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Zeitoun
August 10, 2009 7:14 AM   Subscribe

Abdelrahman Zeitoun is a Syrian American businessman who spent the days after Katrina paddling around New Orleans in a canoe, saving elderly people and feeding stranded pets. His efforts were brought to a halt when he was detained by the Bush administration on suspicion of being a terrorist.

Here is an earlier story about Zeitoun's exploits. Zeitoun also wrote about his experiences during Katrina and about being detained.

You can see Zeitoun talking about his ordeal here. Eggers, like with his last book, has set up a foundation in Zeitoun's name where the profits from the book will go to help Katrina's victims.
posted by reenum (30 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
Ah. Up shit creek with a paddle.
posted by MuffinMan at 7:33 AM on August 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


Detained by the Bush administration, or the idiot cops and NG soldiers on the ground in NOLA? Everything I've read points to the latter. I'm no apologist, but let's put the blame where it belongs.
posted by rocket88 at 7:58 AM on August 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


So, by the year 2009, all TV is "reality" cause all reality has become a huge telenovela?
posted by The Whelk at 8:05 AM on August 10, 2009


I hope Bush and Brown go to their graves haunted by every single needless death from Katrina. And I hope Zeitoun wins his civil suit and ends up with enough cash to buy a small country for himself if he desires. And I think the diary link is the most illuminating in this post.
posted by hippybear at 8:07 AM on August 10, 2009


Everyone who voted for Bush should have to read the diary link and also every Republican who is afraid of 'big brother' lurking behind socialized medicine.
posted by sswiller at 8:13 AM on August 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


I hope Bush and Brown go to their graves haunted by every single needless death from Katrina.

A conscience is preemptive. There's no way in hell this is even an issue for those guys.
posted by klanawa at 8:17 AM on August 10, 2009


I hope Bush and Brown go to their graves haunted by every single needless death from Katrina.
I suppose it's possible for Brown, but Bush? Yeah, good luck with that.

To quote the former President, "Heh heh heh!"
posted by Flunkie at 8:18 AM on August 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


Detained by the Bush administration, or the idiot cops and NG soldiers on the ground in NOLA?

What ended up happening:

He was first imprisoned in Camp Greyhound, the makeshift facility at the bus terminal, then moved to the Elayn Hunt CorrectionalFacility in St. Gabriel. Even as his family searched for him from their exile -- first in Baton Rouge, then Arizona -- and his extended family did what they could from Syria and Spain, he was denied contact with them, as well as other civil rights.

A Muslim, he could not eat the pork that was such a large part of the jailhouse diet; when he fell ill, he was denied medical care. Guards called him "al Qaeda" or "Taliban." When Homeland Security later decided that the department was not interested in him, he was charged with looting.


Sounds like textbook Bush administration policy, verbatim. In the end, perhaps it doesn't matter too much who carried out that criminal's dirty work.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:26 AM on August 10, 2009 [9 favorites]


The more I read about the horrible exploits of our last president, the more I'm glad we elected our current one, even if he's fucking some stuff up right now.
posted by kldickson at 8:58 AM on August 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


Wow. This is a really depressing story. Things don't have to happen like this people!
posted by fuq at 8:59 AM on August 10, 2009


What gets me is how Mickey Mouse the whole thing is, like kids playing at being police. Yeah, that's right, the terrorists are sure to be paddling canoes around the devastated city, all part of their cunning plan to loot water damaged carpeting and furniture!

It's like the gloves were off, and with the excuse of anarchy the Man could become the huge fucking asshole he always wished he could be.
posted by Meatbomb at 9:25 AM on August 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


Maybe the US will learn to keep religion out of politics and not elect a president in the future who was batshit insane like the last one.
posted by adamvasco at 9:26 AM on August 10, 2009


It is not just that this happened which bothers me.

It is that there are millions upon millions of American voters who honestly have no problem with the idea of this happening that bothers me. The idea that there are so many people who would look at this situation and say "They were trying to protect us from terrorists so it is fine if someone suffers a bit." Worse yet, people who would say that this guy is just a terrorist waiting to happen, simply because he is from Syria, or even just because he is Muslim.

This bothers me, and I do not have the words to adequately express myself. Bless you, Mr. Zeitoun for looking out for your neighbors. It is truly a shame that we let such injustice happen. It is even more so a shame that so many advocate this injustice.
posted by Saydur at 9:29 AM on August 10, 2009 [26 favorites]


In the end, perhaps it doesn't matter too much who carried out that criminal's dirty work.

It matters very much. Bush and his cronies are long gone, but the people who actually perpetrated this injustice - the ones who made the decisions to arrest him and keep him in custody entirely because of his ethnic background - they're still around. They still hold positions of power in the police and military. And they haven't changed their ways just because Barry's in the White House.
Looking at this story and saying "Phew...good thing that Bush guy is gone" would be a huge mistake.
posted by rocket88 at 9:38 AM on August 10, 2009 [11 favorites]


Although the leader is always ultimately responsible, everyone down the line is responsible, too. He was not imprisoned by an administration, he was imprisoned by people. They have to be held responsible too. In many ways, the whole country needs to be held responsible for their national madness.
posted by Bovine Love at 9:47 AM on August 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


It is that there are millions upon millions of American voters who honestly have no problem with the idea of this happening that bothers me.

I can't favorite what Saydur said enough. In fact, I know people who might well go one better and deny it's happening (liberal media, omg!) or that he had something to hide/was doing something wrong or else he would not have been arrested. This sort of thing should be outrageous to the populace at large and it just isn't.
posted by pointystick at 9:50 AM on August 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Heckuva Job Brownie!
posted by Sailormom at 9:57 AM on August 10, 2009


Thanks for the post reenum; I've been getting complacent. I live about a mile from the Capitol, and work across the street, but after 9/11, when we were being told to get survival gear together, I didn't worry. I figured there'd be enough infrastructure and government support and help if something happened. After Katrina, though, seeing those folks stranded on overpasses begging for water, or warehoused in the Superdome, I decided I had to prepare myself. My wife and I got serious--MREs, sophisticated first aid supplies, lots of water and toiletries and evacuation kits and all that. Recently, I've been feeling a little foolish, like maybe we over-reacted. Now I'm thinking this weekend would be a good time to make sure nothing's past its expiration date.
posted by MrMoonPie at 9:58 AM on August 10, 2009


You didn't overreact, MrMoonPie.
posted by Malor at 10:24 AM on August 10, 2009


May this man be blessed many times over for looking after his neighbors, human and animal! It takes someone with gigantic honking brass cojones to do all this man did before he got arrested. It's very heartening to see such good still exists in this society, which seems to have turned pretty damn Machiavellian in the past decade.

I nearly cried when I read about the dogs he fed ending up dead. I think I'm going to go hug my three pooches now.....
posted by arishaun at 11:06 AM on August 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


MrMoonPie: You did not overreact. It's a good idea to be prepared, and good to make sure nothing is spoiled. In fact, I should go look at our store of staples and check on them.

One thing EVERY good emergency kit should have: not merely water, but a water filter system of some sort. Even if it's just Brita with a bunch of spare filters. (Finding a more active system is better. I can't wait to find one of the filters featured in this video for sale. I'll take two plus 10 filters, please.)
posted by hippybear at 11:29 AM on August 10, 2009


You get a lot from this: "You know, the sad thing about all of this is, those dogs, that I saved from starvation, died." That is the sad thing, for him.

He was detained without medical treatment or rights, was run raw through the shabby legal system, mistreated by cops and soldiers, his home and properties were utterly destroyed, and he, his wife and neighbors were treated with utter indignity; but you get the sense that all of that was temporary for him, fixable. It was the lives he couldn't save, those dogs, that have the lasting effect on him.

Can you imagine the barbecue they had that night on his roof? What a wonderful image.

There is so much good in the world, happening around us every day. There are so many good people in the world, everywhere. It breaks my heart - shames me - to see them punished for doing good.
posted by jabberjaw at 11:36 AM on August 10, 2009 [7 favorites]


That is the sad thing, for him.

That's what I took away as well. After all the other indignities, this was the thing that hurt.

Still, I think this is an interesting comment on the human condition:

Saturday . September 3, 2005 . Day 7

I made my usual rounds of feeding the dogs,


It never fails to amaze me how quickly people can, even under amazingly weird circumstances, develop a routine and make the bizarre just part of what they do.
posted by quin at 11:53 AM on August 10, 2009


I hope Bush and Brown go to their graves haunted by every single needless death from Katrina.

Unlikely.
posted by Evilspork at 12:58 PM on August 10, 2009


hippybear: You can his filtration bottles in the US and the UK.
posted by RichardP at 1:23 AM on August 11, 2009


Argh, my kingdom for a three minute edit! You can buy his filtration bottles...
posted by RichardP at 1:25 AM on August 11, 2009


Although the leader is always ultimately responsible, everyone down the line is responsible, too. He was not imprisoned by an administration, he was imprisoned by people. They have to be held responsible too.

1) Are any of you surprised by this type of thing anymore?
2) Do any of you actually think any of these people are going to be held accountable?

Now, if anyone ever is held responsible I will be surprised.
posted by delmoi at 5:56 AM on August 11, 2009


I think, delmoi, the first step is to quite blaming it on Bush or the Bush Administration. I hesitate to call them scapegoats, because they are guilty; however, it is a cop-out to blame them all the time. People not only carried out their orders, they were fully engaged and took initiative in the spirit of things.

In prosecution, you start at the bottom, because the blame starts there; ultimately, someone carried out the crime. People could have bucked the system, but they did not, neither from within nor without (in any serious numbers, anyway).
posted by Bovine Love at 6:35 AM on August 11, 2009


quit, not quite, dammit
posted by Bovine Love at 6:36 AM on August 11, 2009


RichardP: Oh! Thanks! I had only recently seen the TED video, and expected that it wasn't about a product already on store shelves. I will have to get my 2 and 10, then!
posted by hippybear at 8:13 AM on August 11, 2009


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