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If POTUS Can Order Assassination of US Citizen w/No Due Process, Can He Order Torture, Too?

Glenn Greenwald and Mark Mazzetti tell the story of 19-year old American citizen Gulet Mohamed who was taken into custody by the Kuwaitis after the US, while Mohamed was staying with an uncle in Kuwait, put him on the no-fly list. In the two weeks the Kuwaitis have held him, Mohamed says he was subjected to:

  • Physical beatings of his feet with sticks
  • Stress positions
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Exposure to cold
  • Threats of electrical shock
  • Threats to his mother

In other words, this US citizen, held by a close ally after coming up on a review of the no-fly list, was subjected to some of the worst kinds of torture that President Obama has purportedly ended.

Over the course of his interrogation, an official from the US Embassy and agents from the FBI visited him.

What seems to have happened is that the government, seeing a young Muslim kid from Virginia travel to Yemen (to study for a brief period of time) and Somalia (to stay with family), decided he must have ties to Anwar al-Awlaki (remember that Awlaki once preached at a Virginia mosque). They may have tried to contact him via someone claiming to know Mohamed from his mosque in Virginia. When Mohamed said he didn’t know that person, he was picked up when he went to the airport to renew his Kuwaiti visa. His Kuwaiti interrogators (though some spoke English) asked him whether he had met with Awlaki or other militants.

“Are you a terrorist?” they asked, according to his account.

“No,” he replied.

“Do you know Anwar?” his interrogators asked, referring to Mr. Awlaki.

“I’ve never met him,” Mr. Mohamed recalled saying.

“You are from Virginia, you have to know him,” they responded, according to Mr. Mohamed. From 2001 to 2002, Mr. Awlaki was the imam of a prominent mosque in northern Virginia.

And in response to his answers that he hadn’t met with Awlaki or other militants, they tortured him, accusing him of lying.

I assume when asked whether they ordered up this interrogation, and whether or not they knew it would involve torture, the government will “pretend” they are shocked that a close ally engaged in such treatment. I assume they will disavow any role in the torture, at the hands of our allies, of a US citizen.

Either that, or they’ll just invoke state secrets, as they did when Anwar al-Awlaki’s family sued to find out the authority the President has relied upon to order the assassination of an American citizen.

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