A Sham and a Shame to Our Nation

December 1, 2007 at 7:01 am | Posted in Gitmo, Law, Torture | 1 Comment

So one trial of a Guantanamo Bay Camp X-ray detainee is about to go forward. But look at what a sham it is, and in the end, a shame to our nation and to the rule of law. Tyranny now rules here.

Defense lawyers preparing for the war crimes trial of a 21-year-old Guantánamo detainee have been ordered by a military judge not to tell their client — or anyone else — the identity of witnesses against him, newly released documents show.

The case of the detainee, Omar Ahmed Khadr, is being closely watched because it may be the first Guantánamo prosecution to go to trial, perhaps as soon as May.

Defense lawyers say military prosecutors have sought similar orders to keep the names of witnesses secret in other military commission cases, which have been a centerpiece of the Bush administration’s policies for detainees at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

Some legal experts and defense lawyers said the judge’s order, issued on Oct. 15 without public disclosure, underscored the gap between military commission procedures and traditional American rules that the accused has a right to a public trial and to confront the witnesses against him.

Defense lawyers say the order would hamper their ability to build an adequate defense because they cannot ask their client or anyone else about prosecution witnesses, making it difficult to test the veracity of testimony.

One of the centerpieces of the rule of law is the right to confront the witness against you, to challenge the witness. After all, if the witness is lying, then the whole case against you is false. How can we possibly believe that this, and other like cases, can be trusted to protect the innocent? Or do some Americans really believe that NO ONE in Guantanamo is innocent? If that is the case, why do we even have them there? Why not just execute them and stop pretending?

A Step in the Right Direction in Australia

November 24, 2007 at 5:37 am | Posted in Australia, Cheney, corruption, David Hicks, Gitmo, Torture | 2 Comments

Looks like Howard will lose in Australia. This is a good sign, a step in the right direction for Australia and the world. Too long have Bush supporters held many nations hostage.


(courtesy of AFP: Torsten Blackwood)

Why is Australia important? Because of David Hicks. Who is he? He was an Australian caught in Afghanistan, sent to Guantanamo Bay, tortured, and then, magically, released to Australia this April with a gag order that he not speak until AFTER THE ELECTION, which just took place. As Andrew Sullivan wrote in April:

So Cheney goes to Australia and meets with John Howard who tells him that the Hicks case is killing him in Australia, and he may lose the next election because of it. Hicks’s case is then railroaded to the front of the Gitmo kangaro court line, and put through a “legal” process almost ludicrously inept, with two of Hicks’ three lawyers thrown out on one day, then an abrupt plea-bargain, with a transparently insincere confession. Hicks is then given a mere nine months in jail in Australia, before being set free. Who negotiated the plea-bargain? Hicks’ lawyer. Who did he negotiate with? Not the prosecutors, as would be normal, but Susan J. Crawford, the top military commission official. Who is Susan J. Crawford? She served as Dick Cheney’s Inspector General while he was Defense Secretary….

It was a political deal, revealing the circus that the alleged Gitmo court system really is. For good measure, Hicks has a gag-order imposed so that he will not be able to speak of his alleged torture and abuse until after Howard faces re-election. Yes, we live in a banana republic. It certainly isn’t a country ruled by law. It is ruled by one man and his accomplice.

Thankfully though, the Australian newspapers brought up this deal over the past month, just before Howard’s attempt to get reelected without an actual accounting of what happened to this poor pawn.

Cheney, Howard ‘did deal on Hicks’

US Vice-President Dick Cheney agreed to a deal with Prime Minister John Howard to release former Guantanamo Bay detainee David Hicks, a US media report says.

The report, published in Harper’s Magazine, cites an unnamed US military officer saying that a military staffer was present when Mr Cheney interfered directly to seal Hicks’s plea bargain deal.

“He [Mr Cheney] did it, apparently, as part of a deal cut with [Australian Prime Minister] Howard,” the unnamed source is quoted as saying.

“I kept thinking: this is the sort of thing that used to go on behind the Iron Curtain, not in America.

“And then it struck me how much this entire process had disintegrated into a political charade. It’s demoralising for all of us.”

After five years of detention in Guantanamo Bay, a deal was sealed for 32-year-old Hicks to serve a nine-month prison sentence in Australia, subject to him pleading guilty to a charge of providing material support for terrorism.

Hicks agreed to the deal in March and is now due for release from Adelaide’s Yatala Prison at the end of the year.

After the deal was announced, Mr Howard denied any involvement in the plea bargain.

“We didn’t impose the sentence, the sentence was imposed by the military commission and the plea bargain was worked out between the military prosecution and Mr Hicks’ lawyers,” Mr Howard said in March.

Mr Howard also rejected claims by Australian Greens leader Senator Bob Brown in March that the Prime Minister wanted Hicks not be released until after the election.

Howard and Cheney in ‘iron curtain’ deal

We haven’t heard much about ex-Guantanamo Bay inmate David Hicks since he returned to Australia — thanks largely to the gag order imposed on him until the election is safely out of the way.

Until now, the strategy has worked a treat. Hicks has been out of sight and out of voters’ minds.

Whether the issue still has any traction could be tested with the allegation in Harper’s magazine that US Vice President Dick Cheney orchestrated Hicks’ early release — for John Howard. The piece quotes a US military officer, according to news.com.au:

“One of our staffers was present when Vice-President Cheney interfered directly to get Hicks’ plea bargain deal,” the unnamed officer told Harper’s magazine…
“He did it, apparently, as part of a deal cut with Howard.
“I kept thinking: this is the sort of thing that used to go on behind the Iron Curtain, not in America. And then it struck me how much this entire process had disintegrated into a political charade. It’s demoralising for all of us.”
In a sense, news of a possible interference is hardly a shock. When Cheney visited Australia in February, Howard was very keen to see Hicks’ trial brought forward, and applied pressure to the VP accordingly, noting “I have asked that within the constraints of the separation of powers in the United States system between the executive and the judicial process, the trial be brought on as soon as humanely possible with no further delay.”

Those constraints melted away with surprising ease due to the unusual plea deal orchestrated by Cheney protege and US military convening authority at Guantanamo, Susan Crawford. With the stroke of a pen (literally), and apparently without consulting the prosecution, she wiped out Hicks’ charges (as reported by Crikey at the time).

But Cheney distanced himself from the Hicks process during his Australian visit. “We can’t interfere with that process,” he said. “It’s a judicial process. We can’t influence it. That would be a violation of the procedure.”

He then added. “But I do expect that in the not too distant future that … will get resolved. I can assure you we will be doing everything we can to deal with these matters in as expeditious manner as possible.”

The Harper’s allegations are not a good look for Cheney, who has a reputation for getting employees (or former staffers) to do his political dirty work.

For Howard however, it’s not necessarily a bad thing, speaking as it does of his pulling power with the US. Either that or he offered something in exchange for Hicks’ expedient return. But what?

This is a good step for Australia. We now wait for the gag order to be released, and Mr. David Hicks to speak. We cannot rely on him however, as he is not a willing player. He was probably tortured. But how much more does he really want to be in the spotlight? Probably not at all.

Conservatives Gaining a Conscience on Torture

July 26, 2007 at 6:28 am | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, conservatives, corruption, Foreign Policy, George W Bush, Gitmo, King George, Military, Republicans, secret combinations, Torture, violence, War, War on Terror | 10 Comments

This is a breath of fresh air, albeit quite late in the game, but two conservatives from the Reagan administration, one the commandant of the Marine Corps, the other a lawyer in the Reagan White House, have now officially and publicly come out against Bush’s latest executive order, which really didn’t change anything about how the CIA (mis)treats detainees.

One of us was appointed commandant of the Marine Corps by President Ronald Reagan; the other served as a lawyer in the Reagan White House and has vigorously defended the constitutionality of warrantless National Security Agency wiretaps, presidential signing statements and many other controversial aspects of the war on terrorism. But we cannot in good conscience defend a decision that we believe has compromised our national honor and that may well promote the commission of war crimes by Americans and place at risk the welfare of captured American military forces for generations to come.

Awww, they still feel Bush has the imperial power, just as long as he doesn’t torture.

In April of 1793, Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson wrote to President George Washington that nations were to interpret treaty obligations for themselves but that “the tribunal of our consciences remains, and that also of the opinion of the world.” He added that “as we respect these, we must see that in judging ourselves we have honestly done the part of impartial and rigorous judges.”

To date in the war on terrorism, including the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks and all U.S. military personnel killed in action in Afghanistan and Iraq, America’s losses total about 2 percent of the forces we lost in World War II and less than 7 percent of those killed in Vietnam. Yet we did not find it necessary to compromise our honor or abandon our commitment to the rule of law to defeat Nazi Germany or imperial Japan, or to resist communist aggression in Indochina. On the contrary, in Vietnam — where we both proudly served twice — America voluntarily extended the protections of the full Geneva Convention on prisoners of war to Viet Cong guerrillas who, like al-Qaeda, did not even arguably qualify for such protections.

The Geneva Conventions provide important protections to our own military forces when we send them into harm’s way. Our troops deserve those protections, and we betray their interests when we gratuitously “interpret” key provisions of the conventions in a manner likely to undermine their effectiveness. Policymakers should also keep in mind that violations of Common Article 3 are “war crimes” for which everyone involved — potentially up to and including the president of the United States — may be tried in any of the other 193 countries that are parties to the conventions.

In a letter to President James Madison in March 1809, Jefferson observed: “It has a great effect on the opinion of our people and the world to have the moral right on our side.” Our leaders must never lose sight of that wisdom.

It’s nice to see them hearkening back to our Founding Fathers, but…well, I wonder, where were you two in 2004? Abusive interrogations were known BEFORE the 2004 general election. I wonder why you two have waited until now to speak out. You quote Thomas Jefferson who said: “It has a great effect on the opinion of our people and the world to have the moral right on our side.” Did we not lose that moral right at Abu Ghraib? The evidence was clearly there that that incident was a direct result of President Bush’s orders vis a vis detainees and the Geneva Conventions. Why did you NOT speak out then, dear sirs?

Sure it is easier to speak out now, when the nation is clearly against this president. But true courage is to stand up to evil from the BEGINNING!

As per the conversation with ECS below, I have uploaded the Bismullah Brief here: (Bismullah Brief). It is a Word doc.

High School Presidential Scholars Tell Bush to Stop Torture

June 26, 2007 at 5:49 am | Posted in America, American politics, Bush Administration, Education, George W Bush, Gitmo, King George, secret combinations, Torture | 3 Comments

Ouch, this must have stung! High schoolers who visited the White House signed a letter to President Bush urging him to stop his administration’s torture policies. He apparently was unaware that they were going to present this letter.

President Bush was presented with a letter Monday signed by 50 high school seniors in the Presidential Scholars program urging a halt to “violations of the human rights” of terror suspects held by the United States.

The White House said Bush had not expected the letter but took a moment to read it and talk with a young woman who handed it to him.

I wonder what was going on through his mind. He was live to the world, probably couldn’t step out of the scripted scenario.

These students are Presidential Scholars, the top of the top high schoolers in the nation. They probably prepared this before the Washington Post’s amazing section on Dick Cheney’s torture regime. Future Americans will look back at our generation and be embarrassed.

The handwritten letter said the students “believe we have a responsibility to voice our convictions.”

“We do not want America to represent torture. We urge you to do all in your power to stop violations of the human rights of detainees, to cease illegal renditions, and to apply the Geneva Convention to all detainees, including those designated enemy combatants,” the letter said.

The designation as a Presidential Scholar is one of the nation’s highest honors for graduating high school students. Each year the program selects one male and one female student from each state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Americans living abroad, 15 at-large students, and up to 20 students in the arts on the basis of outstanding scholarship, service, leadership and creativity.

Well done, young men and women. Well done. The future is looking brighter than before.

Nuremberg Prosecutor: Gitmo Goes Against Nuremberg Principles

June 12, 2007 at 10:51 am | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, conservatives, corruption, George W Bush, Gitmo, Military, Torture, violence, War on Terror | 1 Comment

Henry King Jr, one of the prosecutors at Nuremberg calls the Gitmo trials and incarceration unfair and against the principles upon which the Nuremberg Trials were founded.

The U.S. war crimes tribunals at Guantanamo have betrayed the principles of fairness that made the Nazi war crimes trials at Nuremberg a judicial landmark, one of the U.S. Nuremberg prosecutors said on Monday.

“I think Robert Jackson, who’s the architect of Nuremberg, would turn over in his grave if he knew what was going on at Guantanamo,” Nuremberg prosecutor Henry King Jr. told Reuters in a telephone interview.

“It violates the Nuremberg principles, what they’re doing, as well as the spirit of the Geneva Conventions of 1949.”

King, 88, served under Jackson, the U.S. Supreme Court justice who was the chief prosecutor at the trials created by the Allied powers to try Nazi military and political leaders after World War Two in Nuremberg, Germany.

“The concept of a fair trial is part of our tradition, our heritage,” King said from Ohio, where he lives. “That’s what made Nuremberg so immortal — fairness, a presumption of innocence, adequate defense counsel, opportunities to see the documents that they’re being tried with.”

King, who interrogated Nuremberg defendant Albert Speer, was incredulous that the Guantanamo rules left open the possibility of using evidence obtained through coercion.

“To torture people and then you can bring evidence you obtained into court? Hearsay evidence is allowed? Some evidence is available to the prosecution and not to the defendants? This is a type of ‘justice’ that Jackson didn’t dream of,” King said.

With each passing day that Gitmo is opened, our principles erode and wither away. What are we fighting for if not for the principles upon which our fine nation was founded? Who really cares how bad the enemy is? How does that in any way change who WE are? And what WE stand for?

A Terrorist’s Children, Leverage For Information

June 9, 2007 at 10:49 pm | Posted in America, American politics, Bush Administration, Cheney, corruption, family values, George W Bush, Gitmo, Middle East, neo-conservatives, Pakistan, Religion, Republicans, secret combinations, Torture, violence, War, War on Terror | 23 Comments

This is the newest low of the Bush administration, and obviously one big reason why they’ve wanted to keep the black sites in Europe as secret as they could. Because one of the things that the Bush administration authorized was the capture and interrogation of children of terrorists (such as Khalik Sheikh Mohammed), to be used as a leverage against the terrorists, because hey, who likes to see their children suffer? This is the level to which our country has fallen, where we now torture children.

Andrew Sullivan quotes the CIA about KSM’s sons:

“His sons are important to him. The promise of their release and their return to Pakistan may be the psychological lever we need to break him.”

Hilzoy at Obsidian Wings has the details.

Today, six human rights groups released a report (pdf) on 39 people who they think the US government might be holding in undisclosed locations, and whose location is presently unknown. (Thus, they are not counting anyone known to be at Guantanamo or Bagram; just people who are missing.) That we have disappeared anyone is shocking, and a violation of treaties we have signed and ratified.

This report has gotten a fair amount of play, but in all the coverage I’ve read, only the Philadelphia Inquirer has mentioned what is, to me, the most awful allegation: that we disappeared young children. The report (pp. 24-26) lists five groups of family members; those who are discussed at greatest length are the sons of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

She then quotes the article from the Philadelphia Inquirer:

“In September 2002, Yusuf al-Khalid (then nine years old) and Abed al-Khalid (then seven years old) were reportedly apprehended by Pakistani security forces during an attempted capture of their father, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was successfully apprehended several months later, and the U.S. government has acknowledged that he was in the U.S. Secret Detention Program. He is presently held at Guantánamo Bay.

In an April 16, 2007 statement, Ali Khan (father of Majid Khan, a detainee who the U.S. government has acknowledged was in the U.S. Secret Detention Program and is presently held at Guantánamo Bay) indicated that Yusef and Abed al-Khalid had been held in the same location in which Majid Khan and Majid’s brother Mohammed were detained in March/April 2003. Mohammed was detained by Pakistani officials for approximately one month after his apprehension on March 5, 2003 (see below). Ali Khan’s statement indicates that:

Also according to Mohammed, he and Majid were detained in the same place where two of Khalid Sheik Mohammed’s young children, ages about 6 and 8, were held. The Pakistani guards told my son that the boys were kept in a separate area upstairs, and were denied food and water by other guards. They were also mentally tortured by having ants or other creatures put on their legs to scare them and get them to say where their father was hiding.

After Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s arrest in March 2003, Yusuf and Abed Al Khalid were reportedly transferred out of Pakistan in U.S. custody. The children were allegedly being sent for questioning about their father’s activities and to be used by the United States as leverage to force their father to co-operate with the United States. A press report on March 10, 2003 confirmed that CIA interrogators had detained the children and that one official explained that:

“We are handling them with kid gloves. After all, they are only little children…but we need to know as much about their father’s recent activities as possible. We have child psychologists on hand at all times and they are given the best of care.”

In the transcript of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s Combatant Status Review Tribunal, he indicates knowledge that his children were apprehended and abused:

“They arrested my kids intentionally. They are kids. They been arrested for four months they had been abused.””

Hilzoy states this correctly. This is something two-bit dictators would do. Is this something a supposed “Christian” democratic country does? Apparently. She asks at the end:

And note this: the only people who were included in the report are people whose whereabouts are presently unknown. These kids were captured over four years ago. They would be thirteen and eleven now. Does anyone know where they are? Does anyone care?

Not Americans. We’re too concerned about Paris Hilton’s latest sob story about prison. Andrew Sullivan adds:

One of the eeriest aspects of the Bush administration’s conduct of the war on terror has been the inversion of previously held assumptions about the meaning of the West. We fought a war to end torture; we then occupied Saddam’s own torture prison and tortured people there. We fought a war to bring democracy to the Middle East and to show Arabs and Muslims how superior it is as a system; we then spawned chaos, civil war and genocide to brand democracy as a nightmare for an entire generation of Muslims and Arabs. But I recall one moment when I felt most secure about our rationale for the war: we liberated a prison full of children who had been targeted by the monster, Saddam. If ending a regime that jailed children was not right, what was?

Except now we know that the U.S. has itself detained, imprisoned and interrogated children.

He then quotes John Yoo, the mastermind behind the torture regime:

“Cassel: If the president deems that he’s got to torture somebody, including by crushing the testicles of the person’s child, there is no law that can stop him?

Yoo: No treaty

Cassel: Also no law by Congress — that is what you wrote in the August 2002 memo…

Yoo: I think it depends on why the President thinks he needs to do that…”

Weren’t we supposed to be fighting AGAINST people like Mr. Yoo? Additionally Michael P.F. Van Der Galien is trying to find out what has happened to those children. To this point, he has not found any information.

What kind of nation makes children disappear?

Prosecuting Children For War Crimes

June 5, 2007 at 3:55 pm | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, conservatives, corruption, Evangelicals, Foreign Policy, Gitmo, Mit Romney, Mitt Romney, neo-conservatives, Republicans, secret combinations, Torture, War, War on Terror | 2 Comments

Just to show how utterly devoid of morality and ethics the whole situation at Guantanamo Bay is (and to show how stupid Mitt “Double Guantanamo” Romney really is), read the following analysis of the recent case against Omar Khadr, age 15 when taken by the Americans and placed in Cuba.

What cannot be disputed, however, is that under the UCMJ the military would have no jurisdiction to court-martial someone who was 15 at the time he committed an alleged criminal offense. In order for jurisdiction to attach under the UCMJ the solider must be at least 17 year old for any enlistment to be valid. The reason for this minimum age requirement is obvious: children under this age lack the legal capacity to completely understand the full and legal consequences of their actions.

Even if a child knowingly went down the recruiting office and knowingly presented fraudulent papers in order to enlist, the enlistment would have no legal efficacy. This jurisdictional requirement is more than a well meaning and worthy notion: We understand as a society that it would be unfair and unjust to subject such a child to court-martial jurisdiction because the child simply lacks the legal capacity to make this kind of decision. The United States Supreme Court confirmed this proposition as a matter of policy in the Roper case, wherein it held unconstitutional the death penalty for defendants who were under the age of 17 when they committed the crime charged.

Why, then, is Omar Khadr’s situation different? Are we to assume that because he may be a member of Al Qaeda, he has a greater degree of legal capacity? Are we to assume that children caught up on the battlefield in the war on terror have more choices and options and thus, their decision to join Al Qaeda is more knowing and more likely to be a product of free will then the 16 year-old American who walks into a recruiter’s office with fraudulent enlistment documents? Or, is the decision to try Omar Khadr by military commission for alleged conduct that he engaged in at 15 simply based on the notion that because of what he did and who he associated with, and because of his family ties, he does not deserve certain basic rights and legal protections?

This also raises another troubling question that we have been struggling with for quite sometime. Even assuming that Omar Khadr did in fact throw a grenade at U.S. forces during a firefight in Afghanistan, he clearly does not fit into the category of the “worst of the worst” that the administration claims are being detained and prosecuted at Guantanamo. At most, he was a 15 year-old foot solder doing the bidding of much more dangerous and culpable terrorists. Anyone familiar with prosecuting organized crime or other criminal networks knows that it is generally a waste of time and resources to prosecute the foot soldiers. Instead, efforts are made to “turn” the foot soldiers so that the higher-level leaders of the criminal organization can be discovered and prosecuted.

Why, then is the U.S. spending time, effort and resources, and squandering what little international goodwill it may still enjoy on prosecuting a 15 year-old alleged foot soldier of Al Qaeda? Why weren’t these foot soldiers “turned” and used to go after mid-level and senior members of Al Qaeda? Was it because the aggressive interrogation techniques used at Guantanamo failed to produce the actionable intelligence that the U.S. was hoping for? It seems to us that this prosecution of Omar Khadr is really emblematic of the complete failure of Guantanamo and the military commissions system. While many of the “worst of the worst” remain at large, the U.S. seeks to prosecute a child by military commission who, if he were an American citizen would not be subject to courts-martial jurisdiction because of his age.

This kind of prosecutorial decision highlights as well the consequence of an unfettered grant of authority to the executive in matters involving national security and terrorism. The lack of effective habeas review means that many policy decisions will go essentially unexamined, and that means that Americans will not be able to hold accountable the civilian leaders who have pursued policies that, at this point, seem to spring more from desperation than design. At a minimum, such decisions will do nothing to improve the credibility or legality of the military commissions system.

Mr. Hansen and Mr. Friedman ask a very important question about this particular case and Guantanamo itself. If after FIVE YEARS the Bush administration can’t even prosecute a child foot soldier, just why are we wasting resources on this prison? Why is a foot soldier who when 15 (a child) was picked up because he threw a grenade at Americans being charged when he is not the “worst of the worst?” Why does the Bush administration not charge KSM? Or are they holding his trial until just before the 2008 election?

What kind of country charges a child for war crimes? And what kind of Christian crows for the desire to double these kinds of actions?

On the Absurdity of the Case Against Jose Padilla

May 18, 2007 at 9:53 pm | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, corruption, Gitmo, Jose Padilla, secret combinations, Torture | 3 Comments

Firedoglake reports from the trial against Jose Padilla, and in this particularly good article Lewis Koch notes the total absurdity surrounding the case of Jose Padilla, and that of Hamdi, who is also an American citizen but is sitting free and comfortable back in Saudi Arabia. Why is Jose Padilla not free?

Absurd man, absurd.

Romney Still Supports Torture

May 15, 2007 at 10:14 pm | Posted in American politics, conservatives, Gitmo, McCain, Mit Romney, Mitt Romney, Mormon, neo-conservatives, Republicans, Torture, violence, War | 8 Comments

In tonight’s Republican debate, Romney signaled that he still supports Bush’s “enhanced techniques” which as McCain rightly pointed, amounts to torture. Chris Cillizza has the details.

McCain went first. He rejected the use of torture to obtain information, citing his experience in Vietnam as a prisoner of war. “It’s not about the terrorists, it’s about us,” McCain said. McCain added that so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” are torture, adding that his position was held by most retired and active duty military officers.

Romney backed “enhanced terrorism techniques” but drew the line at torture. He drew applause with his call to double the size of Guantanamo Bay, rather than close it.

Then again, Romney has not shown to be pretty informed about many things, including French culture, where he served for two years…why would he know a thing about these techniques?

Yet Another Example of Why Torture is Ineffective

April 9, 2007 at 4:24 pm | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, Gitmo, Great Britain, Iran, Military | 4 Comments

The incident with the captured British soldiers has an illuminating story to tell in regards to “enhanced techniques.” Let’s review what is out there so far. The soldiers were taken by Iranians (whether in Iranian or Iraqi waters is not my concern in this post). They were held for about two weeks, flown to Tehran, and according to their press conference, were subject to some psychological pressures, including threats of execution. The soldiers quickly signed statements saying they were in Iranian waters and apologized to Iran for intruding on Iranian waters. They were paraded on Iranian television stating the same, that they were in the wrong. Through diplomatic means, Britain received the soldiers back. Now back in England, the fifteen soldiers say they were “coerced” to confess they were in the wrong. So, which account from the British soldiers is correct? Were they right when they said on Iranian television that they illegally entered into Iranian space, or are the British soldiers right back in England where they declare their confessions were “coerced?” Continue Reading Yet Another Example of Why Torture is Ineffective…

What Is American About This?

April 8, 2007 at 6:56 pm | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, Christianity, Gitmo, War on Terror | 3 Comments

(UPDATE)

Please read this account of the hunger strikes at Guantanamo Bay prison and tell me, I pray thee, just what is American about any of this, or even Christian. Where is the justice? Where is the mercy? Where, in that hellhole is there anything that resembles what America used to stand for and what Christianity stands for? Americans who back this prison ought to be ashamed of themselves.

(UPDATE)

Scarecrow on Firedoglake states the following:

I have no idea what these men have done, or why. Given the track record, some (perhaps many) are likely innocent; others not. But I don’t care, because what they’ve done is not the point. This is about us, about who we are and what we stand for. No human being deserves to be treated in this manner. No government has the moral right to treat any human being this way. Under George Bush and Dick Cheney, Rumsfeld, Gonzales, Libby, Addington, Yoo, Hayes, et al, our government has become immoral, inhumane and lawless, and it needs to be changed. And those responsible should be held accountable. Enough.

Amen.

If He Were Lying, It Wouldn’t Need to be Redacted

April 2, 2007 at 11:15 pm | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, Gitmo, Torture | 5 Comments

Eugene Robinson makes probably the best point possible to show that indeed our military and CIA are torturing detainees. Read this:

The Navy captain serving as president of the tribunal gets around to asking Nashiri about the alleged torture. Who did it? They were Americans, Nashiri says. When did it happen? “From the time I was arrested five years ago, they have been torturing me.”

Only George Orwell could have written what comes next in the transcript. The following is what we are allowed to know of Nashiri’s response when asked how he was tortured:

“What else do I want to say? [REDACTED]. Many things happened. There were doing so many things. What else did they did? [REDACTED]. They do so many things. So so many things. What else did they did? [REDACTED]. After that another method of torture began. [REDACTED]. They used to ask me questions and the investigator after that used to laugh. And, I used to answer the answer that I knew. And, if I didn’t reply what I heard, he used to [REDACTED]. So many things happened. I don’t in summary, that’s basically what happened.”

I guess that’s how the U.S. government extracts information from detainees: [REDACTED].

The Pentagon told reporters that Nashiri’s claims were censored because of “national security concerns” about disclosing where detainees were held and how they were treated. But that would be unnecessary if Nashiri were lying, since no harm could come from disclosing a bunch of made-up stories. The censorship makes sense only if some or all of what Nashiri alleges is true.

But we’re not permitted to know what he alleges.

The concern about “national security” would only be so if what Nashiri says is true. If he is lying, he’s not divulging anything, is he? If he were lying, it wouldn’t need to be redacted.

This is No Nuremberg Trial, That’s For Sure

April 2, 2007 at 8:33 am | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, Cheney, Gitmo | Leave a comment

David Luban writes in Balkinization about the David Hicks ordeal down in Gitmo. It is worth the read to show just how pathetic the whole scenario is. For example: Continue Reading This is No Nuremberg Trial, That’s For Sure…

Of Course He’s Guilty!

March 27, 2007 at 1:14 pm | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, Gitmo, Torture | 4 Comments

Bush says so, so there.

However, in the real world, the first “conviction” in Guantanamo happens to be Australian David Hicks. The ACLU writes about the very odd occurrences in the military tribunal: Continue Reading Of Course He’s Guilty!…

Sleep Deprivation and the Treatment of Detainees

March 23, 2007 at 12:33 pm | Posted in Gitmo, Torture | 8 Comments

Y’all know I write about this frequently, but we have someone who just went through self-induced sleep deprivation in order to describe it to us. Read his account here and judge for yourself whether someone who has gone through four or five days of sleep deprivation is coherent enough to give you accurate and relevant information. Read his last entry: Continue Reading Sleep Deprivation and the Treatment of Detainees…

The Military’s Gitmo Script

March 9, 2007 at 7:22 am | Posted in Gitmo, Military | Leave a comment

The military’s Gitmo script.

George Orwell would be proud.

Sleep Deprivation Used In Gitmo

February 23, 2007 at 8:14 pm | Posted in American politics, Gitmo, Torture | Leave a comment

This article in the American Journal of Bioethics details the interrogation logs of one of the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, a prisoner #063. Note the use of sleep deprivation. Note also the effects upon the prisoner, and how he ended up saying he gave what information he gave in order to have the torture stopped. These abusive techniques were most definitely used in Gitmo (and we can assume they are still being used). These techniques were then exported to Iraq, which led to Abu Ghraib. These techniques were approved at the highest levels of the United States government. All the prisoners that were released back to their respective governments have accused the United States of being abused while at Gitmo.

And finally, note that Al-Qaida is in resurgence, six years after we supposedly were to go after them and destroy their organization. So…..just what good came from abusing these prisoners? What gains have outweighed the costs of employing these techniques?

This is evil stuff, and the more we turn our heads, the more we accept their use, the more we legalize their use, the more we will lose in the end.

Shoddy Investigation of Abuse at Gitmo

February 7, 2007 at 3:46 pm | Posted in American politics, Gitmo, Military, Torture | 3 Comments

The United States military sent a army officer to investigate accusations of guards bragging about beating detainees, and supposedly found no evidence of abuse. But, well, read the report yourself:

n Army officer who investigated possible abuse at Guantanamo Bay after some guards purportedly bragged about beating detainees found no evidence they mistreated the prisoners _ although he did not interview any of the alleged victims, the U.S. military said Wednesday.

That’s like going to a situation where someone brags about raping a woman and only questioning the man and his friends he bragged to! Hello! Way to sweep this under the rug guys. It’s alright, it’s gonna come back to haunt you some day. All bad things do.

Dehumanization

December 14, 2006 at 8:45 pm | Posted in America, American politics, Gitmo, Iraq, King George, Torture, War, War on Terror | 2 Comments

That’s really the best word to describe Bush’s idea of taking prisoners and hiding them away without any contact to the real world besides their masked guards. Heck, at least the Soviet guards weren’t masked!

David Hicks, the “Australian Taliban” as he is nicknamed is so traumatized that he cannot take a call from his family. He’s so dehumanized that such human contact is too hard for him.

Major Mori, who declined to comment on the phone call, said Hicks continued to be held in solitary confinement for up to 23 hours a day and suffered underlying depression that was worsened by the conditions in which he was being held.

Hicks and other Guantanamo Bay detainees have been submitted to “stress and duress” techniques as part of their interrogation, including exposure to constant bright lighting and loud music.

Terry Hicks, who spoke to his son during a 90-minute family call in July, said Hicks had trouble managing the emotional aftermath of a phone call.

See here’s the problem. Intelligence experts believe operative intelligence gathered from the enemy captured has a shelf life of about 24 to 48 hours. After that, whatever an individual might know will basically be outdated. So…why are these people held in Gitmo when what they know is most certainly outdated, seeing that most of them have been there now for at minimum 3 years! What could they possibly know that the use of stress positions could possibly provide? All they are doing is breaking human beings, dehumanizing them, turning them into traumatized freaks. Is this really America?

How can we not be but emotional about something like this? This is not what America stands for! This is what we fought against all throughout the Cold War. Why are we doing this? What are we getting out of these individuals that is so valuable that we risk utterly destroying their souls? It would certainly have been better for them if they were just killed on the battlefield. How utterly disgraceful America!

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