Skip to comments.Hamdi Says He's Not an Enemy Combatant
Posted on 10/14/2004 12:08:14 PM PDT by TexKat
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia - A Saudi-American released after being held by the U.S. military for three years in solitary confinement without charge said in an interview broadcast Thursday that he cooperated with his jailers, calling himself "an innocent man."
Yaser Esam Hamdi, captured in Afghanistan in late 2001 during the U.S. battle against the Taliban and classified as an "enemy combatant," returned to Saudi Arabia on Monday after negotiating a deal: his freedom in exchange for renouncing his U.S. citizenship and agreeing to live in Saudi Arabia for five years.
"I believe that I'm not an enemy combatant, and I am an innocent person, and I was proving that all the time for them," Hamdi told CNN. "I answered all the questions that they asked me very seriously ... and I was cooperative, and I give them all the details."
"To be locked down, then be given your freedom, you really know what the meaning of freedom (is)," he added. "They take it away from you, and they give it to you back, you feel it, and it's something real different."
Hamdi's case led to a U.S. Supreme Court decision limiting the president's powers to hold enemy combatants indefinitely.
The 550 prisoners held at the U.S military base at Guantanamo, Cuba, are classified as enemy combatants, a status that affords fewer legal protections than prisoners of war. About 60 prisoners are contesting their detentions in federal courts, but most have never seen a lawyer. Only four have been charged.
The Supreme Court ruled in June that Hamdi and other detainees classified as enemy combatants could not be held indefinitely without charge. That led to negotiations for Hamdi's release.
"The Supreme Court, the United States, the highest justice level in the United States, they ruled my favor, which give us the proof that I am an innocent man," Hamdi said.
The deal Hamdi struck also requires that he not sue the U.S. government over his detention, that he renounce terrorism and never travel to Afghanistan, Iraq, Israel, Pakistan or Syria.
Since arriving in Saudi Arabia, Hamdi has been visiting with his family in the eastern industrial town of al-Jubail.
"It feels great. It feels outstanding. And I can't really describe my feelings, especially after meeting with my parents," he said.
Hamdi was born in Louisiana in 1980 to Saudi parents and raised in Saudi Arabia. He was captured on a battlefield in Afghanistan, but contends he never fought against the United States. He says he was trying to leave Afghanistan when he was captured.
Hamdi was taken to the U.S. military base at Guantanamo Bay, and then to a Navy brig in Norfolk, Va., when officials realized he was a U.S. citizen. He was later moved to a Navy brig in Charleston, S.C. He spent his captivity in solitary confinement.
Yaser Hamdi speaks during an interview seen Thursday, Oct. 14, 2004 in this image from television. Hamdi, the U.S. citizen who was captured in Afghanistan (news - web sites), labeled an enemy combatant and held in U.S. solitary confinement for nearly three years without charge, was freed and returned to Saudi Arabia on Monday, Oct. 11, 2004, after agreeing to forfeit his U.S. citizenship for freedom. (AP Photo /CNN)
Hopefully we won't make the same mistakes, with future captures.
The names and place of detention should have never been made public.
Certainly returning this guy, for him to do propoganda, is not useful.
Disappeared is useful.
Disappeared is not acceptable for US Citizens. Disappeared happens in Cuba. Disappeared happened in USSR. We can take captives in war, and hold them indefinitely, but US citizens, even those found in Afghanistan, are entitled to the US Constitution. You remember, innocent until proven guilty? Even when the evidence is concrete you still get a trial so that your peers or a judge determine whether the evidence is actual proof of guilt.
We are a civilized country, aren't we still?
There are former inmates like this guy Hamdi, and there are others that were arrested for fighting against the US forces after they got out of Gitmo. Waddayagunnado?
"We are a civilized country, aren't we still?"
You are living in a 9/10/2001 mindset. This guy's place of birth was merely an accident.
At the end of WWII we intentionally deleted tens of thousands of enemy civilians, from earth's headcount. They didn't get detention, trial, presumption of innocense. Had a few American citizens been in those cities, theirs would be an identical fate.
To me, Hamdi is not a bit different, US citizen or not.
The single strongest argument for continuing civil society is for the more civil contestant to prevail in war. War entails less than civil methods, by both sides.
The 9/10 mindset sounds alive and well--in Gitmo. "Even though we caught you on a battlefield, with the other side, we'll let you go--if you won't sue us and you promise not to come back." Boy, if they capture Bin Laden, I hope they don't do that to him. That would be a serious violation of his human rights. /sarcasm
My 9/10 mindset was the same as it is now--F'em if they aren't citizens or otherwise covered under the Constitution. But I refuse to accept that American citizens can become targets of a government with the power to hold people indefinitely. That our government has not the stomach to shoot terrorists and start the tribunals to hang the bastards is sad. That the American people aren't willing to accept the judgments of tribunals in time of war, that they worry about the poor Gitmo folks, is sadder. But Americans have different rights from those others we capture.
If Hamdi is a U.S. citizen he should have been tried for treason and hung. The same thing happened to American collaborators in past wars. That this man was let go if there was proof against him is wrong. That this man was not tried if there was proof against him was wrong. That he was 'pled out' of treason is shameful.
He was a U.S. citizen. The U.S. government made him give that up to get out of indefinite imprisonment. They didn't make him do a damn thing other than sign away his right to sue them and promise to stay out of current trouble spots.
I cannot imagine being forced to give up my birthright simply to get out of jail, especially if the government hasn't even got enough evidence to try me in a tribunal. It captures this guy on a battlefield holding a gun, and the government thinks we wouldn't string him up? What the hell is going on down there!?!?
Yeah, right - he's trying to convince us he's French.
"What the hell is going on down there!?!?"
I'll concede you made a good critique. And I don't see what is going on, either.
Three years sounds way too long for Gitmo, to make virtually no visible progress. It must be they hope to gain MORE from inside information, than would be GAINED by killing these guys (tribunal, trials, whatever).
Most would agree there's not much of a pattern for who gets what treatment. Maybe that is the pattern.
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