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A Plea to Obama from Father of Detainee

By Del Quentin Wilber
The father of a detainee at a U.S. military prison in Afghanistan sent a letter (PDF) this week to President Obama pleading for his son's release, writing that "my heart aches when I consider the terrible and degrading treatment he has been forced to endure."

The letter comes a week after a federal judge ruled that the man, Amin al-Bakri, may challenge his detention in a federal lawsuit. Bakri, 39, is a Yemeni who was captured by U.S. authorities in Thailand in 2002, his lawyers say. He is being held at the U.S. military prison at Bagram air base.

Two other Bagram detainees, a Yemeni and a Tunisian who were captured in Pakistan, were also granted the right to challenge their imprisonments. The men have been in U.S. custody for at least six years, according to U.S. District Judge John D. Bates. The U.S. government has not said whether it will appeal the ruling and has released few details about those held at the secretive prison.

In his letter to Obama, Mohammed al-Bakri wrote that his son was on a business trip to Thailand as a gem trader when he was "abducted." Al-Bakri has three children, and the family only learned he had been detained by the Americans six months after his capture, Mohammed al-Bakri wrote.

"The American government never charged Amin with any crime nor have they offered my family or the Government of Yemen any explanation for why they continue to hold him," the father wrote. "What I know is that Amin has never been involved in any fighting or plotting against the United States or its allies."

"President Obama, I entreat you," he added. "Please release my son and end our family's pain."

Human rights groups have expressed concerns that the U.S. prison at Bagram air base could become the next Guantanamo Bay.

Detainees at Guantanamo Bay won the right to challenge their detentions in a landmark Supreme Court ruling in June. And Obama has pledged to close the facility, which has about 240 prisoners, in a year. About 650 detainees are at the Bagram prison, officials have said. The vast majority are Afghans who were captured in that country, according to officials.

But about 20, like Bakri, were picked up in other countries and transported to Bagram, sources have said.

By Web Politics Editor  |  April 8, 2009; 11:15 AM ET
Categories:  B_Blog , Obama Abroad  
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JakeD said:

"are you denying that 61 former detainees have been released and, in fact, participated in subsequent terrorist attacks?"

Am I to presume that you advocate the confinement of ten innocent men, just to assure that one guilty man does not obtain his freedom? If you allow our government to incarcerate and detain ONE man or woman, without benefit (guarantee) of due process of law, then you open the door for that same government to abridge the rights of all men!

How hopeless it is to find yourself in confinement with no hope of obtaining your freedom, without any hope of receiving an opportunity to be heard in a court of law, and no hope of ever receiving justice.

I have long opposed the Bush administration for their advocacy of the Patriot Act, which, in part, gave them a license to detain individuals without the promise of judicial review and oversight!

By depriving just one man, even though he may be guilty of the charges levied against him, his day in court, you tear at the very fabric of that cloth which made this nation a beacon of justice to the whole world!

Posted by: Jordan48 | April 13, 2009 5:46 PM | Report abuse

Mr. President:

As a veteran, also as a former law enforcement officer, and a student of Constitutional Law, I ask you how can this country detain men (possibly women) for protracted periods of time without allowing them due process under our laws? I realize that this practice was not brought into being during your brief watch as commander in chief, but it is imperative that you act to remedy this injustice (unlawful detention without benefit of due process under the law).

If a terrorist is apprhended in the act or substantive evidence reveals the accused involvement in acts against this nation or our people, then a military court should, within a "reasonable" period of time, proceed in prosecuting the offender, thereby serving the law of justice. To arrogantly and callously hold any man for six years, even a year, without the benefit of due process is archaic and acts contrary to the very foundation of this nations profession of liberty, freedom, and justice for all.

I am ashamed that we, as a people and a nation, now endorse these barbaric practices in the name of liberty!

Have we now become like the Nazi's of old, the North Vietnamese of the 60's and 70's, the North Koreans of the 50's, in the practice of inhumane treatment and unjustifiable incarceration, all done under the cloak of national security?

Do we now become that which is despised because we embrace the paranoia which drove those chief offenders of the liberty of men to act as they did in their wanton and callous disreagrd for the rights that God afforded to all men?

If they are perceived guilty, let them have their day in court, impartially! If they are guilty, then confine or execute them. But for the sake of decency and moral right, set those whom we will not prosecute, free!

Posted by: Jordan48 | April 13, 2009 5:21 PM | Report abuse

Again, I am not posting out of "fear".

Posted by: JakeD | April 13, 2009 3:52 PM | Report abuse

JakeD, Quite frankly it's people like you who scare me much more than the criminals do. Their mindset, while abhorrent to any thinking person, is at least understandable. I have a really hard time understanding the mindset of someone like you who, evidently out of fear, tries to stir up hate against people you don't even know. We can lock up the criminals but because we have the wonderful right in this country of free speech the rest of us have to learn to deal with your brand of hate speech. For me personally I'd rather have the criminal living next door to me than a fearmonger.

Posted by: pmorlan1 | April 9, 2009 5:24 PM | Report abuse

pmorlan1 (and JohnQuimby, although you "declined" to answer my question):

Assuming he has to be let free -- with or without his day in court -- thank you for at least answering the question. I doubt many of your neighbors would be so gracious. I also assume you would have had no qualms living next door to O.J. Simpson after his criminal trial either since he too had been found "not guilty" and released from his false imprisonment. Just to clarify, I wouldn't be "afraid" in that situation, just armed and warned accordingly.

Posted by: JakeD | April 9, 2009 3:50 PM | Report abuse

JakeD said:

"are you denying that 61 former detainees have been released and, in fact, participated in subsequent terrorist attacks?"

This unprovable accusation is the last defense for a colossal failure.

It comes from the same people who FAILED to put together enough evidence to have any of these people CONVICTED in the first place.

If they had been found guilty, they'd still be in prison! So who let them get away? The people who broke our legal system for a false promise of security.

Posted by: JohnQuimby | April 9, 2009 11:55 AM | Report abuse

Well Done.

Posted by: JohnQuimby | April 9, 2009 11:36 AM | Report abuse

Will anyone (other than rooster54) accept Amin al-Bakri into YOUR neighborhood?

Posted by: JakeD | April 8, 2009 8:33 PM

If Amin al-Bakri has his day in Court and is freed then of course I would have no problem with him moving into my neighborhood. He'd be just like anyone else whose been found not guilty or who was released due to false imprisonment. If he is found guilty of a crime then he won't be coming to anyones neighborhood he'll be going to prison.

What the heck is wrong with you? Are you actually advocating that we keep innocent people in prison just because you're afraid? You probably already have more people living in your neighborhood now that would do you more harm than this guy.

Posted by: pmorlan1 | April 9, 2009 9:35 AM | Report abuse

Will anyone (other than rooster54) accept Amin al-Bakri into YOUR neighborhood?

Posted by: JakeD | April 8, 2009 8:33 PM | Report abuse

I notice you won't answer the question about turning him loose in YOUR neighborhood.

Posted by: JakeD | April 8, 2009 8:04 PM | Report abuse


I respectfully decline the nomination. At this point, it doesn't even matter whether he was "guilty" or "innocent" of anything warranting his detention (he's neither a U.S. citizen afforded Constitutional protections on a FOREIGN battlefield nor covered under the Geneva Conventions). Regardless of the cause, are you denying that 61 former detainees have been released and, in fact, participated in subsequent terrorist attacks?

Posted by: JakeD | April 8, 2009 8:02 PM | Report abuse


Guilty? Innocent?
He was never formally charged or even ACCUSED of committing a crime. We couldn't even be bothered to make up a reason to hold the guy.

Observing his legal rights would have been a GREAT idea in the first place. That's a RADICAL idea that we subscribe to under domestic law and countless international treaties.

I say we start by either turning him loose or giving him his day in court.

I nominate you as public defender.

Posted by: JohnQuimby | April 8, 2009 7:34 PM | Report abuse

rooster54 now claims that none of his neighbors would be worried about Amin al-Bakri being released in their neighborhood either. Why won't anyone else on this thread admit as much? Come on, stand up and support YOUR President!

Posted by: JakeD | April 8, 2009 7:24 PM | Report abuse

Make that "rooster54" (sorry).

Posted by: JakeD | April 8, 2009 6:10 PM | Report abuse

For the record, someone posting anonymously as "rooster45" on another thread claims that he's not afraid of Amin al-Bakri, and would gladly welcome him into the neighborhood, although I'm not quite sure what rooster45's former (and, especially, current) neighbors would say about that.

Anyone else brave enough to welcome this "innocent" man into their neighborhood with open arms?

Posted by: JakeD | April 8, 2009 6:08 PM | Report abuse

scrivener50 (when you do show up):

Thank you for speaking out over the alleged "directed energy" weapon on every thread. However, I don't think you've answered how long you will give Obama-Biden until you realize that they are in on it too?

Posted by: JakeD | April 8, 2009 3:54 PM | Report abuse


I have some more info on White House "raccoons" (curiously while doing some First Dog/Easter Egg Roll detective work and discovering an interesting precedent for a Presidential pet attending the event). Mrs. Calvin Coolidge brought her beloved pet raccoon (on a chain leash no less) to the 1927 White House Easter Egg Roll. She (the raccoon's name was Rebecca) looks like she was a big hit with the kids. So, maybe there will be 'coons AND eggs after all!

Posted by: JakeD | April 8, 2009 3:28 PM | Report abuse

LOL! BTW: it was 61, not 6, terrorists the Pentagon was forced to release by ACLU-types such as yourself.

Posted by: JakeD | April 8, 2009 3:19 PM | Report abuse

We could release them in Bakersfield but that would be torture.

Posted by: JRM2 | April 8, 2009 3:10 PM | Report abuse

Torture and false imprisonment causes many problems:
1. Moral high-ground out the window.
2. Radicalizes innocents.
3. It's illegal, you can be prosecuted for it.
4. Acts as a recruiting tool for terrorists.
5. Reaps unreliable intelligence.

Posted by: JRM2 | April 8, 2009 3:08 PM | Report abuse

Who released those "six prisoners who participated in terrorist acts"?

If I were POTUS and were about to release those prisoners I would announce to the world: "We are going to release these prisoners who will be under 24 hour surveillance and if you want to become an instant suspect then please start hanging around with them."

Posted by: JRM2 | April 8, 2009 3:04 PM | Report abuse

I guess not. Maybe because the answer is obvious.

Posted by: JakeD | April 8, 2009 2:53 PM | Report abuse

Anyone else want to answer "yes" to that question?

Posted by: JakeD | April 8, 2009 2:23 PM | Report abuse

"61 ex-Guantanamo inmates return to terrorism"

Can we release Amin al-Bakri into YOUR neighborhood?

Posted by: JakeD | April 8, 2009 12:21 PM | Report abuse


You are aware that supposed "innocents" released from GTMO have then participated in terrorist attacks, right?

Posted by: JakeD | April 8, 2009 12:02 PM | Report abuse

This is the height of hubris - to snatch up a foreign national in a third-party country and imprison him in a fourth country with NO legal proceedings, no charges, no extradition, nothing. Given this type of policy, it is absolutely no wonder that President Obama has felt it necessary to apologize for America.

Posted by: annieb346 | April 8, 2009 11:55 AM | Report abuse

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