by Aleksandra Dukovska
The Guantanamo files released by Wikileaks will dominate the following weeks in the media. “But before diving in, it may help to reflect on a few things that may not be explicit in the documents but are crucial to understanding their significance”, writes Darryl Li a graduate of Yale Law School and PhD Candidate in Anthropology and Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard and has worked on legal defense of Guantanamo detainees.
Li includes that “treat assessment” is a game with no winners, torture or that the tactics are not discussed in the “detainee assessments”, the farce of prosecutions, the other prisons similar as Guantanamo, secret CIA prisons in Romania, Poland, Thailand,the role of client states that are doing the most of the dirty work via their intelligence agencies specialized in militant “Islamists” issues. According to Li, “this collaboration is deep and longstanding. Since the Clinton years, the U.S. has orchestrated the abduction and forcible transfer of suspected “Islamists” to their homelands so they could be interrogated without apparent U.S. responsibility, a practice known as “extraordinary rendition.”
The Guantanamo Bay detention center on Cuba is in the focus of almost all relevant media outlet in the USA. CBS online news article on the new WikiLeaks revelations writes that “New York Times, Washington Post, McClatchy Newspapers, Der Spiegel and El Pais – have released reports obtained by WikiLeaks.”
Published materials contain information on detainees at Guantanamo Bay “ the oft-bumbling attempts at intelligence gathering by the Bush administration after 9/11, President Obama’s struggles at dealing with the prison camp, as well as some of the inner workings of al Qaeda following the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon, comments CBS on their Web page.
Washington Post published that a “cache of intelligence assessments of nearly every detainee at Guantanamo Bay obtained by WikiLeaks presents new details of the whereabouts of al-Qaeda’s core leadership on Sept. 11, and their movements afterward”. This newspaper writes that the “documents also offer some tantalizing glimpses into the whereabouts and operations of Osama bin Laden and his Egyptian deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri”.
In an online article WikiLeaks discloses new details on whereabouts of al-Qaeda leaders on 9/11, Post international terrorism reporter Peter Finn writes that “the documents, provided to European and U.S. news outlets, including The Washington Post, are intelligence assessments of nearly every one of the 779 individuals who have been held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, since 2002.
“In them, analysts have created detailed portraits of detainees based on raw intelligence, including material gleaned from interrogations”, writes Finn.
New York Times writers staff Charlie Savage, William Glaberson and Andrew W. Lehren in the Classified files offer new insights into detainees article reports “the secret documents, made a to The New York Times and several other news organizations, reveal that most of the 172 remaining prisoners have been rated as a “high risk” of posing a threat to the United States and its allies if released without adequate rehabilitation and supervision”.
“But they also show that an even larger number of the prisoners who have left Cuba — about a third of the 600 already transferred to other countries — were also designated “high risk” before they were freed or passed to the custody of other governments”, published New York Times in their online edition.
According to New York Times article “the documents are largely silent about the use of the harsh interrogation tactics at Guantánamo — including sleep deprivation, shackling in stress positions and prolonged exposure to cold temperatures — that drew global condemnation. Several prisoners, though, are portrayed as making up false stories about being subjected to abuse”.
National Public Radio online article Detainees Transferred or Freed despite “high risk of Tom Gjelten, Dina Temple-Raston and Margot Williams write on the official statement to NPR and the Times from the Obama administrations who “defended the process of repatriating detainees or transferring them to third countries, despite their former risk assessments”.
“Both the previous and the current administrations have made every effort to act with the utmost care and diligence in transferring detainees from Guantanamo,” the statement said. “Both administrations have made the protection of American citizens the top priority, and we are concerned that the disclosure of these documents could be damaging to those efforts”, published NPR.
The statement said it’s “unfortunate” that NPR and the Times and other news organizations are publishing the classified Guantanamo documents. “We strongly condemn the leaking of this sensitive information”.
According to NPR the statement was signed by Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell and Ambassador Dan Fried, the State Department’s special envoy in charge of negotiating the closure of the Guantanamo facility.
NPR and The New York Times have documentation on 42 former Guantanamo detainees returning to terrorism or reestablishing the liaison with al-Qaeda again.
“Among the former detainees who have returned to the fight are 10 whom Guantanamo commanders considered “high-risk” individuals and whose transfer they opposed, as well as two they considered high risk but were willing to repatriate”, explains NPR.
The most recent case of WikiLeaks documents also brought a story of Al Jazeera journalist who spent six years at Gunatanamo Bay for news gathering information.
Is The Ignorance Real Enemy? – Debate On Three Cups Of Tea Author Humanitarian Work In Pakistan In American Media
Greg Mortenson work in Pakistan under the media investigation of CBS “60 Minutes” news program. ABC air and published the content of Mortenson email he wrote to its supporters, defending the work of the Central Asia Institute.
Greg Mortenson, author of Three cups of tea is in the focus of American media this week. After CBS “60 Minutes” questioned his humanitarian work in Pakistan, he answered with an email to its supporters, that was published in the ABC online article.
CBS “60 Minutes” almost one year investigation includes complaints from former donors, board members, staffers, and charity watchdogs about Mortenson, the way he is running his non-profit organization.
CBS Web article on “60 Minutes” investigation questions over Greg Mortenson’s stories, told they found “serious questions about how millions of dollars have been spent, whether Mortenson is personally benefiting, and whether some of the most dramatic and inspiring stories in his book are even true.
“As those of you who know me and have supported my work over the years will recognize, the story being framed by ’60 Minutes’ to air in a few hours today — as far as we can tell — paints a distorted picture using inaccurate information, innuendo and a microscopic focus on one year’s (2009) IRS 990 financial, and a few points in the book ‘Three Cups of Tea’ that occurred almost 18 years ago,” Mortenson wrote in the email today, published on ABC Web page article today.
ABC Web page article Three cups of tea author denies “60 Minute” publish segments of Mortenson email for CBS News program on its work in Pakistan. In an e-mail sent today to its supporters, Mortenson writes CBS “60 Minutes“ program on his work “distorted picture using inaccurate information”, explains ABC in the online article written by Kevin Dolak and Dean Schabner.
They wrote that CBC “60 Minutes” aired today alleged “ that the story is a fabrication and that Mortenson uses his charitable organization as a “private ATM machine”.
Mortenson wrote in its e-mail “The Board of the Directors and I made the very difficult decision to not engage with “60 Minutes” on camera, after they attempted an eleventh hour aggressive approach to reach me, including an ambush in front of children at a book signing at a community service leadership convention in Atlanta”.
According to CBS News, Mortenson dismissed their “initial request for an interview last fall, and our follow-up messages and e-mails over the past two weeks have gone unanswered. So we decided to seek him out at a speaking engagement and book- signing in Atlanta”.
In the ABC online article of today, Mortenson wrote: “It was clear that the program’s disrespectful approach would not result in a fair, balanced or objective representation of our work, my books or our vital mission”.
CBC “60 Minutes’ included various sources to support their question mark on Mortenson humanitarian work and building the schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan. They include the opinion of Daniel Borochoff the president of the American Institute of Philanthropy.
Borochoff explains, “The Central Asia Institute’s financial statements show a lack of transparency, and a troublesome intermingling of Mortenson’s personal business interests with the charity’s public purpose.
According to the documents, the non-profit spends more money domestically, promoting the importance of building schools in Afghanistan and Pakistan than it does actually constructing and funding them overseas.
CBC “60 Minutes” investigation on Mortenson work questions the number of schools its foundation Central Asia Institute build in Pakistan and “found that several principals of a number of schools allegedly build and founded by CAI where empty or built by others, while several school principals said they had not received money from CAI in years”.
According to the website of the Central Asia Institute, co – founded by Mortenson and Jean Hoerni, “the non-profit has established more than 170 schools and helped educate more than 68,000 students, with an emphasis on girls’ education”.
Three cups of tea by non-profit activist Greg Mortenson and globetrotting journalist David Oliver Relin is an extraordinary and inspiring book that gives example of individual engagement and fight against terrorism in the remote parts of Pakistan.
It brings a simple story about complicated Pakistan history and even more perplexing present days. Mortenson visited Pakistan because he wanted “to scale K2, the summit most climbers consider the toughest to reach on Earth, and leave his passed away sister Christa’s necklace there at 28,267 feet”, wrote in the book introduction Oliver Relin.
“After a failed 1993 attempt to climb K2, Mortenson arrived in Korphe exhausted. In this impoverished community of mud and stone huts, both Mortenson’s life and the lives of northern Pakistan’s children changed course”, wrote co-author of this book David Oliver Relin.
While recuperating in the Korphe, Mortenson saw that this village was “far from the prelapsarian paradise of Western fantasy” because nearest doctor was a weeks walk away and out of every three Korphe children died before reaching their first birthday”.
It was more than promise when he said he would build a school without realizing that this will change his life more than detour from K2 Mountain. This promise was given long before the start of the war on terror but gradually become the essential part of Mortenson personal fight against radical Islam in the tribal areas of Pakistan through education.
For Morthenson, the only way to defeat terrorism is to “build relationship with these people, to draw them into the modern world with education and business”. He challenges religious vs. balanced education and “goes to war with the root causes of terror every time he offers a student a chance to receive a balanced education, rather than attend an extremist madrassa”.
By 2001, is indicated in the Three cups of tea, World Bank study estimated that at “least twenty thousand madrassas were teaching as many as two million of Pakistani students on Islamic based curriculum”.
The rise of extremism in the Taliban populated area in Pakistan is a consequence of madrassa education. According to the Lahore based journalist Ahmed Rashid who is writing on the links about madrassa education and the rise of extremist Islam “estimates that more than eighty thousands of these young madrassa students became Taliban recruits.
Mortenson and Oliver Relin find that “15-20 percent of madrassa students were receiving military training along with curriculum that emphasized jihad and hatred of the West at the expense of subjects of like math, science and literature”.
In the Three cups of tea, two authors give explanation on the Wahhabism and define it as a “conservative fundamentalist offshoot of Sunni Islam and the official state religion of Saudi Arabia’s rulers”. “Wahhabi” means “generous giver” in Arabic, one of Allah’s “many pseudonyms”.
“And it is this generous giving” – the two authors compare and conclude “the seemingly unlimited supply of cash that Wahhabi operations smuggle into Pakistan, both in suitcases and through the untraceable hawala money – transfer system-that has shaped their image among Pakistan’s population”.
The large amount of money that comes from the oil finished in the “most virulent incubator of religious extremism – Wahhabi madrassas”, mention Mortenson and Oliver Relin.
Mortenson criticized the Western media for running for the exclusive stories on Taliban and looking for “local color to fill out their stories about bland press-conferences”. “I tried to talk about root causes of the conflict-the lack of education in Pakistan, and the rise of the Wahhabi madrassas and how that led to problems like terrorism-Mortenson says in Three cups of tea.
He is disappointed that the real cause of the conflict rarely is on the front page of newspapers and other media. “But that stuff hardly ever made it important. They only wanted sounds bites, about the top Taliban leaders so they could turn them into villains and run up to war”, concludes Morthenson.
What this book is praised for is the message that education is a powerful tool for the poverty as a recruiting ground for terror. Mortenson has strong belief that “literate Mullahs control vast swaths of rural, illiterate Pakistan and Afghanistan and their edicts remain supreme. As soon as a society is literate, the Mullah is disempowered and cannot disseminate false information”.
I often tell people, “The Mullah is not afraid of the bullet, but fears the pen”, comments Mortenson. I can agree that Mortenson activities in Pakistan are important and he is giving the opportunity through his non-profit foundation to the children of Pakistan to have balanced education as the best way to get out of poverty.
Education could be more powerful way to fight terrorism and religious radicals and that is the key message that I extracted from the Three cups of tea book. “If we try to resolve terrorism with military might and nothing else-Mortenson argued to Parade’s readers, “then we will be no safer than we were before 9/11. If we truly want a legacy of place for our children, we need to understand that this is a war that will ultimately be won with books, not a bombs”, advises Mortenson.
Three cups of tea book is also a good source of information for life, culture and habits of people in Pakistan.
My Pen Pal, Stevo Pendarovski from the University American College in Skopje has a dilemma about fruitfulness of the individual efforts in the fight against radical Islam. He states that “personal commitment is praiseworthy and unfortunately it could be too lengthy and too ineffective at the end”.
Pendarovski has no doubts that “education is the best possible way to counter keeping the people ignorant and voiceless”.
Despite personal efforts a need of systemic and sustainable way is needed “to pull out the people out of darkness”. Pendarovski analyses that “Pakistan is not doing that properly”. According to him, “Turkey is much better when approving the curriculum and checking on the personalities of the religious teachers”.
Having Macedonia as example, my Pen Pal looks back few years ago when we had “an attempt of establishing religious education in the primary schools, but state has badly failed in the early stages”.
“Government has deliberately sidelined itself in the process of selecting the teachers who were proposed directly by the religious authorities”, says Pendarovski. He comments, “What we got during the courses was a process of “producing” believers in their early ages instead of introducing the kids to the main religions in the world”.
“Fortunately, the Constitutional Court have annulled the law and restored secularism”, concludes Pendarovski on the presence of the religion education in Macedonia educational system.