“It was just a short poem,” Badr recalled. “Something about how in life everything is possible and we should be patient because freedom is close at hand.” But it was enough to swell his heart with hope. “I was suddenly so happy,” he said.
Dost had smuggled the note to [his brother] Badr through an ingenious ruse. Every few days, representatives from the International Committee of the Red Cross arrived with forms so prisoners could write brief letters home. They were given only 10 minutes, but that was enough to dash off other notes on hidden scraps of paper cups. Prisoners then passed the messages between wire pens on pulleys made of threads from their prayer caps….
Eventually, he said, the interrogators seemed convinced that he had not meant any serious harm. [he wrote a satirical piece in which he offered to match Clinton’s $5 million reward for bin Laden with his own 5 million afghani (US $115) price on Clinton’s head.] In February 2004, Dost said, he was transferred to another section of Guantanamo where he had access to as much paper as he wanted.
He continued to produce hundreds of poems, translated the Koran into Pashto and wrote a text on Islamic jurisprudence.
In the meantime, Dost said, he was taken before a review tribunal, a brief procedure that he described as a “show trial,” even though it ultimately resulted in his release. To date, U.S. military officials said, 232 Guantanamo detainees have been released and more than 500 remain in custody.
Often, Dost said, the guards conducted raids when officials suspected a detainee had issued a fatwa—an Islamic decree against them. Each time, all inmates’ writings were confiscated. Dost said he was assured that his work would be returned to him on his release.
But when that day finally came last week, Dost said, he received only a duffel bag with a blanket, a change of clothes and a few hundred papers—a fraction of his writings.
This parting blow, he said, struck him harder than all the humiliations of confinement. On Friday, as well-wishers swarmed into his home, he said his only thought was how to recover his work.
“If they give me back my writings, truly I will feel as though I was never imprisoned,” he said. “And if they don’t . . . “
Look, my country is better than this. Or this. Just. Stop.
I know I’ve related this before on my own blog, but my grandfather was an OSS spy in WWII. In one of the letters he sent home to my grandmother he describes how he met up with US ground troops who had just taken a French village controlled by a particularly awful German captain. He relates how his first impluse was to beat the shit out of the guy, knowing what he did about what the man had done. But he just gave him a cigarette instead. I don’t remember exactly what he said in the letter, but it was basically that the German was surprised at his mild reception, and my grandfather told him that was what happened when you were taken prisoner by Americans, and that we were better than them, better by a long shot. Anyone who thinks Osama bin Laden is more of a threat to the US than the Axis is welcome to come to East Hampton to get hit on the head with a lead pipe by my grandpa. He’s still pretty spry. Also, just stop.