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Mahvish Rukhsana Khan is an American lawyer, born to immigrant Pashtun parents in Michigan. While persuing a law degree at the University of Miami, she became enraged by the illegal[…]

Our leaders were wholly ignorant of the cultural and regional complexities in Afghanistan, says Mahvish Khan.

Question: Is our mistreatment of detainees a top-down problem?

Mahvish Khan: Absolutely, because the individuals who sent our country to war were not historians who understood the complex history of the region or social, cultural anthropologists who knew the cultural, linguistic and religious issues that were involved and nor were they linguists who understood the language, and I think we went to Afghanistan and trusted locals who had huge financial incentives to gain by turning one another in. And we hadn’t done our research in the area and I don’t believe it was done maliciously. I feel that fear and anger was at its peak in the United States following September 11th because this was a spectacular event where three thousand Americans were killed and we were seeing this on TV day in and day out, fifty times a day, for weeks. So that said, I do believe that with our fear and anger we were ignorant in the regional complexities of Iraq and Afghanistan.


Recorded on: 7/17/08