Following a review, the United States government has agreed to release Dr. Ayman Batarfi, the 38-year old Yemeni humanitarian worker who has been held as a detainee at Guantanamo Bay since his captured shortly after the 2001 American invasion of Afghanistan.
Batarfi was reportedly volunteering at a Jalalabad hospital at the time of the invasion, and was captured at Tora Bora, where he was treating wounded fighters. Though he has been held for nearly a decade, he has never been charged with any crime or received any sort of trial.
Gitmo tends to sound exceptionally horrific when stories like this come out, but the detention center and other American prisons like it — most notably Bagram, which has been described as giving inmates “fewer rights than prisoners have even at Guantanamo Bay” — are just as terrible when the detainee in question is not a doctor or aid worker. Yes, many of the men held there are terrorists or have histories of association with terrorist groups and should be in custody as criminals…but not in this insanely lawless fashion which the Obama administration seems intent on continuing even if it does close down Gitmo once and for all.
Possibly the most troubling aspect of these prisons is the lack of negative connotation the word “torture” seems to have for their supporters. In class after class at college I have argued this point with fellow students of mine — typically the “conservatives” with whom I find myself in agreement on fiscal policy and, even more ironically, abortion — and never cease to be shocked by their vehement declarations that “they would do it to us so we should do it to them.”
…Right, guys. Because the best way to win a war against “evil” is to sink to your opponents’ level.Published in