The federal government rejected a request by Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, an inmate at the supermax prison in Florence, Colo., who asked to read two books written by President Obama. The government stated that the bestsellers contain material “potentially detrimental to national security,” AP reports. The inmate’s lawyer compared the rejection to something out of Lewis Carroll’s fiction. He was referring to the arbitrary controlling despotism of the “off with their heads!” queen of Alice’s Wonderland.
Ahmed Omar Abu Ali is serving a 30-year sentence at the federal supermax prison in Florence, Colo., for joining al-Qaida and plotting to assassinate then-President George W. Bush. Last year, Abu Ali requested two books written by Obama: “Dreams from My Father” and “The Audacity of Hope.”
But prison officials, citing guidance from the FBI, determined that passages in both books contain information that could damage national security.
Prison officials cite specific pages — but not specific passages — in the books that they deem objectionable. They include one page in Obama’s 1995 book, “Dreams from My Father,” and 22 separate pages in his policy-oriented 2006 book, “The Audacity of Hope.” It was not immediately obvious what passages might have been deemed problematic, though nearly half of the pages cited are in a chapter devoted to foreign affairs.
“Imagine an existence controlled by characters created by Louis (sic) Carroll, and that would approach that which Mr. Abu Ali faces each day for the duration of his sentence,” [Abu Ali’s lawyer, Joshua] Dratel wrote.