Nothing has changed at Gitmo

And we have another story that nothing has changed at Gitmo since Obama took office.

A DETAINEE at the US prison at Guantanamo Bay said he was beaten almost daily and that nothing has changed since Barack Obama took over as US president, it was reported today.

The Obama administration must start to meet their rhetoric with actions.

And in other news, the CIA has formally started to close it “black sites” where contractors where used to conduct the interrogations of detainees.

The Central Intelligence Agency announced on Thursday that it will no longer use contractors to conduct interrogations, and that it is decommissioning the secret overseas sites where for years it held high-level Al Qaeda prisoners.

And finally there are reports that the Spanish prosecutors are going ahead with the charges against Alberto Gonzales and five other Bush administration associates.

Scott Horton has reported that “Spanish prosecutors have decided to press forward with a criminal investigation targeting former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and five top associates over their role in the torture of five Spanish citizens held at Guantánamo.” The others targeted are John Yoo, Jay Bybee, David Addington, Doug Feith and William Haynes.

As we have said in the past, the US signed the treaties under which these charges are proposed and from what I have been reading and have heard, this could force the US into either bringing proceedings against the Bush administration officials who approved the “enhanced interrogation” techniques or running the risk of extradition requests being made for those who are accused by the Spanish prosecutors.

42 Responses

  1. The Central Intelligence Agency announced on Thursday that it will no longer use contractors to conduct interrogations, and that it is decommissioning the secret overseas sites where for years it held high-level Al Qaeda prisoners.

    And just imagine what funnelings could have been obscured by that little off-budget program, beyond flying persons from A to B in exchange for C, D, and E in lands X, Y, and Z. Fortunately, nobody will ever know the going rate for ‘land rental’ and ‘hired help’ or what ‘payments in kind’ were made.

  2. How can Obama make changes when the lawyers who try to bring the torture to his attention are hauled before the courts by Robert Gates DoD for ‘unprofessional conduct’ and possible 6 mths jail. The torture descriptions sent in a letter to Obama are so heavily blacked out by the pentagon that the president can only read the letter’s title!

    Stafford Smith tells Obama he should be aware of the “bizarre reality” of the situation. “You, as commander in chief, are being denied access to material that would help prove that crimes have been committed by US personnel. This decision is being made by the very people who you command.”

    And anyway, there is apparent doubt and confusion over just who is running Guantanamo.

  3. Sigh….Yes, another claim taken as fact……I wonder why a man at Gtimo would make such a claim…Hmm…..Could it be beause they are advised too? Could it be because they get national media attention…Hmm………Nope, gotta be torture….”I feel it in my gut”………..Evidence, who needs that, we got the gut…….

  4. So does this claim exonerate George Bush?

  5. Plus ça Change!, plus c’est la même chose.

  6. ‘Contractors’ conduct interrogations? I wonder when this started..why not use trained military personnel. There used to be another name for ‘contractors’ and the name is mercenaries. One definition of the word mercenary being

    A mercenary is a person who takes part in an armed conflict, who is not a national or a party to the conflict, and is “motivated to take part in the hostilities essentially by the desire for private gain and, in fact, is promised, by or on behalf of a party to the conflict, material compensation …

  7. Sigh….Yes, another claim taken as fact……I wonder why a man at Gtimo would make such a claim…Hmm…..Could it be beause they are advised too? Could it be because they get national media attention…Hmm………Nope, gotta be torture….”I feel it in my gut”………..Evidence, who needs that, we got the gut…….

    There are so many things wrong with that that even you, Sparta, can spot them. Did you know that the statement of a person having been raped or assaulted is classified as “proof”. Yeah, they even present it in court and everything! Amazing what one can learn these days…

    But I suppose, being denied a real court of justice, eye-witness accounts by those having undergone torture don’t classify as proof for the idealogically blind.

  8. I think you mean “evidence”?

  9. Sadly Tony this seems to be true. I agree with joni re his statement that ..”the Obama administration must start to meet their rhetoric with actions”. Obama put forward Gitmo as one of his prime tasks while running for President, that he was going to shut it down…money/mouth.

  10. Min,

    You didn’t actually believe the man did you? “Change we can believe in”…….

  11. Sparta..I don’t know yet. I am hoping for some action, but only time will tell.

  12. You didn’t actually believe the man did you? “Change we can believe in”

    As opposed to “I can see Russia from my house!”

    When the potential Vice President thinks Russia’s proximity to Alaska is a good point for her foreign experience credentials – you choose the other lizard.

  13. Min,

    Republican or Demorcrat, they are all the same to me………They say what they need to say in order to get into office…

  14. B. Tolputt,

    Lizard is right……His foreign policy experience was what exactly……However, Vice President not PRESIDENT…….

  15. But sparta, did Obama make those sort of comments as a basis for his foreign policy experience? I do not think so.

    And I do love how you want to pick and chose which facts/statements to treat as the truth – all I did was blog on the report – otherwise you would have accused me of ignoring it (again).

  16. Sparta of Phoenix, AZ USA, on April 16th, 2009 at 10:46 am Said:
    Min,
    You didn’t actually believe the man did you? “Change we can believe in”…….

    Ha ! Would you expect otherwise? It seems the typical Krudd supporter has a genetic predisposition to be suckered in by a catchphrase. Over here it was “Working families”…..

  17. From http://www.theage.com.au/national/deaths-on-asylum-seekers-boat-20090416-a831.html
    Deaths on asylum seekers’ boat
    Chris Thomson, Aja Styles
    April 17, 2009 – 11:19AM

    WA police have confirmed three people are dead and two are missing after a boat carrying 49 asylum seekers to Christmas Island reportedly exploded.

    A Government spokesperson said it was still unclear whether those killed were asylum seekers or navy personnel.

  18. Scott Horton has reported that “Spanish prosecutors have decided to press forward with a criminal investigation targeting former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and five top associates over their role in the torture of five Spanish citizens held at Guantánamo.” The others targeted are John Yoo, Jay Bybee, David Addington, Doug Feith and William Haynes.

    Still a prominent name missing from the ranks of the knowingly culpable for the coordinated box-top rendition and ‘enhanced interrogation’ program, of which Guantanamo was just a visible and, usually, after the ground, among other things, was broken elsewhere, last storage facility: John Negroponte.

  19. Well I told you it would come to this Joni….

    http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5imDvIlEBNgzKdqYgIuTUEzUEImrQD97JOUD82

    Obama WILL NOT BE PROSECUTING those accused of torture…..

  20. Indeed Sparta, but that only covers the CIA.

  21. Joni,

    Well in all honesty, if what when on as reported by some, I will be asking for some heads!!!!!!

  22. Wait sparta, you kept telling us that not torture occurred – you even disputed what constitutes torture.

    And so – if those who campaign against torture listen to you, no investigation would have taken place and the truth would not have come to light.

    The bottom line is that the Bush administration sought legal advice to allow them to torture, and that legal advice should (and in my mind will) be tested in a court of law. The US signed and ratified the treaties, it is time that they abided by those treaties.

  23. “Wait sparta, you kept telling us that not torture occurred – you even disputed what constitutes torture.”

    Umm…No, I disagree on what constitutes torture Joni and thus far the only thing you or others have laid forth is “water-boarding”, “sleep deprivation” etcetera….I said if anything ever comes to light that says otherwise occurred I would join you whole heartedly…..Again, the current “legal” interpretation is rather broad so the legality is in question in my mind..Not as clear cut as you seem to think…..

    “And so – if those who campaign against torture listen to you, no investigation would have taken place and the truth would not have come to light.”

    Well again, I don’t feel those things mentioned thus far in all the accusations constitute torture but that is my opinion. As we have discussed previously, even the UN’s definition is ambiguous at best. However, the “truth” as you call it, is a matter for debate still. You essentially campaign for a cause which boils down to “opinion”……Besides, what good is an investigation in such a case? Apparently Obama recognizes the legal pitfalls etcetera…Unfortunately, most on the left simply do not…..Try taking your “cause” to China, Cuba, or any number of countries where it is blatantly taking place with hardly an utterance from the “campaign against torture” crowd…….

    “The bottom line is that the Bush administration sought legal advice to allow them to torture, and that legal advice should (and in my mind will) be tested in a court of law. The US signed and ratified the treaties, it is time that they abided by those treaties.”

    Well again, this is where we disagree. You define torture rather broadly in my opinion; even in contrast to the UN’s definition and said treaties. Using your “definition”, anything for the most part can constitute torture… I simply disagree. You take at face value, every claim of torture that is made. I again disagree with such an approach. However, if what I have been reading today is proven as “fact”, PROVEN as fact, I will be quite disgusted..

  24. How dare you accuse me of not protesting against China, Cuba etc. You have no idea of the actual work that I do (with AI) and other organisations on this matter.

    I do not take “at face value” every accusation of torture, but I simply request that those accusations are investigated and where laws have been broken, then the law is used against them. Simple really. You just want to hide behind semantics.

    And on the definition of torture, you know – I will let those in the legal profession deal with that. Funny how a Miami court was able to convict a foreign national for torture last year for torture that occured in Liberia. But when it comes to another country bring charges against US official, the US get’s upset. Double standards anyone?

    But answer me this, if the US administration did not believe that what they were doing could be construed as being torture, why did they seek legal advice to approve the “enhanced interrogation” techniques?

  25. “How dare you accuse me of not protesting against China, Cuba etc. You have no idea of the actual work that I do (with AI) and other organisations on this matter.”

    You must stop taking everything so personal Joni….I have no idea what your life entails outside the posts here, which I was referring too. Perhaps you can point me in the direction of the posts you have made in regards to Cuba or China? I am sure as a “human rights crusader” you have posted numerous times on the outrages acts of these two countries?

    “I do not take “at face value” every accusation of torture, but I simply request that those accusations are investigated and where laws have been broken, then the law is used against them. Simple really. You just want to hide behind semantics.”

    I beg pardon? They are investigated Joni and most have absolutely no creditability which warrant any investigation but that doesn’t stop individuals from using them to perpetuate their cause……I guess it needs an ACLU stamp of approval before you are convinced….

    “And on the definition of torture, you know – I will let those in the legal profession deal with that. Funny how a Miami court was able to convict a foreign national for torture last year for torture that occured in Liberia.”

    Well therein lies the “dark side” of the law…It is open to “interpretation” by human beings….Why else do some groups shop for sympathetic judges (right or left).

    “But when it comes to another country bring charges against US official, the US get’s upset. Double standards anyone?”

    Will you guys get over it please…America is not your enemy. Hypocrisy is hardly an American phenomena…Australia shares many such honors so enough already……

    “But answer me this, if the US administration did not believe that what they were doing could be construed as being torture, why did they seek legal advice to approve the “enhanced interrogation” techniques?”

    Perhaps they wanted to be sure they weren’t crossing some threshold? Hmm….Guess GW and company weren’t the idiots many like to think they were, including myself! Is Obama still the change you thought was coming?

  26. Despite earlier reports, it now appears unlikely that the “Bush Six” will face prosecution in Spain for allegedly violating international human rights law. In March, a human rights attorney requested that Spanish Judge Baltasar Garzon consider filing charges against officials from the Bush administration who authorized the use of torture against terrorism detainees. Judge Garzon requested advice from Attorney General Candido Conde-Pumpido. Today, Conde-Pumpido stated that any prosecution of the individuals should take place in the United States

  27. Is Obama still the change you thought was coming?

    Yes! He’s an American and will do his sworn duty to…the United States. If that means giving blanket immunity to potential CIA and other American war criminals (including any who potentially, in other than good faith, went beyond the ordered and authorised enhanced interrogation methods) by invoking a defensive norm that was famously peddled at Nuremberg, then undoubtedly he did that, and could have done no other, without seriously exposing that national moral lapse further, and American moral leadership to further ignominy at a time when America generally, and Obama personally, has many irons in the fire.

  28. Wow Sparta,
    i enjoy how you rattle my brain at times as to how i can reply.

    But my simple question to you is are you in the “im more suppirior club” as if torture is aloud in any form they the mighty can do as they wish. As once said might is right in the absence of rules that have been set in place in responce to how they want there own captured treated.

    Another angle, if an american soldier was given this treatment in another country, would it be considered a crime in the USA?( think Joni hit on that one earlier)

    cheers sparta

  29. From the first DOJ memo:

    stress positions may be used. You have informed us that these positions are not designed to produce the pain associated with contortions or twisting of the body. Rather, somewhat like walling, they are designed to produce the physical discomfort associated with muscle fatigue. Two particular stress positions are likely to be used on Zubaydah: 1) sitting on the floor with legs extended straight out in front of him with his arms raised above his head; and
    (2) kneeling on the floor while leaning back at a 45 degree angle.

    These sound more like exercises from my yoga class, than torture. The problem with calling these types of things torture is you debase the language and lessen the impact and real meaning of the word.

    (The other DOJ memos can be found here.)

  30. Tony

    Please try the stress positions for hours with the threats if you do not hold the position and then tell us it is still “like exercises from my yoga class”.

  31. Joni,

    Please have a look through that memo and tell me if you think those 10 techniques (they are all described in detail) should be called torture.

    Make that nine – I’ll concede waterboarding.

  32. Aqua,

    “Another angle, if an american soldier was given this treatment in another country, would it be considered a crime in the USA?( think Joni hit on that one earlier)”

    Well considering what has befallen American soldiers in the past, execution by machine gun at the hands of the Nazis, beheadings at the hands of the Japanese, and beheadings/mutilations at the hands of the Vietnamese and Jihadist, water-boarding and “stress” whether psychological or physical seems a cake walk…Some folks are even more abhorrent then the evil American…..

  33. Tony,

    Now, now. Didn’t you know, anything that causes discomfort is considered torture….

  34. Joni,

    Any thoughts on my above question about how many of these things you think should be called torture (I’ll give you the waterboard for a start)?

    These ten techniques are: (1) attention grasp, (2) walling, (3) facial hold, (4) facial slap (insult slap), (5) cramped confinement, (6) wall standing, (7) stress positions, (8) sleep deprivation, (9) insects placed in a confinement box, and (l0) the waterboard.

    (Detailed descriptions at link.)

  35. (Any and all of them, in combination, and a large range of things besides that aren’t necessarily nominated in the torture manual for noobs, when the authorising memos blithely ignore mental pain, which is also in the relevant treaties and the international norms, but mysteriously keeps disappearing into the material justifications by proponents of torture, including the official memos authorising those things if you read them closely…when the whole point of torture is to inflict the very mental pain that is prohibited….but you asked Joni, and not me, so pretend I said nothing between the brackets.)

  36. “mental pain”

    Now that is why you guys are not taken serious, even by Obama……

  37. but you asked Joni, and not me, so pretend I said nothing between the brackets

    Yes I did (and it’s not a gotcha question, Joni), but, since you answered:

    when the authorising memos blithely ignore mental pain,/b>, which is also in the relevant treaties and the international norms, but mysteriously keeps disappearing into the material justifications by proponents of torture, including the official memos authorising those things if you read them closely

    Except, of course, they don’t:

    The task of interpreting and applying sections 2340-2340A is complicated by the lack of precision in the statutory terms and the lack of relevant case law. In defining the federal crime of torture, Congress required that a defendant “specifically intend to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering,” and Congress narrowly defined “severe mental pain or suffering” to mean “the prolonged mental harm caused by” enumerated predicate acts, including “the threat of imminent death” and “procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or personality,” 18 U.S.C. § 2340 (emphases added). These statutory requirements are consistent with U.S. obligations under the United Nations Convention Against Torture, the treaty that obligates the United States to ensure that torture is acrime under U.S. law and that is implemented by sections 2340-2340A. The requirements in sections 2340-2340A closely track the understandings and reservations required by the Senate when it gave its advice and consent to ratification of the Convention Against Torture. They reflect a clear intent by Congress to limit the scope of the prohitiition on torture under U.S. law. However, many of the key terms used in the statute (for example,”severe,” “prolonged,” “suffering”) are imprecise and necessarily bring a degree of
    uncertainty to addressing the reach of sections 2340-2340A. Moreover, relevant judicial decisions in this area provide only limited guidance. This imprecision and lack of judicial guidance, coupled with the President’s clear directive that the United States does not condone or engage in torture, counsel great care in applying the statute to specific conduct. We have attempted to exercise such care throughout this memorandum.

  38. A small point conveniently overlooked by the “Impeach Bush” crowd:

    Most prominent among those briefed on waterboarding was Nancy Pelosi. According to the Post’s interviews, members of the Congressional oversight committees understood that they had to weigh the limits of inhumane treatment of people known to have Al Qaeda connections against the threat of new attacks. They believed that these techniques struck the right balance in the circumstances. Yet I haven’t heard of any serious call for prosecuting Speaker Pelosi or any of her colleagues for complicity in torture.

  39. Tony,

    I wouldn’t bother, to insist that words have meaning will just lead to the accusation that you’re a torture advocate by the usual suspects…Of course by their definition, as I have said many times before, we can include every prisoner in either one of current penal system…Where rape, beatings, murder and mental deterioration are common place…Accusations and evidence are the same thing to many here…. Logic in a vacuum, which isn’t logical at all……..

  40. “Yet I haven’t heard of any serious call for prosecuting Speaker Pelosi or any of her colleagues for complicity in torture.”

    Nor will you….”Justice” in a vacuum……

  41. Tony, on April 18th, 2009 at 10:42 pm

    Really? They don’t just scoff at the idea of the infliction of mental pain and treat it very seriously as something to which to pay particular attention and care? And those memos even rehearse that there will be medical staff on hand to spot if and when torture IS occurring because torture IS both abhorrent AND within reasonable and practical contemplation as a consequence of those acts, individually and in combination? Mental pain pffft, we laugh at even the idea of it, awww, poor diddums had his wittle feelings hurt and suffered a bit of discomfort-stress-whatever. 😉 Oh, that’s the three-years-later-in-2005 Bradbury memos; and then there’s that 2002 Bybee memo, which suggests that conduct can inflict severe physical pain and mental pain that would be torture, so long as it causes no long-term mental harm, but the prohibition on the infliction of severe mental pain disappears entirely in the analysis of why such a prohibition on inflicting “severe physical or mental pain” really only means “severe physical pain which can be engaged in if it causes no long-term mental harm and the torturer meant to cause the physical pain not the mental pain regardless of the mental pain felt by the toturee, which is irrelevant in defining both the physical pain and the mental pain as not-torture, so don’t ask too many questions because it isn’t torture gdit”.

    Of course, also, the later 2005 memos are clear to point out that IF any of the conduct or any of the actual facts should happen to differ in any way from either the supplied facts upon which the advices were formulated or from the advices-as-parameters for conduct as applied to those supplied facts to create the factual matrix of the actual interrogation(s), THEN the advices would not apply and might well be expected to change, which is a question of fact and not of law and can never be anything other than a question of fact. (Giving blanket immunity, and doing no particular testing of facts, is the opposite to prompt and impartial investigation and prosecution for any infractions per Conventional requirements, perhaps, and for instance.)

    And, again of course, any consideration of the application of s.16 of the UN Convention Against Torture, Cruelty and Other Degrading Treatment to which the United States is a signatory is completely abandoned in a footnote, but don’t tell the ever-snickering Sparta that the US is on the hook for the Sons-of-SERE even mistreating the randoms at all, in anyway, and that exposing randoms to a rehearsed potential for being tortured and perhaps actually torturing some of them is just the icing on the cake in terms of moral tooth decay.

    These sound more like exercises from my yoga class, than torture.

    Agree with, Joni…it’s the pattern and context of conduct that is determinative….you get to choose when to do them, for how long, or even not to do them at all, as opposed to doing them at somebody else’s whim who isn’t your yoga instructor and wants to ride the line between ‘pressure’ and ‘torture’ to prompt a confession voluntary exchange of information. And remind me never to go wherever you’re taking yoga classes if it involves being naked, chained, in a confined box with a bees . 😉

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