The Days of “That Can’t Possibly Be” are Long Gone

Yonas
Fikre is a Muslim.

So
that’s strike one against him at a
time in America when it’s toxic, if not downright dangerous, to be Muslim. He’s
also a youth basketball coach at his mosque, the Portland (Oregon)
Masjed-as-Saber mosque. It’s a large organization, serving nearly a thousand
Muslims and it’s of interest to the
FBI because seven of those thousand (The Portland Seven) were alleged to be
linked to terrorism. So that’s strike two,
coaching basketball at a ‘site of interest’ to the FBI.

Yonas
alleges that the FBI first asked and then coerced him into becoming an
informant for them and when he refused, strike
three
came whizzing past, a high fastball and barely in the strike zone. Then
the tragi-comedy began, under what can only be described in the kindest of
terms as very strange circumstances. The FBI lay quiet as a fox watching a
chicken-coop and, when Yonas left on a business trip to Dubai, they marooned
him there by placing him on the federal no-fly list once he was out of the country and unable to return home.
Shortly
after that the Emirate police showed up. Yonas had been neatly and
extraordinarily renditioned, a euphemism for sidestepping American law. If the
FBI can’t torture, they know and use those who can. The fox had its chicken. What
followed was 106 days of disappearance, daily beatings and stress positions,
while questions eerily similar to those of the FBI were pounded at him.
That can’t possibly be, was my
first reaction on opening today’s issue of The
Guardian
, which ran the story.
(It’s well worth the read)
The
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Center for Constitutional Rights have
each taken Yonas’ case, so apparently it can
possibly be
. After a five-year odyssey that found Yonas asking for and
being refused asylum in Sweden, the Swedish government paid for a private jet
to fly him to Portland, because he still could not get off the no-fly list
I remember reading
the first articles that appeared regarding the Edward Snowden revelations of
what our CIA and NSA had been up to. That
can’t possibly be
, not in my
America. 
Now Snowden’s been marooned by the long arm of America as well, his
passport revoked while he too was outside the country. Snowden is charged under
the Espionage Act for telling the truth.
He is championed around the world, except in his own country. 
If nations, like
individuals, are known by the company they keep, perhaps America should hang
out in better neighborhoods.
Can all this possibly be happening in the
America I have loved and called home during all or part of nine decades?

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