Military Lawyer: Gitmo Conditions Have Worsened Since Inauguration

Lieutenant-Colonel Yvonne Bradley, an American military lawyer for 20 years, is in Great Britain where tomorrow she will demand the release of Binyam Mohamed who as we wrote the other day, is dying in his Guantanamo cell.

Bradley...will reveal that Mohamed, 31, is dying in his Guantánamo cell and that conditions inside the Cuban prison camp have deteriorated badly since Barack Obama took office. Fifty of its 260 detainees are on hunger strike and, say witnesses, are being strapped to chairs and force-fed, with those who resist being beaten. At least 20 are described as being so unhealthy they are on a "critical list", according to Bradley.

In addition to her own observations, she shares what Binyam told her: [More...]

"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.

"It is so bad that there are not enough chairs to strap them down and force-feed them for a two- or three-hour period to digest food through a feeding tube. Because there are not enough chairs the guards are having to force-feed them in shifts.

Another hearing in Great Britain in Binyam's case, which seeks to determine if the British were complicit in his rendition and torture, is being held Tuesday.

Tomorrow, in San Francisco, the ACLU returns to court to seek to reinstate Binyam and two other detainees' Ghost Air complaint against Jeppeson Dataplan.

American civil liberties lawyers are hoping to shine a light on the defence firm that allegedly carried out the practice of "rendition" on behalf of the CIA. Jeppesen Dataplan, a Boeing subsidiary, helped to arrange rendition flights for several terror suspects, including Mohamed, to nations where they claim they were tortured.

The case was originally dismissed after the Bush administration asserted "state secrets privilege", indicating that it would endanger national security - the same argument used by Miliband. However, Obama has repeatedly stressed his willingness to be less secretive than his predecessor and a similar decision would lead to claims that the current administration is bent on suppressing evidence of torture.

On the Jeppeson suit: In 2007, the ACLU filed suit against Jeppeson , a subsidiary of Boeing, over Mohamed's (and two other detainees') treatment, but the case was dismissed. In September, 2008, the ACLU asked the federal appeals court in California to reinstate the lawsuit. The ACLU's brief is here.

The ACLU says the Obama Administration is not bringing change:

"Hope is flickering. The Obama administration's position is not change. It is more of the same. This represents a complete turn-around and undermining of the restoration of the rule of law. The new American administration shouldn't be complicit in hiding the abuses of its predecessors."

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  • Display: Sort:
    What a surprise!!! (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by fly on Sun Feb 08, 2009 at 04:25:59 PM EST

    Obama is heading for Florida early (5.00 / 5) (#5)
    by Inspector Gadget on Sun Feb 08, 2009 at 04:44:47 PM EST
    this week. Perhaps he should take a quick trip to Cuba to see for himself what he is allowing to go on.

    Bad news and worse news... (5.00 / 2) (#11)
    by FoxholeAtheist on Sun Feb 08, 2009 at 05:52:32 PM EST
    The ACLU didn't mince words with the title of this press release: Obama Endorses Bush Secrecy On Torture And Rendition (2/4/2009) - that is bad news, although I'm glad it's being reported.

    Now the worse news:

    The ACLU sent a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton urging her to clarify the Obama administration's position relating to the Mohamed case and calling on her to reject the Bush administration's policy of using false claims of national security to avoid judicial review of controversial programs.

    WTF! Why is Hillary being asked to explain Obama's equivocating stance on torture - if not to leave her holding the dirty diaper once again?  

    And they certainly (5.00 / 1) (#21)
    by weltec2 on Sun Feb 08, 2009 at 08:37:17 PM EST
    The new American administration shouldn't be complicit in hiding the abuses of its predecessors.

    shouldn't perpetuate them.

    I am sceptical detainees were (none / 0) (#2)
    by oculus on Sun Feb 08, 2009 at 04:30:23 PM EST
    force fed and then beaten.  What would be the point?  

    P.S.  In his latest non-fiction book, Paul Theroux talks to an English-speaking resident of one of the "Stans," which the man sd. received money from the U.S. government to accept "rendered" detainees.  

    "What would be the point" of (5.00 / 3) (#7)
    by FoxholeAtheist on Sun Feb 08, 2009 at 05:17:17 PM EST
    senseless abuse? The question answers itself, no?



    Wasn't it Obama that said.. (none / 0) (#3)
    by fly on Sun Feb 08, 2009 at 04:30:24 PM EST
    Bush and Company did nothing wrong ????????

    Now this?????

    "The new American administration shouldn't be complicit in hiding the abuses of its predecessors."

    ...so  are we all expected to put blindfolds on now and  fall in with the hopey/ changey naive people ? No , many of us were screaming this for over a year now..and we were silenced.

    no..this does not surpise me one iota!

    In fact I and many many Dems  predicted it!

    Gloating seems counterproductive. (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by oculus on Sun Feb 08, 2009 at 04:32:16 PM EST
    If these accounts are accurate, we, as U.S. citizens and taxpayers bear responsibility.

    I don't gloat..i am angry no one listened to (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by fly on Sun Feb 08, 2009 at 05:07:50 PM EST
    What Obama said ! He said it , people chose to ignore what he said with his own words!
    It sickens me!

    Key Bush Gitmo advisers still on job at Pentagon
    Associated Press Writer

    WASHINGTON -- Three senior Pentagon officials tapped by the Bush administration to oversee detainee policy at Guantanamo Bay remain on the job despite President Barack Obama's order to reverse course at the Navy prison in Cuba.

    The Bush appointees' ongoing influence over one of Obama's first and most sensitive national security decisions raises questions by critics -- within and outside the Pentagon --

    Until Thursday, the senior judge in charge of terrorist trials at Guantanamo had stalled in enforcing Obama's demand to halt all court proceedings for the estimated 245 terror suspects held there. The judge, Susan J. Crawford, is a Bush political appointee.

    Two other officials, working in the Pentagon's detainee policy office, have been shunted into civil service jobs. As a result, they cannot be summarily fired because of the change in presidential administrations.

    In a letter released Thursday, Sen. Dianne Feinstein demanded that Defense Secretary Robert Gates review whether Bush holdovers in the policy office had improperly kept their jobs.t

    "I ask that you immediately review the circumstances behind the conversion of these positions and the hiring of any former Bush administration appointees as career or temporary appointments in that office," Feinstein, D-Calif., wrote in the letter dated Feb. 4. "This is especially disconcerting within the Office of Detainee Affairs due to the nature of the policy recommendations that office provides regarding Guantanamo."


    The Pentagon has reviewed the cases of all three appointees, whom President George W. Bush's White House vetted and approved for political posts in 2007. A spokesman said defense officials concluded that none "burrowed" into the system -- or improperly transferred from political to career jobs.

    White House spokesman Tommy Vietor declined comment Thur

    more about Susan Crawford: http://www.daytondailynews.com/n/content/shared-gen/ap/...

    It can't be said better than this letter to the editor in Stars and Stripes!


    Letters to the Editor for Thursday, February 5, 2009
    Stars and Stripes

    "If we say our president can approve torture, why not every other head of state? Suppose some of our people fall into the hands of, say, Iran? I guess it would be OK if they got tortured, as long as [Iranian President] Mahmoud Ahmadinejad approved? What about all those people we tried after World War II as war criminals because of torture? They had the approval of their heads of state. Should we issue apologies and reparations to their families? "

    " Smerconish imagines we can just dabble in torture, but not really be "for torture." Nonsense. If you murder once, you are a murderer. If you rape once, you are a rapist. So what do we turn our men and women into when we instruct them to torture? What do we become?

    Torture is illegal, no matter what anybody says. The U.S. signed and ratified the Geneva Conventions forbidding torture. According to Article 6 of our Constitution, any treaty so signed and ratified "is the supreme Law of the Land." No one is above the law -- not the president, not the Congress, no one.

    Those whose principles only apply when it is expedient truly have no principles at all. It is hypocrisy indeed to preach the rule of law to the world, and yet exempt ourselves. We are supposed to be better than that."

    Lt. Col. Nathan Hoepner
    Naples, Italy


    This is just so sad. (5.00 / 4) (#8)
    by Cream City on Sun Feb 08, 2009 at 05:30:32 PM EST
    I can't gloat.  I wasn't for Obama, but once he won it, I wanted him to do well for our sakes, anyway, and that includes for the sake of those who have suffered so much because of us under the previous administration.

    I begin to worry that maybe in all these months since November, when Axelrove, et al., were sending out reassurances that Obama and his staff really were working -- in Hawaii, on the silly train ride, wherever -- to be Ready on Day One.  Now I wonder whether the snarkers are correct, and all the planning time was spent on inaugural parties.

    Governing has got to begin, and now -- and it begins at Guantanamo as well as in this country, because that so affects our country's image around the world and our future.  I understand the explanation that Guantanamo can't just be emptied out overnight, that some there may actually be criminals, etc., etc.

    But it has gotten WORSE there in recent weeks?!  As it has here, within this country?  Could Obama PLEASE begin to be ready for Day Twenty?


    I ought to add (5.00 / 4) (#9)
    by Cream City on Sun Feb 08, 2009 at 05:34:42 PM EST
    as I edited along and took out in error -- that I certainly am not concerned for Guantanamo's inmates only for our sakes.  I cannot begin to describe how it sickens me that we are treating them, and so many of them obviously innocent, as horribly as many of our own POWs were treated . . . and some, even worse than some of our own POWs were treated.

    We were supposed to be better.  We worked for the Geneva Conventions, the Declaration of Human Rights, and so many other documents that attest to hope for humanity.  That is the hope we need to get back, but just hope of winning elections.


    Sobering news. Unless the executive (none / 0) (#10)
    by oculus on Sun Feb 08, 2009 at 05:37:47 PM EST
    appointees had a right of return to federal civil service positions--smells fishy.

    Nancy Pelosi said that on The View last fall. (none / 0) (#18)
    by weltec2 on Sun Feb 08, 2009 at 08:02:06 PM EST
    However, I have not actually heard Obama say that. Do you have a specific reference?

    stance on force-feeding (none / 0) (#12)
    by diogenes on Sun Feb 08, 2009 at 05:59:39 PM EST
    So I guess the right stance is to let the hunger strikers die.  I guess that'll shrink the GITMO census and help us close it sooner.

    What does the Geneva Convention (5.00 / 1) (#14)
    by FoxholeAtheist on Sun Feb 08, 2009 at 06:06:39 PM EST
    or the World Court, or any other international legal entity, have to say about the legality of force feeding detainees?

    It is my understanding that force feeding is a quite painful process. Plus, it is a form of medical intervention that's being rendered without the person's consent. If a detainee died in the process of being force-fed what would be the legal consequences? Assuming we are a nation of laws.


    The right stance (5.00 / 3) (#15)
    by lentinel on Sun Feb 08, 2009 at 06:08:01 PM EST
    The right stance would be to address their grievances.

    the right stance (none / 0) (#26)
    by diogenes on Sun Feb 08, 2009 at 10:09:35 PM EST
    You don't change what is right because someone is hunger striking.  You do what is right anyway, hunger strike or no hunger strike.  Once you yield to a hunger strike you'll have another with yet more demands, ultimately leading to demands for release without trial in any setting.
    If you have the moral fiber to tell the hunger strikers that they are making a choice to die and you'll leave them to make that choice without force-feeding them, then more power to you.  

    right... (5.00 / 1) (#27)
    by sj on Sun Feb 08, 2009 at 10:20:14 PM EST
    ... because a hunger strike is generally undertaken because of boredom.

    I disagree with everybody. (none / 0) (#35)
    by lentinel on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 12:54:14 PM EST
    I want to know why the prisoners are on a hunger strike.

    What did they ask for?
    Why were they turned down?

    I am a citizen of this country.
    I want to know what is going on.


    Yup (none / 0) (#36)
    by sj on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 01:32:33 PM EST

    Are You Being Facetious? (none / 0) (#37)
    by squeaky on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 02:30:02 PM EST
    It is obvious what their grievances are, same as they have been since the summer of 2005 when the hunger strikes started.

    Being held for 6 or 7 years without a trial for one, torture for two, shall I go on?


    I took it as (5.00 / 1) (#42)
    by sj on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 04:07:18 PM EST
    lentinel wants to know publicly and officially.  Because those certainly are the grievances.  But, even though it is a matter of public record, unless one is like us (an information junkie), the "public" doesn't really know that.

    So I didn't take it as either facetious or unaware, but as righteous.  But I dunno.  Good question, I guess.


    Grievances (none / 0) (#39)
    by squeaky on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 03:41:21 PM EST
    The 25 lines edited out of the court papers contained details of how Mr Mohamed's genitals were sliced with a scalpel and other torture methods so extreme that waterboarding, the controversial technique of simulated drowning, "is very far down the list of things they did," the official said.

    think progress

    Oh yeah, Mohamed all charges were dropped against Mohammed last year, but he is still at Gitmo and on a hunger strike.


    Two (none / 0) (#43)
    by lentinel on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 05:42:14 PM EST
    In the commentary above we were faced with two alternatives.
    One is to let them die.
    The other is to force-feed them, a process many describe as painful and an invasion of their bodies.

    The alternative I was proposing was to consider their grievances.

    None of the stories specifically state the reasons for their hunger strike.
    None of the stories state why their concerns were not met.


    This where this is one of (none / 0) (#29)
    by Socraticsilence on Sun Feb 08, 2009 at 11:04:38 PM EST
    the few non-violent protest means I disagree with- basically there is no right answer- let them die- we're wrong, feed them- we're wrong, do what they want enitrely- we basically allow prisoners control of the prison

    Jeralyn et al, question from prior thread (none / 0) (#13)
    by FoxholeAtheist on Sun Feb 08, 2009 at 06:00:54 PM EST
    If Congress were to pass new legislation for the continued suspension of habeas corpus, couldn't President Obama VETO it, if he wanted?

    The President can veto any law (none / 0) (#16)
    by Peter G on Sun Feb 08, 2009 at 07:22:10 PM EST
    passed by Congress as stated in Article I, section 7, clause 2, of the Constitution.  If they can muster a 2/3 vote of both Houses, Congress can then override the veto.

    Thank you! (none / 0) (#19)
    by FoxholeAtheist on Sun Feb 08, 2009 at 08:12:35 PM EST
    Those that (none / 0) (#17)
    by lilburro on Sun Feb 08, 2009 at 07:41:29 PM EST
    are force-feeding and beating detainees are now violating US law (Obama's executive order).  (Unless they can defend themselves by saying that executive orders do not become law until 30 days after they are issued - is that indeed true?)

    I expect to see investigations of these allegations, possibly prosecutions.  The worsening of conditions at Gitmo is inexplicable.

    What about force feeding in particular? (none / 0) (#20)
    by FoxholeAtheist on Sun Feb 08, 2009 at 08:15:31 PM EST
    There is a fairly informative article (5.00 / 2) (#22)
    by Peter G on Sun Feb 08, 2009 at 08:52:47 PM EST
    on force-feeding in Wikipedia. My only complaint with the article is that it describes the brutal force-feeding of hunger-striking suffragists in England in 1914, and overlooks that the same was done to imprisoned suffragists, including Alice Paul and Lucy Barnes, at Occoquan workhouse (which became the present Lorton Prison) in Washington, DC, in 1917.

    There is an amazing Hillary Swank (none / 0) (#23)
    by FoxholeAtheist on Sun Feb 08, 2009 at 09:44:33 PM EST
    docudrama about the American suffragists called "Iron Jawed Angels". It'll lift your spirits - it did mine anyway.

    And the force-feeding scene in IJA (5.00 / 1) (#24)
    by Cream City on Sun Feb 08, 2009 at 10:08:22 PM EST
    is amazing -- and authentic, per historians.

    However, much as I admire much of the movie, there are some parts that I always have to warn about to students who want to cite the movie as a source.

    For starters, um, the scene of Alice Paul in the bathtub doing, um, what is left to the imagination -- and all to the tune of "Fumbling Toward Ecstasy"?!  It's too bad that the whole love story line, which also is lacking sources, had to mess up such marvelous work by Swank in bringing this story to a new generation that needs to know it.

    But for the real story, from a primary source?  Read the book by a participant: Jailed for Freedom.


    Jailed For Freedom (none / 0) (#31)
    by Peter G on Sun Feb 08, 2009 at 11:36:10 PM EST
    by Doris Stevens (1920) is available for free download from Gutenberg or from Google Books.

    I completely forgot the love story bit, hmm... (none / 0) (#33)
    by FoxholeAtheist on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 01:11:05 AM EST
    Didn't you notice my link (none / 0) (#28)
    by Peter G on Sun Feb 08, 2009 at 10:41:54 PM EST
    for "Alice Paul and Lucy Barnes"?  I'm also an IJA fan.

    Btw, the prison is now (none / 0) (#25)
    by Cream City on Sun Feb 08, 2009 at 10:09:07 PM EST
    a center for artists -- I know someone with a studio there.  Weird.

    So... (none / 0) (#30)
    by jarober on Sun Feb 08, 2009 at 11:10:57 PM EST
    How's that hope and change thing going?  Detainees worse off, massive pork bill in front of Congress, the Secretary of the Treasury is a tax cheat and Paulsen's old right hand man in NY (a twofer!)

    I can hardly wait for round two, when some kind of foreign policy challenge arises.

    Maybe Obama needs a vacation (none / 0) (#32)
    by dualdiagnosis on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 12:22:31 AM EST
    Things seem to be getting out of hand.

    Give the man some time (none / 0) (#34)
    by Lora on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 10:12:21 AM EST
    He's only been in office a couple of weeks.  He's human.  He's not a miracle worker.  He has a huge pile of messes on his plate.  If he acts precipitously, and screws up, he will be hammered.

    The last man in the White House (none / 0) (#41)
    by FoxholeAtheist on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 04:02:49 PM EST
    didn't get better with "time". In fact, he got a lot worse. Not that I'm saying we should definitively draw that conclusion about Obama this early in the game.

    Mohamed et al v Jeppesen Dataplan, Inc. (none / 0) (#38)
    by squeaky on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 02:57:51 PM EST
    Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the ACLU said of the decision: "Eric Holder's Justice Department stood up in court today and said that it would continue the Bush policy of invoking state secrets to hide the reprehensible history of torture, rendition and the most grievous human rights violations committed by the American government. This is not change. This is definitely more of the same. Candidate Obama ran on a platform that would reform the abuse of state secrets, but President Obama's Justice Department has disappointingly reneged on that important civil liberties issue. If this is a harbinger of things to come, it will be a long and arduous road to give us back an America we can be proud of again."


    Secrets To Damning To Tell (none / 0) (#40)
    by squeaky on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 03:48:45 PM EST
    Perhaps part of the reason Obama via Holder is perpetuating the Bush state secret ploy is that too many people will be accountable for torture that is beyond the pale.

    The 25 lines edited out of the court papers contained details of how Mr Mohamed's genitals were sliced with a scalpel and other torture methods so extreme that waterboarding, the controversial technique of simulated drowning, "is very far down the list of things they did," the official said.

    Another source familiar with the case said: "British intelligence officers knew about the torture and didn't do anything about it."

    think progress

    Of course this stance is outrageous and will perpetuate and transfer the BushCo stain onto the Obama administration.

    Now we must hope that the court will assert its independence by rejecting the government's false claims of state secrets and allowing the victims of torture and rendition their day in court.