A convoy of death started with 'prisoners of war' suffocated / shot at inside HGV containers
"In Afghanistan, filmmaker Jamie Doran has uncovered evidence of a massacre: Taliban prisoners of war suffocated in containers, shot in the desert under the watch of American troops.
After screening the videotape last fall, the European Parliament called for an investigation. The United Nations has authorized an official investigation into the film's allegations, but only if the security of its members can be guaranteed. And security is hard to find in northern Afghanistan. Since this documentary was filmed, eyewitnesses have been tortured. Others have disappeared or been killed."
On Friday, May 23rd, the nationwide, public radio and television show Democracy Now! premiered Afghan Massacre: The Convoy of Death, a controversial documentary film alleging U.S. military involvement in a massacre of Taliban prisoners in Afghanistan. The film, never before shown in the U.S., aired during the Friday broadcast of Democracy Now!, at 9 a.m. EST. Afghan Massacre: the Convoy of Death has been broadcast on national television in Britain, Germany, Italy and Australia and has been screened by the European parliament.
Produced and directed by Irish filmmaker and former BBC producer Jamie Doran, the film tells the story of thousands of prisoners who surrendered to the US military's Afghan allies after the siege of Kunduz. According to the film, some three thousand of the prisoners were forced into sealed containers and loaded onto trucks for transport to Sheberghan prison. When the prisoners began shouting for air, U.S.-allied Afghan soldiers fired directly into the truck, killing many of them. The rest suffered through an appalling road trip lasting up to four days, so thirsty they clawed at the skin of their fellow prisoners as they licked perspiration and even drank blood from open wounds.
Witnesses say that when the trucks arrived and soldiers opened the containers, most of the people inside were dead. They also say US Special Forces re-directed the containers carrying the living and dead into the desert and stood by as survivors were shot and buried. Now, up to three thousand bodies lie buried in a mass grave.
Outraged human rights groups and lawyers are calling for an investigation but the U.N. special envoy to Afghanistan refuses any U.N.-backed investigation until the Afghan government can protect witnesses. Two of the witnesses in the film have already been killed.
Jamie Dorans film: on Democracy NOW! - [part 1][part 2]
The Convoy of Death
'AFGHAN MASSACRE - the convoy of DEATH' tells of the horrific forced journey undertaken by thousands of prisoners who surrendered to America's Afghan allies after the siege of Konduz.
Bundled into containers, the lucky ones were shot within minutes. The rest suffered an appalling road trip lasting up to four days, clawing at the skin of their fellow prisoners as they licked perspiration and even drank blood from open wounds.
Up to 3,000 now lie buried in a mass grave, but this was NOT a simple matter of Afghans killing Afghans.
'AFGHAN MASSACRE - the convoy of DEATH' tells of how American special forces took control of the operation, re-directed the containers carrying the living and dead into the desert and stood by as survivors were shot and buried.
And it details how the Pentagon lied to the world in order to cover up its role in the greatest atrocity of the entire Afghan War. This is the documentary they did not want you to see.
'AFGHAN MASSACRE - the convoy of DEATH' was produced over ten months in extremely dangerous circumstances: eyewitnesses were threatened, the film crew went into hiding and our researcher was savagely beaten to within an inch of his life.
on Info Clearing house
CIA runs secret detention camp in Cuba
Saturday 18th December, 2004 -
The CIA is running a secret detention facility inside the Defense Department's Guantanamo Bay prison in eastern Cuba, the Washington Post reports.
High fences covered with thick green mesh plastic and ringed with floodlights obscure the CIA facility, which sits inside the larger Camp Echo complex, erected to house the Defense Department's high-value detainees and those awaiting military trials on terrorism charges.
The facility has housed detainees from Pakistan, West Africa, Yemen and other countries under the strictest secrecy, the newspaper said.
People are constantly leaving and coming, said one U.S. official who visited the base in recent months.
Neither the CIA nor the Defense Department would confirm the facility's existence or whether it was still in operation.
Unlike detainees in other parts of the Guantanamo Bay complex, a presidential order lets the CIA's detainees be held under separate rules and far greater secrecy. Even the International Red Cross is excluded from access to the detainees.
Former and current U.S. intelligence officials say the agency holds the most valuable al-Qaida leaders and many mid-level members with knowledge of the group's logistics, financing and regional operations.
Big News Network.com
A world run by Lawyers
Bush administration lawyers contended last year that the president wasn't bound by laws prohibiting torture and that government agents who might torture prisoners at his direction couldn't be prosecuted by the Justice Department.
The advice was part of a classified report on interrogation methods prepared for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld after commanders at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, complained in late 2002 that with conventional methods they weren't getting enough information from prisoners.
The report outlined U.S. laws and international treaties forbidding torture, and why those restrictions might be overcome by national-security considerations or legal technicalities. In a March 6, 2003, draft of the report reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, passages were deleted as was an attachment listing specific interrogation techniques and whether Mr. Rumsfeld himself or other officials must grant permission before they could be used. The complete draft document was classified "secret" by Mr. Rumsfeld and scheduled for declassification in 2013.
"Few White House proposals in the war on terror have caused as much controversy as President George W Bush's order to try suspected terrorists in military tribunals rather than the regular court system.
Now, suspected al-Qaeda and Taleban members are being taken from Afghanistan to the US naval base at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, where they face interrogation and possibly a military tribunal. "
Analysis: Military tribunals
Pentagon wants to transfer more detainees
Friday 11th March, 2005 - The Pentagon is trying to get other U.S. agencies to help it move about half the prisoner population of its Guantanamo Bay facility in Cuba to other nations.
About 540 detainees remain at the Caribbean site, from a high of approximately 750, which has become a target of human rights advocates, inside and outside the United States, the New York Times said Friday.
Last month, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld called for broader interagency support to transfer about half the detainees to prisons in Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and Yemen.
However, the CIA, the State Department and the Justice Department are resisting such transfers, out of concern such moves could harm U.S. security or subject the prisoners to mistreatment. - Big News Network.com
Pentagon to build new prison at Guantanamo
Posted on Sat, Jun. 18, 2005 -
$30 million facility will be safer for detainees staying for long times, official says
From Staff and Wire Reports
WASHINGTON - As controversy over a U.S. detention center for suspected terrorists put one senator on the hot seat this week, the Pentagon announced plans to build an improved prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
A subsidiary of Houston-based Halliburton has been awarded $30 million to build a 220-bed facility at the Navy base, according to the government. Kellogg Brown and Root Services Inc. of Arlington, Va., is to build a two-story prison that includes day rooms, exercise areas, medical bays, air conditioning and a security control room, the Pentagon said. It is to be completed by July 2006.
Congress previously approved the funding for the construction.
Some lawmakers, along with human rights groups, are calling for Guantanamo to close because of reports of prisoner abuses and because the foreign detainees are held indefinitely with no charges.
"The future detention facility will be based on prison models in the U.S. and is designed to be safer for the long-term detention of detainees and the guards," a Pentagon spokesman said. "It is also expected to require less manpower to operate."
The new prison building, called Detention Camp 6, will replace some of the older facilities at the Navy base, which officials say are not adequate for holding prisoners for the long term.
About 520 prisoners from the Bush administration's war on terrorism are held at Guantanamo. Already, $110 million has been spent on construction there, and the prison costs about $95 million a year to operate.
U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales defended the prison camp Friday, saying the U.S. government would evaluate the detention center but had no immediate plans of shutting it down.
"We have Guantanamo because there are people that are captured on the battlefield, and we need to hold them somewhere so they do not go back and fight against American soldiers or the soldiers of our allies fighting in Afghanistan," he said.
Earlier this week, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said there are no plans to close the facility because the detainees are too dangerous to release while the war on terror continues.
SENATOR REGRETS REMARKS
Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said Friday he regretted any misunderstandings caused by his comments earlier this week comparing American interrogators at Guantanamo Bay to Nazis. The White House, Senate Republicans and others had called for an apology after Durbin's remarks.
"Characterizing the actions of American service members at the same level of those among the most notorious in history is not only unfair, it's bad for morale," said U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. "It should be the last thing coming out of the U.S. Senate at a time of war."
Durbin made the comparison after reading an FBI agent's report describing detainees at the Naval base as being chained to the floor without food or water in extreme temperatures.
"If I read this to you and did not tell you that it was an FBI agent describing what Americans had done to prisoners in their control, you would most certainly believe this must have been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime - Pol Pot or others - that had no concern for human beings," he said Tuesday.
Friday, Durbin tried to clarify the issue.
"My statement in the Senate was critical of the policies of this administration, which add to the risk our soldiers face. I have learned from my statement that historical parallels can be misused and misunderstood. I sincerely regret if what I said caused anyone to misunderstand my true feelings: Our soldiers around the world and their families at home deserve our respect, admiration and total support."
MP SUING PENTAGON
A U.S. military policeman who was beaten by fellow MPs during a botched training drill at the Guantanamo Bay prison has sued the Pentagon for $15 million, alleging the incident violated his constitutional rights.
Spec. Sean D. Baker, 38, was assaulted in January 2003 after he volunteered to wear an orange jumpsuit and portray an uncooperative detainee.
Baker, a Persian Gulf War veteran who re-enlisted after the Sept. 11 terror attacks, was medically retired in April 2004. He said the assault left him with a traumatic brain injury and that he suffers seizures, blackouts, headaches, insomnia and other psychological problems as a result. - source
[KKK] Torturer Is Guard At Prison
MAY 6 - Today it was revealed that one of the main torturers at the Iraqi prison of Abu Ghraib, Spec. Charles Graner, is a reservist who works as a guard at the State Correctional Institution Greene in southwestern Pennsylvania, the high security prison where death row political prisoner and renowned black radical writer Mumia Abu-Jamal has been jailed for decades. The grinning Graner of the Iraq torture photos was in the Marines from 1988 to 1996. He turns out to be a sociopath who brutalized and threatened his wife. But more important than this warped individual are the conditions which shaped him. SCI Greene is notorious for the racist abuse routinely dispensed by guards like Graner. In 1998, there was an uproar over abuse of prisoners, who complained that guards "prison routinely beat and humili ated prisoners, including through a sadistic game of Simon Says in which guards struck prisoners who failed to comply with barked instructions" (New York Times, 6 May).
In the spring of 1998, two to three dozen inmates of the "restricted housing unit" (known as "the Hole") where the abuse was centered, including Jamal, went on hunger strike over the confiscation of their legal papers by prison authorities. This drew attention to the widespread brutalization of prisoners there, including "guards beating prisoners and then writing KKK (i.e. Ku Klux Klan) with the inmates' blood; the 'working over' (beating) of certain prisoners by guards upon the instruction of superior officers to 'adjust their attitudes'; and guards spitting tobacco juice into inmates' food" (Amnesty International, "USA: A Life In The Balance - The Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal," February 2000). To avert the glare of media attention, four guards were fired and another 21 were demoted, suspended or reprimanded. But the system is intact, and now it is being reproduced in Iraq.
It is necessary to mobilize workers' power to free Mumia Abu-Jamal, and to demand freedom for the tens of thousands imprisoned in U.S. imperialism's Iraqi and Afghan concentration camps, the hundreds of inmates of the Guantánamo prison camp, and the unknown numbers still being detained in the United States.
Forced to Stand: An Expert Torture
By Darius Rejali 30 April 2004 (Excerpted)
Forced to stand on a box with wires attached to your fingers, toes and penis all night long. Just something that Specialist Sabrina Harman dreamed up in Abu Ghraib prison? Think again.
This torture is well known to intelligence agencies worldwide. The CIA documented the effects of forced standing forty years ago. And the technique is valued because it leaves few marks, and so nothing to document.
Forced standing was a prescribed field punishment in West European armies in the early 20th century. The British Army called it Field Punishment No 1, though the soldiers referred to it as "the crucifixion." The French Legionaires called it "the Silo."
By the 1920s, forced standing was a routine police torture in America. In 1931, the National Commission on Lawless Enforcement of the Law found numerous American police departments using forced standing to coerce confessions.
In the 1930s, Stalin's NKVD also famously used forced standing to coerce seemingly voluntary confessions for show trials. The Gestapo used forced standing as a routine punishment in many concentration camps. It even created small narrow "standing cells," Stehzelle, where prisoners had to stand all night.
In 1956, the CIA commissioned two experts, Wolf and Hinkle, who described the effects of forced standing. The ankles and feet swell to twice their size within 24 hours. Moving becomes agony. Large blisters develop. The heart rate increases, and some faint. The kidneys eventually shut down.
In the mid-20th century, torturers learned how to use the swelling and blistering to cause more pain. The South Africa and Brazilian police made prisoners stand on cans or bricks, the edges causing excruciating pain to the sensitive feet. In 1999, the South African Truth Commission determined that forced standing was the third most common torture during Apartheid after beating and electricity.
Hooding was a common feature of Brazilian and South African torture. In the 1970s, the Brazilians added the electrical supplement. When the hooded man on the can was electrified, the cans stuck to his feet even when he keeled over.
The American soldiers performed the torture, but someone taught them the parameters. This kind of torture is not common knowledge, and if it were not for the photographs, no one would know that it had been practiced.
Today American interrogators are using "stress and duress" techniques in prisons in Afghanistan and Diego Garcia. Officials refer to these techniques as "torture lite." Abu Ghraib gave us the first chance to see what these techniques really are: stealth tortures that leave no marks.
Torture like this doesn't just happen "over there." Torture like this casts a shadow back here for years afterwards. Soldiers trained in stealth torture take these techniques back into civilian life as policemen and private security. It takes years to uncover the subsequent damage. The American style in electric torture in Vietnam appeared in Arkansas prisons in the 1960s and Chicago squad rooms in the 1970s and 1980s.
Darius Rejali is a nationally recognized expert on torture and interrogation, the author of Torture and Democracy (forthcoming Princeton) and a 2003 Carnegie Scholar. He is an Associate Professor of Political Science at Reed College.
US suspected of keeping secret prisoners on warships: UN official
The UN has learned of "very, very serious" allegations that the United States is secretly detaining terrorism suspects in various locations around the world, notably aboard prison ships, the UN's special rapporteur on terrorism said. While the accusations were rumours, rapporteur Manfred Nowak said the situation was sufficiently serious to merit an official inquiry.
"There are very, very serious accusations that the United States is maintaining secret camps, notably on ships," the Austrian UN official told AFP, adding that the vessels were believed to be in the Indian Ocean region. "They are only rumours, but they appear sufficiently well-based to merit an official inquiry," he added.
Last Thursday Nowak and three other UN human rights experts said they were opening an inquiry into the US detention camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where Washington has been holding more than 500 people without trial, and into other such locations. The United States has neither refused nor granted requests by Nowak's group to visit Guantanamo.
"We have accepted, upon the request of the State Department and Pentagon, to limit our investigation for now to Guantanamo, but even in accepting this we have not had a positive response" to the request for a visit, Nowak said.
He said that if the "investigation into Guantanamo leads us to other things, we will follow them. We will bring up all these matters to the US government and expect Washington to say officially where these camps are."
The use of prison ships would allow investigators to interrogate people secretly and in international waters out of the reach of US law, British security expert Francis Tusa said.
"This opens the door to very tough interrogations on key prisoners before it even has been revealed that they have been captured," said Tusa, an editor for the British magazine Jane's Intelligence Review.
Nowak said the prison ships would not be "floating Guantanamos" since "they are much smaller, holding less than a dozen detainees."
Tusa said the Americans may also be using their island base of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean as a site for prisoners.
Some 520 people suspected of terrorism are currently being held without trial at Guantanamo and others are in camps the United States has refused to acknowledge, the human rights organization Amnesty International has said.
The United States has said that prisoners considered foreign combattants in its "war on terrorism" are not covered by the Geneva Conventions.
- yahoo news
Amidst new torture reports, US military defends architect of abuse at Guantanamo
By David Walsh 16 July 2005 - Even as new information emerged about US military torture of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the Pentagon gave a clean bill of health to the individual who presided over the abuses. Against the recommendations of the military's own investigators, who urged that Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller be reprimanded, Gen. Bantz Craddock, head of the US Southern Command, rejected any disciplinary action. There could hardly be a clearer signal that, despite the Bush administration's official disavowals, torture of prisoners is and will remain American policy.
Craddock explained his reasoning to the Senate Armed Services Committee, which held a hearing July 13 on the findings of the latest probe, the last of a dozen such inquiries by the military and supposedly independent investigators. This one was conducted by Lieut. Gen. Randall Schmidt and Brig. Gen. John Furlow.
Miller took command of the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay in late 2002, with a mandate to extract more information from prisoners. He was sent to Iraq in September 2003 with instructions to "Gitmo-ize" the interrogation of Iraqi detainees-i.e., duplicate the brutal methods utilized at Guantanamo.
As the Washington Post noted July 14, "Miller traveled to Iraq in September 2003 to assist in Abu Ghraib's startup, and he later sent in 'Tiger Teams' of Guantanamo Bay interrogators and analysts as advisers and trainers. Within weeks of his departure from Abu Ghraib, military working dogs were being used in interrogations, and naked detainees were humiliated and abused by military police soldiers working the night shift."
Schmidt and Furlow confirmed the use of dogs to intimidate prisoners at Guantanamo and other methods, which they acknowledged were "abusive and degrading," such as stripping detainees naked, depriving them of sleep, and using women interrogators to sexually humiliate them. They acknowledged that such methods were authorized from above, and not the actions of "rogue" interrogators. Nevertheless, they concluded that such "creative" and "aggressive" methods did not constitute torture.
At the same time, they recommended that Miller be reprimanded for his failure to properly supervise the interrogation of Mohamed al-Kahtani, the alleged "20th hijacker" in the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, who was subjected to prolonged and brutal interrogation at Guantanamo.
Craddock rejected the suggestion, telling the Senate committee, "My reason for disapproving that recommendation is that the interrogation of [Kahtani] did not result in any violation of a US law or policy. And the degree of supervision provided by Major General Miller does not warrant admonishment under the circumstances." No officer of Miller's rank or higher has even been admonished in connection with the torture and abuse in Cuba, Afghanistan and Iraq.
Craddock claimed that the military achieved "solid intelligence gains" by using methods on Kahtani that even the military investigators called abusive and degrading. This has been the rationalization for torture of every authoritarian regime, from the Nazis to the Chilean dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet: the need to obtain information in the fight against "terrorism."
That the Schmidt-Furlow investigation would exonerate the military was entirely predictable. The probe stems from comments in emails sent by FBI agents at Guantanamo about the practices of military interrogators. The e-mails came to light only because of a Freedom of Information Act request filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
Notwithstanding its exculpatory conclusions, and the spin provided by sections of the US media (the New York Times absurdly headlined its July 14 article "Report Discredits FBI Claims of Abuse at Guantanamo Bay"), the Schmidt-Furlow inquiry shed additional and devastating light on US military practices and the extent to which sadistic and humiliating treatment is now considered acceptable.
In their messages, FBI agents had warned of potentially illegal conduct by American military interrogators at Guantanamo. They described "torture techniques" and claimed that detainees had been forced into painful positions for 18 to 24 hours at a time or left to foul themselves.
The Times wrote: "General Schmidt told the committee that his investigation could not substantiate some of the FBI accusations. His report said that some of the practices that evoked criticism among the FBI agents were approved interrogation techniques, like stripping detainees, forcing one to wear women's lingerie and wiping red ink on a detainee and telling him it was menstrual blood."
Schmidt said he could not substantiate, but did not refute, FBI claims that detainees were deprived of food and water as part of an interrogation regimen. The military investigation acknowledged FBI charges that prisoners were 'short-shackled' to the floor in an interrogation room, meaning they were chained in a way that forced them into a fetal position.
The Schmidt-Furlow inquiry confirmed that a military policeman placed duct tape over the mouth of a prisoner who was chanting verses from the Koran.
The FBI agents claimed that military interrogators used excessive heat, cold and noise to harass prisoners; they also disrupted their sleep patterns. Schmidt-Furlow confirmed all this, but explained that these were authorized tactics.
Investigators found that a Navy lieutenant commander threatened to have a detainee's family killed.
Particularly savage treatment was meted out to Kahtani. As one account of the Schmidt-Furlow findings begins: "The interrogations went on for up to 20 hours a day, day after day. The prisoner was told his mother and sisters were whores. He was forced to wear a bra and put a thong on his head. At one point, an interrogator tied a leash to him and forced him to conduct a series of dog tricks." (Globe and Mail, July 14).
Kahtani was segregated from other prisoners for six months, made to stand naked in front of female soldiers, forced to dance with a male interrogator and had his copy of the Koran squatted on by an interrogator.
In acknowledging "abusive and degrading" treatment, while denying the use of torture, the military investigators are ignoring both the letter and spirit of international and US laws outlawing torture. The 1984 international protocol against torture in its very title rejects the type of distinction invoked by the US military. The protocol is entitled "Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment." It defines torture as "any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession...." (Emphasis added).
Kahtani's interrogation took place in late 2002, months before the invasion of Iraq and subsequent incarceration and interrogation of detainees at Abu Ghraib. When photographs of Iraqi detainees subjected to sexual humiliation, paraded around on leashes and threatened by snarling dogs were made public in April 2004, the practices were blamed on a number of low-level military police, some of whom have subsequently been tried and convicted. But US military interrogators submitted Kahtani to precisely the same form of physical and mental torture months earlier. Clearly, these were standard practices, exported from Guantanamo to Abu Ghraib.
As the Washington Post noted July 14, "The report's findings are the strongest indication yet that the abusive practices seen in photographs at Abu Ghraib were not the invention of a small group of thrill-seeking military police officers."
The ACLU commented, "It is irrefutable that the government violated the Geneva Conventions and the Army Field Manual. The report backs up claims by FBI agents that the government was breaking the rules at Guantanamo Bay. As before, low-ranking men and women will take the full blame while the higher ups get off scot-free."
After detailing the barbaric methods applied to Kahtani and the rest of the Guantanamo horror stories, Schmidt calmly told the Senate hearing, "As the bottom line, though, we found no torture. Detention and interrogation operations were safe, secure and humane." This was more than enough for most of the Republicans on the committee. Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas called the Guantanamo abuse relatively "minor incidents" that should not be a matter of national interest.
Sen. James M. Inhofe of Oklahoma went even further. "When you contrast these interrogation techniques with those used in other countries, those fighting us, it's hard to understand why we're so wrapped up in this investigation," he declared. Inhofe urged harsher treatment, arguing that the investigators' discovery of so few abuses suggested that the interrogations might not be coercive enough. "It makes me wonder if we're really getting the most out of these detainees," he commented.
Registering concerns, Sen. John McCain of Arizona, a former prisoner of war, commented: "They may be Al Qaeda, they may be Taliban, they may be the worst people in the world, and I'm sure some of them are. But there are certain rules and international agreements the United States has agreed to, and that we will observe. Humane treatment might be in the eye of the beholder."
The Democrats on the committee muttered under their breath about this or that secondary matter. Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island complained that the Schmidt-Furlow investigation, "which was sincere and detailed," had been "turned it into a justification and exoneration for a senior officer [i.e., Gen. Miller]...which is consistent with all these other investigations. We're in this muddle because no one's taken responsibility at a senior level for what's been done."
Speaking in the same vein, Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan criticized Miller, an easy target, and lamented that "We are left once again with a lack of accountability for the confirmed mistreatment of detainees."
The Democratic Party leadership has gone out of its way to marginalize the issue of torture at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo and US facilities in Afghanistan and elsewhere. The Kerry-Edwards campaign in 2004 never raised the issue. We can safely predict: the issue of US military torture will once again be quickly dropped. The political and media establishment have, in fact, given their sanction, whether openly or tacitly, to the policy of sadistic treatment of prisoners of war-in open violation of international law.
Bush Granted Absloute Power -
1949 Geneva Convention do not apply to 'al-Qaida' and its members
"A federal appeals court put the Bush administration's military commissions for terrorist suspects back on track Friday, saying a detainee at the Guantanamo Bay prison who once was Osama bin Laden's driver can stand trial. A three-judge panel ruled 3-0 against Salim Ahmed Hamdan, whose case was halted by a federal judge on grounds that commission procedures were unlawful. "Congress authorized the military commission that will try Hamdan," said the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
The protections of the 1949 Geneva Convention do not apply to al-Qaida and its members, so Hamdan does not have a right to enforce its provisions in court, the appeals judges said. U.S. District Judge James Robertson ruled last year that Hamdan could not be tried by a military commission until a competent tribunal determined that he was not a prisoner of war.
"We believe the military commission is such a tribunal," said the appeals court. President Bush created the military commissions after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, opening a legal channel for alleged al-Qaida terrorists and their associates to be tried for war crimes. Hamdan's lawyers said Bush violated the separation of powers in the Constitution when he established military commissions. The court disagreed, saying Bush relied on Congress's joint resolution authorizing the use of force after the Sept. 11 attacks, as well as two congressionally enacted laws. "We think it no answer to say, as Hamdan does, that this case is different because Congress did not formally declare war," said the decision by appeals court judge A. Raymond Randolph.
Congress authorized the president to use all necessary and appropriate force in the war on terrorism." Two lawyers representing Hamdan, Neal Katyal and Navy Lt. Commander Charles D. Swift, said the appeals court ruling "is contrary to 200 years of constitutional law." Katyal said Hamdan will seek further appeals. "Today's ruling places absolute trust in the president, unchecked by the Constitution, statutes of Congress, and longstanding treaties ratified by the Senate of the United States," the two defense lawyers said in a statement." - msnbc.msn.com
THE PRESIDENT VERSUS DAVID HICKS
A film by CURTIS LEVY and Bentley Dean
Torture / Mind games at Guantanamo
DEBBIE WHITMONT: In January this year, the only other Australian at Guantanamo - Mamdouh Habib - was suddenly released. Up until then, the Australian Government had maintained that both Hicks and Habib had been treated humanely.
LT CDR CHARLES SWIFT, MILITARY ATTORNEY: I was in line to represent Mr Habib. I had been contacted, and he was a day from having a defence counsel and going to a military commission. Ah, and the same assurances were being made, apparently, regarding statements that had been obtained in Egypt while he was up to his neck in water.
DEBBIE WHITMONT: It was revealed that Habib had been taken to Egypt and tortured - a process known as 'rendition'.
CLIVE STAFFORD SMITH, MOAZZAM BEGG'S LAWYER: Mamdouh Habib was not just abused. Mamdouh Habib had electrodes put on him, and there, that was going to be such a PR catastrophe for the whole military commission process, they couldn't possibly afford to do that.
DEBBIE WHITMONT: Moazzam Begg and the rest of the Englishmen were released at the same time. Begg had spent two years in Guantanamo, and one year held by the Americans in solitary confinement in Afghanistan.
MOAZZAM BEGG, FORMER GUANTANAMO DETAINEE: I was beaten, tortured and threatened with being sent to, um, to Egypt for further torture where they use electric shocks and, and rape and so forth, if I didn't comply with what they said.
DEBBIE WHITMONT: In Guantanamo, Begg wrote dozens of letters describing his torture. One of them somehow slipped out uncensored. His lawyers released it publicly.
CLIVE STAFFORD SMITH, MOAZZAM BEGG'S LAWYER: I mean, they said Moazzam Begg was the worst terrorist in the world, and they set him free when we demonstrated how he'd been abused.
MOAZZAM BEGG, FORMER GUANTANAMO DETAINEE READS FORM LETTER: I have been menaced and threatened directly and indirectly with firearms...
DEBBIE WHITMONT: Moazzam Begg told Four Corners that he and Hicks often pondered on why Hicks - out of hundreds at Guantanamo - was one of the very first to be charged and sent to trial.
MOAZZAM BEGG, FORMER GUANTANAMO DETAINEE: I firmly believe why David Hicks has been singled out in this particular manner, ah, and was the first person to be put through this process, is because he's the token white man.
JOSH DRATEL, HICKS'CIVILIAN ATTORNEY: He... allows for the process to look even-handed in a cultural and ethnic sense. He's a Caucasian, he's a westerner. This is not about the Middle East. This is not about, you know, people of colour. This is about dangerous people. So, they can say that and... and also I think that he's English speaking, and they would like to if they, if they could... turn him against others, and have a witness, that would be to their advantage.
DEBBIE WHITMONT: How many other Caucasian Guantanamo detainees are there now, to your knowledge?
JOSH DRATEL, HICKS'CIVILIAN ATTORNEY: Zero.
- abc transcript of Debbie Whitmont's investigation "The Case of David Hicks".
Hunger strike in Guantanamo Bay:
US Media says 87...others contend 200 are taking part.
by the time these reports were made the strike was in its 5th week
UK firm picketed over Guantanamo 'torture' shackles
Handcuffs bearing the words 'Made in England' used to restrain Britons at Camp X-Ray prompt protest by human rights activists
September 9, 2005 - In the late 18th century the company made "Nigger collars" for restraining slaves in America. Today, it makes the shackles that hold the inmates of Guantanamo Bay.
Yesterday, the Birmingham handcuff and baton manufacturer Hiatt & Company was picketed by human rights activists wearing orange jumpsuits in protest at its continued export to the US of handcuffs and other products used to hold prisoners at Camp X-Ray on the US naval base at Guantanamo, Cuba.
Writers jailed in 2002 for political satire
After three years at Guantanamo, Afghan writers found to be no threat to United States
Guantanamo special report BY JAMES RUPERT - STAFF CORRESPONDENT - October 31, 2005
PESHAWAR, Pakistan -- Badr Zaman Badr and his brother Abdurrahim Muslim Dost relish writing a good joke that jabs a corrupt politician or distills the sufferings of fellow Afghans. Badr admires the political satires in "The Canterbury Tales" and "Gulliver's Travels," and Dost wrote some wicked lampoons in the 1990s, accusing Afghan mullahs of growing rich while preaching and organizing jihad. So in 2002, when the U.S. military shackled the writers and flew them to Guantanamo among prisoners whom Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld declared "the worst of the worst" violent terrorists, the brothers found life imitating farce.
For months, grim interrogators grilled them over a satirical article Dost had written in 1998, when the Clinton administration offered a $5-million reward for Osama bin Laden. Dost responded that Afghans put up 5 million Afghanis -- equivalent to $113 -- for the arrest of President Bill Clinton.
"It was a lampoon ... of the poor Afghan economy" under the Taliban, Badr recalled. The article carefully instructed Afghans how to identify Clinton if they stumbled upon him. "It said he was clean-shaven, had light-colored eyes and he had been seen involved in a scandal with Monica Lewinsky," Badr said.
The interrogators, some flown down from Washington, didn't get the joke, he said. "Again and again, they were asking questions about this article. We had to explain that this was a satire." He paused. "It was really pathetic."
It took the brothers three years to convince the Americans that they posed no threat to Clinton or the United States, and to get released -- a struggle that underscores the enormous odds weighing against innocent foreign Muslims caught in America's military prisons.
In recent months, scores of Afghans interviewed by Newsday -- including a dozen former U.S. prisoners, plus human rights officials and senior Afghan security officials -- said the United States is detaining enough innocent Afghans in its war against the Taliban and al-Qaida that it is seriously undermining popular support for its presence in Afghanistan.
As Badr and Dost fought for their freedom, they had enormous advantages over Guantanamo's 500-plus other captives.
The brothers are university-educated, and Badr, who holds a master's degree in English literature, was one of few prisoners able to speak fluently to the interrogators in their own language. And since both men are writers, much of their lives and political ideas are on public record here in books and articles they have published.
A Pentagon spokesman, Lt. Cmdr. Flex Plexico, declared this summer that "there was no mistake" in the brothers' detention because it "was directly related to their combat activities [or support] as determined by an appropriate Department of Defense official." U.S. officials declined to discuss the case, so no full picture is available of why it took so long for the pair to be cleared.
The Pentagon's prison network overseas is assigned to help prevent attacks on the United States like those of Sept. 11, 2001, so "you cannot equate it to a justice system," said Army Col. Samuel Rob, who was serving this summer as the chief lawyer for U.S. forces in Afghanistan. Still, he added, innocent victims of the system are "a small percentage, I'd say."
The military is slow to clear innocent prisoners, largely because of its fear of letting even one real terrorist get away, said Rob.
"What if this is a truly bad individual, the next World Trade Center bomber, and you let him go? What do you say to the families?" asked Rob.
Rob and the Defense Department say the prison system performs satisfactorily in freeing innocents and letting military investigators focus on prisoners who really are part of terrorist networks. Badr and others -- including some former military intelligence soldiers who served in Guantanamo and Afghanistan -- emphatically disagree.
The United States for years called Badr and his brother "enemy combatants," but the men say they never saw a battlefield. And for an America that seeks a democratized Afghanistan, they seem, potentially, allies. Americans "have freedom to criticize your government, and this is very good," said Badr. Also, "we know that America's laws say a person is innocent until he is proven to be guilty," although "for us it is the reverse."
Badr and Dost are Pashtuns, members of the ethnic group that spawned the Taliban. But the family library where they receive their guests is crammed with poetry, histories and religious treatises -- mind-broadening stuff that the Taliban were more inclined to burn than read. For years, the brothers' library has served as a salon for Pashtun intellectuals and activists of many hues, including some who also have been arrested in the U.S.-funded dragnet for suspected Islamic militants.
Like millions of Afghans, they fled to Pakistan during the Soviet occupation of their country in the 1980s and joined one of the many anti-Soviet factions that got quiet support from Pakistan's military intelligence service. Their small group was called Jamiat-i-Dawatul Quran wa Sunna, and Dost became editor of its magazine. Even then, "we were not fighters," said Badr. "We took part in the war only as writers."
After the Soviet withdrawal in 1989, the men split with Jamiat, partly over its promotion of the extremist Wahhabi sect of Islam. Dost wrote lampoons against the group's leader, a cleric named Sami Ullah, portraying him as a corrupt pawn of its sponsor, Pakistan, working against Afghan interests.
In November 2001, as U.S. forces attacked Afghanistan, the mullah's brother, Roh Ullah, "called us and said if we didn't stop criticizing the party he would have us put in jail," said Badr. Ten days later, men from Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate hauled the brothers off to grimy cells.
Another Ullah brother, Hayat Ullah, insisted in an interview that their family had not instigated the arrests. Dost is a political rival, but "a very simple man," Hayat Ullah said. "We have many powerful rivals. If I were going to get ISI to pick up an enemy, why would I choose an ordinary person like him?"
But two Pakistani analysts with sources in ISI said the Ullah family has been accused in several cases of using its links to the agency to have rivals arrested. And Roh Ullah himself is now imprisoned at Guantanamo.
In the midnight chill of Feb. 9, 2002, ISI officers led Badr and Dost, blindfolded and handcuffed, onto the tarmac of Peshawar International Airport. When they heard airplanes, "we knew they were handing us to the Americans," Badr said.
Beneath the blindfold, he stole glimpses of smiling Pakistani officers, grim U.S. soldiers and a cargo plane. "It was a big festival atmosphere, as though the Pakistanis were handing over Osama bin Laden to the United States," Badr said.
Shouting and shoving, American troops forced the brothers to the asphalt and bound their hands behind them with plastic ties. "They chained our feet," Badr said. "Dogs were barking at us. They pulled a sack down over my head. It was very difficult to breathe ... and I saw the flash of cameras. They were taking pictures of us."
Flown to U.S. prisons at Bagram and Kandahar air bases in Afghanistan, the brothers eventually learned from their interrogators that the ISI had denounced them to the U.S. as dangerous supporters of the Taliban and al-Qaida who had threatened President Clinton.
In the three-plus years that the brothers spent in U.S. prisons abroad, violent abuse and torture were widely reported.
Eight of 12 men interviewed after their release in recent months from U.S. prisons in Afghanistan told Newsday they had been beaten or had seen or heard other prisoners being beaten.
The brothers escaped the worst abuse, partly because of Badr's fluent English. At times, prisoners "who didn't speak English got kicked by the MPs because they didn't understand what the soldiers wanted," he said. And both men said that while many prisoners clammed up under questioning, they were talkative and able to demonstrate cooperation.
"Fortunately, we were not tortured," Badr said, "but we heard torture." At Bagram, "We heard guards shouting at people to make them stand up all night without sleeping." At Kandahar, prisoners caught talking in their cells "were punished by being forced to kneel on the ground with their hands on their head and not moving for three or four hours in hot weather.
Some became unconscious," he said. The U.S. military last year investigated abuse at its prisons in Afghanistan but the Pentagon ordered the report suppressed.
Badr and Dost were humiliated routinely. When being moved between prisons or in groups, they often were thrown to the ground, like that night at Peshawar airport. "They put our faces in the dust," Badr said.
Like virtually all ex-prisoners interviewed, he said he felt deliberately shamed by soldiers when they photographed him naked or gave him regular rectal exams.
The brothers were flown to Guantanamo in May 2002 as soon as Camp Delta, the permanent prison there, was opened. For more than two years, they sat in separate cells, waiting days between interrogation sessions to explain and re-explain their lives and writings.
In his 35 months in U.S. captivity, Badr said, he had about 150 interrogation sessions with 25 different lead interrogators from several U.S. agencies. "And that satire was the biggest cause of their suspicion," he said.
When one team of interrogators "began to accept that this was satire," the whole process would begin anew with interrogators from another agency. In all, Badr said he was told that four U.S. agencies -- including the CIA, FBI and Defense Department -- would have to give their assent before the men could be released. And their names would be circulated to 40 other countries to ensure they were not wanted anywhere else.
The Americans' investigations seemed to take forever to confirm even where they had lived and studied. "I would tell him [the interrogator] something simple and ... two or two-and-a-half months later, he would come back and say, 'We checked, and you were right about that,'" Badr said.
Another problem was that "Many of the interpreters were not good," said Badr. He recalled an elderly man, arrested by U.S. forces for shooting his rifle at a helicopter, who explained that he had been trapping hawks and fired in anger at one that flew away. But the interpreter mistook the Persian word "booz" (hawk) for "baz" (goat). "The interrogator became very angry," Badr said. "He thought the old man was making a fool of him by claiming to be shooting at goats flying in the air."
Angered by ordeal
Rob conceded that "obviously, we could use more translators," but said the pace at which prisoners are processed -- and innocents released -- is adequate.
That idea angers Badr. "They detained us for three and a half years," he said. "Then they said to us, 'all right, you're innocent, so go away.'"
Of that anger, Rob said, "that's understandable. Especially if he's the breadwinner for his family and there's no one ... " The sentence hung uncompleted.
The brothers' anger is deepened by the abusiveness of many U.S. soldiers, whom Badr compared to "Yahoos," the thuggish characters of Jonathan Swift's "Gulliver's Travels." And they are upset that U.S. officials confiscated all of their prison writings.
Still, Badr sounds neither bitter nor an enemy of America. "I am curious to meet ordinary Americans," he said. "I appreciated my interrogators in Guantanamo. ... Many of them were misguided, for example about my religion. ... But I can say that they were civilized people."
UN rejects Guantanamo visit offer
UN human rights monitors say they will not accept a US offer to visit the Guantanamo Bay prison camp unless they are given free access to the prisoners.
The monitors said they could accept some limitations, but not a ban on private interviews with detainees.
The Pentagon, which received the UN request for a visit more than three years ago, said the invitation showed it had "nothing to hide".
About 500 people are currently being held at Guantanamo.
To date, only the International Committee of the Red Cross has been granted direct access to prisoners at the camp in Cuba.
The three monitors said in a statement that they could not accept the exclusion of private interviews as "this would not only contravene the terms of reference for fact-finding missions... but also undermine the purpose of an objective and fair assessment".
The three also said they were disappointed that the visit would only last one day, and that two other UN human rights investigators had been excluded from the tour. However, they said they were confident the US government would accept their demand to talk privately with detainees.
Human rights activists have criticised conditions at the camp, where several inmates are on hunger strike. The UN first asked for permission to visit the camp when it opened in January 2002, months after the US-led invasion of Afghanistan which toppled the Taleban regime.
The UN has accused the US of stalling over its repeated requests to visit the camp to look into allegations of human rights abuses.
- BBC NEWS
Tug of war playing out at Guantanamo
The Guardian Thursday 17th November, 2005
Fawzi al-Odah weighed just 44.5kg (7st) last week when his lawyer, Thomas Wilner, visited him in Guantánamo.
In August 2002 he weighed 63.5kg (10st).
The young Kuwaiti is one of the hundred or so men in the US prison camp who have been on sporadic hunger strikes since August. During Wilner's previous visit in September, he tried, on Fawzi's father's instructions, to persuade him to end his hunger strike. But Fawzi told him: "Tell my father I'm trying to be a hero like him, and if he was here he would do the same as I am doing." Khalid al-Odah, Fawzi's father, was a US-trained Kuwaiti fighter pilot who fought in the underground during the Iraqi invasion.
Fawzi was brought to that meeting with his lawyer from the prison hospital with a plastic tube protruding from his nose, which bled intermittently. He has since been in Camp Delta, where the force-feeding continues.
He appears to be completely innocent: his story has been investigated and told in detail twice, by two respected US journalists, Roy Gutman in Newsweek and Peter Jennings in a special TV report on Guantánamo. Both reports were devastating to the official line on the war on terror.
Fawzi was also the man named in one of the supreme court cases that successfully challenged the refusal of habeas corpus to the prisoners. Is he still being held precisely because his case has deeply hurt the Bush administration's credibility before the country's highest lawyers, and in the mainstream media?
Fawzi was a university student in Kuwait who spent two vacations teaching in poor areas of Pakistan, and who went on to help refugees on the Afghan border when they fled US bombing in October 2001. Those who sold them to the Pakistani authorities, who handed them over to the Americans, told both US reporting teams that the soft city boys from Kuwait were clearly nothing to do with any of the Afghan fighters.
Wilner, a quintessential establishment Washington lawyer, has represented the 12 Kuwaitis in Guantánamo since April 2002 and has been to the prison camp 10 times. Five of his clients were recently released and are back in Kuwait. Fawzi remains in Cuba. Last week the US Senate approved a plan, sponsored by Senator Lindsay Graham, that would severely limit the chance of Fawzi, and the other prisoners, ever being given access to the US courts. The plan defies a supreme court decision of June 2004 - although not one prisoner has been brought to court since, amid legal battles between the Bush administration and lawyers such as Wilner.
Another of Wilner's clients is Abdullah al-Kandari, who was on the Kuwaiti national volleyball team. Wilner saw him changed by the hunger strike from a happy, outgoing, strongly pro-American young man to a withdrawn, cadaverous, weak figure. Abdullah was one of those who shouted out to the visiting Congressional delegation that they were not being told the truth. He was punished.
Wilner's affidavits on these two prisoners and another, Saad al-Azmi, who was sexually harassed by his female interrogator, reveal that cruel and unusual punishment is still the order of the day in Guantánamo.
The Senate has been grossly misled by the administration about conditions in the prison, and the nonexistent cases against many of those held, or it could never have approved Senator Graham's plan, slightly modified this week. Graham will join many others, such as Alberto Gonzales, General Geoffrey Miller, Donald Rumsfeld and President Bush, who will be harshly judged by history for what has happened at Guantánamo.
Fawzi al-Odah, whether he lives through this horror or dies, will be remembered by many people as the hero he wanted his father to know about. - Guardian via BNN
US plans Afghan jail for terror suspects
By Jimmy Burns in Londonand Rachel Morarjee in Kabul Published: January 4 2006
The US government has plans to build a high-security prison in Afghanistan to hold terror suspects, including some who would be transferred from the controversial US naval base at Guantánamo Bay.
The site selected for the jail is Pol-e-Charki, a rundown prison near Kabul dating from the Soviet era. Some of the base's prison facilities have recently been refurbished as part of a European Union-financed criminal justice reform programme backed by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
The transfer of prisoners of Afghan origin from Guantánamo to Afghanistan is intended to take pressure off the US administration, which continues to face strong international criticism for holding detainees without trial or other legal recourse.
The administration is eager to return as many detainees as possible to their home countries, while bringing what it considers the most dangerous ones to trial before US military tribunals.
According to estimates by Amnesty International, the human rights group, about 750 people have been detained in Guantánamo since January 2002, many of them of Afghan origin.
As of August an estimated 510 detainees were still held, with 167 prisoners released and, according to the US defence department, a further 67 moved to the custody of other governments.
Under an agreement announced by the US administration last August, 110 Afghan detainees were to be repatriated from Guantánamo initially to be detained together with about 350 others held without trial at Bagram air base in Afghanistan.
The prospect of terrorist suspects being held under indefinite detention in Afghanistan could fuel concerns about their treatment at a time when the Afghan judicial system is in its infancy. Human rights groups have made allegations of mistreatment of detainees in Afghan jails.
Last year, senior US administration officials were quoted as saying the US and Afghan governments had reached an understanding allowing for the gradual transfer of Afghan detainees held by US forces in Guantánamo and in Afghanistan to the control of the Afghan authorities. About 500 prisoners are under US detention at Bagram and Kandahar in Afghanistan, with an undisclosed number of terrorist suspects believed held in secret locations elsewhere in the country.
Western diplomats say the UN and the EU have been resisting US plans to have the Pol-e-Charki base turned into a secure prison that would hold Afghan terror suspects. The UNODC project was intended to house prisoners involved in drug trafficking. Evidence that the US intends to push ahead with its plans emerged last month with the US Army Corps of Engineers in Afghanistan issuing a public notice for the renovation and construction of a cell block at Pol-e-Charki. It said the project would be aimed at accommodating "detainees presently in sub-standard and/or overcrowded facilities". It added the cell block would be refurbished to accept "detainees to be processed through the Afghan courts".
- FT com
Scandal of force-fed prisoners
Hunger strikers are tied down and fed through nasal tubes, admits Guantánamo Bay doctor
David Rose Sunday January 8, 2006 The Observer
New details have emerged of how the growing number of prisoners on hunger strike at Guantánamo Bay are being tied down and force-fed through tubes pushed down their nasal passages into their stomachs to keep them alive.
They routinely experience bleeding and nausea, according to a sworn statement by the camp's chief doctor, seen by The Observer.
'Experience teaches us' that such symptoms must be expected 'whenever nasogastric tubes are used,' says the affidavit of Captain John S Edmondson, commander of Guantánamo's hospital. The procedure - now standard practice at Guantánamo - 'requires that a foreign body be inserted into the body and, ideally, remain in it.' But staff always use a lubricant, and 'a nasogastric tube is never inserted and moved up and down. It is inserted down into the stomach slowly and directly, and it would be impossible to insert the wrong end of the tube.' Medical personnel do not insert nasogastric tubes in a manner 'intentionally designed to inflict pain.'
It is painful, Edmonson admits. Although 'non-narcotic pain relievers such as ibuprofen are usually sufficient, sometimes stronger drugs,' including opiates such as morphine, have had to be administered.
Thick, 4.8mm diameter tubes tried previously to allow quicker feeding, so permitting guards to keep prisoners in their cells for more hours each day, have been abandoned, the affidavit says. The new 3mm tubes are 'soft and flexible'.
The London solicitors Allen and Overy, who represent some of the hunger strikers, have lodged a court action to be heard next week in California, where Edmondson is registered to practise. They are asking for an order that the state medical ethics board investigate him for 'unprofessional conduct' for agreeing to the force-feeding.
Edmonson's affidavit, in response to a lawsuit on behalf of detainees on hunger strike since last August, was obtained last week by The Observer, as a Guantánamo spokesman confirmed that the number of hunger strikers has almost doubled since Christmas, to 81 of the 550 detainees. Many have been held since the camp opened four years ago this month, although they not been charged with any crime, nor been allowed to see any evidence justifying their detention.
This and other Guantánamo lawsuits now face extinction. Last week, President Bush signed into law a measure removing detainees' right to file habeas corpus petitions in the US federal courts. On Friday, the administration asked the Supreme Court to make this retroactive, so nullifying about 220 cases in which prisoners have contested the basis of their detention and the legality of pending trials by military commission.
Although some prisoners have had to be tied down while being force-fed, 'only one patient' has had to be immobilised with a six-point restraint, and 'only one' passed out. 'In less than 10 cases have trained medical personnel had to use four-point restraint in order to achieve insertion.' Edmondson claims the actual feeding is voluntary. During Ramadan, tube-feeding takes place before dawn.
Article 5 of the 1975 World Medical Association Tokyo Declaration, which US doctors are legally bound to observe through their membership of the American Medical Association, states that doctors must not undertake force-feeding under any circumstances. Dr David Nicholl, a consultant neurologist at Queen Elizabeth's hospital in Birmingham, is co-ordinating opposition to the Guantánamo doctors' actions from the international medical community. 'If I were to do what Edmondson describes in his statement, I would be referred to the General Medical Council and charged with assault,' he said.
· Yesterday the new German Chancellor Angela Merkel became the latest leader to condemn the United States for practices at the prison. In a magazine interview days before her first visit as premier to the US, Merkel said Washington should close Guantánamo and find other ways of dealing with terror suspects. - observer.guardian
Gitmo detention center stays, Bush says
WASHINGTON, Jan. 13 (UPI) -- President George W. Bush said Friday the terrorist detention center at Guantanamo Bay would remain open to help protect the American people.
The center, at a U.S. Navy facility in Cuba, currently holds some 500 terror suspects, some of whom face trial in special military tribunals. Those tribunals, and the nature of the suspect's incarceration, are currently the subject of a civil court case.
Both the center and the tribunals are opposed by civil libertarian organizations and by many of Washington's allies in the war against terror.
"Guantanamo is a necessary part of protecting the American people, and so long as the war on terror goes on, and so long as there's a threat, we will, inevitably need to hold people that would do ourselves harm in a system," the president said.
Bush, during a brief appearance with visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel, added that prisoners were treated humanely.
Merkel is opposed to Guantanamo Bay detentions and said she broached the subject with Bush during their initial 45-minute meeting at the White House. She said Germany and others should produce "convincing proposals" on how to deal with detainees who themselves feel bound by no law.
Merkel took power in Germany in November, succeeding Gerhard Schroeder, an adamant opponent of the Iraq War.
Force-feeding of hunger strikers amounts to torture.
A Kuwaiti man being held at Guantanamo Bay has told the BBC in a rare interview that the force-feeding of hunger strikers amounts to torture.
Fawzi al-Odah, who has been held at the base since 2002, said hunger strikers were strapped to a chair and force-fed through a tube three times a day.
His remarks came as a US judge prepared to hear a call to ban force-feeding.
A senior official in the US state department denied the administration was using torture in Guantanamo Bay.
The legal case is being brought on behalf of Mohammed Bawazir, a Yemeni who has also been held there since 2002. The action is the first test for a new law explicitly outlawing torture of terrorism suspects, which President George W Bush signed in December.
The BBC submitted questions for Fawzi al-Odah to his lawyer, Tom Wilner, who has access to the camp, but was unable to challenge Mr Odah's responses. Mr Odah was one of 84 inmates at Guantanamo who went on hunger strike in December. Just four remain defiant.
Speaking to the BBC, US official Colleen Graffey said all detainees were afforded regular status reviews and offered the opportunity to renounce violence.
Through his lawyer, Mr Odah described his treatment during his hunger strike. "First they took my comfort items away from me. They put me in isolation for 10 days. "They came in and read out an order saying that if I refuse to eat I would be put in the chair [for force feeding]."
He told how detainees were given laxatives to empty their bowels and were placed in "the chair" three times a day, where a tube was inserted to administer food. "One man said he was tortured in Saudi Arabia and that this was worse than anything that happened there," he said.
The BBC's Justin Webb, in Washington, says the legal challenge to the force-feeding may be a shot in the dark. Under the terms of the new law, it is not even clear whether courts have the right to hear this case. But a judge in Washington has at least begun the process, he adds.
Lawyers for Mohammed Bawazir, who has been at Guantanamo Bay since 2002, said he was strapped in a restraining chair and force-fed through a large tube.
He ended his hunger strike in order to avoid what he regarded as torture.
The lawyers are arguing that the new anti-torture rules which Mr Bush signed in December, after initially opposing them, outlaw this practice. The UN Human Rights Commission said recently that it regarded force-feeding at Guantanamo as a form of torture.
The Bush administration has said firmly and repeatedly that it is not. -
UN report in full
US police 'had sex in front of Guantanamo Bay prisoner'
04/03/2006 - Guantanamo Bay detainee Feroz Abbasi claimed American military police had sex in front of him while he was praying at the Cuban base, according to US Defence Department documents. The Briton, who was detained for more than three three years before being released last year, also alleges his captors tried to feed him pork and misled him into praying toward America instead of Mecca.
The claims are contained in documents released yesterday following a Freedom of Information Act request by the American news agency Associated Press. They are transcripts of tribunals where the detainees were screened. This information has been released before but this time the names are included.
Mr Abbasi told the tribunal two couples, men and women who were military police, had sex near him on two separate occasions, once while they thought he was sleeping and another time "while he was praying", the former detainee said in the document, in which he referred to himself in the third person.
Mr Abbasi, from Croydon, south London was one of nine British nationals who had been detained at Guantanamo. They have all been set free and when flown back to the UK were released without charge.
He was captured in Afghanistan in 2001 and later transferred to the US military base. He denied allegations he was an al Qaida member.
One military police person "knowingly and wilfully misdirected" Mr Abbasi to pray toward the north - the direction of the US - instead of east toward Islam's holy city of Mecca, said his tribunal statement.
Another tried to feed the detainee "a hot plate of pork" - food forbidden by Islam, he said.
During the hearing the detainee repeatedly tried to explain that he was unfairly classified as an enemy combatant. An Air Force Colonel, whose identity remains blacked out, would have none of it.
"Mr Abbasi, your conduct is unacceptable and this is your absolute final warning. I do not care about International Law. I do not want to hear the words International Law again. We are not concerned about International Law," the Colonel insisted before having Mr Abbasi removed.
None of the current inmates at Guantanamo are British, but Amnesty international believes eight of them have previously been resident in the UK and that some have relatives here.
Last month, three British residents detained at the military base were given the go-ahead to seek a High Court order requiring Foreign Secretary Jack Straw to petition for their release. One of them, Bisher al-Rawi, 37, an Iraqi national who had lived in Britain since 1985, was named among the thousands of pages posted on the Pentagon website.He was detained three years ago in Gambia with his business partner and later handed over to the US authorities.
They were alleged to have been associated with al Qaida through their connection with the radical Muslim cleric Abu Qatada.
The released transcript said Mr al-Rawi "told the tribunal that he is from a wealthy family and that he had gone to Gambia with his brother to open a peanut processing factory.
"The detainee, who said he had provided information about the Muslim community in Britain to the British intelligence agency MI5 in the past, described Abu Qatada as a friend and that he had helped the cleric find an apartment." - IOL
Attorney General Gonzales defends American anti-terror tactics
LONDON (AP) -- The U.S. attorney general defended his country's treatment of terror suspects against criticism from Europe and elsewhere, saying Tuesday that the United States abhors torture and respects the rights of detainees. Alberto Gonzales also said the U.S. did not transport terrorism suspects to nations where it was likely they could be tortured.
Human rights groups and other European critics have alleged that U.S. planes may be using European airports and air space to send suspects to nations that may torture them. They have also criticized the U.S. prison camp in Guantanamo, and a U.N. report last month called for the facility to be closed "without further delay" because it is effectively a torture camp where prisoners have no access to justice.
The U.S. attorney general -- speaking Tuesday at the International Institute for Strategic Studies think-tank in London -- vehemently denied such charges, but acknowledged that people might interpret the term "torture" in different ways. The U.S. abides by its own definition, which he said was the intentional infliction of severe mental or physical suffering.
"The U.S. abhors torture and categorically rejects its use," Gonzales said, adding that where appropriate the U.S. sought assurances from foreign governments before transporting detainees there, and did not transport anyone "to a country if we believe it more likely than not that the individual would be tortured."
Gonzales also said the U.S. did not use airports in Europe or anywhere else to move detainees for the purpose of torture.
"The United States has always been and remains a great defender of human rights and the rule of law," Gonzales said. "I regret that there has been concern or confusion about our commitment to the rule of law."
On the subject of the Guantanamo Bay prison camp, Gonzales said detainees were treated properly and afforded with extensive legal protections.
The prison -- opened January 2001 at the U.S. Naval base in southeast Cuba -- now holds about 490 men suspected of having links to al-Qaida and the Taliban. Though many inmates have spent several years at the camp, only a handful have been charged.
Gonzales defended their treatment and said the U.S. had to use all available tools to fight terror, reiterating U.S. claims that the detainees were "highly dangerous people" including terrorist trainers, bomb makers and potential suicide bombers.
"We are aware of no other nation in history that has afforded procedural protections like these to enemy combatants," he said.
Gonzales said the U.S. was continually reassessing the need for the camp to remain open, and could consider closing it if circumstances changed.
He acknowledged disagreements between the U.S. and Europe on tactics in the fight against terror, but said it was critical that the allies continued to work together. British Prime Minister Tony Blair last week said Guantanamo was an "anomaly" that he hoped would be closed.
Gonzales said U.S. law also forbids cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of detainees in the United States or abroad by military or civilian personnel.
He declined to comment on alleged interrogation techniques at Guantanamo, such as water boarding, during which the victim believes he is about to drown, or the use of dogs to intimidate prisoners.
"If we went around this room, people would have different definitions of what constitutes torture, depending on the circumstances," he said. - CNN
Amnesty International held a conference in London which brought together the biggest gathering of former "war on terror" detainees.
Around 25 former inmates at Guantánamo Bay attended and speakers included former detainees from the UK, Russia and Afghanistan.
Ahead of the three-day conference, Amnesty conducted interviews with four former Guantánamo detainees and transcripts of these are below.
The first interview is with Moazzam Begg, one of nine British men who were held at Guantánamo Bay. He was seized in Islamabad in February 2002 by the CIA and initially held at Bagram airbase in Afghanistan for around a year. He was held in Guantánamo until January 2005, when he was released without charge. At Bagram he says he saw two people beaten to death by guards; one guard told him how it was necessary for them to "dehumanise" detainees to cope with working there.
The second interview is with Ustad Badruzzaman Badr, from Afghanistan, who was arrested with his brother, journalist Abdurraheem Muslim Dost, at their home in Pakistan in November 2001. They were held by the ISI, Pakistan's intelligence service, before being handed over to the Americans. Both were released from Guantánamo Bay at the end of last year.
The third interview is with Airat Vakhitov, one of eight Russian detainees. He was held in solitary confinement at Bagram in Afghanistan for a year before being transferred to Guantánamo, from where he was released in 2004.The final interview is with Rustam Akhmiarov, another Russian who was also released last year.
[At Bagram airbase in Afghanistan] The guards had put barbed wire at the back of the cages or the cells where we'd use that area as the latrine. This detainee had apparently been able to push the barbed wire through and crawl out and run out - completely confused as to whether he's going left or right or where he was going to go in his orange suit. So the guards caught him and they beat him literally to death. After which they dragged him in front of all the cells which were there and that's when I saw his body. They took him to the medical room which was also opposite the cell where I was and they closed the doors. After that there was a whole series of doctors and medics and officers running in and rushing about. And eventually they carried his body out on a stretcher with the blanket covering his face and all we could se were the beaten soles of his feet that were visible.
I spoke to one of the soldiers who used to get along quite well with me and he told me exactly what he'd done, why he'd done it and how he'd done it. This soldier I'd met in Kandahar and he was one of the few who used to speak to me quite regularly and I was so amazed that he was so candid about telling me how he'd done this and why he'd done this and why he felt it was completely justified and almost vindicated himself by the fact that he's telling me.
When people say, "How did you manage?" Well sometimes I didn't manage. Sometimes I exploded myself and broke up everything and fell about, cried, smashed my head against the wall. But that was a rarity. Generally I tried to be a controlled and as calm as possible. One important thing to me was dignity and self control and self respect. They had definitely taken my freedom and my ability to be free, but what they couldn't do was to take away my dignity, and that's what I held on to.
When they handed out Korans to us in Bagram I remember seeing the Americans passing them through the airlocks and throwing them onto the ground. People might think that well, its just a book, but if you believe like you do as a Muslim that this is the unadulterated revealed speech of God and it is the most sacred thing that a Muslim would have in his house. To see them do that for me brought about a sense of complete desperation, that I can't do anything about this and them for the other Afghans and various other prisoners it was intolerable.
And it was of course part of the dehumanising process again. And one of the guards there of that unit told me when I used to have discussions with them, that when we see you people we can't look at you as human beings. Our psyche does not allow us to do that - because if we did we wouldn't treat you this way. It's easy for us to dehumanise you. First of all most of you guys don't speak the same language. Secondly, you look different. Thirdly, you're dressed different. Fourthly, you're in cages and we're out here with the guns.
The use of torture has in the 21st century become a topic of debate. Should we or should we not. And I think that it's just such a terrible statement ... on the state of us as human beings on the planet today.
The people who claim to be the upholders and defenders of freedom are debating now whether it is legitimate to use torture. After all of what the world has been through arguing against the fact. And if it does in one way or another become legitimised, either mental torture or physical or psychological, which has been clearly used by several countries, then I think the world will spiral into something that nobody will be able to control.
People have been held there [Guantánamo] for four years now, almost. What possible intelligence value could they be giving after all this time - even if there was any to begin with?
So I would say categorically that not only should the United States close the place down. I think people should be repatriated. Those people who have committed crimes should be charged. Those people who have not should be released and should be compensated - if it's possible to compensate people for the time and for the physical and mental torture that they've had to suffer all of this time.
Actually in the beginning when we were in Bagram and Kandahar and in cells of ISI, we suffered a lot. We have been kicked out, we have been kicked by the feet of soldiers. We have become naked; they have taken our naked pictures. They have shaven our beards and they have insulted us in different ways. The way they were taking us to interrogation in Kandahar was really insulting and we suffered a lot and we had no shower for three months in Bagram and Kandahar and the same way for two and a half months in cells of ISI in Peshawar. The way we were taken and flown from Peshawar to Bagram, and from Bagram to Kandahar and from Kandahar to Guantánamo Bay was really torturing, we suffered a lot. They tied us with plastic handcuffs and it really hurt us and the most terrible thing was when they took us from Kandahar to Guantánamo. We had goggles on our head and had masks and we were blinded there and it was a very long flight of 24 hours. What happened to us... It is just torturing us mentally right now and when I just think about Guantánamo, I think about Kandahar, I think about Bagram I think about the cells of ISI, I cannot forget the night we were arrested and we left our children crying without reason. We haven't been criminals, we haven't done anything wrong. We have been journalists, we have been scholars, we have been intellectuals, we have been reporters and editors you can see the library here. I can draw it for you this is the whole block you can see. You know and there were two rows, in each row there were 24 cells and then there was another row of 24 cells. You can see and each cell was 180 centimetres in length, and the width and the height was 180 centimetres. It was the place where we had to sleep, where we had to offer our prayers, where we had to go to the bath and that was the whole thing we had in our life. We had to stay here for a long time and after every three days and sometimes after every five days we had to go out for 20 minutes and some people for 30 minutes if we were not on punishment. But those who were on punishment had to stay there for longer times - for a month, two or three without coming out.
Actually we couldn't get our messages from home and our families couldn't receive our messages up to almost one year and a half. The first time I received our message through Red Cross. I wrote my first message in Kandahar but it arrived home after 8 months and we received our first message after one year and most of the messages were coming through Red Cross and they used to censor and erased just those lines which they didn't like - you can see these.
I want to go to that conference [Amnesty's] because we want to impart and to give the details to the rest of the world and we want to inform the world so it does not happen again. So the right thing is done to those innocents who are still in detention and punishment for those who are really guilty. I mean keeping this information secret and not telling the world would be a dishonesty an intellectual dishonesty and we want to tell the world and it's very important. It's just many people are waiting for us to listen and to know what was going on there and what happened and what were the results.
The torture was basic. In order to cause discomfort they switched on the air conditioning and closed the door to the room. The chain was covered with frost. Before the investigation we were held in the isolation ward for ten days to a month. During this time continuous beatings and insults took place.
Concerning our transfer from Kandahar to Guantánamo: it was a very cruel journey. We were all chained, attached to the seats. We were wearing headphones, blacked out glasses and respirators, making breathing almost impossible. People were continually losing consciousness because of the respirators. The headphones caused high pressure on the head, almost causing a hole, and all of that caused a lot of pain.
We were put into an American detention centre at Kandahar air base. Every one of us suffered from torture and humiliation. The beatings became a routine. Isolation wards, unsanitary conditions and we were sleeping on the sand in the winter. This humiliation was bringing us to our knees.
The torture we were subjected to include beatings and systematic provocations to try and make the detainee break some instructions. And when that happens a special team is called - they would run into the cell, beat and chain him up.
During the interrogations they left you in a cold room for a few weeks. Isolation wards are a good example. We weren't given anything to lie on - no carpet. All of us have problems with our kidneys because we slept on the iron with air conditioning on. It was freezing cold. The ceilings began to be covered with condensation from the cold. We were held like that for months. I was in the isolation ward for five months. I consider the biggest humiliation I have suffered is the stigma that the Americans gave to me. The life-long brand of terrorist, extremist, which I received in Guantánamo has stayed with me since being extradited to Russia.
We have to expose to the public these crimes of the system speaking out for all of the international community, few people have taken the opportunity using legitimate or other methods and people are starting to understand what happened. Some people on behalf of the whole community say that Muslims are the terrorists, bandits and killers. I face insults in the streets. It is the fault of a group of people who speak out on behalf of the world's Islamic Uma. I think not all people share the point of view of Bush's administration. Not all Muslims share the opinion of Osama Bin Laden or Zarkowi. There is an attempt to cause tension between two big civilizations and we became the victims of this war, we were caught in the middle.
- with thanks to Guardian
- with thanks to Stanley B Stillingfleet
MI5, Camp Delta, and the story that shames Britain
Bisher al-Rawi and Jamil el-Banna are among eight British residents who remain prisoners at the U.S. Naval Air Station at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. They are jailed because British officials rendered them into the hands of the CIA in Africa, a fact that may explain why the British government refuses to intercede on their behalf. Bisher and Jamil have been wrongfully imprisoned now for more than three years. This is the story of their betrayal by the British government and their appalling treatment at the hands of the CIA and the U.S. military.
By George B. Mickum - Published: 16 March 2006
The author, a partner with Washington law firm Keller and Hackman, represents Bisher al-Rawi and Jamil el-Banna. This exclusive report is compiled from conversations with his two clients, their declassified letters and declassified legal responses, and information provided by the US Military
Several weeks after 11 September 2001, two MI5 agents arrived at Bisher al-Rawi's family home to recruit him to work for British Intelligence. The visit was part of an effort to recruit scores of individuals from London's Muslim community for reconnaissance work and to assist the war on terror.
In particular, MI5 sought contacts with some of the Muslim clerics preaching in London. Mr al-Rawi was a perfect candidate, educated, fluent in English, and a friend of a Muslim cleric named Abu Qatada. The agents presented identification, introducing themselves to Mr al-Rawi as "Alex" and "Matt". However, they are the same names the agents used throughout the Muslim community in London.
The agents asked Mr al-Rawi wide-ranging questions, which he answered candidly. At the end of the meeting, they asked if would agree to speak to them again.
Two more meetings took place at Mr al-Rawi's family home in London. At the agents' suggestion, Mr al-Rawi started meeting them at a coffee shop in Victoria station. Shortly after, the agents asked Mr al-Rawi to work for MI5 on a more formal basis. He agreed. Over the next nine months, meetings took place in hotel rooms in and around London.
Throughout Mr al-Rawi's relationship with MI5, his agents pressured him to accept payment for his services. He refused all such overtures. The only thing Mr al-Rawi , 38, who is Iraqi born, ever accepted from MI5 was a mobile telephone. He took it to put an end to the agents' demand for him to be contactable.
As his work with MI5 continued, Mr al-Rawi became increasingly alarmed about his relationship with MI5 and his potential exposure. Eventually, he sought assurances from Matt and Alex that his work as an intermediary between MI5 and Abu Qatada would not get him into trouble. Ultimately, he requested a meeting with MI5 and a private attorney, suggesting the human rights lawyer Gareth Peirce. MI5 refused.
To assuage his concerns and convince him to continue working for MI5, the agents set up the first of two meetings with an MI5 lawyer whom they called " Simon". Alex and Matt were present at both meetings. Simon introduced himself to Mr al-Rawi as a lawyer with MI5. He conceded that Simon was not his real name. Simon assured Mr al-Rawi he was running no risk by working with MI5 and that MI5 and Simon himself would come to his aid if Mr al-Rawi found himself compromised. Simon told him that all he needed to do was record the date and time of his conversations with Simon, and MI5 would be able to identify and locate Simon. Mr al-Rawi's refusal to insist on a meeting with a private attorney would have devastating consequences.
Abu Qatada was completely aware of Mr al-Rawi's relationship with MI5. Mr al-Rawi carried questions and answers between the parties, served as a translator, and participated in negotiations with Abu Qatada. "All I did in Britain was try to help with steps necessary to get a meeting between Abu Qatada and MI5. I was trying to bring them together. MI5 would give me messages to take to Abu Qatada, and Abu Qatada would give me messages to take back to them."
It was during this time that Mr al-Rawi's good friend, Jamil el-Banna, a Jordanian British resident, became involved. While the British Government was publicly asserting that Abu Qatada's whereabouts were unknown, Abu Qatada was actively engaged in a dialogue with British officials that involved Mr al-Rawi and Mr el-Banna. Mr al-Rawi asked Mr el-Banna to drive Abu Qatada's wife and son to meet Abu Qatada in London. Mr el-Banna followed Mr al-Rawi, who led the way on his motorcycle. When Abu Qatada was arrested, Mr el-Banna taxied his wife and child home at the request of the British officials on the scene. Mr el-Banna never was arrested: the police thanked him for his assistance. He was never even questioned because everyone was aware of his limited involvement. Based on this involvement, he has been tortured and jailed for three years.
ARREST IN GAMBIA
Mr al-Rawi then turned his energy to his brother Wahab's long-planned mobile peanut oil factory, a project in Gambia.
Gambian authorities detained Mr al-Rawi, Mr el-Banna and their friends immediately after the group landed in Africa. Indeed, shortly after the arrest, Gambian authorities told the arrested group that the British had told them to make the arrests.
There is no question that British officials rendered Mr al-Rawi and Mr el-Banna into the hands of CIA officials in Africa in November of 2002. During one of Mr el-Banna's more than 100 interrogation sessions, his interrogator told him his adopted country had betrayed him
A British citizen, Abdullah El Janoudi, who accompanied Mr al-Rawi and Mr el-Banna to Gambia, confirms that a large American by the name of Lee told him British officials had the group arrested. He also confirms that during the interrogations that took place every two days, the CIA continued to press for incriminating evidence about Abu Qatada that linked him with al-Qa'ida.
In Africa, the CIA had a complete file on Mr al-Rawi that included his hobbies, information that can only have come from British Intelligence. Mr al-Rawi states that "from the very beginning in the Gambia the CIA said, 'The British told us that one of you was helping MI5.' By the second day in the Gambia, they [the CIA] were asking me to work for the US in Britain. I said I would not."
Although Mr al-Rawi's brother Wahab and another friend were released after a month and returned to England, Mr al-Rawi and Mr el-Banna were rendered at the end of 2002 in a CIA Gulfstream jet, one of a fleet of jets used by the CIA in its "extraordinary rendition" programme, in which the US transports victims to foreign countries for the express purpose of torture.
Mr el-Banna's account of his arrest reads:
Detainee: "When they came and arrested and handcuffed me, they were wearing all black. They even covered their heads ... They took me, covered me, put me in a vehicle and sent me somewhere. I don't know. It was at night. Then from there to the airport right away.
Tribunal president: An airport in Gambia?
Detainee: Yes. We were in a room like this with about eight men. All with covered-up faces.
Tribunal president: Were you by yourself at that time?
Detainee: Yes. They cut off my clothes.
Mr al-Rawi and Mr el-Banna were taken to the notorious "dark prison" in Kabul, Afghanistan. There, both men were imprisoned underground in isolation and darkness and tortured over two weeks. They were held in leg shackles 24 hours a day. They were starved, beaten, dragged along floors while shackled, and kicked. Round-the-clock screams from fellow prisoners made sleep impossible.
Subsequently, they were transferred to the US Air Force base at Bagram, Afghanistan. Although they were chained hand and foot and hooded, while waiting to be transported, their captors beat them. Mr el-Banna, in particular, was beaten repeatedly.
In Bagram, they were imprisoned and tortured for another two months. They were beaten, starved, and sleep deprived. What is particularly noteworthy is the fact that the only information the interrogators were interested in was information about Abu Qatada. Over the years, CIA and military interrogators have repeatedly attempted to suborn testimony from both men, linking Abu Qatada to al-Qa'ida. Mr el-Banna has repeatedly refused offers of freedom, money, and passports in exchange for false testimony.
Ultimately, both men were transported to Guantanamo, a trip so harrowing that a government informer, who was posing as a prisoner and had to be transported and treated the same as other prisoners, stated in a television interview that, at the time, he wished someone would shoot him. Forced to wear darkened goggles, face-masks and earphones, chained at the ankles, handcuffed behind their backs with thin plastic that caused incredible pain, and, in some cases, lasting damage, starving and sick prisoners who had been deprived of sleep were forced to maintain a sitting position, legs forward and chained without moving for nearly 24 hours.
If they moved they were beaten, kicked, hit with blunt objects. The government informer lasted barely one month in the intolerable conditions in Guantanamo before demanding freedom. During the first month at Guantanamo in which both were kept in strict solitary confinement, the pair were interrogated six hours per day and kept in the interrogation room for 14 hours per day, sometimes in freezing temperatures to induce hypothermia, one of the many techniques approved for use by the Bush administration. In some cases they were short-shackled, hands behind heels, for the entire time.
During his lengthy incarceration, Mr el-Banna has repeatedly asked his interrogators to administer a polygraph test, but the military has refused. However, the military's unwillingness to give him a lie detector deviates from standard prison policy. Former interrogators at Guantanamo confirm that a "passed" polygraph test is a prerequisite to be transferred to Camp IV, the lowest security prison camp on the base.
Mr el-Banna is in Camp IV. Mr al-Rawi, who also is in Camp IV, had a polygraph administered, but the military has refused to turn over the results and there is no mention of it in records produced by the military.
Indeed, the military has taken great pains to prevent any exculpatory information from creeping into the official records to ensure prisoners have no chance to exonerate themselves. In Guantanamo, Mr al-Rawi has met perhaps 10 different CIA agents. One agent who went by the name "Elizabeth" told him: "Don't think that leaving here will come without a price." Mr al-Rawi said: "She asked me whether I would work with them, and I said no. [She] suggested, 'How about working with MI5?'"
Mr al-Rawi's relationship with MI5 did not end with his arrest. He has met MI5 agents at Guantanamo on numerous occasions. He first met an MI5 agent in the early autumn of 2003, fully shackled. After some perfunctory questions and answers that confirmed his work with MI5, the agent offered him an oblique, belated apology: "Sorry about all this." Several months later, Alex, the MI5 agent with whom Mr al-Rawi worked in London, interrogated him at Guantanamo. Among other things, Mr al-Rawi told Alex the Americans wanted him to work for US intelligence.
In January 2004, Martin and Matt, the other two MI5 agents that Mr al-Rawi worked with in London, met Mr al-Rawi in an interrogation room. During that meeting, agents proposed that Mr al-Rawi return to working with MI5 upon his release. He agreed. The following day, the agents told him it would take them one to six months to get him home.
Former Guantanamo interrogators report that all prisoner interviews with foreign intelligence officials are videotaped. The trial judge in charge of both men's cases granted them motion to preserve that specific evidence along with copious other evidence we have managed to identify.
I advised the men more than one month before I travelled to Guantanamo in September 2004, advising them not to appear before the CSRT (Combatant Status Review Tribunal) or participate in the process. My letters were not delivered until after each had participated in his tribunal. I advised them against participating, among other reasons because the tribunals were permitted to rely on information obtained under torture. Both men were not even permitted to review all the evidence against them, and thus had no chance to defend themselves.
The following testimony from a CSRT proceeding demonstrates the Bush administration's commitment to providing prisoners with meaningful due process. In response to the charge "While living in Bosnia, the detainee associated with a known al-Qa'ida operative" the following colloquy, which could have been lifted from the pages of The Adventures of Alice in Wonderland, took place:
Detainee: Give me his name.
President: I do not know.
Detainee: How can I respond to this?
President: Did you know of anybody who was a member ofal- Qa'ida?
Detainee: No, no.
President: I'm sorry, what was your response?
Detainee: No. If you tell me the name, I can respond and defend myself against this accusation.
President: We are asking you the questions and we need you to respond to what is on the classified summary.
Although both men never were anywhere near Afghanistan or Iraq, never were involved in any wrongful activity, never possessed a weapon of any kind, they were powerless to defend themselves against the charge that they had associated with Abu Qatada, "a known al-Qa'ida operative", even though Abu Qatada has never been charged with any crime or been shown to be a member of or involved in al-Qa'ida. But, the full extent of both men's betrayal by MI5 does not end here.
At the tribunal, Mr al-Rawi testified under oath about his relationship with MI5 and his role as a liaison between MI5 and Abu Qatada. He informed the tribunal that MI5 had expressly approved of his role: "During a meeting with British Intelligence, I had asked if it was OK for me to continue to have a relationship with Abu Qatada. They assured me it was."
Mr al-Rawi requested that the MI5 agents Alex, Matt, and Martin appear before the tribunal to confirm his work with MI5 and Abu Qatada. Very much out of character, the tribunal president recognised the obvious importance of such testimony and "determined that these three witnesses were relevant". He instructed the military prosecutor to make inquiries and to determine whether the British Government would make the witnesses available .
The British Government not only refused to allow the witnesses to appear, it refused to confirm the accuracy of Mr al-Rawi's account, thereby ensuring both men's fate and consigning them to indefinite imprisonment. The following account is taken from Mr al-Rawi's CSRT:
President: Detainee has requested three witnesses who would testify that he supported the British Intelligence Agency. We have contacted the British Government and at this time, they are not willing to provide the tribunal with that information. The witnesses are no longer considered reasonably available, so I am going to deny the request for those three witnesses.
Later in the proceeding, the president issued the following clarification: " The British Government didn't say they didn't have a relationship with you, they just would not confirm or deny it. That means I only have your word."
Mr el-Banna's CSRT hearing was so procedurally defective that it would make good farce were the result not so devastating. The only evidence considered by the tribunal was that he drove Abu Qatada's wife and son to visit him during the time British authorities were engaged in discussions with him. In fact, his CSRT hearing was postponed and reconvened three times on 25 September, 28 September, 2 October and 9 October 2004 to allow the military's prosecuting attorney to collect and present additional evidence to the tribunal.
At the conclusion, Mr el-Banna's personal representative, a soldier and non-lawyer who could be compelled under the CSRT rules to testify against him courageously dissented from the tribunal's conclusion, including a formal statement in the CSRT record: "The personal representative states that the record is insufficient to prove that the detainee is an enemy combatant."
Although Mr al-Rawi disclosed his involvement with MI5 during our first meeting in 2004, he has been loath to go public with this information. But there are few options left available to both men.
Congress voted to ban torture by an overwhelming majority in December 2005, but President Bush signed the bill into law with a clarifying "signing statement" that allows him to ignore it whenever he chooses. Of more immediate concern is Congress's recent legislative reversal of the Supreme Court's decision to allow prisoners at Guantanamo to file petitions for habeas corpus . In response to the passage of the Detainee Treatment Act, the US government moved quickly to dismiss all of the habeas cases filed by prisoners at Guantanamo, including those filed by Mr al-Rawi and Mr el-Banna.
Neither man can return to the UK because their visas have expired. The British Government adamantly refuses to reissue them visas or allow them to return home on humanitarian grounds. If the cases are dismissed, the US military intends to transfer Mr al-Rawi to Iraq and Mr el-Banna to Jordan. There, each will be jailed with the host country's pro-American acquiescence. Recent reconnaissance indicates the US government is negotiating with foreign governments to jail prisoners from Guantanamo indefinitely.
Why the British Government has treated these two men as it has, I cannot say. What seems most likely is that they were simply expendable pawns in Great Britain's and America's attempt to create a case against Abu Qatada
My security clearance allows me to review all of the classified evidence in the cases, including all the evidence the tribunal relied upon to conclude that Mr al-Rawi and Mr el-Banna were enemy combatants. There is no evidence in the record, classified or unclassified, which supports the military's determination that these are enemy combatants. None.
The African business trip that ended in chains and imprisonment
By Robert Verkaik
Jamal el-Banna and Bisher al-Rawi were arrested at Banjul airport, Gambia, in November 2002 on suspicion of links to terrorism.
The two friends were in a party of five businessmen who were trying to start up a peanut oil venture. Two other British nationals detained at the same time were flown home.
The Government argues that Mr al-Rawi, an Iraqi citizen in his late thirties and Mr el-Banna, a Palestinian in his forties, who have both brought up families in Britain, are British residents with limited rights.
After their arrest, the two men were interviewed by the Americans and flown in chains to Bagram in Afghanistan. In early 2003, they were taken to Guantanamo Bay.
Last month Mr Justice Collins ruled that Mr el-Banna and Mr al-Rawi should have their case for judicial review heard in the High Court, and that claims of torture at the camp meant the Government might have an obligation to act. But the Government maintains: "It is only through ... their nationality that persons can ... enjoy the obligations placed on a state by international law." - independent
Attorneys Representing Guantánamo Detainees
React to Shocking Guantánamo Suicide Letter
Just Released by The U.S.
First Guantánamo Suicide Letter Declassified by U.S. Government
Confirms Prior Accounts From Detainee:
"Imprisoned, Tortured and Deprived" for "No Reason or Crime Committed"
Jumaa's Suicide Letter (PDF)15Kb
In New York, onMarch 15, 2006, attorneys representing Guantánamo detainees at the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) reacted to the first detainee suicide letter ever declassified by the U.S. Government, blasting the Bush Administration for driving detainees to suicide through indefinite detentions, mistreatment and torture at the base. The shocking letter by Jumah Al Dossari, a Bahraini national whose attorney found him hanging by his neck in a suicide attempt at Guantánamo in October 2005, describes how the horrific conditions of Jumah's confinement and indefinite detention drove him to try to take his own life. In his letter, Jumah seeks to make his "voice heard by the world from the depths of the detention centers" and implores the "fair people of America to look again at the situation and try to have a moment of truth…"
"This disturbing new letter reveals a man brought to the brink of self-destruction because of the government's inhumane policies of indefinite detention and mistreatment - affecting hundreds of people who have not been accused of a crime or even afforded the most basic due process in court," said CCR Deputy Legal Director Barbara Olshansky.
"Jumah's letter is a haunting reminder of the meeting I had with him just before he slashed and hung himself. Jumah had repeatedly begged us to get him out of isolation. Because our request to the court for this relief was denied on technical grounds, we implored the military to hold Jumah under more humane conditions, and we continue to do so. Our grave fear is that if the military persists in denying our requests, Jumah, who by the military's own count has tried to kill himself ten times in U.S. custody, will not survive Guantanamo," said Joshua Colangelo-Bryan of Dorsey & Whitney LLP, co-counsel with the Center for Constitutional Rights for Jumah.
On March 22, 2006, the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia will hear oral argument relating to the government's motion to dismiss Jumah's case and those of all other Guantanamo detainees.
Sunday, April 2, 2006; 12:00 AM
The following transcripts are from the Combatant Status Review Tribunals at Guantanamo Bay for Jamil el Banna and Bisher al Rawi. The unredacted documents were released March 3 by the U.S. Department of Defense in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by the Associated Press seeking records on detainees in Guantanamo Bay.
El Banna and al Rawi were both recruited by MI5 as informants and later allegedly taken by the CIA to Afghanistan and then to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Both remain in detention in Guantanamo and have been classified as enemy combatants. Their lawyers say there is no evidence that either man posed a security risk or threat to the United States or Britain.
al Rawi Guantanamo Status Review (PDF)
el Banna Guantanamo Status Review (PDF)
* Note: Both men are identified by number in the transcripts; el Banna is ISN #905 al Rawi is ISN#906.
The following documents (PDF) are declassified cables and files from MI5, the British Security Service. They were made public on Monday, March 27, as part of a lawsuit against the British government that is being heard in London. All redactions were made by the British government.
An internal MI5 document dated Oct. 31, 2002 describes efforts by the Security Service to recruit Jamil el Banna, also known as Abu Anas, as an informant. He refused. Eight days later, he and several business partners were taken into custody in the West African nation of the Gambia in an operation coordinated by MI5, the CIA and Gambian security services.A Nov. 1, 2002 cable sent by MI5 to an unspecified foreign intelligence agency, thought to be the CIA, details the arrest at Gatwick Airport in London of Jamil el Banna and Bisher al Rawi. The electronic device in question was later determined by Scotland Yard to be a common battery charger.
A Nov. 4 cable sent by MI5 to an unspecified foreign intelligence agency, thought to be the CIA, includes more details about the upcoming business trip to Gambia as planned by Bisher al Rawi, Jamil el Banna and their business partners.
A Nov. 8, 2002 cable sent by MI5 to a foreign intelligence agency, thought to be the CIA, details the impending arrival of Bisher al Rawi, Jamil el Banna and a business partner in the Gambia. They were taken into custody upon arrival at the airport in Banjul, the Gambia.
A Nov. 11, 2002 cable sent by MI5 includes more details about the men held in detention in the Gambia. Lawyers for Jamil el Banna and Bisher al Rawi deny many of the allegations contained in the document.A Dec. 6, 2002 cable from MI5 confirms that the British government would not offer any sort of legal assistance or protection to Banna and Rawi because they lacked British citizenship, although both had lived in the United Kingdom for many years.
-- Compiled by Craig Whitlock - washington post
Lawyer says Rumsfeld "messed up" Guantanamo trials
By Jane Sutton Fri Apr 7, GUANTANAMO BAY U.S. NAVAL BASE, Cuba (Reuters) -
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his appointees set rules that violate President George W. Bush's order to hold fair trials for prisoners charged with terrorism in the Guantanamo tribunals, a military defense lawyer said on Friday.
"We can't help it that the secretary of defense and his delegees (sic) have messed this thing up, but they have," military lawyer Army Maj. Tom Fleener told the presiding officer at one of the hearings. "If the rules don't provide for a full and fair trial, then they violate the president's order."
Fleener was trying to persuade the presiding officer, Col. Peter Brownback, to let a Yemeni defendant act as his own attorney on charges of conspiring to attack civilians and destroy property. Tribunal rules set by the Pentagon require the defendants to have U.S. military lawyers who are authorized to see secret evidence that the accused may not be allowed to view. Pentagon officials have refused to allow self-representation, which Fleener called a fundamental right in nearly every court on Earth. Fleener was appointed to defend Ali Hamza al Bahlul, an acknowledged al Qaeda member charged with conspiring to commit terrorism by acting as Osama bin Laden's bodyguard and making al Qaeda recruiting videos.
Bahlul refuses to cooperate with any lawyer appointed by the U.S. military. He asked to act as his own attorney or to have a Yemeni lawyer, and declared a boycott when the request was denied during an earlier hearing. He did not attend his hearing on Friday at the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Fleener said Bahlul cannot get a fair trial unless the rules change. "As the world looks at this system, it's going to have no legitimacy whatsoever," he said.
Two other defendants have also asked to act as their own attorneys. The prosecution agrees they should have that right, said the chief prosecutor, Col. Moe Davis.
"Give him the opportunity. If he screws it up, then he had his opportunity," Davis said of Bahlul.
Bush created the tribunals to try foreign terrorist suspects after the September 11 attacks, and directed Rumsfeld and his delegates to draft rules that ensure full and fair trials while protecting national security. The chief prosecutor said those requirements had been met and described some of the angry courtroom complaints from defense attorneys as theatrical performances.
"The presiding officers have bent over backwards to protect the accused," Davis said.
Military defense lawyers [my note: eh?] and human rights groups have called the tribunals fundamentally unfair and stacked to ensure convictions. The U.S. Supreme Court heard a challenge to their legitimacy last month and is expected to rule by the end of June on whether the trials can proceed.
Defense lawyers say other Pentagon rules violate Bush's order, including one that gives only the presiding officer the right to act essentially as judge, rather than all the tribunal members sharing that role.
Ten of the 490 Guantanamo detainees have been charged by the tribunals and would face life in prison if convicted. Four had pretrial hearings this week, including 19-year-old Canadian Omar Khadr, who is accused of murdering a U.S. soldier by throwing a grenade at him in Afghanistan. Khadr threatened on Wednesday to boycott the tribunal to protest his move from group housing to a solo cell where it was more difficult to meet with his lawyers. His attorneys said on Friday they had received assurances from prison camp officials that the move was not punitive. They said Khadr agreed to participate in future proceedings. - yahoo.com
THE PRESIDENT VERSUS DAVID HICKS
A film by CURTIS LEVY and Bentley Dean
UK loses Guantanamo passport case
The home secretary has failed in an attempt to strip an Australian terror suspect held at Guantanamo Bay of his right to British citizenship.
A solicitor for David Hicks, 30, said British diplomats would now have to lobby US authorities for his release. Mr Hicks, a Muslim convert, was captured in Afghanistan in 2001.
The Court of Appeal upheld a High Court decision that there was "no power in law" to deny him his claim for British citizenship.
Born to a British mother who emigrated to Australia, Mr Hicks is from Adelaide. He sought a UK passport in the hope of securing his release. He faces charges of conspiracy to commit war crimes. US authorities have also charged him with attempted murder and aiding the enemy.
Speaking after the Court of Appeal ruling, his solicitor Stephen Grosz said he would be making immediate representations to British officials to take up his client's case. Mr Clarke had argued that Mr Hicks was entitled to British citizenship but said registration could be refused or withdrawn because of any involvement with al-Qaeda.
Mr Hicks' war crimes trial was due to start in November 2005 but a federal judge in the US suspended it while the US Supreme Court examined the legality of military tribunals created to try war crimes suspects.
Britain has managed to get all nine of its nationals held in the US base released. This was after the UK government complained that the system there failed to uphold basic standards of international justice.
The Australian authorities, however, have consistently supported the process and have not lobbied Washington for Mr Hicks's release. Responding to Wednesday's judgment, Amnesty International UK Campaigns director Tim Hancock said the UK authorities "should concentrate on the fact that Mr Hicks and hundreds of others are being held without charge or trial at Guantanamo Bay". "The UK government should be pressing for Mr Hicks to be released if he is not granted a proper trial on the US mainland," he said. "Similarly, the UK authorities ought to be making urgent representations on behalf of eight long-term residents of Britain who are also held at Guantanamo" - BBC.
Army report on al-Qaida accuses Rumsfeld
Julian Borger in Washington - Saturday April 15, 2006 - The Guardian
Donald Rumsfeld was directly linked to prisoner abuse for the first time yesterday, when it emerged he had been "personally involved" in a Guantánamo Bay interrogation found by military investigators to have been "degrading and abusive".
Human Rights Watch last night called for a special prosecutor to be appointed to investigate whether the defence secretary could be criminally liable for the treatment of Mohamed al-Qahtani, a Saudi al-Qaida suspect forced to wear women's underwear, stand naked in front of a woman interrogator, and to perform "dog tricks" on a leash, in late 2002 and early 2003. The US rights group said it had obtained a copy of the interrogation log, which showed he was also subjected to sleep deprivation and forced to maintain "stress" positions; it concluded that the treatment "amounted to torture".
However, military investigators decided the interrogation did not amount to torture but was "abusive and degrading". Those conclusions were made public last year but this is the first time Mr Rumsfeld's own involvement has emerged.
According to a December report by the army inspector general, obtained by Salon.com online magazine, the investigators did not accuse the defence secretary of specifically prescribing "creative" techniques, but they said he regularly monitored the progress of the al-Kahtani interrogation by telephone, and they argued he had helped create the conditions that allowed abuse to take place.
"Where is the throttle on this stuff?" asked Lt Gen Schmidt, an air force officer who said in sworn testimony to the inspector general that he had concerns about the duration and repetition of harsh interrogation techniques. He said that in his view: "There were no limits."
The revelation comes at a critical time for Mr Rumsfeld. He is under unprecedented scrutiny for his management of the Iraq war, after six former generals in quick succession called for his resignation.
The questions reached such a pitch by the end of the week that George Bush took the unusual step of issuing a personal note from Camp David in Mr Rumsfeld's defence. "I have seen first-hand how Don relies upon our military commanders in the field and at the Pentagon to make decisions about how best to complete these missions," the president wrote. "Secretary Rumsfeld's energetic and steady leadership is exactly what is needed at this critical period. He has my full support and deepest appreciation."
And, responding to the generals, Mr Rumsfeld said in an al-Arabiya TV interview yesterday: "If every time two or three people disagreed we changed the secretary of defence, it would be like a merry-go-round." However, in the wake of the inspector general's report, Human Rights Watch said: "The question at this point is not whether secretary Rumsfeld should resign, it's whether he should be indicted. General Schmidt's sworn statement suggests Rumsfeld may have been perfectly aware of the abuses inflicted on Mr al-Qahtani."
The Pentagon also issued a statement in response to publication of the report. A spokeswoman said: "We've gone over this countless times, and yet some still choose to print fiction versus fact. Twelve reviews, to include one done by an independent panel, all confirm the department of defence did not have a policy that encouraged or condoned abuse. To suggest otherwise is simply false."
So far, only junior US officers have been charged and convicted for a string of prisoner abuse scandals since the Bush administration launched its "global war on terror", but rights activists have accused the administration of opening the way for the use of torture in 2002 by relaxing the constraints of the Geneva conventions.
Gen Bantz Craddock, head of Southern Command, overruled the investigators' recommendation that Maj Gen Geoffrey Miller, who ran the Guantánamo camp in 2002, be admonished for the techniques employed. Gen Miller was transferred to Abu Ghraib prison, and took with him his aggressive approach to interrogations.
The investigators found Mr Rumsfeld was "talking weekly" with Gen Miller about the al-Qahtani interrogation. In December 2002, the defence secretary approved 16 harsh interrogation techniques for use on Mr al-Qahtani, including forced nudity, and "stress positions". However approval was revoked in 2003.
Gen Miller insisted he was unaware of details of the interrogation, but Gen Schmidt said he found that"hard to believe" in view of Mr Rumsfeld's evident interest in its progress. Gen James Hill, former head of Southern Command, recalled Gen Miller recommending continuation of the interrogation, saying "We think we're right on the verge of making a breakthrough." Gen Hill then passed on the request to Mr Rumsfeld. "The secretary said, 'Fine,'" Gen Hill remembered.
The US defence secretary has faced many calls to resign over Guantánamo, the invasion of Iraq and abuses at Abu Ghraib prison - but the pressure he faces now comes from a weighty new quarter: six generals recently retired from the military he runs.
Retired general Paul Eaton, who was in charge of training Iraqi security forces, sparked the current round of condemnation in a New York Times article on March 19. On April 2, Anthony Zinni told a TV interviewer the US was "paying the price for the lack of credible planning" in Iraq. Seven days later, Lt Gen Gregory Newbold, a former member of the joint chiefs of staff, tore into the administration's "casualness and swagger... the special province of those who have never had to execute these missions".
On Wednesday, John Batiste, a former infantry commander, added his voice, and on Thursday his colleague John Riggs concurred. Charles Swannack, who commanded the 82nd Airborne Division in Iraq, brought the total to six yesterday, telling the New York Times Mr Rumsfeld had demonstrated "absolute failures in managing the war against Saddam".
Mr Rumsfeld is understood to have offered to resign at least twice while in charge at the Pentagon, but both times President George Bush turned him down.
Pentagon Releases Extensive Gitmo List
By BEN FOX Associated Press - SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) Apr 19, -- The U.S. government released the first list of detainees held at the Guantanamo Bay prison on Wednesday - the most extensive accounting yet of the hundreds of people held there, nearly all of them labeled enemy combatants.
In all, 558 people were named in the list provided by the Pentagon in response to a Freedom of Information lawsuit by The Associated Press. They were among the first swept up in the U.S. global war on terrorism for suspected links to al-Qaida or the Taliban.
Those named are from Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and 39 other countries. Many have been held at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay for more than four years. Only a handful have faced formal charges.
Some names are familiar, such as David Hicks, a Muslim from Australia charged with fighting U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan.
Lesser-known detainees on the list include Muhammed al-Qahtani, a Saudi who reportedly was supposed to be the 20th hijacker in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Although his presence at Guantanamo had been reported, the military had previously declined to confirm it.
Others, such as an Afghan identified only as "Commander Chaman," remain mysterious.
In all, the detainees on the list came from 41 countries. The largest number - 132 - came from Saudi Arabia. Afghanistan followed with 125, then Yemen with 107.
The release of the list, ordered by a federal judge, came amid wide criticism of the almost total secrecy surrounding the Guantanamo Bay detention center, where the United States now holds about 490 detainees.
"This is information that should have been released a long time ago, and it's a scandal that it hasn't been," said Bill Goodman, legal director of the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights, which has helped coordinate legal efforts on behalf of Guantanamo detainees.
The combatant status hearings at Guantanamo Bay were held from July 2004 to January 2005 after the Supreme Court ruled that the detainees had the right to contest their status before a judge or other neutral decision-maker.
All detainees at the prison during that period had such a hearing. Of the 558 detainees who received one, the panels classified 38 as "no longer enemy combatants" and the military later approved the transfer of 28 of those detainees from Guantanamo. A military spokesman said he had no information about the other 10.
The names of many Guantanamo Bay detainees were disclosed publicly for the first time on March 3, when the Pentagon released some 5,000 pages of transcripts to the AP.
More names came in subsequent releases of documents - but always buried within the text of transcripts that often contained only partial information about the detainees.
With the list released Wednesday, which was accompanied by some 500 more pages of transcripts that the Pentagon said it inadvertently omitted from earlier releases, the Pentagon went further than ever in identifying who has been held at the high-security detention center on a U.S. Navy base at the southeastern edge of Cuba.
The new information will help lawyers for detainees and human rights groups who have tried to monitor Guantanamo Bay, said Mark Denbeaux, a law professor at Seton Hall University in New Jersey who has analyzed previous Guantanamo Bay documents released by the Pentagon.
"Lawyers have been asking for this stuff for 2 1/2 years," he said.
- assoc press
Straw demands release of man with MI5 links from Guantánamo
Vikram Dodd - Thursday April 20, 2006 - The Guardian
The British government has formally asked the United States for the release from Guantánamo Bay of a London man who says he was incarcerated after helping MI5 keep track of an alleged Muslim extremist.
The foreign secretary, Jack Straw, has written to his US counterpart, Condoleezza Rice, demanding the release of Bisher al-Rawi, from Kingston-upon-Thames. Mr Rawi has been held by the US at Guantánamo without charge or trial for three years after being arrested in Gambia during a business trip.
The letter from Mr Straw represents a major U-turn for the British government, which had refused to help Mr Rawi, an Iraqi citizen who has been resident in the UK for 17 years.
Mr Rawi took the British government to court last month, claiming he had been helping MI5 to keep track of Abu Qatada, who western intelligence agencies claim provides spiritual support to al-Qaida. Government officials did not deny that Mr Straw's change of heart was to do with Mr Rawi's links with MI5. It is also alleged that British security services passed false information to the US which led to the arrest of Mr Rawi and other men he was travelling with when they arrived in Gambia in 2002.
A Foreign Office spokesman said: "We have written to Condoleezza Rice asking for his release and repatriation to the UK."
Mr Straw and Ms Rice discussed the British view that Guantánamo should close during the US secretary of state's recent visit to Blackburn and Liverpool.
Mr Rawi's lawyer in the US, Brent Mickum, said: "I see this as a positive development. I'm only left to ask the question what took so long. Did they need the judicial challenge to do the right thing?"
locking people away in a gulag - for their own safety...!
US concerned Guantanamo detainees could be mistreated, if released: NY Times
Sun Apr 30, NEW YORK, United States (AFP) - yahoo.com
A long-running effort by the Bush administration to send home many of the terror suspects held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, has been stymied in part because of concern among United States officials that the prisoners may not be treated humanely by their own governments, The New York Times reports.
Citing unnamed officials, the newspaper said the US administration hopes eventually to transfer or release many of the roughly 490 suspects now held at Guantanamo.
As of February, military officials said, the Pentagon was ready to repatriate more than 150 of the detainees once arrangements could be made with their home countries, according to the report.
But those arrangements have been more difficult to broker than officials in Washington anticipated or have previously acknowledged, raising questions about how quickly the administration can meet its goal of scaling back detention operations at Guantanamo, The Times said.
"The Pentagon has no plans to release any detainees in the immediate future," the paper quotes a Defense Department spokesman, Lieutenant Commander Jeffrey Gordon of the Navy as saying.
He said the negotiations with foreign governments "have proven to be a complex, time-consuming and difficult process."
The military has so far sent home 267 detainees from Guantanamo after finding that they had no further intelligence value and either posed no long-term security threat or would reliably be imprisoned or monitored by their own governments.
Most of those who remain are considered more dangerous militants; many also come from nations with poor human rights records and ineffective justice systems, the report said.
High Court rules against ex-UK residents in Guantanamo
London Guantanamo Campaign | 04.05.2006 - IMCUK
High Court today ruled against the application for a judicial review of British government ministers' responsibility to intervene in the cases of Jamil El-Banna, Bisher El-Rawi and Omar Deghayes.
Today, the High Court judges ruled in favour of the government position that they (the government) cannot make
representations on their behalf as they are not British citizens. This does not affect the Foreign Office's decision to make representations on behalf of Mr El-Rawi (which shows that the government could, if it wanted to, do so for the other British residents imprisoned in Guantanamo) and this process is currently underway.
It is more than likely that the High Court decision will be appealed.
who are the detainees?
a Libyan national from Brighton, he came to the UK with his family in 1986 and was granted refugee status in 1987. His family fled Libya after his father, a prominent trade union leader, was arrested and murdered by the Ghaddafi regime in 1980. All of his family have since become British nationals except him. A law graduate, he decided to travel after finishing his studies and went to Afghanistan where he met and married his wife. In the wake of 9/11, he and his family left Afghanistan for Pakistan where they were all captured. His wife and baby were released but Omar was sent to Bagram and then on to Guantanamo. Omar is the victim of mistaken identity: he was mistaken for a Chechen fighter in a video seized by the Spanish authorities. The real combatant in the video's identity has since been verified, yet Omar continues to be detained. In Guantanamo, he has lost sight in his right eye; his eye was poked by a soldier and saturated with pepper spray. Bright neon lights that are kept on continuously hurt his eye. The British government claims that it is for the Libyan government to represent him, yet when he was visited by Libyan officials in Guantanamo, they threatened to kill him if he returned to the country.
a Jordanian national, he was granted refugee status along with his wife in 1997. He has five children, all of whom are British citizens. He was arrested at Banjul Airport in Gambia in November 2002 along with Bisher Al-Rawi; six months later his wife gave birth to a daughter he has never met. Jamil and Bisher were good friends and were nowhere near the combat zone in Afghanistan when they were seized. Events leading up to their arrest started to unfold even before they left the UK for Gambia where they were to meet Bisher's older brother Wahab, a British citizen, to set up a peanut processing factory; they were first detained at Gatwick Airport for carrying a dangerous weapon in their luggage – a battery charger sold on the high street! They were then arrested upon arrival at Banjul Airport. Wahab Al-Rawi and another man, also a British national, were questioned and later released. Jamil and Bisher were questioned and then rendered to Afghanistan for a month. During this time, their families had no idea of where they were. They were then sent to Guantanamo in February 2003. Jamil was tortured in Afghanistan. He has lost a large amount of weight while being detained in Guantanamo; he is also diabetic and has suffered health problems due to inadequate care for his condition. In spite of his legal status in the UK, the British government has not taken any steps to try to secure his release.
an Iraqi national, whose family fled Saddam Hussein's regime after his father was arrested and tortured, he has long enjoyed legal status in the UK. His family has lived in the UK for over 20 years. They are all UK citizens apart from Bisher. The story of his arrest and rendition to Guantanamo is the same as Jamil's.
Ahmed Ben Bacha:
an Algerian who lived in Bournemouth. Little is known about his case.
a Saudi national who came to the UK in 1996. He is married to a British national and has four British children, the oldest of whom is 8 years old.
At the time of his arrest, he was in the process of applying for British nationality. His wife gave birth to his youngest son after his arrest and he has never seen him. While working as a volunteer for a Saudi charitable organisation, he was captured in Afghanistan in January 2002 and was tortured in Afghani jails in Kabul, Bagram and Kandahar before being transferred to Guantanamo. The regime of torture and humiliation has continued at Guantanamo and Shaker currently suffers from many health problems. If returned to Saudi Arabia, it is more than likely that he will be jailed there. Given that he has a wife and children in the UK who are British citizens, there is a strong case for him to be returned here.
The British government has yet to make any representations on his behalf.
a Moroccan national and father of two, he lived in London for 18 years where he worked as a chef, earning a commendation for his work. He travelled to Pakistan in 2001 to start a business venture to raise funds for a desperately-needed heart operation for his son. He was sold by Pakistani bounty hunters to the US military in Islamabad. He was then transferred to jails in Afghanistan before being transferred to Guantanamo. He was kept in solitary isolation as a punitive measure for over two years.
an Ethiopian national, he came to the UK in 1994 where he was granted refugee status. He had gone to Afghanistan to learn about Islam and tried desperately to leave the country after the war broke out; however, his travel documents were stolen and he was seized in Pakistan trying to return to the UK in April 2002. A victim of “extraordinary rendition”, he was rendered to Morocco
where he was tortured for 18 months. He was then returned to jail in Afghanistan for a further five months and was also sent to Bagram before being moved on to Guantanamo in September 2004. In November 2005, he was charged with conspiring to plot terror attacks against the USA; the evidence against him was extracted under torture in Morocco. .
an Algerian refugee granted refugee status in 2000. He was seized in Pakistan.
Albania agrees to resettle five ethinic Uighurs at Guantanamo
May 6, 2006, Washington - monstersandcritics.com/
Albania has agreed to accept five of the 15 ethnic Uighurs from China who are being held at the Guantanamo prison camp at the US naval installation on the island of Cuba, the US State Department said Friday.
The US military long ago determined that the Uighurs, captured in Afghanistan, were no longer a security threat to the United States. But the US government was reluctant to return them to China over concerns they could face religious persecution.
They have been held at the Guantanamo facility, which was built to house prisoners in the war on terrorism, since 2002. The US State Department has been looking for suitable third countries to send the Uighurs.
'The Government of Albania's resettlement of these individuals is an important humanitarian gesture,' State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said. 'The United States government appreciates the assistance of the government of Albania in this important matter.'
Top judge queries Hicks treatment
May 05, 2006 - the australian
THE Northern Territory's chief justice has raised questions about the lengthy detention of Australian David Hicks at Guantanamo Bay, in Cuba.
Adelaide-born Hicks has been held by US authorities at Guantanamo Bay since he was captured in Afghanistan in late 2001. He has pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit war crimes, attempted murder and aiding and abetting the enemy, and is awaiting trial before a US military commission.
"I'm not permitted to enter into debates on political issues, but it is appropriate for me to raise matters for your consideration," Justice Brian Martin said in a wide-ranging address to the Darwin Press Club today. "Since September 2001, the momentum to act proactively against terrorism has grown rapidly and we have reached a point of the introduction of what is loosely called terror legislation. "In the interim we have seen two of our citizens imprisoned in Cuba by our ally, the location having been chosen for the purpose of avoiding compliance with United States law governing the treatment of persons taken into custody. "Whatever one might think about what David Hicks did or didn't do, and we have no idea because evidence has not yet been presented, is it not totally foreign to our understanding of how a civilised community treats persons charged with offences to incarcerate a person for over four years in the conditions to which David Hicks has been subjected?," he asked.
Justice Martin questioned whether it was "excessive" to say Hicks had been caged and treated in a manner most Australians would regard as "utterly unacceptable".
"Where has that precarious balance been struck and why have our political leaders generally defended this treatment?" Justice Martin asked.
"Is it because David Hicks represents an unpopular cause and political purposes and influences prevail in the mind of our leaders? "Where is the strength of leadership that demands and provides fundamental protections for individual members of our community? "Where is the strength of leadership that is prepared to stand up for the rights of those individuals regardless of any issue of popularity?"
Justice Martin said these issues had nothing to do with the "guilt or innocence" of Hicks.
"Other issues, fundamental to our ordered and relatively comfortable way of life are at stake," he said.
Prisoner to become UK citizen
May 7, 2006 - tvnz.co.nz
Guantanamo detainee David Hicks has won the legal right to become a British citizen. The British Court of Appeal has refused further appeals from the British Home Office on the case of the Adelaide-born Hicks. This means the Home Office must resume the process of declaring him to be a UK citizen.
David Hicks's father, Terry, believes Britain will be under pressure to get his son out of the US detention centre at Guantanamo Bay. Hicks has been held by US authorities at the detention centre in Cuba since he was captured with Taliban forces in Afghanistan in late 2001
Britain loses appeal, must act on Hicks
By Annabel Crabb, London Mark Russell -- May 7, 2006 - the age.com.au
THE British Government can no longer legally deny David Hicks his claim for British citizenship.
Lawyers were advised in London late on Friday that the British Court of Appeal has refused to allow any further appeals from the British Home Office in the long-running case.
The news means that the Home Office, which has twice lost to the Hicks legal team, must now resume the process of declaring Hicks to be a UK citizen.
David Hicks' father, Terry, said yesterday the decision was "absolutely brilliant".
The Sunday Age broke the news of the court's decision to Terry Hicks yesterday afternoon while he was watching a local footy game in Adelaide.
Mr Hicks said he expected to be fully briefed on the case by his son's US military lawyer, Michael Mori, late last night. He believes Britain will now be under intense pressure to get his son out of Guantanamo Bay. "It's going to be very, very interesting and I think the British should make overtures to the Americans to release him," Mr Hicks said. "It does give me hope but it depends on whether the British will defend one of their own."
When asked if he was confident his son would finally be released, Mr Hicks said: "After all this time, I never get really confident. The day I'll be confident is when he's standing in front of me here in Adelaide." The news is complicated, however, by the fact that Hicks is now being held in solitary confinement, a measure designed to punish him, according to Mr Mori, for complaining about his conditions.
Moazzam Begg, a British former detainee who spent nearly 20 months in solitary confinement before his release two years ago as part of a deal between the US and British governments, said Hicks would be finding his situation "very draining".
"There is nothing to look forward to, as far as he's concerned," he said. "These are desperate measures that are being taken (by the US military), and I think the British Government is going to continue to try and block this from every angle.
"It's a great irony - he has only been rejected by the British because of where he is, but he only sought British citizenship because he's there."
Hicks is entitled to a British passport because his mother was born in England. The Home Office refused to accept him because of his alleged loyalties to "enemies of Britain", but the High Court last year ruled in Hicks' favour, and the Court of Appeal last month supported that judgement in a three-nil decision. The Home Office sought leave to make a further appeal, but Friday's decision scotches the Government's plans.
A spokeswoman for the Home Office, speaking to The Sunday Age early yesterday, appeared to be unaware of the decision. "When the original ruling came through, we said we were disappointed at that point, so I imagine that would stand," she said.
The Home Office was in uproar on Friday after the sacking of home secretary Charles Clarke by Mr Blair.
The new Home Secretary, Blair loyalist and former defence minister John Reid, refused to comment on any Home Office matters on Friday after his appointment, declaring that he was on a "steep learning curve".
6 Gitmo Inmates Hurt in Fight With Guards
By BEN FOX, Associated Press Writer 19th May 2006 SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -
Prisoners wielding improvised weapons attacked military guards trying to save a detainee pretending to commit suicide at the U.S. prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the base commander said Friday. Six prisoners were injured.
U.S. guards were lured Thursday evening into a dorm-like room at a minimum-security wing of the detention center by a detainee pretending to prepare to hang himself, said Navy Rear Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr.
The guards sought to save the detainee but were pounced on by others wielding broken light fixtures, fan blades and pieces of metal. The detainees were eventually subdued, and six were treated for "minor injuries," Harris said during a news conference.
No guards were injured, he said.
Two detainees in other sections of the prison, where suspected Taliban and al-Qaida supporters are kept, overdosed Thursday on medicines they had been hoarding and were unconscious but stable Friday at a base hospital, Harris said.
The attempted suicides and clash occurred on the same day the military transferred 15 Saudi detainees to their country, leaving about 460 prisoners at Guantanamo. It was unclear if the disturbances were related to the transfers.
The detainees who took part in the clash with guards were moved to higher-security sections.
The medium-security Camp Four, where the clash occurred, houses detainees in dorm-style rooms that hold up to 10 people. Camp Four is for the most compliant prisoners and those who are slated for release.
Those who attempted suicide received medical treatment, the military said. Their names were not released, and military officials declined to speculate about possible motives.
This was the second reported simultaneous suicide attempt at Guantanamo, which holds detainees suspected of links to al-Qaida or the Taliban. The U.S. military said 23 detainees carried out a coordinated effort to hang or strangle themselves in 2003 during a weeklong protest in the secretive camp in Cuba.
There have been previous reports of protests and more minor disturbances at the detention center, including incidents in which detainees hurled urine and other bodily fluids at guards or banged on cell doors for hours at a time. A hunger strike that began in August has involved up to 131 detainees but now has dwindled to a handful.
Word of the clash came as a U.N. panel that monitors compliance with the world's anti-torture treaty called on the United States to close the prison.
There have been 39 suicide attempts at Guantanamo since the prison opened in January 2002, the military said. At least 12 were by Juma'a Mohammed al-Dossary, a 32-year-old from Bahrain.
Joshua Colangelo-Bryan, an attorney for al-Dossary's, said he visited his client last week and saw scars on his throat and the back of his neck from his most recent attempt in March.
Colangelo-Bryan, whose New York-based law firm, Dorsey and Whitney LLP, represents three detainees from Bahrain, said he did not know if any of his clients were involved in Thursday's incident.
The lawyer said the suicides reflect the desperation of detainees held for more than four years with no idea when, or if, they will be released.
"Under these circumstances, it's hardly surprising that people become desperate and hopeless enough to attempt suicide," he said.
US describes intense fight with Guantanamo inmates
By Will Dunham reuters - WASHINGTON-
Ten Guantanamo prisoners lured U.S. guards into a room with a staged suicide attempt, then attacked them with broken light fixtures, fan blades and other improvised weapons before being overpowered, U.S. officials said on Friday.
U.S. officials at the detention center described Thursday night's clash as the most intense outbreak of violence at the jail for foreign terrorism suspects at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, since it opened in January 2002.
Six prisoners were treated for "minor injuries" and none of the U.S. guards was seriously hurt, the officials said.
"The detainees had slickened the floor of their block with feces, urine and soapy water in an attempt to trick the guards. They then assaulted the guards with broken light fixtures, fan blades and bits of metal," said Navy Rear Adm. Harry Harris, who commands the detention operation.
U.S. guards used pepper spray and then blasted the inmates with several shots from a shotgun that fired rubber balls to gain control of the inmates and used an M203 grenade launcher that shot a blunt rubber object, U.S. officials said. The fighting lasted four to five minutes, they said, and the detainees at one point were winning the fight.
U.S. officials said the clash involved 10 inmates and 10 U.S. guards. Earlier in the day, U.S. officials said two other detainees attempted suicide by swallowing pills, and that those two men were unconscious but in stable condition.
The clash took place in Camp Four, a medium-security facility with communal living arrangements, Harris said.
"Detainees at Camp Four have the most privileges and are assigned to the camp when they have demonstrated continuous compliance with camp rules. However, we consider it to be the most dangerous camp because detainees have the opportunity to plan and act out in groups," Harris said in a telephone briefing from Guantanamo.
Harris said U.S. guards had been conducting drug searches ordered after suicide attempts earlier in the day when they saw an inmate at Camp Four apparently preparing to hang himself. Harris said this was actually "a ruse" to get the guards to enter the compound in order to attack them.
"We trained for the possibility that a suicide attempt may be used by the detainees to create an opportunity to conduct an assault, take a hostage or kill the guard. In fact, that was exactly what was going on last night," Harris said.
Human rights activists decry the indefinite detention of Guantanamo detainees and accuse the United States of torture. The Pentagon insists detainees are treated humanely and not tortured, and says many dangerous al Qaeda and Taliban figures are held there.
The Pentagon said "approximately 460 detainees" remain at Guantanamo. Officials said no detainee has ever died there.
Pressure mounts to close Guantanamo after suicides
Mon Jun 12, MIAMI (AFP) - news.yahoo.com
Pressure mounted within the United States and from abroad to shut down the Guantanamo Bay prison camp following the suicides of three "enemy combatant" detainees over the weekend.
A senior senator from President George W. Bush's Republican party criticized the policy of prolonged detentions of hundreds of terror suspects without trial at the US naval facility on Cuba's southeastern tip.
"Those people have to be tried," Arlen Specter, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said Sunday. "There are tribunals established... Where we have evidence they ought to be tried, and if convicted they ought to be sentenced," said Specter, who said some inmates have been detained based on "the flimsiest sort of hearsay."
A senior Senate Democrat, Jack Reed, called for the prison to be permanently shuttered.
"They should as quickly as possible try to close the facility," said Reed, a leading Democrat on military matters. "There has to be a good procedure that balances the need to keep these people off the street with the need to find out who in fact is a terrorist. That hasn't been done yet by the administration," he said.
The suicides Saturday pose a new challenge for President George W. Bush's administration, already under strong pressure to close the camp from critics that include the United Nations, international human rights organizations, European governments and Britain's top legal advisor.
The UN rapporteur on torture said Sunday that the European Union should pressure Bush at an upcoming summit in Vienna to shut the facility down.
The US-EU summit on June 21 "would be an excellent opportunity to demand, and to facilitate, an immediate closing" of the camp, Manfred Nowak told AFP from Washington.
The deaths, which also came amid a prisoner hunger strike, were the first successful suicide bids after repeated attempts by inmates in the camp.
The three detainees who killed themselves hid themselves behind laundry and otherwise tried to keep guards from seeing them take their own lives, The New York Times reported.
"One of the prisoners hanged himself behind laundry drying from the ceiling of the cell, and had arranged his bed to make it look as if he was still sleeping," the newspaper quoted Lieutenant Commander Robert Durand of the Navy as saying. "The other two detainees who committed suicide also took steps to prevent guards from seeing that they had put nooses around their necks," the report cited him as saying.
The "ruse" by inmates "raises questions about how long it took military guards to discover the bodies. Regulations at Guantanamo call for guards to check on each inmate every two minutes," the report said.
Durand said that "there will be an after-action report that will look at whether there was failure of SOPs, or adequate SOPs that were not followed," referring to "standard operating procedures".
The Pentagon identified the three detainees as two Saudis, Mani bin Shaman bin Turki al-Habardi, 30, and Yasser Talal Abdulah Yahya al-Zahrani, 22, and a Yemeni, Ali Abdullah Ahmed, 33, the report added.
White House officials described the three men as committed terrorists, and military officials said that none had been among the handful of prisoners whose cases had been brought before military commissions for prosecution, the report added.
Rear Admiral Harry Harris, the camp's commander, described the suicides as an act of "warfare" meant to draw international attention.
"These are dangerous men and they will do anything they can to do gain support for their cause and the advance of their cause," Harris said.
There have been 41 suicide attempts by about 25 individual detainees but in the previous cases, US medical personnel were able to save them, according to the Pentagon.
A lawyer acting for the families of Saudi nationals held in Guantanamo Bay questioned the US military's account.
"I have informed their families and they do not believe that they have committed suicide and consider them martyrs," Saudi lawyer Kateb al-Shimmari told AFP on Sunday. "We have great doubts over the US version of the story because they were being held in extraordinary circumstances and were under 24-hour surveillance."
Bush expressed "serious concern" after learning about the suicides, said White House spokesman Tony Snow.
The US president had said Friday that he hoped to "empty" Guantanamo by sending some detainees home and trying the most dangerous in US courts.
Some 460 prisoners are being held at the prison. Only 10 have been formally charged since the camp opened in early 2002.
Human rights groups said the deaths showed the inmates were in a state of despair because of the indefinite nature of their detention.
"Holding people indefinitely without access to family, regular legal process, or independent medical care, is an invitation to disaster," said Elisa Massimino, Washington director of Human Rights First.
On June 4 Guantanamo officials said the number of prisoners on a hunger strike had fallen to 18, from a peak of 89 on June 1.
for more on the guantanamo situation see below