Tag Archives: Guantanamo

Will The Real Barack Obama Stand UP?

It increasingly appears Barack Obama has decided to capture the Rush Limbaugh vote by supporting policies of the discredited George Bush. Obama ran on a campaign which promised to close Guanatanamo prison and end military trials, but he has now decided to continue military trials with the proviso there would be changes in procedures such as barring statements obtained under harsh interrogation and making it more difficult to use hearsay evidence. This comes a few days after going back on his promise to allow photographs of torture to be released to the public.

Barack Obama did NOT get elected by Rush Limbaugh super patriots, but he received the support of Americans who wanted new policies that respected the basic liberties and due process procedures of this society. Most of the men in Guantanamo were captured EIGHT YEARS AGO! How can they offer a defense eight years after their “crimes” were committed? Any judge in America would throw out an indictment in which the prosecutor kept the defendant in jail for eight years before deciding to proceed with the trial.

Evidence is already tainted. Sorry, Mr. President, as a constitutional lawyer, you understand that eight years after the alleged crime the mental condition of the defendant is different, access to evidence has been compromised, and the prospect of a fair trial is impossible. Mr. President, we expected more than what you are displaying in the issue of torture and respect for judicial process.

Bush Legacy Lingers On And On And On…

Eight years ago, American forces invaded Afghanistan and during the hostilities captured dozens of men. Actually, after the fighting ended local Afghan forces turned over individuals t the Americans they claimed had been part of the Taliban. To this day, it is unclear whether some of those detainees were simply given to the Americans to settle grudges or because they were not wanted in Afghanistan. Eight years later, President Obama has decided to close the Guantanamo prison. A major problem is use of torture will make difficult introducing evidence into any trials these men might be forced to endure. No states in America are anxious to host in their prisons any of the detainees, no states want their court system to be involved in trying these cases, so the Obama administration is seeking the cooperation of European nations to take in the detainees.

Attorney General Holder is visiting European nations in hope of persuading some to take the prisoners. Hopefully, some of the detainees can be set free, some are unable to return to their own home countries because they will be subject to torture or death. Where does that leave America? On the short end of a very short stick. We wonder if there was a possibility the International Criminal Court could assume jurisdiction over the detainees. We are not certain if this is possible, but certainly it is worth investigating.

American Torture Report Shows Bush As He Really Is!

In the history of the United States there have been few episodes which have matched in disregard for human rights as the story of what has transpired in Guantanamo during the interrogation of prisoners. Aside from flippant remarks from Don Rumsfeld or Dick Cheney about what is the big deal in listening to loud music or standing, no Republican leader who served under George Bush has indicated the slightest understanding of what was done to those imprisoned. And, we cannot forget that few of these men were ever convicted of anything other than being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Of course, some were part of the Taliban or served with al-Qaeda, but in America we believe people are entitled to a fair trial.

Mark Danner, a journalism professor has released on the web site of the New York Review of Books, the story of interrogation. It doesn’t take much more than reading the Table of Contents to make an American sick to his stomach. Among the headings are; “Suffocation by water, prolonged stress standing, beating by use of a collar, beating and kicking; confinement in a box; prolonged nudity; sleep deprivation; use of loud music; exposure to cold temperatures/cold water; prolonged use of handcuffs and shackles; threats; forced shaving; deprivation/restricted provision of food.”

This is the story of the Bush administration, not the story of America. This nation must place on trial every member of the Bush administration–including the president– who allowed such behavior on the part of Americans. We strongly suggest formation of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission after the model used in South Africa.

US Coerced Guantanamo Prisoner To Be Quiet

The United States offered Guanatanamo inmate, Binyam Mohamed a plea bargain if he would agree never to discuss the fact he was tortured in the prison and avoided instituting any legal action against the American government. He was assured that if he pleaded guilty to two charges of terrorism he would only serve a three year term. Mr. Mohamed has the strange idea that he is innocent and does not understand why he must plead guilty to something that was never done in order to get American officials off the hook for their disregard for law. His lawyer put it bluntly: “this reflects the way he US government has consistently tried to cover up the truth of Binyam Mohamed’s torture. He was being told he would never leave Guantanamo Bay unless he promised never to discuss his torture, and never sue either the Americans or the British to force disclosure of his mistreatment.

The truth has emerged for the moment but the entire truth will not emerge until the American government institutes a Truth and Reconciliation Commission which examines all aspects of the horror that is known as Guantanamo. The Bush legacy must be exposed.

Intelligence, Bush Style!

Lawrence Wilkerson, a Republican who served as chief of staff for then Secretary of State Colin Powell, admitted that many men presently in Guantanamo are innocent and the only crime they ever committed was to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. In his discussions with military officials, they admitted they knew some of the men were innocent, but they had a plan. “It did not matter if the detainee was innocent. Indeed, because he lived in Afghanistan and was captured on or near the battle area, he must know something of importance”was the assumption of men raised in the United States of America which has a Constitution based on innocence until proven guilty!! Wilkerson, says “US leadership became aware of this lack of proper vetting very early on and thus, of the reality that many of the detainees were innocent of any substantial wrongdoing, had little intelligence value, and should be immediately released.

Wilkerson claims Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld know of this but refused to do anything because it would damage the Republican presidency. Wilkerson says at present we can not try those who are guilty because they were tortured and the evidence will not stand up in a court of law.

Guantanamo Detainee Was Tortured And British Knew

Binyam Mohamed, a British citizen who has just been released from Guantanamo claims he was subjected to terrible torture and the British government knew all about the use of harsh methods of interrogation, but refused to do anything. He was arrested in Pakistan and then flown to Rabat in Morocco where his chest and genitals were repeatedly cut. Human rights groups want Foreign Secretary David Miliband to release all documents related to the imprisonment and methods used in questioning Mr. Mohamed. The detainee says British sources must have provided questions to his interrogators because many related to his specific places of living in London. He claims they had files provided by British sources to use in questioning him.

There are documents which reveal requests from MI5 to the CIA asking that certain questions be posed while he was in Guantanamo. “We would be grateful if the following could be put to Binyam Mohamed, in addition to the questioning above” was a document that has been released.

Isn’t it time for a Truth Commission which examines violations of the law?

Chile Blasts Bush America On Human Rights!

During the past eight years, the Bush State Department has issued an annual report on the state of human rights in the world. After reading the latest report, the government of Chile issued a response which noted, “there is no Guantanamo in Chile” and argued the United States was the last country on this planet to issue reports pointing the finger at violations of human rights while ignoring its own. Francisco Victal, a spokesperson for the government, said his own nation’s experiences with dictatorship had made it sensitive to questions of human rights and argued, “when a human being is tortured in any place in the world, the dignity of the rest of the six billion beings is also violated.”

The administration of Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld has brazenly boasted of torture that is acceptable and ignored the violations of human rights in their own country. A society which values social justice does not allow 50 million people to go without health insurance, a society which values human rights ensures those who lose jobs receive decent pay. Hopefully, the Obama government will truly be for human rights.

European Union Might Accept Guantanamo Prisoners

Right wing Republican conservatives have been filling television with their weird comments about releasing prisoners from Guantanamo into the “streets of America” as though the Obama administration was simply going to dump them in the nearest city and walk away. the European Union is examining the possibility it could take some of the released prisoners and find jails which would house them until there could be trials. Benita Ferrero-Walder, EU Commissioner for External Relations, said the EU would urge member states to accept the men. In the Czech Republic, a spokesperson for Amnesty International in that country, said, “”we believes that Europe should take some of these detainees.”

There are nations prepared to become involved in finding solutions as to the guilt or innocence of the detainees. The assumption of right wing Republicans is that all detainees are guilty because the Bush administration put them in a jail. At least 24 already have been released because after eight years, the Bush people could not find sufficient evidence to link the men to any crime.

Obama Halts Guantanamo Trial Process

The first legacy of the Bush denial of Constitutional rights has been challenged by the new president of the United States. President Obama has instructed Pentagon prosecutors to seek a delay in the trials of 20 Guantanamo prisoners until his administration can investigate the entire process by which anyone has been kept in the notorious prison as well as the entire method by which individuals have been charged with war crimes. The Canadian government has been concerned over the manner in which Omar Khadr, who was arrested as a fifteen year old boy, has been treated.

Jamil Dakwar, director of the human rights program of the American Civil Liberties Union, said: “this is a good step in the right direction, although we think that the unconditional withdrawal of all charges and shutting down the tainted system is warranted.” Until President Obama ends this judicial farce no American can feel pride in the legal system of his nation.

Close It Down, Says Obama!!

There are reports among the first actions of the Obama administration will be an order from the president which closes down the infamous Guantanamo prison in Cuba. The approximately 250 detainees will be sent to other prisons but it is still not clear where they will wind up. The Obama camp does not believe actually closing down the entire prison can be accomplished within a 100 day period, but there is not doubt the Bush legacy of torture and abuse of humans is finally over.

Closing down Guantanamo is step one, but there is also need for an impartial investigation as to whether high officials in the American government deliberately violated the law by authorizing the torture of prisoners. Every one who enters the armed forces is given a lecture about the importance of respecting the Geneva Convention about treatment of prisoners. If Bush and his subordinates violated the Geneva Convention, then he must be punished even if it nothing more than a public rebuke for his actions. Only then, can the reputation of the United States be restored to its dignity.