Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Enemy Combatant: My Imprisonment at Guantánamo, Bagram, and Kandahar

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Enemy Combatant: My Imprisonment at Guantánamo, Bagram, and Kandahar

Article excerpt

Enemy Combatant: My Imprisonment at Guantánamo, Bagram, and Kandahar By Moazzam Begg, The New Press, 2006, 397 pp. List: $26.95; AET: $21.50 Reviewed by Hanaan Sarhan

Much has been written about the "global war on terror" and the undermining effect it has had domestically on U.S. constitutional law. Yet what about Washington's growing rap sheet of illegal behavior at the international level? What due process exists to uphold international human rights agreements at Guantánamo Bay, for example? How can the U.S. government be held accountable in cases where these rights are intentionally denied?

Until now, accountability at Guantánamo has been limited by how little actually is known about life inside the prison. With the exception of the Red Cross and select legal advisers-whose reports require clearance for disclosure-no single outsider has had access to Guantánamo prisoners. And in the absence of photographic evidence-which was crucial in telling the story of U.S. military torture at the Abu Ghraib prison in 2004-allegations of human rights abuses at Guantánamo continue to be shielded from public debate.

Enter Moazzam Begg, a British-born Pakistani Muslim, and the first detainee to publish a memoir of his experience at the prison. Enemy Combatant is an eye-opening story, both fascinating and frightening, about an ordinary man subjected to extraordinary injustice. At midnight on Jan, 31, 2002, Begg heard a knock at the door of his home in Islamabad, Pakistan. When he opened it, he was greeted by a group of men dressed in civilian clothing, pointing guns and saying absolutely nothing. …

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