Posts Tagged torture

US Prison at Bagram: Guantanamo, But with Less Rights

Amantullah, photo by Alixandra Fazzina

Amantullah, a prisoner at Bagram. Photo by Alixandra Fazzina, from The New Yorker.

Estimates are that the United States has detained many thousands of men since 2011 at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan.  Of course, that’s mostly a guess, because they can only be identified when families report them missing.  Tina M. Foster and her colleagues with the International Justice Network (ijnetwork.org) have been fighting for years now, for a very basic right for these prisoners: habeas corpus.

So far, they’ve been unsuccessful at getting any relief, because the Obama administration holds to the Bush regime’s claim that because the prison is in a (U.S. created) war zone, the prisoners cannot be charged or allowed legal defense, presumably until the war is declared ended.

Monday September 16, Tina and colleagues were back in federal court representing three men who are non-Afghans, grabbed by U.S. forces elsewhere and brought to the prison at Bagram.  One was 14 years old, and is still in custody at 19.

Scotusblog captured some of the argument yesterday:

With the U.S. seeking to end its active military involvement in the Afghan war by the end of next year, Swingle repeated the government’s recent claim that it “wants to get out of the detention business” at Bagram.   Some of the lawyers for the detainees, however, argued that there is no assurance that the U.S. military would free any of those it is holding there even after the main U.S. military force had departed.  The U.S. has built a new prison facility on the air base, and that may not be closed down, according to New York attorney Tina M. Foster, who represents three non-Afghan detainees.

Eric L. Lewis, a Washington, D.C., lawyer for a Pakistani national, named Amanatallah, joined Foster in pleading for habeas rights for the Bagram non-Afghan prisoners.   His client, Lewis said, was actually captured by British forces in Iraq, and the U.S. military had no reason to ship him to Afghanistan other than to try to keep him out of reach of U.S. courts.

The third lawyer on the detainee side, John J. Connolly of Baltimore, brought into Tuesday’s discussion a plea for special favorable consideration of the plight of minors who get caught up in the war on terrorism.   His client, Hamidullah, a Pakistani, was only fourteen years old when he was captured.  Government lawyer Swingle, in countering Connolly’s argument, contended that the important fact is that Hamidullah is now nineteen years old, and that is what counts in judging the legality of his detention.

Eric Lewis wrote in The New Yorker, in a piece titled Kafka in Bagram that his client is

a Pakistani citizen, a rice merchant, from a village outside Faisalabad. In 2004, he went on a business trip to Iran (which imports rice from Pakistan) and crossed into Iraq to visit Shia shrines. We know that he disappeared and was not heard from for ten months, when his family learned that he had been detained by British forces in Iraq, handed over to American troops, and then flown to Afghanistan and jailed at Bagram. We know that he was registered originally under the wrong name, suggesting that this may be a case of mistaken identity. We know that, for nine years, he has been prohibited from speaking to a lawyer and permitted only a few telephone calls from his family. He has five children who have not seen him for nine years.

Why was Amanatullah brought to Afghanistan? Rendition of a prisoner from his place of capture to a third country is a grave breach of the Geneva Conventions, as is rendering someone to a war zone. Surely, there were plenty of places to detain him in Iraq. And there was a well-worn route for prisoners to be sent to Guantánamo Bay. Again, the government will not say.

U.S. attorney Swingle argued that releasing Hamidullah would “encourage others to lie about their age

Connolly refuted the US claim that his client was a soldier at all.  U.S.: Releasing child soldiers would encourage others to lie about age:

John Connolly, an attorney for the detainees, told the panel that because of a lack of information from officials at Bagram, “we have no evidence that [Khan] was a child soldier.”

The only thing Connolly said he knew for sure was that Khan “was a child.”

International law says using a child under the age of 15 as a soldier is a war crime, the attorney said, so the United States can assert jurisdiction in Khan’s case.

The United States should release all detainees under 18 (including those arrested when they were children) in Guantanamo and Bagram; release those men who have never been charged, and allow the others legal representation.

Most essentially, the U.S. should get out of Afghanistan now, not vaguely in 2014, and not in 2024, when the current status of forces agreement matures.

Hamidullah was only two years old when the U.S. began this war and occupation.

Witness Against Torture (witnesstorture.org) protesting at the White House.

Witness Against Torture (witnesstorture.org) protesting at the White House. Photo from The New Yorker

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For immediate release

21 August 2013

worldcantwait.net

Contact: Debra Sweet 718 809 3803

 Support Rallies in Response to 35 year Sentence for Whistle-Blower Bradley Manning

World Can’t Wait said today:

“On behalf of the millions affected by the illegitimate, unjust, immoral wars and torture carried by the Bush regime, and continued by the Obama administration, we are outraged at the 35 year prison sentence just put on Bradley Manning. In light of the complete refusal of the Obama administration to investigate or prosecute those responsible for torture, rendition and secret “dirty” wars, Manning’s sentence is an indication that people who expose such crimes must fear losing their lives, while those who conceive, legally justify and carry them out them receive immunity. We remain committed to supporting whistle-blowers Manning, Edward Snowden, and the work of Wikileaks and other journalists who courageously expose war crimes and injustice.”

For comments from Bradley Manning’s supporters on the 35 year sentence just announced in his court martial at Ft. Meade, see this list of events. Facebook event

Fort Meade: Press Conference with Manning attorney David Coombs 1:30 pm Location TBA see bradleymanning.org

Boston: 5pm MBTA Park Street Station Facebook Boston

Chicago: 6pm “The Bean” in Millennium Park Facebook Chicago

Crescent City, OK (Bradley’s home town) 8pm Central at Town Hall, 205 North Grand Facebook Event

Denver 7pm P&L Press 2727 West 27th Facebook Denver

Ft. Lauderdale: 7:30pm 299 E Broward Blvd. Facebook Event

Las Vegas: 5pm Federal Building 300 Las Vegas Blvd Event

Los Angeles: 5pm Downtown LA US District Court: 312 N Spring Facebook LA

Minneapolis: 4:30pm Federal Courthouse 300 S 4th St Facebook Minneapolis

Milwaukee: 6pm Milwaukee City Hall 200 E Wells Street Facebook Milwaukee

New York City: 5pm (47th & Broadway) Red Steps at Times Square, south of the TKTS Booth Facebook NYC

San Francisco: 5pm Bradley Manning Plaza (aka Ferry Plaza), at the foot of Market Street in San Francisco. Facebook SF

Seattle: 5pm Westlake Plaza 4th & Pine Facebook Seattle

Tallahassee 5pm United States Courthouse Facebook Tallahassee

Washington, DC: Rally 7:30pm White House Facebook DC March at 8:30 pm

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Why Should We Have Any Confidence in a Justice Department Investigation Bringing Justice?

Trayvon Martin

Trayvon Martin

“I now ask every American to respect the call for calm reflection from two parents who lost their young son” said Barack Obama a day after the verdict of “not guilty” in the George Zimmerman trial.  “we are a nation of laws, and the jury has spoken.”

Attorney General Eric Holder assured the NAACP that he is concerned about the case, and that “the Justice Department has an open investigation into it.”

The message here is that we — those righteously outraged at the stalking death of a black youth being justified by a jury — should remain calm.  And we are told to wait on justice at the hands of a system built on slavery, Jim Crow segregation, and the New Jim Crow of mass incarceration.  Our protests are the problem, not the underlying injustice, particularly according to Democratic Party leaders, whose purpose is to keep us passive, while they appear to “handle” the problem.

Turning your attention back to 2009, Barack Obama took office in the wake of — and because of — the disaster of the Bush regime laying waste to whole countries, attacking civil liberties, and establishing a system of indefinite detention, black sites, rendition and torture which affected tens of thousands of prisoners.  Obama famously said he wanted to “look forward, not backward,” and starkly disappointed people who were under the illusion that justice would be served on the Bush regime — or at least someone in charge of torture — by the new administration.

Protesting

Above, protesters in San Francisco react to the news that Black teenagers can be murdered with impunity.

Obama and Holder did make some promises which turned out to be aimed at pacifying critics.  The Justice Department “investigated” the CIA torture in Guantanamo, captured on videotape, allowing the perpetrators to get away with destroying the tapes.  They decided not to release the photos of the military torture at Abu Ghraib.  The Justice Department, presumably, looked into the legal justification, practice, and individual orders and responsibility for a wide range of illegitimate actions, known to be against international law, involving thousands of victims.

And then, snooze, they found nothing really wrong, or at least nothing they would prosecute. See Justice Department Ends Investigation on Alleged Use of Torture by CIA.

It’s the same old story.  The rights of people under the empire don’t matter.  And Trayvon Martin, to quote the 1857 Dred Scott Decision of the US Supreme Court, will likely be found to have “no rights the white man was bound to respect.”

I am not exaggerating here. WHEN has a federal investigation brought justice in a situation where crimes have been carried out, supported, or excused by government?

Relevant reading:

We indict the U.S. government.  Example:  For the mass incarceration of over 2.4 million people in the United States, mainly Black and Latino, a program with a genocidal impact against these groups, including torture, solitary confinement, and unjust executions.

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Obama to Give Delayed Speech on Guantanamo, Prisoners Still Starving for Justice

President Obama will give a major speech Thursday at the National Defense University in Washington, reportedly about drones and Guantanamo.  The Washington Post reports that

“Obama was prepared to deliver the speech earlier this month, but it was put off amid mounting concerns over a prisoner hunger strike at Guantanamo Bay and more recently the Justice Department leaks investigation — both of which the revised speech may address.”

The Post also reports that an anonymous White House official says the President

“…will discuss the policy and legal framework under which we take action against terrorist threats, including the use of drones. And he will review our detention policy and efforts to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay.”

World Can’t Wait has been pondering hard on what more we can do to create a political situation where Obama has to back down, release at least some of the men at Guantanamo, and be forced into closing the prison.  The use of indefinite detention and targeted killing is an affront to generally recognized precepts of international law.  Usually, the administration answers, as Eric Holder did last year, makes a claim that “we can do whatever we want,” essentially, when “national security” is at stake.

Obama promised to close Guantanamo more than four years ago.  We have been led to expect, over the last four years, that it’s really not that important to him to do so.

But along comes the prisoners’ hunger strike — a dynamic factor neither Obama’s people, nor the millions of us outraged at Guantanamo’s continued existence expected.  Their action could bring a possible change in the administration’s plans to maintain indefinite detention, at least for some of the men in Guantanamo.

A major missing ingredient in this moment, though, has been the collective voices of artists, intellectuals, politicians, religious and cultural figures who are respected and beloved for being voices of conscience, speaking as one to demand that the torture of Guantanamo be ended. It’s time and past time, as more than 100 days of the prisoners’ hunger strike have passed, that we provide a way for them to speak out together, and for that message to be seen.

Dennis Loo of Cal Poly Pomona drafted a message which will run this week as a full page ad in The New York Times  this week which could serve as such a vehicle. Demanding “Close Guantanamo,” it has been  signed by  1100, including John Cusack, Alice Walker, Wallace Shawn, Junot Diaz, Noam Chomsky, Daniel Ellsberg, Eve Ensler, Kara Walker, Dave Eggers, Glenn Greenwald, Paul Haggis, Bianca Jagger, Ariel Dorfman, Erica Jong, Michael Moore, Ron Kovic, Tom Morello, Mark Ruffalo, Coco Fusco,  Peter Selz, James Schamus, Carl Dix, Oliver Stone, Cindy Sheehan, and Cornel West, joined by attorneys for the Guantanamo prisoners, law professors, clergy and academics.

The message powerfully challenges us to look at Guantanamo as “part of larger, alarming developments” including the NDAA, targeted killing by executive order, and the prosecution of whistle-blowers, “most flagrantly in the torture, slander and draconian legal charges against Bradley Manning.”

It says, “It is up to people to stand up for principle and morality when their institutions and public officials refuse to do so. The fates of those who are maimed or killed by our government’s policies are inextricably intertwined with our own: we must listen and respond to their cry for justice. We demand the release of the cleared Guantanamo prisoners now, and an end to indefinite detention without charge for the others, before they lose their lives.”

SIGN

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A Note of Hope v. the Torture Regime

My friend Stephen Phelps, Senior Minister at The Riverside Church, signed The New York Times ad on closing Guantanamo we plan to publish next week, and sent a note saying he would “begin to send the hope around to some others.”  This hit me strongly.  For the last four+ years, since Obama promised to close it, nothing hopeful has come out of Guantanamo.

It’s only the courageous, and desperate, actions of the prisoners which provide hope now, and which are enlivening the rest of the world with the idea that now Obama must, as Lynn Feinerman put it in Tikkun Daily, “Close Guantánamo. Repatriate and rehabilitate those destroyed by it.”

25 former Guantanamo prisoners just wrote Obama demanding he close the prison. They  say that force-feeding (for which even more “medical” personnel have been brought in recently) “demonstrates the absence of any morals and principles the US administration may claim to have regarding these men,” and cite:

  • The abuse of the prisoners’ religious rights, such as the desecration of the Qur’an
  • The use of chemical sprays and rubber bullets to “quell unrest”
  • Regular and humiliating strip searches
  • Extremely long periods in total isolation
  • Interference in privileged client/attorney relationships
  • Lack of meaningful communication with relatives
  • Arbitrary imprisonment without charge or trial

Ahmed Rachidi, a former prisoner released to Morocco, said recently:

The Obama Administration claims they are on a hunger strike because they want better treatment or better food. But that is not true. They are on a hunger strike because they want justice. They want freedom. They want to go home to their families. And this time they will not quit.

I hope we don’t fail to see how horrific a hunger strike is.  Rachidi goes on:

This will be the last hunger strike. To stop eating is the only way prisoners can exert any control when they are powerless. But this time Shaker and the other prisoners don’t have the same strength, the same energy they used to have. Mentally and physically they are very weak. I am worried that something can go wrong, that someone will lose his life… Guantanamo is a concern to every human being who believes in democracy, who believes in human rights, who believes in the rule of law. We don’t have a lot of time. We need to come together to force President Obama to restore the rule of law and put an end to this disgrace.

In the thirty-six hours since we debuted the ad text, and began asking people to sign on, circulate it, and donate for its publication, I’ve been very heartened by the comments and donations, from $5 to $1,000. The lawyers who represent prisoners are a group with every reason to have given up in defeat, since they are barely allowed to get to Guantanamo, and now their clients are visibly weakened, some unable to converse.  They are signing on, and helping raise funds.

Activists, artists, academics, lawyers, elected officials: this is an urgent call to you.  Unite your voices together to support justice for the prisoners in the “newspaper of record” on the 100th day of the hunger strike. 

Publishing this ad will resonate in a way other actions don’t, and could help create a situation where the Obama administration is forced to respond.  Let’s get into the streets around the world on May 17-19 as part of taking hold of the moment where how a society is measured comes down to closing Guantanamo, and gives hope that the war crimes this country has perpetrated can be addressed.

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Dropping Torture Investigations, Obama Prosecutes Only Critics of Torture

The platform of the Republican Party, and Romney in his speeches, promotes reviving the “global war on terror” as a concept, and criticizes the Obama administration for changing its name to the “overseas contingency operation.” I will grant you, there is a difference in approach between the two parties.

But does emphasizing that distinction miss the essential spread and development of the US “war on terror” which the Obama administration has relentlessly pursued?  Beyond the matter of not closing Guantanamo, Obama’s lawyers argue against habeas corpus rights for 6,000 prisoners in Bagram; against even the right of people tortured in Guantanamo and U.S. secret rendition programs to sue for damages; against the release of photos of torture at Abu Ghraib so that people would have seen more of what the Bush regime was responsible for.

An announcement right before the Democrats convened in Charlotte to re-nominate Obama that his Justice Department is dropping any plans to investigate, much less prosecute cases of homicide by the CIA on detained prisoners might have shocked people, had they not already been rocked back by the reactionary rot spewing from the Republicans in Tampa.  Don’t think the announcement was not very carefully timed to blindside the millions of people who say, “It’s true Obama hasn’t done ___, but at least he’s going to do better than Bush on torture.”

In fact, the CIA now has formal immunity in two instances of killings, which means they will do whatever they can to get away with more, no matter who is president.  As reported by Jane Mayer in The New Yorker, Gul Rahman, who was beaten, shackled, and froze to death in the CIA prison knows as The Salt Pit,” in 2002, and Manadel al-Jamadi who died in CIA custody of a beating at Abu Ghraib in 2003.

No president can deliberately fail to dismantle the torture network assembled by the Bush regime, deciding not to prosecute anyone, not even to investigate most charges, except whistle-blowers like John Kiriakou who mildly criticized the CIA for carrying out torture.  Glenn Greenwald called it an “aggressive, full-scale whitewashing of the “war on terror” crimes committed by Bush officials,” in Whitewashing Torture:

Obama has shielded Bush torture crimes not only from criminal prosecution, but any and all forms of accountability. Obama himself vigorously opposed and succeeded in killing even a congressional investigation into the torture regime at a time when his party controlled both houses of Congress.

Chris Floyd echoes a point made in the 12 Step Program to Overcome Addiction to Voting for the “Lesser” of Two Evils in Obama and Holder: Sanctioning State Murder that all the terrible things Republicans do are not canceled out by supporting Democrats.

The faction of the Imperial Bloc that just nominated Mitt Romney is a pack of militarist nutballs and enemies of the truth. But so is the other faction, which protects torturers, murderers people whose names they don’t even know based on arbitrarily chosen “life-pattern” details gleaned by robots in the sky, launches secret wars, foments coups, runs “black ops” in dozens of countries all over the world, killing hundreds of innocent people each year, plunging whole countries into chaos and ruin with its ‘terror war’ and ‘drug war’ and ‘economic war’ agendas — and ferociously prosecutes anyone who tries to smuggle out a few crumbs of truth about the abominable atrocities and self-destructive follies being carried out daily by a berserk militarist system which has no goal other than its own self-perpetuation and the forced domination of others.

Don’t you find it outrageous that the current president is prosecuting more whistle-blowers at one time than have ever been prosecuted?  Whistle-blowing means criticizing wrong-doing by your superiors in government. Adam Serwer in Mother Jones, writes about what Obama & Holder are doing to add insult to injury;

[N]ot everyone connected to Bush-era torture has escaped accountability. John Kiriakou, the former CIA official who went public about interrogation techniques like waterboarding, is being prosecuted for disclosing classified information for allegedly assisting defense attorneys who were seeking to identify interrogators who may have tortured their clients.  You can torture a detainee in your custody to death and get away with it. You just can’t talk about it. [emphasis mine].

If you don’t care about these issues — and the Obama presidency has surely reduced the outrage among Democrats over them — then be at peace with four more years of what most civilized peoples consider to be war crimes.

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Where to Place Your Hopes in 2012

Join the Sustainer Drive
July 9-31

As I’ve been speaking around the country this spring, I’ve found many people genuinely agonizing about this election.

I feel their pain. World Can’t Wait has not swayed from our principles, in elections years or other times. We will be on the streets, in the classrooms and neighborhoods exposing the wars for empire, the torture, the whole Bush-like direction of the US.

Our message will be consistent.  Vote your conscience: support actions against US wars. World Can’t Wait sustainers are a special group of committed individuals who give monthly so that this message can consistently get out.

Between July 9-31 join us in this drive to ready our people, materials, and organization for the fall and beyond, when people really need to hear our message that “Humanity and the Planet Come First – Stop the Crimes of Your Government.”

DONATE

One thing I can state for certain: no matter who which party wins in November, or who is president, we will be facing a government intent on spreading empire, detaining indefinitely, surveilling almost everyone.

A friend asked me recently if there’s any hope for justice and accountability for the Bush era war crimes.  He had campaigned hard for Obama, with the hopes many had, that Guantánamo would close, and that the Bush regime would face charges, or at least investigation for Abu Ghraib, for lying about WMD’s, or at least for detaining thousands of people with no charge.

No one in power is going to act to bring justice on these issues without mass upheaval and resistance, regardless of whether it’s election time. There are elements, now, of potential for sentiment and action against these crimes to catch hold strongly. The Arab Spring, the unrest in Europe over economic disaster, the threats by the U.S. and Israel to start a war on Iran or other unforeseen developments can effect how people here see what’s possible, and what’s acceptable.

Never forget that what the Bush regime did — and what the Obama administration continued — is illegitimate, unjust, and immoral.  And there are hundreds of millions who know and see that. It can’t be covered up, even if Wikileaks is punished severely.

Consider the 4 year investigation in Poland of the CIA “black site” secret prison there.  There’s a struggle within the Polish government over whether torture charges will come out of it, and how far up they’ll go. Andy Worthington looks into that case in Polish Senator’s Startling New Allegations About CIA Torture Prison in Poland:

“In the long quest for accountability for those who ordered, authorized or were complicit in the Bush administration’s torture program, every avenue has been shut down within the US by the Obama administration, the Justice Department and the courts, and the only hope lies elsewhere in the world, and specifically Poland, one of three European countries that hosted secret CIA prisons, where “high-value detainees” were subjected to torture.” Andy delves deeply into the story, citing his trip to Poland with Anna Minkiewicz when he learned more about what the investigation. See also the LA Times story Poland Shaken by Case Alleging an Illicit CIA Prison There.

What to do?  Support World Can’t Wait’s work to stop the crimes of your government. Become a sustainer! Engage in visible protest, tell the truth about these crimes.

Dallas Chicago Washington, DC

Reporting on a Week Against Torture Across the U.S.

If not us, who? If not now, when?

“I find myself living in an EXCEPTIONAL time. A time when the myth of American moral superiority is being used to excuse, even PROMOTE, cruel and intolerable crimes against humanity…”
From the speech given by World Can’t Wait representative MaryAnn Thomas at the Rally Against Torture, Guantanamo & NDAA on June 26th in San Francisco.

Across the country last week, from Olympia to Dallas (left) to Washington, people challenged the new — 10 year old – “normal” of indefinite detention.

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Report from Guantanamo, Live, Thursday 12/15

GuantanamoThursday evening, World Can’t Wait’s regular national conference call will feature a discussion with Candace Gorman, attorney for Guantanamo prisoners and Adviser to War Criminals Watch.

Candace represents prisoners still held in Guantanamo, 2.5 years after the Obama administration said it would have been closed.  She has just returned from a visit there, and will give us not only the latest news, but her perspective on her years-long efforts to get her clients released.

Anyone concerned about the “rule of law” and the National Defense Authorization Act should join in this60 minute conversation.

Thursday Dec. 15
10 pm EST / 7 pm PST

Read  Candace at GTMOblog.

Write for details to join  the call.

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Occupying, Everywhere, to STOP U.S. Occupations

An irony acutely felt this week:

Tens of thousands of people in the U.S., taking the lead from millions in the Middle East, are “occupying” public spaces, seeking change in the the world as it is, standing up to authority, power, and blowing the ceiling off expectations that the vast disparity in global income “has to” be as it is.  We’ve got to spread these occupations!

Hundreds of thousands of U.S. military, support staff and private contractors are “occupying” two countries in the Middle East, in a mission to enforce, with a vengeance, U.S. domination over the region, employing night raids, torture, and terror towards the civilian population.  We’ve got to end those occupations!

We marked the 10th anniversary of the Bush regime’s bombing and invasion of Afghanistan last week, with protests across the U.S. which were in many cases intermingled with the Occupy Wall Street protests, and in all cases influenced by the outpouring of public anger at the system.

Significantly, a protest in Kabul by Afghans demanded the occupiers leave.

Protesters march in Kabul

Watch Reuters video of the protest in Kabul against U.S. occupation

Yesterday, the United Nations released a report on the detention system in Afghanistan, bought, run and paid for by those who occupy the Pentagon. The New York Times reports that it

paints a devastating picture of abuse, citing evidence of “systematic torture” during interrogations by Afghan intelligence and police officials even as American and other Western backers provide training and pay for nearly the entire budget of the Afghan ministries running the detention centers.

Detainees — and we’ve known this since November 2001, when the U.S. first set up operations at an old Afghan prison in Bagram — are hung by their hands and beaten with cables, their genitals twisted until they lose consciousness.  Because of the Obama administration’s successful argument that the prisoners are not entitled to habeas corpus rights, they have no way out.

This is in no way a departure from all the rest of the Bush war crimes begun 10 years ago.  The NY Times, which editorially opposes torture, while supporting the wars in which the U.S. uses it, said today

such widespread use of torture in a detention system supported by American mentors and money raises serious questions about potential complicity of American officials and whether they benefited from information obtained from suspects who had been tortured….There have been a number of instances that raise similar questions in other places, including Uzbekistan, Pakistan and El Salvador, according to a RAND Corporation report in 2006.

This systematic abuse must be working for the United States government.  According to Glenn Greenwald, the Obama administration

unveiled plans for “the construction of Detention Facility in Parwan (DFIP), Bagram, Afghanistan” which includes “detainee housing capability for approximately 2000 detainees.”  It will also feature “guard towers, administrative facility and Vehicle/Personnel Access Control Gates, security surveillance and restricted access systems.”  The announcement provided: ”the estimated cost of the project is between $25,000,000 to $100,000,000.”

This occupation won’t be ended by Obama, or any presidents to follow him, unless people in this country demand it.

Raise your voice!  January 11, 2012, we’ll be back in Washington on the 10th anniversary of the U.S. prison in Guantanamo, marking it with a protest/human chain of 2,200 people.  We’ll stand for the 171 prisoners in Guantanamo, with no way out, and the 2,000 some at Bagram, with no legal standing. Join in!

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Way to Drive out an Illegitimate Regime!

Watching the delirious celebrations in Egypt, and spreading to cities across the region, and the world, you’ve got to feel the joy.  A hated dictator, who until a month or so ago held unchallengeable power, is gone, relatively quickly, through the action of people in the streets.  Standing up to the police state, the open on-the-street killing of protesters, the jailing and torture of 10,000 political prisoners as S.O.P., Egyptian youth have opened something up which is doubtless making other repressive governments nervous.

Thousands Surround Presidential PalaceWhere this all will go we can’t know.  But never tell me, again, that protest “doesn’t do any good.”  People used to ask, when we began World Can’t Wait – Drive Out the Bush Regime, “what does that mean? drive out?”  The last 3 weeks provide a stunning example.  Received via Twitter: “ya’ll know we could have done this w/ Pres Bush right?? it’s not too late to end the war & torture. world can’t wait.”

Our responsibility to stop the crimes of our own government is really acute now.  The Egyptian military is now in charge.  Exactly the problem!  As World Can’t Wait posted today:

The Mubarak regime was “Made in the U.S.A.” Since 1979, the U.S. has given the regime $35 billion, $1.3 billion per year in military support.  Because of this, Egypt has a large military, and the world’s 4th largest fleet of F-16 fighter planes. Egyptian police who have held 10,000 political prisoners receive training from the U.S. military.  Even the tear gas fired on demonstrators is “Made in the U.S.A.”

Despite decades of torture, disappearing political opponents, and the most open brutality against its own citizens, neither Republican or Democrat leaders plan to reduce military aid to Egypt (LA Times 2/9/11).

The Army was under the control of and trained under the Mubarak regime, and successive U.S. administrations which showered it with money, while the country was a police-state dictatorship for decades.  Wolf  Blitzer on CNN just now:

“I’m sure the U.S. leaders are relieved that the Egyptian military is in charge, because they have a strong relationship with them.”

Will the U.S. stop its “rendition” relationship with state torture in Egypt?  Mubarak’s man, Omar Suleiman, who seems to be out along with Mubarak, was also the CIA’s man.  According to Stephen Soldz of Psychologists for Social Responsibility:

Each rendition was authorized at the very top levels of both governments….The long-serving chief of the Egyptian central intelligence agency, Omar Suleiman, negotiated directly with top Agency officials. [Former U.S. Ambassador to Egypt] Walker described the Egyptian counterpart, Suleiman, as “very bright, very realistic,” adding that he was cognizant that there was a downside to “some of the negative things that the Egyptians engaged in, of torture and so on. But he was not squeamish, by the way” (pp. 113).

Stephen Hendricks, in his fascinating 2010 book, “A Kidnapping in Milan: The CIA on Trial “ traces the CIA – Egypt relationship back 60 years:

One of the earliest recipients of the CIA’s training was Egypt.  The trainers were former Nazi commanders from Germany who were recruited by the CIA not long after the Second World War, probably because the agency was then inexperienced in brutality and wanted men of expertise.”

Hendricks goes on to describe, in gruesome detail, the torture of Abu Omar (Osama Mustafa Hassan Masri), a suspected member of the Muslim Brotherhood who fled Egypt.  He was kidnapped by a CIA team in Milan, and “rendered” back to Egypt, where he was tortured for over a year, and released for 23 days, long enough to tell his story.  When the Egyptian State Security Service notified him to return and pick up his identification papers, without which he could not move about, he returned to the prison, only to disappear completely, never to be heard from in the last 7 years.

That’s the legacy of the Egyptian torture state, paid for and used by the United States.

That’s the legacy we have to learn about, resist, and stop.

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