows that we are all vulnerable to the fascist tactics of this regime.  From what I can glean from the media reports, it seems that Abu Ali is guilty only of (1) adhering to a rather strict version of Islam and (2) perhaps talking about overthrowing Bushco (who here hasn't fantasized about that to some extent?)  For that he has spent nearly two years in hell in Saudi Arabia?!!  Of course, now the Justice Department is really stuck - it can't really convict him of anything since most, if not all, of the "evidence" will be inadmissible in our courts.  My guess is that they will have him plea to some incredibly minor charge in the next few month, and no one will notice because the story will be buried on page 11.

    "In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king." - my dad

    by blueinnc on Wed Feb 23, 2005 at 04:25:58 AM PST

  •  Just Saw This... (none)
    ...both here, and on Headline News.  It's eerie to think that this might be our own Mahar Arar right now.  And the fact that the government refuses to show evidence supporting charges (and the fact that the articles from this diary show that the seriousness of the charges got ramped up exponentially from simply supporting Kashmir rebels to assassinating the President) is astounding.  And THEN there's the whole implicit admission of torture and it's accepted use against Abu Ali.

    God help me, I have little hope that this will go any way but the wrong way, especially since most people will just hear that he tried to assassinate 'Dear Leader' without thinking or reading up on the whole thing.

    "The connection between vice and meanness is a fit subject for satire, but when the satire is a fact, it cuts with the irresistible power of a diamond." - Paine

    by Kryptik on Wed Feb 23, 2005 at 06:32:29 AM PST

  •  Here's a thought on Abu Ali (none)
    What if he is NOT a Wahabbist (I hope I'm getting my terminology correct and precise here), in the "standard Saudi Arabian" sense, but is one of those (are they "more extreme Wahabbists"?) who are opposed to the current Saudi Arabian regime.  In short, part of the civil war/rebellion that the Saudis are trying to control.  

    I guess this might make him right in the same mold as Osam bin-Laden, an al-Qaeda follower.  But this would explain why the Saudis arrested (and tortured ) him.  Perhaps he's meant as an example to other "rebels" in S. A.  Perhaps it is, in this case, the US just helping out the Saudi regime, not the other way around.  I don't think any of us have enough information to puzzle this out thoroughly yet.

    That said, it doesn't change the fact that he's a US citizen who was arrested and tortured with the explicit help of another government, and under US direction.

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