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Even Great Journalism Leaves Questions!

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A lot of the news coming out of Egypt these days is truly professional journalism at its best. And because it is at its best, it is also heart-breaking and maddening.

But regardless of how excellent some of the reporting has undoubtedly been, readers are left with nagging questions that just won't go away. And maybe that's as it should be, because it draws us in for more answers.

Last week, two of the best journalists covering the Egypt story filed spine-chilling accounts of former political prisoners and their relatives rampaging through the Ministry of Interior -- which ran the security police and made the life and death decisions about torture -- looking for the files of their loved ones. Some of those loved ones has been secretary executed. Some had been tortured until they died. Many had been "disappeared" and would probably never be heard from or about again.

Those journalists are Hannah Allam of   McClatchy Newspapers and Andrea Bruce of The New York Times.

Here's how Hannah Allam begins her piece, which is datelined Cairo:

"Trudging through dungeon-like cells and mounds of shredded documents, hundreds of Egyptians on Saturday surged into the Cairo headquarters of the dreaded State Security apparatus for an unprecedented look inside buildings where political prisoners endured horrific torture."

"Some former prisoners sobbed as they saw their old cells, recalling electric shocks and severe beatings. Families held passport photos of missing relatives and were desperate to explore the dank chambers for clues to their fates."

How could you not read on?

Allam continued: "Dismantling State Security, the shadowy and all-powerful intelligence force, was a key demand of protesters who forced the resignation last month of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. When the military-led interim authority failed to dissolve the agency immediately, protesters in Cairo and the port city of Alexandria descended on State Security offices this weekend to seize files they hoped would cement Mubarak's legacy of prisoner abuse and disappearances.

"I thought my brother would be found there," said Leila Mahmoud, 47, who was distraught when she learned the buildings had been evacuated. "He was taken on April 2, 2005, and we've been looking for him since then. We haven't heard a word from him since. Not a word."

"Security forces and the police routinely torture or ill-treat detainees, particularly during interrogation. In most cases, officials torture detainees to obtain information and coerce confessions, occasionally leading to death in custody."

"For those who jailed at the complex, the memories are haunting," she says.

"I saw people's nails being ripped out and people hung from the ceiling by their arms or legs," said Adel Reda, 39, trembling as he recounted his nine months inside the complex.

"They would throw our food in sand before giving it to us and splash us with cold water day and night. Sometimes it was so dark you couldn't see your hands."

When asked whether he was ever allowed access to an attorney, Reda raised his hands heavenward and replied: "My lawyer was God."

Allam's piece goes on recounting citizen after citizen telling their stories of loved ones snatched from the beds or their offices or their cars, whisked to this torture factory, in all likelihood disappeared as if they had never lived.

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http://billfisher.blogspot.com

William Fisher has managed economic development programs in the Middle East and elsewhere for the US State Department and the US Agency for International Development. He served in the international affairs area in the Kennedy Administration and now (more...)
 
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Well, we hope so. But Egypt needs to know a l... by WILLIAM FISHER on Sunday, Mar 6, 2011 at 9:43:28 AM