The case of one of them, Khaled el-Masri, a German citizen who was held as part of the United States' antiterrorism rendition program, was revealed last year, and German and American officials have acknowledged that he was erroneously detained by the United States. But the tale of the other, an Algerian named Laid Saidi, has never been told before, and it carries a new set of allegations against America's secret detention program.
In May 2003, Mr. Saidi was expelled from Tanzania, where he ran a branch of Al Haramain Islamic Foundation, an international charity based in Saudi Arabia that promoted the fundamentalist Wahhabi strain of Islam and has since been shut down after being accused of financing terrorist groups. Tanzanian newspapers reported on Mr. Saidi's expulsion at the time, but nothing was known about where he went.
In a recent interview, Mr. Saidi, 43, said that after he was expelled he was handed over to American agents and flown to Afghanistan, where he was held for 16 months before being delivered to Algeria and freed without ever being charged or told why he had been imprisoned. He acknowledged that he was carrying a fake passport when he was detained, but he said he had no connection to terrorism.
[. . .]
"It was a long trip, from Saturday night to Sunday morning, " Mr. Saidi recalled. When the plane landed, he said, he was taken to what he described as a "dark prison" filled with deafening Western music. The lights were rarely turned on.
Men in black arrived, he said, and he remembers one shouting at him through an interpreter: "You are in a place that is out of the world. No one knows where you are, no one is going to defend you."
He was chained by one hand to the wall in a windowless cell and left with a bucket and a bottle in lieu of a latrine. He remained there for nearly a week, he said, and then was blindfolded and bound again and taken to another prison. "There, they put me in a room, suspended me by my arms and attached my feet to the floor," he recalled. "They cut off my clothes very fast and took off my blindfold." An older man, graying at the temples, entered the room with a young woman with shoulder-length blond hair, he said. They spoke English, which Mr. Saidi understands a little, and they interrogated him for two hours through a Moroccan translator. At last, he said, he thought he would learn why he was there, but the questioning only confounded him.
He said the interrogators focused on a telephone conversation they said he had had with his wife's family in Kenya about airplanes. But Mr. Saidi said he told them that he could not recall talking to anyone about planes.
He said the interrogators left him chained for five days without clothes or food. "They beat me and threw cold water on me, spat at me and sometimes gave me dirty water to drink," he said. "The American man told me I would die there."
He said his legs and feet became painfully swollen because he was forced to stand for so long with his wrists chained to the ceiling. After they removed him from the chains, he said, he was moved back to the "dark" prison and a doctor gave him an injection for his legs.
After one night there, he was moved to a third prison. He said the guards in this prison were Afghans, and one told him that he was outside Kabul.
There were two rows of six cells in the basement, which he described as "filthy, not even suitable for animals." Each cell had a small opening in the zinc-clad door through which the prisoners could glimpse one another as they were taken in and out of their cells. At night, they would talk.
"This is where I met Khaled el-Masri," Mr. Saidi said. A layout of the prison he sketched closely matched one drawn by Mr. Masri.
Mr. Masri had been seized in Macedonia in December 2003, and it was later revealed that he had apparently been mistaken for a terrorism suspect with a similar name. He said he was able only to glimpse Mr. Saidi a few times in Afghanistan. But he said their cells were close enough for them to talk at night.
The above is Craig Smith and SOUAD MEKHENNET 's "Algerian Tells of Dark Odyssey in U.S. Hands" in this morning's New York Times, the one to read.
Two headlines and one event. Headlines:
CHARGES AGAINST WATADA
The US Army filed formal charges yesterday against Lt. Ehren Watada for refusing deployment to Iraq. Charges include missing troop movements to Iraq, engaging in conduct unbecoming of an officer, and of speaking contemptuous words against the president. Watada says the war in Iraq is illegal under domestic and international law and that soldiers have a duty to question unlawful orders. The army officer could face up to 7 years in prison if convicted.
RECRUITING CENTER PICKETED
Elsewhere in the country, opponents of the war in Iraq continue to make their case outside of military recruitment centers. Some protesters have been arrested outside of the centers, while others have faced threats of physical violence. Melinda Tuhus reports from New Haven.More than 60 people turned out late Wednesday afternoon next to the armed forces recruiting station in New Haven, Connecticut to protest the treatment last week of a smaller group of anti-war activists on the same site. Last week, a Marine recruiter threatened more than a dozen people with a baseball bat as they picketed on the sidewalk near the station. When police arrived, they said nothing to the Marine but ordered the protesters to move across the street. At the rally yesterday, attorney Peter Goselin, a member of the National Lawyers Guild, talked about the fight at home. [Goselin]"The front line in the defense of First Amendment freedom in this country is not in Baghdad, and it's not in Kabul. It's right here on this sidewalk and on sidewalks just like it all over the United States." The guild is considering what legal action, if any, to take in defense of those rights. The protesters had originally gathered in support of Lt. Ehren Watada, the first U.S. officer to refuse deployment to Iraq, based on his contention that the war is illegal.
Charlie notes those two items from Free Speech Radio News (Thursday broadcast) and also wants to pass on that if you support FSRN with a ten dollar donation, you get Noam Chomsky's
Going To Far CD for free.
And Saturday, Amy Goodman has an event:
* Amy Goodman in Eugene, OR:
Sat, July 8
*TIME: 5 PM
Oregon Country Fair
Amy Goodman of Democracy Now!, transition, be sure to listen, watch or read Democracy Now! today. Rachel says Michelle Goldberg is among the guests and Ehren Watada among the topics.
the new york times
craig s. smith
free speech radio news