Posts Tagged indefinite detention

March 20: STOP these Wars & Torture Now!

Sisters & Brothers:

Seven years after shock and awe in Iraq, and 14 months into the “change you can believe in,” things are going in a terrible direction.

One outrage after another:

Obama’s expansion of the war in Afghanistan to 100,000 troops  is not saving Afghan civilians, but killing them.

His use of secret operations and unmanned drones in 5 countries is not only illegal, unjust, and immoral, but against all of humanity.  Revelations that the president claims the right to assassinate US citizens, and that private contractors are running black ops outside the chain of command.

His defense of the Bush era torture lawyers and war crimes in the name of “executive privilege” is unconscionable.

His refusal to allow more than 600 detainees in Bagram, Afghanistan to be identified, and to be denied habeas corpus rights or lawyers to challenge their detention put the lie to the claim he made a year ago that “we do not torture.”

Yes, the right wing IS breathing down Obama’s neck, questioning the legitimacy of his presidency because he’s Black.  The racist Tea baggers get more press for one convention of 600 than we’ve ever gotten for anti-war marches.  The neo-cons have all the intitiative, and the only promise Obama has kept is the one to spread the illegitmate occupation of Afghanistan.

But we have no skin in the game to save Obama, war president.

And there is no solution to this in Congress so don’t look there.   Changing the face in the White House only made the poison go down easier.

What we need — what only we can do — is make a change in what people in this country will accept being done in our names.  If people have gotten confused about whether the Iraq war is over, tell them, no — it’s becoming a permanent occupation!

If people are listening to the “Dick” Cheneys and John Yoos that torture is necessary to keep us safe, and thinking, maybe they agree, tell them, no — torture and aggressive war are never acceptable.

If kids you know are joining up with the military now because fighting for Obama sounds better than fighting for a president that hated, or because Don’t Ask Don’t Tell might finally be ended, tell them no!  Don’t join up for a military occupation where you will be trained and ordered to commit war crimes!

Want to stop the war?  Stop the recruiters!  Bring the We Are Not Your Soldiers! Tour bringing veterans to tell students the reality of the occupations, and help them resist the recruiters.  If you want to stop the wars, start at your school.  Wearenotyoursoldiers.org!  March with the contingent and sign up to bring the tour to your school.

Only we can reverse this dynamic.  The future is unwritten. Which one we get is up to us.  The world STILL can’t wait!

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Cheney Accuses Guantanamo Lawyers of Crimes

It’s outrageous enough that Obama’s Justice Department has declined to pursue criminal, or even professional misconduct charges, on Bush White House lawyers who cooked up “legal” justification for torture, indefinite detention, secret rendition, and the whole nasty suite of “legal” means by which the United States became a pariah.

Eric Holder hasn’t gone to court yet against the Bush crimes; in fact, he defends the Bush administration in cases involving detainee abuse on the basis of executive privilege, “national security” and the need for CIA agents not to have to fear prosecution.

But now we have “Dick” Cheney’s daughter, Liz, and her Keep America Safe neo-cons on a tear against attorneys who came into the Justice Department after defending Guantanamo detainees.  Calling them the “al Queda 7″, Cheney joined with Fox News and Republican Senator Chuck Grassley in asserting that the attorneys “support terrorists” and are dangerous.  Keep America Safe ran an ad with creepy background music and an Investors Business Daily headline, “Department of Jihad.”

These are attorneys who won major cases in the U.S. Supreme Court during the Bush years.  One is Neal Katyal who argued Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, challenging the legality of President Bush’s military commissions.  Ironically, this is the same Neal Katyal who just argued for the government against habeas corpus rights for detainees held at Bagram, on the grounds of national security.

A lot of Bush-ite conservatives, even, are alarmed at the tone of the Cheney attack, which must be why the story has finally made the New York Times today.

But the Cheney group loves a different sort of attorney; the ones who made torture acceptable in the eyes of the CIA under VP Cheney.

Global “warriors on terror” John Yoo, Jay Bybee and Stephen Bradbury came out looking very bad in the Office of Professional Responsibility Report released on February 19.  Looking through the 600+ page report, one can only imagine what’s on the large number of redacted pages, presumably blacked out to cover for the the White House “principals” who commissioned the torture memos.

I attended a briefing by the Alliance for Justice, “After the OPR Report” where attorneys Scott Horton, David Cole, Bill Yeomans and Michael Frisch took apart the report, and spoke to how justice could be served on the torturers.  (It won’t happen through U.S. courts, said Horton, but because a Spanish citizen was tortured in Guantanamo, Spain is proceeding with war crimes prosecutions of Bush officials).

Demonstrators from the group "World Can't Wait" hold a mock waterboarding torture of a prisioner in Times Square 11 January 2008 to mark the sixth year anniversary of when the United States opened the camps at Guantanamo. Waterboarding is a form of torture that consists of immobilizing a person on his or her back, with the head inclined downward, and pouring water over the face and into the breathing passages. TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

Internal CIA documents recently released give even more detail about the how the waterboarding was done to at least 3 detainees in Guantanamo, based on an authorizing memo drafted by one Stephen Bradbury (see above.) “Dick” Cheney famously smirked that water-boarding was a “no-brainer” and is still on the hustings arguing for it.

Mark Benjamin writes in Salon, Waterboarding for dummies, on the new documents, and relates it detail the practices the CIA used.

The CIA’s waterboarding regimen was so excruciating, the memos show, that agency officials found themselves grappling with an unexpected development: detainees simply gave up and tried to let themselves drown. “In our limited experience, extensive sustained use of the waterboard can introduce new risks,” the CIA’s Office of Medical Services wrote in its 2003 memo. “Most seriously, for reasons of physical fatigue or psychological resignation, the subject may simply give up, allowing excessive filling of the airways and loss of consciousness.”

One must ask, where are the investigations of health professionals in relation to these releases?  The principal role of CIA Medical Services seems to have been keeping detainees alive to be tortured longer.

Speaking to the levels of irony in this story, Liliana Segura says today on Alternet:

The broader, unfortunate reality is that many Bush-era conservatives have found little to complain about with Obama’s DOJ and so may be more inclined to defend it. Reports that the administration may do a major league flip-flop on its decision to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his cohorts in civilian courts are only the latest potential example of Bush-era policies that the Obama’s Justice Department has kept in place, from warrantless wiretapping to denying habeas corpus rights to prisoners at Bagram, to its embrace of preventive detention for prisoners at Guantanamo. Were Obama’s record a real departure from that of the Bush administration, these conservatives may well have little to say against an ad like Liz Cheney’s.

But it’s the ideological defenders of torture in the name of “keeping America safe” — really keeping America on top through global empire — who refuse to rename or back down on the “war on terror” begun 9 years ago.  Remember Cheney himself saying this would be a war to last “generations?”

They will not accept civilian trials for anyone held in Guantanamo, won’t let it be closed,won’t allow people who provided legal defense to anyone there — never mind the Bush administration itself released most of the detainees because they had nothing to do with al Queda or attacking the U.S.

Who says they aren’t fascist?

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2 Main Obstacles to Closing Guantánamo (and the solution)

Eight years ago today the Bush regime opened their detention center at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.  It went on to become a notorious symbol of the torture and racism that people the world over associated with the U.S. “war on terror.”Protesters in jumpsuits represent Guantanamo detainees "Cleared for Release"

As we mark this anniversary, many people hoped Barack Obama’s promise to close Guantánamo by Jan 22, 2010 would close that chapter.  But there are 2 things in the way of that:

1) Regardless of the president’s expressed intention to close Guantánamo “in the interests of justice,” his administration is holding on to indefinite detention and even proposing preventive detention; killing more civilians with unmanned drones than Bush did; and expanding the Bush arguments for executive powers.  The lunatics in Congress who say that “all terrorists are Muslim,” therefore, any repression is justified against whole countries have all the initiative and will not allow even a symbolic closing of one part of the US torture state.

2) If one wanted to stop the abuse it would be necessary to prosecute and hold accountable the crimes against humanity commited by the Bush regime, and Obama has said he will not.

At the same time, the torture, the cover-ups and the justifications of it are so heinous, and continue to create such outrage from the populations the U.S. occupations seek to pacify, that  the spectre of scandal still looms over the whole enterprise of the so-called “war on terror.”

The righteous indignation — and opposition — of a people who says “no, not in our name!” expressed with visible, public determination could create a situation where more people see Obama’s Guantánamo as illegitmate.  And that’s where we come in.

Also see: Guantamano Turns 8 While More Lives Slip Away

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The Definitive Guantanamo Detainee List

The Guantanamo Files

Andy Worthington's definitive history of Guantanamo detainees and the injustice they've been subjected to

Andy Worthington has spent almost 8 years learning as much as he can about the Guantanamo detainees; all the aspects of their stories before, during, and some after Guantanamo.  World Can’t Wait and other organizations working on stopping the US torture state rely on his work, and we have learned much from his 2008 book The Guantanamo Files: The Stories of the 759 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison and 2009 film Outside the Law; Stories from Guantanamo.

Andy wrote today:

In the hope of providing an antidote to the shameful propaganda and scaremongering that is currently dominating the media (following the failed Christmas plane bombing, and the would-be bomber’s alleged connections to a Yemen-based al-Qaeda group, which includes a former Guantanamo prisoner), I’ve just updated my definitive Guantanamo prisoner list (first published last March), which provides information and links about all 779 prisoners:

I hope that it’s useful not only as a historical document, but also as reference for the cases of the 198 men still held, as those of us opposed to indefinite detention without charge or trial maintain our struggle to close Guantanamo, and to see those still held either charged or released.   Please feel free to cross-post/circulate/publicize.

With the 8th anniversary of Guantanamo’s opening just one week from today, I hope you will study this list, and use it as an indictment of “America’s illegal prison” as Andy calls it.

Beginning Monday, 12 days of a fast, protest, meetings organized by Witness Against Torture and the Center for Constitutional Rights will concentrate on exposing the gap between Barack Obama’s promise to close Guantanamo by January 22, 2010, and the continued detention of 198 men, most all of them without charges, held indefinitely.

I’ll be there!  Join me.

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