Monday, December 15, 2014

Fareed Zakaria, challenged

"ZAKARIA: Let me ask you about the general idea of this kind of critique, you know, because a lot of people watching might wonder, you yourself have admitted that you did attend -- witnessed some terrorist training camps or camps at which Mujahideen likes were trained. You moved your family to live in the Taliban regime -- in Taliban of Afghanistan.   And so, you know, it seems odd for somebody who seems to have sympathy for regimes that were brutal in terms of their oppression of human rights would never have some kind of Senate report like this that looked at their own practices, that routinely behead people, amputate arms, you know, discriminating massively against women, for you to be turning your eye on the United States, you know, wouldn't it be fair to say that there are far more great human rights violations taking place in the name of Islamic states and Islamic movements? 

MOAZZAM BEGG, FORMER DETAINEE OF THE U.S. HELD IN GUANTANAMO AND BAGRAM: Well, I think you're conflating many, many things here. I went to Afghanistan first in 1993 and visited a camp that was -- that was for Kashmiri. That had nothing to do with al Qaeda and I think this is one of the -- one of the problems that we've seen, is that there is a refusal to look at the details, a refusal to look at the nuance and in fact, to be honest with you, not let the facts get in the way of a good story.

When I lived in Afghanistan where the Taliban were present, it's true. I did live there. And I took my family there. But then there were plenty of non-Muslims NGOs who were living there and they never get scrutinized or mentioned or demonized in the way that we have. And of course, one could easily argue that even if I did live in Afghanistan at the time of the Taliban and even if I did think that they'd make some progress compared to the 25 years of war that have preceded there, then is it right that I'm tortured? Is it right that I was held without charge or trial? 

Is it right that I'm abused cruelly, inhumanely and degradingly? Is it right that pictures of my children are waved in front of me while I'm being beaten and tortured and abused by people who claimed to be the bastions of freedom and democracy and human rights? Is this all correct? And if it is, what is the evidence for it? Why was I never tried? Why was I never taken to court? Why was I never charged?   Why the world's most powerful democracy unable to produce any of these things despite that I was being interrogated by the world's most powerful law enforcement and secret intelligence agencies? It was me against all of this and still I came out with no charges. It doesn't make any sense. 

ZAKARIA: No, but I'm wondering, you're very eloquent and you're very intelligent. Why don't we hear that eloquence and intelligence directed against the ISIS' enormous human rights abuses which continue to this day?

BEGG: Well, what makes you think that I don't talk about these things? I think -- you're again once again jumping the gun perhaps not knowing what my position on some of these organizations and individuals has been. But I do it in my own time and in my atmosphere and my own place so that I can be most effective. But I can't let what was done to me by the United States --

ZAKARIA: Why not do it right now here? You'd be heard all over the world.

BEGG: Well, let me just explain this. Because for whatever the situation was, the Taliban and the ISIS, they didn't torture me. They didn't put me into dungeons. They didn't beat me. They didn't threaten to, you know, abuse my family. They didn't do that to me. So I can only talk to my experience. " (thanks Basim)