Monday, March 24, 2008


Let's see how this plays out. Thus far, the story is of everything gone wrong in government bureaucracy. If the right people can make the right noise, however, that can easily be fixed:

During his nearly four years as a translator for U.S. forces in Iraq, Saman Kareem Ahmad was known for his bravery and hard work. "Sam put his life on the line with, and for, Coalition Forces on a daily basis," wrote Marine Capt. Trent A. Gibson.

Gibson's letter was part of a thick file of support -- including commendations from the secretary of the Navy and from then-Maj. Gen. David H. Petraeus -- that helped Ahmad migrate to the United States in 2006, among an initial group of 50 Iraqi and Afghan translators admitted under a special visa program.

Last month, however, the U.S. government turned down Ahmad's application for permanent residence, known as a green card. His offense: Ahmad had once been part of the Kurdish Democratic Party, which U.S. immigration officials deemed an "undesignated terrorist organization" for having sought to overthrow former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

Read on, and feel your blood reach the boiling point. I don't have to tell you what sort of guy Ahmad is. You meet his sort among the Iraqis Michael Yon and Michael J. Totten encounter in their travels with the U.S. troops on the ground.

In an interview Friday at Quantico Marine Corps Base, where he teaches Arabic language and culture to Marines deploying to Iraq, Ahmad's voice quavered, and his usually precise English failed him. "I am shamed," he said. He has put off his plans to marry a seamstress who tailors Marine uniforms. "I don't want my family live in America; they feel ashamed I'm with a terrorist group. I want them to be proud for what I did for the United States Marine Corps," said Ahmad, 38.

... Ahmad left the country after he was branded a "collaborator" from mosque pulpits in Anbar province and posters calling for his death began appearing there.

Seems he may be caught in the ... what's the opposite of a loophole? A stranglehole? ... described here.

Language in the Patriot Act and related bills defines terrorism as “any activity which is unlawful under the laws of the place it was committed.” Current law also bars admission to the U.S. for anyone who ever provided “material support” to any armed group.

The terrorism definition is too broad. The Warsaw ghetto uprising of World War II doesn't belong in the same file as al-Qaida.

The laws also make no account of whether the opposition group is friend or foe to us.

If so, all the more reason to fix it. Fast.

Depressingly, as far as I can tell, so far this story has gotten attention mostly from two sets of bloggers, both generallly unfriendly to the American effort in Iraq. One is the set whose real fixation is opening the national borders to immigrants. The other is people who despise everything the U.S. is trying to do in Iraq as a sham, and among them are writers who in other settings (i.e., when not temporarily useful to bash the Bush Administration) are likely to characterise such men as Ahmad as Quislings who deserve what they get.

[Hat tip, Reader, for the article; the opinions about it are mine].

Labels: ,