Would the Government Kidnap You?

On 16th August 2012, members of the FBI, Secret Service and police turned up at the house of ex-marine Brandon Raub The veteran was snatched from his home, without his rights being read to him, and brought before a judge, who committed him to a psychiatric ward against his will

His crime? Posting that the government were behind 9/11 on his private Facebook account What would it take for the Government to kidnap you? The most prevalent cases of US Government-sponsored abduction fall under the CIA’s policy of ‘extraordinary rendition’ This involves the kidnap of a person overseas and then transporting them – often to a nation known to torture people

This process is known as torturing by proxy During the Bush administration, the CIA set up black sites across the world where they could use so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” to torture individuals The CIA cannot carry out rendition on US soil

The agency claims to only rendition those who are suspected terrorists, so it seems unlikely they would kidnap you on vacation But without the checks and balances of due process, mistakes can go unseen Laid Saidi, an Algerian, was abducted and taken to a black site called the Salt Pit in Afghanistan He had supposedly been overheard talking on the phone about airplanes In fact, he was actually talking to his brother about new tires

The two words sound similar in colloquial Arabic He spent 16 months imprisoned and being tortured before, realising their error, the CIA released him back to Algeria Also in the Salt Pit was German citizen Khalid El-Masri The CIA confused Khalid El-Masri for terrorist Khalid Al-Masri Condoleezza Rice herself ordered his release after realising the mistake

There are black sites in the Middle East of course, but could there be any in the US itself? Journalists exposed the Chicago Police Department for setting up its own detention centre, named Homan Square The compound, which is officially off-the-books, is beyond the reach of attorneys or the family of the detained and has a practice of shackling those inside for long periods One such uncharged inmate was only found by his lawyer after he was transferred to a hospital with head injuries he incurred during the 8 hours he had been missing at the facility Another abductee was just 15 years old He was kept there for 13 hours before being released with no charge, no formal booking, and therefore no record of the event on police systems

In 2013 another abductee, 44-year-old John Hubbard, was found dead in an interview room And the location isn’t just used for fighting terrorism Anything related to the flow of money, drugs, or guns is a kidnappable offence, as is political protest 7,000 people since August 2004 have been disappeared to the facility 6,000 of them were black

In general, the law makes it difficult for the government to kidnap US citizens who it believes pose a threat And so, in the case of individuals like Brandon Raub, involuntarily commitment is a useful way of silencing those who could be a problem The government is able, if it wishes, to remove Freedom of Speech, through the application of State legislation such as the Baker Act Such acts, in essence, state that a person can be forced to undergo psychological testing and be kept for a limited time The government hopes no one will believe anything they say if or when they get back out – useful if you wish to delegitimize political opponents

Brandon Raub did get back out, and with his lawyer John Whitehead he sought to sue the government for wrongful imprisonment Whitehead, who is director of a civil liberties organisation, claimed that 20 similar cases were underway A similar use of this power was against ‘doomsday prepper’ David Sarti After visiting hospital for a heart complaint and refusing the treatments that were offered, he returned home, only to be escorted back to hospital by police after 15 minutes Instead of receiving treatment, he was declared mentally unwell, and kept for 4 days until a judge ordered his release

Afterwards Sarti went to buy a gun, but was unable to, as he was deemed ‘mentally defective’, despite the fact that he was cleared by court order of ever having been mentally ill One explanation for these involuntary commitments could be that the people simply did have mental health issues that required immediate attention, although the government has obviously handled the situation badly On the whole, it seems that those most frequently bearing the brunt of the US government are Muslims and ethnic minorities

And so, while we may not need to necessarily worry for ourselves, we may want to think twice about how the government is acting towards others

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