A Dark Symbol

Barry Wingard represents Fayiz Mohammed Ahmed al-Kandari, a Kuwaiti who has been detained at Guantanamo for seven years. While Kandari is no longer subjected to "enhanced interrogation techniques," his life hasn't otherwise improved since President Obama ordered Gitmo's closing. It has, in fact, worsened in some respects.

Fayiz reports that a small number of military guards have begun to punish any detainee resistance or infraction, even minor ones such as talking back or hanging towels in the wrong location. The special unit of guards known as the Immediate Reaction Force — whom the cell-block guards call for assistance — has increased its number of bruising “cell extractions,” he says; almost every day, a detainee is forcibly removed from his cell as the guards show the prisoners who is in charge. Fayiz was extracted from his cell three times in a 10-day period this spring.

[more ...]

Meanwhile, pictures, videos and even Fayiz’s prayer rug and cap have been taken recently (though since returned) because Fayiz refused to shower in front of guards.

If Gitmo actually closes, detainees fear that the more aggressive military guards will make good on their threat to give them "a farewell to remember."

President Obama can't micromanage the behavior of guards at Gitmo, but he can and should make clear to military leaders that they are accountable for the guards' conduct. As importantly, he can and should disavow any intent to "reassert presidential authority to incarcerate terrorism suspects indefinitely."

As Wingard states, "Gitmo has become a dark symbol of American injustice." It's time to bring due process to detainees like Kandari while assuring their humane treatment until they are tried or released.

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    Without strong supervision (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by weltec2 on Sun Jul 05, 2009 at 05:39:54 PM EST
    to remind prison guards of their own frail humanity this is what happens in prisons the world over. But here the world is watching and our community organizer must mature into the presidential multi-tasker that we elected him to be. I wish him the best, but I don't see much hope for change.

    The sadism buck stops where, exactly? (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by No Blood for Hubris on Sun Jul 05, 2009 at 08:13:37 PM EST
    What part of expecting soldiers to follow the letter of the law would mean micromanaging?  Isn't that what we expect from leaders?  That they lead?  In the right direction?

    We're paying people (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by cawaltz on Sun Jul 05, 2009 at 08:53:01 PM EST
    six figures to name park benches and whine about how hard it is to solve problems. Isn't it swell?

    That is when they aren't busy dialing for dollars, selling off our infrastructure or handing out our dollars to whichever industry has its hand out.

    I'm between a rock and a hard place because when they do seem to do something nowadays it usually means the average American is getting the shaft.


    Also known as (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by Edger on Wed Jul 08, 2009 at 04:13:08 PM EST
    'Black Shirts': The Guantanamo Bay 'Extreme Repression Force'

    from The First Statement of David Hicks, at the UC Davis Center for the Study of Human Rights in the Americas

       I also witnessed many other types of physical abuse of the detainees. I witnessed a Saudi detainee being beaten by an Army guard while at Camp X-Ray. The Saudi, whose name is Jumma, was arguing with a guard by the name of Smith, who was a member of the IRF team and wore kneepads and IRF gear. This incident happened close to when I was transferred from X-Ray to Camp Delta. Jumma was ordered to lie on his stomach in his cell. Jumma lay down as ordered, but continued to argue with Smith, who became very angry, jumped up and came down with his knees on Jumma's back. Smith then grabbed Jumma by the head and slammed his face into the concrete 10 to 20 times.

        Jumma was not moving at that point. Other guards came in and began kicking Jumma. Then Smith began punching Jumma in the face. Jumma was unconscious and not moving. He was picked up and carried unconscious from the cell, and placed in the hospital, where he remained for two weeks. Jumma had a broken wrist and broken ribs from the beating. Approximately 40 detainees witnessed this beating, and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) was made aware of it. Also, I could see afterward that the guards had great difficulty in removing Jumma's blood from the concrete floor, and had to use hoses, and great exertion scrubbing over a period of time.

    When Deghayes finally arrived at Guantánamo in September 2002, he found himself the target of the feared IRF teams.

        "They brought their pepper spray and held him down. They held both of his eyes open and sprayed it into his eyes and later took a towel soaked in pepper spray and rubbed it in his eyes.

        "Omar could not see from either eye for two weeks, but he gradually got sight back in one eye.

        "He's totally blind in the right eye. I can report that his right eye is all white and milky -- he can't see out of it because he has been blinded by the U.S. in Guantánamo."

       "There were usually five people on an ERF team. On this occasion there were eight of them. When Jumah saw them coming, he realized something was wrong and was lying on the floor with his head in his hands. If you're on the floor with your hands on your head, then you would hope that all they would do would be to come in and put the chains on you. That is what they're supposed to do.

        "The first man is meant to go in with a shield. On this occasion, the man with the shield threw the shield away, took his helmet off, when the door was unlocked ran in and did a knee drop onto Jumah's back just between his shoulder blades with his full weight. He must have been about 240 pounds in weight. His name was Smith. He was a sergeant E-5. Once he had done that, the others came in and were punching and kicking Jumah. While they were doing that the female officer then came in and was kicking his stomach. Jumah had had an operation and had metal rods in his stomach clamped together in the operation.

        "The officer Smith was the MP sergeant who was punching him. He grabbed his head with one hand and with the other hand punched him repeatedly in the face. His nose was broken. He pushed his face, and he smashed it into the concrete floor. All of this should be on video. There was blood everywhere. When they took him out, they hosed the cell down and the water ran red with blood. We all saw it."

    In The Name Of Freedom (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by squeaky on Wed Jul 08, 2009 at 04:32:13 PM EST
    How horrible. We are up there with the worst history has to offer.

    Good clean fun :-/ (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by Edger on Wed Jul 08, 2009 at 04:35:39 PM EST
    Sometimes I think we're just getting warmed up...

    Who could have ever imagined Part II (none / 0) (#2)
    by cawaltz on Sun Jul 05, 2009 at 06:40:51 PM EST
    Who could have ever imagined that countries wouldn't be anxious to take people back we labeled as "suspected terrorist" or that our own country would not be anxious to house people we have involuntarily detained for indefinite periods of time on the off chance they might harbor feelings of ill will for that imprisonment?

    (rolling my eyes)

    I doubt that this is a promise he'll be able to keep. Then again, I never figured he would be able to from the get go. Who could have imagined indeed? Evidently we need some leadership on both sides of the aisle with more active imaginations.

    there is ZERO imagination... (none / 0) (#3)
    by Dadler on Sun Jul 05, 2009 at 08:01:11 PM EST
    ...in American politics.  If not less.  

    I don't want to skew the thread (none / 0) (#6)
    by weltec2 on Sun Jul 05, 2009 at 10:21:33 PM EST
    but this is depressing. "As Wingard states, 'Gitmo has become a dark symbol of American injustice.'"

    What has Obama adequately delivered on? ...the right of a woman to sue for back pay. What else?

    He successfully replaced (none / 0) (#7)
    by NMvoiceofreason on Mon Jul 06, 2009 at 07:05:56 AM EST
    Dont Ask Dont Tell with "Dont Ask ME About It"?

    Congress was ready to pass the women's back pay (none / 0) (#8)
    by jawbone on Mon Jul 06, 2009 at 12:41:45 PM EST
    law -- Obama signed it.

    Question is would he have lead on such a law?


    One Of His Campaign Promises (none / 0) (#9)
    by squeaky on Mon Jul 06, 2009 at 12:45:17 PM EST
    I believe