Archive for the 'torture' Category

FILM FOR WE STAND WITH SHAKER

Monday, November 24th, 2014

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Shaker Aamer with his children before his capture and imprisonment without charge by the US over a decade ago

Below is a link to the video advocating the release from Guantanamo of Shaker Aamer, cleared under both Bush and Obama regimes and still confined at the torture camp.  He is the last Briton there.

We Stand With Shaker

I STAND WITH SHAKER AAMER

Saturday, November 22nd, 2014

As you who read this blog will know, Shaker Aamer, from the UK, has been imprisoned in the Guantanamo torture camp for 13 years, though he is innocent of any aggression against anyone.  You can read more about him here and here. Shaker has been cleared for release under both the Bush and Obama regimes, but is the last person from the UK still in the torture camp.

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Andy Worthington, whose extensive research and reporting about the Guantanamo prisoners has given us much of the information we have about them, is encouraging people to Stand With Shaker Aamer in an organized effort online and in the streets of London.  There is a website, facebook page, and more for those of us who cannot be there in person.  Andy asks that we send photographs of ourselves showing that we stand with Shaker.

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A sign such as this was suggested, but those who want to help in this effort can create a visual with a more personal message, if they care to.  The photographs with a message can be emailed to:

standwithshaker@gmail.com.

Will you join us?  Enough of US torture and indefinite imprisonment without charge.  Enough. I STAND WITH SHAKER AAMER and with all of the remaining prisoners at the Guantanamo torture camp.

VICTIMS OF US TORTURE NOT QUESTIONED IN 2012 CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION

Friday, November 14th, 2014

The Guardian reports that the UN committee hearing in Geneva’s inquiry into the status of the US compliance with anti-torture law continues (see previous post).  Questions were posed to the US delegation about the Justice Department inquiry into US torture conducted by John Durham, assistant US attorney, that ended in 2012 and failed to result in any charges against anyone involved in US torture.

US delegate to meeting in Geneva during deliberations

Specifically members of the UN committee from Denmark and Georgia wanted to know why former prisoners who had contacted the committee had never been interviewed by US officials as part of that investigation.  Attorneys representing five other prisoners held by the CIA say that their clients were never interviewed either.

Guantanamo prisoner Walid Bin Attash, held at Guantanamo’s Camp 7 for “high value” prisoners, was a co-defendant in one of the egregious military tribunals at the torture camp. His lawyers say that Durham did not interview him.  Nor was Abu Zubaydah, whom the CIA has said they waterboarded 83 times, interviewed.  His lawyer Joe Margulies said he spoke with Durham during the inquiry, but there was no interview of his client.

Another of the prisoners’ lawyers, David Remes said, “It’s undeniable that the detainees who were tortured would have highly relevant information about their torture”.

The US is admitting all this torture, but an assistant secretary of state who testified, claimed that what counts is not failing to uphold the conventions, but “whether and how it corrects [mistakes].”  Read the complete article here.

I do not think that the massive torture imposed by the US was a mistake, but a deliberate policy.  In fact, torture continues at the Guantanamo camp and at other sites around the world to this day.  We will know that US torture is over when it is admitted without excuses for it, charges are brought against the officials who created and perpetuated the torture program and appropriate trials held, and when the camps and sites are closed and UN inspectors are invited to visit them to assure the world that they are closed.  Until then, it is business as usual in the torture department of the US.

US CHOSING TO CONTINUE TORTURE

Wednesday, November 12th, 2014

Though officials of the Obama administration are saying to the UN committee Against Torture at its meeting in Geneva that it will begin abiding by the UN Convention Against Torture on its own soil, it continues to claim that it is not obliged to do so when operating on foreign soil.

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Prisoner in US custody being tortured

This, of course, means that Guantanamo and US torture sites abroad are still in business.

Believe it or not Mary McLeod, acting US legal adviser at that meeting said, “The US if proud of its record as a leader in respecting, promoting, and defending human rights and the rule of law, both at home and around the world.”  She did concede that “in the wake of 9/11 attacks” the US “did not always live up to our own values. We crossed the line and we take responsibility for that.”

I am not sure how More’s latter statement squares with her former.  The US has been and continues to be a country that tortures and torture never accords with human rights nor does the US abide by international law in this matter among others.

See the full article here in which the Obama administration claims that the black sites do not fall under the jurisdiction of the UN treaty against torture.  Frankly, even if the UN were not to condemn it, I am opposed to any kind of torture, anywhere, ever.  I object in the strongest possible terms to my tax money going for torture and do everything I can legally to stop it.

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What can we citizens do to stop US torture?

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PRISONER RELEASED FROM GUANTANAMO

Thursday, November 6th, 2014

Fawzi al Odah

Fawzi al Odah has been released from the US torture camp at Guantanamo after 13 years there.  Andy Worthington, world authority on the prisoners quoted many times on this blog, says that he learned from Jenifer Fenton, a writer for Al-Jazeera American whom he has met, that Fawzi’s father said Fawzi “excelled in school and graduated from Kuwait University with a degree in Islamic studies and became a teacher,” adding that Fawzi “had spent his summer vacation in 2000 with other religious Kuwaitis in Pakistan, teaching and distributing money to people in villages near the Afghan border.” On his return, “he told his father he was very interested in relief work and he wanted to do charity work every year.” For 2001, Khalid al-Odah said, “he planned to help Afghan refugees.”

Worthington continues with information from Fenton:

“However, as Fawzi himself explained at a hearing at Guantánamo a decade ago, it was his ‘bad luck and bad timing’ that the 9/11 attacks happened while he was in Afghanistan. Like many other Arabs, he fled the country, as news spread that foreigners were being sold for bounty payments, but as he crossed into Pakistan, despite asking to be taken to the Kuwaiti Embassy, he was sent to Guantánamo via the US prisons in Afghanistan.”

Alas, Fawzi is not the only aide worker to have been sold for bounty to the US, tortured and imprisoned in Guantanamo for over a decade.

Read the news report of his release here and what Andy Worthington says about him on his website here.

I am very glad to be able to report Fawzi’s release.  I lament the fact that 148 others languish in that torture camp where abuses continue to this day.  I also hope that Fawzi will not suffer the rest of his days form having lived nearly one third of his life in the torture camp.

What are we doing to help bring about the release of the remaining 148 men still in the Quantanamo torture camp? What are we doing to see that the US gives all 779 of the original prisoners restitution for the terrible wrongs done to them?  What are we doing about prisoners in other US black sites who have been or are being tortured?  We fool ourselves if we fail to recognize that abuse continues in Guantanamo and elsewhere under a second US administration.

US TORTURE CONDEMNED IN REPORT TO THE UNITED NATIONS

Saturday, November 1st, 2014

“Since the United States last reported to the Committee Against
Torture in 2006, even more evidence has emerged confirming that civilian and military officials at the highest level created, designed, authorized, and implemented a sophisticated, international criminal program of torture. In August 2014, President Barack Obama conceded that the United States tortured people as partof its so-called “War on Terror,” yet the United States continues to shield senior officials from liability for these crimes, in violation of its obligations under the Convention Against Torture.”

That is the first paragraph of the report submitted to the United Nations Committee Against Torture. The action recommended by the authors of the report are:

“That the United States promptly and impartially prosecute senior military and civilian officials responsible for authorizing, acquiescing, or consenting in any way to acts of
torture committed by their subordinates”

The report quotes Barack Obama’s widely reported statement from a press conference on August 1, 2014 that  “…even before I came into office I was very clear that in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 we did some things that were wrong. We did a whole lot of things that were right, but we tortured some folks.”

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Carrying the sign in DC

Though he admits openly that the US committed torture, which violates US and domestic law, he has done nothing to stop the torture that continues nor to hold those who created and perpetrate the system of US torture accountable.

I want to go on record again with my statement that torture is never acceptable.  I do not now nor have I ever given my consent as a citizen to torture.  I have protested US torture here in NYC and in Washington, DC at the White House and on the steps of the Supreme Court.  I continue to demand that the US government stop torture now.

Read the entire report here.

US TORTURE

Thursday, September 11th, 2014

Though many of us know that the US engages in torture, new details of exactly what that means are being revealed in s Senate report.

“The CIA brought top al-Qaeda suspects close ‘to the point of death’ by drowning them in water-filled baths during interrogation sessions in the years that followed the September 11 attacks, a security source has told The Telegraph.

“The description of the torture meted out to at least two leading al-Qaeda suspects, including the alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, far exceeds the conventional understanding of waterboarding, or ‘simulated drowning’ so far admitted by the CIA.

‘“They weren’t just pouring water over their heads or over a cloth,’ said the source who has first-hand knowledge of the period. ‘They were holding them under water until the point of death, with a doctor present to make sure they did not go too far. This was real torture.’

“The account of extreme CIA interrogation comes as the US Senate prepares to publish a declassified version of its so-called Torture Report – a 3,600-page report document based on a review of several million classified CIA documents.

“Publication of the report is currently being held up by a dispute over how much of the 480-page public summary should remain classified, but it is expected to be published within weeks.”

The full article can be found at this link: http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article39611.htm

At the end of the article, Amrit Singh, a lawyer with the New York-based Open Society Justice Initiative is quoted as saying:

[The brutal torture, though not surprising] “… is, however, something that the American public has a right to know about, and an obligation to reckon with, and these revelations only underscore the urgent need for release of the Senate intelligence committee report”.

I believe, too, that the US public has a right to know this; we paid for it with our tax money, though no one asked our permission to do it.  I am not sure what our “obligation to reckon with” this torture means.

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Along with many others, I have stood on the street and cried “No More Torture,”

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I have gone to Washington on the anniversary of the opening of the Guantanamo prison and protested on the steps of the Supreme Court, I once danced there while one of the lawyers who represent the prisoners at Guantanamo read a letter one of them wrote,

I have performed, hooded like the prisoners, with colleagues who told some of their stories, I have posted on this blog, written letters to congressional representatives, etc.

The prison remains open, no reparations to any of the men and boys who have been released from it have even been discussed, and over 140 of them are still there.

I don’t know how to “reckon with” torture committed by the US government.  What I long to see is the release of all the prisoners still there, trials of US officials responsible for the torture, beginning with Bush and Cheney and others from that regime, and also of those who perpetrated the actual torture: a real accounting for those atrocities.

My experience is that this government is not capable of justice.  I still continue to call for it; I will not be silent.

NEWS ORGANIZATIONS DEMAND VIDEO OF GUANTANAMO PRISONERS BE MADE PUBLIC

Sunday, June 22nd, 2014

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Prisoner being having been moved from his cell as they are for forced feeding.

“A group of news organizations on Friday filed a motion … in a federal court seeking the right of the public to see videotape evidence of force-feedings of a Guantanamo detainee in order to be able to ‘exercise democratic oversight of its Government.’

That  is the first sentence of an article posted on Common Dreams with the following headline

News Outlets: Public Must See ‘What Is Done in Their Name at Gitmo’     Sixteen news organizations file motion to release video evidence of forcible cell extractions, force-feedings of Guantanamo prisoner.  

The prisoner, Abu Wa’el Dhiab,  like many others, was cleared for release by US courts years ago but remains in the torture camp at Guantanamo with no recourse for protest but a hunger strike.  The article goes on to say:

“The government was ordered last month to release to Dhiab’s  lawyers video of his force-feedings, but the evidence is classified as ‘Secret’ by the government and as such the public has been prevented from viewing it.  Yet ‘the public has a qualified right under both the First Amendment and the common law to inspect and copy this evidence,’ the news outlet[s] state.

‘”Specifically, the Press Applicants seek to unseal videotape evidence submitted in connection with petitioner’s efforts to stop the Government from forcibly feeding him, utilizing procedures that he contends constitute “torture” and violate his rights, and that this Court has described as ‘painful, humiliating and degrading …”‘

Read the full article here.

Most of the people in the US never think about these prisoners and others in US black sites around the world.  It is, however, our tax money that pays for this torture.  It is our tax money that paid to round up these men, most of whom have never done any harm to the US or to anyone, and to convey them to Guantanamo and the other torture centers.

Are you content to be supporting torture?  What are you doing in this matter?  Please share any steps you are taking to end US torture.

Adnan Latif, pictured above, seriously ill was approved for transfer three times by two different administrations in 2004, 2007, and 2009, but died in the torture camp.  In reviewing his petition for habeas corpus, the district court had agreed that he should be released, finding that the single secret document that was the basis for his detention was too flawed to be credited. – Read more here.

How many more of the prisoners will die before they are set free?  Will US citizens work together to stop US torture?  What will that work look like?  How will it be done?

IS THERE ANYTHING TO MEMORIALIZE ABOUT THE UNITED STATES?

Monday, May 26th, 2014

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                             WAR IS HIDEOUS

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DESTRUCTION

US Torture Goes On

Monday, April 14th, 2014

Here is a link to an article by David Swanson that references a book by Rebecca Gordon called Mainstreaming Torture.  Swanson says:

“The idea was spread around that the torture was stopping, but the cynical could imagine it must be continuing in secret, the partisan could suppose the halt was only temporary, the trusting could assume torture would be brought back as needed, and the attentive could be and have been aware that the government has gone right on torturing to this day with no end in sight.”

This blog has maintained that US torture has never stopped.  It also deplores it and calls for its end and for accountability for those in high positions who order and sanction torture.  It also calls on all of us to work to stop it.  There is never any reason ever for torture.

What are we doing to stop torture?  If we are US citizens or residents and pay taxes, what does it mean for each of us that we are, at least indirectly, paying for this torture?  Please comment or post about your ideas for ending US torture.