View Full Version : Guantánamo Prison - Tales of Despair

June 17th, 2003, 08:15 AM
June 17, 2003

Tales of Despair From Inmates Released from Guantánamo Prison


KABUL, Afghanistan, June 16 — Afghans and Pakistanis who were detained for many months by the American military at Guantánamo Bay in Cuba before being released without charges are describing the conditions as so desperate that some captives tried to kill themselves.

According to accounts in the last three months from some of the 32 Afghans and three Pakistanis in the weeks since their release, it was above all the uncertainty of their fate, combined with confinement in very small cells, sometimes only with Arabic speakers, that caused inmates to attempt suicide. One Pakistani interviewed this month said he tried to kill himself four times in 18 months.

An Afghan prisoner who spent 14 months at the camp, at the American naval base at Guantánamo, described in April what he called the uncertainty and fear. "Some were saying this is a prison for 150 years," said Suleiman Shah, 30, a former Taliban fighter from Kandahar Province in southern Afghanistan.

None of those interviewed complained of physical mistreatment. But the men said that for the first few months, they were kept in small wire-mesh cells, about 6 1/2 feet by 8 feet , in blocks of 10 or 20. The cells were covered by a wooden roof, but open at the sides to the elements.

"We slept, ate, prayed and went to the toilet in that small space," Mr. Shah said. Each man had two blankets and a prayer mat and slept and ate on the ground, he said.

The prisoners were taken out only once a week for a one-minute shower. "After four and a half months we complained and people stopped eating, so they said we could shower for five minutes and exercise once a week," Mr. Shah said. After that, he said, prisoners got to exercise for 10 minutes a week, walking around the inside of a cage 30 feet long.

In interviews at their homes, weeks after being released, he and the freed Pakistani detainee talked of what they said was the overwhelming feeling of injustice among the approximately 680 men detained indefinitely at Guantánamo Bay.

"I was trying to kill myself," said Shah Muhammad, 20, a Pakistani who was captured in northern Afghanistan in November 2001, handed over to American soldiers and flown to Guantánamo in January 2002. "I tried four times, because I was disgusted with my life.

"It is against Islam to commit suicide," he continued, "but it was very difficult to live there. A lot of people did it. They treated me as guilty, but I was innocent."

In the 18 months since the detention camp opened, there have been 28 suicide attempts by 18 individuals, with most of those attempts made this year, Capt. Warren Neary, a spokesman at the detention camp, said today. None of the prisoners have killed themselves, but one man has suffered severe brain damage, according to his lawyer.

The prisoners come from more than 40 countries, and include more than 50 Pakistanis, about 150 Saudis and three teenagers under 16, a majority of them captured in Afghanistan, said Dr. Najeef bin Mohamad Ahmed al-Nauimi, a former justice minister in Qatar, who is representing nearly 100 of the detainees.

Dr. Nauimi represents many of the Saudis, and American lawyers represent about 14 prisoners from Kuwait. There are also 83 Yemenis, he said, and a sprinkling of others, including Canadians, Britons, Algerians and Australians, and one Swede.

Since January 2002, at least 32 Afghan prisoners and three Pakistanis have been released from Guantánamo Bay. Five Saudis were recently handed over to the Saudi authorities. Yasser Esam Hamdi, an American-born Saudi, was moved from the camp to a military brig in Norfolk, Va., in April 2002. Captain Neary said 41 people had been released in all, but he could not give a more exact description.

At the same time, the military is preparing to place about 10 of the prisoners before a military tribunal soon, officials said this month.

Mr. Muhammad, who spent 18 months in Cuba before his release, said that "when they first took us there they would not let us talk, or stand or walk around the cell.

"At the beginning it was very hard to bear," he added. "There was no call to prayer, and there was no shade. In the afternoon the sun came in from the side."

Under the current routine, a majority of the prisoners remain in their cells but for two 15-minute periods a week, in which they walk around the cage and take a shower. In addition, the call to prayer is played over the prison's loudspeakers five times a day, according to Capt. Youseff Yee, the Muslim chaplain who oversees the religious needs of the Guantánamo prisoners.

Conditions improved after the first few months, and prisoners were moved to newly built cells with running water and a bed, Mr. Shah said. Interrogation was sporadic and it varied in length and intensity. Sometimes they were questioned after 10 days, or 20 days, and then not for several months, prisoners said.

But it was the uncertainty and fear that they would be there forever that drove many of them to despair, prisoners said.

"All of the people were worried about how long we would be there for," Mr. Shah said. "People were becoming mad because they were saying: `When will they release us? They should take us to the high court.' Many stopped eating."

One Taliban fighter from the southern province of Helmand, who only uses one name, Rustam, said in May that he was driven to trying to hang himself because he was in a block of Arabs and Uzbeks he described as "crazy."

"There were some very strange people, they were hitting their heads on the wall, insulting the soldiers, and that is why I hated it," said Rustam, who is 22, in an interview in an Afghan prison in Kabul. "I think they were really crazy people, and that's why I kept asking to be taken out for questioning."

When he tried to hang himself, Rustam said, the guards found him quickly. "They untied me and said `Don't do this,' " he said. "They gave me medicine, but it was no good. They put me under supervision and moved me to another place."

Mr. Muhammad, one of three Pakistani prisoners to be released at the end of April, said he first tried to hang himself because for months on end he was surrounded by Arabs and could not speak their language.

"It was difficult not talking to anyone for so long," he said. "It was because of the jail. They put me in a block full of Arabs, they were only letting us out for a very short time, and it was very difficult. I could feel myself going down."

After 11 months in the prison camp, he tied his bedsheet to a ceiling wire and hanged himself from it at 4 o'clock one afternoon. "I don't know what happened," he said. "They took me to the hospital. I was unconscious for two days."

Only after that suicide attempt, Mr. Muhammad said, did his American keepers tell him that he was only being held for questioning, and that one day he would go home. Tranquilizers were prescribed, he said, but he stopped taking the tablets after a while and attempted suicide again.

Then the doctors gave Mr. Muhammad a powerful injection that he said left him unable to control his head or his mouth or eat properly for weeks. Although he refused to have the injection, the military medical personnel gave it to him by force, he said. He made two further attempts to kill himself that he said were more protest actions at the conditions.

"We needed more blankets, but they would not listen," he said. "And I kept asking them to take me to the Afghan and Pakistani side. All the time I was with Arabs. I did not speak my own language for months." Mr. Muhammad also threatened to kill himself again if he was given another injection. He remained on tablets until his release, he said.

American officials have confirmed that one prisoner who tried to commit suicide remains in the prison hospital with severe brain damage. Dr. Nauimi said the prisoner was Mish al-Hahrbi, a Saudi schoolteacher. He said that the teacher became desperate over not knowing what his future held and that he tried to hang himself. The teacher was resuscitated but is unlikely to recover from a severe hemorrhage, the lawyer said.

Back home with time to ponder their ordeal, the former prisoners now want to demand compensation.

"The Americans said if anyone is innocent, they will get compensation," Mr. Muhammad said. "They held me for 18 months, and so they should give me compensation. They told me I was innocent, but they did not apologize."

Human rights organizations have raised concerns about the conditions at Guantánamo Bay and the unclear legal status of the detainees. The American military has refused to consider them prisoners of war, even though a majority were captured on the battlefield, and does not allow them access to lawyers. No charges have yet been brought against any of the detainees, some of whom have been there for 18 months.

Concerned about their prolonged detention without trial or clear legal status, the head of the International Red Cross, which visits the detainees, urged the Bush administration last month to start legal proceedings for the hundreds of detainees and to institute a number of changes in conditions at the camp.

Cmdr. Brian Grady, the staff psychiatrist at the camp's medical facility, said in a recent interview that most prisoners suffering from depression brought their symptoms with them to Cuba.

"I don't know what the effects of this particular confinement are," he said. "I'd be hesitant to comment." Officials at Guantánamo have generally dismissed the notion that the confinement and uncertainty about the future are specifically to blame.

"I would not particularly say these circumstances are a factor," Commander Grady said.

But Jamie Fellner, director of the United States program for Human Rights Watch, said in an interview that that was highly implausible.

"These conditions of confinement by themselves over a prolonged period are enormously psychologically stressful," she said. "Added to that is the uncertainty as to the future."

Ms. Fellner added that her group had not found any credible reports of physical abuse and that it had investigated several accounts of beatings and such that turned out to be unfounded.

Hospital officials said that about 5 percent of the inmates were suffering from depression and that they were being treated with antidepressants, typically Zoloft.

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

August 22nd, 2003, 04:58 AM
August 22, 2003

Injustice in Guantánamo

As the prisoners in Guantánamo approach their second anniversary in captivity, the Bush administration is finally talking about bringing them to trial. The delay in holding trials, and releasing the innocent, is unacceptable. So are the rules the administration has outlined for conducting their trials. The Defense Department should heed the calls of respected voices in the legal community, including that of the American Bar Association, and develop fairer procedures.

The detainees held in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, on suspicion of involvement in terrorism have been in custody so long it may seem that they have been found guilty of something. But the detainees, most of them captured in the Afghanistan war, have not had trials, and it is not clear when they will. Relatives and human rights groups say many were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time, or were picked up based on bad intelligence.

The administration has indicated that it intends to start putting the detainees before military tribunals soon. The procedures that have been adopted for these proceedings are unfair. The trials themselves may be held in secret, and lawyers can be prevented from speaking publicly about the proceedings. Secret trials make it impossible for the outside world to determine whether justice is being done.

The military tribunal rules also contain restrictions on lawyers that will make it difficult, if not impossible, for them to mount effective defenses. The government reserves the right to deny detainees and their civilian lawyers access to the evidence being used at trial. The rules authorize the Defense Department to monitor communications between civilian lawyers and clients, and require lawyers to reveal information that they learn from their clients relating to future criminal acts. The American Bar Association, at its annual meeting this month, urged Congress and the executive branch to revise these rules substantially. Finally, the appeals process laid out in the military tribunal rules falls far short of what fairness requires.

The Bush administration has already denied each of the Guantánamo detainees one basic right guaranteed in the civilian justice system: a speedy trial. Now it appears determined to deny many more. Before these prosecutions go any further, the administration should overhaul its procedures until it has a system capable of exonerating the innocent, and of showing a skeptical world that those who are convicted are in fact guilty.

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

August 22nd, 2003, 06:41 PM
I find it amazing how, during times of national stress, we are so eager to relinquish the institutions that identify us as Americans.

It's also ironic, since that is what the terrorists are really trying to do - not knock down buildings. The buildings are not as important as the society that builds them.

August 22nd, 2003, 07:24 PM
What a shame that offensive stupidity is so common nowadays that it is considered valid debate material.

TLOZ Link5
August 22nd, 2003, 09:43 PM
Quote: from Kris on 7:24 pm on Aug. 22, 2003
What a shame that offensive stupidity is so common nowadays that it is considered valid debate material.

Just nowadays, Christian?

August 22nd, 2003, 09:54 PM
Particularly. I'm referring to the current access of nationalistic fever that isn't tolerated here.

April 2nd, 2008, 08:29 AM
The following story was broadcast on CBS 60 Minutes on March 30, 2008.

Transcript followed by video.

Ex-Terror Detainee Says U.S. Tortured Him

March 30, 2008(CBS)

At the age of 19, Murat Kurnaz vanished into America's shadow prison system in the war on terror. He was from Germany, traveling in Pakistan, and was picked up three months after 9/11. But there seemed to be ample evidence that Kurnaz was an innocent man with no connection to terrorism. The FBI thought so, U.S. intelligence thought so, and German intelligence agreed. But once he was picked up, Kurnaz found himself in a prison system that required no evidence and answered to no one.

The story Kurnaz told 60 Minutes correspondent Scott Pelley is a rare look inside that clandestine system of justice, where the government's own secret files reveal that an innocent man lost his liberty, his dignity, his identity, and ultimately five years of his life.

60 Minutes found Murat Kurnaz in Bremen, Germany, where he was born and raised. His parents emigrated there from Turkey. His father works in the Mercedes factory. Kurnaz wasn’t particularly religious growing up, but in 2001 he was marrying a Turkish girl who was. And he decided to learn more about Islam.

"I didn't know how to pray. I didn't know anything," Kurnaz says. "So I had to study more about Islam so I could go to the mosque and pray."

In Bremen, he met Islamic missionaries who urged him to go to Pakistan for study. As he was planning the trip, 9/11 happened. He told 60 Minutes he was horrified by the attacks, and had never heard of al Qaeda. He decided to go ahead with his trip anyway.

"You went to Pakistan several weeks after 9/11," Pelley remarks. "Did you begin to think that that wasn't a great idea?"

"Today, I know it wasn't a great idea," Kurnaz says.

Kurnaz told 60 Minutes his story using the English that he learned from his American guards. If he seems a little distant, reserved, you'll understand why as his story unfolds. It begins in 2001, when he was at the end of that trip to Pakistan. He was headed to the airport to fly home to Germany when his bus was stopped at a routine checkpoint.

"They stopped the bus and because of my color, I’m much more different than Pakistani guys," says Kurnaz, who is lighter-skinned. "He looked into the bus and he knocked on my window."

"He" was a Pakistani cop who pulled Kurnaz off the bus. The reason Kurnaz was singled out may always be a mystery. But at the time, the U.S. was paying bounties for suspicious foreigners. Kurnaz, who'd been rambling across Pakistan with Islamic pilgrims, seemed to fit the bill. Kurnaz says that he was told that U.S. intelligence paid $3,000 for him. He ended up bound and shackled on an American military plane.

"I was sure soon as they would find out I'm not a terrorist, they will apologize for it and let me go back home," he says.

But the plane flew him out of Pakistan and to a U.S. base in Kandahar, Afghanistan, where he was mixed with prisoners fresh off the battlefield. His new identity was "number 53." He was kept in an outdoor pen, in sub-freezing weather and interrogated daily.

"They asked me, 'Where is Osama bin Laden,' and if I am from al Qaeda or from Taliban. Questions like that. I told them, 'I don't know where is Osama bin Laden, I never saw him and I don't know anything about al Qaeda. I don't know what it is.' And I spent all my time in Pakistan," he says.

Asked what happened next, Kurnaz says, "I told them just they can call Germany to ask who I am and they can ask anybody in Germany who I am."

Back in Germany, Bremen police were investigating, and what they were hearing made matters worse: Kurnaz's worried mother told them her son had recently become more religious, had grown a beard and was attending a new mosque; schoolmates said that Kurnaz might have been headed to Afghanistan.

"It was just guessing, just fear, no more. But the fear turns into a fact," says attorney Bernhard Docke, who was hired by Kurnaz’s mother.

He says there was no reason to suspect Kurnaz knew anything about al Qaeda. But this was weeks after 9/11 and some of the hijackers had been living in Hamburg. "And so close after 9/11, and close after Germany realized that 9/11 started with the Hamburg cell in Germany, everybody in the secret services got crazy," Docke says.

Docke says the police report was sent to the Americans. And Kurnaz claims his interrogations at Kandahar turned to torture. He told 60 Minutes that American troops held his head underwater.

"They used to beat me when my head is underwater. They beat me into my stomach and everything," he says.

"They were hitting you in the stomach while you're head was underwater so that you'd have to take a breath?" Pelley asks,

"Right. I had to drink. I had to…how you say it?" Kurnaz replies.

"Inhale. Inhale the water," Pelley says.

"I had to inhale the water. Right," Kurnaz says.

Kurnaz says the Americans used a device to shock him with electricity that made his body go numb. And he says he was hoisted up on chains suspended by his arms from the ceiling of an aircraft hangar for five days.

"Every five or six hours they came and pulled me back down. And the doctor came to watch if I can still survive to not. He looked into my eyes. He checked my heart. And when he said okay, then they pulled me back up," Kurnaz says.

"The point of the doctor's visit was not to treat you. It was to see if you could take another six hours hanging from the ceiling?" Pelley asks.

"Right," Kurnaz says.

"I suspect you know that the U.S. military will deny this happened. The U.S. military will deny that you were shocked. It will deny your head was held in a bucket of water. It will deny that you hung from a ceiling for days at a time," Pelley remarks.

"Doesn't matter whatever they will say. The truth will not change," Kurnaz says.

"And you're telling me in this interview that this is the truth?" Pelley asks.

"This is the truth," Kurnaz insists.

Kurnaz isn't alone in these allegations: other freed prisoners have described electric shocks at Kandahar, and even U.S. troops have admitted beating prisoners who were hanging by their arms. Kurnaz's story fits a pattern.

After six weeks in Afghanistan, Kurnaz was loaded onto another plane, this time bound for Guantanamo. The Pentagon labeled the prisoners "unlawful enemy combatants." They didn’t have the rights of prisoners of war and were beyond the reach of any court.

At Guantanamo Kurnaz says he endured endless months of interrogations, beatings at the hands of soldiers in riot gear, and physical cruelty which included going without sleep for weeks and solitary confinement for up to a month in cells that were sealed without ventilation or were set up to punish him with extreme conditions.

"It's dark inside. No lights. And they can punish you in isolation by coldness or by the heat. They have special air conditioners over there. Very strong. They can turn it very cold or very hot," Kurnaz says.

He says it went on year after year, always the same questions about al Qaeda, and the endless effort to break his will. He heard nothing from the outside and wondered whether anyone knew that he was there.

Then, in 2004, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Guantanamo prisoners did have the right to lawyers. And to his complete surprise, one day Kurnaz was told he had a visitor. It was Baher Azmy, an American lawyer.

"He was chained to a bolt in the floor around his ankle," Azmy says, recalling his first meeting with Kurnaz. "And had an absolutely enormous beard that had marked the years that he was in detention. He looked like someone who had been shipwrecked, which, of course, in a sense, he really was."

Azmy is a professor at the Seton Hall Law School. He dug into the case and found that the military seemed to have invented some of the charges. Military prosecutors said one of Kurnaz’s friends was a suicide bomber, but the friend turned up alive and well in Germany.

"How could they have gotten that so wrong? I mean, you're either a suicide bomber or you're not. There's no in between," Pelley remarks.

"This goes to the utter preposterousness of the government’s legal process that they established in Guantanamo, this tribunal system that was supposed to differentiate from enemy combatant and civilian. So in order to justify that he was an enemy combatant, they simply made up an allegation about someone he was associated with," Azmy says.

But far worse than the false charges was the secret government file that Azmy uncovered.

Six months after Kurnaz reached Guantanamo, U.S. military intelligence had written, "criminal investigation task force has no definite link [or] evidence of detainee having an association with al Qaeda or making any specific threat toward the U.S."

At the same time, German intelligence agents wrote their government, saying, "USA considers Murat Kurnaz’s innocence to be proven. He is to be released in approximately six to eight weeks."

But Azmy says Kurnaz was kept at Guantanamo Bay for three and a half years after this memo was written in 2002.

They kept him, Kurnaz says, by inventing new charges. In a makeshift courthouse, Kurnaz claims that a military judge charged that Kurnaz had been picked up near Osama bin Laden's hideout in Afghanistan while fighting for the Taliban. Ironic, since it was the U.S. that flew him to Afghanistan to begin with.

"Have you ever in your legal career run across anything like this?" Pelley asks Baher Azmy.

"In my legal career, no," Azmy says. "But in Guantanamo, no detainee has ever been able to genuinely present evidence before a neutral judge. And so as absurd as Murat Kurnaz's case is, I assure you there are many, many dozens just as tenuous."

And a U.S. federal judge agreed. She ruled the Guantanamo military tribunals violated the prisoners' right to a defense, and she singled out Kurnaz's case as an example.

60 Minutes asked the Department of Defense to talk to us about Kurnaz. Instead they sent 60 Minutes a statement, calling his allegations "unsubstantiated" and "outlandish," adding that claims that the U.S. military "engaged in regular and systematic torture of detainees cannot withstand even the slightest scrutiny." The statement didn’t address why Kurnaz was held to begin with. (Click here to read the full Department of Defense statement.)

The break in Kurnaz’s case came when the German chancellor asked President Bush for his release. In August 2006, a plane came to take Kurnaz home. On the way out he was asked to sign a confession his captors had written for him saying he’d been al Qaeda all along. He refused. On the plane he was chained and surrounded by soldiers. But by the end of the flight, he was free.

"There's a picture of you hugging your mother. Tell me about that moment," Pelley asks.

"She wouldn't let me go. She wouldn't let me, anymore. She just hugged me. Of course, she was so happy, she cried. And I would go to my father and my brothers, also, but she didn't let me. And they had to wait," Kurnaz remembers.

He was 19 when he went in, 24 when he returned to Bremen. His wife had divorced him. Kurnaz has written a book, just translated into English called "Five Years Of My Life." And he told 60 Minutes he wanted to visit the United States, but can't because the U.S. still considers him to be an unlawful enemy combatant.

Video (http://www.cbsnews.com/sections/i_video/main500251.shtml?id=3980799n)

Produced by Graham Messick and Michael Karzis
© MMVIII, CBS Interactive Inc.

Related WNY Thread (http://www.wirednewyork.com/forum/showthread.php?t=4235&page=2)

April 2nd, 2008, 09:40 AM
It is a long article, I am at work, and the bosses are walking about the office, but I had to keep reading.

Stuff like this make me so angry it is not funny. This is an erosion of our freedoms and th eparanoia built in by our political and military leaders that give them the power to do whatever they want to whoever they want.

It is only a fleas whisker from doing the same to American citizens who are determined to be, by our own newly despotic regime, threats to Homeland Security.

Add potential financial troubles due to a poorly handled recession and I fear for our freedom's future.

April 2nd, 2008, 04:15 PM
I was also furious after watching that piece last Sunday. No recourse, and how many others?

April 2nd, 2008, 04:46 PM
I'm very angry that they're doing these things in my name.

April 3rd, 2008, 06:07 PM
Memo gave Pentagon exemption from criminal laws

Elana Schor in Washington
guardian.co.uk, Wednesday April 2 2008 (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/apr/02/georgebush.usa1)

The US justice department extended the sweeping wartime powers claimed by George Bush to military interrogators, giving them freedom from criminal laws when questioning al-Qaida suspects, in a 2003 legal memorandum released for the first time yesterday.

The brief, provided to the Pentagon days before the invasion of Iraq, allowed the slapping, poking, and shoving of detainees without legal consequences.

Maiming a detainee - defined as disabling or cutting out the nose, eye, ear, lip, tongue, or limb - was also deemed a defensible interrogation tactic if the military could prove it had no advance intention to maim.

The terrorist attacks of 2001 allowed the White House and the military to invoke a broad right to self-defence, the brief argued.

"The defendant could claim that he was fulfilling the executive branch's authority to protect the federal government and the nation from attack after the events of September 11, which triggered the nation's right to self-defence," read the brief, written by former Bush administration lawyer John Yoo.

While the memorandum was revoked nine months after it was sent, the Bush administration has built on its arguments to assert exemptions from US and international law during interrogations conducted at Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere overseas.

Often referring to the president as "the sovereign", Yoo gave Bush the legal right to override international laws "at his discretion".

"It is well established that the sovereign retains the discretion to treat unlawful combatants as it sees fit," Yoo wrote.

The 81-page brief was released by the American Civil Liberties Union, which has battled the administration in court to secure documents under US freedom of information laws.

A companion brief written in 2002 allowed CIA interrogators to use any brutal method that did not cause pain on the level of death or organ failure.

The brief released yesterday cited past legal rulings that said hooding of detainees, sleep or food deprivation, and forcibly prolonged postures such as the "frog crouch" did not amount to torture.

The military was also permitted to threaten detainees with death, so long as the threat was not imminent.

"Thus, a vague threat that someday the prisoner might be killed would not suffice" to violate a law, Yoo wrote.

However, the memo does rule out mock executions and Russian roulette as legitimate interrogation tactics.

The brief takes a notably narrow view of the Congress' power to influence American policy during wartime. The US judiciary is also described as prone to "generally defer to executive decisions concerning the conduct of hostilities".

A few senior members of Congress had seen the brief in its classified format and argued for its public release. Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Senate judiciary committee, said the brief "threatens our country's status as a beacon of human rights around the world."

Several US legal experts expressed alarm at the brief's sprawling vision of presidential authority.

"If the supreme court adopted John Yoo's theory of presidential dictatorship, it might send us spiraling down toward the end of our two centuries' old constitutional experiment with democracy," Jack Balkin, a law professor at Yale University, wrote on his blog.

Eugene Fidell, a military justice professor at Yale and American University, told the New York Times that the brief "is a monument to executive supremacy and the imperial presidency".

Part one of the Justice Department memo (pdf) (http://image.guardian.co.uk/sys-files/Guardian/documents/2008/04/02/march.14.memo.part1-1.pdf)

Part two of the Justice Department memo (pdf) (http://image.guardian.co.uk/sys-files/Guardian/documents/2008/04/02/march14.memo.part2.pdf)

April 3rd, 2008, 07:49 PM
However, the memo does rule out mock executions and Russian roulette as legitimate interrogation tactics.They tossed a bone to Human Rights.

April 4th, 2008, 09:13 AM
What about Czechoslovakian roulette?

The whole thing was a reactionary power grab.

Rules made by leaders rarely subject them to the same standards. Officials robbing us of our constitutional rights will never be considered to be threats to America, although they are slowly killing it with this kind of legislation, policy and practice.

Even now I am fearful of "eyes watching" and my open criticism of them. What kind of freedom is that? :(

April 7th, 2008, 03:09 AM
What a sad day for America and the humanity of the country to which I reside in.

9/11 was one of our saddest days in our history. All the victims of 9/11 were innocent and it was a major tragedy for our greatest city and for our country.

So as a result we support torture, we support imprisonment without trial. Un American I say.

We have some of the most violant cities in the world and we cannot solve our autrocious murders or other violant crimes that give the third world a run for there money. But we can fly into another country and detain people as 'we know' they are guilty. There were teenagers and barely teenagers in Guantanamo Bay. Just sick. But they are guilty so much so that no trial is necessary. Yeah 14 year olds. Get a grip America.

But America's blood thirst after 9/11 took over all logic. Too bad history means nothing to a majority of Americans. We shall not learn from history.

While I cannot stand Bush and his nut jobs that surround him, ultimetly it is the American people's fault. The American people voted him in again after this disgrace of a war. Our attention was distracted by the gay issue, those ungodly un americans and those horrible immigrants. Wow, that makes sense, deny some Americans freedom in the name of god and complain about immigrants that our actually saving our cities. The American people wanted this war, that cannot be denied. Now suddenly everyone is so against it but no one cares about the amount of death created by America.

It was painfully obvious that Iraq had no links to 9/11 no links to Al Qaeda and had no Weapons of Mass Destruction almost right away. War should always be a LAST LAST resort, any flicker of doubt should be seriously contemplated. But Americans where frothing at the mouth with blood. I still say we should have invaded Cananda. Yeah I know it makes no sense but well like Iraq did?

The majority of Americans are against the war with Iraq now. Too late, the American public blew it. There is a lot of death on American public's hands. Some 80 odd percent of American's supported this war on lies initially. Actually even when confronted with overwhelming evidence, it still took the majority of Americans a couple of years to accept that a war on lies has been fronted. Ohh them damn anti war people nothing but a bunch of hippies. So un American. War on lies is American then?

I do wonder, are the majority of Americans against the war in Iraq because it costs too much money and the loss of American's soldiers lives and disabilities from the war while sad and becoming is too much. No one cares about the amount of death America has caused by 50 fold of 9/11 on a country that didn't do it.

The world hates us but we are right in our minds.

There is an estimated 100,000 dead Iraqi's minimun and millions of refugees. I really don't think American's care about that even though we caused it. We are as a nation completely self oriented no matter who we walk over for our means by any means. And we want the world to care about our plight. An empire when it becomes greedy, violant and glutoneous falls. History repeats itself again. We as Americans supported Bush and this war with our civil liberties and other nation's civil liberties and with death and destruction The world hates us, there is a lot of carnage on our doing, and I blame the American people.

April 10th, 2008, 06:40 PM
Tell the Dean of UC Berkeley School of Law to Fire John Yoo

In 2003, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel issued a memo advising the Pentagon that laws and treaties forbidding torture and other forms of abuse did not apply to U.S. interrogators because of the president's wartime power.

The man who wrote that memo -- John Yoo -- is now happily ensconced as a tenured law professor at the UC Berkeley School of Law. While an unknown number of people suffer the aftereffects of illegal torture he encouraged, Professor Yoo is teaching, writing, and generally enjoying life in California.

This is flat out wrong. John Yoo should not only be disqualified from ever serving in government again, but he should also be prohibited from spreading his distorted view of the law and the role of lawyers to young law students.

He must be fired. And the man to do it is Christopher Edley, Jr, Dean of the UC Berkeley School of Law.

Online email campaign here. (http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/2165/t/1027/campaign.jsp?campaign_KEY=24188)

April 10th, 2008, 09:32 PM
Send him to Guantanamo.

April 12th, 2008, 09:55 AM
Memo gave Pentagon exemption from criminal laws

The US justice department extended the sweeping wartime powers claimed by George Bush to military interrogators, giving them freedom from criminal laws when questioning al-Qaida suspects ...

Often referring to the president as "the sovereign" , Yoo gave Bush the legal right to override international laws "at his discretion" ...

The brief takes a notably narrow view of the Congress' power to influence American policy during wartime ...

"If the supreme court adopted John Yoo's theory of presidential dictatorship, it might send us spiraling down toward the end of our two centuries' old constitutional experiment with democracy," Jack Balkin, a law professor at Yale University, wrote on his blog.

Eugene Fidell, a military justice professor at Yale and American University, told the New York Times that the brief "is a monument to executive supremacy and the imperial presidency".

AP Confirms ABC News

Torture latest: (http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080411/ap_on_go_ca_st_pe/interrogation_tactics;_ylt=AjMN8q4Eu1hbyRBsJOClDWd I2ocA)

Andrew Sullivan (http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2008/04/ap-confirms-abc.html)
11 Apr 2008 08:10 pm

Bush administration officials from Vice President Dick Cheney on
down signed off on using harsh interrogation techniques against
suspected terrorists after asking the Justice Department to
endorse their legality, The Associated Press has learned. The
officials also took care to insulate President Bush from a series of
meetings where CIA interrogation methods, including
waterboarding, which simulates drowning, were discussed and
ultimately approved.

A former senior U.S. intelligence official familiar with the meetings
described them Thursday to the AP to confirm details first
reported by ABC News on Wednesday. The intelligence official
spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized
to publicly discuss the issue.
They knew what they were doing. The law was "fixed" to back up what
was already decided. The parallel to WMD intelligence - the Downing Street
memo - springs to mind.


April 12th, 2008, 10:00 AM
Cheney, others OK'd harsh interrogations

Yahoo News / Associated Press (http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080411/ap_on_go_ca_st_pe/interrogation_tactics;_ylt=AjMN8q4Eu1hbyRBsJOClDWd I2ocA)
Associated Press Writers
Friday April 11, 2008

WASHINGTON - Bush administration officials from Vice President Dick Cheney on down signed off on using harsh interrogation techniques against suspected terrorists after asking the Justice Department to endorse their legality, The Associated Press has learned.

The officials also took care to insulate President Bush from a series of meetings where CIA interrogation methods, including waterboarding, which simulates drowning, were discussed and ultimately approved.

A former senior U.S. intelligence official familiar with the meetings described them Thursday to the AP to confirm details first reported by ABC News on Wednesday. The intelligence official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to publicly discuss the issue.

Between 2002 and 2003, the Justice Department issued several memos from its Office of Legal Counsel that justified using the interrogation tactics, including ones that critics call torture.

"If you looked at the timing of the meetings and the memos you'd see a correlation," the former intelligence official said. Those who attended the dozens of meetings agreed that "there'd need to be a legal opinion on the legality of these tactics" before using them on al-Qaida detainees, the former official said.

The meetings were held in the White House Situation Room in the years immediately following the Sept. 11 attacks. Attending the sessions were Cheney, then-Bush aides Attorney General John Ashcroft, Secretary of State Colin Powell, CIA Director George Tenet and national security adviser Condoleezza Rice.

The White House, Justice and State departments and the CIA refused comment Thursday, as did a spokesman for Tenet. A message for Ashcroft was not immediately returned.

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., lambasted what he described as "yet another astonishing disclosure about the Bush administration and its use of torture."

"Who would have thought that in the United States of America in the 21st century, the top officials of the executive branch would routinely gather in the White House to approve torture?" Kennedy said in a statement. "Long after President Bush has left office, our country will continue to pay the price for his administration's renegade repudiation of the rule of law and fundamental human rights."

The American Civil Liberties Union called on Congress to investigate.

"With each new revelation, it is beginning to look like the torture operation was managed and directed out of the White House," ACLU legislative director Caroline Fredrickson said. "This is what we suspected all along."

The former intelligence official described Cheney and the top national security officials as deeply immersed in developing the CIA's interrogation program during months of discussions over which methods should be used and when.

At times, CIA officers would demonstrate some of the tactics, or at least detail how they worked, to make sure the small group of "principals" fully understood what the al-Qaida detainees would undergo. The principals eventually authorized physical abuse such as slaps and pushes, sleep deprivation, or waterboarding. This technique involves strapping a person down and pouring water over his cloth-covered face to create the sensation of drowning.

The small group then asked the Justice Department to examine whether using the interrogation methods would break domestic or international laws.

"No one at the agency wanted to operate under a notion of winks and nods and assumptions that everyone understood what was being talked about," said a second former senior intelligence official. "People wanted to be assured that everything that was conducted was understood and approved by the folks in the chain of command."

The Office of Legal Counsel issued at least two opinions on interrogation methods.

In one, dated Aug. 1, 2002, then-Assistant Attorney General Jay Bybee defined torture as covering "only extreme acts" causing pain similar in intensity to that caused by death or organ failure. A second, dated March 14, 2003, justified using harsh tactics on detainees held overseas so long as military interrogators did not specifically intend to torture their captives.

Both legal opinions since have been withdrawn.

The second former senior intelligence official said rescinding the memos caused the CIA to seek even more detailed approvals for the interrogations.

The department issued another still-secret memo in October 2001 that, in part, sought to outline novel ways the military could be used domestically to defend the country in the face of an impending attack. The Justice Department so far has refused to release it, citing attorney-client privilege, and Attorney General Michael Mukasey declined to describe it Thursday at a Senate panel where Democrats characterized it as a "torture memo."

Not all of the principals who attended were fully comfortable with the White House meetings.

The ABC News report portrayed Ashcroft as troubled by the discussions, despite agreeing that the interrogations methods were legal.

"Why are we talking about this in the White House?" the network quoted Ashcroft as saying during one meeting. "History will not judge this kindly."

Associated Press writer Pete Yost contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2008 The Associated Press.

On the Net:

CIA: http://www.usdoj.gov/olc/ (http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/ap/ap_on_go_ca_st_pe/storytext/interrogation_tactics/27057402/SIG=10r3h6j6b/*http://www.usdoj.gov/olc/)

April 12th, 2008, 10:12 AM
Looking to get out in front of this and save himself ...

"Enhanced Interrogation Techniques" (http://abcnews.go.com/TheLaw/LawPolitics/Story?id=4635175&page=1)

http://images.huffingtonpost.com/gen/18313/thumbs/r-TORTURE-large.jpg (http://abcnews.go.com/TheLaw/LawPolitics/Story?id=4635175&page=1)

Bush: (http://abcnews.go.com/TheLaw/LawPolitics/Story?id=4635175&page=1)

"I'm Aware Our National Security Team Met On This Issue.
And I Approved."
Huffington Post (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/)


Bush Aware of Advisers' Interrogation Talks

President Says He Knew His Senior Advisers Discussed Tough Interrogation Methods

ABC NEWS (http://abcnews.go.com/TheLaw/LawPolitics/Story?id=4635175&page=1)
April 11, 2008

President Bush says he knew his top national security advisers discussed and approved specific details about how high-value al Qaeda suspects would be interrogated by the Central Intelligence Agency, according to an exclusive interview with ABC News Friday.

"Well, we started to connect the dots in order to protect the American people." Bush told ABC News White House correspondent Martha Raddatz. "And yes, I'm aware our national security team met on this issue. And I approved."

As first reported by ABC News Wednesday, the most senior Bush administration officials repeatedly discussed and approved specific details of exactly how high-value al Qaeda suspects would be interrogated by the CIA.

The high-level discussions about these "enhanced interrogation techniques" were so detailed, these sources said, some of the interrogation sessions were almost choreographed -- down to the number of times CIA agents could use a specific tactic.

These top advisers signed off on how the CIA would interrogate top al Qaeda suspects -- whether they would be slapped, pushed, deprived of sleep or subjected to simulated drowning, called waterboarding, sources told ABC news.

The advisers were members of the National Security Council's Principals Committee, a select group of senior officials who met frequently to advise President Bush on issues of national security policy.

At the time, the Principals Committee included Vice President Dick Cheney, former National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Colin Powell, as well as CIA Director George Tenet and Attorney General John Ashcroft.

As the national security adviser, Rice chaired the meetings, which took place in the White House Situation Room and were typically attended by most of the principals or their deputies.

The so-called Principals who participated in the meetings also approved the use of "combined" interrogation techniques -- using different techniques during interrogations instead of using one method at a time -- on terrorist suspects who proved difficult to break, sources said.

Contacted by ABC News, spokesmen for Tenet and Rumsfeld declined to comment about the interrogation program or their private discussions in Principals meetings. The White House also declined comment on behalf of Rice and Cheney. Ashcroft could not be reached.

ABC News' Diane Sawyer sat down with Powell this week for a previously scheduled interview and asked him about the ABC News report.

Powell said that he didn't have "sufficient memory recall" about the meetings and that he had participated in "many meetings on how to deal with detainees."

Powell said, "I'm not aware of anything that we discussed in any of those meetings that was not considered legal."

In his interview with ABC News, Bush said the ABC report about the Principals' involvement was not so "startling." The president had earlier confirmed the existence of the interrogation program run by the CIA in a speech in 2006. But before Wednesday's report, the extraordinary level of involvement by the most senior advisers in repeatedly approving specific interrogation plans -- down to the number of times the CIA could use a certain tactic on a specific al Qaeda prisoner -- had never been disclosed.

Critics at home and abroad have harshly criticized the interrogation program, which pushed the limits of international law and, they say, condoned torture. Bush and his top aides have consistently defended the program. They say it is legal and did not constitute torture.

In interview with ABC's Charles Gibson last year, Tenet said: "It was authorized. It was legal, according to the Attorney General of the United States."

The discussions and meetings occurred in an atmosphere of great concern that another terror attack on the nation was imminent. Sources said the extraordinary involvement of the senior advisers in the grim details of exactly how individual interrogations would be conducted showed how seriously officials took the al Qaeda threat.

It started after the CIA captured top al Qaeda operative Abu Zubaydah in spring 2002 in Faisalabad, Pakistan. When his safe house was raided by Pakistani security forces along with FBI and CIA agents, Zubaydah was shot three times during the gun battle.

At a time when virtually all counterterrorist professionals viewed another attack as imminent -- and with information on al Qaeda scarce -- the detention of Zubaydah was seen as a potentially critical breakthrough.

Zubaydah was taken to the local hospital, where CIA agent John Kiriakou, who helped coordinate Zubaydah's capture, was ordered to remain at the wounded captive's side at all times. "I ripped up a sheet and tied him to the bed," Kiriakou said.

But after Zubaydah recovered from his wounds at a secret CIA prison in Thailand, he was uncooperative. "I told him I had heard he was being a jerk," Kiriakou recalled. "I said, 'These guys can make it easy on you or they can make it hard.' It was after that he became defiant."

The CIA wanted to use more aggressive -- and physical -- methods to get information. The agency briefed high-level officials in the National Security Council's Principals Committee, led by then-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and including then-Attorney General John Ashcroft, which then signed off on the plan, sources said. It is unclear whether anyone on the committee objected to the CIA's plans for Zubaydah.

The CIA has confirmed Zubaydah was one of three al Qaeda suspects subjected to waterboarding. After he was waterboarded, officials say Zubaydah gave up valuable information that led to the capture of 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammad and fellow 9/11 plotter Ramzi bin al-Shibh.

Mohammad, who is known as KSM, was also subjected to waterboarding by the CIA.

In the interview with ABC News Friday, Bush defended the waterboarding technique used against KSM.

"We had legal opinions that enabled us to do it," Bush said. "And no, I didn't have any problem at all trying to find out what Khalid Sheikh Mohammed knew."

The president said, "I think it's very important for the American people to understand who Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was. He was the person who ordered the suicide attack -- I mean, the 9/11 attacks."

At a hearing before a military tribunal at Guantanamo Bay March 10, 2007, KSM, as he is known, said he broke under the harsh interrogation.

COURT: Were any statements you made as the result of any of the treatment that you received during that time frame from 2003 to 2006? Did you make those statements because of the treatment you receive from these people?
KSM: Statement for whom??
COURT: To any of these interrogators. ?
KSM: CIA peoples. Yes. At the beginning, when they transferred me...?
Lawyers in the Justice Department had written a classified memo, which was extensively reviewed, that gave formal legal authority to government interrogators to use the "enhanced" questioning tactics on suspected terrorist prisoners. The August 2002 memo, signed by then head of the Office of Legal Counsel Jay Bybee, was referred to as the so-called "Golden Shield" for CIA agents, who worried they would be held liable if the harsh interrogations became public.

Old hands in the intelligence community remembered vividly how past covert operations, from the Vietnam War-era "Phoenix Program" of assassinations of Viet Cong to the Iran-Contra arms sales of the 1980s were painted as the work of a "rogue agency" out of control.

But even after the "Golden Shield" was in place, briefings and meetings in the White House to discuss individual interrogations continued, sources said. Tenet, seeking to protect his agents, regularly sought confirmation from the NSC principals that specific interrogation plans were legal.

According to a former CIA official involved in the process, CIA headquarters would receive cables from operatives in the field asking for authorization for specific techniques. Agents, worried about overstepping their boundaries, would await guidance in particularly complicated cases dealing with high-value detainees, two CIA sources said.

Highly placed sources said CIA directors Tenet and later Porter Goss along with agency lawyers briefed senior advisers, including Cheney, Rice, Rumsfeld and Powell, about detainees in CIA custody overseas.

"It kept coming up. CIA wanted us to sign off on each one every time," said one high-ranking official who asked not to be identified. "They'd say, 'We've got so and so. This is the plan.'"

Sources said that at each discussion, all the Principals present approved. "These discussions weren't adding value," a source said. "Once you make a policy decision to go beyond what you used to do and conclude it's legal, [you should] just tell them to implement it."

Ashcroft was troubled by the discussions. He agreed with the general policy decision to allow aggressive tactics and had repeatedly advised that they were legal. But he argued that senior White House advisers should not be involved in the grim details of interrogations, sources said.

According to a top official, Ashcroft asked aloud after one meeting: "Why are we talking about this in the White House? History will not judge this kindly."

The Principals also approved interrogations that combined different methods, pushing the limits of international law and even the Justice Department's own legal approval in the 2002 memo, sources told ABC News.

At one meeting in the summer of 2003 -- attended by Cheney, among others -- Tenet made an elaborate presentation for approval to combine several different techniques during interrogations, instead of using one method at a time, according to a highly placed administration source.

A year later, amid the outcry over unrelated abuses of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib, the controversial 2002 legal memo, which gave formal legal authorization for the CIA interrogation program of the top al Qaeda suspects that was leaked to the press. A new senior official in the Justice Department, Jack Goldsmith, withdrew the legal memo -- the Golden Shield -- that authorized the program.

But the CIA had captured a new al Qaeda suspect in Asia. Sources said CIA officials that summer returned to the Principals Committee for approval to continue using certain "enhanced interrogation techniques."

Rice, sources said, was decisive. Despite growing policy concerns -- shared by Powell -- that the program was harming the image of the United States abroad, sources say she did not back down, telling the CIA: "This is your baby. Go do it."

Copyright © 2008 ABC News Internet Ventures

September 23rd, 2008, 09:00 AM
Calling Gitmo What It Is
September 23, 2008
by Aaron Glantz (http://www.antiwar.com/glantz/?articleid=13493)

The following is an excerpt from Winter Soldier Iraq and Afghanistan: Eyewitness Accounts of the Occupations (http://www.amazon.com/Winter-Soldier-Afghanistan-Eyewitness-Occupations/dp/1931859655/antiwarbookstore) by Iraq Veterans Against the War (http://ivaw.org/) and Aaron Glantz (http://www.aaronglantz.com/). From March 13-16, hundreds of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans gathered in Silver Spring, Md., to testify about atrocities they had personally committed or witnessed while deployed. Among those who testified was former National Guardsman Christopher Arendt (http://www.islamictube.net/watch/d1a02bc74db649d9759b/What-It-Feels-Like-To-Be-A-Prison-Guard-At-Guantanamo-Bay---Testimony-of-Christopher-Arendt). He served a tour at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

I would like to share with you how one goes about becoming a concentration camp guard without ever having really made many decisions. I was 17 years old when I joined the Army National Guard in Michigan. I was living with friends. I decided to join the military Nov. 20, 2001, because I had no other options. My family was poor, I was poor, and I wanted to go to school. I was promised a significant amount of money for this purpose, which I have yet to receive. I was in the field artillery, Charlie 1st of the 119th Field Artillery, where I served, quite happily, for… no. That's a lie. I was miserable; I hated it, but I served nonetheless.

We got orders in October 2003 that we would be deploying to Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. Artillerymen would be deploying to Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, to be prison guards. During our one-month mobilization process, we were taught how to put shackles on other people. It feels ridiculous when you are practicing how to put shackles on another human being. You realize how absurd it is. You're putting them on somebody's hands, and it's awkward. It hurts, it's uncomfortable, and it feels dehumanizing. This is just practice. This is just to warm-up for the big game.

We left for Guantánamo Bay early in January 2004. It was hot. It was uncomfortable.

We slept in awful little houses, but at least we had houses. I served on the blocks for two months as a prison guard. My duties were to feed detainees and dispense toilet paper. I occupied myself in some way, shape, or form to drive the boredom out. The primary difficulty in keeping my humanity intact was the boredom. One of the ways I dealt with this was by talking with the detainees. A consequence of having detainees is that they are human beings and also have stories. I talked with them about those stories, which led to my being taken off the blocks. I was sent to work in the Detention Operations Center as the escort control for the last eight months of my tour. I managed the movements of every detainee in Camp Delta. I did this on 12-to-14-hour shifts and rotated with a very small crew of other specialists. I was 19 at the time.

Papers, numbers, shackles, and keys. All of that had to be accounted for, but it wasn't anything more than papers, numbers, shackles, and keys. I'd call two people in, usually outranking me, and I'd have to tell them to do something that they hated doing. And they hated me for telling them to do it. That's the nature of the machine. We're just chips in a Plinko machine.

Orders come down from God knows who or where. They just keep coming down.

There are two specific things I will address about the operation at Guantánamo Bay,Cuba. One is the issue of torture. I've heard a lot of speculation as to what torture is. I would like to ask everyone to consider whether living in a cell for five years, away from your family and friends, without ever being given answers as to why you're there, whether this is torture. Having to ask 19-year-old boys who don't have any idea about the policies of their government why they are detained and the answers that we weren't able to give – I consider that torture. But if that wasn't enough, we had other methods to make certain we got around to torturing these people.

I dispatched the detainee movements. I would come into the office at 4:30 in the morning and there would sometimes be a little paper in the wall with a number on it, which represented a detainee inside of an interrogation room. The temperature of the interrogation room was maybe 10 or 20 degrees,with loud music playing. Sometimes that detainee would stay there for my entire 12-to-14-hour shift. He was shackled to the floor by his hands and his feet, with nothing to sit on, loud music playing, in the freezing cold. I guess that's torture; that depends on who you ask.

I hear there is an official list of things that are and are not torture. Waterboarding is torture. My recent example is not. I can't believe a human being could even write a list like that. The other issue I would like to address is the common usage of the Quick Reaction Force, which is a rotating, five-man team established each morning. If a detainee is unsatisfied with his stay and becomes rowdy, five grown men are fitted with riot gear and lined up outside of a cell while the platoon leader of that camp sprays the detainee in the face with pepper spray. I was sprayed with pepper spray once, and I feel that's one of the worst moments in my life. It put me on my knees for two to three hours afterwards, and in a great deal of pain for the next three days. I would never, ever want anyone to have this happen to them.

After spraying the detainee, these five men would rush in and take whatever opportunities they could. The standard operating procedures do not state that you should beat the sh*t out of detainees, but I guess that some people just decided that's what they were going to do anyway.

These are all on tape, by the way. The government makes sure that each one of these operations is taped. I taped several of them, and I would be happy to show you those clips, but I doubt they will be released anytime soon.

After the detainee is taken forcibly from his cell – that's probably the first time that he's left his cell in five, six, seven days – the detainees are beaten, pulled out to the back, shaved, all of their hair, their beard, and then taken to wherever they were supposed to go. There was one other thing I wanted to address, about the use of the term "detainee." We were told it had to be detainee. It had to be detainee. If it's a prisoner, then they are a prisoner of war, and subject to entirely different laws. If they're detainees, they're subject to no law whatsoever, because there aren't laws for detainees. Because they are called detainees, they don't get trials and there is no code for how they're treated. It's semantics, and we need to pay attention to those; they're important. It's the difference between calling something a detention facility and a concentration camp, even if they're the same thing.

January 12th, 2009, 11:14 PM
Obama prepares to issue order to close Gitmo

By LARA JAKES – 1 hour ago

WASHINGTON (AP) — President-elect Barack Obama is preparing to issue an executive order his first week in office — and perhaps his first day — to close the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, according to two presidential transition team advisers. It's unlikely the detention facility at the Navy base in Cuba will be closed anytime soon. In an interview last weekend, Obama said it would be "a challenge" to close it even within the first 100 days of his administration.

But the order, which one adviser said could be issued as early as Jan. 20, would start the process of deciding what to do with the estimated 250 al-Qaida and Taliban suspects and potential witnesses who are being held there. Most have not been charged with a crime.

The Guantanamo directive would be one of a series of executive orders Obama is planning to issue shortly after he takes office next Tuesday, according to the two advisers. Also expected is an executive order about certain interrogation methods, but details were not immediately available Monday.

The advisers spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the orders that have not yet been finalized.

Obama transition team spokeswoman Brooke Anderson declined comment Monday.

The American Civil Liberties Union called the order an important first step, but demanded details on how Guantanamo will be shuttered.

"What we need are specifics about the timeline for the shuttering of the military commissions and the release or charging of detainees who have been indefinitely held for years," ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero said in a statement. "An executive order lacking such detail, especially after the transition team has had months to develop a comprehensive plan on an issue this important, would be insufficient."

The two advisers said the executive order will direct the new administration to look at each of the cases of the Guantanamo detainees to see whether they can be released or if they should still be held — and if so, where.

Many of the Guantanamo detainees are cleared for release, and others could be sent back to their native countries and held there. But many nations have resisted Bush administration efforts to repatriate the prisoners back home. Both Obama advisers said it's hoped that nations that had initially resisted taking detainees will be more willing to do so after dealing with the new administration.

What remains the thorniest issue for Obama, the advisers said, is what to do with the rest of the prisoners — including at least 15 so-called "high value detainees" considered among the most dangerous there.

Detainees held on U.S. soil would have certain legal rights that they were not entitled to while imprisoned in Cuba. It's also not clear if they would face trial through the current military tribunal system, or in federal civilian courts, or though a to-be-developed legal system that would mark a hybrid of the two.

Where to imprison the detainees also is a problem.

Obama promised during the presidential campaign to shut Guantanamo, endearing him to constitutional law experts, civil libertarians and other critics who called the Bush administration detentions a violation of international law.

But he acknowledged in an interview Sunday that the process of closing the prison would be harder and longer than initially thought.

"That's a challenge," Obama said on ABC's "This Week." "I think it's going to take some time and our legal teams are working in consultation with our national security apparatus as we speak to help design exactly what we need to do.

"But I don't want to be ambiguous about this," he said. "We are going to close Guantanamo and we are going to make sure that the procedures we set up are ones that abide by our constitution."

President George W. Bush established military tribunals to prosecute detainees at Guantanamo. He also supports closing the prison, but strongly opposes bringing prisoners to the United States.

Lawmakers have moved to block transfer of the detainees to at least two potential and frequently discussed military facilities: an Army prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., and a Navy brig in Charleston, S.C. A Marine Corps prison at Camp Pendleton in Southern California also is under consideration, a Pentagon official said.

Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., said Monday that "it's hard to show why terror suspects should be housed in Kansas."

"If the holding facility at Guantanamo Bay is closed, a new facility should be built, designed specifically to handle detainees," Brownback said in a statement.

A Pentagon team also has been looking at how to shut Guantanamo and move its detainees, but spokesman Bryan Whitman did not immediately know Monday whether it was completed.

Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

January 13th, 2009, 11:05 AM
^ Some good commentary on the yet to be determined 'alternative' legal process for the detainees here (http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2009_01/016413.php).


Sharp rise in number of Gitmo detainees on hunger strike: US

Published: Monday January 12, 2009 (http://rawstory.com/news/afp/Sharp_rise_in_number_of_Gitmo_detai_01122009.html)

The number of inmates on hunger strike at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility has risen sharply to 42 -- eight more than last week, officials said Monday at the US-run "war-on-terror" prison.

"We have 42 hunger strikers," said Captain Pauline Storum, spokesperson for the facility, who said the figure includes 31 detainees being force-fed.

There are roughly 250 inmates detained at Guantanamo.

Last Friday there were just 34 inmates who refused food, of whom 25 were forcibly fed.

Officials at Guantanamo said a detainee is classified as being on hunger strike after going for three consecutive days without eating.

US military authorities said forced feedings begin after a detainee either has gone three weeks without a meal, has fallen below 85 percent of his ideal body weight, or if a doctor has recommended it as a medical necessity to preserve an inmate's life.

Officials gave varying possible reasons for the spike in the number of inmates refusing to eat, including the impending inauguration of US president-elect Barack Obama and the upcoming anniversary of the arrival of inmates at the facility.

Detainees were first brought to Guantanamo on January 11, 2002.

"As we approach the seventh anniversary of the arrival of detainees here and the inauguration, we are not surprised to see the numbers increase," said Storum.

"Hunger-striking is an acknowledged form of protest," she said.

The spokeswoman also defended as "humane" the practice of inserting feeding tubes into the noses of detainees to ensure that they don't starve themselves to death.

"The feeding process is administered by registered nurses and is conducted in a humane manner focused on the care of the detainee, as well as protection of medical personnel and the guard force," she said.

"Practitioners use industry standard equipment and procedures -- the same that may be found in any civilian healthcare facility," she said.

The spokeswoman added: "The preservation of life through lawful, clinically appropriate means is a responsible and prudent measure for the safety and well-being of detainees."

Obama, who takes office on January 20, said Sunday the prison at the US naval base would be closed and its 250 remaining internees dealt with constitutionally.

Of the remaining Guantanamo inmates, only some 20 have been charged, including five men accused of helping organize the September 11 attacks of 2001.

The Pentagon has said it has plans to prosecute some 60 to 80 for "war crimes" under special military tribunals that civil liberties groups say are travesties of justice.

The human rights group Amnesty International last week called on Obama to announce a date for the closure of "Gitmo."

But Vice President Dick Cheney in a CNN interview last week said harsh interrogations employed there had saved US lives.

January 14th, 2009, 08:11 AM
Detainee Tortured, Says U.S. Official
Trial Overseer Cites 'Abusive' Methods Against 9/11 Suspect

By Bob Woodward
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, January 14, 2009; A01 (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/01/13/AR2009011303372_pf.html)

The top Bush administration official in charge of deciding whether to bring Guantanamo Bay detainees to trial has concluded that the U.S. military tortured a Saudi national who allegedly planned to participate in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, interrogating him with techniques that included sustained isolation, sleep deprivation, nudity and prolonged exposure to cold, leaving him in a "life-threatening condition."

"We tortured [Mohammed al-]Qahtani," said Susan J. Crawford, in her first interview since being named convening authority of military commissions by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates in February 2007. "His treatment met the legal definition of torture. And that's why I did not refer the case" for prosecution.

Crawford, a retired judge who served as general counsel for the Army during the Reagan administration and as Pentagon inspector general when Dick Cheney was secretary of defense, is the first senior Bush administration official responsible for reviewing practices at Guantanamo to publicly state that a detainee was tortured.

Crawford, 61, said the combination of the interrogation techniques, their duration and the impact on Qahtani's health led to her conclusion. "The techniques they used were all authorized, but the manner in which they applied them was overly aggressive and too persistent. . . . You think of torture, you think of some horrendous physical act done to an individual. This was not any one particular act; this was just a combination of things that had a medical impact on him, that hurt his health. It was abusive and uncalled for. And coercive. Clearly coercive. It was that medical impact that pushed me over the edge" to call it torture, she said.

Military prosecutors said in November that they would seek to refile charges against Qahtani, 30, based on subsequent interrogations that did not employ harsh techniques. But Crawford, who dismissed war crimes charges against him in May 2008, said in the interview that she would not allow the prosecution to go forward.

Qahtani was denied entry into the United States a month before the Sept. 11 attacks and was allegedly planning to be the plot's 20th hijacker. He was later captured in Afghanistan and transported to Guantanamo in January 2002. His interrogation took place over 50 days from November 2002 to January 2003, though he was held in isolation until April 2003.

"For 160 days his only contact was with the interrogators," said Crawford, who personally reviewed Qahtani's interrogation records and other military documents. "Forty-eight of 54 consecutive days of 18-to-20-hour interrogations. Standing naked in front of a female agent. Subject to strip searches. And insults to his mother and sister."

At one point he was threatened with a military working dog named Zeus, according to a military report. Qahtani "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 report shows.

The interrogation, portions of which have been previously described by other news organizations, including The Washington Post, was so intense that Qahtani had to be hospitalized twice at Guantanamo with bradycardia, a condition in which the heart rate falls below 60 beats a minute and which in extreme cases can lead to heart failure and death. At one point Qahtani's heart rate dropped to 35 beats per minute, the record shows.

The Qahtani case underscores the challenges facing the incoming Obama administration as it seeks to close the controversial detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, including the dilemmas posed by individuals considered too dangerous to release but whose legal status is uncertain. FBI "clean teams," which gather evidence without using information gained during controversial interrogations, have established that Qahtani intended to join the 2001 hijackers. Mohamed Atta, the plot's leader, who died steering American Airlines Flight 11 into the World Trade Center, went to the Orlando airport to meet Qahtani on Aug. 4, 2001, but the young Saudi was denied entry by a suspicious immigration inspector.

"There's no doubt in my mind he would've been on one of those planes had he gained access to the country in August 2001," Crawford said of Qahtani, who remains detained at Guantanamo. "He's a muscle hijacker. . . . He's a very dangerous man. What do you do with him now if you don't charge him and try him? I would be hesitant to say, 'Let him go.' "

That, she said, is a decision that President-elect Barack Obama will have to make. Obama repeated Sunday that he intends to close the Guantanamo center but acknowledged the challenges involved. "It is more difficult than I think a lot of people realize," Obama said on ABC's "This Week," "and we are going to get it done, but part of the challenge that you have is that you have a bunch of folks that have been detained, many of whom may be very dangerous, who have not been put on trial or have not gone through some adjudication. And some of the evidence against them may be tainted, even though it's true."

President Bush and Vice President Cheney have said that interrogations never involved torture. "The United States does not torture. It's against our laws, and it's against our values," Bush asserted on Sept. 6, 2006, when 14 high-value detainees were transferred to Guantanamo from secret CIA prisons. And in a interview last week with the Weekly Standard, Cheney said, "And I think on the left wing of the Democratic Party, there are some people who believe that we really tortured."

"I sympathize with the intelligence gatherers in those days after 9/11, not knowing what was coming next and trying to gain information to keep us safe," said Crawford, a lifelong Republican. "But there still has to be a line that we should not cross. And unfortunately what this has done, I think, has tainted everything going forward."

"The Department has always taken allegations of abuse seriously," Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said in an e-mail. "We have conducted more than a dozen investigations and reviews of our detention operations, including specifically the interrogation of Mohammed Al Qahtani, the alleged 20th hijacker. They concluded the interrogation methods used at GTMO, including the special techniques used on Qahtani in 2002, were lawful. However, subsequent to those reviews, the Department adopted new and more restrictive policies and procedures for interrogation and detention operations. Some of the aggressive questioning techniques used on Al Qahtani, although permissible at the time, are no longer allowed in the updated Army field manual."

After the Supreme Court ruled in the 2006 Hamdan v. Rumsfeld case that the original military commission system for Guantanamo Bay violated the Constitution and the Geneva Conventions, Congress rewrote the rules and passed the Military Commissions Act, creating a new structure for trials by commissions. The act bans torture but permits "coercive" testimony.

Crawford said she believes that coerced testimony should not be allowed. "You don't allow it in a regular court," said Crawford, who served as a judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces from 1991 to 2006.

Under the act, Crawford is a neutral official overseeing charges, trials and sentencing, with ultimate decision-making power over all cases coming before the military commissions.

In May 2008, Crawford ordered the war-crimes charges against Qahtani dropped but did not state publicly that the harsh interrogations were the reason. "It did shock me," Crawford said. "I was upset by it. I was embarrassed by it. If we tolerate this and allow it, then how can we object when our servicemen and women, or others in foreign service, are captured and subjected to the same techniques? How can we complain? Where is our moral authority to complain? Well, we may have lost it."

The harsh techniques used against Qahtani, she said, were approved by then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld. "A lot of this happened on his watch," she said. Last month, a Senate Armed Services Committee report concluded that "Rumsfeld's authorization of aggressive interrogation techniques for use at Guantanamo Bay was a direct cause of detainee abuse there." The committee found the interrogation techniques harsh and abusive but stopped short of calling them torture.

An aide to the former defense secretary accused the committee chairman, Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.), of pursuing a politically motivated "false narrative" that is "unencumbered by the preponderance of the facts."

In June 2005, Time magazine obtained 83 pages of Qahtani's interrogation log and published excerpts that showed some of the extreme abuse. The report of a military investigation released the same year concluded that Qahtani's interrogations were "degrading and abusive."

Crawford said she does not know whether five other detainees accused of participating in the Sept. 11 plot, including alleged mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed, were tortured. "I assume torture," she said, noting that CIA Director Michael V. Hayden has said publicly that Mohammed was one of three detainees waterboarded by the CIA. Crawford declined to say whether she considers waterboarding, a technique that simulates drowning, to be torture.

The five detainees face capital murder charges, and Crawford said she let the charges go forward because the FBI satisfied her that they gathered information without using harsh techniques. She noted that Mohammed has acknowledged his Sept. 11 role in court, whereas Qahtani has recanted his self-incriminating statements to the FBI.

"There is no doubt he was tortured," Gitanjali S. Gutierrez, Qahtani's civilian attorney, said this week. "He has loss of concentration and memory loss, and he suffers from paranoia. . . . He wants just to get back to Saudi Arabia, get married and have a family." She said Qahtani "adamantly denies he planned to join the 9/11 attack. . . . He has no connections to extremists." Gutierrez said she believes Saudi Arabia has an effective rehabilitation program and Qahtani ought to be returned there.

When she came in as convening authority in 2007, Crawford said, "the prosecution was unprepared" to bring cases to trial. Even after four years working possible cases, "they were lacking in experience and judgment and leadership," she said. "A prosecutor has an ethical obligation to review all the evidence before making a charging decision. And they didn't have access to all the evidence, including medical records, interrogation logs, and they were making charging decisions without looking at everything."

She noted that prosecutors are required to determine whether any evidence possessed by the government could be exculpatory; if it is, they must turn it over to defense lawyers. It took more than a year, she said -- and the intervention of Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England -- to ensure they had access to all the information, much of it classified.

Crawford said detainee interrogation practices are a blot on the reputation of the United States and its military judicial system. "There's an assumption out there that everybody was tortured. And everybody wasn't tortured. But unfortunately perception is reality." The system she oversees probably can't function now, she said. "Certainly in the public's mind, or politically speaking, and certainly in the international community" it may be forever tainted. "It may be too late."

She said Bush was right to create a system to try unlawful enemy combatants captured in the war on terrorism. The implementation, however, was flawed, she said. "I think he hurt his own effort. . . . I think someone should acknowledge that mistakes were made and that they hurt the effort and take responsibility for it."

"We learn as children it's easier to ask for forgiveness than it is for permission," Crawford said. "I think the buck stops in the Oval Office."

Researchers Julie Tate and Evelyn Duffy contributed to this report.

January 22nd, 2009, 12:36 PM
http://cache.boston.com/universal/site_graphics/bcom_small.gif (http://www.boston.com/)

Obama orders Guantanamo Bay closed, bans torture

Posted by Foon Rhee, deputy national political editor January 22, 2009 11:47 AM

With a few strokes of a pen, President Obama this morning reversed linchpins of the Bush administration's war on terror.

He signed executive orders to shut down the Guantanamo Bay terrorist detention center within a year and to ban harsh interrogations -- what critics say are tantamount to torture .

Obama signed the orders after meeting with 16 retired military officers, who he said pleaded with him to stand up for human rights and American values in combatting terrorism.

"They made an extraordinary impression on me," said Obama, as they stood behind him and applauded.

After signing the orders, Obama said, the "message we are sending around the world" is that the United States will fight terror "vigilantly, effectively, but in a manner consistent with our values and our ideals."

"We're going to win this fight, but we're going to win it on our terms," the president said.

Human Rights First issued a statement on behalf of the retired military officers.

“President Obama’s actions today will restore the moral authority and strengthen the national security of the United States. It is vital to the safety of our men and women in uniform that the United States never sanction the use of interrogation methods that we would find unacceptable if inflicted by an enemy against captured Americans," the statement said.

"We commend President Obama for acting quickly through these executive orders to enforce a single standard of humane treatment for all US intelligence interrogations. As commander-in-chief, he has provided clarity throughout the military chain of command. By unequivocally rejecting torture and other cruel and inhumane treatment, shutting down secret prisons, providing Red Cross access to prisoners in US custody, rejecting the legal opinions that facilitated and excused torture, and announcing the closure of the Guantanamo Bay prison, President Obama has rejected the false choice between national security and our ideals. Our nation will be stronger and safer for it.”

The military-run prison camp at the US Navy base in Cuba, where about 245 terrorism suspects are being detained, has become a symbol of the Bush administration's policies and a magnet for critics who say it violates human rights.

To lay the groundwork for the closing, on Wednesday the ongoing military tribunals -- including one for five Al Qaeda members accused in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks -- were suspended for 120 days.

Retired Admiral Dennis Blair, Obama's incoming director of national intelligence, told Congress today that the detention center must be closed because it is "a damaging symbol to the world."

"It is a rallying cry for terrorist recruitment and harmful to our national security, so closing it is important for our national security," Blair said in prepared remarks.

The summaries of the executive orders, as provided by the White House, are below:

Executive Order regarding Guantanamo Bay detainees

Executive Order requires closure of the Guantanamo detention center no later than one year from the date of the Order. Closure of the facility is the ultimate goal but not the first step. The Order establishes a review process with the goal of disposing of the detainees before closing the facility.

The Order sets up an immediate review to determine whether it is possible to transfer detainees to third countries, consistent with national security. If transfer is not approved, a second review will determine whether prosecution is possible and in what forum. The preference is for prosecution in Article III courts or under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), but military commissions, perhaps with revised authorities, would remain an option. If there are detainees who cannot be transferred or prosecuted, the review will examine the lawful options for dealing with them. The Attorney General will coordinate the review and the Secretaries of Defense, State, and Homeland Security as well as the DNI and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff will participate.

The Executive Order directs the Secretary of State to seek international cooperation aimed at achieving the transfers of detainees.

The Order directs the Secretary of Defense to halt military commission proceedings pending the results of the review.

Finally, the Executive Order requires that conditions of confinement at Guantanamo, until its closure, comply with Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions and all other applicable laws.

Executive Order regarding Detainee Policy

Executive Order creates a Special Task Force, co-chaired by the Attorney General and the Secretary of Defense, to conduct a review of detainee policy going forward. The group will consider policy options for apprehension, detention, trial, transfer, or release of detainees. Other Task Force participants include the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Director of National Intelligence, the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The Special Task Force must submit its report to the President within 180 days.

Executive Order regarding Interrogation

Executive Order revokes Executive Order 13440 that interpreted Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions. It requires that all interrogations of detainees in armed conflict, by any government agency, follow the Army Field Manual interrogation guidelines. The Order also prohibits reliance on any Department of Justice or other legal advice concerning interrogation that was issued between September 11, 2001 and January 20, 2009.

The Order requires all departments and agencies to provide the ICRC access to detainees in a manner consistent with Department of Defense regulations and practice. It also orders the CIA to close all existing detention facilities and prohibits it from operating detention facilities in the future.

Finally, the Order creates a Special Task Force with two missions. The Task Force will conduct a review of the Army Field Manual interrogation guidelines to determine whether different or additional guidance is necessary for the CIA. It will also look at rendition and other policies for transferring individuals to third countries to be sure that our policies and practices comply with all obligations and are sufficient to ensure that individuals do not face torture and cruel treatment if transferred. This Task Force will be led by the Attorney General with the Secretary of Defense and the Director of National Intelligence as co-Vice Chairs.

Presidential Memorandum on Review of the Detention of al-Marri

The President instructed the Attorney General, the Secretaries of Defense, State, and Homeland Security, and the Director of National Intelligence to conduct a review of the status of the detainee Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri who is currently held at the Naval Brig in Charleston, South Carolina. This will ensure the same kind of legal and factual review is undertaken of the al-Marri case that is being undertaken of the Guantanamo cases.

© NY Times Co.

January 22nd, 2009, 09:24 PM
There's some open good land far away from just about everything which would seem to be the perfect place to incarcerate these fellows. It's right near Crawford, Texas.

January 23rd, 2009, 09:32 AM
Bob, give it up.

1. Not all of them were combattants. SOme were just grabbed in random sweeps and imprisoned for no real reson.

2. You didn't mention the Nazi's in your reference to 9-11... :rolleyes:

February 4th, 2009, 11:06 AM
Detainee-Informer Presents Quandary for Government

By Del Quentin Wilber
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, February 3, 2009; A01 (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/02/02/AR2009020203337_pf.html)

An admitted Taliban fighter being held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, fingered a fellow detainee for meeting regularly with Osama bin Laden. He identified another detainee for fighting at Tora Bora, along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, and a third for manning an antiaircraft weapon in Afghanistan. He claimed that a fellow Yemeni was one of bin Laden's bodyguards.

In dozens of interviews over several years at the U.S. military prison -- where he was rewarded with his own cell, McDonald's apple pies, chewing tobacco, a truck magazine and other "comfort items" -- Yasim Muhammed Basardah provided the evidence needed to continue detaining scores of alleged terrorists, military and FBI records show.

But as the Obama administration moves to close the detention center and tries to figure out what to do with the prisoners there, Basardah and the intelligence he offered have raised a pair of vexing problems for the government: Is the information he provided solid enough to bring his fellow prisoners to trial? And what do you do with Basardah and other informers, who are well known to the prisoners they ratted out?

Despite relying on Basardah's tips, military officials have expressed reservations about the credibility of their star witness since 2004. His trustworthiness was further thrown in doubt a little more than two weeks ago when a federal judge ordered a 21-year-old prisoner freed, saying he could not rely on Basardah's word to justify the man's confinement.

The government often relies on evidence other than informers' statements to justify detentions, but legal experts said how much credence the Obama administration gives the statements of Basardah and a handful of other informers will go a long way in determining which detainees are tried and which are released.

"The use of informants opens up a huge set of issues," said Robert Chesney, a law professor who focuses on national security issues at Wake Forest University. "Angels aren't present when the bad stuff is going down. The people present when bad things are happening, the ones you have to use as witnesses, are going to look bad."

Spokesmen for the Justice Department and the U.S. military declined to comment about Basardah, 33, or their use of informers. Basardah's civilian attorney, Steven Wax, a public defender in Oregon, also declined to comment.

Basardah, who is married and has a young son, was born in Yemen on New Year's Day 1976. He eventually moved to Saudi Arabia, where he became addicted to drugs and was an admitted drug dealer. He was arrested eight times on charges of stealing motorcycles and cars and illegally entering the country. He was exiled in 1995, U.S. military records show.

Back in Yemen, Basardah attended meetings sponsored by a Pakistan-based charity that recruits young men -- many poor and on drugs -- for holy war in Afghanistan, the military has alleged.

While others may have joined up because of their beliefs, Basardah told military officials his motive was cash. "I came in just for the money," he said at a 2005 military hearing.

By April 2001, he was being taught to use weapons at al-Qaeda's al-Farooq training facility in southern Afghanistan. By late 2001, he was hiding with bin Laden and others in the mountains of Tora Bora, where he acted as a cook and a fighter, he told military officials. He was arrested in Pakistan and turned over to U.S. authorities in 2002. He has been at Guantanamo since.

Much of the information contained in court filings from Basardah about his fellow prisoners is redacted or part of lengthy summary reports. But it is clear from military records and court documents that it didn't take long for Basardah to begin identifying others who trained at al-Farooq, stayed at Taliban or al-Qaeda guesthouses, protected bin Laden, or fought at Tora Bora.

At first, military authorities were thrilled with the information, but after some time the sheer volume of it began to raise concerns. In 2004, a military official assigned to help another detainee wrote in a report that Basardah was not providing credible information, according to two people familiar with it. The military official noted that Basardah put the other detainee at an al-Qaeda camp three months before the man even arrived in Afghanistan.

Basardah "should not be relied upon," the official wrote, adding that trusting him "strains the imagination" because he provided information on at least 60 other detainees. The officer wrote that not a single man identified by Basardah as training at the camp during a specific time frame was in Afghanistan during that period.

Similar problems have emerged in other cases. Basardah claimed that he saw another detainee at the al-Farooq training camp in April 2001. But government reports, including the detainee's own statements, put the detainee there just before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. That detainee, a 26-year-old Yemeni, has been cleared for release.

A military investigator wrote in a May 14, 2004, report that Basardah's "credibility was in question with interrogators," according to a court filing. Later in the document, the official wrote that "the allegations made by Basardah that are currently being investigated . . . must be resolved."

The government contends in court documents that "a more recent assessment" shows that Basardah is reliable, and officials continue to use the information he provided in court.

Last month, the government's use of such informers suffered a blow when U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon ordered the release of a 21-year-old citizen of Chad. The case was built largely on the word of two informers, one of whom is identifiable in court documents as Basardah, according to a review of the records.

Leon, who did not identify Basardah by name in his public opinion, wrote that government personnel had questioned the informer's credibility. The government has "specifically cautioned against relying on his statements without independent corroboration," the judge added. The credibility of the other informer, who has not been identified, was "undetermined," Leon wrote in a Jan. 14 opinion.

In that case, Basardah told interrogators that he had spotted the detainee, Mohammed El Gharani, who was 14 at the time of his capture, at an al-Qaeda camp and later at Tora Bora, according to court records. Leon noted that Basardah and the other informer gave "conflicting" accounts about when they spotted the detainee at the camp.

In comments to military officials, Basardah indicated that he cooperated because he came to like the Americans and to question the motives of al-Qaeda and Taliban members.

Attorneys for other detainees say they believe that Basardah provided information to get better treatment at the prison. He and other informers live in cells segregated from other detainees. He has received a CD player, chewing tobacco, coffee, library books and other perks, according to court documents.

He has also been given a video game console, according to Zachary Katznelson, a lawyer for Reprieve, a nonprofit group in London that represents 31 detainees. Freed detainees told Katznelson about the games, he said. "There is no basis to believe someone who has received so much that is normally forbidden at the camp," Katznelson said.

Basardah is a well-known informer among the other detainees at the prison. In military hearings and in statements to their attorneys, several detainees have said he lied about them. In 2006, a fellow prisoner told military officials at a hearing that Basardah had lied about him because they had gotten into an argument at the prison, according to a transcript of the proceeding.

A marked man, Basardah has pleaded for the government to find him a new place to live, according to transcripts of his annual review hearings. He wants asylum in the United States and the chance to join the U.S. military.

"I am cooperative to the point where my cooperation with everyone has led many people threatening my life," he said in one military hearing, according to a transcript. "I have put my life in danger and therefore I cannot go back to my own country. . . . They will not hesitate to kill me or anyone in my family."

The U.S. government will probably not grant Basardah and other informers asylum. That leaves two options for the U.S. government: find a third country to accept them or, more likely, send them home under protective arrangements, according to outside experts and former government officials. One former informer, a friend of Basardah's, has been sent back to his home, Iraq.

Staff researcher Julie Tate and staff writer Peter Finn contributed to this report.


Lessons so far:

Torturing detainees does not yield reliable intelligence.
Rewarding detainees with perks does not yield reliable intelligence.
Creating an alternate prosecutory tribunal system with relaxed evidentiary requirements such as allowing hearsay simply compounds problems.

February 5th, 2009, 07:43 PM
Author: With no protocols, Gitmo became 'Dante's Inferno-ish'

David Edwards and Muriel Kane
Published: Thursday February 5, 2009 (http://rawstory.com/news/2008/Author_Under_Bushs_Pentagon_Gitmo_made_0205.html)

According to the author of a forthcoming book, the problems that have beset the terrorist detention center at Guantanamo Bay began when it was virtually thrown together in December 2001 to meet a 96 hour deadline and military lawyers were hurried down there without being given clear rules or protocols to follow.

Karen Greenberg, author of The Least Worst Place: Guantanamo's First 100 Days (http://www.amazon.com/Least-Worst-Place-Guantanamos-First/dp/0195371887), told Comedy Central's Jon Stewart on Wednesday that the decision to send prisoners from the invasion of Afghanistan to Guantanamo was so last-minute that some military legal personnel were pulled away from celebrating Christmas with their families or even out of a church service.

"They didn't tell them they were flying to Cuba," Greenberg explained. "Some of them showed up with gear for Afghanistan, they brought their heavy clothes. And they get on the plane and it's "guess where you're going to."

"They're told, 'Look, you don't have to follow the Geneva Conventions'" Greenberg continued, "'but it would be good if you could sort of, you know, be with the spirit of them.' And they look around and they're like, 'What does that mean?'"

"Make this prison Geneva Convention-ish," Stewart suggested.

"It was an 'ish' situation," agreed Greenberg, "and that does not compute for the military. ... Their idea is ... 'We know how to follow rules, that's our job, we're professionals. We don't, you know, improvise when it comes to the law.'"

"When does the word come down," Stewart asked, "that, 'Hey, you know what? We're actually not going to make it even Geneva Convention-ish. That was the honeymoon period. Now, let's make it more Dante's Inferno-ish.'"

Greenberg replied that starting in mid-February 2002, "they bring in a whole other crew" of higher-ranked officers "and it becomes their show. And they're the 'interrogation' military unit, and they take over."

"Cheney has said repeatedly, 'Guantanamo's the worst of the worst,' Stewart noted. "If we never try them, how do we know they're not the slowest of the slow? ... How do we know they're not the fattest of the fat? ... How do we know without due process?"

Greenberg replied that Cheney is able to say "the worst of the worst" now because "in December 2006, we moved 14 high-value detainees there, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed." However, we still know almost nothing about the other 243 prisoners or what crimes they are supposed to have committed.

"The disrespect for the rule of law and the constructive role it plays, both domestically and internationally, is appalling," Greenberg concluded. "And to think that it makes us less safe to have trials is something that President Obama's going to have to correct.

This video (http://rawstory.com/news/2008/Author_Under_Bushs_Pentagon_Gitmo_made_0205.html) is from Comedy Central's The Daily Show, broadcast Feb. 4, 2009.

February 6th, 2009, 02:51 AM
"They didn't tell them they were flying to Cuba," Greenberg explained. "Some of them showed up with gear for Afghanistan, they brought their heavy clothes. And they get on the plane and it's "guess where you're going to."

"They're told, 'Look, you don't have to follow the Geneva Conventions'" Greenberg continued, "'but it would be good if you could sort of, you know, be with the spirit of them.' And they look around and they're like, 'What does that mean?'"

"Make this prison Geneva Convention-ish," Stewart suggested.

Hmmmmm ... Guantanamo-ish?

Like THIS (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hDN0ElcIQ6s)?


February 6th, 2009, 10:16 AM
Obama to Meet Victims, Relatives of 9/11 Attacks

Michael D. Shear, Peter Finn and Dan Eggen
The Washington Post
Thursday, February 5, 2009; 6:23 PM (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/02/05/AR2009020502847_pf.html)

President Obama will gather tomorrow with victims and families of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and U.S.S. Cole bombing for a face-to-face meeting as his administration struggles to decide how to handle detainees at Guatanamo Bay, Cuba, several of those invited said.

The previously undisclosed meeting at the White House tomorrow afternoon will give the new president a chance to explain his decision to close the controversial prison facility where the U.S. has placed many suspected terrorists since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Obama has been assailed by conservative critics who say the decision to close the facility within a year will lead to putting many of those terrorists back on the street. In a recent interview, former vice president Dick Cheney, an architect of the Bush administration's war on terror, criticized the decision as reckless.

In an interview with Politico.com (http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0209/18390.html), Cheney accused the Obama administration of following "campaign rhetoric" on Guantanamo and warned that the new president's policies could put the country at greater risk of a new attack.

"When we get people who are more concerned about reading the rights to an al-Qaeda terrorist than they are with protecting the United States against people who are absolutely committed to do anything they can to kill Americans, then I worry," Cheney said.

Obama has defended his decision, saying that closing the facility will make the country safer by putting an end to one of the most controversial symbols of the U.S.-led war against terrorism. He said that symbol has helped terrorists recruit new volunteers.

One 9/11 activist, who declined to be identified talking about the meeting, said "fireworks" are likely at the gathering because it will include both relatives who oppose and those who support Obama's plan to close Guantanamo Bay. "There's been some noise that some families don't like the idea and others do, so this is a chance to discuss that," the activist said.

Jim Riches, a retired New York firefighter whose son, Jimmy Riches, died in the 9-11 attacks, said in an interview Thursday that he wants to hear directly from President Obama what the government intends to do with the prisoners.

"I want to know, are they going to drop the charges? Are they going to try them in another court?" he said. "I want to let them know that these men are dangerous."

Riches praised Obama for agreeing to a meeting so soon after taking office.

"The issue tomorrow is what are they going to do with those detainees. We want justice for the ones that said they did it," he said. "Some people may say it's a political move. But I want my voice to be heard. It's a sign of an open door policy, and that's good."

Obama aides did not respond to questions about the meeting. The administration may want to impress on families that they are not dropping charges against alleged terrorists, including Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the self-proclaimed mastermind of the 9/11 attacks who is facing capital charges in Guantanamo, and that he and others will be brought to justice.

Obama had instructed military prosecutors to seek a 120-day continuance in the military commissions in Guantanamo Bay while the administration studied how to handle the approximately 245 detainees at the facility when the prison in Cuba is closed. In an executive order, Obama said the prison should be closed within a year.

But the request for a stay was rejected by the chief military judge in Guantanamo, who decided to proceed with the arraignment Monday of Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, who is accused of organizing the 2000 attack on the U.S.S. Cole.

The refusal by Judge James Pohl, an Army Colonel, has left the administration with little choice but to withdraw the charges "without prejudice" against Nashiri, a procedural move that allows the government to halt proceedings without reference to the judge.

The administration has yet to act in the case, and Friday's meeting may, in part, be to explain that the charges can be reinstated at a later date in some reformed military commissions system. The tactic was also used by the Bush administration when it wanted to stop various proceedings in Guantanamo. The Pentagon has dismissed without prejudice charges in six cases, and reinstated them later in three of those cases.

If Nashiri, a Saudi facing capital charges, pleads guilty Monday, he could box in the administration as the legal principle of double-jeopardy would apply and it would be very difficult to move his case to another court, according to defense attorneys.

Withdrawing the charges against Nashiri could also trigger a withdrawal against all 20 other detainees currently facing trial in Guantanamo. Defense lawyers said they would insist that all detainees be treated equally during the review process.

The president may also want to explain some possible alternative to military commissions, including moving proceedings to federal court or military courts martial.

The relatives of 9/11 victims have divided along somewhat partisan lines in the seven years since the attacks, with some strongly supporting Bush's policies and others growing increasingly dismayed by the direction of U.S. counterterrorism efforts. As a result, Obama's plan to close Guantanamo Bay prompted differing reactions among various groups.

September 11th Advocates, for example, issued a statement last month praising Obama's announcement and calling Guantanamo "an enormous stain on America's reputation."

"The temporary halting of proceedings at Gitmo gives us the 'audacity to hope' that President Obama will be able to restore America's good name, which has been repeatedly tarnished during the past eight years," said the statement from the group, which is led by four New Jersey widows of 9/11 victims. "We appreciate the tough decisions that President Obama has been forced to make and admire him for taking these difficult tasks on."

A group called 9/11 Parents and Families of Firefighters, by contrast, questioned Obama's decision to suspending the trials of several detainees while he maps out the closure of Guantanamo Bay. "We cannot understand why it has taken so long for the prosecution of the detainees in cases where substantial evidence exists of direct or indirect involvement in the terrorist attacks" of 9/11, the group said in a Jan. 25 statement.


Do Obama and his advisors realize the tar-pit of emotional irrationality they are blithely walking into in hopes of scoring some symbolic political points?

Joe "The Plumber" (http://www.nydailynews.com/blogs/dc/2009/02/joe-the-plumber-in-2015.html) has got nothing on Debra Burlingame (http://www.911familiesforamerica.org/?p=1126).

April 24th, 2009, 08:36 AM
Hardin jail tries for detainees from Gitmo

The Billings Gazette (http://www.billingsgazette.net/articles/2009/04/23/news/state/21-hardin.txt)
April 23, 2009.

Economic development officials in Hardin are looking at the soon-to-close detention facility in Guantanamo Bay as a possible fix for the jail sitting empty in Hardin.

President Barack Obama signed an executive order Jan. 22 to close the Guantanamo detention facilities in Cuba where hundreds of enemy combatants have been held since 2002. The closure is to occur in a year, during which time remaining detainees must be returned to their home countries or detained elsewhere.

Meanwhile, a 460-bed detention facility sits empty in Hardin. Built by Two Rivers Authority, the city's economic development arm, the facility was meant to bring economic development to Hardin by creating more than 100 high-paying jobs.

While leaders continue to look for contracts to open the jail, which was completed in 2007, people in Hardin have approached Two Rivers executive director Greg Smith saying they have the answer: Get the contract to hold those prisoners from Guantanamo.

Smith said he started looking into the process to contract - which still isn't clear - and has talked to other possible players, including federal agencies and staffs of the Montana congressional delegation.

It's also not yet clear which agency would operate the facility that ends up holding the detainees.

The Hardin City Council voted Tuesday to support Two Rivers' efforts.

The council resolution states that the city "fully supports the efforts of the Two Rivers Authority to contact State and Federal officials for the purpose of inquiring into the possibility of housing Guantanamo detainees at the Two Rivers Authority in Hardin, Montana, and to determine whether the Two Rivers Detention Center could provide a safe and secure environment for housing said detainees."

Nationally, the focus has been on Alexandria, Va. The town boasts a detention facility and is close to federal courts.

That's nothing on Hardin, Smith said.

Although federal court services are in Billings, Smith contends that the 45 miles of interstate is very likely easier to traverse than several blocks in a metropolitan area.

Any city that takes the detainees is going to have issues to deal with, Smith said. But the federal government won't just dump detainees into an area without bolstering the system to provide them with the due process that is part of Obama's executive order.

"There are 50 states, and some state is going to get this and they're all going to have issues and they're all going to need money," Smith said. "But we have something the others don't."

Smith said Two Rivers Detention Center is a modern, empty facility. It is built so that with just minor conversions it can be upgraded from medium to higher security. Because the detainees would be the only prisoners in the facility, it would be easy to accommodate prisoners' dietary, language and religious requirements.

If someone were to escape, Smith said, there aren't any huge buildings nearby to dodge into. Montana is pretty homogenous, so detainees, many of Middle Eastern descent, would not easily blend into crowds, he said.

And bringing detainees to this area has happened before, Smith said. There were prisoner-of-war camps in Laurel during World War II. There were also internee camps in Missoula and near Powell, Wyo.

Offering a turnkey facility is practically a patriotic duty, Smith said.

"We're offering our president an option," he said. "If he wants it, we have it available. We want to step forward and say, 'Mr. President, we have a solution. How can we make it happen?' "

Smith said there's really no reason for Hardin not to be considered.

"We have to look at the obstacles to overcome and then overcome them," he said. "A lot of it is just getting people to think how it could work."

Two Rivers Authority ran into troubles shortly after construction on the facility finished in July 2007 when the state had no prisoners to send there. Hardin sought contracts with other states to bring in their prisoners, an effort that was shut down for months while the city sued Montana and eventually won the case but hasn't succeeded in finding contracts.

Without prisoners, TRA hasn't been able to repay $27 million in revenue bonds that paid for construction. The project went into default last year. The bond payments are being made from a reserve fund, which would have to be repaid along with the ongoing payments once the facility starts generating revenue.

For Smith and many in Hardin, that can't come soon enough. Smith said it is his job to "uncover every rock" to find ways to get the detention center operating. He knows there are options available, it's just a matter for finding them and seeking out contracts. People who don't like the idea of alleged enemy combatants coming to town can help, he said.

"To those who don't want it, help us find something so we can fill it," Smith said.

Copyright © The Billings Gazette

April 24th, 2009, 08:59 AM
Hardin, Montana

Google Map (<iframe width="425" height="350" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" marginheight="0" marginwidth="0" src="http://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&amp;client=safari&amp;q=Hardin,+MT+59034%22&amp;ie= UTF8&amp;split=0&amp;gl=us&amp;ei=JrLxSePoNoHNlQf2sbC5DA&amp;ll=47 .916342,-106.54541&amp;spn=10.367754,20.544434&amp;t=h&amp;z=6&amp;iwloc=A&amp; output=embed"></iframe><br /><small><a href="http://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&amp;client=safari&amp;q=Hardin,+MT+59034%22&amp;ie= UTF8&amp;split=0&amp;gl=us&amp;ei=JrLxSePoNoHNlQf2sbC5DA&amp;ll=47 .916342,-106.54541&amp;spn=10.367754,20.544434&amp;t=h&amp;z=6&amp;iwloc=A&amp; source=embed" style="color:#0000FF;text-align:left">View Larger Map</a></small>)



Two Rivers Regional, State, and Federal Support and Detention Facility (http://data.opi.mt.gov/legbills/2007/Minutes/Senate/Exhibits/jus40a02.pdf)

Billings Gazette photo/Larry Mayer
Consultant James Klessens, left, and senior worden Larry Johns walk to the new
Two Rivers Regional State and Federal Support and Detention Facility in Hardin.

Community Education Centers acquires CiviGenics

Press Release (http://www.corrections.com/vendor/show_press/15620)
By Community Education Centers
Published: 06/05/2007

Roseland, NJ – Community Education Centers, Inc. (http://www.cecintl.com/) (CEC), the leading provider of offender reentry services, today announced that it has acquired CiviGenics, Marlborough, Mass., the largest provider of in-prison treatment programs.

... CEC and CiviGenics, Inc., share a business philosophy that focuses on an unwavering commitment to reducing offender recidivism. CEC noted several benefits of the acquisition, including utilizing a broader spectrum of expertise areas, not only in treatment and reentry services, but also jail management, resulting in an overall opportunity to strengthen the nation’s corrections system and combined resources to more effectively reduce criminal recidivism in the United States. CiviGenics, Inc., will continue to operate as a wholly owned subsidiary of Community Education Centers, Inc ...

The Corrections Connection ©. Copyright 1996 - 2009 ©

April 24th, 2009, 10:19 AM
That'll come in handy to house the right-wing extremist anti-government terrorist militia groups in Montana.

April 24th, 2009, 11:18 AM
And close enough to Wyoming for Lynne & Liz (http://firstread.msnbc.msn.com/archive/2009/04/24/1905875.aspx) to visit Dick on a regular basis.

April 24th, 2009, 12:43 PM
That'll come in handy to house the right-wing extremist anti-government terrorist militia groups in Montana.

Just in from nNPR:

"Montana law enforcement was put on High Alert on Tuesday after 10 prisoners at the Maximum Security Terrorist Detention Center in Hardin escaped shortly after their 'water reorientation session' Tuesday morning.

Officials were surprised when all 10 returned to the prison and turned themselves in.

When asked why they returned, the only answer that was given was given by accused Iraqi Terrorist Jimbibu Hannawannabadakkklu:

"I never thought there could be anything worse than prison, until I saw Montana".

April 24th, 2009, 01:48 PM
The notion of a 'water reorientation session' for torture victims makes me physically ill...

April 25th, 2009, 11:47 AM
I would go even further.

I would send them to Detroit.

April 25th, 2009, 01:46 PM
How about the middle of Texas (http://maps.google.com/maps?client=safari&rls=en-us&oe=UTF-8&um=1&ie=UTF-8&q=prison+crawford+texas&fb=1&split=1&gl=us&view=text&ei=HEzzScmcBtCblAe6ztHXDA&sa=X&oi=local_group&resnum=1&ct=more-results&cd=1)?

April 27th, 2009, 10:00 AM
I would go even further.

I would send them to Detroit.