Our Almost Perfect Crimes

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Little noted by a mainstream media willfully blind to America's ongoing human rights abuses, Mohamedou Ould Slahi's  "endless world tour" of detention and torture over 14 harrowing years at Guantánamo may come to a close after being cleared Wednesday for release. An electrical engineer, victim of this country's rendition program, and reportedly Gitmo's most tortured prisoner, Slahi was kidnapped shackled and blindfolded from his native Mauritania, swept away to Jordan and Afghanistan, and landed in Guantánamo as prisoner #760.

In his searing memoir Guantánamo Diary, published internationally after a six-year legal battle and over 2,500 redactions, he documents his years-long nightmare, from his first "taste of helplessness" through a litany of tortures - beatings, sleep deprivation, sexual humiliation, forced feeding, strobe lights, loud music, death threats, rape threats against his mother - followed by "additional interrogation techniques” personally approved by Donald Rumsfeld - forced salt water drinking, hours-long beatings while immersed in ice - until, broken, he began making false confessions to whatever would end the pain, telling his abusers, "If you want to buy, I am selling.”

First cleared by a judge in 2010, Slahi languished in legal limbo until his lawyers pressured officials for a hearing last month where even his guards proclaimed him "polite, friendly and respectful." Through it all, Slahi - it is vital we remember this - was never charged with a crime. Even Mark Fallon, deputy commander of the now-defunct criminal investigative task force at Guantánamo, calls Slahi's fate "shameful" and his years of torture "unwarranted, unnecessary, and obviously totally ineffective...(He) continued to be held for years, not based on what he did to us, but on what we did to him.”

It remains unclear when or even if Slahi will be freed. He is said only to want to see his family, and to be, unimaginably, without rancor toward his tormentors.

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