Was a man tortured, experimented on, because he had a brain condition, stemming from a head injury?  A head injury, which resulted in compulsive writing and a preoccupation with religious and moral themes?  One has to wonder.

This blog is based on documented evidence, declassified and available from emptywheel here, evidence which suggests the theory that Abu Zubaida, a brain-injured man, a man disabled by a known medical condition, was interrogated, subjected to psychological experimentation, and has been held in detention, deprived of his own writings, quite possibly all due to his brain injury in 1992.
If this is the case, this man has been deprived of his liberty, his life, adequate treatment, and his writings - all due to a disability, something he cannot control.

Here are the facts. Abu Zubaida suffered a head injury in 1992. At that time, according to the legal documents, he lost the ability to speak and write. He had to relearn both. This fact indicates that his brain injury, at a minimum, involved the temporal lobe of the brain - the speech center. Following this injury, and the recovery of speech and writing, Abu Zubaida began to write journals. He has completed 11 volumes (some of which appear to have been "lost" by the US government, which confiscated them) and is working on the 12th volume. He also suffers from seizures and has memory problems. These are common after a head injury. And hypergraphia, the compulsion to write, is a syndrome which affects some individuals with "organic temporal lobe lesions". Persons with hypergraphia also show the following characteristics, when compared to other individuals with epilepsy (seizures):
emotional maladjustment, and the number of CT scan abnormalities were significantly greater
The writings of such individuals are:
Not only that, some of the symptoms which seem to plague Abu Zubaida the worst, in his solitary confinement at Guantanamo, are also connected to temporal lobe disfunction. For example:
* disturbance of auditory sensation and perception
* disturbance of selective attention of auditory and visual input
* impaired organization and categorization of verbal material
* disturbance of language comprehension
* impaired long-term memory
* altered personality and affective behavior
Since 3 out of 4 physicians who have examined Mr. Zubaida at Guantanamo diagnosed his symptoms as seizures (based on the declassified document already cited), and we can conclude that his brain injuries are consistent with temporal lobe involvement, the onset of his compulsive writing shortly after his brain injury, strongly suggests that he suffers from hypergraphia.
A number of prolific writers may have had temporal lobe epilepsy, including Byron, Dante, Dostoevsky, Moliere, Petrarch, Poe, and Tennyson.
Abu Zubaida is a disabled man. He had a brain injury. He suffers from seizures. He has memory and comprehension problems consistent with a temporal lobe disorder. His preoccupation with morality and religion may well be connected to his disability. As may be his hypergraphia. As well as some of his emotional difficulties. And even his connection to jihad - due to his preoccupation with morality and religion.

On top of his disabilities, this man was tortured. Experimented on. Has been left without adequate medical care, his writings confiscated and used against him, in solitary confinement, with noise and lights which most likely exacerbate his brain condition and may bring on some of his seizures.

One has to wonder if they picked up and tortured the wrong man! A disabled individual. One has to wonder to what extent the US has caused him further injury, further emotional harm and even physical harm. One has to wonder if the deprivation of his writings, something he describes as his "worst torture" is indeed itself a war crime - against a disabled man, who needs to write, who describes his writings as like "my child".

The tragedy of this man's suffering is beyond belief. Especially when you connect all the dots, which suggest that a man suffering from a severe disability has been tortured, experimented on, and left in solitary confinement, in a room where lighting and noise are excruciating, due to his disability, and where deprivation of his writings is also excruciating, due his disability.
The horror of this is a terrible war crime, sitting right on the doorstep of the bush Badministration, which not only failed to adequately diagnose a man in its custody, but has irreparably damaged the same man due to mistreatment, neglect, and outright barbarism.

[Initially posted at Oxdown - with a huge hat tip to emptywheel]




Not only do I hope this gets publicity, but frankly I hope it gets Abu Zubaida the diagnosis and treatment he needs, together with improved living conditions, access to sufficient writing materials, and the ability to maintain custody of his own writings.
We owe this man a lot of reparations for what he’s been through!
That a disabled, brain-damaged man, has quite possibly been persecuted - for years - due to a disability - is exactly why there should never be torture and never a rush to judgment about someone's "guilt"!
Thank you, TheraP!
You are most welcome! :)
Geez a fine exposition again. You have me worried about this seizure variable; I was going to make a joke but this is not the place...
Although an awful lot of symptoms..geeez
You also have me going back to this empty wheel.
It really is something having a therapist at this site.
Very fine post...really more than a post. And your continuing series is informative..and scary.
Sorry to worry you about the seizure disorder stuff.
Thanks for your kind comment as always, dd.
Lots of people are disregarding this as many had concluded the guy was mentally ill. But this nails it as due to his prior injury, it provides a way for his lawyers to get him proper treatment, and it puts into question the basis for his torture. They thought he was lying, when likely he couldn't recall or understand well. And the psychologist made use of his diaries to buttress the case for getting the torture/experimentation approved!
The psychologist is in even deeper trouble now!
The 20th hijacker, Zacarias Moussaoui probably had a mental disorder but there may be a link between mental illness and terrorism to begin with. At least one of the four guys arrested yesterday for plotting to blow up NY synagogues "suffers from schizophrenia and bipolar disorder." I know there have been several suspects here that likely had mental disorders. lyman Faris who was going to take down the Brooklyn bridge with a small blow torch and was working for the FBI (who did have AL Qaeda connections and probably falsely accused others) was said to be mentally disturbed. At least one of the Liberty City Islamofascist Christians that took material support (boots and such) from an informant was said to have mental problems. It seems that many of the "homegrown" terrorists have dubious mental faculties and some major assistance from undercover law enforcement.
But many of the serious suspects and many picked up on the flimsiest of evidence have come out of detention (or remain there) with severe mental illnesses brought on by their treatment. I believe it’s one of the reasons they want to retain the military commissions. Many of these would be found incompetent to stand trial in US courts.
Still, Jose Padilla was obviously driven mad by years of torture, but the government not only managed to have him declared fit to stand trial but got a conviction. Padilla was the propaganda poster boy of the evil terrorist and used by Bush to claim unconstitutional powers like torture because he was caught just in time to subvert his apocalyptic plot to set off a dirty nuclear bomb in Anytown, USA.
Of course, by the time they charged him to avoid a SCOTUS review, and he got his day in court even though his brain was fried, it turned out that there never was any evidence of a big terrorist plot. Inflammatory rhetoric and playing 9/11 videotapes may have had something to do with his conviction (along with a conveniently discovered Al Qaeda document found in Afghanistan with his name on it). How many really can't "assist in their own defense" because they suffer mental disorders from torture designed to break them down mentally?
Thanks for your thoughtful comment, Don. I read yours and Synchronicity's. And it sparked some thoughts about prison reform and mental health treatment. I need to write about that.
Hi TheraP,
I read this post and I felt angry and confused. I don't know the facts about what this man may have done. I read the info at empty wheel. I am very upset about what is going on with these detainees and what has been done to them. I trust some of them are likely men who really belong in prison. Some...
Today President Obama said that some had cases that were such a mess that they could not be tried. WHAT IN THE HELL DOES THAT MEAN?
Does that mean that they 'may be dangerous' but people handled the entire thing so badly that they would be forced to release them? Well then if they can go back to their own country someone should release them.
The president called them POW's today. That means the Geneva Convention applies if I am not mistaken. They have rights, 'all of them' to a trial. I don't understand how the US can hold any person indefinitely for any reason. That notion is making me see us as having devolved into a police state. I know that the president cares about how this affects our diplomacy and how other countries will treat americans they arrest etc. But, WTF?
All of this is very troubling.
It also bears on the criminalization of the mentally ill here at home. How many people in jails are really crazy. Get into trouble, because they can't think straight. Get no treatment or not enough of it. And end up back in jail over and over.
We need prison reform. We need mental health reform.
I think you've pointed me to my next blog. Hat tip to you! :)