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President Obama signed the NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014) in Hawaii today.
He also released this signing statement criticizing Congress for its restrictions on transferring Gitmo detainees to the U.S. and preventing federal trials.
Obama needs to step up the pressure on closing Gitmo. One of his first acts in office in 2009 was to issue an executive order promising the closure of Gitmo in a year. It will not be good for his legacy if Gitmo is still up and running when he leaves office 8 years later. Then again, he also released a similar statement last year, so who knows what his intentions are. [More...]
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Retired Gen. Michael Lehnart, who was in charge of Guantanamo when it opened in 2002, says it's time to close it and end the mistake.
"In retrospect, the entire detention and interrogation strategy was wrong..."
"We squandered the goodwill of the world after we were attacked by our actions in Guantanamo, both in terms of detention and torture," Lehnert wrote. "Our decision to keep Guantanamo open has helped our enemies because it validates every negative perception of the United States."
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The European Court of Human Rights is holding hearings to determine Poland's complicity in the CIA's extraordinary rendition and torture program. The court is gathering evidence pertaining to the kidnapping, detention and torture of detainees Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri. Abu Zubaydah was ultimately determined not to be a member of al Qaida, and al-Nashiri is one of the detainees scheduled to be tried by military commission at Guantanamo.
Here is the Court's fact-sheet on the two cases. In addition to waterboarding, the unauthorized interrogation techniques used by the CIA included the "powerdrill" and "handgun": [More...]
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In an op-ed in the New York Times, author John Grisham writes he was puzzled by reports that his books were banned at Guantanamo. Lawyers for some of the detainees said their clients had requested them, so they brought copies with them when visiting, but the books weren't allowed through, due to "impermissible content."
Grisham says he tracked down one detainee, Nabil Hadjarab, a 34-year-old Algerian who grew up in France, who speaks perfect English. Grisham got to know Nabil's history, and it is similar to many of the detainees: they were sold to the U.S for a bounty of $5,000.
Nabil has been at Gitmo for 11 years. Grisham thinks he will be one of those released. But, he asks, what then? [More...]
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Jason Leopold has obtained the March 5, 2013 revised protocol for force-feeding prisoners at Guantanamo. You can read it here .
The policy went into effect about a month after the most recent hunger strikes began. On Friday, the strike will be in its 100th day.
Jason, who recently left Truthout and is now free-lancing, wrote the account for al-Jazeera. He is visiting Gitmo this week to report on the hunger strikes. Not surprisingly, after his arrival today, he received a request from officials to discuss his article.
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The Islamic Emirate of Afhanistan (Taliban) have released an official statement on Guantanamo and the hunger strikes.
The Islamic Emirate, which considers the ongoing atrocity in Guantanamo as a crime against humanity and a historical disgrace for mankind, calls on the entire Islamic world, Islamic societies and respected personalities, all the international human right organizations, media groups and charitable organizations to show their opposition and raise their voices against this unlawful action of the American officials as part of their duty and humanitarian obligation. The Islamic Emirate similarly calls on all writers, journalists and professionals to condemn the actions of America carried out against inmates in the infamous Guantanamo prison for the defense of human dignity and to fulfill their religious and humanitarian obligation.
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Yemeni detainee Samir Naji al Hasan Moqbel is one of the many prisoners at Guantanammo on a hunger strike. He has been held for 11 years, never been charged with a crime, and cleared for release.
He tells his story in an op-ed in the New York Times, Guantanamo is Killing me. It's very disturbing to read. You wouldn't do a dog this way.
Shame on us. The U.S. needs to send these men home.
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Guards at Guantanamo this morning conducted a pre-dawn raid of Camp 6, the communal housing block where most of the inmates are on a hunger strike. The purpose was to move the hunger-striking inmates to maximum security cells.
The detainees fought back. According to Guantanamo officials:
“Some detainees resisted with improvised weapons, and in response, four less-than-lethal rounds were fired,” according to a statement issued by the prison camps at the U.S. Navy base in Cuba. “There were no serious injuries to guards or detainees.”
....“In order to reestablish proper observation, the guards entered the Camp 6 communal living spaces to transition detainees into single cells, remove obstructions to cameras, windows and partitions, and to assess the medical condition of each detainee,” the prison said.
Yesterday, Guantanamo's prison camp Commander was replaced. [More...]
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By this weekend, the U.S. military had defined 26 of the 166 captives as hunger strikers. Eight were being fed nutritional shakes through a tube snaked through a shackled captive’s nose to his stomach. Two were hospitalized, getting nutrition through a tube and intravenous hydration as well. Lawyers for the captives quote their clients as counting dozens more as long-term hunger strikers, who are getting weaker by the day.
Each meal is prepared, brought to the detainee, and when refused, thrown away. [More...]
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There has been a mass hunger strike going on since February at Guantanamo, mostly by detainees in Camp Six, the least restrictive unit. According to a letter from more than 50 defense lawyers to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, available here, almost all of the 134 detainees in Camp Six are engaged in the hunger strike, and they are dropping like flies.
The Defense Department disputes the numbers, and insists only 14 are being force-fed: 9 involved in the current strike and 5 who always go on hunger strikes. The photo above is of a restraint chair used to force-feed detainees at Gitmo.[More...}
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The highest court in Italy has reversed a lower court's decision to acquit three CIA agents for their conduct in a 2003 extraordinary rendition case. This brings the number of Americans convicted for participating in the CIA's torture program to 26. The court also increased the sentences of some of those convicted earlier, from 5 to 7 years.
Among those sentenced: Former Rome CIA Station Chief Jeff Castelli who received a sentence of 7 years. The former CIA Station Chief in Milan, Robert Lady, had his sentence increased to 9 years, which makes him eligible for extradition. [More...]
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Here is President Obama's signing statement objecting to portions of the NDAA. His statement on restricting the transfer of detainees from Guantanamo:
This provision hinders the Executive's ability to carry out its military, national security, and foreign relations activities and would, under certain circumstances, violate constitutional separation of powers principles. The executive branch must have the flexibility to act swiftly in conducting negotiations with foreign countries regarding the circumstances of detainee transfers. The Congress designed these sections, and has here renewed them once more, in order to foreclose my ability to shut down the Guantanamo Bay detention facility. [More...]
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In an unusual Congressional critique of Hollywood moviemaking, three United States senators on Wednesday lambasted “Zero Dark Thirty,” the new fictionalized film about the hunt for Osama bin Laden, calling it “grossly inaccurate and misleading in its suggestion that torture resulted in information that led to the location” of the terrorist leader. In a letter to Michael Lynton, chairman and chief executive of Sony Pictures Entertainment, the senators — Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California; Carl Levin, Democrat of Michigan; and John McCain, Republican of Arizona — weighed in on a public debate over how the film portrays the Central Intelligence Agency’s use of brutal interrogations against Qaeda suspects.
[... A] highly critical 6,000-page study of the C.I.A. detention and interrogation program [..]showed that information derived from waterboarding and other brutal techniques did not play a significant role in locating Bin Laden, who was killed in a raid by Navy SEALs in May 2011.
[...]The senators [...]say the movie is “factually inaccurate” and “has the potential to shape American public opinion in a disturbing and misleading manner.” Their letter asks Sony Pictures to “consider correcting the impression that the C.I.A.’s use of coercive interrogation techniques led to the operation” against Bin Laden[.]
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Contra Spencer Ackerman, Owen Gleiberman, film reviewer for Entertainment Weekly, writes:
Part of the power of Zero Dark Thirty is that it looks with disturbing clarity at the ''enhanced interrogation techniques'' that were used after 9/11, and it says, in no uncertain terms: They worked.
As Andrew Sullivan notes, this is simply false, and is a huge moral problem for Kathryn Bigelow. She has to stand up now, it seems to me, and refute this conclusion about her film.
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The Senate last night approved Sen. Diane Feinstein's Amendment to the NDAA banning military detention of U.S. citizens and green card holders arrested on U.S. soil. It passed 67 to 29. 20 Republicans joined the 46 Democrats in approving the Amendment. The Amendment states:
"An authorization to use military force, a declaration of war, or any similar authority shall not authorize the detention without charge or trial of a citizen or lawful permanent resident of the United States apprehended in the United States, unless an Act of Congress expressly authorizes such detention."
Unfortunately, the Senate also passed the Ayotte Amendment preventing the use of funds to transfer or release detainees from Guantanamo to the U.S. The vote was 51 to 44 in favor of the ban.
The ACLU says Feinstein's Amendment doesn't go far enough. Here's why: [More...]
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