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January 02, 2008

New TomDispatch: How Bush Took Us to the Dark Side

Tom Engelhardt recaps the deluge of recent stories on government abuse, torture, kidnapping, and offshore imprisonment practices. I honestly was unaware of much of this:

Journey to the Dark Side
The Bush Legacy (Take One)

By Tom Engelhardt

...Take, for instance, 20-year veteran of the National Guard Zakariya Muhammad Reed (born Edward Eugene Reed, Jr.), who, for the last 11 years, has worked as a firefighter in Toledo, Ohio. Regularly crossing the Canadian border to visit his wife's family, he has been stopped so many times -- "I was put up against the wall and thoroughly frisked, any more thoroughly and I would have asked for flowers…" -- that he is a connoisseur of detention. He's been stopped five times in the last seven months and now chooses his crossing place based on the size of the detention waiting room he knows he'll end up in. It took several such incidents, during which no explanations were offered, before he discovered that he was being stopped in part because of his name and in part because of a letter he wrote to the Toledo Blade criticizing Bush administration policies on Israel and Iraq.

The first time, he was detained in a small room with two armed guards, while his wife and children were left in a larger common room. While he was grilled, she was denied permission to return to their car even to get a change of diapers for their youngest child. When finally released, Reed found his car had been "trashed." ("My son's portable DVD player was broken, and I have a decorative Koran on the dashboard that was thrown on the floor.") During another episode of detention, an interrogator evidently attempted to intimidate him by putting his revolver on the table at which they were seated. ("He takes the clip out of his weapon, looks at the ammunition, puts the clip back in, and puts it back in his holster.") His first four border-crossing detentions were well covered by Matthew Rothschild in a post at the Progressive Magazine's website. During his latest one, he was questioned about Rothschild's coverage of his case.

The essence of his experience is perhaps caught best in a comment by Customs and Border Protection agent made in his presence: "We should treat them like we do in the desert. We should put a bag over their heads and zip tie their hands together"...

So far, of course, we've only been talking about the lucky ones. After all, Erla Ósk, Zakariya Muhammad Reed, and Nabil Al Yousuf all made it home relatively quickly. In the final weeks of 2007, a little flood of press reports tracked more extreme versions of the global lockdown the Bush administration launched in late 2001, cases in which, after the snarl, the door clanged shut and home became the barest of hopes...

The rest.

—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at January 2, 2008 12:58 PM
(After all, even Sen. Ted Kennedy found himself repeatedly on a no-fly list without adequate explanation.)

It's plainly clear they had him confused with some other Ted; it couldn't have been the Kennedy part...

Posted by: Ted at January 2, 2008 03:12 PM

I cannot describe how pissed off this makes me!
This is not America!
When does the Revolution begin?

By the way, this is by far the most informative blog I have ever read, including (most) of the comments.
Thank you so much for doing what you do!

Posted by: Mark C at January 3, 2008 10:08 PM