U.S. citizens tortured in Pakistan?

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Human Rights Watch yesterday reported that two brothers were illegally apprehended in Pakistan last summer, then held and tortured over a period of eight months, allegedly at the behest of the U.S. government.

Sure, it sounds like a familiar story. But there’s a twist: first of all, the brothers, though they live in Pakistan, are U.S. citizens. Second, one of the two, Zain Afzal, had been abducted under similar circumstances only a few months earlier. After being questioned and tortured–and suffering a burst eardrum and severe lacerations on his back–he was released the next day.

According to the men, FBI agents dropped by to question them in jail at least six times. On these occasions, Zain Afzal, who was being asked the same questions he answered the first time he was abducted, told the agents he was being tortured by his jailers, only to be told by the FBI agents that the matter was “beyond their jurisdiction.” (Oddly, very few American media sources have picked up the story.) According to the Afzal brothers, not only did the FBI threaten to send them to Cuba, their Pakistani captors did as well. Go Team America! Pakistani torturers are now threatening their prisoners with Guantanamo!

In other news, Amnesty International, in its newly released 2005 human rights report, accuses the United States of damaging human rights by its treatment of detainees. To which White House Spokesman Scott McClellan responded, “The United States is leading the way when it comes to protecting human rights and promoting human dignity.”

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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