US Accused of Regime of Secret Floating Prisons

According to an article by Duncan Campbell and Richard Norton-Taylor in the Guardian, the US has a series of floating prisons in which people are held and questioned in a law-free regime. See US accused of holding terror suspects on prison ships for the grisly story.

A few snippets:

According to research carried out by Reprieve, the US may have used as many as 17 ships as “floating prisons” since 2001. Detainees are interrogated aboard the vessels and then rendered to other, often undisclosed, locations, it is claimed.

Ships that are understood to have held prisoners include the USS Bataan and USS Peleliu. A further 15 ships are suspected of having operated around the British territory of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean, which has been used as a military base by the UK and the Americans.

Clive Stafford Smith, Reprieve's legal director, said: “They choose ships to try to keep their misconduct as far as possible from the prying eyes of the media and lawyers. We will eventually reunite these ghost prisoners with their legal rights.

“By its own admission, the US government is currently detaining at least 26,000 people without trial in secret prisons, and information suggests up to 80,000 have been 'through the system' since 2001. The US government must show a commitment to rights and basic humanity by immediately revealing who these people are, where they are, and what has been done to them.”

(My emphasis — can this really be true? Is this 'secret prison' number including all the Iraqi detainees in camps in Iraq, or is there some other network of major camps?)

The Guardian article is based on a forthcoming report from an NGO called Reprieve. The Clive Stafford Smith quoted in the article heads Reprieve-UK, which describes itself as follows:

Reprieve provides frontline investigation and legal representation to prisoners denied justice by powerful governments across the world, especially those governments that should be upholding the highest standards when it comes to fair trials.

Reprieve lawyers represent people facing the death penalty, particularly in the USA, or when those facing execution are British nationals. And we represent prisoners denied justice in the name of the ‘War on Terror’, including those held without charge or trial in Guantánamo Bay and the countless secret prisons beyond. None of these prisoners can afford to pay for representation.

It has been said that you can judge a society by how it treats people accused of violating its laws. Through the example set by the world’s most influential nations, fundamental human rights principles stand or fall across the world.

Reprieve uses international and domestic law as a tool to save lives, deliver justice and make the case for world-wide reform.

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14 Responses to US Accused of Regime of Secret Floating Prisons

  1. central texas says:

    Ironic if one of the prison/torture ships was the Bataan; given that it was so-named as a result of our outrage over mistreatment of our POWs by the Japanese. What a thin, fragile veneer our Bill of Rights, “rule of law” and self-adulation turns out to be once we suffer a blow and lose ourselves in fright and rage.

  2. LACJ says:

    Yes exactly right, and we are going to have a hell of a time righting things.

    If we even get the chance to start rebuilding. Diebold is still out there…

  3. SOTS says:

    Yikes! Just when you think that you’ve heard the worst, this administration tops it.

    (One of my first reactions was noted by central texas, above. A great way to honor those who suffered for this country — I wonder how many of those tortured in Japanses POW camps would approve of this. )

  4. brat says:

    Just when I can’t imagine my country becoming even MORE repulsive, another proverbial jack-boot of a war crime drops.

    The USS Bataan used as an illegal prison/jail/torture holding tank? Dear god…..we are the evil empire.

  5. howard says:

    The wide open seas must be convenient to dump the bodies/dispose of the evidence.

  6. sciguy says:

    I want my country back and I want the top level people in the Bush administration on trial.

  7. Brendan says:

    SOTS & central texas – It’s my guess that Bush/Cheney chose those specific ships for precisely that reason – the Bataan death march and Battle of Peleliu.

    They are war criminals of the highest order…

  8. smchris says:

    Let’s see. If 80,000 have been through the system and 26,000 are currently being held and we are just hearing rumours about this does that mean that 54,000 are “20,000 Leagues Beneath the Sea”. Even “better”, I’d think, than waterboarding as an incentive to babble to their inquisitors that they are really lizard people from the planet Rigel 4 with a plot to turn all water solid. Whatever. Anything. Just give them a story premise and I’m sure they’d be happy to run with it.

  9. howard says:

    Perhaps this is why the U.S. is all fussed about the race to reign in outer space. Surely there are no laws way up there. Satellite and other planetary prisons may soon become convenient places to rocket invisibles off to as this planet becomes ever more crowded.

  10. Cardboard says:

    Do you people actually believe all of this idiotic crap?

    I don’t like the US gov’t at times but some of these conspiracy theories by the left are just absurd and don’t make ANY sense at all and yet people willingly accept them as truth and swallow the kool aid because they’re posted on a public conspiracy theory forum and because there’s a VERY small footnote of a theory of this in the Guardian that it HAS to be true!

  11. Cardboard says:

    Do you people actually believe all of this idiotic crap?

    I don’t like the US gov’t at times but some of these conspiracy theories by the left are just absurd and don’t make ANY sense at all and yet people willingly accept them as truth and swallow the kool aid because they’re posted on a public conspiracy theory forum and because there’s a VERY small footnote of a theory of this in the Guardian that it HAS to be true!

  12. SOTS says:

    Cardboard, have the actions of the Bush administration given us any reason to believe that this is not true?

  13. Rhadamanthus says:

    Cardboard, the Guardian is hardly a “conspiracy theory forum”. I certainly hope you don’t believe all of the idiotic crap shoveled by the US mainstream media…

  14. STAN says:

    I haven’t heard a thing since on this floating prison claim. Makes me think it was a load of bs.

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