Archive for the 'torture' Category


Friday, 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.


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


Thursday, 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.



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.


Wednesday, August 12th, 2015



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.




Tuesday, 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 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.

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.]

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”.



Wednesday, 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.

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?


Thursday, May 28th, 2015

Below is a link to an article with excerpts of a Canadian documentary about Omar Khadr, one of the children who were captured in Afghanistan and tortured before being sent to the torture center at Guantanamo.  He was tortured there as well, of course.

Click here to go to the article.

Omar Khadr, former child prisoner at Guantanamo

Now released and back in Canada, he has told his story.

My tax money paid for these atrocities and others that continue at Guantanamo to this day and in black sites unknown to me around the world.  Let us not deceive ourselves that the torture has stopped.
I will be more confident that the US does not torture when there are arrests of US torturers up to the highest levels of government, trials, and serious prison sentences for those found guilty.


Friday, January 9th, 2015

As the twelfth anniversary of the opening of the torture center at Guantanamo Bay arrives, a group of authorities on the center and its prisoners spoke at an event hosted by World Can’t Wait.  Debra Sweet, head of World Can’t Wait presided.  The other participants were Ramzi Kasseem, professor at CUNY Law School and attorney for Shaker Aamer, Andy Worthington, British authority on the prisoners and author of the only book on the subject that has been published to date as well as author of a massive website with information about them, and Omar Farah of the Center for Constitutional Rights and attorney for Fahd Ghazy.


Panel from left: Debra Sweet, head of World Can’t Wait, Ramzi Kassem, Andy Worthington, and Omar Farah

As Debra remarked, though these are world authorities on the subject, no major US news outlets would have broadcast this discussion or even mentioned that it was taking place.  The US media completely support the government and those in it who have created the torture camp and the entire system of US torture.  Dick Cheney is quoted widely as willing to do it again.  The media never challenges the widely believed error that all of the men in the prison are “the worst of the worst”, when in fact nearly all of them were completely innocent of any aggression on the US or anyone and were rounded up  and sold for bounty to the US which needed to fill up that torture camp that Cheney had built. Reports of the release of prisoners almost never mention that they have never been charged with any crime and further that they never committed any.

The following is from the Guardian of 22 November 2014:

‘“What the Obama administration is doing is dangerous and, frankly, reckless,’ the retiring chairman of the House armed services committee, Buck McKeon, said after Thursday’s transfers [of prisoners released from Guantanamo].

“’They have chosen many times to put politics above national security. It’s time they stop playing with fire and start doing what’s right. Until we can assure the terrorists stay off the battlefield, they must stay behind bars.'”

This is a member of the United States Congress who will not admit that almost all of these prisoners never committed acts of terror.  He calls them all terrorists.  The article does not make it clear that these prisoners, a large number of whom have been cleared for release by two US administrations, are not only not terrorists, but not guilty of any violence toward anyone.

The Guardian is a British journal, but it does not tell the truth about the prisoners either.

The speakers last night all talked about the “evidence” that is in the files of these men held at Guantanamo.  Much of it comes from their fellow prisoners who were tortured in an effort to make them give evidence.  They eventually said what their torturers wanted them to say in order to get the torture to stop.  I don’t know that I would have been able to do anything different; would you?

There were two short films presented.  One of them was about Shaker Aamer, the last remaining British prisoner in the torture camp.


Shaker Aamer with his children before he was captured

Called We Stand With Shaker, you can see it on youtube .  You can see Andy perform his song about Shaker in this video.

The other film called Waiting for Fahd can also be seen on youtube.     This film really helped me to see a person, not just a vague prisoner.  I saw him through his family who are desperately waiting for him to be returned to them.  I was able to get a glimpse of the tragedy of being a teenager who has never seen her father, of the wife and brother of a man who has been tortured and imprisoned, has been “cleared for release” but still languishes half way across the world from them in that place of torture.


Fahd Ghazy

Let us not think that torture no longer occurs at Guantanamo.  Some of the worst of the physical torture may no longer take place, but Ramzi told us last night that the prisoners say the psychological torture is far worse.  The waiting to leave, the agony of being told you are cleared for release years ago and still being there are worse.

My tax money pays for this torture and abuse.  I know about it, though there is no doubt a lot more that I do not know about.  I am outraged by this and do what I can to stop it.  I also want to see the perpetrators of this torture, which is a crime under both US and international law, tried in courts of law.  Eventually, the Nazi war criminals were tried.  I continue to hope that the US ones will be, too.  It will not be tomorrow, of course.  The US media still will not even present an event as important as last night’s.  For now, powerful Western countries are not challenging the US on this issue; some of them are complicit in the torture.  I still continue to hope that the day will come when justice may prevail.


Saturday, December 27th, 2014

A recent article by Philip Giraldi contains the following:

“Unfortunately, Americans can also be ignorant, bigoted, small minded and brutal. …

“Torture is not generally regarded as an American value unless one’s name is Dick Cheney but it is a symptom of a government that is largely out of control. The unindicted war criminals in the Bush Administration who established and managed the torture regime [and those in the Obama regime who perpetuate it]  are products of a certain institutional mindset, which my good friend Major Todd Pierce has described as ‘authoritarian psychology.”’

If this sounds like a description of Nazi Germany, it is because it is like that regime.  A further quotation from the Giraldi article continues:

“The debate over torture ignited by the recent Senate report should be rightly seen as an indictment of a large part of the United States government. Recall for a moment that torture was not only carried out in black site prisons. It was also systemic in places like Abu Ghraib and at Bagram, which were run by the military.

“… it [tortue] is clearly a practice that is a violation of both federal statutes and the United Nations Convention against Torture. The Convention was ratified by the US Senate in 1994 and is legally binding in the United States. The body of existing law condemning the practice means that no American president, White House lawyer or legislative body can declare torture to be ‘legal.”’

Even so, tragically and criminally,

” A recent Washington Post/NBC News poll indicates that a clear majority of the public … believe that it is acceptable to use torture on terrorist suspects.”

Torture is never acceptable, no matter what, ever.  It is illegal in international and in US law.  It would be unacceptable even if it were legal.  What can we do to stop US torture?

US TORTURE: Andy Worthington

Saturday, December 20th, 2014

Andy Worthington, authority on and advocate for the prisoners at Guantanamo, published an article in response to the release of the Senate report on US torture.   Below are the concluding paragraphs:

“In the days and weeks to come, there will be concerted efforts by the CIA and by former Bush administration officials to defend their actions, but the report makes clear that any kind of defence is untenable. Crimes were committed, authorised at the highest level of the US government, and, although Obama came into office in 2009 expressing “a belief that we need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards”, that is not acceptable.

“The Senate Intelligence Committee’s torture report – all 6,700 pages of it, costing $40m and involving an analysis of more than six million pages of classified documents – must be the trigger not just for an airing of apologies, but for those who instigated and authorised the torture programme to be held accountable – up to and including President George W Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney.”   Read the complete article here.


I appreciate Andy’s call for accountability and agree with it.



Tuesday, December 16th, 2014

As Glenn Greenwald points out, the US media has not published interviews with prisoners whom the US has tortured at Guantanamo and elsewhere and ultimately released.  There are hundreds of them now, and some of them are English speakers, though translators could also facilitate interviews even with those who do not.

Greenwald states:

“If you don’t hear from the human beings who are tortured, it’s easy to pretend nothing truly terrible happened. That’s how the War on Terror generally has been reported for 13 years and counting: by completely silencing those whose lives are destroyed or ended by U.S. crimes.”

prisoners_released to Uruguay

Guantanamo prisoners recently released

You can read  Greennwald’s full account here  of the egregious details of prisoners who, like nearly all the prisoners at Guantanamo (and likely others tortured by US officials elsewhere) are known not to have done any harm to the US or anyone.  The newly released section of the Senate report has information about some of these former prisoners.

Maher Arar, former prisoner and his wife

I have said for years that the remaining prisoners should be released and all the prisoners should be indemnified with a substantial amount of money.  The latter is not enough, but it would help some of these men to start life again on a better footing and to get the help they need after being tortured.  The US war department budget which is astronomical, could be used for this purpose.

Greenwalk gives a link to an article about the case of an innocent man tortured and released, suffering terrible physical and pschological trauma without so much as an apology:

“Masri brought his case, he told his story, and they knew it was true,” Dakwar [director of the Human Rights Program at the American Civil Libeties Union] said. “Yet he never received redress. He never received an apology. He never even received acknowledgment. His case gives you an idea of the level of lawlessness, the magnitude of this atrocity. His life was devastated. And the United States didn’t care.”

You can click here to go to an article from Fox News about prisoners released in November.  Though they never were a threat to the US, the article still says that ” an administration task force determined they no longer posed a threat.”  The US media support the US government in vilifying these men who are the victims of unspeakable abuse, thought they are completely innocent.  It is rather the United States that poses the greatest threat to the rest of the world, to say nothing of the threats it poses to many US citizens, especially those who are persons of color.

The United States, the most lawless country on earth, doesn’t care about its atrocities, but I care.  I also fear that the rest of the world is not going to tolerate US crimes against humanity indefinitely and I fear the repercussions of that for all of us here.