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Een ongekende internationale gebeurtenis de publicatie van het eerste en enige dagboek dat is geschreven door een gevangene die nog steeds vastzit in Guantánamo Sinds 2002 zit Mohamedou Slahi in Guantánamo Bay op Cuba In al die jaren is hij nooit van een misdaad beschuldigd door de Verenigde Staten Een federale rechter heeft zijn vrijlating geëist maar de Amerikaanse regering vecht dat bevel aan en het ziet er niet naar uit dat ze van plan zijn hem vrij te latenNa drie jaar gevangenschap begon Slahi een dagboek waarin hij zijn leven beschrijft voor hij in Amerikaanse hechtenis verdween en zijn dagelijkse leven als gevangene Zijn dagboek is niet alleen een indringend verslag van een juridische dwaling maar vooral een persoonlijk verhaal beangstigend soms zelfs geestig en verrassend grootmoedig Nu verschijnt voor het eerst Het Guantánamo dagboek een document van grote historische waarde

10 thoughts on “Guantánamo Diary

  1. says:

    I’m sorry to have to tell you but the terrorists won And when I say terrorists I mean the Saudi team led by a Saudi millionaire Yep This book by Mohamedou Ould Slahi confirms it The 911 attacks achieved what was intended and what was intended was clearly not just to topple the WTC towers What was intended was to spin the United States in a cycle of stupidity violence ignobility and abuse to trap it in a mire of hate to force it to shed its ideals of justice and due process and adopt torture unfairness torment blindness corruption kidnapping and irrationality as the guiding principles of its quest for “peace” to turn it into a terrorist state itself pushing it to embrace terror as the best tool in its war on terrorism The terrorist attacks on 911 have turned the United States into an ideological oxymoronAnd Slahi is a great narrator He shows us in great detail not only the ramshackle state of intelligence gathering by government agencies the incompetence of interrogators the sadism of low ranking guards the amateurish superficial sophomoric knowledge of the Guantánamo personnel about political cultural historical geographical and even militaristic issues not to mention their ridiculous comic book style moral building strategies and the involvement and engagement of professional psychologists in the torture of detainees but also the degradation of American women enlisted and not deployed as sexual bait in the interrogation room and as key players in sexual humiliation techniquesSlahi has been imprisoned for 13 years now In all those years the United States has not charged him with any crime nor has any concrete evidence been brought against him He has endured horrific torture and still manages to be fair graceful witty and humaneAs an interesting aside Slahi’s kafkaesque orwellian living hell was only assuaged by the kind humane and friendly treatment he received for a while at the hands of an all Puerto Rican platoon who was quickly dismissedAfter reading this book and in the wake of the Ferguson Garner and other scandals it becomes clear that the US finds itself in no capacity to bring freedom and democracy to the world and rescue nations from their own “evil ways” as it is wont to believe but is itself in dire need of rescuing

  2. says:

    Guantánamo Diary by Mohamedou Ould Slahi and Larry Siems Editor is a very thought provoking and disturbing book This man was arrested and released in 2002 Arrested again and then held although the government where he was arrested could not understand why he was arrested but they were doing it for the Americans He was shipped to a couple of places until he arrived at Guantanamo Never charged with anything held from 2002 then was finally told he was to be released in 2009 by Judge Robertson but Obama's administration appealed it so he went back to the pit of forgotten souls He kept a diary during his stay there and it is held by the government as top secret because they don't want their abusive ways known but of course we all know With the freedom of information act some redacted pages were released and published here He describes what he went through and he is still locked up There was no convincing evidence at the arrest or at the trial or wrong doing but still he sits in a prison of horrors Who is really the terrorist?

  3. says:

    Let's be clear about a couple of things this is not a 5 star read in the way that War and Peace is a 5 star read While this book is actually quite nicely constructed it is in the author's fourth language and contains too many colloquialisms for my liking In spite of that bit of prissiness on my part I think it is one of the most important books of the past decade Now I know that there are a lot of my country right or wrong morons out there that will take me to task on this and claim that I am opposed to liberty and hate the military and so on and so onnothing could be further from the truth I believe that the profession of arms should be an honorable undertaking and that the military should be the staunchest defender of the principles that democracies are supposed to be built on Guantanamo Diary is the heavily and clumsily censored account of Mohamedou Ould Slahi a man who was kidnapped in Mauritania at the request of the US government exported from Mauritania to Jordan for some softening up torture and then on to Guantanamo for a good old long term butt ramming American style I basically knew nothing about Mauritania before reading the book The little bit of research I did on the topic makes it sound like some amazing Backward Land where women try to make themselves as fat as possible to attract a husband and men ask the fiancée's mother for her hand in marriagebut I digressNow Slahi has been a prisoner of the US government since 2001 and is resident in Guantanamo since 2002 He has claimed to be innocent throughout this ordeal He readily admits to being a member of Al Qaeda back in the day when it was an organization that was funded and backed by the USA He claims to have split from the group when they started going goofy after the Russians were expelled from Afghanistan Is he lying? Is he guilty? Does it matter? The basic principles on which American justice is based state that he should be tried if evidence substantiates a charge Otherwise he should be released If found guilty of an offence he should be humanely held in quarters that reflect well on the American public as befits a generous and just nation And that's without even going into the constitutionality and legality of Slahi's arrest in his own homeland an apprehension that amounts to kidnapping But as Slahi tells one of his interrogators You're holding me because your country is strong enough to be unjust p212So for over a decade Slahi has been beaten insulted humiliated starved hoodwinked submitted to sensory deprivation and exposed to extremes of heat and cold Guards worked in shifts in order to deprive him of sleep Female interrogators were used to humiliate him sexually by fondling and rubbing up against him I wonder if this is what these women had in mind when they joined upbeing a sexual foil for military interrogators? You've come a long way BabyOn top of that many of Slahi's interrogators were masked Who the hell is masked nowadays? Looters rioters people in the witness protection program interrogators CRIMINALS You only need a mask if you intend on doing something criminalEventually of course Slahi broke down under torture and started to admit to almost everything they wanted him to admit to in the same way that people admitted that they were witches who copulated with Satan back in the days of the Inquisition torture anyone long enough and you will get the same resultgive an interrogator a week in a cold dark room with Hillary Clinton and she will eventually admit to planning the attack on the WTC Information obtained under torture is meaninglessSlahi is still under wraps in Guantanamo despite an order issued by an American judge in 2010 that dictated his immediate release The American military no longer recognizes American lawI was a little miffed that a couple of Canadian investigators also interrogated inmates in Guantanamohorrified would be a better word with the thought that anyone from my country would be even remotely associated with this Hell on earth My faith in my country was restored when I read this excerpt of a Supreme Court decision regarding agents of CSIS and DFAIT interviewing Guantanamo inmates The deprivation of Khadr's right to liberty and security of the person is not in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice The interrogation of a youth detained without access to counsel to elicit statements about serious criminal charges while knowing that the youth had been subjected to sleep deprivation and while knowing that the fruits of the interrogations would be shared with the prosecutors offends the most basic Canadian standards about the treatment of detained youth suspects P208There are parts where Slahi lays it on a little too thick or gets a little whiny but let's not forget that this is supposed to be a diary and the writer will have his ups and downs One day he complains that he has no blankets and later he complains that he has blankets but has to make his bed in a military fashion I would be concerned about the masked man who was going to run in and boot me in the soft parts In spite of it all his faith seems to keep him amazingly upbeat and amazingly he still has a lot of good things to say about AmericansI heartily recommend this bookit will make your blood boil You may come to the same conclusion I didthat the only modern industrialized nations capable of this type of excess are Russia and sad to say United States of America

  4. says:

    In one of your better metafictional gambits Mohamedou Ould Slahi has managed to get his memoir edited by his actual torturers Nabokov would have loved this I guess we call it redacted when it's CIA whateverIt was edited again by actual literary people after a six year legal battle to get it out of Gitmo where Slahi has been held since 2002 This second editing process provides some of the most entertaining moments of the book the latter's exasperated footnotes about the former It seems possible if incredible says literary editor Larry Siems that the US government may have here redacted the word 'tears' Siems had a lot of work to do because and here's the problem with this book Slahi is a great cause but not a great writer As a book this is shapeless episodicamazingly it's kinda boring If you want great literature about how the end never justifies the means read Darkness at NoonSlahi continues to rot in Gitmo as I write this in 2015 despite a judge ordering his release back in 2010 there's never really been any evidence against him His case including his lengthy torture in Jordan and in Guantanamo Bay is all a matter of public record As documentation of the terrible lows the US have stooped to his book is worthy as literature it's not particularlyHe tells a Mauritian folktale at one pointabout a rooster phobe who would almost lose his mind whenever he encountered a rooster'Why are you so afraid of the rooster?' the psychiatrist asks him'The rooster thinks I'm corn''You're not corn You are a very big man Nobody can mistake you for a tiny ear of corn''I know that Doctor But the rooster doesn't Your job is to go to him and convince him that I am not corn'The man was never healed since talking to a rooster is impossibleClever stuff there We are the rooster and Slahi is not corn He's not a writer either but that's a good story

  5. says:

    It was quite a relief to run the last lap of this memoir today knowing that it is literally the same 24 hour period in which Mohamedou Ould Slahi has finally been cleared for release after fourteen years of torture and isolation in Guantanamo without charges The perfect timing makes this true story far less grim than it would have been even just yesterday It seems to me that the US Governmentthe interrogators at Gitmo have known for about a decade that this guy didn't do anything but join the Mujahideen while they were being funded armed and trained by the US in order to battle the Soviets Didn't matter being brown and Muslim after 911 was apparently reason enough to incarcerate starve freeze punch sexually assault torture with a number of particularly devious methods adopted by the CIA during the Bush Years and on top of it all force Drowning Pool on Slahi for an approximate quarter of his life No the Drowning Pool thing is no joke He mentions it at least three times in the book how he was made to listen to Let the Bodies Hit the Floor on repeat at full volume in a freezing room while chained into a stress position and sleep deprived how several of the guards said their favorite song was Let the Bodies Hit the Floor how it was a reoccurring theme at the military base as far as philosophy toward Muslims was concerned etc Can you imagine even being made to listen to that song ever? It may sound strange but this was one of the little details that confirmed Slahi's version of events in my mind considering that when my poor brother was in bootcamp he wrote to me about this horrifying incident where the recruits were made to watch footage of soldiers indiscriminately murdering Afghanis and Iraqis as Let the Bodies Hit the Floor played over the video He told me that he and one other person were the only people in the room who did not stand up and applaud at the end of that video Naturally he was disgusted and that song will forever make him and me think of the War on Terror before choking back vomit But yeah many soldiers love Drowning Pool apparently I find it hard to believe that many Mauritanian Muslims feel the sameSlahi is a smart concise writer and at least a seemingly kind and gentle soul he is quite convincing I would give this book three stars though due to the sheer amount of redacted material making it almost insufferable to get through However I acknowledge that was kind of the point especially considering how willy nilly the redactions were applied something like say a gender pronoun would be blocked out only to be revealed two sentences later The gubberment's edits seemed to serve no other purpose than to make the thing unpublishableunreadable Fortunately it was still published Maybe after Slahi gets back on his feet and spends a few solid years with his family he can fill in the blanks for us No pressure though The man has sure been through and given enough

  6. says:

    Essential readingWhilst it is upsetting depressing and shocking Mohamedou Ould Slahi is also inspirational and even funny in parts There are many insights into Guantanamo prison life but huge amounts left unsaid or redacted 'Arrest' rendition to imprisonment and interrogation at GTMO can be summed up as lawless horror brutality and torture Ironically the descriptions reminded me of the interrogations in Solzhenitsyn's The Gulag Archipelago which happened under Stalin

  7. says:

    Mohamedou Ould Slahi wrote this diary in 2005 while in detention in Guantánamo For years he was considered America’s highest ranking terror suspect I don’t know when that designation changed or if it ever did In 2008 the US Supreme Court ruled that Guantánamo detainees could challenge their detention through habeas corpus In 2009 US District Court Judge James Robertson heard Mohamedou’s petition and in 2010 ordered his release Within weeks Obama’s administration filed a notice of appeal sending the judge's decision back for review The case is still pending Mohamedou remains in US custody in GuantánamoAn NYRB review by Steve Coll introduced me to this title It is as Coll maintains a “remarkable” document Mohamedou was targeted by US intelligence after the Millenium Bombing Plot in 1999 when Ahmed Ressam attempted to drive explosives from Montreal to Los Angeles Mohamedou claims not to have known Ressam but he was living in Montreal at the time also After talking with his parents in Mauritania he decided to return home rather than be surveilled by American intelligence agents As soon as he arrived in Senegal to be picked up by his family he was detained for questioning by his own government and subsequently released After 911 he was called in by Mauritanian intelligence to answer questions He drove himself to the police station beginning a long and harrowing tale of capture rendition torture and imprisonmentI have been unable to understand why the Obama administration challenged Judge Robertson’s ruling on Mohamedou's habeas corpus though the footnotes on Mohamedou’s wiki might prove instructive if one is trained in legalese Mohamedou’s own personal diary of his time in detention from 2001 2005 from Mauritania to Jordan to Afghanistan and finally to Guantánamo though written in 2005 was not released for publication until 2013 Heavily redacted it still allows a reader to get a sense of the man and his question directly to readers “So has American democracy passed the test it was subjected to with the 2001 terrorist attacks? I leave this judgment to the reader As I am writing this though the United States and its people are still facing the dilemma of the Cuban detainees”Taking into account all we know of the successes failures intents bureaucratic execution and distortions that are a part of our “intelligence” history I think we have to conclude that keeping Slahi in Guantánamo for some 15 years is far from our finest hour if he forgives the understatement Moreover it has not made us safer that oft recycled excuse for exceeding the letter of the lawSlahi’s reminiscences are unexpectedly keen propulsive visceral and colloquial using American expressions to describe circumstances and characters we are sure to recognize I say “unexpectedly” not because he is a Muslim but because he is an engineer It may be profiling to say that in my experience with engineers spoken or written language is not usually their forte Mohamedou used English to write though his stronger languages are Arabic German and French He went to school in Germany and understands western habits He graduated from the University of Duisburg with a degree in engineering When his visa was expiring in Germany he travelled to Montreal to find work Using English allows Mohamedou to address us the American electorate directly and to gently remonstrate using our own language habits and peculiar phraseology We wish we knew this man could send him books could argue with him late into the night only to realize with sadness bitterness and distaste after putting the book down that such things will never happen Too much water under the bridge we can almost hear him sayAbsolutely Mohamedou Ould Slahi should be released immediately one only hopes that he is able to reconstruct some kind of life for himself after his ordeals As he so eloquently puts it there are stages to a prisoner’s emotions while under incarcerationI have been through several stages during my captivity The first phase was the worst I almost lost my mind fighting to get back to my family and the life I was used toIt was several weeks before I realized that I’m in jail and not going home anytime soonPhase two is when you realize that you’re in jail and you possess nothing in the world but all the time in the world to think about your life—although in GTMO detainees also have to worry about daily interrogationsyou have control over nothingyou have no privacyIn the beginning it is a horrible thing to lose all those privileges in the blink of an eye but believe me people get used to it I personally didPhase three is discovering your new home and family Your family comprises the guards and your interrogators True you didn’t choose this family nor did you grow up with it but it’s a family all the same whether you like it or not with all the advantages and disadvantagesIn a footnote the book’s editor Larry Siems adds MOS adds a note here in the margins of the handwritten original “Phase four getting used to the prison and being afraid of the outside world”One has to conclude it may have been a crime to keep him locked up Highly recommendedLarry Siems is a human rights activist and directed the Freedom to Write program at PEN American Center He worked with Slahi's legal counsel to get this document released It has been translated into 24 languages

  8. says:

    I didn't finish this book because it's too horrifying And yet I give it five stars Mohamedou Ouid Slahi is a very good writer and diarist What is terrible is the consistent torture he has to go through on a daily basis and likely is still treated in this manner Brutality brutality never equals peace What's terrible about this specific story is that the US is behind the brutality here For whatever reasons it seems that it is perfectly OK to torture another human for just the sake of being able to torture another This is not a Republican or a Democrat problem but one of the United States Guantanamo should not exist on this planet and surely not under the 'care' of the US Not to sound cliché but the author is truly in a Kafka like world where there is very little hope of him getting out of the system Also one wonders what kind of people actually like doing this type of work where they torture another human are they really concerned about getting information? I suspect not I think what we have is a culture that accepts torture as a means to well it doesn't do anything except cause pain There is no difference of having men dressed in black cutting off people's heads in front of a camera and those who torture prisoners in private settings Yet here we are about to face another Presidential election between Heckle and Jeckle and neither one will comment on the horrors of Guantanamo Absurd and equally depressing

  9. says:

    So very very very very upsetting Five stars not for the quality of the writing although that is often splendid but because this prison memoir of a man in the midst of his thirteenth year in a Guantanamo cell is an eye opening must read for any American citizen

  10. says:

    I'm recommending this to everyone Slahi is the first and so far only person to have been held in Guantánamo and tortured by the US to have written about and published a memoir Mark Danner in the New York Times wrote that the diary is the most profound account yet written of what it is like to be that collateral damage mentioned by our torturer in chief Dick Cheney This harrowing tale is but one of what will someday be many direct accounts by victimsOriginally from Mauritius Slahi 45 was detained on a journey home in January 2000 and questioned about the so called Millennium plot to bomb the Los Angeles airport Slahi admitted that he'd fought against Afghanistan's communist government with the mujahedin at that time supported by the US But he never opposed the United States Authorities released him A year later the young engineer was again detained and again released Months later Slahi drove himself to a local police station to answer questions This time Americans forced him onto a CIA plane bound for Jordan where he claims he was tortured On August 5 2002 Americans brought him to Guantánamo Slahi is among the detainees whose horrific torture there is the centerpiece of the Senate report None other than then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld signed the special interrogation plan authorizing his brutal ordeal Slahi divides his imprisonment into pre torture when he truthfully denied any involvement in terrorism and post torture where my brake broke loose I yessed every accusation my interrogators made I even wrote the infamous confession about me planning to hit the CN tower in Toronto based on SSG redacted advice I just wanted to get the monkeys off my backHis captors beat and threatened him subjected him to bitter cold and sleep deprivation stress positions and repulsive sexual abuse by female interrogators Yet with astonishing grace Slahi seems traumatized by the torture he witnessed He saw teenagers who could barely lift their heads confused old men and others like him who said anything to get the pain to stop Slahi taught himself English so he could write his 466 page memoir long kept secret Once his lawyers got his manuscript released authorities refused to let Slahi’s editor journalist Larry Siems meet him Siems calls the memoir a journey through the darkest regions of the United States' post 911 detention and interrogation program