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The Strange Case of Aafia Siddiqui
August 6, 2008 3:44 PM   Subscribe

For the last five years, the whereabouts and sudden disappearance in 2003 of former MIT graduate, Pakistani national, and alleged terrorist Aafia Siddiqui (wiki) have remained mysterious. Accused by the U.S. of terrorist ties, earlier today she appeared (having been recently wounded) in a NY courtroom to face trial for attempted murder of American officers and FBI agents while being held in Afghanistan. But the facts behind the case are conflicted. For years she was rumored to have been held in the U.S. prison at Bagram base in Afghanistan. In Pakistan, her disappearance has proved to be a lightning-rod on the issue of the hundreds of others who have been rounded up as terrorist suspects--only to disappear without any trace, let alone any due process or criminal trial. A preliminary hearing for Siddiqui is set for Aug. 19.
posted by ornate insect (25 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
Please note that I am not making a case for or against Siddiqui's guilt or innocence (I'm not sure I have enough facts to make such a case either way); the point of the FPP is rather, without editorializing, to bring attention to a high-profile case in the war-on-terror: one that raises complex questions about how this war is being fought, who is being detained, and what the legal process involved is or is not.
posted by ornate insect at 3:48 PM on August 6, 2008


So after five years of being secretly held captive and incommunicado, and tortured, she tried to escape? If the shoe were on the other foot. if she'd been Jessica Lynch, or some American held captive by Al-Qaeda, we'd be calling her a hero.

That's the problem with torture and secret prisons and kangaroo courts and saying that even if our prisoners are found innocent by our own kangaroo courts we still won't release them: it makes us manifestly not on the side of freedom or justice, and so raises the possibility, in the world's eyes, that perhaps our enemies are. That's the realpolitik problem.

The real problem, of course, is that it's wrong and immoral and evil, and lessens us as a nation and as a people.
posted by orthogonality at 4:16 PM on August 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


orthogonality writes "That's the problem with torture and secret prisons and kangaroo courts and saying that even if our prisoners are found innocent by our own kangaroo courts we still won't release them: it makes us manifestly not on the side of freedom or justice, and so raises the possibility, in the world's eyes, that perhaps our enemies are. That's the realpolitik problem. "

Uh, I hate to break it to you, but we've been the bad guys for a long time now.

*adjusts monocle*
posted by mullingitover at 4:20 PM on August 6, 2008


Oh, and great. We presumably have her younf children in prison too. Under an Administration that's said to Congress that's it's perfectly legal for the president to order a detainee's child's testicles to be crushed, if the President thinks that will aid in interrogating the detainee.
posted by orthogonality at 4:21 PM on August 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


No! No! Don't you see?

They're already following us home!
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 4:46 PM on August 6, 2008


Tell me this is "the straw". Either the "last straw", the US government "grabbing at straws", or the "straw that broke the camel's back".

In all seriousness, the phrase "straw that broke the camel's back" is Arabic. I think the first piece of intelligence Bush & co. got on Arabs was "get a shitload of camels", because with every story like this that breaks into the news media, I always find myself ignorantly saying "Man, this has gotta be the one that does it. This will break the camel."

This sort of thing should be a big frickin' straw on a big damn pile on one broken ass camel.

Then I come to my senses and realize there will never be a broken camel. These stories are "broken eggs" for the huge ass omelet some stupid Americans are making. Either that of "just desserts" for those still subscribing to the "eye for an eye" philosophy. Oh, and don't bother alluding to Curate's egg, and saying our country's integrity is spoilt, because these same people making these huge ass omelets don't read shit that doesn't have a box score. Everything's sixes and sevens, Bush and Co. is in a catbird seat, and I keep praying a dark horse comes in and proves them self as the real McCoy before this country turns into a powder keg.


P.S. Kangaroo Court.
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 5:24 PM on August 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


as a south asian woman with an american master's degree who left after i discovered i was too afraid to simply live there in peace, although i'm hindu etc, i read this article and just wondered what it must have been like to have been "tortured" as a woman. damn i need a stiff whisky right now
posted by infini at 6:01 PM on August 6, 2008 [3 favorites]


infini--I don't know where in the States you lived, and I obviously can't speak to your particular experience or the sources of your anxiety, but I can say that in much of America, particularly in large cities and on most university and college campuses, your being a South Asian woman, even one dressed in traditional Hindu or Islamic clothing, would NOT, in most cases, cause you any problems. For instance, where I live in Brooklyn, I often see many veiled Muslim women, many of them students, and they have nothing to fear. There are large and thriving Arab-muslim, South Asian Hindu, South Asian Muslim, and African Muslim populations in America, so it is a distortion to draw any conclusions about American everyday life and ethnic tolerance from the Siddiqui case at all.
posted by ornate insect at 6:11 PM on August 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Disgusting
posted by UseyurBrain at 6:37 PM on August 6, 2008


ornate insect writes "I can say that in much of America... your being a South Asian woman, even one dressed in traditional Hindu or Islamic clothing, would NOT, in most cases, cause you any problems."

It's true, because technically and legally, as far as that quaint 4th Amendment is concerned, an airport on American soil isn't much of America. Just like, you know, Guantanamo and Bagram Airbase.

Now for a rousing chorus of "God Bless America!"
posted by orthogonality at 6:45 PM on August 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Let's see. How does it go?

"I'm Shocked! Shocked to find gam..."

No, that's not it. Hmmm. Oh, yeah...

"Surely this..."

No, that's not it either...
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:48 PM on August 6, 2008


Where are her children?

When she disappeared in 2003 so did her three children.

As long as her children are in the hands of anyone other than her family, I think any person who has the slightest respect for justice and human rights must assume they are being held hostage to blackmail her into keeping silent about where she has been for the last few years and what has been done to her during that time and by whom.

This looks very much like a show trial where the defendant is being kept in line by threats to her children by captors in the pay of the prosecutors or otherwise controlled by them.

I can only conclude this prosecution is itself a criminal act of the deepest depravity.

Even under Bush, I didn't think the US Justice Department could sink this low.
posted by jamjam at 7:00 PM on August 6, 2008 [3 favorites]


This may surprise some folks on this thread, but the facts are not fully in on this case, and I'm not jumping to any conclusions. According to the US military, from what I can gather, she was detained on July 17, 2008 by Afghan police and found in possession of "explosives and chemical weapons manuals as well as descriptions of US landmarks." According to this story, "when FBI agents and US officers went to the Ghazni compound where she was held, Ms Siddiqui was alleged to have grabbed a rifle from one of the soldiers and opened fire. She was shot as the soldier returned fire with his service pistol," etc. Is this story true or false? According to her family and many in Pakistan, her disappearance in 2003 was due to her being abducted by the US military, where she was taken to Bagram and tortured. Unfortunately, neither side has provided much evidence. Is it possible she is a terrorist and fled in 2003 to avoid being taken prisoner? Yes, it is. Is it also possible she was taken prisoner in 2003, tortured and held secretly for five years, only to turn up now under a fabricated charge? Yes it is. It's also possible she is a terrorist and was tortured secretly for five years, in which case her being a terrorist is irrelevant--since she was never charged until now. Either way, she appears to be claiming innocence, although she also appears to be extremely frail from the gun shot she suffered. The point of the FPP has more to do with the highly dubious PROCESS through which she's been extradited (it's unclear to me why she's not being tried in an Afghan court), etc.
posted by ornate insect at 7:06 PM on August 6, 2008


jamjam writes "Even under Bush, I didn't think the US Justice Department could sink this low."

That's the recurring theme with Bush: every time you think the country has reached nadir, Bush and his accomplices manage to dig deeper. You thought Ashcroft was bad? Here's Gonzalez. Though Gonzalez was bad, here's Mukasey.

And all of them approved by the Democratic Senate, too, without a single real investigation or even any promises the next AG would uphold the rule of law.
posted by orthogonality at 7:24 PM on August 6, 2008


the highly dubious PROCESS through which she's been extradited

I don't suppose it's worth pointing out how many people wouldn't care, supposing that your second scenario -- that she's a terrorist whose been tortured for five years -- is the true one.

HOW to bring home the danger of an unaccountable "justice" system? I have no idea. People honestly don't seem to get it. As for it being simply wrong, despite the supposed great concern with morality from the right, compassion appears to extend about as far as the people who look and sound like you. (and I mean, not beyond your own social circle nevermind culture)
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 8:22 PM on August 6, 2008


Durn Bronzefist writes "despite the supposed great concern with morality from the right, compassion appears to extend about as far as the people who look and sound like you. "

If that far. If their Jesus came back as a Jew again, let alone as black, an Arab, or a poor person, they'd scourge and torture and crucify Him again, and congratulate themselves with smug smiles on their faces.
posted by orthogonality at 9:09 PM on August 6, 2008


jamjam: Even under Bush, I didn't think the US Justice Department could sink this low.

Go back to the abu Gharab "incident" where children were being raped. Didn't see that part? Yeah, the Bush administration has a standing order from the judiciary to release those tapes. Republicans that saw that shit were outraged at the time. Good. Fucking. Luck.

orthogonality: If that far. If their Jesus came back as a Jew again, let alone as black, an Arab, or a poor person, they'd scourge and torture and crucify Him again, and congratulate themselves with smug smiles on their faces.

Duh. Jesus is a commie-nazi-islamofascio-socialst.
posted by ryoshu at 9:24 PM on August 6, 2008


@mullingitover: As an European, I would say that generally, perception of the US still tends to be positive over here. It has certainly changed a lot; 15 years ago, people in my countery had "America" stickers on their skateboards and wore T-Shirts with the US flag and caps with the eagle. Nobody does that anymore. But there is no ubiquitous resentment against the United States.

People dislike - or even hate - the US Government, but they also realize that a lot of Americans never voted for Bush, and that his approval ratings are incredibly bad, and that many Americans feel just as helpless as we do and suffer a lot more from their government's actions than we do. The next election will most likely clean the slate considerably and improve perception of the United States (amount of improvement depending on elected candidate).

At its peak, US resentment against Europe (c.f. Freedom Fries) was a lot higher than Europe's resentment against the US ever was.
posted by L_K_M at 2:00 AM on August 7, 2008


all of them approved by the Democratic Senate, too

The vote on Mukasey was 53-40. Six Democrats (seven if you count Lieberman), Schumer, Feinstein, and Bayh among them, voted in favor of his approval. All Republicans present voted to confirm Mukasey. Clinton, Obama, and McCain all missed that vote.
posted by oaf at 3:06 AM on August 7, 2008


If that far. If their Jesus came back as a Jew again, let alone as black, an Arab, or a poor person, they'd scourge and torture and crucify Him again, and congratulate themselves with smug smiles on their faces.

Wow..so we went to a post about a specific person/instance straight to Christians/Jesus in less than 20 posts. Nice job.
posted by spicynuts at 7:11 AM on August 7, 2008


ref ornate insect

comment
posted by infini at 7:15 AM on August 7, 2008


In other news: Pakistan's ruling coalition plans to impeach Musharraf
posted by homunculus at 2:13 PM on August 7, 2008




oh bloody hell, no wonder dad's been glued to pakistani radio, wonder what the indians are gonna say...
posted by infini at 7:35 PM on August 8, 2008




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