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Editor’s Message – June 2005

By Alex Gordon

I have been sick for days– not due to some flu besieging the city, but from a growing disbelief in the inherent goodness of mankind, spurred by accounts of detainee abuse that continue to surface from Afghanistan.

I would be lying if I didn’t say I would prefer the former, for this sickness is one of the heart and one I feel will endure for some time.

The New York Times has recently acquired a copy of a 2,000-page confidential army file detailing investigations of the mistreatment of detainees at a U.S. military base in Bagram, Afghanistan– in particular, the deaths of two male detainees in December of 2002.

Both men died as a result of repeated blows to their legs inflicted by overly zealous interrogators and guards; blows that one military coroner likened to the effects of being run over by a bus.

The more disturbing of the accounts is that of the death of a 22-year-old taxi driver, known only as Dilawar, who was believed to be innocent, having driven his taxi cab by the American base at the wrong time.

The investigations found that Mr. Dilawar had suffered over 100 blows to his legs over a 24-hour period– all because the guards found it humorous that he should shout “Allah, Allah, Allah” when they inflicted such pain upon him.

In a subsequent autopsy, coroners reported that the tissue in Mr. Dilawar’s legs “had basically been pulpified,” according to The Times article “In U.S. Report, Brutal Details of 2 Afghan Inmates’ Deaths,” by Tim Golden, outlining the investigation’s findings.

By the time I finished the eight-page article, published on May 20, I could barely contain my tears. More and more I wonder what the Hell we are doing over there, and more importantly, what the Hell the White House is doing about these atrocities.

Of 27 soldiers implicated in these and similar crimes, only seven have been brought to justice thus far. The article clearly illustrates that the instances of abuse we saw at Abu Ghraib prison were merely a symptom of a growing disease within the U.S. military.

I ask all of our readers to read the article, which can be found on The Times website, and ask yourselves how such reports make you feel about our goals abroad– about soldiers that masquerade as Americans, while defiling the very justice and humanity we believe the term “American” to stand for.

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