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The Suffering of Abu Zubaydah


The Los Angeles Times tries hard to present different viewpoints on its Op-Ed page. But last week, they hit a new low with a column by a lawyer named Joseph Margulies, pleading for mercy on behalf of one of the three terrorists America has water-boarded since 9/11: Abu Zubaydah. Here’s some of what the column said: “Partly as a result of injuries he suffered while he was fighting the communists in Afghanistan, partly as a result of how those injuries were exacerbated by the CIA and partly as a result of his extended isolation, Abu Zubaydah’s mental grasp is slipping away.

“Today, he suffers blinding headaches and has permanent brain damaage. He has an excruciating sensitivity to sounds, hearing what others do not. The slightest noise drives him nearly insane. In the last two years alone, he has experienced about 200 seizures.

“But physical pain is a passing thing. The enduring torment is the taunting reminder that darkness encroaches. Already he cannot picture his mother’s face or recall his father’s name. Gradually his past, like his future, eludes him.”

In his editorial, Mr. Margulies describes how Abu Zubaydah was water-boarded: “They strapped him to an inverted board and poured water over his covered nose and mouth to produce the sensation of suffocation and insipient panic. Eighty three times. I leave it to others to debate whether we should call this torture”, he writes. “I am content with the self evident truth that it was wrong.”

The CIA did all this to Zubaydah, Marglies concludes, “because they believed he was evil”. Because they believed he was evil. Because they believed he was evil. When I had calmed down a bit after reading this, I typed out a letter to The Times which they printed. Here’s what the letter said:

“She looks into his eyes. Hers are filled with terror. The heat is unbearable. Her skin is beginning to blister. He reaches out and takes her hand. His hand has a deep gash in it from the shattered glass of the window he has helped to smash. ‘Hold on tight to me,’ he whispers. ‘Keep your eyes closed. Don’t look down.’ Together, they step through the jagged opening of a high floor of the World Trade Center. On the sidewalk below, people shriek in horror.

I don’t know the young woman’s name, but I do know that, like Abu Zabadah, she can’t picture her mother’s face either.”

Orson Bean’s latest novel, M@il For Mikey, is published by Barricade Books

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