So a federal judge has ordered the release of GITMO detainee Abd al Rahim Abdul Rassak, mainly because before he became a prisoner of the United States, he was the prisoner of the Taliban and al-Qaeda. Federal prosecutors had thought that Rassak was allied with these forces, until videos found in an al-Qaeda safehouse proved otherwise. In the end, U.S. District Judge Richard Leon found the case for release too compelling to justify holding him any longer:
"I disagree!" wrote the judge, adding that U.S. officials are "taking a position that defies common sense."
The judge said the government and the U.S. media initially mistook Rassak as one of a number of suicide martyrs, based on a videotape captured at an al-Qaeda safehouse. Further investigation found the tape actually showed al Qaeda torturing him.
In a 13-page written decision, the judge heaped scorn on the suggestion that Rassak could be part of the same terrorist organizations that had abused him.
Rassak, a Syrian, had admitted to U.S. interrogators in 2000 that he stayed for several days at a guesthouse used by Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters, where he helped clean weapons, and then briefly attended a terror training camp.
"There is no evidence -- from either side -- as to why he suddenly was suspected by al-Qaeda leaders of spying and was tortured for months into giving a false confession," Leon wrote. "It is highly unlikely that by that point in time al-Qaeda (or the Taliban) had any trust or confidence in him. Surely extreme treatment of that nature evinces a total evisceration of whatever relationship might have existed!"
If the prosecution's case was that Rassak had somehow bonded with his al Qaeda captors, maybe Sweden should have to take him into custody, to assist with all that Stockholm syndrome!
But here's my larger point. Here's the AP's take:
The discovery of suicide martyr videos seemed certain proof that Abd al Rahim Abdul Rassak was part of al-Qaeda. A closer look at his video, though, showed he was actually being tortured by al-Qaeda.
"Tortured" by al-Qaeda? Don't they mean "harshly interrogated?"
Bullshit Media Watchword Watch: Eric Boehlert notices that WaPo's Chris Cillizza loves the term post-partisanship, even though it makes for some extremely confused reporting. I have urged Cillizza away from this term before!
Courage In Journalism: Yahoo News. Not afraid to confront the tough questions.
Step Away From The Social Media: This post, from CJR's Richard Wexler, purports to demonstrate just how indistinguishable Howard Kurtz's tweets are from those of fake Doonesbury journalist Roland Hedley. But if you ask me, it builds a stronger case for encouraging people who don't add much value to Twitter to stop using it.