Brutality of US Treatment of Prisoners Exposed

July 4th, 2016

“One of the most severely tortured men in the history of Guantánamo Bay presented his case for freedom on Thursday.” is the opening sentence of an article in the Guardian about Mohamedou Ould Slahi, one of the prisoners at Guantanamo whose lawyers are asking for his release.  As with most of the prisoners there, he has been held without charge for nearly fourteen years.

Mohamedou Slahi

Mohamedou Ould Slahi

Unlike most of the other prisoners, however, he published a memoir about his experiences titled Guantanamo Diary which has been a best seller.  Perhaps because of that, the US is not eager to release him.  The US fears he would promote his book globally and thus has not agreed to his release.

His lawyers say he just wants to go home and be reunited with his family.

In my estimation, his detention, as well as that of all the others there, is shameful.  It is even more shameful that the US has not long since released him.

US Torture Confirmed Again

April 26th, 2016

An article titled Why Bush, Cheney, and CIA Leaders Should Be Charged With War Crimes was published today.  It brings forward more information about the torture of Guantanamo  prisoners.  The authors say that prisoner Zayn al-Abidin Muhammad Husayn who is better known by his Arabic nickname, Abu Zubaydah, who is still held in solitary detention in Guantanamo, was accused of things that are not true.

 

Abu Zubaydah

Abu Zubaydah

Further the article states:

“And even if it had been true, what the CIA did to Abu Zubaydah — with the knowledge and approval of the highest government officials — is a prime example of the kind of still-unpunished crimes that officials like Dick Cheney, George Bush, and Donald Rumsfeld committed in the so-called Global War on Terror.”

Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld were the criminals in this case as in so many others.  We must not forget their egregious crimes against humanity and continue to call for their prosecution as war criminals in US and International Courts.

MORE ABOUT SHAKER’S POSSIBLE RELEASE

September 27th, 2015

Below is the press release of World Can’t Wait about Shaker.

World Can’t Wait Calls for Immediate Release of Shaker Aamer

Not One More Day of Torture for Last British Resident of Guantanamo Bay Prison Camp

U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter’s notice of intent to repatriate the illegally detained “terror suspect” – Mr. Aamer has never been charged with a crime – is a welcome development.

It would be premature to celebrate the prisoner’s release, as this is hardly a done deal, but we call on people of conscience to seize the moment to redouble efforts to free Shaker Aamer and all 113 remaining survivors of extrajudicial incarceration.

We condemn the 30-day waiting period for Congressional deliberation, and hold that the delay constitutes unconscionable punishment on top of the 13 year disruption of his life. Mr. Aamer has yet to meet his youngest son, born after his detention.

It is up to us to “walk the talk” to see that President Obama’s promise to close Guantanamo becomes a reality. We will celebrate Shaker Aamer’s repatriation when he boards a plane for London. We will not rest until he’s free and all the prisoners are free and those responsible for this crime of indefinite detention and torture are brought to justice.

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That statement from World Can’t Wait is one with which I agree.  I, too, condemn the 30 day waiting period.  I also call for freeing all the remaining 113 prisoners and have called repeatedly for the release of all the prisoners at that torture center. I too think it is up to us to do what we can to see that Obama closes the torture center and frees all the remaining prisoners.

And, I applaud World Can’t Wait and agree with them in calling for those responsible for the atrocities committed against these prisoners to be brought to justice.

NEWS OF SHAKER

September 25th, 2015

I have just had work that Shaker Aamer, the last remaining British subject in the prison at Guantanamo, may have been released.  Pope Francis is currently in the United States and may have had something to do with this.  Let us hope that Shaker is indeed released and on his way home to his family, including a child who was born after his capture and whom he has never seen.

shaker_ammer

And, let us hope that all the remaining prisoners are soon released as well.

NOT UNRELATED

September 13th, 2015

Though this post is not about war and torture, it is not unrelated to the depredations of the US and can be seen even to have some influence on the military in this country.

I read today about US student debt–which is astronomical.  I want to remind readers that education in the developed world and even in many “third world” countries, though in the latter it may not be widely available, is virtually free for those who qualify for it.

In my university years in France, I paid about the equivalent at the time of twenty-five US dollars for a registration fee.  That was the only cost for any student.  One presented the appropriate academic credentials and was admitted upon the payment of that small fee.

la sorbonne

La Sorbonne

As one of many scholarship students, in addition I was actually paid to go to university.  That scholarship had required a more complex application beforehand, but with it I received a monthly stipend that allowed me to have very decent housing, incredibly low cost meals at the university restaurants, and to meet all my basic expenses.  I could even afford a season of symphony concerts, which certainly enriched my life and brought me great joy, in addition to occasional theater tickets.  I could afford a trip to Rome during a vacation break and another trip to Germany.

By contrast, my 1960’s US college tuition alone was some $10,000.00 per year–which has mushroomed to several times that now.  And that was just tuition and did not include other necessities.  Furthermore, because my family had means, I did not qualify for tuition payment for the “scholarship” that I was awarded; I only got to list the prestigious title of it among my credentials.  Merit got me the scholarship, but “need” would have had to be proven for financial payment of it.  I was, therefore, very dependent on my family and somewhat infantilized as a result.

In most developed countries, there is education for everyone.  The entire society invests in the education of its citizens and all are given the first levels of school.  Not everyone qualifies for higher education, but those who do receive it at virtually no cost.  Education at all levels is of high quality, not dependent on the capacity of local communities to pay for it, but funded by the national government.

There is some of the best education in the world for some people in the US, but the quality of education generally is low.  Not surprisingly, many people here are stunningly ignorant, to the astonishment of Europeans who have occasion to be here and see “average” Americans.

Another aspect of the woeful educational situation here, and of the exorbitant cost of it, is related to the US military.  Since enlistment can mean higher education for some people, there are numerous young people who join one of the service branches in order to get a university education which they would not otherwise be able to afford.  I think that price, too, is far too high for our young people to pay, especially when I know that their peers in other countries do not have to resort to such measures.

USuniversity

Florida State University

Will the US ever join the developed world in providing education, instead of just talking as though it does?

GREENWALD: OBAMA “WANTED TO INDEFINITELY IMPRISON THEM SOMEWHERE ELSE”

August 13th, 2015

Glenn Greenwald, the constitutional lawyer turned journalist, reminds readers at the online site The Intercept that “Obama repeatedly and eloquently railed against the core, defining evil of Guantánamo: indefinite detention,” while campaigning for president.  Yet, seven years later, the torture camp remains open.

prisoner4

prisoner

Prisoners at Guantanamo

Greenwald says Obama actually has demanded the “right to continue to imprison Guantánamo detainees without charges or trial”. And according to Greenwald  this is because he considers that the prisoners “cannot be tried but  [are] too dangerous to release.”  That latter expression is what Greenwald calls “the hideous new phrase”.

Greenwald continues:

“In other words, Obama never sought to close Guantánamo in any meaningful sense but rather wanted to relocate it to a less symbolically upsetting location, with its defining injustice fully intact and, worse, institutionalized domestically.”

You can read the complete article here.

The US, having tortured these men and boys before they left their sites of capture has never been in a position to present them for trial in international courts.  These prisoners remain a serious case of crimes against humanity by the United States.  I continue to say that the only just solution is to release all the prisoners now.

BLACK SITE TRANSLATOR AT GUANTANAMO TRIALS

August 12th, 2015

 

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I am fortunate to speak a number of languages and I have never been where I do not speak the language.  I would not like having to depend on a translator.  There are, even in the best of circumstances, many things that do not translate well even among the European languages I speak.  The thought of being a foreign prisoner in the US and unable to speak English is terrifying, especially since the translators would be engaged by the US and of dubious objectivity at best.

I read recently that the prisoners are telling their lawyers that the translator was at the black sites (where they were not only interrogated but tortured).

Surely it must be possible to have translators whose impartiality is unquestionable.  One from the black sites, employed at the time by the US which was also the agent of the torture of these men and boys, would certainly not likely inspire their confidence at the very least.  At worst, of course, the translator, who knows on which side his proverbial bread is buttered, could misrepresent what the prisoners say.

The US must let these prisoners free.  There is no other just recourse.

prisoner

 

RELEASE SHAKER AAMER

August 11th, 2015

Shaker Aamer, the last British subject held by the US in its torture camp at Guantnamo, is very ill.  Long since cleared for release, he remains there for reasons never explained.   There have  been several posts about Shaker, a few of which you can read here, here, and here.

shaker_ammer

Shaker with his children

Andy Worthington, the British authority on the prisoners at Guantanamo, urges us to contact David Cameron, prime minister of the UK and Obama, US president, demanding Shaker’s release.  I post below the facebook page url where there is information.

https://www.facebook.com/WeStandWithShaker?fref=ts

There are links on that post to send letters to both Obama and Cameron.  The one for Cameron worked.  Below is a better one for Obama.  [You will need to copy and paste this address into your browser because the link does not work.]

https://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/submit-questions-and-comments

Please do read about Shaker and write to Cameron and Obama.

And please do comment on this post or post things related to this issue yourself. If you prefer, send things to me and we will load them on the blog for you.

“Together we can do this”.

 

Nuclear Weapons

August 9th, 2015

This being the 70th anniversary of the nuclear bombing of Japan, the issue of nuclear weapons is in the news.  Since the bombing was only a few months before I was born, I have lived my life in the shadow of nuclear war.  Below are images of the destruction:

atomic bomb1

Nagasaki

atomic bomb2

Hiroshima

The  Japanese people and their government have had a policy of refusing to wage war since these horrific events.  May they continue in that resolution and continue, as they are doing, to work for the end of nuclear arms.

 

US TORTURE DURING THE VIET NAM WAR

June 3rd, 2015

A statement by Anthony J. Russo, an employee of the RAND Corporation who was dispatched to Viet Nam to interrogate prisoners there during the US war in that country in the late 60’s, could have been made by US employees who work in Afghanistan and the Middle East now and in the very recent past.

Russo reported in detail the kind of torture and abuse that prisoners he interrogated had endured.  The CIA was putting into practice the methods of torture that exist to this day and that include being suspended by the thumbs or the feet, beatings, rape, electric shock–especially to the genitals–confinement in dark and dirty cells, waterboarding.

http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/ellsberg/russo2.jpg

Anthony Russo

This brave man documented every instance of these atrocities and crimes against humanity that he encountered,  He wrote about the torture of the people he interviewed in the reports he had to file and argued with his superiors who wanted him to suppress that information, which was ultimately removed from the reports by those who controlled the final drafts.

Eventually, he helped Daniel Ellsburg who exposed the “Pentagon Papers” that revealed what the US wanted hidden about the war in Viet Nam.  As Ellsburg was, he was indicted for complicity in that matter.  The Ellsburg trial had huge implications for the war and the early resignation of Richard Nixon in disgrace.  It was another step on the path to the ignominious end of that disastrous war.

Though not so well known as Ellsbrug, Russo was as courageous and acted on principle.  Ellsburg always said that Russo was the first person who recorded the torture of the Vietnamese.  This is not well known largely because the RAND Corporation buried that information quite successfully.

The US has a history of torture.  What can we do now to stop it and ensure that torture will not be used in the future?


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