Beating a dead horse
FOR MORE THAN FOUR YEARS NOW, critics of the Bush administration
have warned that the U.S. detention facility at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, is
fueling the Muslim street’s hatred of America. The purportedly
unwarranted detention of hundreds of Muslims, coupled with the
allegedly unjustified invasion of Iraq, these critics argue, will only add to
the rage that leads to terrorist attacks.
Following this line of thinking, you might suppose that an Iraqi national at
Gitmo would be especially angry. And thanks to the March 3 release of
more than 5,000 pages of documents from Gitmo, we can now hear the
story of one such Iraqi detainee. His name is Ali Abdul Motalib Hassan al-
Tayeea. Or, if you prefer, “Pimp Daddy”–a nickname Gitmo’s guards gave
him, for reasons that become obvious from the transcript.
Ali was brought before the military tribunal that is determining whether
he and the several hundred other Guantánamo detainees should continue
to be held as enemy combatants. At the outset of his hearing, Ali thanked
America for getting rid of Saddam’s “cruel regime,” which he said killed
one of his uncles. Ali claimed he had escaped service in Saddam’s
Republican Guard and decried the Butcher of Baghdad’s poor treatment of
his fellow citizens. He even professed a desire to become an "American
So far so good. But then, something odd happened. Ali launched into an
obscenity-laden rant that takes up much of the 24-page record of his
He is clearly a very angry man. But why? Is it the occupation of his native
Baghdad? His detention at Gitmo?
No. Ali explains:
My problem isn’t just that I am poor, or that Saddam’s government killed
my second uncle. My problem, I’m sorry to say in front of the two ladies,
but I want the Judge to know everything about me. I was never a "homo"
or gay, but I have a problem. I can’t get married because my penis is
small-sized. I went to the doctor and they said there is no help. They said
I couldn’t have an operation or surgery of any kind because I’m poor. I
want to get the operation or drugs in America or Europe. Who can help
me? . . .
This problem has taken all of my life and my thinking. For example, when
I was in school, a lot of my friends were married. I look at my friends and
say they have a good life. I can’t stay in my house, because my father and
mother are waiting very anxiously for me to get married. She says she has
a nice girl for me to marry, because she says this is my goal in life. I run
away from these questions from my mom. I told her that I want to go to
college and be a good person. My family said it was a bulls–reason and
that I’m Arab and I can marry and complete my life. I can’t stand the sight
of my mom, because she says, “my son, I want to see your kids.” I just
kiss my mom and I say "maybe someday."
In America this is only a little problem, but in my home and in my life, it’s
very difficult when the days get dark, because I hate running from my
people. I feel someday I’ll go back to my home and I’m sure that all of my
friends are married now. This is not just me in my family; it’s also my
younger brother. He was born in 1980. He’s big and is a nice guy, but has
the same problem. I know about my brother, but my family doesn’t.