of Closing, Gitmo to Receive Major Upgrades
Set for Major Modernization Project for Prison by Jason
Ditz, March 21, 2013
was supposed to be closed by now, indeed President Obama promised to
have it closed four years ago. but with Guantanamo Bay still there,
and still full of detainees who the administration now seems
comfortable keeping forever without charges or a trial, it is facing
Obama administration bungled its effort to close Gitmo early in the
president's first term, and a bipartisan revolt in Congress over the
possibility of bringing detainees to US soil, even for trial or
imprisonment, led to extremely tight restrictions that slowed the
rate of detainees leaving the prison to a crawl. Although closing
Gitmo was likely impossible already, the fact that Fried's position
is not being filled is an acknowledgement by the White House that one
of Obama's key campaign promises is now out of reach. At
least fifty-five of
the remaining 166 detainees at Gitmo have been cleared for
at Guantanamo has been well documented. As Susan Crawford, the Bush
Administration’s top official for reviewing practices at
in January of 2009 , “ We
tortured [Mohammed al-] Qahtani… His treatment met the legal
definition of torture.” The
military's own document show that he was "was forced to wear a
woman's bra and had a thong placed on his head during the course of
his interrogation" and "was told that his mother and sister
were whores." With a leash tied to his chains, he was led around
the room "and forced to perform a series of dog tricks…”
the torture and abuse go well beyond the case of Mohammed al-Qahtani.
The types of torture at Guantanamo documented include:
positions (forcing prisoners to stand or crouch for hours)
abuse (female interrogators pretending to rub menstrual blood on a
chained prisoner’s face, e.g.)
by music (ear‐splitting music for hours on end, which has been
proven to induce states of psychosis in prisoners after just a few
Deprivation (sometimes for weeks on end, another tactic known to
induce psychosis in prisoners)
beard shaving (a form of religious humiliation that was also used on
religious Jews by Nazi soldiers)
of rendition, and threats against prisoners’ families.
ON OBAMA'S WATCH:
than 10 years have passed since the first prisoner arrived in
Guantánamo Bay, making it the longest-standing war prison in U.S.
history. Almost 800 men have passed through Guantánamo’s
cells. Today, 166 men remain. Fashioned as an “island
outside the law” where terrorism suspects could be detained without
process and interrogated without restraint, Guantánamo has been a
catastrophic failure on every front. It is long past time for
this shameful episode in American history to be brought to a close. M
than a decade on, we are stuck in a multi-branch quagmire, where no
arm of government is willing to act to end Guantánamo’s blight on
our reputation and our security. All must change tack, and Guantánamo
Supreme Court must define the scope of war-time detention, and
ensure that the right to habeas corpus is a meaningful one that
tests, and does not endorse, the government’s case.
must lift the unnecessary restrictions on transfer and release from
Guantánamo, particularly for the 86 men whom our security services
and military have unanimously determined should be released.
the president must show the courage of his previously-stated
convictions and either prosecute the other 77 men in federal court,
if there is untainted evidence against them, or set them free (the 3
remaining prisoners were convicted by deeply flawed military
are men there who have been cleared of all charges and are not being
released. There are others who have been in legal limbo, with
no court date in sight, for years. All while we live with a
second term president who promised to close Gitmo in his first term,
and seems to be doing nothing on the issue now."
short, President Hope and Change is overseeing a prison system
that has what we *know* are innocent men behind bars, whom we
simply can’t be bothered to release, along with other men whom we
can’t be bothered to find out if they are worthy of prison or not.
They are guilty of being swarthy and Muslim, but beyond that, we
don’t know and don’t care. So these forgotten prisoners, in
their desperation, are hunger striking. I
of a piece, of course, with this Administration’s method of dealing
with ”terror”: blow up weddings and funerals
and deliberately murder women and children on the theory that
some of them may be terrorists. Afterwards, declare them
terrorists and nobody will be the wiser.
a report for Thursday's NBC Today ,
investigative correspondent Michael Isikoff reported on plans for a
$150 million renovation of the Guantanamo Bay prison still housing
166 terror detainees and sympathetically described how "despite
improvements in recent years" of the facility, "the
detainees' hopes of getting released were crushed when President
Obama stopped talking about closing it."
watch the video after the jump ]
noted that some of the detainees were "engaged in a hunger
strike...as an attempt to regain attention." A sound bite played
of new the commanding general of the prison expressing his
frustration with President Obama: "Nothing in the inauguration
speech about closing it. Nothing in the State of the Union. You know,
he's not re-staffing the office that was, you know, focused on
closing or transferring."
forwarded the Obama administration defense: "White House
officials say they're still committed to closing Gitmo as the
President once promised....But they say their hands are tied by
He then described some of the planned
spending on the prison: "General Kelly wants to spend tens of
millions for a new guard barracks, dining hall, and legal conference
center. The Pentagon is already spending $40 million for an
underwater fiberoptic cable to pipe video of the military commission
hearings of the 9/11 hijackers. As one defense lawyer said, 'Gitmo
seems to be the one place they don't care about spending money.'"
100 Guantánamo Hunger Strikers
Protest Cruelty of Indefinite
raise flags about prisoners' deteriorating health and worsening
Lauren McCauley, staff writer
100 prisoners in Guantánamo Bay's Camp 6 have reportedly joined in
protest of the worsening conditions amidst the "crushing
reality" of indefinite detention.
to the worsening "humanitarian crisis" at the prison,
members from the Center
for Constitutional Rights (CCR)
testified at a hearing Tuesday before the international human rights
body, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), "marking
the first time since President Obama’s re-election that U.S.
officials were confronted with questions about Guantánamo and its
future in a formal public setting."
light of the humanitarian crisis unfolding at Guantanamo, it is
indefensible that the U.S. government failed to answer the
Commission’s simple questions about how it plans to close the
prison camp," CCR said in a statement released
Tuesday. Representatives before the IACHR testified on issues
including the "grave psychological impact of indefinite
detention, the deaths of men at Guantánamo, the lack of access to
fair trials, and illegitimate U.S. policies that restrict the closure
of the prison, including the blanket ban on repatriating Yemeni men."
within the prison have grown as well, with reports of over a hundred
men having joined the hunger strike now in its fifth week.
Kebriaei, an attorney with CCR representing Yemeni detainee Ghaleb
Al-Bihani, said ,
"My client and other men have reported that most of the
detainees in Camp 6 are on strike, except for a small few who are
elderly or sick."
by concern over the failing health of the striking detainees, twelve
attorneys sent a letter (pdf)
last week to the commander of Guantánamo, Rear Admiral John Smith,
denouncing "a matter that appears to be rapidly deteriorating
and reaching a potentially critical level."
have received reports of men coughing blood, being hospitalized,
losing consciousness, becoming weak and fatigued," said the
Gitmo Prisoners Revolt, Obama Administration Challenged
Indefinite Detention at OAS Hearing
more than 100 Guantánamo Bay prisoners enter the fifth week of their
hunger strike, the Obama administration has defended their detention
at a hearing before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. A
number of prisoners have been held without charge for more than 11
years, and more than half have been cleared for release. Attorneys
for the prisoners told the hearing that the lack of hope for release
among those who do not face charges has created a climate of
speak to Kristine Huskey, director of the Anti-Torture Program for
Physicians for Human Rights and one of the first attorneys to
represent Guantánamo detainees. The author of "Justice at
Guantánamo: One Woman’s Odyssey and Her Crusade for Human
NERMEEN SHAIKH: We
continue now with our look at detainees held indefinitely at the U.S.
military prison in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, as we turn to a hearing
that took place Tuesday before the Inter-American Commission on Human
Rights. Attorneys for the prisoners warned the lack of hope for
release among those who do not face charges has created a climate of
despair. This is Center for Constitutional Rights attorney Omar Farah
speaking before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in
OMAR FARAH: I
represent Tariq Ba Odah, for example. He’s a young Yemeni man who’s
been on an uninterrupted hunger strike since February 2007. He is
force-fed daily by Guantánamo guard staff. In fact, as we speak,
it’s likely that he’s being removed from his cell, strapped to a
restraint chair, and a rubber tube is being inserted into his nose to
pump a liquid dietary supplement into his stomach. Quite simply,
Tariq says this is the only way that he has to communicate to those
of us who have our freedom what it means to be unjustly detained, to
be put in a cell for a decade without charge. It’s his only way to,
in fact, communicate the barbarism of such conduct.
I’d like to conclude by addressing the state directly. In light of
the moral challenge that Tariq Ba Odah and the other prisoners at
Guantánamo present; in light of the existential torment that
indefinite detention creates for Guantánamo prisoners and the
physical risks that it poses; in light of the fact that the state
itself has conceded that more than half of the prisoners, the state
no longer has an interest in detaining, through the clearances that
my colleague just described; in light of the fact that nine prisoners
have died at Guantánamo in U.S. custody—and after 11 years, when
is enough enough?
Hunger Strike Continues - No Legal Basis for Holding Prisoners
Ratner: The Obama Admin. is responsible for the continued
imprisonment of men who were found not to have been involved in any
crime or act of war - March
Michael, I don't get--according to the Obama administration, what is
the legal basis for keeping people who have been cleared in jail?
the answer is: there is no legal basis, none at all. Under even their
worst legal scenarios that they make up, they're obviously--if they
were prisoners under criminal law, they're not charged with anything,
they should be out. If they were held under the laws of war as, you
know, prisoners of war or captives in a war, then they could be held
to the end of war. But they're not being held as that, because
they're not considered to be combatants or captives. They were
cleared of any of that. So there's no reason under military law. And
there's no reason under what we call the third way, the U.S. idea
that it can pick up terrorists--quote, "terrorists"--anywhere
in the world and hold them indefinitely. They're not under that
So there is
absolutely no legal basis. The courts know there's no legal basis.
The courts have on occasion ordered them to be released, that they're
ignored by the administration. The administration says it rules where
people go. Congress has now gotten in the act, saying they have to be
certified. As I said, the second basis for releasing them would be a
certification. Obama has not done that and hasn't done that.
reason they have been held up is a number of them are from Yemen.
Perhaps half of them are from Yemen. Yemen is a country, according to
our government, that's unstable, that has problems. And even though
56 of the cleared people are from Yemen and have been cleared,
they're not being sent to Yemen. Obama put a moratorium on sending
anyone to Yemen, even though they're as innocent as you and I going
to Yemen. Somehow they fear that if they go to Yemen, they'll become
terrorists or something like that. I don't know. But there's a
moratorium on Yemen.
So if you
look at the three things, it's Obama's weakness, it's Congress, which
made it difficult and requires a certification, which Obama has so
far not been willing to do, and there's Obama having a moratorium on
sending people to Yemen.
So here we
sit with 186 people [sic] at Guantanamo, 86 on no charges, and the
world should be screaming. I mean, I don't understand it. And the
question is: what are we going to do about it?
is some activity. There's--the Center for Constitutional Rights has a
number of actions on the website. But also, starting on March 24,
there's a one-week hunger strike here in solidarity in the United
States and around the world. The group is called Witness Against
Torture. Their website is WitnessTorture.org .
And you can go to that site. There's a number of actions you can
take, including joining in a seven-day hunger strike, or even missing
a meal, certainly writing letters and all of that, but actually
showing your outrage.
I mean, we
used to ask ourselves--and, of course, it's not close to what
happened in places like Germany or Chile or other places, but where
was the population while this was going on, while a human outrage is
going on? And each of us has to ask ourselves. People stranded and
left forever in an offshore prison, and the United States population
and its media is completely passive about it.
Thanks for joining us, Michael.
Thanks for having me, Paul.
And thank you for joining us on The Real News
Must Answer Tough Questions on Drones
Sharon Singh, firstname.lastname@example.org ,
Johnson, director of Amnesty International USA's Security with Human
Rights campaign, issued the following statement in advance of U.S.
Attorney General Eric Holder's appearance in front of the U.S. Senate
Judiciary committee scheduled for Wednesday, March 6: Z
have a great opportunity on Wednesday to ask Attorney General Holder
tough questions about the administration's legal rationale for drone
killings and embrace of indefinite detention at Guantanamo. Doing so
would be a concrete step toward ensuring no person — U.S. citizen
or anyone else — is unlawfully killed or illegally detained.
bottom line is that the Obama administration's policies on 'targeted
killing' and indefinite detention rest on the fundamentally flawed
"global war" legal theory that ignores human rights law and
does not comply with the international legal definition of armed
is incumbent on Mr. Holder to fully answer why and how U.S.
authorities will remedy this problem, not in sound bites or
generalities, but in concrete ways that change the United States'
course on human rights."
a list of the top five questions that Attorney General Holder must
answer, please visit Zeke Johnson's latest blog or
go to www.amnestyusa.org .
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And Checkout The Alliance Community Action Calendar
BREAKING NEWS AT THE ALLIANCE:
SYSTEM GRAVELY BROKEN:
RESPONSES TO CHASSE DISCIPLINE REVERSAL
The two officers who had been disciplined in the brutal beating death of James Chasse, Jr. were ordered to have their
records expunged and back payments made for the 80 hours each was suspended.
As long as we continue without police accountability in Portland,
avoidable killings of innocent people will continue.
For all we can know
The Universe begins and ends
in each of us,
in the reach of our own hands.
~From Time on Our Hands, by Max Linden Levy
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