Noted speaker Arthur Emery discussed the story of Guantanamo Bay detainee Abu Zubaydah, a Saudi citizen whom the United States government mistakenly suspected of Al Qaeda involvement, last night at the Law School.
Abu Zubaydah has been imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay for nine years.
Former President George W. Bush claimed Abu Zubaydah was one of the three top leaders in Al Qaeda. Donald Rumsfeld, secretary of defense under George W. Bush and a former Hoover fellow, believed he was a senior Al Qaeda official who had been intimately involved in a range of activities.
However, recent evidence has suggested that Abu Zubaydah was ideologically opposed to Al Qaeda, Emery said. In 2000, Zubaydah’s Khalden camp was told that it either had to support Al Qaeda rule or close.
“Abu Zubaydah, number three in Al Qaeda, and his camp was closed by Al Qaeda?” Emery said. “It’s incredible to believe that the U.S. government believed that when he wasn’t involved in Al Qaeda from the very beginning.”
Emery argued that Guantanamo Bay’s location is incredibly strategic.
“It’s outside of the United States–U.S. laws can’t control it,” he said. “It’s not a part of Cuba because it’s land-leased from Cuba. It’s really a black hole for justice by law.”
When the FBI first interrogated Abu Zubaydah, its goals were to gain his confidence in order to gather actionable intelligence.
“Beating someone until they talk doesn’t give them incentive to talk,” Emery said. “It gives them incentive to shut up.”
The FBI recognized this, whereas the CIA did not, he added. CIA interrogators subjected Zubaydah to waterboarding in an attempt to obtain information. Emery described Zubaydah’s situation as “a world of torture and human debasement.”
“This is what we allowed, and we continue to debate whether it is justified,” he said. “You can’t do that to a human being and still think of yourself as a human being.”
“We have to stand up and say we won’t let our country be this sort of bastion of destruction in the world,” he said.
The event was co-sponsored by Amnesty International.