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  1. #21
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    Jan 2007


    US shuts office for Guantanamo closure

    THE US State Department has shut down the office of its special envoy for the closure of Guantanamo Bay, an official says, in a sign of the fading hopes of shuttering the jail.

    Daniel Fried, the special envoy in charge of the dossier, will now move to co-ordinate the State Department's sanctions policy, including for Iran and Syria, and his "former responsibilities will be 'assumed' by the office of the department's legal adviser", The New York Times reported on Monday, citing an internal personnel memo.

    A US official, who asked not to be named, told AFP that the story, which specified that Fried would not be replaced, was "accurate".

    Fried, a veteran diplomat and former ambassador to Poland, was appointed special envoy in May 2009, only months after US President Barack Obama ordered the notorious jail at the US naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to close.

    In a declaration in late 2009, Fried said his job was to engage in "diplomatic dialogue with foreign governments concerning the repatriation and/or resettlement of individuals" held at Guantanamo.

    On his first day in office in January 2009, Obama signed an executive order the prison camp should close, in a bid to fulfil one of his campaign promises.

    But his plan was thwarted when some countries were reluctant to accept the return of their nationals and when US legislators banned the military from transferring prisoners to the United States for trial or sending them abroad.

    Fried said in his 2009 declaration that his main job was to find places for those held in the jail who had been cleared for repatriation or resettlement to third countries.

    He said he had been guided by US policy that it would not repatriate people to countries where they were likely to face torture.

    Of the 779 inmates who passed through Guantanamo only nine were ever convicted or brought to trial, and of the 166 who remain, 55 are considered safe to be released by the US military, but have nowhere to go.

    The news of the State Department's move came as hearings into the case Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the self-proclaimed mastermind of 9/11, and his four alleged co-plotters resumed at the military tribunal in Guantanamo on Monday.


  2. #22
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    Guantanamo Bay military prison – A monument to suffering and injustice

    ''Been to Hell and back'' Abdelazis Naji Prisoner number 744 - released from US military prison at Guantanamo Bay in July 2010.

    The eleventh anniversary of the opening of the Guantanamo Bay military prison has recently passed with barely a murmur from the mainstream media or western governments. There are 166 prisoners still held without charge or trial. 85 of these prisoners have been cleared for release by the Bush and Obama administrations yet they remain in prison with no end in sight to their incarceration.

    Almerindo Ojeda from the UC Davis Centre for Human Rights and lead investigator for the Guantanamo Testimonials Project has been documenting evidence of the abuse of these prisoners. On RT's show Breaking The Set he recently commented,''Nobody speaks for them, there has been a conspiracy from all branches of US government to keep them there and they just languish. These 85 are not terrorists''.

    The remaining prisoners are divided into two groups. Half are scheduled for trial and the other half will never be released. Almerindo Ojeda has stated that the US military will not release these 40 prisoners as they are,''considered too dangerous to release and impossible to try. Now why are they impossible to try? It's because the evidence doesn't bear trial or because the evidence [against them] is torture''.

    Of the 166 prisoners still at Guantanamo military prison there are twelve people who have been locked up there since day one back in January 2002. One of these twelve is Shaker Aamer, who is a permanent British resident and is married to a British citizen, who has been cleared of any wrong doing by the US authorities but they won't allow him to return to his family in London.

    For these twelve prisoners life is a daily nightmare as they wait endlessly in an American made purgatory languishing with no hope of release. Almerindo Ojeda has observed:

    ''For them Guantanamo is a daily reality of unfair procedures, of solitary confinement, of undue punishment and also of indefinite detention. People don't talk about that very much. Under normal circumstances you get a trial and a sentence that has a beginning and an end. Here you have neither''.

    According to US military authorities these prisoners are not lawful combatants and are not there as prisoners of war. Therefore they have no rights what so ever. This is clear evidence of how since 9/11 the American military and political establishment has thrown the Geneva Convention and other aspects of international law out of the window. For them the entire planet is a battlefield and their endless military campaigns respect no borders or rules of war/law.

    It is all too easy for many people in the West to shrug their shoulders and say there is nothing we can do about this. Worse still is the attitude: what does it really matter what happens at places like Guantanamo. What has happened at Guantanamo Bay military prison are crimes against humanity which should never be forgotten. These crimes should be investigated and those responsible should be brought to justice and punished.

    The evidence of criminality at Guantanamo Bay is overwhelming and should be enough for any court to convict those responsible. In 2003 the American Civil Liberties Union filed a freedom of information request with the US government for access to documents relating to the military prison at Guantanamo Bay. This led to the eventual release of 100,000 documents detailing the abuse of people held in US military prisons. In January 2007 the FBI provided over 800 of these documents, 500 of which related to Guantanamo Bay. The UC Davis Centre for the Study of Human Rights in the Americas has launched the Guantanamo Testimonials Project. This has organized the released of redacted FBI documents into an online archive open to public study. These testimonies of FBI agents who visited Guantanamo Bay detail physical, medical, religious, verbal, psychological and sexual abuse of prisoners.

    Many prisoners told FBI agents that torture was the primary method used to obtain information,
    ''When asked about [redacted] [he] advised that he only made that statement because he was being beaten''.

    Standard mistreatment of prisoners includes the use of isolation, physical and verbal abuse in an attempt to break prisoners who will then confess to anything their interrogators want to hear:

    ''After being interview by two females, he was taken to the ''dark place''. At the ''dark place'', a hood was placed over his head and he was yelled at and beaten. [redacted] stated that because of his treatment at the hands of his captors he provided the interrogators with whatever information that they wanted to hear''.

    Another prisoner told an FBI agent of a similar terrifying experience.

    According to [redacted], an unknown number of guards entered his cell, unprovoked, and started spitting and cursing at him. The guards called him a ''son of a bitch''a ''bastard'' then told him he was crazy. [redacted] rolled on to his stomach to protect himself.... a soldier named [redacted] jumped on his back and started beating him in the face. [redacted] then choked him until he passed out. ...[redacted] indicated that there was a female guard who was also beating him and grabbed his head and beat it into the cell floor. … the camp warden visited him at the hospital and told the doctors to immediately return him to the camp''.

    Another common torture method was to use isolation, temperature and food/water deprivation to break a prisoner and to get them to talk:

    On a couple of occasions, I entered interview rooms to find a detainee chained hand and foot in a fetal position to the floor, with no chair food or water. Most times they has urinated or defecated on themselves, and had been left there for 18, 24 hours or more. On one occasion, the air conditioning had been turned down so far and the temperature was so cold in the room that the bare footed detainee was shaking with cold. When I asked the MP's what was going on, I was told that the interrogators from the day before had ordered this treatment, and the detainee was not to be moved''.

    Other forms of abuse include prisoners being threatened with dogs, prisoners being told that their families had been arrested and would be moved to foreign countries for interrogation if they didn't talk, prisoners having their head and mouth covered in duct tape.

    The abuse got so bad that many prisoners resorted to hunger strikes in protest:

    The mental condition of the detainees is to the point where the detainees are all participating in a hunger strike. The detainees are upset with the way they are being treated by the guards. They are upset because they are being held as prisoners without being charged with a crime or being released''.

    Many prisoners have committed suicide due to the abuse and/or torture they suffered. The first three suicides at Guantanamo Bay military prison were found hanging with cloths in their mouths with their hands bound behind their backs. Almerindo Ojeda has made the point how can you hang yourself with your hands bound behind you back? He has called for a full and impartial investigation into these deaths and of all those who have died under suspicious circumstances at Guantanamo. Not surprisingly, none of these suicides have been investigated as is required under article 121 of the Geneva convention.

    President Obama is not only ignoring international law he is ignoring his own executive order that the Guantanamo military prison be closed down. Days after his re-election Obama closed down the government office given the job of working to close Guantanamo down.

    The Obama administration seems determined to not only defy international law it is also waging a massive campaign of persecution against whistle-blowers who expose America's war crimes. John Kiriakou is a former CIA investigator who has exposed how torture was official US policy at Guantanamo and other military prisons. He has recently been sentenced to two years in prison for this. In a recent interview John Kiriakou noted how CIA torturers, politicians who conceived of torture as official military policy, lawyers who gave ''crazed legal analysis'' to sanction the torture and former agents who write books justifying torture are not facing arrest or any kind of legal sanction. He added, that he knows of one former CIA agent who destroyed evidence of torture and is presently engaged in a book tour, giving speeches around Washington DC saying how great torture is.

    Calls for Guantanamo military prison to be closed down have come from all over the world. These include the European Parliament, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Bishop Desmond Tutu and many others. The Close Guantanmo campaign in America sent a message to President Obama shortly after his re-election:

    ''Before 9/11, indefinite detention used to be associated only with regimes that prided themselves on their disdain for the rule of law; dictatorships, in other words. Nearly eleven years after the prison at Guant?namo opened, two successive U.S. administrations -- that of George W. Bush, and, since 2009, that of Barack Obama -- have demonstrated that America is no better than these dictatorships.

    Let this be the last year that Guantanamo remains open.

    Dr. Dylan Murphy is a labour historian and history teacher. He has co-written several books on the history of the British labour movement. He is also a trade union and human rights activist. In his articles he is keen to expose the way America is rapidly becoming a police state and the illegal nature of its foreign policy which makes the US the biggest sponsor of state terrorism on the planet.


  3. #23
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    Over 100 prisoners officially on hunger-strike in Guantanamo

    The official number of hunger strikers at Guantanamo Bay reached 100 on Saturday – three more than the day before. Twenty of the detainees are receiving enteral feeds, five of whom are being observed in a detainee hospital.

    But lawyers for the detainees contest the official numbers, saying that some 130 prisoners are actually taking part in the protest, reports RT.

    The hunger strike began around February 6, when detainees claimed prison officials searched their copies of the Koran for contraband, according to their attorneys.

    Prisoners are also protesting their extrajudicial incarceration at the prison. Most of Guantanamo Bay’s 166 detainees have been cleared for release or were never charged, a situation that has prompted criticism from human rights organizations.

    “The illegal detentions without charge or trial at Guantanamo Bay have gone on for more than a decade with no end in sight, so it’s not surprising that detainees feel desperate,” counterterrorism advisor at Human Rights Watch, Laura Pitter, said in a statement.

    As the number of detainees being fed by tubes continues to grow, so does the criticism surrounding the practice of force-feeding. The Constitution Project, a non-profit group that promotes bipartisan consensus on legal reform, concluded in a recent report that

    “forced feeding of detainees is a form of abuse and must end.”
    However, Guantanamo authorities have offered a different assessment:

    “I refuse to say ‘force-feeding.’ It refers to a cartoon where individuals are strapped, yelling, screaming, mouth open and food is dumped down the person’s throat and that is not the case,”
    Guantanamo spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Samuel House said, as quoted by AFP.


  4. #24
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    6 Horrifying Facts Every American Should Know About Guantanamo Bay and the Ongoing Hunger Strike

    The hunger strike at Guantanamo Bay continues to grow. The U.S. recently forced many prisoners into solitary confinement. The military now admits that 100 prisoners at the camp are refusing to eat. But lawyers for Guantanamo detainees say that more than 130 detainees are on hunger strike.

    While the claims and counter-claims bounce back and forth, the situation continues to deteriorate. Here’s 6 facts you should know about Guantanamo Bay and the ongoing act of protest most of the prisoners are participating in.

    1. U.S. Medical Reinforcements Have Arrived to Force-Feed Prisoners

    One of the latest news items is that “medical reinforcements” from the U.S. Navy have arrived at Guantanamo Bay to cope with the growing hunger strike. The Naval nurses and specialists are there to help facilitate the process of force-feeding the detainees.

    “We will not allow a detainee to starve themselves to death, and we will continue to treat each person humanely,” Guantanamo prison spokesman Samuel Housetold the New York Times.But the practice of force-feeding has been criticized by human rights groups.

    When detainees are force-fed, they are shackled to a “restraint chair.” Then, U.S. military officials force a tube into their nose to pump nutrients into their body. The American Medical Association has come out strongly against the practice. “Every competent patient has the right to refuse medical intervention, including life-sustaining interventions,” AMA President Jeremy Lazarus wrote in a letter to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, the Miami Herald reports.

    In a harrowing New York Times Op-Ed, Guantanamo prisoner Samir Naji al Hasan Moqbel described the process of force-feeding. “I will never forget the first time they passed the feeding tube up my nose. I can’t describe how painful it is to be force-fed this way. As it was thrust in, it made me feel like throwing up,” he wrote. “I wanted to vomit, but I couldn’t. There was agony in my chest, throat and stomach. I had never experienced such pain before. I would not wish this cruel punishment upon anyone.”

    2. Hunger Strike Sparked By Raids, Fueled By Indefinite Detention

    Detainees began the hunger strike in early February after they said personnel at the camp raided cells, confiscated personal items and treated the Qu’ran disrespectfully. The military disputes this narrative. But what is clear is that, as the New York Times reported, the strike is being driven by “a growing sense among many prisoners, some of whom have been held without trial for more than 11 years, that they will never go home.”

    “The men are not starving themselves so they can become martyrs...They’re doing this because they’re desperate. They’re desperate to be free from Guantanamo. They don’t see any alternative to leaving in a coffin. That’s the bottom line,” Wells Dixon, an attorney for five Guantamano detainees, toldAlterNet earlier this month.

    3. 86 Detainees Have Been Cleared for Release--But They’re Still There

    There are currently 166 detainees at Guantanamo. And over half of them--86--have been cleared for release out of the hellish prison camp. But they’re still there, a fact that is helping to drive the hunger strike.

    The U.S. government has effectively put release efforts on hold. The last time a prisoner left Guantanamo was September 2012. Part of the problem is that 56 of the cleared men are from Yemen, a strong U.S. ally that also has a problem with Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, a group that has plotted attacks against the U.S. After a 2009 terrorist plot that purportedly originated in Yemen was halted, the Obama administration decided to halt repatriation of detainees to Yemen.

    Now, there is renewed pressure to continue transferring detainees to Yemen. Senator Dianne Feinstein wrote a letter to Obama in which she said: “I believe it would be prudent to re-visit the decision to halt transfers to Yemen and assess whether President Hadi's government, with appropriate assistance, would be able to securely hold detainees in Sana'a."

    4. Obama Can Help Change the Situation

    At a press conference today, President Obama vowed to redouble his efforts to close Guantanamo. He also noted that Congress had interfered with his ability to close the prison camp. This has a lot of truth to it, though it was Obama that signed the bills that restricted his maneuvering ability on Guantanamo.

    But there is a mechanism that he can use right now: asking the Secretary of Defense to sign off on the release of detainees by using what’s called a national security waiver. It’s true, as Mother Jones’ Adam Serwer notes, that the waiver includes a provision that requires certifying that the detainee cleared for release “won't ever pose a threat in the future, which is ultimately not something the administration can control.” Still, human rights advocates say the time has come to use the waivers, since leaving innocent people there forever is untenable.

    5. Clashes at Camps

    Clashes have broken out at the camp both before and after the start of the hunger strike. On January 2, a non-lethal bullet hit the throat of an Afghan detainee. The military spokesperson told Truthout’s Jason Leopold that the incident started when a detainee climbed a fence and other prisoners began throwing rocks at a guard tower.

    But a prisoner had a different account, which was relayed through his lawyer David Remes. “Detainee started shaking door (very common),” the Yemeni prisoner Uthman Abdul Rahim Mohammed Uthman, told Remes, according to Leopold’s reporting. “Guard in tower pointed rifle at him. Brothers in yard started shouting. Guard swung around with his rifle and started shooting at them - just one bullet, which hit a detainee in the throat.”

    Another intense clash between prisoners and guards occurred in mid-April. They broke out as guards moved the prisoners into solitary cells, a break from the communal atmosphere the prisoners were living in. Prison guards fired a few “less than lethal” rounds the prisoners, who were reportedly wielding “improvised weapons.”

    6. Torture Was Endemic

    While Obama has failed to successfully shutter the prison, he did end the most brutal forms of interrogation practiced there, though some human rights groups say the current force-feeding is a form of torture. Still, the Bush administration’s torture program is no longer employed on prisoners there.

    But when the prison was first opened, the torture of detainees at Guantanamo was widespread. This torture was characterized by psychological abuse, sleep deprivation, sound and light manipulation, and physical beatings.

    Slate magazine has a sharp reminder of this illegal and inhumane treatment. The news outlet has published the memoirs of Guantanamo detainee Mohamedou Ould Slahi. He has been locked up there for 11 years, despite the fact that in 2010 a judge ordered his release. Slahi’s brutal interrogation was personally signed off on by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. The U.S. questioned him on his associations with known terrorists, but the U.S. never found Slahi to have been involved with a specific plot.

    “The cell—better, the box—was cooled down so that I was shaking most of the time. I was forbidden from seeing the light of the day. Every once in a while they gave me a rec time in the night to keep me from seeing or interacting with any detainees. I was living literally in terror. I don’t remember having slept one night quietly; for the next 70 days to come I wouldn’t know the sweetness of sleeping. Interrogation for 24 hours, three and sometimes four shifts a day. I rarely got a day off,” wrote Slahi,describing one aspect of his torture at the prison camp.

    Slahi also endured a mock rendition, where U.S. military personnel, as well as what sounded like Egyptian and Jordanian security officials, threatened to bring him to Egypt to be tortured. He wrote about this experience as well: “Suddenly a commando team of three soldiers and a German shepherd broke into our interrogation room. [ Redacted] punched me violently, which made me fall face down on the floor, and the second guy kept punching me everywhere, mainly on my face and my ribs. Both were masked from head to toe.” Slahi was then put on a boat.

    “Inside the boat, [ redacted] made me drink salt water, I believe it was direct from the ocean. It was so nasty I threw it up. They put an object in my mouth and shouted, ‘Swallow, motherfucker!’ I decided inside not to swallow the organ-damaging salt water, which choked me as they kept pouring the water in my mouth.”


  5. #25
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    How To Close Guantanamo

    President Barack Obama finally broke his long silence on Tuesday on the need to close Guantanamo. Echoing comments he made four years ago -- when, on his second day in office he promised to close the facility within a year -- he said "Guantanamo is not necessary to keep America safe. It is expensive. It is inefficient.... It needs to be closed."

    Welcome words, but it's unlikely they will brighten the day of the 100 men currently on hunger strike at the facility. Twenty-one are currently being tube-fed, a procedure that entails being put in a restraint chair while a lubricated plastic tube is inserted down a detainee's nose and into his stomach. (Detainees are then held in the chair for approximately two hours to make sure the liquid supplement fed into the tube is digested.) Obama's words might carry more resonance with those who have been lobbying for closure of the facility for the better part of a decade, though perhaps more so if he didn't seem so keen to apportion blame elsewhere.

    In his remarks, made in response to questions at the White House press briefing, Obama pointed the finger at Congress saying it had been "determined" not to let him close the facility, and that he promised to "re-engage with Congress" on the issue. While it's true that Congress has certainly placed obstacles in the way of closing the facility, such as restricting the use of funds to transfer detainees to the United States for trial, there are still a number of steps the Obama administration could have taken -- and can still take now -- to begin closing the facility and ending indefinite detention without trial.

    For one, it can begin to transfer the 86 of the 166 detainees at Guantanamo already slated for release to their home or third countries. In 2011 and again in 2012, Congress enacted some restrictions on the transfer of detainees from the facility, but those restrictions are not insurmountable. They require receiving countries to take certain steps to ensure that those being transferred do not engage in terrorist activity and that the secretary of defense certify such steps have taken place. If, however, the secretary of defense cannot, for one reason or another, certify those steps have been taken, he can waive the certification requirement in lieu of "alternative actions" -- a term which has no clear legal or procedural definition. The only guidelines are that they "substantially mitigate" the risk that the detainee being transferred may engage in terrorism. Clearly then, the administration's ability to transfer detainees out of Guantanamo exists now, even with congressional restrictions. And with Obama again reiterating that keeping Guantanamo open harms U.S. security, the certification -- and even more so the waiver -- process seems to offer a clear path forward to emptying the facility of more than half its prisoners, if not closing it down.

    Yes, there is some risk that detainees released from Guantanamo may engage in terrorism. The government has stated that some of the detainees released from Guantanamo have already been involved in terrorism, though the number is disputed and the government refuses to publicly release the information on which it is basing those claims. The director of national intelligence claims (though these claims have been discredited) that about 16 percent of the approximately 600 people released from the facility over the past 12 years are confirmed, and 11 percent are suspected, of having engaged in terrorism after their release. Independent, credible analyses of those figures by researchers at the New America Foundation indicate the number is more like 6 percent, or 1 in 17. Even if the Pentagon figures were true, clearly the vast majority of people released from Guantanamo have not engaged in terrorism; in fact, it's well below the estimated 60 percent U.S. recidivism rate for criminal convictions overall. There are many people in the world who may commit crimes in the future, but the United States has not locked them up indefinitely. The bottom line is that the administration needs to assume some risk that those released may become involved in terrorism -- even though that risk is objectively low. But even on a purely moral level, the fear that someone may engage in terrorist or criminal behavior in the future is not a legitimate basis for prolonged indefinite detention. Furthermore, the decision about whether to release a detainee should be made on an individual basis, not based on the behavior of other detainees.

    The administration could also lift its self-imposed moratorium on returning Guantanamo detainees to Yemen; some 56 of the 86 detainees slated for release are from that country. The president imposed a moratorium on returns to Yemen after Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a Nigerian trained in Yemen, tried to blow up a Detroit-bound plane with explosives hidden in his underwear on Christmas Day 2009. Abdulmutallab was convicted in federal court and is now serving a life sentence. But the Yemeni government has requested the return of their citizens from Guantanamo and promised to build a rehabilitation center there to facilitate the process. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), an initial supporter of the moratorium, recently asked Obama's national security director to reevaluate the hold and consider whether, with appropriate assistance, Yemeni detainees can begin being transferred home.

    Of the other 80 detainees at Guantanamo, the administration has designated 46 for indefinite detention. They were put in this category because an interagency task force deemed them too dangerous to release and yet the administration either did not have sufficient admissible evidence against them to prosecute or concluded that their acts did not amount to a chargeable crime.

    Obama signed an executive order on March 7, 2011, providing these detainees the ability to challenge this designation. But the panel before which they would appear, called a Periodic Review Board (PRB), has yet to even be formed -- even though an executive order mandated that it begin reviews within the year. And while 31 prisoners have been slated for prosecution, only six of those -- including the five defendants accused in the attacks of September 11, 2001, face any formal charges. The remaining three men at Guantanamo are serving sentences following convictions in military commission proceedings.

    The administration should either prosecute these 80 detainees against whom they have any credible evidence -- and in courts that comport with fair trial standards -- or release them. Though starting the PRB process would provide detainees in the indefinite detention category with at least some ability to challenge their designation, if these individuals cannot be prosecuted, they should be released

    Even though they have been revised three times since first formed in 2005, and improved under Obama's presidency, it's clear that military commissions at Guantanamo do not comport with fair trial standards. Among other things, they lack judicial independence, allow the admission of certain coerced testimony, and fail to protect privileged attorney-client communications. In February, defense attorneys in one of the only two cases currently being prosecuted at Guantanamo discovered listening devices disguised as smoke detectors in attorney-client meeting rooms. Additionally, proceedings were halted because a courtroom feed to the media and observers that supposedly only the judge was able to control was cut off by an unnamed U.S. agency. Then in mid-April, hearings were further delayed by two months because an enormous number of prosecution and defense files disappeared from the server that both legal teams are required to use to process the highly classified documents in the case. Furthermore, it's not entirely clear why even the court's supporters would be so in favor of continuing the status quo -- the only two military commission verdicts obtained by full trials were recently overturned on appeal. In those cases, the appellate court found that the charges of conspiracy and material support for terrorism, for which the defendants were accused, were not war crimes and hence not within the jurisdiction of the commissions.

    Current congressional restrictions prohibit the use of funds to transfer detainees to the United States, so Obama is correct when he said that he'll need to re-engage with Congress to lift these unreasonable restrictions. While federal courts are not perfect, they provide much greater procedural protections than the military commissions; and, with 200 years of jurisprudence behind them, their verdicts are far more certain to withstand appeal.

    Obama's pledge to "get back at it" on closing Guantanamo is welcome, but he can't get away with words alone, or with shifting the blame to Congress. There are steps he can take now to begin ending the unlawful practice of indefinite detention without trial and to transfer those prisoners who are already slated to be sent home. As the president himself said, Guantanamo "hurts us in terms of our international standing" and "lessens cooperation with our allies on counterterrorism efforts." If these are words he truly believes, then he should exercise the authority he has to transfer some detainees now, and begin working with Congress to address the rest.

    While it's true that Congress has certainly placed obstacles in the way of closing the facility, such as restricting the use of funds to transfer detainees to the United States for trial, there are still a number of steps the Obama administration could have taken -- and can still take now -- to begin closing the facility and ending indefinite detention without trial.


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    Guantánamo authorities 'planning Ramadan force-feeding factory'

    New legal filing says plan to continue feeds at night during holy month will be dangerous for health of detainees

    Ed Pilkington - 5 July 2013

    Lawyers acting for four detainees on hunger strike at Guantánamo Bay have accused the US government of preparing to operate a "force-feeding factory" in the camp during the holy month of Ramadan.

    In a new legal filing lodged with a federal court in Washington, lawyers for the men argue that the feedings during Ramadan will lead to mass use of restraint chairs, require hundreds of staff to administer and could be dangerous for the health of detainees. "If this can even be achieved, Guantánamo Bay will become a veritable force-feeding factory," the lawyers write.

    In response to earlier legal challenges, the US government has refused to suspend force feeding through tubes directly into the stomachs of detainees during Ramadan. Some 45 men out of 106 currently on hunger strike are being enterally fed in this way.

    The government defends the practice by saying it is "humane, high-quality medical care to preserve life and health". When Ramadan starts on Monday, the daytime fast will be respected if possible and force feedings will only take place before dawn or after sunset. However, the government has added a proviso, implying that daytime force feeding might be necessary, given "any unforeseen emergency or operational issues".

    Four hunger strikers are challenging that equivocal plan in the courts: Shaker Aamer, a British resident who has been held without trial in Guantánamo for more than 11 years, Ahmed Belbacha, Nabil Hadjarab and Abu Wa'el. Their lawyers, Cori Crider of the human rights charity Reprieve and Jon Eisenberg, argue in the new court filing that involuntary feeding at night will have a drastic impact.

    They point out that force feedings are normally carried out twice a day, with the procedure taking up to 30 minutes and the detainee then placed in a "dry cell" without water for up to two hours, in an attempt to stop them vomiting. Between sunset and sunrise – which on the first full day of Ramadan will occur at 7.44pm and 6.28am at the US naval base in Cuba – there will be just 10 hours and 44 minutes available to camp wardens to carry out two force feedings each of 45 detainees involving an hour in total of feeding time and up to four hours of observation per man.

    The filing suggests that could require "dozens of restraint chairs and hundreds of staff. The fasting detainees, who may not take water during the daylight hours of Ramadan, will be spending up to four more nighttime hours without access to water as well as being under physical restraint, putting them at substantial risk of dehydration and sleep deprivation".

    The hunger strike was launched in February, as a protest against the legal limbo in which many of the 166 detainees at Guantánamo find themselves and against President Obama's failure to honour his 2008 promise to close the camp. In May, Obama said he would renew efforts to shut Guantánamo down, lamenting that it had "become a symbol around the world for an America that flouts the rule of law".

    The four hunger strikers are appealing to the US court for the District of Columbia to ban force feeding at Guantánamo generally, and during Ramadan specifically. Their lawyers argue that the practice prolongs their indefinite detention, which is in itself a human rights violation.

    The filing notes that the US government sees force feeding as necessary to prevent detainees "laying waste to their bodies". But it counters that their indefinite detention is "laying waste to their souls".


    What Forced Feeding Looks Like

    8 July 2013

    Yasiin Bey (aka Mos Def) force-fed under standard Guantánamo Bay procedure – video

    As Ramadan begins, more than 100 hunger-strikers in Guantánamo Bay continue their protest. More than 40 of them are being force-fed. A leaked document sets out the military instructions, or standard operating procedure, for force-feeding detainees. In this four-minute film made by Human Rights organisation Reprieve and Bafta award-winning director Asif Kapadia, US actor and rapper Yasiin Bey (formerly known as Mos Def), experiences the procedure

    Read Ben Ferguson's eyewitness account here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/shor...mo-bay-mos-def

    Warning: some viewers may find this images distressing

    video: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/vide...namo-bay-video

  7. #27
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    Testimony of a brother who just freed from Abu Ghraib prison, translated

    by Ahmad Abu Al Nasr.

    Our brothers in tawhid, in Abu Gharib prison they were forcing us to drink the guards piss, They were forcing us to kiss the guard shoes, so don't blame us when we tear them apart.

    O Muslims, wallahi we used to hear the men screaming from being tortured and remove their nails and break their fingers. especially my fingers & toes nails were removed.

    There no one exterminated like the Sunni in Iraq, and no one betrayed like the Iraqi people and the Iraqi will destroy Iran Insha'Allah

    Wallahi the man who tortured me were irani and the one who removed my nails were irani and the one who cursed the Sahaba (RA), my mother, sister, daughter and wife were Irani.

    Wallahi in the hot summer in Iraq they were forcing us to sit on metal chairs in the sun chained and the guard piss on us and forces us to drink his piss.

    Wallahi the Irani prison guard used to pluck the beard and mustache of the Sunni prisoners and they were forcing us to drink boiled water in the summer.

    One time the Irani prison guard asked me: do you love Ali?

    i answered all the muslims love Ali, so he beat me until i fainted.

    Wallahi i was being tortured because of my name (Abu Bakr), the prison guard used to beat me while he's cursing Abu Bakr (RA).

    The Irani prison guard used to ask me: Why Abu Bakr (RA) stole the Khilafah from Ali (RA)?, and if i answer him he beats me and if i ignore him he'd beat me too. Wallahi he forced me to drink his piss.

    Wallahi the Irani prison guard used to force us to curse the Sahaba (RA) and our mother Aisha (RA), i saw some one refuse to curse the Sahaba (RA) and Aisha (RA) and they delivered his dead body to his family.

    The prison guard used to force us to kiss the pictures of sestany, hakim, khamen'y and khomeny (Shia Imams) and force us to say that the shoes of these Imams better than the Sahaba (RA) and they'd kill any one refuse to say that.

    Wallahi the prison guard used to step on my back and tell me I'm sorry i don't want to do that for you but your being tortured because of your name (Abu Bakr).

    Wallahi in the last Ramadan the prison guard used to put us above each other chained and threaten us and tell us, anyone will drink water will get back to his cell.

    When the shia Nemr el Nemr were arrested, the prison guards beat us for hours, wallahi we were tortured because of him and I didn't hear about him before.

    The prison guard used to beat us for any reason "if shia arrested in KSA he beats us, when the FSA (free syrain army) beat Bashar's army he beat us, If shia died in Bahrain he beat us".

    When the FSA heroes killed the staff of Bashar in Syria, we couldn't sleep and the prison guards beat us while they are screaming from anger.

    When the Iraq soccer team win, the prison guard ask us: are you happy?

    if we said yes they torture us and if said no they tortured us, and if the soccer team lost they torture us too.

    Our brother Abu Bakr were arrested because he's writer and his articles putted him in jail for 4 years, the last 2 years were the hardest ever.

    In Abu gharib prison we were treated as lab rats, we were injected with unknown medicines all the time and they used to take our blood.

    The biggest challenge faced us were praying, Wallahi during the prayer time they used to make the radio so loud and play their shia songs.

  8. #28
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    Ramadhan in Guantánamo: The Best of Times

    It was the tears we all shed in the knowledge that each of us had a reason to weep. It was the sadness that was almost sweet. It was our ultimate symbol of defiance. It was the best of times.

    سم الله الرحمن الرحيم
    الحمد لله وحده والصلاة والسلام على من لا نبي بعده

    I first read the Dickens’ classic, Bleak House, in solitary confinement, Camp Echo. The concentric part of this story is based on the fictitious – though accurately representative – and never-ending case of Jarndyce vs Jarndyce which ultimately consumes and destroys the lives of its central characters, rather like the Supreme court decisions relating to the Guantánamo detainees. But it was the first sentence of another Dicken’s classic, A Tale of Two Cities, which reads, ‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,’ that captured my imagination back then. For that is precisely how I would have described the noble months of Ramadhan spent in US custody.

    It was the night before the festival of Eid ul-Adha that I was sent from Pakistani custody into US custody at Kandahar. After the brutal initiation of being processed like an animal and locked in a cage made of razor wire, I couldn’t believe my ears when a visitor from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) was wandering around the cells, with an army escort, handing out small pieces of meat and cold bread to detainees, uttering the words ‘Eid Mubarak’ [season's greetings].

    That was the first Eid my family ever spent without me. Another five (both Eids of al-Adha and al-Fitr) were to pass before I saw them again. For most people in Guantánamo, it is approaching 24 of these blessed days over a period of twelve years, dwelling in cages. And still they pray for deliverance.

    However, the worst Ramadan I’ve ever had in my life was not in Guantánamo; that happened in Bagram – the US detention facility in Afghanistan. This was a place where already torture, humiliation and degradation of detainees regularly occurred. We were not allowed to talk, we were not allowed to walk or exercise without permission. We were not given access to natural light–or dark. We had to guess prayer times and were not allowed to pray in jama’ah [congregation], make the athaan [call to prayer] or recite the Quran out loud. I had to make tayyamum [dry ablution] for a year and had forgotten how to make wudhu [ablution] correctly by the time I arrived in Guantánamo, since water could only be used to drink, but not for wudhu. Anyone failing to comply with these rules was unceremoniously dragged to the front of the cell, their wrists shackled to the top of the cage and a black hood placed over the head. It happened to us all – sometimes for hours, and even days, on end.

    When Ramadhan came I was already dreading it. I think we were all dreading it. There were no hot meals or drinks for us in Bagram. Fresh vegetables were a luxury we were not afforded. Fresh fruit was a rarity. There was none of the food we all so lovingly prepare and indulgingly consume during this month of abstention in our homes. There were no snacks between meals or keeping food until later: everything had to be handed back within 15 minutes – eaten or not. The meals were small pre-packed sachets, the types used for campers, and, sometimes, a mouldy piece of Afghan bread thrown in for good measure.

    There was no taraweeh [Ramadhan night] prayer, no Eid prayer. In fact, the Jumu’ah [Friday congregational prayer] has not been performed by any of the Guantanamo prisoners for over a decade. The prisoners in Bagram and Guantánamo shortened every prayer not only as a mercy from Allah (for travellers), but as a refusal to accept any permanence of incarceration, even though that was–and continues to be–a looming reality in one way or another. It was a defiant rejection of imprisonment without charge or trial – a fact unnoticed and quite irrelevant to our captors.

    As if to punish us for the very arrival of Ramadhan we were given the two meals the suhoor [pre-dawn meal] and iftaar [sunset meal], receiving the latter often several hours after sunset. On the day of Eid ul-Fitr [the festival marking the end of Ramadhan] we did not feast and make merry like most of the Muslim world. Instead we were made to fast from dawn to near midnight when we were finally given a food sachet. One of the guards, a young female to whom I used to speak often about Islam, history and literature was appalled by this and gave me some of her own food, at real risk to herself. It is a gesture I will never forget, but she was a rarity.

    That was the worst of times. But it wasn’t over. I spent the following Ramadhan alone, in solitary confinement. In truth, I dreaded the approach of this Ramadhan too. I knew the outlook was bleak. I had to imagine how my family was passing this month and the festival that followed. It is a month of blessing, extra prayer, sharing, inviting others to meals; a month of anticipating celebrations with family and friends who, for me and many others, were both only a distant memory by then. I thought of all the Islamic rulings about fasting and how it all seemed rather immaterial here. In fact I could have not fasted, since I was shortening my prayer – hence I had the status of a traveller, albeit a coerced one. But I think fasting was a pronounced difference between us and them, and act of defiance too. After all, Ramadhan is the month of the Quran and the month the battle of Badr – the most decisive struggle in the history of Islam.

    The concept of abstaining completely from food as well as drink from dawn to dusk was as alien to most burger-eating, fries-munching, Budweiser-drinking yanks as American justice was for us. Even the practicing Christian soldiers - who sometimes read the Bible, in front of me -couldn’t comprehend that the fast of the Muslim was like the fast of the Prophets, not the fast of Lent during which some devotees choose to refrain from having mushrooms on their pizza as a personal sacrifice to the Almighty. I remember telling a guard that in fact he ‘fasted’ every day, although his timings were different: the ‘break-fast’ meal every morning. He still didn’t get it.

    After the passing of this Ramadhan in seclusion, with no contact from another Muslim for close to two years, I was longing, praying and agitating that the next one will be spent in the company of Muslims – even one Muslim. My prayer was finally answered. And thus, my final Ramadhan and Eid were both spent in the company of the world’s most dangerous terrorists (according to Bush) and the world’s finest examples of patience and fortitude (according to me).

    Some guards ridiculed the athaan when the muezzin’s voice echoed around Guantánamo – particularly at sunset, when it clashed with the US national anthem that simultaneously rung out on loud speakers. What followed was a daily reminder to us all about our [soldiers and prisoners] purpose in life: one group – the one dressed in khaki and camoflague–stopped in their tracks, stood in the direction of their flag, raised their right hands and saluted the object of their devotion: the US flag. The other group –the one dressed in orange – also stopped in their tracks, stood facing east and raised both their hands to salute the object of their devotion: the One God, Lord of the Worlds.

    During the day, despite the intense tropical Caribbean heat, we recited and memorised the Quran, had debates on any subject from medieval African history to Hubble’s expanding universe theory; from the Islamic ruling on captives to the latest Western methods of capturing them. We exercised vigorously, a few of us far surpassing the physical capabilities of the full time soldiers guarding us. Some of us controlled our anger and antipathy towards the guards during this month and offered smiles and kind words, when the opposite would have been expected. That too was an act of defiance.

    The greatest defiance, to me at least, was wishing each other ‘hanee-an maree-an’ (bon appetite) at iftaar. It was also the spontaneous breaking out into anasheed [Islamic songs] in Arabic, Urdu, Pashto, Farsi, Uighur, Turkish and yes, even English; it was the recitation of poetry and prose in verses that could not have been compiled anywhere on earth but Guantánamo – the prison of the enemy where captive Muslims brought the first ever call to prayer; it was the individual calls of as-salaamu ‘alaikum wa rahmat Ullahi wa barakaatuh ya Abdallah [May the peace, mercy and blessings of Allah be upon you, O servant of Allah] emanating from cell blocks containing invisible faces – faces that showered us with concern, hope and love, even though we couldn’t see them.

    But there was an act of defiance even more potent. It was more powerful than throwing liquid cocktails at the soldiers, stronger than lashing out with shackled hands towards them or calling them 'himaar' [donkey] or 'khanzeer' [pig]; even stronger than the hunger-strikes that nearly claimed the lives of many a brave man. It was the prayer and the du’aa [supplication[ to Allah of the Imam reverberating, alone, amidst the chimes of razor wire rubbing against barbed wire impelled by a soft Caribbean breeze. It was saying ‘ameen’ [amen] in unison to a prayer we all wanted answered. It was the tears we all shed in the knowledge that each of us had a reason to weep. It was the sadness that was almost sweet. It was our ultimate symbol of defiance. It was the best of times.

    و الحمد لله رب العالمين


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    Guantanamo review boards to become partly public

    A prisoner's case will be heard this week under a new program aimed at helping empty the prison. Parts of it will be open to reporters and watchdog groups.

    WASHINGTON — He was selling vegetables in Yemen at age 16 when he first embraced jihad, rising quickly in Al Qaeda and eventually being tapped for a Sept. 11, 2001, suicide operation in Asia that was scrapped in favor of the airplane attacks in New York and at the Pentagon, according to U.S. intelligence records.

    He served as a trusted bodyguard to Osama bin Laden, and his sister became the terrorist leader's fourth wife.
    But the militant's career came to an end 12 years ago when he was captured near the mountains of Tora Bora by Pakistani forces and sent to the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, becoming another nameless, faceless "high-risk" terrorism suspect with little hope of release.

    On Tuesday, the man identified by U.S. officials as Abd Malak Abd Wahab Rahbi will get his first shot at freedom under a long-delayed review process designed to help empty the military prison. Rahbi will become the first Guantanamo detainee to receive a partially public hearing to determine whether his status as an enemy combatant should be changed, making him eligible for release.

    The program was unveiled two years ago by President Obama, who continues to face pressure to make good on a campaign promise to close the prison. After encountering resistance from lawmakers in shutting down the facility, Obama set up a system of review board hearings to accelerate the release for prisoners no longer deemed a risk.

    Seventy of them will appear before the review boards this year. With a defense attorney and a uniformed U.S. military officer acting as their representatives, the detainees will have the opportunity to argue why they are no longer enemy combatants and should be moved to the list including 77 other prisoners eligible for possible release.

    Last fall, the Pentagon held its first periodic review board in secret. In that case, Mahmoud Abd Aziz Mujahid, also a Yemeni and a former Bin Laden guard, was no longer deemed a "significant" threat. But his case sparked concern that the process was not transparent, as the White House had promised.

    So beginning with Rahbi, reporters and representatives from nongovernmental watchdog organizations will be permitted to watch some unclassified portions of the daylong hearings through a closed-circuit television feed in a Pentagon annex. Only the opening summaries will be shown.

    The detainee's own statements, discussions of classified material and the board's deliberations will not be broadcast. A redacted transcript of the detainee's comments may be made public later.

    As described by Pentagon officials, the detainee and his advocates will meet in a small Guantanamo prison room. Sitting around a table, military officials will lay out the prisoner's current threat assessment, and the defense can offer a rebuttal. The board consists of national security representatives including senior officials from the departments of Defense, Justice, Homeland Security and State, as well as the Pentagon's Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

    The panel's primary mission is to assess whether the detainee still poses "a significant threat to the security of the United States." Board members can also review his complete prison file and other materials, including statements other detainees have made about him and documents supporting his release.

    The board said it "will not rely on information that has been obtained as a result of torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment" to continue holding the prisoner indefinitely. It can, however, take into consideration testimony from officials of foreign nations willing to have the detainees transferred there, such as their home countries.

    If a case is rejected, the detainee cannot appeal the decision. However, the system allows a new review board hearing every three years.

    Rahbi's board review gets underway as civil rights organizations mark the anniversary of Obama's executive order at the start of his first term to close Guantanamo. But, said Steven W. Hawkins, executive director of Amnesty International USA, "indefinite detention and unfair trials continue five years later."

    Thirty-one retired generals and admirals sent the president a letter Tuesday urging him to finally close the prison. Even with review boards finally underway, they said, transfers out of Guantanamo "will have to increase dramatically to achieve closing the prison" before Obama leaves office.

    Details about Rahbi's life in Al Qaeda are contained in a 2008 Detainee Assessment by Guantanamo officials that listed him as a high risk of threatening the U.S. and also as someone with a "high intelligence value" to this country. Included in his file was his picture — hair cut razor-short, eyes dark, beard thick.

    He was born in 1979, sold vegetables and briefly taught the Koran at a village mosque. He underwent militant training in 1995, joined Al Qaeda three years later and moved with his pregnant wife to Afghanistan. He soon left his family to join Bin Laden.

    Other Guantanamo detainees told U.S. authorities that Rahbi "worked his way up" as one of the leader's top "personal bodyguards." In August 2000 he wrote a letter to Bin Laden, asking for forgiveness if he had not lived up to his expectations. He soon was designated as a suicide operative for an Al Qaeda plot to crash airliners into U.S. military facilities in Asia.

    But that plan was scrapped because of "the difficulty involved in synchronizing the attacks," intelligence records show, and two weeks after Sept. 11, Rahbi, expecting U.S. reprisals, wrote a last will and testament urging Muslims to support Bin Laden "with their lives and their money."

    He was captured three months later and sent to Guantanamo. While there, he has thrown urine at a guard, damaged property and fashioned a weapon from a 2-inch nail tied to a string, U.S. authorities said.

    He also has remained of great interest to officials. "Detainee," the records state, "is assessed to have abundant knowledge concerning high-level Al Qaeda members and other operations."


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    Shaker Aamer and Other Guantánamo Prisoners Call Force-Feeding Torture, Ask Appeals Court for Help


    On June 30, as I reported here, lawyers for four prisoners in Guantánamo — Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison, Nabil Hadjarab and Ahmed Belbacha, both Algerians, and Abu Wa’el Dhiab, a Syrian — filed a motion with the District Court in Washington D.C., asking a judge to issue a ruling compelling the government to “stop force-feeding in the prison and stop force-medicating prisoners, particularly with Reglan, a drug used by the US during the force-feeding process that when used for extended periods of time can cause severe neurological disorders, including one that mimics Parkinson’s disease,” as it was described in a press release by Reprieve, the London-based legal action charity whose lawyers filed the motion, along with Jon B. Eisenberg in the US.

    The men are amongst the 86 prisoners (out of the 166 men still held), who were cleared for release by the inter-agency Guantánamo Review Task Force, established by President Obama when he took office in 2009. In addition, all are involved in the prison-wide hunger strike that began six months ago, and both Nabil Hadjarab and Ahmed Belbacha are amongst the 41 prisoners who are being force-fed.

    Although the prisoners made a compelling argument for the need for intervention, the judge ruling in Abu Wa’el Dhiab’s case, Judge Gladys Kessler, was unable to grant the motion, because of a legal precedent from February 2009, when, in the case of Mohammed al-Adahi, a Yemeni who sought to stop his force-feeding, a court ruled that “no court, justice, or judge shall have jurisdiction to hear or consider any other action against the United States or its agents relating to any aspect of the detention, transfer, treatment, trial, or conditions of confinement of an alien who is or was detained by the United States and has been determined by the United States to have been properly detained as an enemy combatant.”

    Judge Kessler was, nevertheless, sympathetic to the prisoners’ plight, pointedly noting that Abu Wa’el Dhiab had “set out in great detail in his papers what appears to be a consensus that force-feeding of prisoners violates Article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which prohibits torture or cruel, inhumane, and degrading treatment,” and also explained that “the President of the United States, as Commander-in-Chief, has the authority — and power — to directly address the issue of force-feeding of the detainees at Guantánamo Bay.”

    The judge addressing the motion submitted by the other three prisoners — Judge Rosemary Collyer – was less sympathetic, but sympathetic or not, the refusal to grant the men’s motion led to only two options, appealing or not, and today the lawyers at Reprieve, and Jon B. Eisenberg, filed an appeal on behalf of Shaker Aamer, Ahmed Belbacha and Nabil Hadjarab, asking the appeal court in Washington, D.C. (the D.C. Circuit Court) to reconsider their motion.

    In a recent phone call with Cori Crider, Reprieve’s Strategic Director, Ahmed Belbacha described how horrendous the force-feeding still is.

    He said:

    I’m still being force-fed, once a night, and the way that they do it in Ramadan makes us all exhausted. There are two waves: the first group goes at 8pm, and the second group later. In theory, it’s at 10pm, but sometimes it happens at 11, midnight or even later. It’s extremely tiring.

    The other problem I’ve had since Ramadan is this new feeding solution they use, called Jevity — it’s very strong. Before was bad, but this is even worse. I’ve thrown it up several times. They never seemed to notice. I’ve never been fed twice in a night. I suppose because I haven’t vomited until I have gotten back to my cell. I weigh 125 pounds now and am extremely feeble.

    If someone has a nose problem, they can be with them for a very long time and will have to try to insert the tube repeatedly. A lot of people have a problem getting the tube in the nose. I still cry sometimes, with the tube. It’s very difficult.

    One guy broke his hunger strike because the tube was just too painful. It took a very, very long time to get the tube in. Every single time it was torture for him, and eventually he just had to give up.

    Soldiers are always trying to get us to stop the hunger strike. Most recently the doctor took people and told them that they wanted us to stop — and officers said to us at the start of Ramadan that if we didn’t stop we’d be put in isolation.

    In response to Ahmed Belbacha’s complaints, Cori Crider said, “As a federal judge has pointed out, President Obama has the power to address this situation — but he has persistently failed to do so. He could bring this crisis to an end by letting the prisoners which his own Government has cleared, and that’s the majority at this point, go home.”

    I can only agree. It is now 73 days since President Obama delivered a major speech on national security in which he promised to resume releasing prisoners, but not a single one of the 86 cleared prisoners has yet been released. Severe obstacles have been raised by Congress, requiring the administration to certify that released prisoners will be unable, after their release, to take up arms against the US, but President Obama needs to overcome these cynical obstacles if he is not to be judged as the President whose fine words and promises were not matched by his actions — if necessary, by using a waiver in the legislation that allows him to bypass Congress.

    Last week, the White House announced that the Department of Defence had “certified to Congress its intent to repatriate an additional two detainees to Algeria,” adding, “We are taking this step in consultation with the Congress, and in a responsible manner that protects our national security.”

    The administration is to be congratulated for taking the necessary steps to release these two men, who have not been publicly identified, but are amongst the five Algerians still held who have been cleared for release. Disgracefully, however, they will be the first prisoners to be released as a result of the task force’s determinations — and President’s Obama’s leadership (or lack of it) — since September 2010, because, in the last three years, the only men to be released — just five in total — either had their release ordered by the courts, or as a result of plea deals negotiated in their military commission trials.

    These two men need to be followed, as swiftly as possible, by the 84 other cleared prisoners. 56 of these men are Yemenis, whose release was prevented not only by Congress but also through a disgraceful ban imposed by President Obama in January 2010, after it was discovered that a failed bomb plot on Christmas Day 2009 had been hatched in Yemen. In his speech in May, President Obama stated, “I am lifting the moratorium on detainee transfers to Yemen, so we can review them on a case by case basis,” but although he met with President Hadi last week, the two men did not reach a specific agreement on repatriating the men.

    Others need third countries to provide them with a new home, as it is unsafe for them to be repatriated, but others, like Shaker Aamer, could be immediately returned to his family in the UK if the will existed in Washington — and if the British government made it a priority. The recent news that P.J. Harvey has recorded a song about Shaker will no doubt spur new interest in his case in the UK, and will hopefully lead to added pressure on David Cameron and William Hague to insist on his immediate return to the UK, but the key to his release and that of the other cleared prisoners, as Judge Kessler recognized last month, is President Obama.

    In his speech on May 23, President Obama said, “Look at the current situation, where we are force-feeding detainees who are holding a hunger strike,” and asked, “Is that who we are? Is that something that our founders foresaw? Is that the America we want to leave to our children?” The answer is no, but there is only one way to end the force-feeding of hunger strikers, and that is for President Obama to release the cleared prisoners, and to initiate urgent and objective reviews of the cases of the other men, to establish whether or not they can be put on trial. If not, they too should be released.

    Note: Please see here for the website of Lewis Peake, the artist who drew the illustration at the top of this article in 2008, as part of a series of five illustrations based on drawings by Guantánamo prisoner Sami al-Haj, which the Pentagon censors had refused to allow the public to see. Reprieve commissioned Lewis Peake to reproduce the drawings based on descriptions of what Sami had drawn, and I reproduced them in my article, “Sami al-Haj: the banned torture pictures of a journalist in Guantánamo.”

    Andy Worthington is a freelance investigative journalist, activist, author, photographer and film-maker. He is the co-founder of the “Close Guantánamo” campaign, and the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. He is also the co-director (with Polly Nash) of the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (available on DVD here – or here for the US).


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    Photos Show Detainees Sodomized and Raped- Torture Continues During Obama Presidency

    By Naomi Wolf and Christopher Rice

    Pres. Obama is withholding of alleged abuse by U.S. soldiers of prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Congress has authorized the suppression of hundreds of torture photographs held by the Pentagon.

    MoveOn’s executive director explicitly promised President Obama at a White House meeting that MoveOn would keep silent about the war escalations.

    The Obama administration urged a federal court to suppress documents detailing the CIA’s videotaped interrogations at secret prisons.

    Highly perverse, systematic sexual torture and sexual humiliation was, original documents reveal, directed from the top; Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Rice were present in meetings where sexual humiliation was discussed as policy; the Defense Authorization Act of 2007 was written specifically to allow certain kinds of sexual abuse, such as forced nakedness, which is completely illegal and understood by domestic and international law to be a form of sexual assault; Rumsfeld is in print and on the record consulting with subordinates about the policy and practice of sexual humiliation, in a collection of documents obtained by the ACLU by a Freedom of Information Act filing, compiled in Jameel Jaffer’s important book, The Torture Administration.

    General Strike to end Corruption (GS) broke the news – because the US press is in a drugged stupor — that the photos Obama is refusing to release of detainee abuse depict, among other sexual tortures, an American soldier raping a female detainee and a male translator raping a male prisoner. The photos also show anal rape of prisoners with foreign objects such as wires and lightsticks.

    Predictably, the Pentagon issued a formal denial.

    The Pentagon is lying. This is exactly what the photos show, because it happened. Precisely these exact sex crimes – these exact images and these very objects — are familiar and well-documented.

    Detainees who have told their stories to rights organizations have told independently confirming accounts of a highly consistent practice of sexual torture at US-held prisons, including having their genitals slashed with razors; electrodes placed on genitals; and being told US military would find and rape their mothers.

    When you give soldiers anywhere in the world the power, let alone the mandate, to hold women or men helpless, without recourse to law, kidnap them as a matter of policy – as US military kidnapped the wives of `insurgents’ in order to compel them to turn themselves in – strip them naked, and threaten them, you have a completely predictable recipe for mass sexual assault. The magisterial study of rape in war, Susan Brownmiller’s Men, Women and Rape, proves that.

    It is proof of the fact that the most senior leadership – Bush, Rumsfeld and Cheney, with Rice’s collusion – were running a global sex crime trafficking ring with Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and Baghram as the holding sites. The sexual nature of the torture also gives the lie to Cheney’s and others’ defense of torture as somehow functional: the sexual perversity mandated from the top reveals that it was just plain old sick sadism gratified by a very sick form of pleasure.

    In the highly credible and very fully documented Physicians for Human Rights report, Broken Bodies, Broken Lives, doctors investigated the wounds and scars of former prisoners, did analysis of the injuries, assessed the independent verification of their stories, and reported that indeed many detainees had in fact been savagely raped with lightsticks and by other objects inserted into their rectums, many sustaining internal injuries. This same report confirms that female military or other unidentified US-affiliated personnel were used to sexually abuse detainees by smearing menstrual blood on their faces, seizing their genitals violently, or rubbing them against their will in a sexual manner. In other credible accounts collected by human rights organizations, many former prisoners in US-held prisons report that they had been tortured or humiliated by female agents who appeared to be dressed like prostitutes. Indeed, early on intelligence spokespeople boasted in the New York Times of the use of female agents to sexually abuse and humiliate prisoners: it was called in their own material ‘invasion of space by a female.’

    “CIA agent took my penis in his hand and began to make cuts. He did it once, and they stood still for maybe a minute, watching my reaction. I was in agony. They must have done this 20 to 30 times, in maybe two hours. There was blood all over.” detainee Binyam Mohamed.

    Lakhdar Boumediene a 43-year-old Algerian, spent the last seven and a half years in Guantanamo. Boumediene claims that he was tortured for 16 days. He says that he was kept awake day and night and forced to walk across sharp stones with his bare feet tied together. He also claims that he was told that if he refused to confess, his handlers would put makeup on and rape him.

    Other detainees have recounted similar events, which were part of the special interrogation methods authorized by then-President George W. Bush.

    In Sierra Leone, the soldiers and generals who used rape as an instrument of war have been tried and many convicted. In Bosnia, likewise. But in another world, our own former leaders, violent and systemic sex criminals still walk free, not even facing charges.

    Will we ever convict our very own global rapists, the ones who gave the US the hellish distinction of turning us into the superpower of sex crime? Will we ever see the evidence? Not if Obama gets his way.

    Whom are we protecting by not releasing the photos? The victims? Hardly. The perpetrators? Their crimes are archived. (Again: that rape and sodomy were directed form the top; prosecute those at the top.)

    Obama is burning what is left of the Constitution by calling for preemptive detention for about 100 detainees. It ain’t because they are `too dangerous.’ It is because their bodies are crime scenes. It is because the torture, including the sexual assault, they experienced is likely to be so horrific that if they were ever to have their day in court it is others whom Obama needs who would be incriminated.

    History shows categorically that once the state can lock `them’ up without a fair trial, torture, rape them or sodomize them – well; sooner or later it will be able to do the same to your children or mine; or to you and me.

    Obama’s censorship decision is to dampen any anti-war sentiment and public support for an investigation of past crimes. Silence in the face of the censorship means collaborating in the cover-up of torture.

    President Obama’s administration may have already released a great deal of information on the torture program. But when it came to revealing the Bush White House’s role in unilaterally authorizing torture, Obama went to unusual lengths to keep the information secret.

    Do Gitmo Abuses Still Continue?

    They put him in a terribly cold cell with 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius). For the first days he had no running water, and he had to sleep on a pad less than one-centimeter thick visibly stained and smelling of food, vomit and feces. Boumediene was “kept isolated there” for 10 days, until Feb. 10, and was “not permitted to shower, pray or change his clothes. He was force fed using violent methods that were intended to and did injure him, and there was no medical treatment.” Despite the new president’s claims in faraway Washington, such actions were par for the course in Guantanamo.

    The US Department of Defense denies all these accusations; it claims that they are unfounded and that procedures at Guantanamo have been reviewed.

    “We never imagined that detainee abuse would continue after Obama came into office,” says Michael Ratner, the head of the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights. Ratner coordinates the legal defense of Guantanamo detainees. Across the ocean, the London-based organization Reprieve, which has defended many Guantanamo prisoners over the years, is now calling for an independent investigative commission to be appointed.

    A massive report on torture reveals it’s far less effective than reported. But the CIA refuses to declassify it.

    President Obama is preventing you from learning any of this, by keeping the CIA report classified.

    Instead of having foreigners interrogated in foreign prisons the Obama administration has taken to questioning suspected terrorists aboard U.S. Navy ships. As the Associated Press explains, this allows Obama to not use the CIA’s secret prisons while also allowing for suspects to be interrogated indefinitely under the laws of war.

    Investigating torture is not only our moral duty: it is our legal obligation. When the U.S. Senate ratified the Convention Against Torture in 1994, we committed ourselves as a nation not only to refrain from torture but to prosecute perpetrators when there is evidence of a crime.

    As things stand now, the United States has become a safe haven for those who torture.

    Sources: CIA, Reprieve, ACLU, Colonel James Steele, AP, van der Kolk, B.A., McFarlane, A.C., & Weisaeth, L. (Eds.) (1996). Traumatic stress: The effects of overwhelming experience on mind, body, and society. New York: Guilford.


    NEW Torture Photos: US Soldiers Raped, Sodomized Prisoners

    In an interview with the British newspaper the Daily Telegraph published Wednesday, former US General Antonio Taguba said that photographs the Obama administration is seeking to suppress show images of US soldiers raping and sodomizing Iraqi prisoners. Taguba, who conducted the military inquiry of prisoner abuse at the notorious Abu Ghraib prison in 2004 after some photos of US soldiers torturing prisoners became public, said that among the photos are images of soldiers raping a female prisoner, raping a male detainee, and committing “sexual assaults on prisoners with objects including a truncheon, wire and phosphorescent tube,” according to the Telegraph.

    Gen. Taguba said even the description of the photos is explosive. “These pictures show torture, abuse, rape and every indecency,” Taguba said. “The mere description of these pictures is horrendous enough, take my word for it.”

    Taguba’s revelations expose the deceit of President Barack Obama’s claim, used to justify the photos’ suppression, that they “are not particularly sensational, especially when compared to the painful images that we remember from Abu Ghraib.” In all, it is believed that there are some 2,000 photographs depicting about 400 cases of US military personnel torturing Iraqis and Afghans at seven military prisons. The Bush administration, and now Obama, have sought to block publication of the images.

    Obama also claimed that “the most direct consequence of releasing them…would be to inflame anti-American public opinion and to put our troops in greater danger.” While this may likely be true, the criminal nature of the US occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan is already well known by the nations’ populations, who have died and been made refugees in the hundreds of thousands since being invaded in 2003 and 2001, respectively. Indeed, this claim only exposes the true nature of the US occupations: they have never been about establishing democracy, but aimed at stamping out resistance to US control of the strategically important nations through mass bloodletting and terror, the historical modus operandi of every imperialist occupying power.

    However, the central reason Obama has chosen to fight the photos’ release is that top US generals announced their opposition to their publication. The generals’ intervention came in the midst of increasingly open dissension from the ranks of the military-intelligence apparatus over Obama’s handling of “the war on terror.” After Obama released four Bush administration legal memos justifying torture, a campaign, spearheaded by Bush Vice President Dick Cheney, was launched, appealing to the military brass and spies. Obama responded by promising he would block any investigation of the previous administration’s carefully crafted and controlled torture policies. He then reversed an earlier decision to not appeal a judge’s ruling in response to an American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) freedom of information lawsuit launched in 2004, which demanded the release of dozens of the torture photos.

    An Obama Pentagon spokesman denied that the suppressed images depict rape, while a carefully worded statement seemed to indicate other photos depict precisely such actions. Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said the Telegraph “has completely mischaracterized the images…. None of the photos in question depict the images that are described in that article.” Whitman did not specifically deny Taguba’s claims.

    Obama claims that the torture depicted in the photographs was committed by “a small number of individuals,” and that those “involved have been identified, and appropriate actions have been taken.” Here we may safely assume Obama is referring to a small handful of rank-and-file soldiers.

    But what of the high-ranking officers who oversaw, endorsed and most likely ordered the torture and rape of prisoners? If there are 2,000 photographs of prisoner torture that fell under the control of the Pentagon, how many more cases were not photographed? It is clear that the torture and rape of prisoners went far beyond the actions of “a few bad apples.” This torture and sexual humiliation of prisoners—up to and including rape—can only be described as the systematic policy of the US military and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), sanctioned at the highest levels of government. Indeed, the generals’ opposition to further publication of the photos is likely based in part on their own association with the crimes.

    The policy of torture came from higher still, however, as recently released Justice Department legal memos and other evidence show. Various forms of torture, including forced nudity and sexual humiliation were studied, justified, and individually approved by top White House and congressional officials. A US Senate Armed Services Committee report issued in April reveals that Bush Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld personally approved 15 “harsh interrogation” methods. A version of Rumsfeld’s document was used, verbatim, at Abu Ghraib, according to the report. (See “Bush, top cabinet officials monitored torture of detainees”)

    In his Telegraph interview, Taguba solidarized himself with Obama’s decision to suppress the photos. Taguba’s own investigation in 2004 was in fact a partial cover-up. He later admitted that he was ordered to confine his investigation to low-ranking military police, although he was aware that high-ranking generals had “extensive knowledge” of the torture. And though he was aware of the photographic evidence of torture and rape at the time, Taguba’s report made no mention of them.

    Because his report was not a total whitewash, however, the Bush administration forced the major general into retirement in 2007. He has since described the actions of the Bush administration in Iraq as war crimes. “There is no longer any doubt that the current administration committed war crimes,” Taguba wrote in the forward for a report by Physicians for Human Rights. “The only question is whether those who ordered torture will be held to account.”

    The photographic evidence of rape substantiates evidence Taguba gathered in his investigation, which only became public due to another freedom of information lawsuit. For example, in a sworn deposition Kasim Mehaddi Hilas said he witnessed US military personnel raping a boy. “I saw [a US military translator rape] a kid, his age would be about 15 to 18 years. The kid was hurting very bad and they covered all the doors with sheets. Then when I heard screaming I climbed the door because on top it wasn’t covered and I saw [the soldier] who was wearing the military uniform, putting his **** in the little kid’s **** and the female soldier was taking pictures.”

    The sworn deposition also described the anal rape of prisoners with phosphorescent tubes and police clubs, as well as the use of wire in sexual torture.

    The rape of Iraqi boys by US military personnel is corroborated by other evidence. Journalist Seymour Hersh, who played a critical role in breaking the Abu Ghraib story in 2004, has evidently seen all of the photos, and is aware of video footage depicting rape. He has not written publicly on their content, but a 2004 speech he gave to the ACLU indicates the sheer horror of the US military’s methods:

    “Some of the worst things that happened you don’t know about, okay?” Hersh said. “The women were passing messages out saying, ‘Please come and kill me, because of what’s happened,’ and basically what happened is that those women who were arrested with young boys, children in cases that have been recorded. The boys were sodomized with the cameras rolling. And the worst, above all, of that is the soundtrack of the boys shrieking that your government has. They are in total terror. It’s going to come out.” In another speech, quoted by Rick Pearlstein, Hersh spoke of “horrible things done to children of women prisoners, as the cameras run.”

    The unfathomable crimes depicted in the photos arise inexorably from the project of aggressive wars based on lies. As such, they are the flip side of the conspiracy against the democratic rights of the American people. Both arise from the deepening crisis of US capitalism, which the ruling elite seeks to offset by seizing hold of key resources and strategic advantage over its rivals.

    One can only react with horror. Contained in the stories and images of the torture of defenseless prisoners, some of them boys and women, is the true face of US imperialism, which finds no crime beneath its dignity in its effort to subjugate Iraq and Afghanistan. Just as the Vietnam War conjures up images of napalmed children fleeing US soldiers, and Nazi Germany invokes images of emaciated prisoners near death, the images of sexual torture will forever be associated with the American “war on terror.”

    In acting to suppress the images and protect the torturers, Obama has made himself an accomplice in these crimes. Moreover, in the absence of criminal investigation, there is every reason to believe that similar crimes continue.


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    30 Kinds of (approved) TORTURE currently being used by the C.I.A.

    Bush administration’s program of kidnapping “suspects,” a covert operation also known as “rendition,” continues under the Obama administration according to Reprieve Founding Director, Attorney Clive Stafford Smith.

    The following is a partial list of C.I.A. forms of torture:

    1. Sexual abuse and sexual torture. “CIA agent took my penis in his hand and began to make cuts. He did it once, and they stood still for maybe a minute, watching my reaction. I was in agony. They must have done this 20 to 30 times, in maybe two hours. There was blood all over.” detainee Binyam Mohamed

    2. Confinement in boxes, cages, coffins, etc, or burial (often with an opening or air-tube for oxygen).

    3. Restraint; with ropes, chains, cuffs, etc. “We use electricity or hang them upside down, pull out their nails, and beat them on sensitive parts.” said Colonel James Steele

    4. Near-drowning. (waterboarding)

    5. Extremes of heat and cold, including submersion in ice water, and burning chemicals.

    6. Skinning (only top layers of the skin are removed in victims intended to survive).

    7. Spinning.

    8. Blinding light.

    9. Electric shock.

    10. Forced ingestion of offensive body fluids and matter, such as blood, urine, feces, flesh, etc.

    11. Hung in painful positions or upside down.

    12. Hunger and thirst.

    13. Sleep deprivation.

    14 Compression with weights and devices.

    15. Sensory deprivation.

    16. Drugs to create illusion, confusion, and amnesia, often given by injection or intravenously.

    17. Ingestion or intravenous toxic chemicals to create pain or illness, including chemotherapy agents.

    18. Limbs pulled or dislocated.

    19. Application of dogs, ants, snakes, spiders, maggots, rats, and other animals to induce fear and disgust.

    20. Near-death experiences; commonly asphyxiation by choking or drowning, with immediate resuscitation.

    22. Forced to perform or witness abuse, torture of family.

    23. Forced to wear women’s clothes, forced participation in pornography.

    24. Raped.

    25. Spiritual abuse to cause victim to feel possessed, harassed, and controlled internally by spirits or demons.

    26. Desecration of Muslim/religious beliefs.

    27. Abuse and illusion to convince victims that God is evil.

    28. Surgery to torture, experiment, or implant RFID devices.

    29. Harm or threats of harm to family, friends, loved ones, pets, and other victims, to force compliance.

    30. Psyops: Kept awake for four days by loud music


    Bush Administration memos released by the White House provide new insight into claims that American agents used insects to torture young children.

    In the memos, the Bush Administration White House Office of Legal Counsel offered its endorsement of CIA torture methods that involved placing an insect in a cramped, confined box with detainees. Jay S. Bybee, then-director of the OLC, wrote that insects could be used to capitalize on detainees’ fears.

    The memo was dated Aug. 1, 2002. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s children were captured and held in Pakistan the following month, according to a report by Human Rights Watch.

    Ali Khan, the father of detainee Majid Khan, “The Pakistani guards told my son that the boys were kept in a separate area upstairs and were denied food and water by other guards,” the statement read. “They were also mentally tortured by having ants or other creatures put on their legs to scare them and get them to say where their father was hiding.” (A pdf transcript is available here)

    Khan’s statement is second-hand. But the picture he paints of his son’s interrogation at the hands of American interrogators is strikingly similar to the accounts given by numerous other detainees to the International Red Cross. The timing of the capture of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s son — then aged seven and nine — also meshes with a report by Human Rights Watch, which says that the children were captured in September 2002 and held for four months at the hands of American guards.

    “What I can tell you is that Majid was kidnapped from my son Mohammed’s [not related Khalid Sheikh Mohammed] house in Karachi, along with Mohammed, his wife, and my infant granddaughter,” Khan said in his military tribunal statement. “They were captured by Pakistani police and soldiers and taken to a detention center fifteen minutes from Mohammed’s house. The center had walls that seemed to be eighty feet high. My sons were hooded, handcuffed, and interrogated. After eight days of interrogation by US and Pakistani agents, including FBI agents, Mohammed was allowed to see Majid.

    “Majhid looked terrible and very, very tired,” Khan continued. “According to Mohammed, Majid said that the Americans tortured him for eight hours at a time, tying him tightly in stressful positions in a small chair until his hands, feet and mind went numb. They re-tied him in the chair every hour, tightening the bonds on his hands and feet each time so that it was more painful. He was often hooded and had difficulty breathing. They also beat him repeatedly, slapping him in the face, and deprived him of sleep. When he was not being interrogated, the Americans put Majid in a small cell that was totally dark and too small for him to lie down in or sit in with his legs stretched out. He had to crouch. The room was also infested with mosquitoes. The torture only stopped when Majid agreed to sign a statement that he was not even allowed to read.”

    “The Americans also once stripped and beat two Arab boys, ages fourteen and sixteen, who were turned over by the Pakistani guards at the detention center,” he said. “These guards told my son that they were very upset at this and said the boys were thrown like garbage onto a plane to Guantanamo. Women prisoners were also held there, apart from their husbands, and some were pregnant and forced to give birth in their cells. According to Mohammed, one woman also died in her cell because the guards could not get her to a hospital quickly enough. This was most upsetting to the Pakistani guards.”

    “When KSM was being held at a secret CIA facility in Thailand, apparently the revamped Vietnam War-era base at Udorn, according to Suskind, a message was passed to interrogators: ‘do whatever’s necessary,’” Kevin Fenton writes at History Commons. “The interrogators then told KSM ‘his children would be hurt if he didn’t cooperate. However, his response was, ’so, fine, they’ll join Allah in a better place.’”

    Bush administration’s program of kidnapping “suspects,” a covert operation also known as “rendition,” continues under the Obama administration according to Reprieve Founding Director, Attorney Clive Stafford Smith.

    Most people kidnapped and tortured are people of color, innocent of terrorism. They are used for non-consensual human experimentation according to recent reports. (See AFP, Doctors had central role in CIA abuse: rights group, Spet. 1, 2009 and CIA doctors face human experimentation claims, Sept. 3, 2009)

    Human experimentation without consent has been prohibited in any setting since 1947, when the Nuremberg Code resultant of Nazi doctor prosecution.

    “Every day, the U.S. picks up 40 – 60 people considered ‘suspects’ from around the world and imprisons them,” stated Smith.

    Non-consensual human experimentation conducted on Middle Eastern detainees has consisted of applying torture including “physical threats, mock executions, choking to the point where detainees lost consciousness and even using a stiff brush to scrub a detainees skin raw” while health officials and psychologists monitored reactions. (AFP)

    The U.S.-based group, Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) medical advisor Scott Allen states on the PHR website that “medical doctors and psychologists colluded with the CIA to keep observational records about waterboarding, which approaches unethical and unlawful human experimentation.” (Press release: PHR Analysis: CIA Health Professionals’ Role in Torture Worse Than Previously Known, August 31, 2009)

    In 2013, Smith estimated that 60,000 people went through the American “system.” This system is now internationally known to be a U.S. sponsored kidnap-torture-experiment program.

    Shortly after coming into office President Obama ordered the closing of the CIA’s “black” detention sites. At these secret sites the CIA aggressively interrogated people while also denying them access to legal representation. However, despite ordering the closing of these sites, what the Obama administration has been doing instead since 2011 leaves much to be desired.

    Instead of having foreigners interrogated in foreign prisons the Obama administration has taken to questioning suspected terrorists aboard U.S. Navy ships. As the Associated Press explains, this allows Obama to not use the CIA’s secret prisons while also allowing for suspects to be interrogated indefinitely under the laws of war. (It is worth remembering that in 2009 the Obama administration said that it would continue the Bush policy of sending terrorist suspects abroad to be interrogated, but with more oversight).

    The most recent example of this tactic was reported, when U.S. Delta Force and Libyan authorities captured Abu Anas al-Libi, who is accused of masterminding the attacks on American embassies in Africa in 1998. Al-Libi is currently being interrogated aboard the USS San Antonio. The Associated Press reports that al-Libi has not been read his Miranda rights.

    Questioning suspected terrorists aboard U.S. warships in international waters is President Barack Obama’s answer to the Bush administration detention policies that candidate Obama promised to end.

    Clive Stafford Smith dedicated humanitarian spent 25 years working on behalf of defendants facing U.S. death penalty. As Reprieve Director, Smith oversees Reprieve’s Casework Programme plus the direct representation of prisoners in Guantánamo Bay and on death row as a Louisiana licensed attorney-at-law.
    Sources: CIA, Reprieve, ACLU, Colonel James Steele, AP, van der Kolk, B.A., McFarlane, A.C., & Weisaeth, L. (Eds.) (1996). Traumatic stress: The effects of overwhelming experience on mind, body, and society. New York: Guilford.


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    CIA’s use of harsh interrogation went beyond legal authority, Senate report says

    By Ali Watkins, Jonathan S. Landay and Marisa Taylor
    McClatchy Washington BureauApril 11, 2014

    WASHINGTON — A still-secret Senate Intelligence Committee report calls into question the legal foundation of the CIA’s use of waterboarding and other harsh interrogation techniques on suspected terrorists, a finding that challenges the key defense on which the agency and the Bush administration relied in arguing that the methods didn’t constitute torture.

    The report also found that the spy agency failed to keep an accurate account of the number of individuals it held, and that it issued erroneous claims about how many it detained and subjected to the controversial interrogation methods. The CIA has said that about 30 detainees underwent the so-called enhanced interrogation techniques.

    The CIA’s claim “is BS,” said a former U.S. official familiar with evidence underpinning the report, who asked not to be identified because the matter is still classified. “They are trying to minimize the damage. They are trying to say it was a very targeted program, but that’s not the case.”

    The findings are among the report’s 20 main conclusions. Taken together, they paint a picture of an intelligence agency that seemed intent on evading or misleading nearly all of its oversight mechanisms throughout the program, which was launched under the Bush administration after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and ran until 2006.

    Some of the report’s other conclusions, which were obtained by McClatchy, include:

    _ The CIA used interrogation methods that weren’t approved by the Justice Department or CIA headquarters.
    _ The agency impeded effective White House oversight and decision-making regarding the program.
    _ The CIA actively evaded or impeded congressional oversight of the program.
    _ The agency hindered oversight of the program by its own Inspector General’s Office.

    The 6,300-page report is the culmination of a four-year, $40 million investigation into the detention and interrogation program by the Democrat-led committee. A final draft was approved in December 2012, but it has undergone revisions. The panel voted 11-3 on April 3 to send the report’s 480-page executive summary, the findings and conclusions to the executive branch for declassification prior to public release.

    Asked to comment on the findings, CIA spokesman Dean Boyd said: “Given the report remains classified, we are unable to comment. As we have stated previously, the CIA, in consultation with other agencies, will carry out an expeditious classification review of those portions of the final SSCI report submitted to the executive branch for review.”

    Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein also declined to comment except to say: “If someone distributed any part of this classified report, they broke the law and should be prosecuted.”

    The investigation determined that the program produced very little intelligence of value and that the CIA misled the Bush White House, the Congress and the public about the effectiveness of the interrogation techniques, committee members have said.

    The techniques included waterboarding, which produces a sensation of drowning, stress positions, sleep deprivation for up to 11 days at a time, confinement in a cramped box, slaps and slamming detainees into walls. The CIA held detainees in secret “black site” prisons overseas and abducted others who it turned over to foreign governments for interrogation.

    The CIA, which contends that it gained intelligence from the program that helped identify al Qaida terrorists and averted plots against the United States, agreed with some of the report’s findings but disputed other conclusions in an official response sent to the committee in June 2013.

    The report has been embroiled in a public furor since Feinstein, D-Calif., took to the Senate floor last month to accuse the CIA of possibly violating the law and the Constitution by monitoring computers used by her staff to assemble the report, and by removing and blocking access to documents.

    Some current and former U.S. officials and military commanders, numerous experts and foreign governments have condemned the harsh interrogation methods as violations of international and U.S. laws against torture, a charge denied by the CIA and the Bush administration.

    Among other findings, the report said that CIA personnel used interrogation methods that weren’t approved by the Justice Department or their headquarters.

    The CIA inspector general’s May 7, 2004, report, which was declassified, found that in waterboarding Zubaydah and Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, deemed the chief architect of the 9/11 attacks, the CIA went beyond the parameters it outlined to the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, which wrote the legal opinions.

    Zubaydah was waterboarded 83 times, while Mohammad underwent the procedure 183 times.

    The CIA inspector general’s report found that the “continued applicability of the DOJ opinion” was in question because the CIA told the Justice Department that it would use waterboarding in the same way that it was used in training U.S. military personnel to evade capture and resist the enemy. In fact, the inspector general’s report continued, the CIA used waterboarding in a “manner different” from U.S. military training.

    The CIA also failed to keep track of the number of individuals it captured under the program, the Senate report concluded. Moreover, it said, the agency held people who didn’t meet the legal standard for detention. The report puts that number at 26, McClatchy has learned.

    “The CIA did not conduct a comprehensive or accurate accounting of the number of individuals it detained and held individuals who did not meet the legal standard for detention,” it found. “The CIA’s claims about the number of detainees held and subjected to its enhanced interrogation techniques were inaccurate.” “The CIA’s records were hazy, inconsistent and at times inaccurate,” said the former U.S. official.


    CIA and White House under pressure after Senate torture report leaks

    Senate committee found CIA interrogations and detentions to be 'brutal' and urges administration to release report as quickly as possible

    A leak of the major findings of a landmark Senate inquiry into the CIA’s post-9/11 torture of terrorism detainees led, on Friday, to intensified pressure on the White House and the CIA to release the inquiry speedily and with a minimum of redactions.

    The classified study, prepared by the Senate select committee on intelligence, concluded that the CIA’s interrogations, secret detentions and outsourced torture sessions were “brutal, and far worse than the agency communicated to policymakers.”

    More suspected terrorists underwent the agency’s post-9/11 treatment, which largely lasted from 2002 to 2006, than the CIA has publicly admitted, according to the report’s findings, which were first reported by McClatchy. Last week, committee chairwoman Dianne Feinstein of California stated that the Senate investigated the cases of 100 detainees – dozens more than previously known to have gone through the CIA’s so-called “interrogation, detention and rendition” programs.

    In addition to misleading policymakers, the Senate report charges the CIA with selectively and leaking classified and inaccurate information to journalists in order to portray the program in a positive light.

    “The CIA manipulated the media by co-ordinating the leak of classified information, which inaccurately portrayed the effectiveness of the agency’s enhanced interrogation techniques,” the committee found.

    The agency also, according to the report, provided factually inaccurate information to Bush administration lawyers, who relied on it to concoct the legal theories that underpinned an apparatus of torturous interrogations and detentions that quickly spread to US military facilities at Guantánamo Bay, Iraq and Afghanistan.

    The study took four years and $40m to complete, and has brought the relationship between the CIA and the Senate panel overseeing it to perhaps its lowest ebb in history.

    Not only does Langley contend that the committee has developed a factually inaccurate picture of the since-shuttered program, it has appealed to the Justice Department to open a criminal inquiry into Senate staffers for taking a classified agency document out of a secured facility – a move Feinstein has called an attempt at intimidation.

    In March, on the Senate floor, Feinstein accused the CIA of breaching a network barrier on a system it set up to allow the agency to share documents with the committee electronically. She said the move meant the agency spied on the Senate staff, which she said violated the separation of powers outlined in the constitution.
    Despite the acrimony, the White House announced last week that the CIA will lead the executive-branch panel that will recommend how much of the Senate report’s executive summary, findings and recommendations to make public, a decision blasted by human-rights groups and intelligence scholars as a conflict of interest.

    On Thursday, 40 Democratic members of the House of Representatives wrote to President Obama urging him to declassify the committee’s executive summary and major findings “expeditiously and in their entirety.”

    “The American people need and deserve a full account of the actions that were taken in their name through the use of torture and enhanced interrogations on detainees. As you have said publicly, the report must be declassified “so that the American people can understand what happened in the past’,” the legislators wrote.
    After the committee voted last week to authorize declassification of aspects of its report, Feinstein challenged the administration to release the executive summary, findings and recommendations with minimal redactions and within 30 days. She said that the committee could hold a subsequent vote on declassifying the entire 6,000-plus page study, which some observers understood as a tactic to give the committee leverage in case the CIA’s redactions of the current portions up for review are extensive.

    “Some ... do not want this report to become public and are seeking to discredit it,” Feinstein wrote on Thursday in the Washington Post, along with former committee chairman Jay Rockefeller, a West Virginia Democrat.

    According to the leaked conclusions, the committee found that that the agency poorly managed its interrogation and detention efforts. It relied extensively on outside contractors for design and implementation, especially “two contract psychologists,” whom an earlier Senate Armed Services Committee investigation identified as Bruce Jessen and Jim Mitchell. Both men were influential in retrofitting techniques that had been designed to train captured US troops to survive and resist torture by foreign adversaries for use on detainees.

    “Numerous internal critiques and objections concerning the CIA’s management and use of the Detention and Interrogation [sic] were ignored,” according to the committee findings. Those internal critiques include a now partially declassified 2004 inspector general’s report.

    Human rights groups cited the leaked conclusions to pressure the administration to fully declassify the Senate report’s major aspects – and to take responsibility for its release out of the CIA’s hands.

    "The legal foundation for this program was always broken, but this also shows that it was resting on thin air. These conclusions only reinforce that torture is a brutal, unlawful practice that is unnecessary for protecting our national security,” said former navy general counsel Alberto Mora in a statement released by Human Rights First.

    “It’s important to have as much of the report made public as possible to put these findings in context. The White House should lead the declassification process and ensure that the American people can understand the true costs of our experiment with torture.”

    In a letter he sent to President Obama on Friday, Senator Mark Udall, a Democrat from Colorado, wrote, "[T]he most pressing reason for the White House to step in and manage this process is the CIA's clear conflict of interest on this issue and its demonstrated inability to face the truth about this program. … The CIA is certainly entitled to issue a public response to the Committee's study, but not to impede the declassification of the study itself."


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    The Media Is Still Dancing Around The Word 'Torture'


    What's not new is the media's persistent dance around the word at the heart of the entire story: "torture."

    Much has been made in the past decade or so about the news business' sudden conversion to euphemism when it came to describing techniques that had been previously universally recognized as torture. One study, for instance, found that major outlets abruptly stopped defining waterboarding as torture when the Bush administration began using it.

    That tendency has not abated in recent years, and a look through recent newspaper and television coverage shows that many outlets are still hesitant to use "torture."

    McClatchy, which published the leaked findings from the Senate report, called them "harsh interrogation techniques," even as it provided a gruesome description of what those techniques were:

    The techniques included waterboarding, which produces a sensation of drowning, stress positions, sleep deprivation for up to 11 days at a time, confinement in a cramped box, slaps and slamming detainees into walls. The CIA held detainees in secret “black site” prisons overseas and abducted others who it turned over to foreign governments for interrogation.

    The Washington Post referred to "brutal," "harsh" and "excruciating" techniques.

    A New York Times article mentioned "brutal methods."

    Reuters wrote about "brutal interrogation methods that critics say amount to torture."

    The Associated Press actually described the report in one article as a "torture report," though it later used the term "enhanced interrogation techniques" in quotes.

    An examination of monitoring service TV Eyes over the last couple of weeks shows that television news is—with some exceptions—equally reluctant to use "torture."

    In one discussion of the report, MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski referred to "interrogation tactics used by the CIA."

    "CBS This Morning" used the term "extreme interrogation techniques."

    NBC's David Gregory asked Obama administration adviser Dan Pfeiffer about "past interrogation techniques."

    On CNN, Candy Crowley hedged her bets by saying that the CIA had used "torture depending on who's describing it."

    One network where "torture" seems more acceptable is, surprisingly, Fox News. Viewers tuning into that channel could hear Shep Smith say that the term "enhanced interrogation techniques" "means torture in English." They could watch anchor Shannon Bream read news copy that said that the Senate had concluded that the CIA "tortured suspects and gained little evidence."

    And, perhaps more cavalierly, they could witness Bill O'Reilly refer to the techniques as "torture, alleged torture, torture, whatever."


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    Little Guantanamo - Guantanamo North and the Denial of Prisoner Rights

    By Bill Chambers | May 6, 2014

    In late April, Bureau of Prisons’ (BOP) documents describing the process for designating prisoners to Communications Management Units (CMUs), or as some call them “Guantanamo North”, were made public by a Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) lawsuit filed in 2010. The documents confirm what was suspected all along – CMU prisoners are being denied due process from their initial labeling as a CMU prisoner to their inability to challenge their status. Plus over sixty percent are Muslims although Muslims comprise only six percent of the federal prisoner population.

    Communication Management Units (CMU) are special prisons opened secretly with no public notice first in Terre Haute, Indiana in 2006 and then in Marion, Illinois in 2008. This first-of-its-kind prison in the US appeared to be a way of isolating prisoners convicted mainly of terrorism-related offenses from the rest of the prison population. This is only speculation, as the BOP never published any information at all about these secret prisons until four years later. Human Rights groups have called them “Guantanamo North” and “Little Guantanamos” given that two thirds of the prisoners are Muslims; there is a heavy use of solitary confinement; 24 hour surveillance; and little oversight by anyone on how prisoners are treated. They are also reminiscent of the Bush administration’s secret prisons in allied countries for terrorists suspects, except in this case the secret prisons are in Indiana and Illinois. An NPR report on the make-up of the prisoner population said initially, the vast majority of the inmates were Muslim.

    When the Terre Haute unit opened in December 2006, 15 of the first 17 inmates were Muslim. As word got out that the special units were disproportionately Muslim, civil rights lawyers say, the Bureau of Prisons started moving in non-Muslims. The group included tax resisters, a member of the Japanese Red Army and inmates from Colombia and Mexico. Inmates say the guards there called them “balancers.”

    Not only were these prisoners unable to determine why they were sent to a CMU, the limitations on their ability to communicate with anyone was severely restricted – much more so than anywhere else in the federal prison system. According to the CCR fact sheet on CMUs

    Unlike prisoners who are convicted of serious crimes and sent to a federal supermax facility, CMU inmates have no way to review the evidence that sent them there or to challenge that evidence to get out. Unlike other BOP prisoners, individuals detained in the CMUs are completely banned from any physical contact with visiting family members and friends. Other types of communication are also severely limited, including interactions with other prisoners and phone calls with friends and family members. Prisoners in the isolation units are barred even from contact with other prisoners in the general population. In addition to the stigma of being placed in what is widely known as the “terrorist” unit, individuals detained in the CMU have limited access to educational and other opportunities, including programs that facilitate reintegration and employment efforts upon their release.

    Many CMU prisoners have neither significant disciplinary records nor any communications-related infractions. However, bias, political scapegoating, religious profiling and racism keep them locked inside these special units.

    Under pressure from the CCR lawsuit and other human rights organizations, the BOP finally published guidelines for the CMUs in 2010, four years after the first CMU was created. The guidelines indicated that rationale for creating the CMUs was to completely control the ability of these prisoners to communicate with each other, their families, and the outside world. The level of isolation and control over the prisoners would be even far beyond that in “supermax” prisons.

    The purpose of CMUs is to provide an inmate housing unit environment that enables staff to more effectively monitor communication between CMU inmates and persons in the community. The ability to monitor such communication is necessary to ensure the safety, security, and orderly operation of correctional facilities, and protect the public. The volume, frequency, and methods, of CMU inmate contact with persons in the community may be limited as necessary to achieve the goal of total monitoring.

    But in reviewing the published criteria for selecting prisoners beyond those convicted of terrorism-related offenses, the criteria are very broad and can apply to a large number of prisoners in the system. For a prisoner to challenge this designation or work his way out of the CMU is extremely difficult and has not been successful for anyone who has tried.

    Even with these guidelines, there is still no justification for the lopsided make-up of the CMU prisoner population. As the CCR CMU Factsheet describes, the population at the Marion, Illinois CMU is 72 percent Muslim, 1,200 percent higher than the national average of Muslim federal prisoners and the Terre Haute CMU population is about two-thirds Muslim, 1,000 percent more than the average. The Muslims detained in these two CMUs are both African American (many who converted during their time in the prison system) and prisoners of Middle Eastern descent.

    Not all of the CMU prisoners are Muslim and some are political activists. A recent statement by Daniel McGowen, an environmental activist, on the publication of documents from the CCR suit, shows other types of prisoners who were targeted for CMU incarceration. McGowen is currently at a halfway house in Brooklyn, serving the last few months of a seven-year sentence for his role in arsons credited to the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) at two lumber companies in Oregon in 2001. His case was part of the prosecution of environmental activism as a form of terrorism. After initially serving his sentence at a prison near his home, he was abruptly transferred to the CMU in Terre Haute. After three years of a law suit to determine why he had been sent there, the just released documents suggest it was mainly based on his political opinions. He came to this conclusion by reviewing memos from Leslie Smith, the Chief of the BOP’s Counter Terrorism Unit that were used to justify his move to the CMU.

    My attempts to “unite” environmental and animal liberation movements, and to “educate” new members of the movement about errors of the past; my writings about “whether militancy is truly effective in all situations”; a letter I wrote discussing bringing unity to the environmental movement by focusing on global issues; the fact that I was “publishing [my] points of view on the internet in an attempt to act as a spokesperson for the movement”; and the BOP’s belief that, through my writing, I have “continued to demonstrate [my] support for anarchist and radical environmental terrorist groups.”

    One of the most well known prisoners at the Marion, Illinois CMU was a defendant in the infamous Holy Land Foundation (HLF) case, Ghassan Elashi, the HLF Chairman, who is serving a 65-year sentence. This is the case that the ACLU described as having “violated the fundamental rights of American Muslims’ charitable giving in accordance with their faith, seriously undermining American values of due process and commitment to First Amendment freedoms.” Since the Supreme Court turned down the appeal of the Holy Land Foundation case in 2012, Ghassan Elashi will remain in Illinois’ own “Little Guantanamo”.

    In 2010, The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) filed a federal lawsuit Aref, et al. v. Holder, et al. against Attorney General Eric Holder, federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) officials, and the BOP itself, challenging policies and conditions at the CMUs as well as the circumstances under which they were established. In November 2012, CCR amended its complaint to bring new retaliation claims based on previously-secret documents. It is these documents released a week ago that demonstrated that the BOP assigned CCR’s clients to the CMUs because of their Constitutionally-protected political activism and speech. “The documents revealed today show that CMU prisoners have been denied due process at every step, from designation to review,” said CCR Senior Staff Attorney Alexis Agathocleous. “The CMUs impose harsh restrictions on prisoners, including a ban on even momentarily hugging their families. Meanwhile, the BOP has denied hundreds of prisoners, who are mostly Muslim, the opportunity to understand or rebut the rationale for their placement, or a meaningful review process to earn their way out,” The documents also showed that the decision-makers are not required to, and do not, document their reasons for selecting a prisoner for CMU placement. As a result, it is effectively impossible for prisoners to challenge their designation.

    On April 23, 2014, the CCR case moved for summary judgment (to obtain a ruling on the case without going to trial), presenting all the evidence that demonstrates a denial of due process for CMU prisoners. Hopefully if the CCR case is successful, it will be the first step in shutting down these CMUs that continue to avoid oversight and violate prisoners’ rights. Even though the original Guantanamo is still operating outside of U.S. and international law, maybe these “Little Guantanamos” in Illinois and Indiana can be closed for good.


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    ‘Don’t interact, don’t talk, they are not humans’ - Gitmo guard's basic orders

    May 22, 2013

    Video: http://rt.com/news/guantanamo-guard-islam-torture-608/
    Download video: http://img.rt.com/files/news/1f/27/8...event=download

    One of the methods used to extract information from Muslim inmates in Guantanamo was to apply sexual interrogation techniques, Terry Holdbrooks, former guard at the camp has told RT.

    Such a degradation methods, the former US soldier said, were used on innocent men. Holdbrooks, who wrote a book about GITMO prisoners, claims that it is the inmates’ religious perseverance in the face of pain and humiliation made him convinced that US was not fighting for the right cause.

    RT: What did you experience at the detention camp that changed you?

    Terry Holdbrooks: To be honest with you I would not even know where to begin with that. Initially seeing religion practiced the way that the detainees practice Islam is a really life changing experience in itself. I have not really seen any kind of any serious devotion, the faith like that growing up in the US.

    The torture and information extraction methods that we used certainly created a great deal of doubt and questions in my mind to whether or not this was my America. But when I thought about what we were doing there and how we go about doing it, it did not seem like the America I signed up to defend. It did not seem like the America I grew up in, I grew to believe in. And that in itself was a very disillusioning experience. There was a great deal of personal growth that took there as well.

    RT: Could you describe the relationship between the guards and detainees at Guantanamo back when you were serving (and how has it changed since then)?

    TH: I suppose that if we’re going to take a stroll down the memory lane, Brandon Neely was there first. He was there when it was camp x-ray. It was essentially dog cages, nothing more. It was dog kennels, I suppose you can say. When I was there camp Delta was in full swing. Delta housed about 612 men that would be the general population of the camps.

    RT: Were you given any orders as how to treat the inmates?

    TH: Our interaction with the detainees was such that we were told not to talk to them, not to treat them as humans, to not engage in conversation with them whatsoever. And the army sort of made a mistake by allowing somebody who is inclined to sociology and to studying people by leaving me with individuals from all over the world unsupervised for eight hours. I was very low in rank so I was delegated all the work, while those who were higher in rank were sitting in the air-conditioned shacks, nurturing their hangovers. So the instructions I was given were simple – don’t interact, don’t talk, they are not humans.

    RT: There have been reports of torture and other human rights violations happening at the prison camp. Could you tell us what you saw?

    TH: We can begin with experiences I had the pleasure of having. Myself, Eric Sarr and another Guantanamo guard were involved in this. Eric was a linguist and he was working with an interrogator.

    We took the detainee into interrogation and throughout the interrogation the interrogator took off her clothing. She essentially gave the detainee a lap dance, tried to arouse him and then let him believe that he had menstrual blood on him. We then took the detainee back to his cell and were told that he was not allowed to have shower privileges nor fresh water for days. The idea behind this being that if he could not clean himself he would not be able to pray, if he could not pray, he could not practice Islam. Essentially it was an idea to break him down spiritually.

    Detainees participate in an early morning prayer session at Camp IV at the detention facility in Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base (Reuters / Deborah Gembara)

    Omar Khadr and a number of other detainees, I remember hearing just few moments ago Shaker Aamer, they were privileged to something we called the frequent flyer program, where we would essentially move them every two hours. Whether we were moving them from camp Delta to camp Echo or moving them from Bravo block to Charlie block, be it a little move or a big move, the idea is that every two hours they would be moved and they would not be able to sleep. This was essentially to wear down their psyche and make them more probable to give out their information during interrogation.

    But what has questioned me ever since I first saw it, it seemed that most of these men were innocent and as numbers are starting to show, we’ve sent over 600 of them home, so they must have been innocent; if we knew that we were purchasing men that were innocent, why were we trying to interrogate innocent men? What were we hoping to get from them?

    Some of the tactics I saw practiced in Guantanamo, I just want to never want to relive again and then a great deal of regret takes place and then I did not take the most productive use of some years after Guantanamo. I tried to drown away some of those memories and that is something you cannot do. You have to confront it.

    Holdbrooks has written a book, entitled "Traitor?", to be published in the Summer of 2013

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    Why is Guantanamo’s Camp 7 so shrouded in secrecy?

    By Agence France-Presse
    Sunday, April 27, 2014

    Everyone knows it exists and yet officials clam up at the mere mention of Camp 7, the most secure and secretive area of the US military prison in Guantanamo Bay.

    Hidden among the arid hills of the sprawling naval base on the Cuban coast, it holds about 15 so-called high value detainees -- including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the self-proclaimed mastermind of the September 11, 2001 attacks on US soil.

    "We simply just don't discuss Camp 7," said Brigadier General Marion Garcia, deputy commander of Joint Task Force Guantanamo (JTF-GTMO), which runs the base's detention centers.

    The area is not included in the agenda for press visits, and is not even mentioned in the press pack given to journalists.

    "It's not a secret that it's here, but what is classified is its location and any other operation about it or who's in there," echoed Captain John Filostrat, a JTF-GTMO spokesman.

    The three lawyers who have been there aren't allowed to say much about what they saw. Suzanne Lachelier and Richard Federico visited in October 2008.

    "The back of the van in which we were transported had no windows at all," Lachelier recalled in an interview with AFP.

    She said she couldn't make out the overall structure of the high-security facility or the route taken to get there, noting: "They drove us around for 20 or 25 minutes to disorient us."

    "Who runs it?" asked Lachelier, a US Navy commander.

    "Nothing justifies the security measures taken for Camp 7, unless there is something the government wants to hide."

    More recently, on August 15 last year, Jay Connell saw his client -- 9/11 defendant Ali Abd al-Aziz Ali, who is Mohammed's Pakistani nephew -- at Camp 7.

    Again, it was impossible to get the slightest clue about its whereabouts since the mini-bus that took him there had blacked-out windows.

    As for the camp itself, "everything is designed as solitary confinement cells," he told AFP, recalling his 12-hour visit made possible by an order from a military judge.

    The inmates "eat inside the cells, there's no communal living -- I've never seen such an isolating facility," he added.

    - High-profile prisoners -

    Scarce information gleaned from various sources shows that those incarcerated at Camp 7 are detainees deemed "high value" due to the intelligence they are believed to be able to provide, or have already provided during harsh interrogations in secret CIA prisons considered by many as torture.

    Among them is Mohammed, who was subjected to 183 instances of water-boarding before being transferred to Guantanamo.

    Another is Ramzi Binalshibh, a Yemeni and suspected 9/11 co-conspirator who recently complained to a military judge that prison guards were intentionally making noise at night to deprive him of sleep.

    Yet another is Ali, who is believed to have served as the basis for a character in the movie "Zero Dark Thirty" due to the mistreatment he allegedly suffered.

    Also held is Saudi citizen Abd Rahim al-Nashiri, charged with masterminding the MV Limburg attack and the 2000 attack against the USS Cole in Yemen.

    And then there's Abu Zubaydah, who is suspected of having been Osama Bin Laden's right-hand man.

    Given the history of those incarcerated at Camp 7, "there is every reason to believe that it's run by the CIA" and not by JTF-GTMO, said a source familiar with the prison who spoke on condition of anonymity.

    Garcia said trips to Camp 7 "are actually organized through someone else -- we simply do as we're instructed to do."

    "It's really not all that mysterious -- all I can tell you is that it's a very well-run facility and I'm proud of what we're doing there," she added.

    But John Kelly, head of the US Southern Command that oversees Guantanamo, testified in Congress that Camp 7 should be replaced because it was "increasingly unsustainable due to drainage and foundation issues."

    "The expeditionary infrastructure put in place was intended to be temporary," Kelly told lawmakers.


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    For Ramadan, Please Write to the Prisoners in Guantánamo, Forgotten Again

    Every six months, I ask people to write to the prisoners in Guantánamo, to let them — and the US authorities — know that they have not been forgotten.

    The letter-writing campaign was started four years ago by two Facebook friends, Shahrina J. Ahmed and Mahfuja Bint Ammu, and it has been repeated every six months (see here, here, here, here, here and here). This latest campaign also coincides with the holy month of Ramadan, which began on June 29.

    Guantánamo remains a legal, moral and ethical abomination, a place where the men still held — 149 in total — are, for the most part, indefinitely imprisoned without charge or trial, even though over half of them — 75 men — were cleared for release in January 2010 by the high-level, inter-agency Guantánamo Review Task Force established by President Obama when he took office in 2009, and three others were cleared for release in recent months by a new review process, the Periodic Review Boards.

    In 2010, the task force recommended who to release, who to prosecute, and who to continue holding without charge or trial, on the extremely dubious basis that they were “too dangerous to release,” even though insufficient evidence existed to put them on trial. What this means, of course, is that the supposed evidence is no such thing, and consists largely of extremely unreliable statements made either by the prisoners themselves, or their fellow prisoners, in circumstances that were not conducive to telling the truth — involving the use of torture, for example, or other forms of abuse, and in some cases, bribery, when prisoners told lies to secure favorable treatment.

    The Guantánamo Review Task Force’s report was published in January 2010, but it was not until June 2013 that a document explaining which prisoners had been placed into which categories was released through FOIA legislation. I analyzed that document here, and noted which prisoners had been placed in which categories in the prisoner list on the CloseGuantánamo.org website. Then, in February 2014, my friend and colleague Jason Leopold published a prisoner list, which he had just obtained from the Pentagon through a FOIA request, and which had not previously been made public, identifying 71 of the 166 prisoners held in April 2013 who had been designated as eligible for Periodic Review Boards. I analyzed that document here, and also added the information to the prisoner list on the CloseGuantánamo.org website.

    These 71 men consisted of 46 men designated for ongoing imprisonment without charge or trial, and 25 others designated for prosecution, until two appeals court cases severely dented the viability of trials in the military commissions system at Guantánamo, when judges dismissed the convictions against two prisoners on the basis that the war crimes for which they has been tried had actually been invented by Congress and were not legally recognized.

    In the list below, I have divided the remaining 149 prisoners into those cleared for release (78), those listed as being eligible for Periodic Review Boards (61) and those charged or tried in the military commissions system (10). Please note that I have kept the spelling used by the US authorities in the “Final Dispositions” of the Guantánamo Review Task Force.

    Last May, after the prisoners, in despair at ever being released or being treated with justice, embarked on a prison-wide hunger strike that drew international criticism for President Obama’s failure to close the prison as he promised, the president made a new promise, in a major speech on national security issues, to resume releasing prisoners.

    In the previous three years, the release of prisoners had slowed to a trickle because of opposition by Congress that the president was unwilling to spend political capital overcoming, even though he had the means to do so. The president also promised to appoint two envoys, in the Pentagon and the State Department, to deal with the release of prisoners and to work towards the closure of the prison, and, with support from important figures like Sen. Carl Levin, the chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Congress was also persuaded to ease its restrictions on the release of prisoners in December.

    As a result of all of the above, twelve prisoners were released between August last year and March this year, and five more — all with leadership positions within the Taliban — were released in Qatar at the end of May in exchange for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the sole US prisoner of war in Afghanistan.

    In his speech last May, President Obama also dropped his ban on releasing any cleared Yemeni prisoners, which he imposed after a Nigerian man, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who was recruited in Yemen, had tried and failed to blow up a plane bound for the US on Christmas Day 2009 with a bomb in his underwear.

    However, despite this, no Yemenis have yet been freed, even though they make up the majority of the prisoners cleared for release, and this failure — based on the US establishment’s fears regarding the security situation in Yemen — needs to be addressed as soon as possible.

    Writing to the prisoners

    If you are an Arabic speaker, or speak any other languages spoken by the prisoners besides English, feel free to write in those languages. Do please note that any messages that can be construed as political should be avoided, as they may lead to the letters not making it past the Pentagon’s censors, but be aware that your messages may not get through anyway — although please don’t let that put you off.When writing to the prisoners please ensure you include their full name and ISN (internment serial number) below (these are the numbers before their names, i.e. Shaker Aamer is ISN 239)

    Please address all letters to:

    Detainee Name
    Detainee ISN
    U.S. Naval Station
    Guantánamo Bay
    Washington, D.C. 20355
    United States of America

    Please also include a return address on the envelope.

    The 78 prisoners cleared for release

    Below are the names of the 78 prisoners in Guantánamo — out of the remaining 149 — who have been cleared for release. The phrase used by the task force to describe the recommendations for 55 of these men was “Transfer to a country outside the United States that will implement appropriate security measures.” Their identities were first revealed in September 2012. See below for the 30 other Yemenis recommended for “conditional detention,” and also for the three men recommended for release this year by Periodic Review Boards.

    The 20 non-Yemeni prisoners cleared for release

    ISN 038 Ridah Bin Saleh Al-Yazidi (Tunisia)
    ISN 168 Adel Al-Hakeemy (Tunisia)
    ISN 174 Hasham Bin Ali Omar Sliti (Tunisia)
    ISN 189 Salem Abdu Salam Ghereby (Libya)
    ISN 197 Younis Abdurrahman Chekkouri (Morocco)
    ISN 239 Shaker Aamer (UK-Saudi Arabia)
    ISN 257 Imar Hamzayavich Abdulayev (Tajikistan)
    ISN 309 Mjuayn Al-Din Jamal Al-Din Abd Al-Fadhil Abd Al-Sattar (UAE)
    ISN 326 Ahmed Adnan Ahjam (Syria)
    ISN 327 Ali Hussein Muhammed Shaban (Syria)
    ISN 329 Abd Al-Hadi Omar Mahmoud Faraj (Syria)
    ISN 502 Abdul Bin Mohammed Abis Ourgy (Tunisia)
    ISN 684 Mohammed Tahanmatan (Palestine)
    ISN 722 Jihad Deyab (Syria)
    ISN 757 Ahmed Abdel Aziz (Mauritania)
    ISN 894 Abdullah Bin Ali Al-Lufti (Tunisia)
    ISN 899 Shawali Khan (Afghanistan)
    ISN 928 Khi Ali Gul (Afghanistan)
    ISN 934 Abdul Ghani (Afghanistan)
    ISN 1103 Mohammed Zahir (Afghanistan)

    The 25 Yemeni prisoners cleared for release

    ISN 034 Al-Khadr Abdallah Muhammad Al-Yafi (Yemen)
    ISN 035 Idris Ahmad Abd Al-Qadir Idris (Yemen)
    ISN 152 Asim Thahit Abdullah Al-Khalaqi (Yemen)
    ISN 153 Fayiz Ahmad Yahia Suleiman (Yemen)
    ISN 163 Khalid Abd Al-Jabbar Muhammad Uthman Al-Qadasi (Yemen)
    ISN 170 Sharaf Ahmad Muhammad Mas’ud (Yemen)
    ISN 224 Abd Al-Rahman Abdullah Ali Shabati (Yemen)
    ISN 249 Muhammed Abdullah Al-Hamiri (Yemen)
    ISN 254 Muhammad Ali Husayn Khanayna (Yemen)
    ISN 255 Said Muhammad Salih Hatim (Yemen)
    ISN 259 Fadhel Hussein Saleh Hentif (Yemen)
    ISN 511 Sulaiman Awath Silaiman Bin Agell Al-Nahdi (Yemen)
    ISN 553 Abdul Khaled Al-Baydani (Yemen)
    ISN 554 Fahmi Salem Said Al-Asani (Yemen)
    ISN 564 Jalal Salam Awad Awad (Yemen)
    ISN 566 Mansour Mohamed Mutaya Ali (Yemen)
    ISN 570 Sabri Muhammad Ibrahim Al-Qurashi (Yemen)
    ISN 572 Salah Mohammad Salih Al-Dhabi (Yemen)
    ISN 575 Saa’d Nasser Moqbil Al-Azani (Yemen)
    ISN 680 Emad Abdallah Hassan (Yemen)
    ISN 686 Abdel Ghaib Ahmad Hakim (Yemen)
    ISN 689 Mohammed Ahmed Salam (Yemen)
    ISN 690 Abdul Al-Qader Ahmed Hassain (Yemen)
    ISN 691 Muhammad Ali Salem Al-Zarnuki (Yemen)
    ISN 1015 Husayn Salim Muhammad Matari Yafai (Yemen)

    The 30 Yemeni prisoners cleared for release but designated for “conditional detention”

    These men were cleared for release by the task force, although the task force members conjured up a new category for them, “conditional detention,” which it described as being “based on the current security environment in that country.” The task force added, “They are not approved for repatriation to Yemen at this time, but may be transferred to third countries, or repatriated to Yemen in the future if the current moratorium on transfers to Yemen is lifted and other security conditions are met.”

    ISN 026 Fahed Abdullah Ahmad Ghazi (Yemen)
    ISN 030 Ahmed Umar Abdullah Al-Hikimi (Yemen)
    ISN 033 Mohammed Al-Adahi (Yemen)
    ISN 040 Abdel Qadir Al-Mudafari (Yemen)
    ISN 043 Samir Naji Al-Hasan Moqbil (Yemen)
    ISN 088 Adham Mohamed Ali Awad (Yemen)
    ISN 091 Abdel Al-Saleh (Yemen)
    ISN 115 Abdul Rahman Mohammed Saleh (Yemen)
    ISN 117 Mukhtar Anaje (Yemen)
    ISN 165 Adil Said Haj Ubayd (Yemen)
    ISN 167 Ali Yahya Mahdi (Yemen)
    ISN 171 Abu Bakr Ibn Ali Muhammad Al-Ahdal (Yemen)
    ISN 178 Tariq Ali Abdullah Ba Odah (Yemen)
    ISN 202 Mahmoud Omar Muhammad Bin Atef (Yemen)
    ISN 223 Abd Al-Rahman Sulayman (Yemen)
    ISN 233 Abd Al-Razaq Muhammed Salih (Yemen)
    ISN 240 Abdallah Yahya Yusif Al-Shibli (Yemen)
    ISN 251 Muhammad Said Salim Bin Salman (Yemen)
    ISN 321 Ahmed Yaslam Said Kuman (Yemen)
    ISN 440 Muhammad Ali Abdallah Muhammad Bwazir (Yemen)
    ISN 461 Abd Al-Rahman Al-Qyati (Yemen)
    ISN 498 Mohammed Ahmen Said Haider (Yemen)
    ISN 506 Mohammed Khalid Salih Al-Dhuby (Yemen)
    ISN 509 Mohammed Nasir Yahi Khussrof (Yemen)
    ISN 549 Umar Said Salim Al-Dini (Yemen)
    ISN 550 Walid Said bin Said Zaid (Yemen)
    ISN 578 Abdul Al-Aziz Abduh Abdullah Ali Al-Suwaydi (Yemen)
    ISN 688 Fahmi Abdullah Ahmed Al-Tawlaqi (Yemen)
    ISN 728 Abdul Muhammad Nassir Al-Muhajari (Yemen)
    ISN 893 Tawfiq Nasir Awad Al-Bihani (Yemen)

    The three Yemeni prisoners cleared for release by Periodic Review Boards

    ISN 031 Mahmud Abd Al-Aziz Al Mujahid (Yemen)
    ISN 045 Ali Ahmad Al-Rahizi (Yemen)
    ISN 128 Ghaleb Nassar Al-Bihani (Yemen)

    The 61 prisoners eligible for Periodic Review Boards

    Of the 61 prisoners notified that they were eligible for Periodic Review Boards in April 2013, the 38 listed below had been recommended for continued imprisonment without charge or trial in January 2010 by President Obama’s Guantánamo Review Task Force. 26 of these 38 were recommended for “Continued detention pursuant to the Authorization for Use of Military Force (2001), as informed by principles of the laws of war.”

    The 26 prisoners recommended in January 2010 for continued detention (without possible transfer to imprisonment in the US), but determined to be eligible for a Periodic Review Board in April 2013

    ISN 028 Moath Hamza Ahmed Al-Alwi (Yemen)
    ISN 037 Abdel Malik Ahmed Abdel Wahab Al-Rahabi (Yemen)
    ISN 041 Majid Mahmud Abdu Ahmed (Yemen)
    ISN 042 Abd al Rahman Shalbi Isa Uwaydah (Saudi Arabia)
    ISN 044 Muhammed Rajab Sadiq Abu Ghanim (Yemen)
    ISN 131 Salem Ahmad Hadi Bin Kanad (Yemen)
    ISN 195 Mohammed Abd al Rahman Al-Shumrant [Shumrani] (Saudi Arabia)
    ISN 232 Fawzi Khalid Abdullah Fahad Al-Odah (Kuwait)
    ISN 242 Khalid Ahmed Qasim (Yemen)
    ISN 244 Abdul Latif Nasir (Morocco)
    ISN 324 Mashur Abdullah Muqbil Ahmed Al-Sabri (Yemen)
    ISN 434 Mustafa Abd al-Qawi Abd Al-Aziz Al-Shamiri (Yemen)
    ISN 441 Abdul Rahman Ahmed (Yemen)
    ISN 508 Salman Yahya Hassan Mohammad Rabei’i (Yemen)
    ISN 552 Faez Mohammed Ahmed Al-Kandari (Kuwait)
    ISN 695 Omar Khalif Mohammed Abu Baker Mahjour Umar (Libya)
    ISN 708 Ismael Ali Faraj Ali Bakush (Libya)
    ISN 713 Mohammed Al-Zahrani (Saudi Arabia)
    ISN 836 Ayub Murshid Ali Salih (Yemen)
    ISN 837 Bashir Nasir Ali Al-Marwalah (Yemen)
    ISN 838 Shawqi Awad Balzuhair (Yemen)
    ISN 839 Musab Omar Ali Al-Mudwani (Yemen)
    ISN 840 Hail Aziz Ahmed Al-Maythali (Yemen)
    ISN 841 Said Salih Said Nashir (Yemen)
    ISN 1045 Mohammed Kamin (Afghanistan)
    ISN 10025 Mohammed Abdul Malik Bajabu (Kenya)

    Note: 037 and 131 had their ongoing imprisonment approved by Periodic Review Boards in 2014.

    In addition, the 12 men below were recommended for “Continued detention pursuant to the Authorization for Use of Military Force (2001), as informed by principles of the laws of war, subject to further review by the Principals prior to the detainee’s transfer to a detention facility in the United States.” This is a reference to the Obama administration’s plans to bring prisoners to a facility on the US mainland, so that Guantánamo could be closed. These plans were blocked by Congress, but it is unclear why the task force only designated these 12 men for possible transfer to the US because, if the 26 others were to continue being held at Guantánamo, it would have been impossible to close the prison. In April 2013, they were determined to be eligible for a Periodic Review Board.

    The 12 prisoners recommended in January 2010 for continued detention (with possible transfer to imprisonment in the US), but determined to be eligible for a Periodic Review Board in April 2013

    ISN 027 Uthman Abd Al-Rahim Muhammad Uthman (Yemen)
    ISN 029 Mohammed Al-Ansi (Yemen)
    ISN 235 Saeed Ahmed Mohammed Abdullah Sarem Jarabh (Yemen)
    ISN 522 Yassim Qasim Mohammed Ismail Qasim (Yemen)
    ISN 560 Haji Wali Muhammed (Afghanistan)
    ISN 576 Zahar Omar Hamis bin Hamdoun (Yemen)
    ISN 975 Karim Bostan (Afghanistan)
    ISN 1017 Omar Mohammed Ali Al-Rammah (Yemen)
    ISN 1119 Ahmid Al-Razak (Afghanistan)
    ISN 1463 Abd al-Salam Al-Hilah (Yemen)
    ISN 10023 Guleed Hassan Ahmed (Somalia)
    ISN 10029 Muhammad Rahim (Afghanistan)

    The task force originally recommended 36 prisoners for prosecution. Three accepted plea deals in their military commissions at Guantánamo, and one other, Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, was transferred to the US for a federal court trial (before Congress banned the transfer of prisoners to the US mainland for any reason, even trials), at which he received a life sentence. Of the remaining 32, 23 were determined to be eligible for a Periodic Review Board in April 2013, after two of the only convictions secured in the military commissions were overturned by appeals court judges.

    The 23 prisoners recommended for prosecution but not charged, who were determined to be eligible for a Periodic Review Board in April 2013

    ISN 063 Mohamed Mani Ahmad Al-Kahtani [Al-Qahtani] (Saudi Arabia)
    ISN 535 Tariq Mahmoud Ahmed Al-Sawah (Egypt)
    ISN 569 Suhayl Abdul Anam Al-Sharabi (Yemen)
    ISN 682 Abdullah Al-Sharbi (Saudi Arabia)
    ISN 685 Said bin Brahim bin Umran Bakush (Algeria) aka Abdelrazak Ali
    ISN 694 Sufyian Barhoumi (Algeria)
    ISN 696 Jabran Al-Qahtani (Saudi Arabia)
    ISN 702 Ravil Mingazov (Russia)
    ISN 753 Abdul Sahir [Zahir] (Afghanistan)
    ISN 760 Mohamedou Ould Slahi (Mauritania)
    ISN 762 Obaidullah (Afghanistan)
    ISN 1094 Saifullah Paracha (Pakistan)
    ISN 1453 Sanad Al-Kazimi (Yemen)
    ISN 1456 Hassan Bin Attash (Saudi Arabia)
    ISN 1457 Sharqawi Abdu Ali Al-Hajj (Yemen)
    ISN 1460 Abdul Rabbani (Pakistan)
    ISN 1461 Mohammed Rabbani (Pakistan)
    ISN 10016 Zayn Al-Ibidin Muhammed Husayn (Palestine) aka Abu Zubaydah
    ISN 10017 Mustafa Faraj Muhammed Masud Al-Jadid Al-Usaybi (Libya)
    ISN 10019 Encep Nurjaman (Indonesia) aka Hambali
    ISN 10021 Mohd Farik bin Amin (Malaysia)
    ISN 10022 Bashir bin Lap (Malaysia)
    ISN 3148 Haroon al-Afghani (Afghanistan)

    The 10 prisoners charged or tried

    The seven prisoners currently facing charges

    ISN 10011 Mustafa Ahmad Al-Hawsawi (Saudi Arabia)
    ISN 10013 Ramzi Bin Al-Shibh (Yemen)
    ISN 10014 Walid Mohammed Bin Attash (Yemen)
    ISN 10015 Mohammed Al-Nashiri (Saudi Arabia)
    ISN 10018 Ali Abd Al-Aziz Ali (Pakistan)
    ISN 10024 Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (Kuwait)
    ISN 10026 Nashwan Abd Al-Razzaq Abd Al-Baqi (Hadi) (Iraq)

    The two prisoners already convicted via plea deal

    ISN 768 Ahmed Al-Darbi (Saudi Arabia)
    ISN 10020 Majid Khan (Pakistan)

    One other prisoner convicted under President Bush

    Ali Hamza al-Bahlul was not included in the task force’s deliberations, as he had been tried and convicted in a one-sided trial by military commission in October 2008, at which he refused to mount a defense. His conviction was dismissed by an appeals court in January 2013, although the government has appealed.

    ISN 039 Ali Hamza Al-Bahlul (Yemen)

    Note: For further information on the prisoners, see my six-part definitive Guantánamo prisoner list (Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five and Part Six).

    Andy Worthington is a freelance investigative journalist, activist, author, photographer and film-maker. He is the co-founder of the “Close Guantánamo” campaign, and the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion andThe Battle of the Beanfield. He is also the co-director (with Polly Nash) of the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (available on DVD here – or here for the US).


  19. #39
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    Gitmo briefing slides: Prisoners ‘use’ media, lawyers to discredit U.S.

    Lawyers say documents show Guantánamo is ‘trapped in a time warp’ where inmates are detained without charge

    June 27, 2014

    Guantánamo Bay military personnel have been instructed to inform visitors to the prison facility that the vast majority of detainees held there more than a decade without facing charges use their lawyers and the media to “discredit the U.S. government,” according to PowerPoint slides obtained by Al Jazeera.

    The slides also advise military personnel to cast the ongoing hunger strikes waged by the prisoners not as a form of protest against their indefinite detention and treatment, but as one of six “offensive tactics” used by detainees to attack the U.S. government.

    The presentation accuses the detainees of engaging in “Information Operations” that include using “media, lawyers and int’l organizations to spread a false message of: mental anguish, inhumane detention conditions, medical mistreatment, abuse,” according to a briefing slide titled “Adversary within the camps.”

    More than half of the 149 prisoners at Guantánamo have been cleared for release or transfer by the Bush and Obama administrations, and in the years since 9/11, news reports have shown that some of the men sent to Guantánamo had been sold to the U.S. for bounties, and had never set foot on a battlefield. Last year, scores of detainees launched a hunger strike to protest against their continued detention without trial or charge in a move that attracted worldwide headlines.

    The 23 slides were turned over to Al Jazeera in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed against United States Southern Command, which has oversight of the joint task force that operates the prison. Navy Cmdr. John Filostrat, a Guantánamo spokesman, said the slide presentation is used to brief "visitors from intergovernmental agencies, military and other official guests."

    The slides, which appear to date back to 2012, were used by military investigators to help write a report about the circumstances behind the September 2012 death of a severely mentally ill Yemeni detainee named Adnan Latif.

    The report, known as an AR 15-6, or Commander’s Inquiry, concluded that Latif committed suicide by overdosing on powerful antipsychotic medications he was prescribed. However, the report also found that Guantánamo guards contributed to his death by failing to follow numerous protocols set forth in the facility's standard operating procedures.

    Military officials who brief journalists in response to questions about allegations of abuse — leveled by prisoners through their lawyers — often accuse the detainees of using their attorneys to disseminate false information in an effort to cast the U.S. in a negative light. The briefing slides show that this response is actually an official talking point.

    For example, in the high-profile case of Abu Wa'el Dhiab — a Syrian national who is a hunger striker and has challenged the legality of his force-feeding — the Pentagon and Guantánamo officials have told reporters the prisoner is lying about abuse in order to attract media attention.

    Army Lt. Col. Todd Breasseale, a Defense Department spokesman for detainee policy and the rule of law, said, “While the detainees and the many teams of counsel who represent them routinely engage in information operation campaigns, the U.S. Department of Defense has no official position on what any given hunger strike might mean or how it should or might be interpreted.”

    Breasseale declined to discuss the briefing slide that states detainees use their lawyers and the media to discredit the U.S. government, saying that is a question for Guantánamo officials to answer, and does not represent official Department of Defense policy.

    But the slides are unambiguous in advising base officials to cast the actions of detainees as aimed at being misleading and attacking the U.S. government.

    The first slide, titled “Key Points to Remember,” lists other “offensive tactics” used by prisoners — besides hunger strikes — to “discredit the U.S. government,” including “Self-harm acts” and “Meal/medical/recreation refusals.”

    David Remes, a long-time Guantánamo attorney who had represented Latif and is currently counsel to more than a dozen other prisoners, said the slides show that Guantánamo appears to be caught in a “time warp.”

    The human rights lawyer pointed to a slide that characterized all the detained prisoners as “terrorist trainers, terrorist financiers, bomb makers, Bin Laden bodyguards” and “recruiters and facilitators.” This despite the fact that more than half have been cleared for release.

    The slides “reflect a mindset of a military that feels itself under siege,” Remes said. “That might have been understandable in the months following 9/11, but 13 years later it’s ridiculous. So many of [Guantánamo’s] problems stem from the fact that it’s trapped in this time warp.”

    Wells Dixon, an attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights, which represents numerous Guantánamo prisoners, was troubled by the slides’ characterization of the role of lawyers.

    “It’s clear to me, having done this for many years, that Joint Task Force-Guantanamo and the Department of Defense have still not accepted the presence of lawyers at Guantánamo as legitimate,” Dixon said. “They still have not accepted the fact that the Supreme Court said at least three times that we have a right to be there and rep these individuals. The military is still fighting that.”

    Dixon said that, contrary to assertions in the briefing slides, “detainees don’t need to lie or fabricate when it comes to their mental anguish.
    “The U.S. government discredits itself by continuing to hold these men indefinitely.”

    Another briefing slide states there is a “significant difference” between “Detention vs. Incarceration” and Guantánamo military personnel are “trained to understand the difference.”

    Dixon noted that the slides appear to show the military and the White House working at “cross purposes.” President Barack Obama campaigned in 2008 on a promise of closing the base and has repeated that intention several times since then.

    “The Defense Department is still talking about these guys as the worst of the worst while the president is trying to close Guantánamo,” he said.
    The slides also boast about the prison’s “transparent” operations and define transparency in three bullet points: weekly media visits, congressional visits and visits by the International Committee of the Red Cross.

    Last December, however, Guantánamo officials implemented a media blackout and have since deprived journalists of information about the number of prisoners who engage in hunger strikes and are force-fed.

    Guantánamo spokesman Filostrat told Al Jazeera at the time that the prisoners had been too successful at generating media attention during the height of the mass hunger strike in 2013.

    Slides - http://alj.am/1ryEJd7


  20. #40
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    Navy nurse refuses to force-feed Guantánamo captive


    Detainee’s lawyer says her client described the Navy medical officer’s refusal as an act of conscientious objection.

    In the first known rebellion against Guantánamo’s force-feeding policy, a Navy medical officer recently refused to continue managing tube-feedings of prison hunger strikers and was reassigned to “alternative duties.”

    A prison camp spokesman, Navy Capt. Tom Gresback, would not provide precise details but said Monday night that the episode had “no impact to medical support operations at the base.”

    “There was a recent instance of a medical provider not willing to carry out the enteral feeding of a detainee,” he said in an email. “The matter is in the hands of the individual’s leadership.”

    Word of the refusal reached the outside world last week in a call from prisoner Abu Wael Dhiab to attorney Cori Crider of the London-based legal defense group Reprieve. Dhiab, a hunger striker, described how a nurse in the Navy medical corps abruptly refused to “force-feed us” sometime before the Fourth of July — and disappeared from detention center duty.

    Crider called the nurse, a man, the first known U.S. military conscience objector of the 18-month-long hunger strike in the prison camps, and said his dissent took “real courage." Dhiab, 43, is challenging Guantánamo force-feeding policy in federal court. A Syrian who was cleared for transfer from Guantánamo in 2010 but who can’t be repatriated because of unrest in his homeland, has been an on-again, off-again hunger striker to protest his indefinite detention.

    He’s also one of six detainees whom Uruguayan diplomats interviewed at Guantánamo in February and agreed to resettle, according to a U.S. government official, pending U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s approval.

    The Herald has not been able to determine the nurse’s name or home base. Crider said Dhiab described the nurse as a perhaps 40-year-old Latino who turned up on the cellblocks in April or May, with the rank of a “captain” — suggesting he has two bars on his uniform.

    Guantánamo medical staff come from the Navy, and wear different battle dress that distinguishes them from Army guards on the 2,200-member staff — meaning the nurse is likely a Navy lieutenant.

    Last year, civilian doctors decried as unethical the Guantánamo military medical staff’s practice of force-feeding mentally competent hunger strikers in a commentary in the New England Journal of Medicine — and urged a medical mutiny.

    Guantánamo currently has 149 detainees, an unknown number of them on hunger strike under a blackout imposed by U.S. Southern Command in December after nine months of daily disclosure. The prison has a 147-member medical staff, “of which 83 are responsible for direct detainee care,” Gresback said.

    Asked how many prisoners were on hunger strike and tube fed Monday and Tuesday, he replied that it’s “policy to not address the number of detainees who choose to engage in non-religious fasting or those who would require enteral feeding.”

    Retired Army Brig. Gen. Stephen Xenakis, a psychiatrist who visits the prison frequently and considers Guantánamo force-feeding policy to be unethical, said he had no first-hand knowledge of the episode but, based on his talks with Pentagon policymakers, the nurse should suffer no professional setback for having refused to do force-feedings.

    Medical staff are allowed to refuse by invoking medical ethics, he said, and should not be treated as insubordinate. Instead, the nurse should be allowed to continue providing health care to detainees, just not enteral feeds.

    “They have said to us directly that if a provider objects for ethical reasons or other reasons they would not be ordered to participate — and they would not suffer any adverse consequences,” said Xenakis.

    At Southcom, the prison’s higher headquarters, Army Col. Greg Julian said the naval officer who objected to the forced feedings would not be made available for an interview. He also said there had been a previous episode at the prison of a military member who disagreed with a medical order for a detainee that was “dealt with administratively,” but that episode did not involve a hunger-strike tube-feeding.

    Crider said Dhiab described how he came to witness the nurse’s evolution toward refusing to tube feed across two or three months of treatment the prisoner called “very compassionate.”

    “Initially, he did carry out his orders and participate in the tube feedings,” Crider said he told her in a July 10 telephone call. “Once he saw with his own eyes that what he was told was contrary to what was actually taking place here, he decided he could not do it anymore.”

    Crider said Dhiab quoted the nurse as announcing, “I have come to the decision that I refuse to participate in this criminal act.”

    The Pentagon calls its Guantánamo tube feeding practice humane and designed to prevent a prisoner from starving to death. Defense lawyers say their clients consider it torture.

    A federal judge, Gladys Kessler, agreed recently. In May she ordered the Pentagon to stop force-feeding Dhiab but reversed herself days later. She’s said she’ll hold a hearing on the issue later this summer, including a bid by news organizations to get copies of prison videos of detainees being tackled and shackled and taken from their cells to tube feedings.

    As explained to visiting reporters, who don’t see tube-feedings, a Navy medical team uses a calculus of meals missed and weight lost to decide when to recommend a once or twice a day tube feeding of a can of Ensure or other nutritional supplement. The camps commander, a Navy admiral who is not a doctor, approves each feeding and orders guards to deliver a specific shackled hunger striker to medical staff.

    Guards shackle him into a restraint chair and a nurse inserts a tube up his nose, down the back of his throat and into his stomach for nasogastric feeding. A sailor trained as a medic then manages the feeding.

    Before flat-out refusing, Dhiab told Crider, the nurse at times waived a doctor’s order to do a tube feeding:

    “Here, whenever a person has a fever or is sick, the typical force-feeding crew were still very rough with you,” the lawyer quoted the detainee as saying. “However, when he came to the block and saw that the person had a fever or was sick, he would say, ‘OK, because you are sick, you are not able to receive force-feeding’ and left them alone for that day.”

    Crider said that the officer should be allowed to tell his story to Kessler despite any nondisclosure agreements detention center staff are obliged to sign.

    “If he wants to give that evidence he should be allowed to give it,” she said.

    At the height of the hunger strike last summer more than 100 detainees were refusing to eat, according to the U.S. military. At one point a record 46 prisoners were designated for tube feedings. That figure dropped to 11 then rose to 15 before the prison pulled the plug on daily transparency.



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