The American guards took Mohamed Maddy’s glasses before they slammed him into the wall. A portly middle-aged father of two, Maddy was crying, trying to move his shoulder in front of him so it would take the blow, but they kept smashing him into the concrete, leaving him with dark purple bruises. Then they told him to strip, and when he balked at removing his underwear —

“I am Muslim, I can’t do it,” he said — they screamed, “Fucking Muslim! Take them off!”

They made him bend over and said, “Take your hand and open your ass.” He sobbed harder as they performed a cavity search.

Afterward, they told him to get dressed and put him in handcuffs and leg irons connected by a chain to his waist. They ordered him to run and then stepped on his leg chain so he’d fall down, only to be yanked back up and forced to run again, over and over. Without his glasses, Maddy couldn’t see where he was going, but he thinks he was running in circles.

Finally he was thrown in a cell. For the first month, the light was left on 24 hours a day. If he tried to shield his eyes and snatch a moment of sleep, the guards would kick the doors. On the rare occasions when he was taken out, he was strip-searched, often twice in the same day, even if he hadn’t been out of the guards’ sight. Sometimes they did the searches in public. Sometimes they laughed and jeered. An official report later concluded that many of these searches had nothing to do with safety — they were about punishment and humiliation.

Stories like Maddy’s have lately been pouring out of Iraq and Afghanistan, but he’s never been to those countries. Maddy’s ordeal took place at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, where 84 of the 762 Muslim immigrants who were detained after Sept. 11 were held. The torture there wasn’t nearly as severe as it was at Abu Ghraib, and, according to recent reports, at Guantánamo in Cuba. But there are striking similarities, suggesting that what happened in Iraq may be an escalation of a pattern of human rights violations that began almost as soon as the World Trade Center crumbled…


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