Habeas Schmabeas (Badr)
Habeas Schmabeas was the 10 March 2006 installment of the popular NPR series This American Life. This broadcast contained some testimony of prisoner abuse at Guantánamo. The sources of this testimony were a number of Guantánamo prisoners, including Badruzzan Badr (Badr Zaman Badr), Abdullah al Noaimi, Murat Karnaz (Murat Kurnaz), and Juma Mohammed Abdul Latif Al Dosari (Jumah Al Dossari). This testimony was given either directly by the prisoners, or else, indirectly, through their lawyers (Joe Margulies, Baher Azmy, and Jonathan Colangelo-Bryan).
In addition to these individuals, the excerpts below mention This American Life host Ira Glass, reporter Jack Hitt, andUS Navy Rear Admiral John Hutson (Judge Advocate till 2000).
Habeas Schmabeas was produced by Chicago Public Radio (WBEZ Chicago), and was distributed by Public Radio International.
Herewith the testimony of Badruzzan Badr.
(HS11) HITT: Finally, Badr and Abdullah [al Noaimi] were each taken out of the camps at Kandahar and put on a plane to Guantanamo. Remember, this is an international flight, from Afghanistan to Cuba, over 20 hours long. AL NOAIMI: We were handcuffed, and the handcuffs were tied to our stomachs. And there is a chain connected to our legs. All the detainees next to you were like, stuck to you. BADR: They used to put goggles on our head, and we had masks that we can hardly breathe. We could not hear, we could not see, we can even not touch. So they had to stop all our senses completely. AL NOAIMI: To have hearing, seeing, tasting, smelling, those things only a human can have (Chicago Public Radio 2006).
See also HS12.
(HS3) HITT: As best as we can tell, Badr Zaman Badr and his brother were imprisoned in Guantanamo for three years for telling a joke. Actually, for telling two jokes. They ran a satire magazine in Pakistan that poked fun at corrupt clerics. Sort of the Pashtu edition of “The Onion.” The first joke that got them into trouble was when they published a poem about a politician called “I Am Glad to be a Leader.” Here’s Badr: BADR: Let me translate a few lines for you […] "Before, I was so thin and weak. Now, I have big stomach.” Uh, stuff like that. (Laughs) HITT: So, the guy with the big stomach called up Badr and his brother. He threatened them, and, as best as they can tell, told authorities that they were linked to Al Qaeda, which landed them in Guantanamo, and which leads us to the second joke. This one was in an issue of Badr’s magazine that came out in the ‘90’s, after our government set a $5 million reward for Osama bin Laden. Badr’s magazine issued its own bounty for the capture of an American leader. BADR: President Bill Clinton, giving the details of how to identify that he has blue eyes, and he’s clean shaven, and the most important thing is the recent scandal going on between Clinton and Monica Lewinsky. (Laughs) Yeah. If someone finds that man, he will be rewarded 5 million Afghani, that’s Afghanistan currency, which was equal to $113 at that time. That’s impossible (unintelligible, laughing.) HITT: In Guantanamo, were you interrogated about your Clinton satire? BADR: Exactly. They were serious, if we really wanted to kill President Clinton, and we said “No” that it was only satire, and only a way of expression. It’s allowed, it’s protected, in your country, in American law.” HITT: How many times were you interrogated…about the Clinton article? BADR: Many times, many times. Me and my brother, each one of us, have been interrogated more than 150 times. HITT: So after hearing the punch line explained 150 times, we [= the US military] finally got the joke, and sent Badr and his brother home. It had been three years since the Pakistani army surrounded their house in Peshawar, came into their living room which is lined with wall-to-wall bookcases, and arrested them (Chicago Public Radio 2006).
(HS4) BADR: Actually, in our interrogation, the American interrogators have been telling us they have paid a lot of money to those who handed over us to Americans. HUTSON: The problem was, we were offering bounties, you know, $5,000 or $10,000 (Al Qaeda brought more than Taliban did) and so “ok, fine, here’s your money” and they take them to Gitmo. HITT: That’s Rear Admiral John Hutson, the Navy’s top lawyer. He was judge advocate general until 2000. He says, essentially we bought Badr, and a whole lot of other prisoners. HUTSON: And when you look at the economy at that part of the world, you know, that really is kind of a king’s ransom (Chicago Public Radio 2006).
(HS10) BADR: Actually, our complaint was they were not accepting us as prisoners of war. They were not giving us those rights. And they were just, actually, just running away from American legal system. I mean, I have told my interrogators many times: If we are really guilty, why don’t they put us on trial? In American courts? (Chicago Public Radio 2006).
(HS12) HITT: Once they got to Guantanamo, both Badr and Abdullah described being stripped naked, medically examined, and then put into cages until a new round of interrogations began. BADR: Mostly they used to ask questions about the religious organizations, and how they get money, and why people hate Americans… And there had been even stupid questions. HITT: Like?
BADR: Yeah, there were stupid questions like if we had seen Osama bin Laden or Mullah Omar, if we intend to attack Americans…AL NOAIMI: As if I know Osama bin Laden. I was like shocked, nineteen years old. HITT: Abdullah [al Noaimi] and Badr, by the way, arrived at different times at the base and never knew each other. But they both described meeting lots of ordinary people: farmers, teachers, cab drivers, who were also sold to the Americans. Abdullah talked to one guy who was sold by his own father-in-law. Badr met men who never even heard of Osama bin Laden. After awhile, some of them couldn’t help but showcase the absurdity of the situation. AL NOAIMI: Like for example, one guy, he’s a very funny guy, they took him to interrogation. Every day they take him there for more than 20 hours. Keep him awake, and have very loud disco music, the lights, like, circling all over his eyes and all over the place. And then, after so many days, under those circumstances, that person just stood up, held the interrogator’s hand and kept dancing with him. (Both laugh) Yes, seriously! He kept moving his body all around and the interrogator was going to have a nervous breakdown (Chicago Public Radio 2006).
Abuse en route to Guantanamo
(HS7) AL NOAIMI: When we first got to Kandahar, I was surprised. I had never seen those pictures, those views, only in the ancient movies, like Dark Ages. We were chained by the legs, like shackled, and they ordered us to pick up rocks. (Chuckles) Can you imagine this? They said you should pick up the rocks on the ground, like put it all together in a pile. BADR: There was no water to make ablution or to take a shower. HITT: Badr, the satirist, was taken to the same airbase, in Kandahar.BADR: And the MPs were treating us very harshly. We had to be on our knees for long hours, and to put our hands on our heads. And mostly they used the work “f---ing,” and they used to tell us to put our “f---ing hands on our f---ing heads”, and we didn’t like that (Chicago Public Radio 2006).
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