23 November, 2007

GITMO - USA illegal prisons

Naomi Wolf's excellent new book, The End of America, Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot. She makes the point that a secret prison system that is beyond the reach of law, like Guantanamo, is the cornerstone of every dictatorship. Just knowing that it exists serves to discourage dissent.


Guantanamo Bay detention camp is a cooperative military prison and detention camp under the leadership of Joint Task Force Guantanamo since 2002.[1] The prison, established at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, holds people accused by the United States government of being terrorist operatives, as well as those no longer considered suspects who are being held pending relocation elsewhere. The detainment areas consist of three camps in the base: Camp Delta (which includes Camp Echo), Camp Iguana, and the now-closed Camp X-Ray. The facility is often referred to as Guantanamo, or Gitmo (derived from the abbreviation "GTMO").[2] [3] The detainees held by the United States were classified as "enemy combatants" - a term often criticised for being used in place of "Prisoners of War" after President Bush signed a memorandum stating that no Taliban or al-Qaeda detainee will qualify as a prisoner of war and that Article 3 common to the four Geneva Conventions will not apply to them either. Common Article 3 demands fair trial standards and prohibits torture, cruelty, and "outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment." [4]

Since the beginning of the War in Afghanistan, 775 detainees have been brought to Guantanamo, approximately 420 of which have been released. As of August 09, 2007, approximately 355 detainees remain. More than a fifth are cleared for release but may have to wait months or years because U.S. officials are finding it increasingly difficult to line up places to send them, according to Bush administration officials and defense lawyers. Of the roughly 355 still incarcerated, U.S. officials said they intend to eventually put 60 to 80 on trial and free the rest

From the 1970s onwards, the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base was used to house Cuban and Haitian refugees intercepted on the high seas. In the early 1990s, it held refugees who fled Haiti in Camp Bulkeley until United States District Court Judge Sterling Johnson Jr. declared the camp unconstitutional on June 8, 1993, and the last Haitian migrants departed in late 1995. In June 2005, the United States Department of Defense announced that a unit of defense contractor Halliburton will build a new $30 million detention facility and security perimeter around the base. Camp Delta is a 612-unit detention center built between February 27 and April 2002 which includes detention camps 1 through 6 and Camp Echo. Most of the security force there is U.S. Army military police, and U.S. Navy Master-at Arms. Camp Echo, part of the Camp Delta compound, is a detention center where pre-commissions are held . its detainees may talk privately to lawyers.[5] However, protocols of the conversations have to be submitted to a commission of the Pentagon, which decides whether to release the information or not.[6][1] Camp Iguana is a smaller, low-security compound, located about a kilometer from the main prison compound. In 2002 and 2003, it housed three detainees who were under age 16, and was closed when they were flown home in January 2004. The compound was reopened in mid-2003 to house some of the 38 detainees who were determined by the Combatant Status Review Tribunals not to be "enemy combatants". Those who could not safely be repatriated to their home countries were moved to Camp Iguana.

Camp X-Ray was a temporary detention facility which was closed in April 2002, and its prisoners transferred to Camp Delta.

The status of this prison is not clear; US courts have partially accepted the status of the prison as existing outside many of the U.S. laws, with the caveat that additional rights be provided regarding due process.[11] In June 2006, the U.S. Supreme Court further restricted the Bush administration's use of military tribunals to try the detainees.{Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, 126 S. Ct. 2749 (2006),}

The Administration cites Article 4 of the Geneva Convention as authority for their position that these enemy combatants are not POWs. Article 4 of the Geneva Conventions defines a Prisoner of War as a "Member of other militias and members of other volunteer corps, including those of organized resistance movements, belonging to a party to the conflict and operating in or outside their own territory, even if this territory is occupied." The Article states that "such militias or volunteer corps, including such organized resistance movements," must be "commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates, wear a "fixed distinctive sign recognizable at a distance, carry arms openly, and conduct their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war." [12]

The US government justifies this designation by claiming that they have neither the status of regular soldiers nor that of guerrillas, and they are not part of a regular army or militia. In July 2003, about 680 alleged Taliban members and suspected Al-Qaeda terrorists from 42 different countries were incarcerated there. Some prisoners have been allowed to meet with attorneys.[13][14] In April 2003, the U.S. military moved three juveniles to better conditions at Camp Iguana. There were dozens of detainees who were minors when captured, who were housed in the adult portion of the prison, in violation of International law

Prisoners are held in small mesh-sided cells, and lights are kept on day and night. Detainees have rations similar to those of US forces, with consideration for Muslim dietary needs. Detainees are kept in isolation most of the day, are blindfolded when moving within the camp and forbidden to talk in groups of more than three. United States doctrine in dealing with prisoners of war states that isolation and silence are effective means in breaking down the will to resist interrogation. Red Cross inspectors and released detainees have alleged acts of torture[18] [19], including sleep deprivation, the use of so-called truth drugs[citation needed], beatings and locking in confined and cold cells. Human rights groups argue that indefinite detention constitutes torture.

The use of Guantánamo Bay as a military prison has drawn fire from human rights organizations and other critics, who cite reports that detainees have been tortured[20] or otherwise poorly treated.

members and the Organization of American States, as well as non-governmental organizations such as Amnesty International have protested the legal status and physical condition of detainees at Guantánamo. The human rights organization Human Rights Watch has criticized the Bush administration over this designation in its 2003 world report, stating: "Washington has ignored human rights standards in its own treatment of terrorism suspects. It has refused to apply the Geneva Conventions to prisoners of war from Afghanistan, and has misused the designation of 'illegal combatant' to apply to criminal suspects on U.S. soil."

On May 25, 2005, Amnesty International released its annual report calling the facility the "gulag of our times"[40] [41] Lord Steyn called it "a monstrous failure of justice," because "... The military will act as interrogators, prosecutors and defense counsel, judges, and when death sentences are imposed, as executioners. The trials will be held in private. None of the guarantees of a fair trial need be observed. [42]

Another senior British Judge, Justice Collins, said of the detention centre: 'America's idea of what is torture is not the same as the United Kingdom's.[43]At the beginning of December 2003, there were media reports that military lawyers appointed to defend alleged terrorists being held by the United States at Guantánamo Bay had expressed concern about the legal process for military commissions. The Guardian newspaper from the United Kingdom[44] reported that a team of lawyers was dismissed after complaining that the rules for the forthcoming military commissions prohibited them from properly representing their clients. New York's Vanity Fair reported that some of the lawyers felt their ethical obligations were being violated by the process.
In November 2005, a group of experts from the Commission on Human Rights at the United Nations called off their visit to Camp Delta, originally scheduled for 6 December, saying that the United States was not allowing them to conduct private interviews with the prisoners. "Since the Americans have not accepted the minimum requirements for such a visit, we must cancel [it]," Manfred Nowak, the UN envoy in charge of investigating torture allegations around the world, told AFP. The group, nevertheless, stated its intention to write a report on conditions at the prison based on eyewitness accounts from released detainees, meetings with lawyers and information from human rights groups.[48][49]

In February 2006, the UN group released its report, which called on the U.S. either to release all suspected terrorists or to try them. The report, issued by the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, has the subtitle Situation of detainees at Guantánamo Bay. This includes, as an appendix, the U.S. ambassador's reply to the draft versions of the report in which he restates the U.S. government's position on the detainees.[50]

European leaders have also voiced their opposition to the detention center. On January 13, 2006, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, herself being raised in GDR, criticized the U.S. detention of prisoners at Guantánamo Bay and the "interrogation technique" known as "waterboarding", calling it a form of torture: "An institution like Guantánamo, in its present form, cannot and must not exist in the long term. We must find different ways of dealing with prisoners. As far as I'm concerned, there's no question about that," she declared in a January 9 interview to Der Spiegel.[51][52] Meanwhile in the UK, Peter Hain, the Northern Ireland Secretary, stated during a live broadcast of Question Time (February 16, 2006) that: "I would prefer that it wasn't there and I would prefer it was closed." His cabinet colleague and Prime Minister, Tony Blair, declared the following day that the centre was "an anomaly and sooner or later it's got to be dealt with."[53] On 10 March 2006, a letter in The Lancet is published, signed by more than 250 medical experts urging the United States to stop force-feeding of detainees and close down the prison. Force-feeding is specifically prohibited by the World Medical Association force-feeding declarations of Tokyo and Malta, to which the American Medical Association is a signatory. Dr David Nicholl who had initiated the letter stated that the definition of torture as only actions that cause "death or major organ failure" was "not a definition anyone on the planet is using".[54][55] Conversely, the UN War Crimes Tribunal at The Hague ruled that force-feeding was not "torture, inhuman or degrading treatment" when they ordered it be implemented in another case.[56]

In May 2006, the UK Attorney General Lord Goldsmith said the camp's existence was "unacceptable" and tarnished the U.S. traditions of liberty and justice. "The historic tradition of the United States as a beacon of freedom, liberty and of justice deserves the removal of this symbol," he said.[57] Also in May 2006, the UN Committee against Torture condemned treatment at Guantanamo Bay, noted that indefinite detention constitutes per se a violation of the UN Convention Against Torture, and called on the U.S. to shut down the Guantanamo facility.[58][59]In June 2006, the European Parliament voted overwhelmingly in support of a motion urging the United States to close the camp.[60]

In June 2006, Sen. Arlen Specter claimed that the arrests of most of the roughly 500 prisoners held there were based on "the flimsiest sort of hearsay".[61]In September 2006, the UK's Lord Chancellor, Lord Falconer, who heads the UK's legal system, went further than previous British government statements, condemning the existence of the camp as a "shocking affront to democracy". Lord Falconer, who said he was expressing Government policy, made the comments in a lecture at the Supreme Court of New South Wales.[62] According to former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell: "Essentially, we have shaken the belief the world had in America's justice system by keeping a place like Guantanamo open and creating things like the military commission. We don't need it and it is causing us far more damage than any good we get for it,". [63]

In March 2007, a group of British Parliamentarians formed an All-Party Parliamentary Group to campaign against Guantanamo Bay.[3]The group is made up of Members of Parliament and peers from each of the main British political parties, and is chaired by Sarah Teather with Des Turner and Richard Shepherd acting as Vice Chairs. The Group was launched with an Ambassadors' Reception in the House of Commons, bringing together a large group of lawyers, non-governmental organisations and governments with an interest in seeing the camp closed. On April 26, 2007, there was a debate in the U.S. senate over the detainees at Guantanamo Bay which ended in a draw, with Democrats urging action on the prisoners' behalf but running into stiff opposition from Republicans.[64]

According to polls conducted by the Program on International Policy (PIP) attitudes, .Large majorities in Germany and Great Britain, and pluralities in Poland and India, believe the United States has committed violations of international law at its prison on Guantánamo Bay in Cuba, including the use of torture in interrogations.. PIP found a marked decrease in the perception of the U.S. as a leader of human rights as a result of the international communities opposition to the Guantánamo prison. [65] A 2006 poll conducted by the BBC World Service together with GlobeScan in 26 countries found that 69% of respondents disapprove of the Guantánamo prison and the U.S. treatment of detainees. [66] American actions in Guantanamo, coupled with the Abu Ghraib torture and prisoner abuse scandal, are considered major factors in the decline of the U.S..s image abroad.

Three British prisoners, now known in the media as the "Tipton Three", were released in 2004 without charge. The three have alleged ongoing torture, sexual degradation, forced drugging and religious persecution being committed by U.S. forces at Guantánamo Bay. The prisoners have released a 115-page dossier detailing these accusations.[68] Former Guantánamo detainee, the Swede Mehdi Ghezali was freed on July 9, 2004, after two and half years internment. Ghezali has claimed that he was the victim of repeated torture. Former Guantánamo detainee Moazzam Begg, freed in January 2005, after nearly three years in captivity, has accused his American captors of torturing him and other detainees arrested in Afghanistan and Pakistan.[69]

Omar Deghayes was blinded by pepper spray during his detention.[70] Former Guantánamo detainee Murat Kurnaz, released on August 24, 2006 alleges mistreatment and torture.

Murat Kurnaz's statements are[citation needed]:

Shock rooms: "(In Guantanamo) I was subjected to severe torture. For three months, I stayed in these cold-hot shock rooms. When you go into the room they pump very hot air inside. After that, they pump extremely cold air. It is a horrifying kind of torture. There were various sorts of torture methods including electrical shocks, drowning in water tanks, depriving of food and water, chaining and hanging to the ceiling."

"I witnessed people dying": "They brought a tub full of water. They dipped our heads and held them in water. There I witnessed many people die. They stripped us of our clothes, chaining and hanging us to the wall. I was kept hung to the wall for 4-5 days. Then doctor used to come and check if we could stand more or not. We were not given any food for 20 days. They only gave us one piece of toast, one carrot or one apple per day."

"Psychological Torture": "When none of these torture methods worked, they applied psychological torture. They threw the Qur'an to the floor and kicked it around, throwing it in the toilet. They were playing Adhan along with other music and dancing to it. They made religious insults. Once I could not feel my feet or hands due to the cold. Then I felt a gun barrel at my head. The soldier was yelling at me saying that he was going to kill me. I started laughing. All other detainees started laughing, too. Because I felt that I was already dead. If they killed me, they would be doing me a favor.

"Sign this document": "One day, they brought this document to me and told me to sign it. For example, there were sentences saying that I would guarantee that I would not get involved in terrorist activities. I told them I never did anything like that anyway, and I would not sign it. I was told that I would not be able to get out of there if I did not sign it. Then they packed my bags and sent me back to Germany."

"All Guantanamo camp footage is fake": "After I was released I saw a lot of photos and video footage of Guantanamo detainment camp. Those are all fake and full of lies. Americans were selecting 2-3 detainees for the footage. They were giving mattresses, blankets, prayer beads and skullcaps to these detainees and were recording these videos. The documentary The Road to Guantanamo is a good work. But it is only telling 20 percent of what happened there. It is hard to show everything that happened over the years in one movie".

Juma Al Dossary claims he was interrogated hundreds times, beaten, tortured with broken glass, barbed wire, burning cigarettes, and sexual assaults.[71] David Hicks also made allegations of torture and mistreatment in Guantánamo Bay, but as part of a plea bargain Hicks withdrew any allegations of mistreatment.

An Associated Press report claims that some detainees were turned over to the US by Afghan tribesmen in return for cash bounties [72] The first Denbeaux study reproduces copies of several of leaflets, flyers and posters the US Government distributed to advertise the bounty program.[73] Some of the posters were in comic form, to reach the bulk of the Afghan population, who are illiterate.

Forced feeding accusations by hunger-striking detainees began around the beginning of Autumn, 2005: "Detainees said large feeding tubes were forcibly shoved up their noses and down into their stomachs, with guards using the same tubes from one patient to another. The detainees say no sedatives were provided during these procedures, which they allege took place in front of U.S. physicians, including the head of the prison hospital."[74][75] "A hunger striking detainee at Guantánamo Bay wants a judge to order the removal of his feeding tube so he can be allowed to die, one of his lawyers has said."[76] Within a few weeks, the Department of Defense "extended an invitation to United Nations Special Rapporteurs to visit detention facilities at Guantánamo Bay Naval Station".[77][78]

This was rejected by the U.N. considering the restrictions "that [the] three human rights officials invited to Guantánamo Bay wouldn't be allowed to conduct private interviews" with prisoners.[79] Simultaneously, media reports ensued surrounding the question of prisoner treatment.[80][81][82] "District Court Judge Gladys Kessler also ordered the U.S. government to give medical records going back a week before such feedings take place."[83] In early November 2005, the U.S. suddenly accelerated, for unknown reasons, the rate of prisoner release, but this was unsustained.[84][85][86][87] Prisoners were force fed with nasal tubes.[4]

In 2005, it was reported that sexual methods were allegedly used by female interrogators to break Muslim prisoners.

According to a June 21, 2005, New York Times opinion article,[88] on July 29, 2004, an FBI agent was quoted as saying, "On a couple of occasions, I entered interview rooms to find a detainee chained hand and foot in a fetal position to the floor, with no chair, food or water. Most times they had urinated or defecated on themselves and had been left there for 18, 24 hours or more." Air Force Lt. Gen. Randall Schmidt, who headed the probe into FBI accounts of abuse of Guantánamo prisoners by Defense Department personnel, concluded the man (a Saudi, described as the "20th hijacker") was subjected to "abusive and degrading treatment" due to "the cumulative effect of creative, persistent and lengthy interrogations." The techniques used were authorized by the Pentagon, he said.[89]Many of the released prisoners have complained of enduring beatings, sleep deprivation, prolonged constraint in uncomfortable positions, prolonged hooding, sexual and cultural humiliation, forced injections, and other physical and psychological mistreatment during their detention in Camp Delta.

The U.S. government has denied all of the above charges, but on May 9, 2004, The Washington Post publicized classified documents that showed Pentagon approval of using sleep deprivation, exposure to hot and cold, bright lights, and loud music during interrogations at Guantánamo.[90][91]

Spc. Sean Baker, a soldier posing as a prisoner during training exercises at the camp, was beaten so severely that he suffered a brain injury and seizures.[92]

In late January 2004, US officials released three children aged 13 to 15 and returned them to Afghanistan.

310: Habeas Schmabeas

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posted by u2r2h at Friday, November 23, 2007


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