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The Senate passed the annual NDAA today. (National Defense Authorization Act.) It prohibits the transfer Guantanamo detainees to the U.S. The vote in the Senate was 91 to 3. Obama is expected to sign the bill, notwithstanding his objection to the Gitmo provision.
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Canada has ordered Omar Khadr released on bail. He will leave prison for the first time in 13 years, and reside with his lawyer.
Omar Khadr was 15 in 2002 when he was captured in Afghanistan and sent to Guantanamo. After 10 years at Gitmo and a lot of torture (including being used as a "human mop" to wipe up urine) he entered a plea deal which allowed him to be transferred to Canada. The agreement contained no requirement that Canada continue to keep him imprisoned.
There are no legitimate grounds I can think of to deny Omar release. No one has alleged he presents a risk of violence. He was a model prisoner. The U.S. took 10 very prime years of his life and Canada stuck him with a few more years. [More...]
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Five Yemeni detainees have left Guantanamo. Four were sent to Oman and one was sent to Estonia.
122 detainees remain.
Senior U.S. officials say they hope to accelerate transfers in 2015 of the dozens of prisoners already cleared for release from Guantanamo and to complete reviews that could clear others to be moved. Obama is taking a more active role in the renewed effort to close the facility, pressing foreign heads of state to accept detainees and making a fiscal case for shutting the prison, which costs $400 million to $500 million a year to operate.
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The New York Times has joined the call for a criminal investigation and prosecution of those responsible for the Bush Administration's torture policy.
[A]ny credible investigation should include former Vice President Dick Cheney; Mr. Cheney’s chief of staff, David Addington; the former C.I.A. director George Tenet; and John Yoo and Jay Bybee, the Office of Legal Counsel lawyers who drafted what became known as the torture memos. There are many more names that could be considered, including Jose Rodriguez Jr., the C.I.A. official who ordered the destruction of the videotapes; the psychologists who devised the torture regimen; and the C.I.A. employees who carried out that regimen.
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Four more detainees have left Guantanamo. They are Mohammed Zahir, Shawali Khan, Abdul Ghani and Khi Ali Gul. All are from Afghanistan and were returned to Afghanistan.
There is no requirement that the Afghan government further detain the men.
There are 132 detainees left at Gitmo, including 64 who are eligible for transfer. 8 are Afghanis, and Afghanistan's High Peace Council has requested their repatriation as well.
Obama issued a statement yesterday criticizing Congress for blocking the transfer of detainees. He said closing Gitmo is a "national imperative":
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In its key findings, the report warns of the negative consequences of assassinating so-called High Level Targets (HLT), a prediction that has been proven right. “The potential negative effect of HLT operations include increasing the level of insurgent support […], strengthening an armed group's bonds with the population, radicalizing an insurgent group's remaining leaders, creating a vacuum into which more radical groups can enter, and escalating or de-escalating a conflict in ways that favor the insurgents.”
There's even a "best practices" section on targeted killings.
Al-Akhbar analyzes the report. and notes that it finds that the least successful HVT operations are those involving countries that the US and Israel have occupied or are currently at war with.
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Pope Francis's Secretary of State met with John Kerry today. He relayed the Pope's offer to use his international contacts to find alternative placement for Guantanamo detainees.
The pope made clear his feelings on the kind of abuses associated with Guantanamo in October, when he railed against the "penal populism" that led to countries facilitating torture, using the death penalty and incarcerating people without trial.
"These abuses will only stop if the international community firmly commits to recognising... the principle of placing human dignity above all else," he said.
Pope Francis is also a harsh critic of life sentences, which he says are a "hidden death penalty," and solitary confinement, calling it "physical and psychological torture". [More...]
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These men were held for 12 years and cleared for release in 2009. No charges were ever brought against them. I was glad to see some of them smiling in the photos. They are learning Spanish, taking hikes, walking along the beach, shopping for food, and cooking at barbecues.
Thank you Uruguay. [More...]
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Former President GW Bush was interviewed on CNN about the Torture Report. He said:
Whatever the report says, if it diminishes their contributions to our country, it's way off base..... The CIA are patriots and ...."really good people and we're lucky as a nation to have them.
We're luckier not to have GW Bush in charge anymore.
Update: Memo to GW Bush: It's not cool to defend those who commit rape and forced sodomy. "Good people" don't threaten to rape or cut the throat of another person's mother. These "good" CIA officers have also put our military at risk to have the same done to them. As Afghan President Ashrafn Ghani correctly observed, "When a person is tortured in an inhumane way, the reaction will be inhumane."
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Dick Cheney, former CIA officials Michael Hayden and Jose Rodriguez, and even the $80 million contract psychologists claim details in the newly released Senate Torture Report are "hooey" and "a bunch of crap" or they didn't know about the use of the techniques like "rectal feeding" and the program worked.
Their protestations are pointless. This report is the latest, but certainly not the only report containing many of the same details they dispute.
Just one example: Take a look at the 2013 extensively sourced report by the Open Society Justice Initiative, Globalizing Torture: CIA Secret Detention and Extraordinary Rendition. (Interestingly, it accounts for 136 detainees who were subjected to CIA secret detention and/or extraordinary rendition operations, while the Senate Report lists only 119.)
I'll focus on just one of the "mistaken identity" detainees -- Khalid Sheikh al-Masri (also known as Khaled Sheikh el-Masri.) There are many reports about him, as well as court decisions, here and in Europe. [More...]
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The U.S. Senate Select Committee's release of the 525 page summary (available here) of its 6,000 page report of the CIA's detention and interrogation program under the Bush Administration finally puts to rest the false claim that the United States does not torture. The report shows the CIA not only tortured, it lied about it.
The report names the 119 detainees held by the CIA in overseas black sites. 26 of them were detained due to mistaken identity or erroneous intelligence. Even today, some Republicans took to the airwaves to defend the CIA's actions.
The world is watching and wondering, where are the prosecutions? The United Nations Special Rapporteur on counter terrorism and human rights, Ben Emmerson, today issued this statement. [More..]
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The U.S. is preparing for security risks with tomorrow's long-waited release of the summary of the Senate's Torture Report, a history of the Bush Administration and CIA's "Rendition, Detention and Interrogation" program. The Obama Administration is backing the release of the report. Thousands of U.S. marines around the world have been put on alert in anticipation of reaction to the details in the reports. What's being released is the 450 or so page summary of the 6,000 page report. (Background here.)
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Six detainees at Guantanamo have been transferred to Uruguay. Four are from Syria, one is from Tunisia and one is Palestinian.
Their names: Jihad Diyab, Ahmed Adnan Ahjam, Ali Hussain Shaabaan and Omar Mahmoud Faraj, Abdul Bin Mohammed Abis Ourgy and Mohammed Tahanmatan.
136 detainees remain at Gitmo. 67 have been cleared for release. 13 have been transferred since November.
The President of Uruguay, Jose Mujica, said they are free to leave Uruguay at any time. He refused to agree to hold them for two years as requested by the U.S. In a letter to the U.S. he wrote:
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Muhammad al-Zahrani, imprisoned at Guantanamo since 2002, returned home to Saudi Arabia today. He agreed to participate in the Saudi rehabilitation program.
Al-Zahrani is the 13th prisoner to leave Guantanamo Bay this year and the seventh in just the past two weeks. Officials have said more prisoners will be released in the coming weeks as part of a renewed effort to close the site. Seventy three are already cleared for release.
142 detainees remain at Guantanamo. 73 of them have been cleared for release.
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Five Guantantamo detainees, four from Yemen and one from Tunisia, have been transferred to Georgia and Slovakia.
Obama has now transferred 100 detainees during his presidency. There are 143 detainees remaining at Gitmo.
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