The author is an American born of Afghan immigrants. Her Father became a successful cardiologist and her Mother became the director of neonatology. Mahvish grew up caught in between the realities of two worlds... her parent's restrictive, conservative, old world disciplines, and her longing for a bit more of the looser American way. She graduated from the University Of Michigan and then attended law school at the University Of Miami. In 2005 while in law school, "she was studying the federal torture statues and how policy makers had cleverly circumvented legal principles in creating the military detention camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where prisoners in the "war on terror" could be held indefinitely without being charged with any crime." Mahvish felt the pain of September 11th as an American... "But also understood the need to invade Afghanistan and destroy the Taliban and al-Qaeda. But I also felt the suffering of the Afghans, when hundreds of Afghan men were rounded up and thrust into the black hole of detention at Guantanamo." This led her to volunteer to become an interpreter between volunteer lawyers and the detainees. And this leads to the core of this heart-breaking... heart-warming... educational odyssey... into what is really going on in Guantanamo, and the horrifying abuse in route to there .
In an attempt to convey to potential readers, the "delicate" power in the words and meaning communicated by the author in this book... I feel it would be helpful to share with you how it affected me. I am an honorably discharged Viet Nam era Veteran, who has always felt very strongly that America was losing a lot more of our precious American lives in battle, because we seem to be the only country that adheres to true "RULES OF ENGAGEMENT". While other countries entire military plans are built around suicide bombers blowing up and murdering innocent civilians, women and children... our soldiers literally have to call lawyers from the battlefield before they make their next move! But here is where this wonderful young woman EDUCATED ME like no newscast or newspaper was able to do. She so perfectly "straddled" both sides of the ethnic line between her heritage and her birthright.
What I learned made me both mad and disappointed in the lack of legal "equality-of-justice" to other human beings. Believe me... I know there are some pretty despicable characters at Gitmo... but there are also innocent men who were snatched out of their families... out of their jobs... out of their countries. I also know that in every jail and prison in the world everyone says they're "innocent", and as one of the volunteer lawyers at Gitmo said: regarding the "face of evil... how normal it looks, how so many of the men who perpetrated some of the worst crimes in history - Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot - had been men who appeared perfectly ordinary, who were kind to children and dogs."
But here's what I learned from this book, and feel must be done, so some of the tarnish can be cleansed from America's name: Lawyers must be assigned immediately to any "enemy combatants" arrested. There must be a time limit as to how long someone can be held without a trial or evidence. (Due to most cases involved at Gitmo being international in scope, the period does need to be much longer than a normal case in America... but no one should be allowed to be kept in such de-humanizing conditions for five years without a trial and conviction.) All sexually demeaning atrocities, such as being made to stand or lay naked for extended times should be outlawed. Rape and sexual perversion (imagine me having to state this in America!) should be outlawed and perpetrators should face heavy jail time themselves. Prisoners should be allowed to have writing supplies and receive mail on a timely basis. (Not holding up letters for a year or more.) AND HERE IS THE MOST IMPORTANT POLICY THAT SHOULD BE CHANGED IMMEDIATELY: **UNLESS IT IS A HIGH RANKING ENEMY SUCH AS BIN LADEN, ETC. STOP THE POLICY OF PAYING REWARDS FOR TURNING PEOPLE IN!
*** HERE'S WHY ** "Many of the men insisted that they they'd been sold to the United States. During the war after September 11th, the U.S. military air-dropped thousands of leaflets across Afghanistan promising between $5,000.00 and $25,000.00 to anyone who would turn in members of the Taliban and al-Qaeda. Considering that the per capita income in Afghanistan in 2006 was $300.00 or 82 cents a day, that's like hitting the jackpot. The median income for each American household was $26,036.00 in 2006. If a bounty system of equal proportions were offered to Americans, it would be worth $2.17 MILLION. The average American and the average Afghan would have to work for eighty-three years to make that kind of money." Pakistani's and Afghan's who had a grudge against a neighbor were turning people in... getting the reward... and the poor soul who was "fingered" spent years and years in the hell that was constructed at Gitmo. One of these unfortunate men had gotten into an argument with a worker that was supposed to connect water to his house and didn't. They got into a fight, and the worker turned the homeowner in, and he wound up spending over three years in the bowels of Gitmo hell. "THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE (DOD) has said it was unaware of any sort of bounty being paid for the prisoners." **YET INCLUDED IN THIS BOOK ARE TWO PICTURES OF THE LEAFLETS THAT WERE DISPERSED ALL OVER PAKISTAN AND AFGHANISTAN! "Pakistani president Musharraf even bragged about it in his memoir, "In The Line Of Fire": "We have earned bounties totaling millions of dollars, he wrote, admitting that his agents had handed over 369 men to the U.S. military in exchange for CIA "prize money". According to Amnesty International reports, two-thirds of the men who landed in Guantanamo were picked up in Pakistan, where many were "groomed" in local jails to grow out their beards and look more like Taliban before being sold to the U.S. military.
It is a FACT that most of the prisoners being held in Gitmo were never on a battlefield. If this book can make such a big impression on this patriotic veteran... I can't wait to see the effect it will have on people who don't start out with as hard core beliefs as I did. One of the biggest goals of every book ever written is to educate... and this book has sure as hell educated me!