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.

Torture – be careful what you wish for

In one of our previous threads on the use of torture by the US, Sparta said this:

Submitted on 2009/03/12 at 12:31pm

Joni,

Geez….yes I have read this one as well. Let me remind you one more time, EVIDENCE is not the same as an OPINION….even the opinion of a committee headed by one of the most liberal senators in the US who is obsessed with linking the former administration with a policy of torture! If the evidence is there, where is it and why do they wait? Where are the indictments Joni??????

Sparta of Phoenix, AZ USA

Well, it looks like his wish could come true. Baltasar Garzón, who is a counter-terrorism judge in Spain has started criminal proceedings in Spain against 6 senior Bush officials.  So here come the indictments.

The officials named in the case include the most senior legal minds in the Bush administration. They are: Alberto Gonzales, a former White House counsel and attorney general; David Addington, former vice-president Dick Cheney’s chief of staff; Douglas Feith, who was under-secretary of defence; William Haynes, formerly the Pentagon’s general counsel; and John Yoo and Jay Bybee, who were both senior justice department legal advisers.

Court documents say that, without their legal advice in a series of internal administration memos, “it would have been impossible to structure a legal framework that supported what happened [in Guantánamo]”.

From what I gather, the problem for the US is that they signed and ratified the 1984 UN Convention against Torture, which requires the signatory countries to “investigate allegations of torture committed on their territory or by their nationals, or extradite them to stand trial elsewhere”.

Maybe this will force the Obama administration to start proceedings in the US, or those on the list could have extradition proceedings started against them.

Oh – and last week the UK started criminal proceedings into MI5 to look into their part in the torture of Binyam Mohamed.

As we keep saying, those responsible for allow, permitting and creating the conditions in which torture took place should be held accountable for their actions.

Gitmo – it’s getting worse

The Guardian in the UK is reporting that the conditions in the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay are getting worse. The American military lawyer for a British resident who is being held at Gitmo has said:

At least 50 people are on hunger strike, with 20 on the critical list, according to Binyam. The JTF [the Joint Task Force running Guantánamo] are not commenting because they do not want the public to know what is going on.

Binyam has witnessed people being forcibly extracted from their cell. Swat teams in police gear come in and take the person out; if they resist, they are force-fed and then beaten. Binyam has seen this and has not witnessed this before. Guantánamo Bay is in the grip of a mass hunger strike and the numbers are growing; things are worsening.

And this is happening on the watch of the new administration.

This information was part of a story by the Guardian on the treatment of Binyam Mohamed, who she claims was tortured at Gitmo – and that Britain was complicit in his treatment.

Suspicion is also growing that some sections of the US intelligence community would prefer Binyam did die inside Guantánamo. Silenced forever, only the sparse language of his diary would be left to recount his torture claims and interviewees with an MI5 officer, known only as Witness B. Such a scenario would also deny Mohamed the chance to personally sue the US, and possibly British authorities, over his treatment.

Those responsible should be held accountable for their actions.

More at American Torture.

US official admits they torture

I am both amazed and not amazed (is that possible) that Susan Crawford has gone public with the revelation that the US did torture inmates at Gitmo. Susan Crawford is the convening authority of the military commissions at Gitmo.

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Obama’s proposed CIA Director

US president elect Obama has now nominated Leon Panetta for the position of CIA Director. Last year, Panetta wrote this in the Washington Monthly.

Fear is blinding, hateful, and vengeful. It makes the end justify the means. And why not? If torture can stop the next terrorist attack, the next suicide bomber, then what’s wrong with a little waterboarding or electric shock?

The simple answer is the rule of law. Continue reading

Keim on Gitmo, and torture timelines

Stephen Keim, the barrister for Dr Haneef, has written an article in The Australian that some blogocrats are referring to in other threads, and I thought that it warranted it’s own thread.

The policy of the Bush administration was to place its captives in a legal black hole.

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Hicks and Cheney

And so we come to the end of 2008 and two of the major players in the Guantanamo Bay saga are back in the news.

First we have the expiry of the control order that was placed on David Hicks when he was released from prison in South Australia – where he completed the remainder of the sentence applied as part of his plea bargain – a plea bargain that remember was negotiated without knowledge of his legal team. Again – I will be accused of supporting terrorism by bringing up Hicks, whereas the reality is that I (and a lot of others) just wished for a fair and impartial trial to be conducted in a proper judical setting.

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