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Friday, July 08, 2005

Stephen Elliott: And Then There Was A Knock

The Strange Detention of a 71 year old Afghan Hindu Man and His 69 Year Old Wife

First comes the knock. There are two, maybe three, uniformed officers from the Department of Homeland Security. They tell the boy they want to take his parents in for questioning. Have them back in two to three hours. The father, Gokal Kapoor, is 71, his wife, Sheila Kapoor, 69. Old people. Hindus from Afghanistan. Two hours, they'll be back, see ya.

It takes several days and several lawyers to find out where they are. They're being held in Pamunkey Regional Jail, in Hanover, Virginia, a red and white brick structure at the end of a circular drive. The web page boasts "a state-of-the-art facility" with a housing capacity for 400 inmates. The jail serves the needs of all "user agencies, law enforcement, courts, attorneys, and community organizations." Mostly it's used to house criminals awaiting trial or convicted of misdemeanors serving less than twelve months. In Pamunkey there is a commissar, run by AraMark. If the prisoner has money in his or her account they can get Snickers bars and Pepsi, soap, feminine hygiene products, underwear. They can even get cups of noodles but not the kind in styrofoam; has to be in a see-through container. Also, no non-dairy creamer. Non-dairy creamer is flammable. There is separate housing for males and females. Male and female prisoners have no access to one another. So Sheila and Gokal don't see one-another anymore. The prisoners spend their time in their unit's day room. They can make phone calls, collect. Very expensive. Sheila's sister comes to visit, drives an hour, but she is turned away. She didn't fill out the paperwork correctly.

No one is sure why Gokal and Sheila have been arrested. They are not accused of anything, they are not interrogated. It seems it was part of a sweep of immigrants working in airports. Gokal is a baggage handler at Dulles. Sheila is an assistant for disabled passengers. But the authorities are not answering questions. Yesterday the Kapoor's were fingerprinted. Looks like they are being readied for deportation. Hard to say. Welcome to The Department Of Homeland Security.

They arrived in America in 1997 fleeing the vicious persecution of Hindus in Afghanistan (imagine statues exploding on mountain sides, a small minority forced to wear identifying insignias, beaten and forced to convert to Islam or pay fines). Sometimes an asylum case can take a while to work its way through the system. Following the American invasion of Afghanistan an immigration judge decided that the Kapoors no longer needed asylum in America, though they'd lived here for years and were very old. Though they had social security numbers and held jobs. They obeyed the law, their son went to school, and they appealed the judge's decision. Two months ago their work permits expired. Eighteen days ago, June 22, on the day they were arrested, their son graduated from high school.

There are thousands of aliens with final deportation orders against them in the Washington-Virginia area. Few are arrested.

Gokal has a successful brother, Dr. Wishwa Kapoor, head of internal medicine at The University of Pittsburgh. Dr. Kapoor has been in America thirty years. He is an American citizen. He retains a lawyer for his brother, Michael Maggio. The Washingtonian called Mr. Maggio "Washington's best immigration lawyer". Mr. Maggio thinks the whole thing is very unusual. He's quoted in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette - "Why, given the limited resources at the Department of Homeland Security, do they go after a 70-year-old Afghan man who's no threat to anyone and who faces being sent to one of the most dangerous countries in the world?

"And how are they going to deport him, anyway? The government there is barely functioning -- who's going to do the paperwork? There's no direct flight to Kabul, so they have to send him through a transit country, which means they'd have to send a U.S. agent to escort him ... does anyone think this is the best use of taxpayer dollars?"

He hopes it's just a mistake. But then yesterday the fingerprinting. One has to ask, is it possible? OK, septuagenarians thrown in jail for a few weeks, a mistake, ha ha, part of living in America. They're just tired and poor, yearning to breathe free. It happens. I mean, it's not like they were kept in a super-max. Sure, they haven't done anything wrong and they haven't been allowed to see each other, but it's just jail, a short term facility, it's not prison. Pamunkey, it even sounds funny. And there's a commissar, you can buy Snickers bars. Fine, we locked up some very old people for a few weeks, what's done is done. But are we really going to deport them? I mean, can't we, as a society, just apologize, send the old people home, scarred but still alive. Are we really going to deport Hindus to Afghanistan? After eight years? Their whole family in America and no reason to suspect them of anything. Is this what America has become? Are there no checks and balances for this broken system?


more information:


- Stephen Elliott

- Stephen Elliott (

 [The Huffington Post | Full Blog Feed]
4:34:30 PM    

David Corn: Time for Rove Withdrawal?

What's a I-wanna-see-Rove-go-to-jail fanatic to do now?

For the past few weeks, the Plame/CIA leak was in the news far more so than it had been ever since the CIA first asked the Justice Department in September 2003 to investigate the leak from Bush administration officials that outed an undercover CIA official working on WMD issues (Valerie Wilson, a.k.a. Valerie Plame), who was married to a critic of Bush's war in Iraq (former Ambassador Joseph Wilson). That leak first appeared in a Bob Novak column published on July 14, 2003; Novak cited two unnamed "senior administration officials" as his sources.

What drew all the recent attention to the investigation was the face-off between special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald and two reporters--Time's Matt Cooper and The New York Times' Judith Miller. Fitzgerald, in pursuit of the leakers (who may have violated a federal law making it a crime for a government official to identify a clandestine CIA official), wanted Cooper, who cowrote a Time article that also reported that unnamed government officials had said Valerie Wilson was a CIA official, and Miller, who had written nothing on this subject, to testify before his grand jury and talk about what their sources had told them. Initially they both resisted. And the ensuing clash--as troubling as it was for those of us who care about protecting reporter-source confidentiality--was a goldmine for anyone trying to figure out what has been happening with Fitzgerald's investigation. His inquiry has been surprisingly low on leaks, and it had been hard to suss out what he was doing and whether he was achieving any progress. But his fight with Miller and Cooper pushed facts and hints into the public record.

As regular readers of this blog know, Fitzgerald's tussle with these reporters moved Karl Rove to the top of the suspects list. Though much remains unknown, it does seem probable--as Lawrence O'Donnell has blogged about here and as Newsweek's Michael Isikoff reported--that the source Fitzgerald has so much wanted Cooper to talk about is Rove. Why is Fitzgerald intensely interested in Rove? We can only guess at this moment. But it's not unreasonable to presume this is because Fitzgerald considers him a chief suspect--even though Rove's lawyer, Robert Luskin, has told reporters that Rove did not name Valerie Plame as a CIA official to any reporter and that Fitzgerald has informed Rove he is not a target. (For a thorough analysis--by me--of what the recent court proceedings do and do not tell us about Fitzgerald's investigation and Rove's place in it, click here.

But now Fitzgerald's fight with Miller and Cooper is done. Miller is sitting in a jail in Virginia, dispatched there by federal District Court Judge Thomas Hogan until she cooperates with Fitzgerald or his grand jury expires in four months. Cooper is a free man. Time magazine, over his objections, surrendered his emails and notes to Fitzgerald. Still, Fitzgerald wanted Cooper to testify before the grand jury. Cooper was prepared to say no and be imprisoned. Then at the last-minute, Cooper declared that his confidential source--Rove?--had granted him a personal waiver to speak to the grand jury about his conversations with this source. But this waiver did not allow Cooper to speak in public about this source.

With the Miller and Cooper cases resolved, we will be left with no new tea leaves to read. Fitzgerald's investigation will proceed under the cloak of secrecy that covers (or is supposed to cover) all federal criminal probes. Some, of course, leak. (Remember Ken Starr?) But Fitzgerald's inquiry has been rather tight. I've had Justice Department officials tell me that they tend to hear nothing about Fitzgerald's actions. Cooper's upcoming testimony to Fitzgerald's grand jury will be confidential. So what he says--or does not say--about Rove will>here to see that. The article is headlined, "Novak Squealed."

- David Corn
[The Huffington Post | Full Blog Feed]
10:55:35 AM    

Tony Blair In Purgatory: Forget for a moment that ...
Tony Blair In Purgatory:

Forget for a moment that Sarasota, Florida is about 860 miles from Washington, DC, roughly twice the distance that Gleneagles, Scotland is from London. Forget for a moment that after the attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001, President Bush continued to read to schoolchildren until he was taken on a multi-state flight around the United States, while Tony Blair yesterday rushed back to London to assure his nation before rushing back to Scotland to assure that the work of the G-8 Summit would be accomplished. Forget that Bush's first words to America on 9/11 were to thank the school children, declare it a tragedy, and offer a moment of prayer, while Tony Blair, before leaving for London, spoke to the UK about terrorism, resolve and the world. Forget that Bush's speech to the nation that fucked-up day was given by a man looking like a deer in headlights, including a reassurance that capitalism was fine and a Bible quote, while last night in England, Blair gave a speech that's been described as Churchill-like in its rallying call and was also compassionate towards Muslims.

Forget all that. And think about Tony Blair for just one moment: dicked over time and again by George Bush and the United States on every world issue except for the war in Iraq. Think about the Prime Minister, coming back to London from that fine resort in Scotland, ready to hear about and talk about carnage. And let us think that, for a moment, he may have wondered if he's been played for a sucker by the neocon right and the White House. As the death toll rises, perhaps a thoughtful man, which we here in the U.S. with our thoughtless leaders often hope Blair is (in the same way we thought Colin Powell was an honest man), couldn't be blamed for second-guessing himself. Oh, no, he can't show it. But perhaps, in his sickened heart of hearts, as the police try to dig out the shattered corpses from the tunnels, Blair knows, fucking knows he's walked down the garden path with the very man who would put a bullet in the back of his skull if such an act would benefit the powerful in the United States, that he's tossed his chips onto a table filled with cheaters. Sure, he tried to bluff with sexed up documents and lies of his own, but he had no idea who he was dealing with.

In the end, Blair knows that once you've tossed in your ante, there's no gettin' out until the pot is played.
- Rude One [The Rude Pundit]
10:24:37 AM    

The 'Oscars of Idiocy'.

How about a little Friday diversion from the usual political news? My friends at the World Stupidity Awards emailed this week to let me know about their third annual ceremony to be held in Montreal on July 22nd. The show will be hosted, appropriately enough, by Lewis Black (of Jon Stewart fame).

There are some nominations, [...] [The Carpetbagger Report]
9:54:34 AM    

Iraq And Iran To Cooperate On Defense.

8:58:01 AM    

No One's Advantage.

No One's Advantage [The terror attack near the G8 summit location] "works to...the Western world's advantage, for people to experience something like this together." —Brian Kilmeade, Fox News host, in an on-air exchange July 7, 2005....

8:55:57 AM    

We investigated ourselves and we're innocent.

Really. The Pentagon, responding to charges that its medical personnel mistreated military detainees, conducted its own examination and found no widespread abuses, a spokesman said Thursday. The most laughable part is the last line. Last month, the Pentagon issued new...

[Body and Soul]
8:55:12 AM    

Throwing Down The Gauntlet To The Right

BBC World Service said early this a.m. that more credence was being given to the Islamic jihadist website claiming responsibility for yesterday's London blasts, but nothing conclusive has yet been learned. For all the discussion over how coordinated the attacks were, I can't help note that the destruction was actually miniscule compared to what it could have been, and because of that, I'm tempted...

- Riggsveda
7:05:48 AM    

London calling .

 The Tube is mostly back on, except for the Circle Line, the Hammersmith & City, the Piccadilly between Hyde Park Corner and Arnos Grove, and the western sections of the District Line. It seems fairly miraculous to me that the rest of the District Line and the Northern and Central Lines appear to be running normally.

So, let me tap into my terrometer and see how terrorized I feel this morning.

Hm, I don't feel any more terrorized than I felt two days ago. I just don't seem to have that wild urge to make a big show of how macho I am in the face of fear. I wonder why.

Oh, yes, it was because it seemed like only a matter of time before the effects of this insane invasion and occupation reached these shores, and while one could hope against hope that somehow we would be safe, one would have had to be dumber than dirt to think there was some magic barrier preventing it.

And neither will more stupid ideas that make life more complicated for ordinary people but will merely be an interesting - but surmountable - challenge to terrorists.

I see by my trackbacks that people who still believe in "The War on Terror" absolutely do not get it:

We are at war with them, people. What is bad for us is good for them, what is bad for them is good for us.
Re-focusing our attention on what is really important was a mistake on their part. It works to our advantage.
This idea that the attacks refocus our attention on "what is really important" is nuts. Perhaps the war-supporters need acts of violence against the west in order to give them a shot of adrenalin so they can keep cheerleading this disaster, but we're not doing anything to stop terrorism. On the contrary, we have given terrorism a vital shot in the arm.

On January 20th of 2001, Al Qaeda's moment was passing. Many Muslims had once found the radical movement intriguing, yes, but their terrorist tactics had come to turn people off. Far from growing, they were fading, shrinking.

9/11 would have been their last, desperate gasp. The Muslim world, by and large, was as horrified and outraged by the attack on America as anyone else.

A wise president who truly wanted to protect us from terrorism might have done any number of things, but attacking Iraq was surely not one of them. Neither was invading Afghanistan and then leaving a mess behind.

And neither was this:

Falluja should go down in history as a case study on how truth is subverted, co-opted, buried, and ignored. The first US-led siege of Falluja, a city of 300,000 people, resulted in a defeat for Coalition forces. Prior to the second siege in November, its citizens were given two choices: leave the city or risk dying as enemy insurgents. The people of Falluja remembered the siege of April all too well. They remembered being trapped when Coalition forces surrounded and blockaded the city and seized the main hospital, leaving the population cut off from food, water, and medical supplies. Families remembered the fighting in the streets and the snipers on the rooftops, which prevented movement by civilians. They remembered burying more than 600 neighbors - women, children, and men - in makeshift graves in schoolyards and soccer fields.

Under threat of a new siege, an estimated 50,000 families or 250,000 people fled Falluja. They fled with the knowledge that they would live as refugees with few or no resources. They left behind fathers, husbands, brothers and sons, as males between the ages of 15 and 45 were denied safe passage out of the city by US-led forces. If the displaced families of Falluja were fortunate, they fled to the homes of relatives in the surrounding towns and villages or to the city of Baghdad - homes that were already overcrowded and overburdened after 20 months of war and occupation. Many families are forced to survive in fields, vacant lots, and abandoned buildings without access to shelter, water, electricity, food or medical care and alongside tens of thousands of displaced and homeless people already living in the rubble of Baghdad.

What of the estimated 50,000 residents who did not leave Falluja? The US military suggested there were a couple of thousand insurgents in the city before the siege, but in the end chose to treat all the remaining inhabitants as enemy combatants.

Gee, is that enough revenge for an act that was committed by 19 men, none of whom were Iraqi?

Oh, but Falluja wasn't revenge for the three thousand people killed on 9/11. It was revenge for the killing of only four contractors in Iraq. And because those four men were murdered, the United States of America decided in its wisdom and righteous anger to terrorize an entire city.

Yes, I said "terrorize". That's what we're doing to those people. We have focused their minds on what is important.

[The Sideshow]

7:02:27 AM    

What Iraqis Want: Part II.

 As President Bush continued to spin developments in Iraq over the holiday weekend, few people noticed an important development in Baghdad, reported by Al-Hayat newspaper  83 members of Iraq's transitional parliament supported a demand for a timetable for troop withdrawal from Iraq. This represents nearly one-third of Iraq's democratically ...

[Think Progress]
7:00:50 AM    

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