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Extrajudicial exile
January 7, 2011 6:05 AM   Subscribe

Gulet Mohamed is an 18-year-old American citizen who has, since December 20, been detained and tortured in Kuwait. The U.S. Embassy has subsequently informed him that he is now on a no-fly list, effectively barring him from returning to the United States. Glenn Greenwald has posted a recording of a 50-minute telephone interview with Mr. Mohamed.

The State Department has declined to answer questions about whether American officials helped engineer Mr. Mohamed’s arrest.
posted by indubitable (37 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
It seems fairly shitty, and I'm not excusing that, but is "not able to fly to the US" the same as barring him from returning?

I.e. if he could fly to Canada and cross the border, would he still be turned away?

I.e. can the US just uncitizen a citizen?
posted by MuffinMan at 6:10 AM on January 7, 2011


Someone should pay for him to get on a transatlantic cruise ship.
posted by knapah at 6:13 AM on January 7, 2011


If someone's done something wrong, arrest them, arraign them, and put them on trial. In the United States. In the public eye. We have a Constitution that guarantees these rights. Anything less is stooping down to the levels of savagery that we claim to be fighting against.

Greatest Nation on Earth, my ass.
posted by explosion at 6:19 AM on January 7, 2011 [23 favorites]


I.e. can the US just uncitizen a citizen?

Can the US just assassinate a citizen? Can the US just lock a citizen up indefinitely without trial? Can the US just suspend the Bill of Rights whenever it gets scared of terrorists?

I dunno what it would take to surprise me anymore. Maybe having troops quartered in my house would do it.
posted by pjaust at 6:20 AM on January 7, 2011 [35 favorites]


If someone's done something wrong, arrest them, arraign them, and put them on trial. In the United States. In the public eye. We have a Constitution that guarantees these rights. Anything less is stooping down to the levels of savagery that we claim to be fighting against.

Sure, agreed. But isn't the Constitution and the fair trail on American soil is the reason for his no-fly status?
posted by mooselini at 6:34 AM on January 7, 2011


Can the US provide a safe, free and abundant life for 99.999999999999% of the citizenry? Just askin'...
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 6:35 AM on January 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


been detained and tortured in Kuwait.

It's Kuwait. It's a foreign country.

I mean, it's not like the U.S. government has any influence over Kuwait.
posted by three blind mice at 6:45 AM on January 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Can the US provide a safe, free and abundant life for 99.999999999999% of the citizenry?

Somewhere, 0.000348165941 of some American is not happy.
posted by swift at 6:54 AM on January 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


“I am a good Muslim, I despise terrorism,” he said in the interview.

Don't worry, we'll have that beat right out of you. You'll be ready to strap bombs to yourself and kill Americans in no time, Gulet.

Another War On Terror success story!

I think Marcy's office staff are getting tired of me bugging them all the time.
posted by charred husk at 6:55 AM on January 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


I.e. can the US just uncitizen a citizen?

Stripping someone of their citizenship outright has been held to be cruel and unusual punishment (Trop v. Dulles, 356 US 86 (1958) ("use of denationalization as a punishment is barred by the Eighth Amendment")), but this seems like a handy end-run around that.
posted by jedicus at 6:59 AM on January 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Can the US provide a safe, free and abundant life for 99.999999999999% of the citizenry? Just askin'...

The concept of individual rights shouldn't be measured using utilitarian logic. The United States is based on a document (the Constitution). That document codifies individual equality, and individual liberties, specifically habeus corpus and the right to a speedy trial. This dude is being denied both. That denial being glossed over or accepted sets a precedent. Suddenly the question you're "askin'" is about 98%, then 97%...
posted by ten year lurk at 7:03 AM on January 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


The U.S. Embassy has subsequently informed him that he is now on a no-fly list, effectively barring him from returning to the United States.

Why do you say this effectively bars him from returning to the US? The Wikipedia entry on the No-Fly List says all it does is prevent someone from flying on a commercial aircraft into (or out of) the US. That's not the only way to enter the US. Wikipedia also notes that the list is "easily defeated."
posted by John Cohen at 7:06 AM on January 7, 2011


This reminds me of the Canadian Abousfian Abdelrazik. He ended up living in the Canadian embassy until a Federal judge ordered the Canadian Government to allow him to return home.
posted by papercrane at 7:07 AM on January 7, 2011


This is what it feels like to -not so slowly- turn into the bad guys. Everyone hates us and is scared of us, including our own citizens. And have a right to be. And should be. And we haven't even turned mean and desperate yet; this is just our POLICY. We loudly trumpet rules that we insist everyone should follow and then trample on them if we have the slightest inclination. We have conceded the war of terror and assholes by turning ourselves into terrorist assholes.

We are a mockery of the nation we once were, and the nation our ancestors meant to give us. Greed and fear, but mostly greed, have taken America away and given us whatever this shell we have right now is. It's hard not to despair in the face of the selfish and fearful, whose increasing clamor makes up the bulk of our public discussion anymore. Torture, death, humiliation? Fine, as long as your not one of us. And if you're not the right kind of us, we'll turn you into one of them.
posted by umberto at 7:08 AM on January 7, 2011 [22 favorites]


I mean, it's not like the U.S. government has any influence over Kuwait.

Exactly. There's nothing that the US could offer them, and there's no diplomatic pressure we could apply, and there aren't any international standards of conduct to appeal to, and there isn't any such thing as the United Nations to ever pass a resolution condemning this action action. Nope, we don't have any influence, so let's just go ahead and let the boy know that even when he gets out of this situation, he won't be able to fly home. We're completely powerless to intervene on behalf of one of our citizens.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 7:10 AM on January 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is the same country where a former president defended foreign troops that fired on an unarmed group of protesters.

How far we've come.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:14 AM on January 7, 2011


Can the US provide a safe, free and abundant life for 99.999999999999% of the citizenry?

It hasn't yet.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:38 AM on January 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


I.e. if he could fly to Canada and cross the border, would he still be turned away?

Cartoonist who couldn’t board flight settles with Air Canada: editorial cartoonist was unable to board a flight from Vancouver to Victoria in May, 2004 ... Mahmood is most likely on a U.S. no-fly list which Air Canada consulted prior to his flight — although it is unclear why the airline used an American list for a domestic flight. Or why Mahmood’s name is on it.

Don't underestimate the reach of American policy.
posted by exhilaration at 7:39 AM on January 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


Regarding Mexico:

A British Airways plane flying from London to Mexico was forced to do a U-turn over the Atlantic after concerns about a passenger on board, the airline said on Monday.

"BA Flight 243 returned to Heathrow on Friday afternoon due to a data discrepancy with a US citizen. The passenger was asked to leave, which he duly did, and collected his bags," said a BA spokesman.

posted by exhilaration at 7:43 AM on January 7, 2011


This is what it feels like to -not so slowly- turn into the bad guys... We have conceded the war of terror and assholes by turning ourselves into terrorist assholes.

This is all so true and it's not even hyperbole or rhetoric or anything. Between this kind of stuff and the wars, it seems to me like the terrorists have basically won... I mean, what more could Osama Bin Laden have hoped for as fallout from 9/11?

But what do we do to try to counteract it? It seems so inevitable. This thing with Gulet Mohamed is happening because the state, even as a state presided over by progressives, is more worried about letting the next underwear bomber succeed than they're worried about the consequences of trampling on the rights of citizens, even in the most horrible ways, if it can be arranged like this with no proof of wrongdoing. And it's in the government's self-interest to act this way, because the electorate really would punish them more for letting an underwear bomber through than it will for doing things like this.

Northern Ireland and Israel have dealt with constant and concerted terrorism, but have they been able to without becoming the bad guys? You watch stuff like The Battle of Algiers and it doesn't seem possible.
posted by XMLicious at 7:43 AM on January 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Exactly. There's nothing that the US could offer them, and there's no diplomatic pressure we could apply, and there aren't any international standards of conduct to appeal to, and there isn't any such thing as the United Nations to ever pass a resolution condemning this action action.

Yep. It's not as if Kuwait isn't an ally whom we "liberated" from Saddam's tyranny almost 20 years ago to the month .....
posted by blucevalo at 8:03 AM on January 7, 2011


My Canada has a shitty record on this stuff too.

The fact that this won't be more than a page 3 story, and won't lead anywhere on the news tonight, or spark a big protest in Washington, shows just how much we've come to accept this stuff as inevitable. The terrorists have indeed won. And I'm not talking about the foreign jihadist ones.

Lessee... I can engage here, and get my outrage on properly... or go have some Friday Flash fun.

Um, forgive me. bye.
posted by Artful Codger at 8:14 AM on January 7, 2011


Maybe having troops quartered in my house would do it.

That's for your own safety and part of Obama's 6-dimensional chess game to reduce the federal deficit. What are you, some kind of socialist?!

We're completely powerless to intervene on behalf of one of our citizens.

I don't see how he could be an American citizen with a last name like "Mohamed." I'm pretty sure if you read the constitution it says that only white Christian males get full citizenship rights. And even if this person was somehow able to become an American citizen even though he's from a different culture, the United States shouldn't be getting involved in other countries politics unless it somehow will monetarily benefit us. Where is the money in this guy's case? Nowhere. So why should America care?
posted by fuq at 8:22 AM on January 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


The headline: Detained American Says He Was Beaten in Kuwait

Note use "Says"
posted by ambient2 at 8:41 AM on January 7, 2011


use of
posted by ambient2 at 8:41 AM on January 7, 2011


I don't see how he could be an American citizen with a last name like "Mohamed." I'm pretty sure if you read the constitution it says that only white Christian males get full citizenship rights.

That's white Christian male landowners, thank you very much...

Let's narrow that definition down but still keep ME in it, please...
posted by Billiken at 9:19 AM on January 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


We have cleverly won the War on Terror by becoming the terrorists and then losing it.
posted by rusty at 10:02 AM on January 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


@ambient2

So what, is this your sly way of saying he's probably lying? We can all pretty much guess that the Kuwaiti authorities aren't going to voluntarily admit to beating prisoners in custody.

For me, the most telling line in the article was this:
F.B.I. agents visited a week later to tell him that he could not return to the United States until he gave truthful answers about his travels.
It sounds pretty consistent with rendition procedures that have been thoroughly documented to me.
posted by organic at 10:08 AM on January 7, 2011


Goddamn clowns.

You know what? It's entirely reasonable for a young man who travels to Yemen and Somalia to be subject to some form of heightened security scrutiny. The threats from groups in those areas are very real, and that's an itinerary that should raise red flags.

So what do they do? Instead of, you know, conducting a reasonable investigation of an American citizen who, though there is some legitimate suspicion about his activities, hasn't been convicted or let alone charged with any crime, they let (and I'm being generous by saying "let" instead of "condone" or "instruct") him get fucking tortured by a foreign government.

It makes no sense whatsoever. If he was a terrorist, they blew any chance of surveiling him in the hopes that he leads the authorities to some more serious bad guys. And in the quite likely event that there is an entirely innocent explanation, they let an American citizen get tortured.

Putting aside the utter wrongess of that, from a pragmatic perspective it undermines any credibility (Ha!) that they have for the whole counter-terrorist endeavor, and hands more propaganda victories to the terrorists, creating more threats in the process.

I don't know when, if ever, the powers that be will learn that a legitimate end does not justify illegitimate means. And in fact, illegitimate means undermine achieving the end of counter-terrorism. The American Muslim community should be seen as THE key ally in stopping jihadi psychos. Instead we're bungling and doing everything in our power to alienate the very people who might actually be able to help, by treating them like suspicious second-class citizens.

TL;DR -- Our spooks suck.
posted by ScotchRox at 10:29 AM on January 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


I love that Metafilter is so full of nerds that a sizable minority are drawn to the question "Couldn't he fly to Canada and drive south? What about a cruise ship?" I mean, that was my first reaction too because it's an interesting problem to solve (and I'm sure it's not as easy as it seems to those of us who get barked at and cavity-searched but ultimately left alone by border agents), but it's really a distraction from the main issue: a citizen allegedly getting not just dumped but rigorously screwed and then dumped by the government whose representatives are currently busily reading a document that promises that they won't do that.
posted by No-sword at 12:34 PM on January 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Just in case that wasn't clear, I'm not saying "Shame on you nerds," but rather, "Sometimes we nerds need to check our perspective."
posted by No-sword at 12:35 PM on January 7, 2011


"Sometimes we nerds need to check our perspective."

We do. We check our perspective at the door, like everybody else.
posted by DreamerFi at 1:14 PM on January 7, 2011


the United States shouldn't be getting involved in other countries politics unless it somehow will monetarily benefit us. Where is the money in this guy's case? Nowhere. So why should America care?

Hang on, he's in Kuwait, right? Can we be absolutely certain he doesn't have any oil?
posted by Hoopo at 1:54 PM on January 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I love that Metafilter is so full of nerds that a sizable minority are drawn to the question "Couldn't he fly to Canada and drive south? What about a cruise ship?" I mean, that was my first reaction too because it's an interesting problem to solve

In case it wasn't clear, I was not 'problem-solving' when I mentioned the cruise ship. The solution is clearly not to get him back to the US without flying, it's by getting him off the no-fly list and ending the counterproductive 'counter-terrorism' tactics currently employed by the United States.

Until that happens though, I'll take the piss.
posted by knapah at 6:30 PM on January 7, 2011


So what do they do? Instead of, you know, conducting a reasonable investigation of an American citizen who, though there is some legitimate suspicion about his activities, hasn't been convicted or let alone charged with any crime, they let (and I'm being generous by saying "let" instead of "condone" or "instruct") him get fucking tortured by a foreign government.

That really is the most stunning thing here. Even assuming that al-Awlaki is a terrorist and must be stopped, and that Mohamed is in contact with al-Awlaki (both highly questionable assumptions in my mind), this is the worst possible course of action because it has not only radicalized Mohamed's family and friends, but it has also blown any chance of getting decent intel from him. Complete fucking idiocy from our intelligence agencies, as per usual.

It's also exposed, yet again, how Yemen and Kuwait (among others) effectively function as limbs of the American military-industrial complex. Apparently instead of Wikileaks driving the USA to clean up its act, it just feels free to act brazenly. Imagine growing up in one of those countries and still trying to pretend your government has your best interests at heart.
posted by mek at 6:43 PM on January 7, 2011


No-sword wrote: I love that Metafilter is so full of nerds that a sizable minority are drawn to the question "Couldn't he fly to Canada and drive south? What about a cruise ship?"

I recently read a story in which a girl told her attacker that she would drown him in his own blood. Which immediately made me wonder if it were possible, and if the given solution (hang him upside down with his head in a bucket and cut his throat) was legitimate. This is why I should not be given political power.
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:01 AM on January 8, 2011


Maybe she was going to force him to inhale chlorine gas.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:36 AM on January 8, 2011


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