Category Archives: Guantanamo

A Real Reporter Goes to Gitmo

The St. Petersburg Times should be proud — their report on Gitmo, Meg Laughlin's Behind Guantanamo's walls, there are more walls, shows a lot more signs of real reporting than much of what you get in more famous newspapers.

Example:

When we ask the head psychologist, who calls himself “Eldorado” after the car, about the effects of prolonged solitary confinement, he says: “You see a lot of depression and anxiety.”

But Smo interrupts: “There is no solitary confinement here. They just spend a lot of time alone in their cells.”

To make the point that the detainees want nothing to do with us, the head guard at Camp 5 takes us to a window where he opens a blind so we can see a detainee sitting about 25 feet away. The inmate immediately ties a black plastic bag to a fence to block our view.

“You see how they don't want the media looking at them?” he says.

But we realize we are looking at a latrine and we have been invited to watch them defecate.

Example:

By January 2008, when Zanetti was there, detainees who weren't designated as “maximum-security prisoners” were coming up with trivial complaints that showed how spoiled they were.

To make his point, Zanetti read to me from a daily briefing from the first week of April 2008: “Prisoner 765 wants onions and parsley on his salad; 845 wants a better detainee newsletter; 632 wants a Bowflex machine to build his abs.”

But, according to the master list of prisoner names and numbers provided by the Pentagon, prisoners 632 and 845 left Guantanamo in 2006, two years before the complaints, and the number 765 was never assigned to a prisoner. I left Zanetti several phone messages seeking clarification, but he hasn't called back.

Well done, Ms. Laughlin. Don't expect a job on the Washington Post.

Posted in Guantanamo, The Media | 4 Comments

Ungood. Double-Plus Ungood

Obama Justice Department Urges Dismissal of Another Torture Case

In another move that suggests the Obama Department of Justice is not making many big policy breaks with its predecessor when it comes to the legal rights of Guantanamo Bay detainees, the department filed a brief renewing the government's motion to dismiss the case of Rasul v. Rumsfeld.

According to their legal complaint, Shafiq Rasul, Asif Iqbal and Rhuhel Ahmed claim they traveled to Afghanistan in October 2001 to offer humanitarian relief to civilians. In late November, they were kidnapped by Rashid Dostum, the Uzbeki warlord and leader of the U.S.-supported Northern Alliance. He turned them over to U.S. custody — apparently for bounty money that American officials were paying for suspected terrorists. In December, without any independent evidence that the men had engaged in hostilities against the United States, U.S. officials sent them to Guantanamo Bay. Over the next two years, they claim — as does a fourth British man — that they were imprisoned in cages, tortured and humiliated, forced to shave their beards and watch their Korans desecrated, until they were returned to Britain in 2004. None were ever charged with a crime.

Today, the Justice Department filed a brief arguing, as it did in Padilla’s case against Yoo, that government officials are not liable for torture, abuse, denial of due process or religious rights, because the right of Guantanamo prisoners not to suffer those abuses at the hands of the U.S. government was not clearly established at the time.

That would seem to contradict previous statements by President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder that torture and other abuses are clearly illegal, now and always.

Yuk.

Posted in Guantanamo, Torture | 9 Comments

Petition for a US Truth Commission

The Bush Truth Commission web site, sponsored by Sen. Patrick Leahy, invites you to sign their online petition.

Some background at Kos.

Posted in Guantanamo, Politics: US: GW Bush Scandals, Torture | Leave a comment

The Incompetence of Evil

Gitmo: There Are No Files.

The Bush people told us over and over that the people held at Gitmo were super-dangerous. That's why they couldn't release them, or even try them in the US. (Judges who reviewed selected cases in the main didn't agree, but put that aside.)

Now we learn the farcical basis on which decisions to hold people were being made:

“President Obama's plans to expeditiously determine the fates of about 245 terrorism suspects held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and quickly close the military prison there were set back last week when incoming legal and national security officials — barred until the inauguration from examining classified material on the detainees — discovered that there were no comprehensive case files on many of them.

Instead, they found that information on individual prisoners is “scattered throughout the executive branch,” a senior administration official said. The executive order Obama signed Thursday orders the prison closed within one year, and a Cabinet-level panel named to review each case separately will have to spend its initial weeks and perhaps months scouring the corners of the federal government in search of relevant material.

Several former Bush administration officials agreed that the files are incomplete and that no single government entity was charged with pulling together all the facts and the range of options for each prisoner.

Beyond my darkest imaginings.

Posted in Guantanamo | 2 Comments

Gitmo Today

gitmo-today.jpg

A day late, but even so…

And, more importantly, here are four executive orders signed today.

These are major, major, welcome developments.

Only sour note: Adm. Dennis Blair can't bring himself to call waterboarding “torture”. [Link improved]

Posted in Guantanamo | 7 Comments

Whitehouse.gov Doesn’t Like My Privacy Settings and Has Nothing on Guantanamo

Odd thing: when I go to Whitehouse.gov and allow Flash, the site complains about my privacy settings.

Click for a larger image.
Click for a larger image.

The error message says,

The page did not process successfully because of the following:
• Field 'Email' is invalid
• Field 'Zip Code' is empty

Second odd thing: I wanted the full text of the order postponing trials at Guantanamo, the one that caused the following motion to be filed in Guantanamo,

In order to permit the newly inaugurated President and his administration time to review the military commission process, generally, and the cases currently pending before the military commissions, specifically, the Secretary of Defense has, by order of the President directed the chief prosecutor to seek continuances of 120 days in all pending case.

The Secretary of the Defense issued his order to the Chief Prosecutor in order to provide the administration sufficient time to conduct a review of detainees currently held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to evaluate the cases of detainees not approved for release or transfer to determine whether prosecution may be warranted for any offenses those detainees may have committed, and to determine which forum best suits any future prosecution.

But when I search for “Guantanamo” at whitehouse.gov I get … nothing.

Posted in Guantanamo, Internet | 1 Comment