One Man's Story

February 19, 2009

“I am not asking to be taken at my word and to be released, although I very much want to go home to my family. All I am asking for is to be treated like every other person in the United States who is accused of a crime, including terrorism, and to be given a fair trial in an American court.”

These are the words of Ali al-Marri, a U.S. resident who continues to be held without trial since December, 2001, in the United States. He was arrested in Illinois and is currently held in a military facility in Charleston, South Carolina. The Bush administration accused al-Marri of being an al-Qaeda agent, yet in seven years failed to bring him to trial.

Al-Marri has said he was “subjected to brutal interrogation measures, including stress positions, prolonged exposure to extremely cold temperatures, extreme sensory deprivation, and threats of violence and death. Interrogators, for example, told Mr al-Marri that they would send him to Egypt or to Saudi Arabia to be tortured and sodomized and forced to watch as his wife was raped in front of him.”

Since 2003, Amnesty International has called for al-Marri to either be fairly tried in a U.S. federal court, or be immediately released. Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear al-Marri’s case. President Obama ordered an immediate and “prompt and thorough review of the factual and legal basis for al-Marri’s detention.” Al-Marri remains detained.

And, as the New York Times reported yesterday in “Obama’s War on Terror May Resemble Bush’s in Some Areas,” President Obama may not fully renounce all of the immoral, illegal and ineffective policies and practices of the past–including indefinite detention–that have harmed people like Murat Kurnaz and Maher Arar, and have failed to bring those responsible for September 11th to justice.

We can’t let the failures of the past continue.

Please write urgent letters to those reviewing al-Marri’s detention, calling for al-Marri to either be promptly charged and fairly tried in a U.S. federal court, or be immediately released. Addresses, bullet points and background are here.

And let President Obama know that effective, legal and ethical counterterrorism measures are the right way to ensure security and justice, and that an independent investigation is the right way to make sure the mistakes of the past are never made again.