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Supreme Court Rejects Guantanamo Appeal

The Supreme Court today denied cert in the case of Guantanamo inmate Abdul al Qader Ahmed Hussain who said the lower court failed to exercise meaningful review in determining whether there were sufficient grounds to hold him at Gitmo. The lower court had ruled its authority was limited.

Justice Stephen Breyer issued a separate statement agreeing with the outcome but noting

The Court has not directly addressed whether theAUMF authorizes, and the Constitution permits, detention on the basis that an individual was part of al Qaeda,or part of the Taliban, but was not “engaged in an armed conflict against the United States” in Afghanistan prior to his capture. Nor have we considered whether, assuming detention on these bases is permissible, either the AUMF or the Constitution limits the duration of detention.

Breyer said since Hussein had not raised these issues, he was agreeing with the majority.

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Can We Call It Torture Now?


The House Intelligence Committee's 6,300 page report remains classified, but the Washington Post has details.

1. The CIA lied to Congress
2. More "enhanced interrogation techniques" were used than previously disclosed
3. The torture techniques did not result in valuable information

Via NY Magazine:

One previously undisclosed technique involved the the CIA dunking detainees in tubs of ice water in a method similar to waterboarding. Khalid Sheik Mohammed's nephew, Ali Abdul Aziz Ali [aka Ammar al-Baluchi] was subjected to it at a CIA black site near Kabul in 2003. According to the Post, "CIA interrogators forcibly kept his head under the water while he struggled to breathe and beat him repeatedly, hitting him with a truncheon-like object and smashing his head against a wall, officials said." He is still in Guantanamo Bay.

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Obama's Signing Statement on NDAA and Guantanamo

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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U.S. General Who Opened Guanatanamo: Time to End the Mistake

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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Human Rights Court Holds Hearing on CIA's Use of Poland

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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John Grisham: Life After Guantanamo

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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Guantanamo Force-Feeding Protocol Revealed

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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Taliban Issues Statement on Guantanamo Hunger Strikes

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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Guantanamo Inmate Describes Force-Feeding


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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Pre-Dawn Raid at Guantanamo, Detainees Rebel

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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Hunger Strike at Guantanamo Becoming More Serious

Carol Rosenberg at the Miami Herald has a graphic and disturbing update of the continuing hunger strike at Guantanamo (background here.)

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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Guantanamo Hunger Strike: Pentagon Disputes Numbers

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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Italy Reinstates Convictions and Orders Prison for Ex-CIA Agents

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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Obama's Signing Statement on Guantanamo

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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Senators To Zero Dark Thirty Filmmakers:Your Film Is Inaccurate

NYTImes:

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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