By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
At one point during CBS's 60 Minutes program on Kurnaz's story, which aired on March 30, the Department of Defense was asked for a comment on his years at Guantánamo.
In a statement that I suspect had to be personally approved by Defense Secretary Robert Gates, the Pentagon indignantly declared Kurnaz's "allegations [to be] unsubstantiated" and, indeed, "outlandish." As for his descriptions of being tortured, Kurnaz's claims that the United States of America "engaged in regular and systematic torture of detainees cannot withstand even the slightest scrutiny." (There are many, many books and reports to the contrary.)
Left out of the DOD statement, however, was any explanation of why Murat Kurnaz—who had been secretly cleared by U.S. intelligence in 2002—remained imprisoned as an "enemy combatant" for another four years.
At long last, the Senate Armed Services Committee—chaired by Michigan Democratic senator Carl Levin, and with John McCain as its ranking Republican member—is now engaged in what's being billed as a thorough investigation into the origin and extent of the abuse (at the very least) of these "detainees" in Defense Department custody.
One key witness should surely be Murat Kurnaz. Will Senators Levin and McCain demand that he be allowed to come to Washington and testify (as well as have his wholly unmerited "enemy combatant" stigma removed)? Will the elite Washington press corps at least ask?