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9/11 & the BOP…

Dateline:   9/11, 2001. FCI Jesup, Georgia. 

Walking back from the prison chow hall to my housing unit, I was met by three lieutenants.  Asked to accompany them to the central admin building “for a few brief questions,” I was soon handcuffed and placed in the SHU (Segregated Housing Unit; the “hole”).  It wasn’t quite noon.

     In the SHU, my cellmate was Alex, sharing the same incommunicado isolation for the next 50 days.  No visits, no mail, no phone, no news, no communication outside our small cell.   That’s how I’ll always remember 9/11.

We knew something had happened in NYC –a plane had crashed into a Twin Tower.  But I assumed it was a private aircraft lost in fog or something…  Information was slow and distorted, and for the most part hardly believeable.

My main problem was no visits by Jennifer Love Hewitt—however, come to think of it, she never visited anyways…

For the most part, we were ignored by staff and forbidden to communicate with other prisoners.  Letters I wrote to my attorney and Congressman never made it to their destinations.

One guard could hardly disguise his contempt.  One day he made some offhand comment about “all you guys…”   Taking advantage of the opening, I asked, real slick-like, “What guys?”

He said, “You two, and the other four Palestinian terrorists,” nodding down the hall.

“Palestinians?”  I wasn’t aware of any Palestinians in that prison.   He added, “Palestinians, Arabs, whatever.  What’s the difference?”

Ahh, righto.  What we got here is definitely a-failure-to-communicate…  Might’ve been where that other Georgia boy, Jeff Foxworthy, got his idea for “Ain’t smarter than a 5th grader.”

“Well, Ossifer, I’m definitely not a Palestinian, Arab or otherwise, and Alex here is Turkish, not Arabic.”  Of course, that just seemed to stump him further.  I wondered who the other four were.  Never did find out.

About a month into the lockdown, the Associate Warden (AW) came by the cell.  She asked, “Do you guys know why you’re in here?”   Ahh, progress.  I answered, “No, Ma’m.  Why?”

“No, really!” she replied.  “We have no idea, I thought you might know.”   Curiouser and curiouser…  “Ma’m, not meaning any disrespect, but y’all put us in here, we’re not volunteers.”

She laughed, “Washington ordered you locked down.  But all of our inquiries as to why, what they want us to do, if you’re pending investigation, whatever, are ignored.  They only say, ‘stand by.’  We’ve never had a situation like this before.”

Alex tried to argue.  Pressing his case, she only commented, “Aside from Mac, you other five are all Arabs…”  Alex interrupted her, “I’m not an Arab.  I’m Turkish!  Turks are your allies, we’re members of NATO!”

“Well, Muslim, whatever…” she said.   Again Alex replied, “I’m not Muslim, I’m Christian!”

She shrugged again, and said as she walked away, “I’m sure they got their reasons…”   The perfect bureaucratic answer to authority, no matter how arbitrary or incompetent it may be.

On day 50 we were released as unceremoniously as when we arrived.   I later found out thru an article in the Prison Legal News (“You’re in the Hole: A Crackdown on Dissident Prisoners,” by Anne-Marie Cusac, Feb. 2002) that we were hardly alone in our experience.  Across the nation, the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) had locked down many others.

Interestingly, I eventually learned that the only aircraft allowed to fly in the immediate period after 9/11, was Air force One and the military, BOP Con-Air prisoner transport planes, and the Saudis, including the bin Laden family.   Synchronicity…

Dr. Publico

Category: 9/11, JesupFCI.FPC
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3 Responses
  1. […] As I wrote in a previous article on this site, I was working in the UNICOR prison factory at the FCI Jesup, Georgia, when the crime […]

  2. […] When 9/11 occurred, I was working in a prison factory at FCI Jesup, Georgia. After lunch, as I was returning to the factory, 3 lieutenants stopped me and I was locked down in the hole for the next 50 days incommunicado. Never charged or accused of anything, no explanations… (Click image to enlarge…) […]

  3. […] terror attack in NYC, I was taken from the federal prison factory at FCI Jesup, Georgia, and locked down incommunicado in the punitive isolation “hole” for the next 50 days. Just […]

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