Don Williams: Shout it from the rooftops--Al-Libi--keep his torture story alive





[Don Williams is a prize-winning columnist for "Knoxville Voice," professional blogger at Knoxvoice.com and a contributing editor to Media With Conscience (MWCnews.net). He is a also a short story writer, freelance journalist and the founding editor and publisher of New Millennium Writings (see www.newmillenniumwritings.com), an annual anthology of literary writings. His awards include a National Endowment for the Humanities Michigan Journalism Fellowship.]

Until Sunday, a man named al-Libi was living proof that torture doesn't work. Now he's dead proof! According to reports coming out of the Middle East and landing on progressive websites here, the government of Libya is claiming al-Libi "committed suicide" on Sunday in a Libyan jail. Read about it here at Andy Worthington's website. http://tinyurl.com/psj3ky

It's up to us to keep al-Libi's story alive. News of his death comes as the usual suspects--Dick Cheney, Fox News, even some at Newsweek--suggest that waterboarding and other tough interrogation techniques made us safe during the Bush years.

There's one compelling reason we should not embrace this cold, sly notion. Al-Libi (Al-LEE-bee). It means "the Libyan," and there are many people so named in the Arab world. The fact that Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi is not the most famous of them all is an indictment of American media and politics, for his lies, obtained under torture, led to the death and displacement of millions. I keep waiting for Obama to utter al-Libi's name. What's he waiting for? Until he and others do, it's up to us to shout it from the rooftops.

Won't you join me? It's not hard to say. Al-Libi. So shout it out. In doing so, we just might rescue the soul of the nation. Email me at DonWilliams7@charter.net to find out how making al-Libi famous could turn the debate over torture.

Al-Libi was not a nice man. He was a terrorist and a trainer of terrorists. Yet even he should never have been tortured, not only because torture's wrong, which it is, but because, according to ABC News and others, the lies al-Libi told to end his CIA-sponsored abuse were used to bomb, invade and occupy Iraq, a terrible mistake in the opinion of most, and one for which we've paid and continue to pay dearly.

Though never mentioned by name, al-Libi’s false statements turned up in Dick Cheney’s August 2002 VFW speech in Nashville laying out his bogus case for war against Iraq (http://tinyurl.com/chpqzl) according to the Guardian and many others. And they turned up in Bush’s 2003 State of the Union Address. And in Colin Powell’s 2003 speech to the United Nations. Those speeches laid down the justification for a war that led to millions of wounded, killed and displaced Iraqis, thousands of American casualties, a doubling of the national debt, loss of prestige by America in the eyes of the world, and much else I can document. Many believe the war led to our current economic miseries. It's an even bet whether Obama will be able to extricate us from these disasters.

Why are so few of us telling you about al-Libi? Why isn't Congress telling you? Why isn't the national media? For that matter, why isn't Obama? If anyone ever needed proof that torture is not only evil, but a bad idea all around, the case of al-Libi proves it. If you don't believe me, read the July 5, 2004, article, "Iraq and Al Qaeda" in Newsweek by Michael Isikoff. http://www.newsweek.com/id/54310....

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