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October 1, 2006


Four prisons. Three countries. Two years. One detainee's story.

By McKenzie Funk

In the enemy combatant's house, in the room where he eats and prays
and sleeps, a single window casts its light on a single adornment: an
enormous Soviet-era map of the world. It is the first thing I notice
after I arrive unannounced one cold fall morning and am ushered into
the warmth of the room. We sit on the floor below an elongated Africa,
a tiny America, and a colossal, pink-shaded U.S.S.R. A brother with a
prosthetic leg appears and lays out a brightly patterned sheet still
covered with past meals' bread crumbs. Non ham non, nonreza ham non,
the Tajik proverb goes: "Bread is bread, crumbs are also bread."

The enemy combatant serves the tea. He pours it before it's properly
steeped, dumps the watery cups back into the pot, and repeats. If he's
unhappy to see an American after Guantanamo, he doesn't show it. He
smiles, and two wrinkles appear on his left cheek. I ask him his full
name. Muhibullo Abdulkarim Umarov, he tells me. He says he is 24 years
old. He asks, "You want to know the story of my capture, yes?"

The village of Alisurkhon, where Umarov was born and eventually
returned, is a collection of mud-walled homes and apple orchards
beneath the 14,000-foot peaks of Tajikistan's Pamir Mountains.
Physically, it's closer to Afghanistan than to the Tajik capital,
Dushanbe, 12 hours and 150 miles of dusty, nauseatingly potholed road
to the west. Along with post-communist detritus that litters the
roadside -- smokestacks, rusting tractors, half-finished cities of
concrete and rebar -- are occasional burned-out tanks, leftovers from
1992-97 civil war that killed up to 150,000 Tajiks after the breakup
of the U.S.S.R. The crumbling infrastructure disappears as you climb
higher into the Pamirs; the frequency of gutted tanks increases. This
valley along the Obihingou River was once home to the Islamist
opposition, and nearly a decade after the peace accords, the ex-
Soviets who control Dushanbe still believe they have enemies lurking
here. It is a suspicious place to be from.

The valley has a wild-boar problem. The hogs are everywhere lately,
trampling crops, tearing through fields of potatoes and wheat. Local
hunters, increasingly orthodox since the fall of the Soviet Union and
no longer interested in eating pork, have stopped controlling their
numbers -- and Russian hunters have stopped coming here altogether.
groups, wary of the valley's growing conservatism, have largely
steered clear. When a friend and I visited on a mountaineering trip in
the summer of 2003, villagers said we were the first Westerners they'd
seen in 12 years.

I'm back in the Obihingou Valley a year and a half later when one of
these villagers, a bearded farmer with a toothy grin and two missing
fingers, tells me about Umarov. We're having fried potatoes and soup
in the farmer's guest room, a converted shed with whitewashed walls
and plastic bags for windows. "There's a man in the valley who has
been to America," he mentions casually. I find this unlikely. "Really.
He was in a prison. They made a mistake." He begins to chuckle -- that
America could make such a mistake amuses him. I ask where the prison
was. "Koba...kaba?" It takes me a moment to realize he's trying to say
"Cuba," and a few days to cancel trekking plans and find an ancient
Uaz jeep to transport me down to Alisurkhon.

We sit cross-legged in Umarov's room, circled around the teapot, me
staring at the wall and running a tape recorder, Umarov staring out
the door. The brother with the prosthesis -- Ahliddin -- keeps
shuffling in
and out, and my friend Kubad (he asked that his name be changed for
the purposes of this story), a Tajik mountain guide playing the role
of translator, sits with us as well. Umarov looks mostly at Kubad when
he answers questions, keeping his hands in his lap, speaking so softly
that it sometimes seems he's whispering.

"As you know, 1994 was a year of continual war in Tajikistan," he
begins, "and the planes came to bombard our village. I was 14.
Ahliddin was 10." The boys were in the field outside their
grandparents' home when one of the bombs fell, and day turned to
night, so thick was the dust in the air. "My brother's right leg was
amputated from the knee down," Umarov says.

In this same house, under the same Soviet map, he and his father
readied a stretcher that would carry Ahliddin through the Pamirs to
Afghanistan, where they would spend the winter in a camp along with
thousands of other Tajik refugees. His youngest brother, Rahmiddin,
then six, also came. Umarov does not know which pass they took. He
only remembers the snow.

By springtime, Ahliddin had a new leg from the Red Cross, but the boys
needed a new home. "The Taliban were not in Afghanistan at that time,"
Umarov says, "but the country was not peaceful either." Their father
took them south to Pakistan, then returned to his wife and daughter in
Alisurkhon. "We attended religious schools in Peshawar," Umarov says.
"Our studies were paid for by wealthy Pakistanis and the government."

I ask what these schools taught about America, and he smiles
knowingly. "Maybe there were schools with the primary goal of
preparing fighters," he says, turning to face me, "but where I was, we
never thought of these things. We were very young." He gestures to the
wall. "I heard about America when I saw it on this map. But I didn't
know anything about it."

He stayed for six years, moving through three schools. He learned
Urdu, Pashto, and Arabic. He was a good student, and a good soccer
player. In May 2001, soon after his graduation, the Tajik Embassy gave
him a passport and documents for a trip home to newly stable
Tajikistan. He returned proudly to Alisurkhon -- the eldest son,
in hand -- and helped his parents with the harvest, collecting apples
potatoes and walnuts. "But then America started bombing Afghanistan,"
he says, "and the whole world went crazy."

That fall, Umarov was dispatched by his parents back to Pakistan, to
raise enough money to bring his brothers home. With direct flights
nonexistent, and the land route via Afghanistan treacherous, he flew
via Iran. Once in Pakistan he worked selling clothing, food, and
pencils -- whatever was in demand -- in the Peshawar bazaar, and on
May 13,
2002, he decided to visit Karachi in search of a steadier job. A Tajik
friend, Abdughaffor, had a place for him to stay.

Abdughaffor lived in a room in the University of Karachi library,
where he worked. Also staying there was another Tajik, Mazharuddin,
whose name means "place for the miraculous appearance of the faith."
All four walls in the library were filled with books, and on the floor
were thin carpets. The three Tajiks slept on the carpets. They hung up
their T-shirts. It was early in the morning of May 19 when Pakistani
secret service agents came. The agents woke them up, took the T-shirts
down, and used them to tie the men's hands and cover their eyes.

When his blindfold was removed, Umarov was in a jail cell, his friends
at his side. "I was not afraid," he says. "I knew I'd done nothing
wrong." The Pakistanis took them one at a time for interrogations,
quizzing them in rapid-fire Pashto about their names, birthplaces, and
histories -- and about a bombing that had just occurred. "Somewhere in
Karachi," Umarov says, "there was an attack. A bomb exploded."

It had been Pakistan's first suicide bombing: Eleven days earlier, a
red Toyota Corolla had pulled alongside a minibus outside the Karachi
Sheraton, its tires screeching. An explosion ripped the bus apart,
shattered nearby windows, and left a smoking crater in the ground.
Three passersby and 11 passengers -- French engineers working for the
Pakistani navy -- were killed. At least 22 others were injured.
authorities immediately suspected outsiders; newspapers ran ads asking
the public to report any suspicious foreign nationals. (The
investigation would, in fact, lead to a homegrown mastermind, Sohail
Akhtar, alias Mustafa, who was eventually arrested in April 2004.)

After 10 days of interrogations, Umarov was handcuffed, taken from his
friends, and driven across the city. He thought he would be freed; the
Pakistanis had said as much. But the drive ended at a building that
looked like a luggage factory -- a secret jail where leather
were stacked high against the walls.

Two Americans were running the jail, both blond, one with long hair,
one short. One was a "strong man," big and muscular; the other had an
average build. Neither wore a military uniform. "The reason I knew
they were Americans," Umarov says, "is that they told me so." Later,
he would hear that America paid bounties for suspected terrorists, and
he would wonder if he, too, had been purchased.

No longer was he questioned about the Karachi bombing. The Americans
interrogated him about Al Qaeda. "They asked me what I knew about the
terrorists," he says. "Did I know where they were?" They asked if his
passport was fake, and if he'd seen or met Osama bin Laden. "Of
course, I'd heard about him on the radio and TV," Umarov says. "But
how would I, a student, know much about him if people who came from a
powerful country like America did not know anything about him?" He
pauses and looks at Kubad and me, inviting us to question his logic.

"I was not afraid," he repeats. "I am not a thief -- not someone who
should be afraid of them or anything. I told them what I knew." If he
lied, the men said, they would send him to Cuba. Umarov remembers
turning to the translator. "What is Cuba?" he asked.

When the questions were over, they locked him in a concrete room for
10 days. The room was three feet long and one and a half feet wide and
insufferably hot. He wore iron handcuffs. It was impossible to stand
up or move about. "All my thoughts were about how my life was going to
end," he says. He worried about his brother Ahliddin, about an unpaid
debt to his neighbors, and about the times in his life when he had
made people angry or upset. "When I wanted to go to the toilet," he
says, "I would knock on the door and three guards -- one with the gun
two with the stick -- took me there." Three times a day, he was given
bowl of rice, one chapati, and one glass of tea.

"I was angry at these men for putting me in that room without any
reason," he says. "But if you read the history of Islam, you will know
there are stories similar to mine -- when people are taken or
to death without any reason. It taught us to keep our emotions
together." What confused him was that there seemed to be no purpose to
his treatment; it was not a tactic to get him to talk. The blond
Americans did not interrogate him again. He was returned, bleary-eyed
and unwashed, to the Pakistani jail, where his friends were still
being held. "From my appearance," he says, "they knew I had not been
in a good place."

At 2 a.m. the next day, the Pakistanis handcuffed Umarov, Abdughaffor,
and Mazharuddin and put black bags over their heads. There was a bus,
where American soldiers took their photographs, and then an airplane,
where they were tied together on the floor. They wore metal belts
around their waists and chains over their shoulders. They could not
move, Umarov tells us. They did not know where they were going.

When the plane landed, two soldiers lifted them and counted, in
English, "One, two, three," and threw them into a truck. "As a sack of
potatoes," Umarov says. He landed on the metal truck bed. His friends
landed on top of him. "When we cried out," he says, "we were kicked."

Umarov breaks from the storytelling and stands up, and Kubad and I
follow him outside into the blinding daylight. Walnuts are spread out
on a canvas tarp, drying in the sun. He plucks a handful of tiny red
apples from a tree, presents them to us, and disappears through a
door. When he returns, he's carrying a stack of papers: documents, in
English and in Russian, from the Red Cross and the U.S. Department of

"This individual has been determined to pose no threat to the United
States Armed Forces or its interests in Afghanistan," one reads.
"There are no charges from the United States pending [sic] this
individual at this time." It goes on: "The United States government
intends that this person be fully rejoined with his family."

These papers are now the only form of identification Umarov has, he
says -- a red flag that causes shakedowns at Tajik checkpoints and
occasional arrests. The U.S., which offered no compensation upon his
release, never returned his passport either. Attempts to get a new one
have been blocked by a local official -- part of the "KGB," as Tajiks
still call it -- who also blocked Ahliddin's passport application and
demands periodic bribes from the now vulnerable family.

An airplane hangar, vast and bright with artificial lights, was
Umarov's third prison: Bagram, Afghanistan. "Our cages were in a two-
story building inside the bigger building," he tells us. "They had
high fences and were surrounded by sharp wires." All the windows were
covered. "The whole place," he says, "was blocked from daylight and
man's sight."

Each cell held as many as 15 men; each man was issued blue prison
dungarees, a wooden platform to serve as a bed, and two blankets.
Umarov used one of the blankets as a mattress, the other to cover
himself -- though it wasn't enough. The nights were cold, and the
would not let him put his head under the covers. Inmates wore shackles
on their wrists as well as their ankles, even when sleeping, and each
was assigned a number. Umarov's was 75. "Seventy-five," he whispers in
halting English. "Seventy-five, come here."

Powerful lights flooded the cages 24 hours a day, and the guards made
loud noises to keep the prisoners awake. They hit their billy clubs
against the metal fences. They pounded on barrels. They threw cans and
empty water bottles. "We lost count of days, let alone dawn and dusk,"
he says. "We never saw daylight. We were never outside." Groups of
four guards worked eight-hour shifts; black tape covered the names on
their uniforms. One American looked just like Rambo: no uniform, a
scarf on his head, a cut on his hand. "I know him," Umarov says,
smiling. "He was the guy who made the film about Afghanistan."

If the prisoners talked to each other, the soldiers forced them to
stand and hold their shackles above their heads until the pain made
them not want to talk again. If they talked again, Umarov says, the
soldiers would take them upstairs and beat them. He was never beaten.
But once he dared to talk to Abdughaffor and Mazharuddin, and the
soldiers forced him to stand for hours, holding his shackles up while
his arms shook. He did not talk again.

Umarov knew the other men in his cage as faces. He grew bored of
looking at them. They were Arabs and Afghans and Pakistanis and men
who spoke French and English. These, he assumed, must be the
terrorists -- the ones to be blamed for the world going crazy, the
who should be punished. Sometimes, when a cellmate was taken upstairs,
screams would ring out across the prison. "This did not happen every
day," he says, "but it happened."

I ask for details, and he's reluctant to say more. "I did not see
anything with my own eyes," he says, "and my friends and I did not
experience this torture." He pauses. There were stories he later heard
in Cuba, he says -- stories that he believed -- about "beatings with
wooden stick" and electrocutions. "American soldiers used electrical
cables to shock them in their eyes, hands, and feet. Three men told me
this. And some, mostly Arabs, were forced to remove their clothes in
front of women. There were other things, too." He will not go on.

I wonder if I should put any faith in rumors passed from detainee to
detainee to me, then realize I'm missing the point. Umarov's story is
best understood as what happens when an everyman is imprisoned without
trial, moving through a system built for the worst of the worst. It's
not a story about the cruelest cases of torture -- those that America
someday expose and bemoan and ban -- but about something that may be
scarier: what has become normal in the war on terror.

In two months at bagram, Umarov says, he had only one
interrogation -- with an American woman who questioned him in Farsi
seemed confused as to why he was there. "We were alone in the room,"
he says. "She checked my documents and listened to my answers, then
told me I wasn't guilty." Life became a haze. He would stand and sit
and try to sleep in his cage, and every fifth day a soldier loosened
his handcuffs and let him walk around the prison grounds. Every
seventh day, he was brought to the showers, which often had female
guards and shut off after two minutes, even if he was still covered in

One day early in August, while Umarov and his friends were eating
lunch, the soldiers came to take them to Cuba. They walked into their
cell and started shouting, "Stand up, stand up!" and everybody did,
leaving plastic containers of pasta and meat half-eaten.

"They handcuffed our hands with metal," he says, "and covered our eyes
with something like sunglasses, only it was impossible to see through
them. They covered our ears with something like headphones, only it
was impossible to hear anything." His mouth and nose were covered with
tape, then with what seemed like a surgical mask. They placed a dark
hood over his head, and it became difficult to breathe. They tied his
legs and feet with a chain and attached this chain to another chain
around his waist. Finally they marched him onto an airplane and
chained him to the floor. "After that," he says, "I do not remember

"I was sleepwalking when we came to Guantanamo," he tells us. "I did
not understand where I was." He was unloaded from the airplane, but he
does not recall how. "When my consciousness appeared," he says, "I
found myself in the sandy desert. And I thought I would be executed
there, in the desert." His wrists, legs, and face were bleeding from
the shackles and mask. Soldiers loosened the cuffs and straps, changed
the tape on his mouth, and removed the thing that blocked his ears.
They took him to the showers and gave him a clean uniform -- this time
orange -- and a new number. Then Prisoner 729 went for an immediate
medical checkup and interrogation.

At first, he was interrogated every week. "There were new
investigators every time," he says. "There was a new room every time.
But the questions were always the same" -- an endless repetition of
conversation about Pakistan and Tajikistan and his life in both.
Occasionally, he became so angry that he wouldn't answer their
questions, preferring to sit in silence. Other times, he challenged
his interrogators: "Why was I taken here if I have not committed any

They told him they were suspicious because he had traveled many
places, many times, by many routes. He had been to Afghanistan,
Pakistan, and Iran. "I answered that they could find many people like
me," he says. "Why was it that it had to be me?" They said that the
routes he'd taken were famous, and used mostly by terrorists; he might
have seen the terrorists on the roads. They asked if he'd known any of
his fellow passengers on his flight to Iran. "The people on the plane
were mostly American journalists," he responded. "Why not arrest

At Guantanamo, the showers lasted five minutes. At first he had three
showers a week, then he had four, and soon he had showers almost
daily. The frequency of showers went up and the frequency of
interrogations went down. They began calling him in only once a month,
then once every two months. Eventually, they stopped interrogating him

"The hygiene was good in Cuba," he admits, "and we were allowed to
pray and fast." Each cell had a Koran and a real bed, and, through a
mesh fence, Umarov could talk freely with his neighbors. (Like other
detainees, Umarov believes that staring through the mesh has
permanently affected his vision.) He did not wear handcuffs in his
cell. Those were used only during biweekly exercise sessions, when the
guards chained his hands to his feet and led him shuffling around a
fenced yard. After his walks, they always returned him to a different
cell, and to different neighbors. He ended up near Mazharuddin once.
He met his formerly silent cellmates from Bagram and a principal from
Pakistan and a farmer from Afghanistan and an English-speaking Kuwaiti
who liked to talk to the soldiers.

"Some men were moved constantly," he says. "They would wake them up,
put them in chains, and take them to a new cell or to an interrogation
room." Prisoners were left shackled in a standing position until the
investigators arrived. "They sometimes had to stand for 24 hours,
moving only when they were brought to the toilet," he says. "How could
anyone be normal after that?" Yet Umarov never heard Bagram-like yells
at Guantanamo, and few of his neighbors told him they had been
tortured. What they talked about was injustice. "We did not know why
we were there or when we would leave," he says. "At Guantanamo, the
torture wasn't physical -- it was psychological."

Some prisoners went insane. Abdughaffor was one of them. He would
throw himself against the door and scream. He tried to hang himself.
He wouldn't eat. He became somebody Umarov did not know. Others took
off their clothes and sat naked in their cells. "These people became
like children," he says. "They did not understand their reality."

"During the first five or six months," Umarov says, "I believed they
would find the terrorists among us, take them away, and let the rest
of us go home." But his detention continued. He lost hope. "I started
to believe that America was against Islam," he says.

He did not see the soldier write slurs in the prisoner's Koran, but he
believes that it happened -- an Arab told him about it. "People did
mind when translators or those who believed in God touched the holy
book," he says, "but they were angry with the faithless and godless
soldiers who wrote ugly words inside it. Kafirs -- godless people --
are not
allowed to touch the Koran." Rumors of a desecration swept through the
prison. The next day, 10 prisoners attempted suicide; by week's end,
there were 23 "hanging or strangulation attempts," according to the
U.S. Army's Southern Command, which oversees Guantanamo.

Around Umarov, men tried to hang themselves using prison sheets,
twisting there until soldiers came to cut them down. "I thought about
it, too," he admits. "But from the Islamic point of view, suicide is a
sin. We advised our neighbors not to do it." He witnessed one or two
attempts a day. In response, the guards removed the sheets from the
cells, turned off the water, and stripped every prisoner to a T-shirt
and underpants.

Other prisoners, Umarov included, went on a hunger strike. Umarov
joined this strike and two others, going days without food and water,
not changing his clothes. "I wanted to either be sent back or die
there," he says. The military eventually issued an apology over the
loudspeakers. "They publicly apologized to us in different languages,"
he says. "It meant that we could stop." Soldiers came to haul them off
to the camp hospital. In extreme cases, doctors came to the cells and
stuck tubes into their arms.

"The American soldiers were like us in a way," he tells us. "They did
whatever was ordered from the top -- and they are not guilty for
He watched as fellow prisoners told their stories to guards, and he
watched as guards cried after hearing them. "We told them about Islam
and how beautiful it is," he says. "Had they not been soldiers, I am
sure they would have converted into one of us without questions."

Yet it is the soldiers whom Umarov blames for the worst of his days at
Guantanamo. It was the first day of Ramadan, he recalls, when he
decided to go above them and ask an investigator about his status.
After his meeting with the investigator, the soldiers punished him for
his insolence. They threw him into isolation for 10 days.

"I was taken to the dark room," he says. "The soldiers took all my
clothes and left me there." The room was made of iron; it measured
three feet by five feet. At night, frigid air was pumped through a
hole in its ceiling, and its small window was covered by Plexiglas so
the air couldn't leave. Two electric coils provided dim light, and
during the day, they were turned up to heat the cell to a very high
temperature. But night was worse. "Some prisoners wouldn't last the
night and had to be taken to the doctor," he says. "They kept me there
for 10 days -- and for no reason."

He later spent another 15 days in isolation, but for that, he says,
there was a reason. I ask him what it was. "I was standing in the cell
block, leading a prayer for 48 people, and a female soldier came up
and stood right next to me. I asked her to move, but she would not.
She was doing psychological pressure. So I spit on her."

It is late in the evening now, after eight hours of interviews, and
Umarov, Kubad, and I pause for dinner. Ahliddin brings in a meal of
bread, boiled potatoes, and tomatoes. We eat with our hands.

I ask Umarov to demonstrate how he was chained during interrogations,
and he rocks forward, crossing his ankles and tucking his arms
underneath his knees. He does it automatically, almost unconsciously,
then stares at me with a sickly smile. I press him for more
information about the suicides, more about his time in the air-
conditioned box. His smile fades.

"What I've already said should be enough for those who want to know
about this prison," he says softly. "It was like being in a zoo, with
people coming to stare and laugh at you." I keep pressing. His voice
rises. "There is no point in telling more of these stories. Such a
prison has never existed in the history of mankind. No one has ever
written about such a prison. Why did they keep a man for two years
with no reason? Why? They caught me and kept me as a prisoner of war.
What war, may I ask? When was I involved? I was sleeping when they
came and dragged me out of my bed. People who understand the laws will
have already made up their minds about who is who."

Ahliddin tries to change the subject. "In Pakistan," he says, "I met a
family that had lived in America. They'd worked as dog washers." He
tries to say the words in En-glish: "dog wah sir." We keep eating,
pondering the absurdity that, somewhere in the world, it could be a
man's job to wash a dog. "That's what's wrong with America," Kubad
announces. "When a dog is dirty, you think it's a problem. When a real
problem comes, you don't know what to do."

In february 2004, Umarov played soccer again. He and dozens of others
were moved to a new, lower-security prison camp within Guantanamo
called Camp 4. The cells were bigger there and the food had taste, and
they had meals together in a special room for eating. "We could walk
and talk freely," he says. "If we didn't finish our food, we could
keep it with us." He was reunited with Mazharuddin and Abdughaffor,
who was now better. Better...though never again himself. No longer did
they have to wear orange uniforms. This was an important thing. In
Camp 4, the uniforms were white, almost like normal clothing. The
prisoners were watched via closed-circuit cameras; they could spend
six hours a day outside in the fresh air.

Umarov wasn't good at soccer anymore, but he was stronger than many of
the others. Some had become too weak to run. "We were like two teams
of old men," he says. "Worse than old men." They played every day.

In March, Umarov, Abdughaffor, Mazharuddin, and 13 others from Camp 4
were issued uniforms in yet another color: brown. They noticed a
change in the way the soldiers treated them, and they started getting
called in for interrogations again. Umarov had four in quick

The last investigator he met was an old man, and he was brought to him
free of chains. The investigator was tall, with gray hair and a belly,
and he sat at a table that held candies, tea, and cans of Pepsi Cola.
Umarov had never been offered Pepsi Cola during an interrogation
before. He sat down at the table, and the investigator made a speech.
"He told me that the main reason America had been fighting and bombing
in Afghanistan was to get rid of terrorists and those who create
chaos," Umarov says. "He said that in a war situation, there are
always people who are affected who were not guilty. He felt sad that
two years had been taken from my life, and that I'd been kept away
from my family." Now Umarov would be freed.

The investigator advised Umarov to think of his future. If people
approached him to fight against America, he should not join them. He
should have a family and be a good father to his children. "He shared
the story of his own life with me," Umarov says. "He was left without
a father at a young age -- that's why he was suggesting that I think
about family." They spoke for nearly an hour. At the end, the
investigator stood up and hugged him. Umarov imagined his mud room
with the Soviet map, his parents, his orchard, his apples. He was not
mad at this speech. He was happy.

At 2 a.m. on March 31, 2004, Muhibullo Abdulkarim Umarov, along with
his two Tajik friends and a dozen others, walked without chains
through a gauntlet of soldiers at the Guantanamo airfield.
Journalists' flashes popped and cameras rolled as the procession of
detainees passed, and two guards -- a man and a woman -- carefully
Umarov board an airplane. Inside its belly, away from the journalists,
they then handcuffed him and chained him down, and they covered his
eyes with the same plastic glasses. They covered his ears with the
headphones. They covered his mouth with tape. "But this time we were
not chained to the floor," he says. "We were chained to the benches."

Copyright 2006 The Foundation for National Progress