It's Not Really My Own Little World Anymore

- Or Isn't It?

John Leonard

John Leonard
Shoreline, Washington, US
August 12
I think
I suppose that I should give some sort of Bio - I'm a superannuated Boston transplant to the Seattle area who came out when the bottom fell out of the Telecom industry a few years back. Engineering just ain't what it used to be and it's unlikely it ever will be again. I'll get over it. I've lived here for five years and doubt that I'll ever get used to the west coast. That may not be a bad thing.


John Leonard's Links
MAY 25, 2009 12:58PM

Why It's Wrong

Rate: 9 Flag


In today's NY Times, there is an article by Richard Oppel about Capt. Kirk Black, a National Guard officer, U.S. Captain Hears Pleas for Afghan Detainee. Captain Black, a National Guard officer who is a member of Baltimore's SWAT team in civilian life, is in Afghanistan to help rain the local police force . Capt. Black appears to be heading for rather serious trouble. His offence? He doubted the oficial story that one of the prisoners at Bagram Air Base is who the US Government says he is.

The US Government maintains that a man by the name of Gul Khan is in fact someone named Qari Idris, a Taliban leader. Mr Khan's relatives feel differently. They contacted Capt. Black and asked him to look into Mr. Khan's situation. Capt. Black agreed to do so, correctly feeling that by helping to clear up a mistake that caused an innocent man to be held, he would be helping to as the old phrase goes, "win hearts and minds".

 To make a long story short, Capt. Black did look into things and as it states in the article:

“Upon speaking to multiple village elders, family members, the police chief and the subgovernor, I am convinced that the individual in question is not the person that the government claims,” he wrote in January to Clive Stafford Smith, a human rights lawyer he had met three years earlier during a posting to Guantánamo. “I am a police officer in the United States, and there is a mass of evidence that this individual does not need to be held.”

Mr. Smith has taken Mr.Khan's case and is filing for  a writ of habeus corpus in fderal court - a right that Mr. Obama thinks that Mr. Khan ought not to have.

Now, every cop that I've ever met starts off with a simple premise - that the suspect is guilty and deserves what he gets. They're not exactly a bunch of hand-wringing Lefty civil libertarians. That Capt. Black, a real-life cop, has actually been convinced that Mr. Khan is indeed a victim of mistaken identity is something I find very convincing. Capt. Black is no Johnny-come-lately to the GWoT, he's done a previous tour at Guantánamo Bayand in his own words:

“When I got there, I’ll admit I basically believed everyone there was a terrorist and we had every right to be holding them,” he said. “But as I learned more about the system, I learned that quite a few of them were just swept up in the initial invasion.”

Now it seems that the US Government (surpise!) doesn't like it's judgement questioned by a junior officer. Capt. Black was told to "toe the party line" and not discuss Mr. Khan's guilt or innocence. Additionally, Capt. Black has been placed under investigation and the investigators attempted to get a sworn statement from Mr. Oppel, the author of the Times' article, who declined to give one.

It seems that the US Goverment has decided that Mr. Khan, like all Bagram prisoners is, in the words of a goverment spokesman, classified as “an imminent danger to the lives of U.S. service members.” And once so classified, he has no rights. Not even the right to prove who he is.

This is what "indefinite detention" means. Not only are locked up and the key thrown away, but nobody hs the right to question the premise of your inprisonment. You are scooted off and stored away, not because of what you've done, but because of whatt he goverment fears that you might do. A government that doesn't like to be questioned.

This is wrong. When we were children, this is what we were told happened to those poor, oppressed people "behind the Iron Curtain" and was something that we would never do.


I guess we're nothing special after all.


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Some shameless self-promotion.
Read about Black and thought it inspirational. Now depressing...
Capt. Black is a good man and a good officer. Unfortunately, he is caught in a system that is full of senior officers who are careerists and politicians. Either he "toes the party line" as the man said, or it will chew him up and spit him out.
Some will say this is collateral damage, or some such. I think it's injustice that we shouldn't tolerate on the part of our government.
BBE, this is how enemies are made. The Army is not only behaving unjustly, but it is threatening those who try to remedy the injustice.

Rob, didj'ever notice how the phrase "collateral damage" tends to be used by those who inflict the damage? They usually find it "regrettable" as well.

It being Memorial Day, TCM is doing one of its war movie marathons. Yesterday, one of the movies was "Back to Bataan", a John Wayne propaganda piece from 1945. In it a Japanese officer asks the beautiful Filipina turn-coat (who was really a US agent) why the Filipinos still resisted, couldn't they see they were conquered? She replied that it was because there was nothing to be gained by going along with the Japanese. When they behaved, they were still subject to Japanese retaliation, so they might as well resist. BTW - I use "propaganda" in a neutral sense here, just saying that it was a movies intended to bolster public opinion and boost morale. Not the "Hey Joe - your wives and sweethearts are sleeping with war profiteers and have forgotten all about you." type.

Too bad we can't learn from our own propaganda.
You're right John, this is wrong, and so disheartening that we have not turned the corner, I am getting angrier and angrier at "my side." Nothing special indeed.
I agree.

BTW, love the black Lab in your avatar, but having two of the myself I'm a little prejudiced.
John: You're not engaged in shameless self-promotion. You're bringing to a little light to a darkened arena. More people like Black need to step forward.
Thanks Barry. Yeah, I expected better from "our side" too. You don't start to fix things by codifying the broken behavior.

AB - you can't go wrong with a Lab. Buddy, the guy in the avatar, is a big sweetie that we picked up from one of the local shelters five years ago. We have two Corgis as well. They're normally in my avatar, but Buddy gets a chance as well.
Dennis, as the saying goes, "... all it takes is for good men to do nothing." I am afraid though, that the Army will try to make an example of the good Captain, to nip this sort of thing in the bud.

As we see, fear is wonderful for influencing behavior.
We should all be jumping up and down, yelling, arguing. This is not right. He wants Congress and Justice to back him up, making all branches of government complicit. I hope someone on the Hill fights back.

Call your representatives, send the White House an email, write a letter to the editor, whatever you can do. This must be stopped.
And if you don't follow Leslie's sage (not to be confused with the other wannabee communications arts dingbat) advice, then you ARE complicit.

Silence is complicity.