Tuesday, September 02, 2008

The Fishing Expedition

Binyam Mohamed used to do drugs, back when he was just an Ethiopian immigrant in London. He tried school, then he got a menial job, and he turned to drug abuse to deal with the unfairness of his life. Then he discovered radical Islam and all its promises. He could be somebody, the sort of somebody that had power and was important.

Off he went, to Pakistan and then to Afghanistan, to claim his right to impose his will on the world. He learned how to make and set bombs, he fought against the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan and when his side lost, he ran away to Pakistan where he could perfect his "dirty bomb" in peace.

The Pakistani police lifted him at the Karachi airport, him and his false passport. He ended up at Guantanamo. What happened in between is something his lawyers are trying to discover.

Charged by U.S. authorities with terrorist offenses, Mr. Mohamed's defense centers on his claims that he was the victim of extraordinary rendition, followed by torture. Therefore, his testimony is null and void because it came out of torture which is illegal.

According to the terrorist's lawyers, American aircraft landed at Shannon Airport on the way to, or coming back from, an interrogation session. They have asked the Taoiseach for detailed information about the flights. Who was on them, what passports did they carry, where did they stay in Ireland while their plane was re-fueled. They want hotel records, they want phone records, they want flight plans and anything else they can think of.

The Council of Europe insists that the flights had something to do with rendition, but they can't prove a thing because there is no proof. Hence, Mr. Mohamed's attorneys are doing the work for them, to sneak in the back door and get that smoking gun of a secret document.

The point of all this is not to defend Binyan Mohamed or keep him off of death row. The point is to find evidence where none exists, to show that the Irish government was complicit in extraordinary renditions because they let American planes, without any terrorists in them, land on Irish soil.

Sometimes the red herring that's thrown in to the mystery is so obvious that the reader figures out the ruse. Spoils the whole book, though, when the author can't employ subtlety.

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