By Richard Norton-Taylor and Nicholas Watt in The Guardian – Boris Johnson has placed himself at the head of cross-party group, including a former Tory attorney general and a Labour leadership contender, who are calling on Barack Obama to secure the release of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident held in Guantánamo Bay. In an intervention timed to coincide with US Independence Day, six former cabinet ministers have joined leading writers, actors, directors, musicians to warn the White House that the continued detention of Aamer is undermining US standing in the world. The Saudi-born Aamer was seized by bounty hunters in Afghanistan and handed over to US forces in December 2001. Two months later, he was rendered to the US military prison on Cuba. US authorities have made it clear that they have no intention of charging him.
By Robert C. Koehler in CommonWonders. Guantanamo Bay – Whatever details about the torture program remain classified and buried, these stories, along with plenty of shocking photographs, are fully public. There’s enough data here to open a deep conversation about what it means to be a nation and what the limits of power ought to be. What I see instead is a sort of official resignation — on the part of media and government — to the inevitability of out-of-control power in the pursuit of self-defense. Philip Zimbardo called this phenomenon the Lucifer Effect: the utterly corrupting nature of total power over others. Reports of CIA torture are rife with observations that the interrogators were out of control. The information they sought from the utterly powerless detainees in their keep was a treasure to be extracted, like oil or diamonds from the bowels of the earth, and no technique was too inhumane, too morally odious, to achieve that end. Call it human fracking. It’s for the good of America.
By Carol Rosenberg for the Miami Herald. U.S. troops delivered six long-held Yemeni prisoners from Guantánamo for resettlement in the Arabian Sea nation Oman on Friday, the Pentagon said early Saturday, resuming transfers that had been stalled for months. The mission reduced the detainee population at the prison camps to 116 captives, 51 cleared for transfers with security assurances from the nation taking them in. Among those released was Emad Hassan, 35, whose lawyers said had been on the prison hunger strike since 2007, and failed to get a judge to stop his forced-feedings. Hassan, captured in Pakistan in March 2002, became a devotee of the “Game of Thrones” series and Dan Brown novels from the prison library, according to his attorney Alka Pradhan. All six had been cleared for release for at least five years. None was ever charged with a crime. All were taken to the prison camps in the summer of 2002.
The recent revelation about Chicago police detaining American citizens at “black sites,” along the lines of Guantanamo Bay, is sparking fury among a wide range of people, from conservatives who hold dear the constitution, to anarchists, and everyone in between. The Constitution violating Homan Square is located in a warehouse on Chicago’s west side, and shares more similarities with Abu Ghraib than most American’s should be comfortable with. It was also recently reported that large numbers of military police officers, who were formerly stationed at the infamous torture prisons, are now getting jobs as local cops, and could be coming to a town near you. The Worcester Police department in Massachusetts is testing a pilot program, in which former Guantanamo prison guards will be given jobs as police.
The 9/11 trial judge abruptly recessed the first hearing in the case since August on Monday after some of the alleged Sept. 11 plotters said they recognized a war court linguist as a former secret CIA prison worker. Alleged plot deputy Ramzi bin al Shibh, 42, made the revelation just moments into the hearing by informing the judge he had a problem with his courtroom translator. The interpreter, Bin al Shibh claimed, worked for the CIA during his 2002 through 2006 detention at a so-called “Black Site.” “The problem is I cannot trust him because he was working at the black site with the CIA, and we know him from there,” he said.
The Washington, DC based Hands Up Coalition DC along with Witness Against Torture delivered coffins at its weekly ‘Justice Monday Vigil’ to the US Department of Justice and the DC Metro Police Headquarters on January 12, 4:00 PM. The two groups brought coffins marking the deaths of three African-Americans killed by police to the doors of the Justice Department. The coffins highlighted the deaths of two mentally ill African Americans recently killed in police custody, Tanisha Anderson and Matthew Ajibade. The protest honored the life of unarmed Emmanuel Okutuga killed by police. After marching and rallying at the US Department of Justice the groups marched to the DC Metropolitan Police Headquarters. Members of Witness Against Torture went inside the building and obstructed the entrance 28 minutes, in recognition that a person of color is killed by police or vigilantes every 28 hours in the United States. They recited the names of dozens of victims of police violence and spoke the words of men indefinitely detained in Guantánamo Bay calling for justice. Activists from the Hands Up Coalition DC stood outside chanting and singing.
This event was part of the Witness Against Torture week of actions in Washington, DC seeking to shut down Guantanamo Bay and end torture. Two protesters were arrested at the McLean, Virginia, home of former Vice President Dick Cheney on Saturday after 20 demonstrators, some in orange prison jumpsuits, walked onto his property to mark the 14th anniversary of the opening of Guantanamo Bay prison. The protesters from the anti-war group Code Pink walked up to the house before police arrived and asked them to leave, said Fairfax County police spokesman Roger Henriquez. Two members who refused to go were arrested on trespassing charges, he said. Police identified the two as Tighe Barry, 57, and Eve Tetaz, 83, both of Washington DC. The pair face misdemeanor charges of trespassing and disorderly conduct, police said. Another Code Pink group demonstrated without incident outside the home of CIA Director John Brennan, also in the Washington, D.C. suburb of McLean, as part of its “Guantanamo Anniversary Weekend Torturers Tour.”
Three Yemenis and two Tunisians, who had each been cleared for release years ago, were released from Guantanamo Bay prison on December 30. They were sent to Kazakhstan and their release brought the number of prisoners who remain in detention to 127. According to Carol Rosenberg of The Miami Herald, Abdullah Bin Ali al Lutfi, a 48 year-old Tunisian, Adel al Hakeemy, a 49 year-old Tunisian, Asim Thahit Abdullah al Khalaqi, a 46 year-old Yemeni, Mohammed Ali Hussain, a 36 year-old Yemeni and Sabri Muhammed Ibrahim al Qurashi, a 44 year-old Yemeni, were resettled. The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), which has represented various Guantanamo prisoners, reacted, “We are encouraged by additional transfers and resettlements and hope they will continue until all Guantánamo prisoners the administration does not intend to charge are freed.”
The U.S. military overnight transferred six Guantánamo detainees to Uruguay. All of them had been imprisoned since 2002 – more than 12 years. None has ever been charged with a crime, let alone convicted of any wrongdoing. They had all been cleared for release years ago by the Pentagon itself, but nonetheless remained in cages until today. As the great Miami Herald Guantánamo reporter Carol Rosenberg notes, there are – six years after Obama was elected on a pledge to close the camp – still 136 detainees there, with 67 of them cleared for release (Democrats’ claims that Obama is largely blameless are false and misleading in the extreme, as are claims that no country will accept detainees).
We wanted to let you know that our annual fast for justice in Washington D.C. is just about a month away. We hope that you are making your arrangements to join us in DC. This January 11th, 2015, marks 13 years of torture and indefinite detention. Right now 142 men remain, 73 of whom have been cleared for release but remain held without charge or trial. You are receiving this email because you have been a important participate in the past and wanted to let you know about the details of our activities. This year, we will be gathering from January from Monday, January 5th until Tuesday January 13th, to fast in solidarity with the men at Guantánamo. We would like you to consider two things as we approach our time together: 1) Are you coming to some or all of the Fast 2) Consider becoming on of the 73 who are risking arrest on January 12th.
The United Nations issued a report on torture by the United States and it should be quite an embarrassment to every American. Not only is the US violating international laws against torture in its military actions and treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo, but the report also criticized the violation of US laws against torture. The report noted the widespread police brutality common in the United States and the lack of accountability for police who mistreat people. The report also criticized the mistreatment of prisoners held in solitary confinement as well as botched executions. The UN also concerns over the mistreatment of immigrants, expedited deportation without adequate due process and lack of adequate protection for asylum seekers. . The report is an indictment of government in the United States at every level. The UN criticized the United States for not cooperating with the investigation and providing full information.
A man held at the Guantánamo Bay prison for nearly 13 years without charge has been transferred to his home country of Kuwait. The Department of Defense made the announcement of his release Wednesday. Thirty-seven-year-old Fawzi al Odah is the first man to be released based on the assessment of the Periodic Review Board, a body established in 2011 through an executive order and tasked with evaluating the merits of ongoing detention for Guantánamo prisoners. Agence France-Presse reports that in 2001, Odah “was seized by tribesmen in northern Pakistan, who sold him to the Pakistani army, which in turn handed him over to the United States.” The transfer agreement requires al Odah to spend at least a year at a rehabilitation facility, according to reporting by the Associated Press.
On Monday October 6 a trial will begin in which attorneys for Wa-ei Dhiab will seek a stop to the brutal forced-feeding of men at Guantánamo protesting their indefinite detention and abuse at the prison. Witness Against Torture is calling for a public presence at the courthouse to demand an end to forced-feeding and the closing of Guantánamo. Dhiab is a Syrian man held without charge or trial at Guantánamo since 2002 and cleared for release in 2009 by the US government. He has, according to his attorneys, been forcibly extracted from his cell and force-fed as many as three times a day since the start of the most recent Guantanamo hunger strike in the winter/spring 2012. Dhiab’s lawsuit seeks an end to forced-feeding. Justice Gladys Kessler, who is hearing the case, has described forced-feeding at the prison as “painful, humiliating, and degrading.” The lawsuit is our best chance to have the courts do what President Obama has been unwilling to do — end forced-feeding.
Few realize how expensive it is to keep Guantanamo Bay prison operational. The Joint Task Force (JTF) detention center, which opened in 2002, costs US taxpayers $140 million a year, breaking down to about $800,000 per detainee. The JTF was never meant to be permanent, yet twelve long years after the first round of prisoners arrived, 149 prisoners remain detained there indefinitely. The oft repeated lie that these men are the “worst of the worst” has clouded the reality that the vast majority are completely innocent, and were simply swept up in a dragnet in Afghanistan. 78 have already been deemed innocent and cleared for release, yet pure political theater keeps them imprisoned.
Citing President Obama’s major 2013 counter terrorism speech, wherein he acknowledged that a US drone had targeted and killed a U.S. citizen (Anwar Al-Awlaki) and where the President was forced to discuss GITMO because, “it was the height of a hunger strike and it attracted attention around the world.” In that speech, Leopold notes, Obama lifted a moratorium, “that he put into place and here we are year later and there have been no Yemeni’s released. As we saw with the swap with the Taliban of the five prisoners for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, that was a fight he was willing to wage with Congress.”