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Archive for the ‘Guantanamo’ Category

Free Shaker Aamer, or Minds and Bodies Broken Along With Obama Promises

Posted by Charles II on April 29, 2013

Shaker Aamer, British citizen judged innocent, but held anyway

Image from DemocracyNow 4/29/13

Victoria Brittain: … And those 86 people [held as prisoners in Guantanamo] included this British resident, Shaker Aamer, who—having been cleared as innocent, everybody expected him to be released. The British government has also asked for him. But President Obama has not managed to release him.

why don’t they want Shaker back? I mean, why don’t you people want to send Shaker back? One theory is that because he has been a leading figure in all the hunger strikes and a leading negotiator between the American authorities and the prisoners, he’s a person with tremendous personality and power. He was educated in the United States. He comes from Saudi Arabia. He lives in Britain and has a British family. So he covers all the bases.

He had been living in Afghanistan with his young family, like Moazzam Begg—in fact, in the same house. And they had been building girls’ schools and digging wells. And it was as charity workers that they were there. And that’s completely uncontested by anybody. So, after being sold, he was then tortured…. At that moment after the American bombing, there was a proliferation of different armed groups who picked up these different people as a money-making enterprise.

, I find it very hard to see how he [presidential spokesman Michael Williams] can say, “We don’t hold people indefinitely,” when these people, like—I’ll take the example of Shaker and perhaps of another man, Fouzi Al Awda, a Kuwaiti man. These are people who have been held for 11 years. These are people who, everybody knows, pose no threat whatsoever. The Kuwaiti government has been asking for Fouzi for—since the very, very beginning. The very first court case against President Bush and Donald Rumsfeld, Fouzi Al Awda was the correspondent. They cannot possibly say that the British government is not able to assure them that Shaker does not pose any threat of any sort. The British government—William Hague, himself, the foreign secretary, has said it over and over again. So, I think there’s a bit of economical with the truth going on there.

But last year on this day, she [wife Zinnira Aamer] wrote this amazing long poem called “Heart of Gold.” And—

AMY GOODMAN: Can you read it?

VICTORIA BRITTAIN: I can read a little bit of it. And I think it gives you an idea of the sweetness of the personality.

You are the roof over my head,
You are the shadow that can’t be lead,
You are my voice when the silence breaks,
Your hand I seek, your hand I hold,
Cause you have a heart of gold.

You show me light in the dark,
And you guide me when I am lost,
Your happiness is all I ask,
But your story remains untold,
Cause you have a heart of gold.

You know, it’s a very hard—sorry. But, you know, Zinnira, when she wrote that, she was in one of her up phases, and she was so pleased with the crafting of it, and she worked so hard on it to make it perfect to send to him. And she sends him photographs of the children and little stories and letters that the children write. But over these years, she has had some very serious breakdowns. And sometimes I’ve been with her when she’s been talking about wanting to go to paradise, because she has these bad dreams. Sometimes she dreams that Shaker’s dead. Sometimes she dreams that Shaker is divorcing her. And you have to reassure her over and over again, “The voices—don’t listen to the voices. You have to push the voices away.” And sometimes she can, and sometimes she can’t. And she’s had some sad periods in mental hospitals, and she has periods when she simply packs the kids into the car and goes off to stay with her aged parents, and they look after her until she recovers.

And some of the time, you know, she’s a great mom. She runs her little house. She takes the kids to school. She does extra teaching after school. And she’s a wonderful, warm, outgoing mom, only concerned about her children.

your officials say they’re not held indefinitely. But, you know, if it’s not indefinite, it’s definite. So, aren’t they going to say 11 years is enough?

A British charity worker who poses no threat to anyone, picked up because some thugs wanted to make a few dollars, sold and tortured, held for 11 years, on hunger strike and being tortured by forced feedings, his wife and children suffering daily along with him.

The best guess is that Aamer is being held punitively because he has been an inspiration to other prisoners; presumably if they break him, they imagine other prisoners will be cowed… though what advantage this would be to the United States is unclear.

President Obama has the legal authority to release Aamer.

What is wrong with the United States of America, that we hold and torture innocent people?

Posted in crimes, Guantanamo, wrong way to go about it | 2 Comments »

In which Senator Carl Levin loses his mind

Posted by Charles II on November 29, 2011

I long ago accepted that most of the people in Washington had lost their minds and the rest were a bit wobbly on reality. I did not think that Carl Levin would be one of them. But read this and see if you don’t think that he has lost all sense of proportion. Also note that one Senator is standing up for sanity. From DemocracyNow:

AMY GOODMAN: The Senate could vote as early as Wednesday on a Pentagon spending bill that could usher in a radical expansion of indefinite detention under the U.S. government. A provision in the National Defense Authorization Act would authorize the military to jail anyone it considers a terrorism suspect anywhere in the world without charge or trial. The measure would effectively extend the definition of what’s considered the U.S. military’s battlefield to anywhere in the world, even the United States. The measure’s authors, Democratic Carl Levin of Michigan and Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona, have been campaigning for its passage in a bipartisan effort. But, the White House has issued a veto threat with backing from top officials including Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Director of National Intelligence James clapper, an FBI Director Robert Mueller. The measure was inserted into the full military spending bill after the Armed Services Committee quietly approved it without a single public hearing. Now Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has set Wednesday as a procedural vote day to advance the legislation. For more we’re joined by Daphne Eviatar, Senior Associate with the Law and Security Program at Human Rights First. On Monday, Human Rights First released a letter from 26 retired military leaders urging the Senate to vote against the measure as well as against a separate provision that would repeal the executive order banning torture. Daphne Eviatar joins us in the studio today. Welcome to Democracy Now!. Explain exactly what this legislation is about.

DAPHNE EVIATAR: OK, first of all, the legislation is 680 pages long, and so one reason this has been able to get through so quietly is that the controversial provisions [Amendment 1107] are just three or four provisions within this huge package. The ones that we’re particularly concerned about, are for—-specifically the one you mentioned about creating a system of indefinite military detention within the United States by statute…

DAPHNE EVIATAR: … another very controversial provision in the bill and what the administration has particularly objected to, is the mandatory military custody provision which would say anyone suspected of terrorism in any way connected to Al Qaeda would have to be put into military custody. So, the government wouldn’t even have the option. So, all these FBI investigations that are thwarting terrorist attacks and local police investigations, immediately that would have to be turned over to the U.S. military, and that would become a military action here in the United States, on U.S. soil.

AMY GOODMAN: What about the [Mark, not Tom] Udall Amendment?

DAPHNE EVIATAR: The Udall Amendment would basically table this.

AMY GOODMAN: Who are the military leaders who have signed on to the letter that you released this week?

DAPHNE EVIATAR: Those are retired generals and admirals, very senior people. Many of the same people who stood behind President Obama when he signed an executive order on his second day in office banning the use of torture and closing the CIA’s secret prisons. So many of those same people are saying, you know what, this is not a good idea.

DAPHNE EVIATAR: … the third provision, which I didn’t have a chance to talk about is just that it extends the transfer restrictions. It means you can’t transfer anyone out of Guantanamo. And the worst thing, and this is also something very few people have realized, but, Secretary Panetta mentioned this recently, is it would prevent the transfer of detainees out of Bagram and Afghanistan. So, we have about 3000 detainees being detained indefinitely in Afghanistan at the Bagram Air Base. Now, the U.S. wants to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan. This would make it almost impossible to do that, because you wouldn’t be able to transfer these detainees to Afghanistan because Afghanistan could never meet the conditions that are set out in the bill to accept detainees from the United States.

[In addition, legislation proposed by Senator Kelly Ayotte of NH would authorize torture]

OK, so in summary: Carl Levin has proposed suspending our obligations under international treaties and the US Constitution to permit indefinite detention by the military of anyone, even a US citizen inside the United States, on the mere suspicion of being involved in terror. If your neighbor doesn’t like you and anonymously calls in saying, “She talks to people who look foreign to me,” even if those people happen to be your British exchange student, that’s enough to send you to Guantanamo. And, he wants to keep us in Afghanistan forever so that we can hang onto 3000 people at Bagram. Either that or, in effect, transfer them abroad into a gulag. And, just as a bonus, Kelly Ayotte wants to authorize torture for anyone who lands up in the Gulag Archipelago the Levin-McCain legislation would create. This despite the fact that numerous senior military commanders think it’s a bad idea.

Our military leaders do not want torture, since that would make them war criminals under existing treaties:

Our military and intelligence agencies have made clear they do not want this issue revisited. In 2009 they unanimously reported they had all the authority they needed to effectively interrogate. Responding to calls to bring back “enhanced interrogation techniques,” when he was commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan last year, General Petraeus unequivocally stated “we should not go there.”

Fortunately, the ACLU has made it easy for you to write to your state’s senators here.

Posted in civil rights, Democrats as cancer, Guantanamo, torture, totalitarianism | Comments Off on In which Senator Carl Levin loses his mind

Boooooring. Old news. He’s probably a liberal.

Posted by Charles II on October 30, 2011

Ed Vulliamy, The Guardian:

The former chief prosecutor for the US government at Guantánamo Bay has accused the administration he served of operating a “law-free zone” there, on the eve of the 10th anniversary of the order to establish the detention camp on Cuba.

Retired air force colonel Morris Davis resigned in October 2007 in protest against interrogation methods at Guantánamo….

Davis said that the methods of interrogation used on Guantánamo detainees – which he described as “torture” – were in breach of the US’s own statutes on torture, and added: “If torture is a crime, it should be prosecuted.”

Davis, an expert on the law of war, and former judge advocate for the US Air Force, said that prisoners at Guantánamo have “fallen between” the conventions and rules governing prisoners of war. He questioned the notion of a “war on terror”, saying: “Prisoners of war are supposed to have been captured on the battlefield. Abducting people off the streets of Indonesia and other places far from Afghanistan is pushing the envelope on what is a battlefield. The whole world is in essence the battlefield.”

Professor Thomas Keenan, the head of the Bard College human rights programme, which staged the conference, said: “The president campaigned on a pledge to close down the jail at Guantánamo Bay, and to end the use of military commissions to try its inmates. How is it possible that, two years after he was elected, there are still more than 150 prisoners there, and this November, one of them will go on trial before one of those very commissions?”

I don’t think this is boring, old news, or that Col. Davis is a left-wing ideologue. I think it’s an indictment of both the Bush and the Obama Administrations that should be forwarded to the International Criminal Court.

Posted in civil rights, Guantanamo, Obama Administration, terrorism | 2 Comments »

Heard on the public airwaves

Posted by Charles II on June 23, 2009

DemocracyNow hit the trifecta: charter schools, deep packet inspection (wiretapping), and a detailed analysis of a number of cases of innocent men held at Guantanamo.

On Charter Schools, Stanford University has come up with a new report called The Credo Report (interesting choice of names) which looked at 16 states. They found charter schools very slightly underperforming traditional schools, which is bad news for the movement, since it is promising improvements. Arne Duncan is trying to spin this by saying, well, yes, if we got rid of all the bad charter schools, they would be better than public schools. Of course, if we properly funded and did oversight on bad public schools, they’d be better than charters. Anyway:

this study reveals in unmistakable terms that, in the aggregate, charter students are not faring as well as their TPS counterparts. Further, tremendous variation in academic quality among charters is the norm, not the exception. The problem of quality is the most pressing issue that charter schools and their supporters face.

but with a surprising twist:

two subgroups fare better in charters than in the traditional system:
students in poverty and ELL students.

Bob Peterson of Rethinking Schools gave a powerful rebuttal, demolishing EdSec Arne Duncan’s record and pointing out that charter schools, contrary to the assertions of the Credo Report, cherry pick by dumping students with behavior problems. In Illinois, 15% of traditional classrooms are special needs children, while only 10% of charters are.

Deep Packet Inspection means searching mail/phone/FAX/etc. for keywords (but “words” could include, for example, the ISP, the type of program used to generate the transmission, or the time of day) and referring them to a police agency. Siemens and Nokia set up a centralized system for Iran’s government, which is how they have managed to all but shut down communications. China uses a decentralized system. The US has the capability and it’s legal, according to Josh Silver of FreePress.Net.

I know for a fact that deep packet inspection is used by at least one ISP, which used it for a time to block transmitting things like the link to the Cornell University site on the Constitution! The potential for abuse in a society so completely dependent on electronic communication is enormous.

The segment on the innocence of many Guantanamo detainees added some important detail to what we know. Andy Worthington delivered such a solid exposition that I’m adding him to the links. The case of Abdul Rahim, who was tortured by Al Qaeda and held in a Taliban jail, only to be seized and transferred to Guantanamo was particularly moving. The Syrian government is unlikely to accept him, so as the final (or so we hope) indignity, he will become a stateless person, forever separated from his family.

Posted in Barack Obama, Guantanamo, NSA eavesdropping | 8 Comments »

Christiane Amanpour Smacks Down A Right-Wing Gitmo Meme

Posted by Phoenix Woman on April 5, 2009

Hat tip to icebergslim for posting this CNN-via-DKos video of Christiane Amanpour pushing back on fellow CNN talker Carol Costello’s attempt to push a right-wing “we must keep Guantanamo going” theme:

COSTELLO: Well, but some people might say that President Obama is giving the French some of what it wants and other European leaders like the closing of Guantanamo Bay and supposedly we’re moving the troops from Iraq very soon. These are things that Europeans wanted.


COSTELLO: I’m being devil’s advocate because some critics say, you know, President Obama is giving too much away, he’s deferring too much.

AMANPOUR: Can we just be counter-devil’s advocate? Obama is not closing Guantanamo for the Europeans; he’s closing it because it has caused the single biggest anti-American sentiment around the world and because it violates America’s principles, its morals, its rules of law and all of the rest of it. He’s not doing it for the Europeans, he’s not bringing the troops out of Iraq for the Europeans. He’s making his own considered judgment on the war Iraq for American reasons, those happen to be shared by the Europeans and that will help in that way, but he’s not outsourcing American foreign policy for any other country. It’s national interest and it happens to be one that converges with one of the rest of the world.

More like this, please.

Posted in Gitmo, GOP/Media Complex, Guantanamo, President Obama | 4 Comments »

Bad news for human rights

Posted by Charles II on February 22, 2009

Stephen Foley, London Independent:

Less than a month after signing an executive order to close the Guantanamo Bay prison camp, President Barack Obama has quietly agreed to keep denying the right to trial to hundreds more terror suspects held at a makeshift camp in Afghanistan that human rights lawyers have dubbed “Obama’s Guantanamo”….

human rights groups say they are becoming increasingly concerned that the use of extra-judicial methods in Afghanistan could be extended rather than curtailed under the new US administration. The air base [Bagram] is about to undergo a $60m (£42m) expansion that will double its size, meaning it can house five times as many prisoners as remain at Guantanamo….

The Department of Justice would only say that the legal briefs in the Washington case “speak for themselves”. It says Bagram is a special case because, unlike Guantanamo, it is sited within a theatre of war.

Mr Obama has pushed out the wider questions about the US policy on detaining terror suspects and supporters of the Taliban in Afghanistan until the summer, ordering a review that will take six months to complete.

Posted in Barack Obama, Guantanamo, terrorism, wrong way to go about it | 3 Comments »

Military to Obama: “How do you like our middle finger?”

Posted by Charles II on January 30, 2009

I heard this on Rachel last night, but CNN has the story:

A military judge Thursday refused to delay proceedings against the accused mastermind of the bombing of the destroyer USS Cole despite President Obama’s call for a temporary halt to trials of suspected terrorists.

Obama ordered a 120-day delay of pending cases at the U.S. prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, on his first day in office, requiring prosecutors to seek delays in the 14 active cases before military commissions there.

But the judge, Col. James Pohl, refused the government’s request for a delay and ordered arraignment for Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri to go ahead as scheduled February 9.

So, here are the reasons why this is a bad idea:

  • al-Nashiri was waterboarded (the tapes were destroyed)
  • the case uses military commissions which are unconstitutional and inconsistent with the Geneva accords
  • Obama issued an Executive Order, and Col. Pohl is giving him the middle finger
  • I hope Colonel Pohl gets a promotion to Captain for this bit of insubordination. But something tells me this has approval at high levels in the military, which is not content with botching occupations and wants to get into the judicial business.

    Posted in activist judges, Barack Obama, Guantanamo | 23 Comments »

    The Past Twenty-Four Hours

    Posted by Phoenix Woman on January 21, 2009

    Alex Ross' take on Obama (click on pic to order T-Shirt)

    Alex Ross' take on Obama (click on pic to order T-Shirt)

    A by-no-means-complete list of what President Obama has been doing since being sworn in:

    — working on closing down Guantanamo

    stopping the show trials going on at Gitmo

    giving unjustly-fired USA David Iglesias the job he deserves

    —  halting implementation of last-minute BushCo edicts.

    —  engaging Middle Eastern leaders WRT Gaza.

    Does this man ever sleep, or what?

    [01/22/09 UPDATE: Thanks to Elayne Riggs and Stormcrow for correcting me on the artist’s name — it’s Alex Ross, not “Alex Jones”.]

    Posted in Barack Obama, Constitution, Guantanamo, President Obama, priorities, Rule of Law, terrorism | 9 Comments »

    A Real President

    Posted by Phoenix Woman on January 21, 2009

    This is what a Real President does:

    President Obama has ordered an abrupt halt in the Gitmo Show Trials. From Peter Finn at the Washington Post:

    In one of its first actions, the Obama administration instructed military prosecutors late Tuesday to seek a 120-day suspension of legal proceedings involving detainees at the naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba — a clear break with the approach of the outgoing Bush administration.

    The instruction came in a motion filed late Tuesday with a military court handling the case of five defendants accused of organizing the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. The motion called for “a continuance of the proceedings” until May 20 so that “the newly inaugurated president and his administration [can] review the military commissions process, generally, and the cases currently pending before military commissions, specifically.”

    In the legal field, this is known as an act taken “in the interests of justice”. An incredibly welcome move by an administration literally only hours into its initial term. You have to hand it to President Obama, Guantanamo is a sensitive topic, especially with the neocon screechers, yet he proved the courage of his convictions and acted immediately upon being sworn in.


    We have a Real President. After eight long years, we have a Real President.

    Posted in Afghanistan, anti-Muslim, Barack Obama, Guantanamo, Iraq war, political prisoners, President Obama, priorities, terrorism | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

    Now HERE’S a cheery headline

    Posted by Charles II on November 17, 2008

    Ex-CIA Officials Tied to Rendition Program and Faulty Iraq Intel Tapped to Head Obama’s Intelligence Transition Team

    It’s from a DemocracyNow! interview of CIA analyst Melvin Goodman and CCR head Michael Ratner.

    AMY GOODMAN:No appointees have been named as yet, but questions are already being raised about the people heading Obama’s transition efforts on intelligence policy. John Brennan and Jami Miscik, both former intelligence officials under George Tenet, are leading the review of intelligence agencies and helping make recommendations to the new administration. …

    MELVIN GOODMAN: OK. John Brennan was deputy executive secretary to George Tenet during the worst violations during the CIA period in the run-up to the Iraq war, so he sat there at Tenet’s knee when they passed judgment on torture and abuse, on extraordinary renditions, on black sites, on secret prisons. He was part of all of that decision making.

    Jami Miscik was the Deputy Director for Intelligence during the run-up to the Iraq war. So she went along with the phony intelligence estimate of October 2002, the phony white paper that was prepared by Paul Pillar in October 2002. She helped with the drafting of the speech that Colin Powell gave to the United Nations—[inaudible] 2003, which made the phony case for war to the international community.

    So, when George Tenet said, “slam dunk, we can provide all the intelligence you need,” [inaudible] to the President in December of 2002, it was people like Jami Miscik and John Brennan who were part of the team who provided that phony intelligence. So what I think people at the CIA are worried about—and I’ve talked to many of them over the weekend—is that there will never be any accountability …

    I am not surprised. Let’s just hope that whistleblowers will still come forward and tell the truth, even if they face a less than optimal leadership at the CIA and other intelligence agencies.

    Posted in Barack Obama, Guantanamo, NSA eavesdropping, Uncategorized | 8 Comments »

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