Watch your back, boy

Arrested by Pakistani police in 2002 and then imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay for over four years, 26-year-old Mohamed Lemine Ould Sidi has been released without charge and returned to his home country of Mauritania. He told AFP that he and other prisoners were forced to watch U.S. guards urinating on the Koran — “After that we decided to no longer take it to our cells and only recited from memory” — and that he was subject to force feeding after a hunger strike. “Other prisoners, simple innocent Muslims were also tortured, humiliated in their beliefs and their human dignity,” he said. The AP reports that two other Mauritanian men, Mohamedou Ould Slahi and Ahmed Ould Abdelaziz, remain in Guantanamo Bay.

The Pentagon released at about the same time eight other captives: six Afghans, a Libyan, and a Yemeni. But the U.S. government refuses to concede error in having arrested and imprisoned any of these men. Quite the reverse: Pentagon spokesman Navy Cmdr. Jeffrey Gordon told AP last week that ”All detainees at Guantánamo are considered a threat to the United States — to include those transferred yesterday.”

One can’t help but wonder whether, given the ethics-free space in which the U.S. government now conducts itself, this declaration is meant not only as a defense mechanism, but also as a way of signalling that these men remain fair game in future operations. Does being freed from Guantanamo saddle you forever with the status of being one of the “usual suspects”?

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