I'm a little bit upset about this whole Aafia Siddiqui situation. Dr. Aafia Siddiqui is an MIT-educated neuroscientist from Pakistan. In 2008, she was in US custody in Afghanistan. And she allegedly tried to kill American military officers while in custody. Last February, she was convicted in a New York. And now she faces life in prison. A grave injustice has been committed here. Dr. Aafia Siddiqui was held against her will in Afghanistan because she was suspected of cooperating with al Qaida.
Thus far, nobody has been able to produce any concrete evidence that she was involved with al Qaida or had anything to do with terrorism. In addition, there have been allegations that Dr. Aafia Siddiqui may have been tortured while in US custody. Obviously US officials have denied this. But I believe that an independent commission needs to be assigned to conduct a thorough investigation into the torture allegations.
Given the fact that Dr. Aafia Siddiqui was held at Bagram airbase, and the fact that Bagram airbase is known to be a place where US officials brutally torture detainees, there is a good chance that Dr. Aafia Siddiqui may indeed have been tortured. This really reflects the moral bankruptcy of both the Bush administration and the Obama administration. Firstly, torture in and of itself is abhorrent, but torturing a woman is just plain disgusting. She wasn't even a soldier. She was a neuroscientist.
And if it is found that she was tortured, then the people that ordered the torture should be put on trial -- as should the people who actually carried out the torture. The conduct of the US military in Afghanistan has been absolutely abominable. In a New York Times story on this subject, one Western diplomat compared Dr. Aafia Siddiqui to Abdul Qadeer Khan, the father of Pakistan's nuclear program; this was an obvious attempt to diminish Dr. Aafia Siddiqui's public image given the fact that the overwhelming majority of Pakistani public opinion is on the side of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui.
To be on the side of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui is to be on the side of justice. And to be on the side against Dr. Aafia Siddiqui is to be on the side of injustice. The case of Dr. Aafia is totally different from the case of A.Q. Khan. The latter has been acknowledged as being responsible for nuclear proliferation. The former, on the other hand, has not been convicted to supporting terrorism. She has only been found guilty of trying to kill American troops. By the way, American troops routinely kill innocent Afghans, and none of those American troops face life in prison.