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Old 10-02-2007, 07:07 AM   #41
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Default Prayer service for Hicks attracts 800

10th February 2007

More than 800 people attended a prayer service in support of Guantanamo Bay detainee David Hicks in central Melbourne.

Anglican Archbishop of Melbourne Dr Philip Freier spoke at the service at St Paul's Cathedral, which is opposite Federation Square.

The service included a prayer for a fair trial, for Hicks' mental and physical health and for the victims of terrorism.

"God loves justice," Archbishop Freier said.

"And what is increasingly evident in the incarceration of David Hicks is the lack of justice in his detention."

Anglican diocese of Melbourne media director Roland Ashby said the service had attracted "a broad range of people".

"Anglicans, but also people who don't usually come to church but were very happy the church is saying something about this."

Hicks, a 31-year-old Adelaide father of two, has been held at the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for more than five years.

The US last week began the process of laying charges against Hicks, who is accused of taking part in terrorist operations in Afghanistan.

AAP
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Old 10-02-2007, 07:12 AM   #42
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Default Hicks facing Indian probe over Kashmir shooting

February 10, 2007
http://www.news.com.au/story/0,23599,21200396-2,00.html

DAVID Hicks, already facing the possibility of 20 years' jail on terrorism charges in the US, is the subject of a new investigation by the Indian Government over his attacks on their armed forces in Kashmir.

The investigation has been triggered by disclosures in American prosecution files about the involvement of Hicks with a terrorist group that has killed thousands of people in the disputed Indian territory of Kashmir.
The prosecution file states that the former kangaroo skinner and father of two who converted to Islam joined the terror group Lashkar-e-Toiba in Pakistan, travelled to the border with Indian Kashmir in 2000 and fired on Indian troops.

Reports of the American disclosures were sent to New Delhi this week by the Indian deputy high commissioner to Australia, Vinod Kumar.

Senior officials in New Delhi yesterday confirmed they were examining that material.

"We're looking into it and finding out the facts," an official in New Delhi told The Weekend Australian.

"If Mr Hicks was involved with them at any level, and if he was indeed firing weapons at our troops, then, most certainly, we'd like to talk to him about it.

"We'd be interested to talk to anyone who has done that. We don't take kindly to attacks on our soldiers -- even attacks by people like Mr Hicks."

The American file is consistent with a letter Hicks wrote to his family in Adelaide in which he admits to firing hundreds of bullets in Kashmir at the enemies of Islam.

In a March 2000 letter, Hicks told his family "don't ask what's happened, I can't be bothered explaining the outcome of these strange events has put me in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir in a training camp. Three months training. After which it is my decision whether to cross the line of control into Indian-occupied Kashmir."

The training camp was run by Lashkar-e-Toiba, the army of the pure, Islamic fundamentalists fighting to free Muslims under Indian rule and designated a terrorist group by Australia in 2003.

In another letter on August 10, 2000, Hicks wrote from Kashmir, claiming to have been a guest of Pakistan's army for two weeks at the front in the "controlled war" with India.

"I got to fire hundreds of bullets. Most Muslim countries impose hanging for civilians arming themselves for conflict. There are not many countries in the world where a tourist, according to his visa, can go to stay with the army and shoot across the border at its enemy, legally."

Australia has an extradition relationship with India as a fellow member of the Commonwealth that could allow the transfer of a suspect in special circumstances.

Hicks has been detained at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba since being captured in Afghanistan in 2001 where he was fighting alongside Taliban forces.

US prosecutors last week announced Hicks will face a US Military Commission to answer new charges of attempted murder and providing material support to a terrorist organisation.

LET has waged a brutal insurgency aimed specifically at "destroying" India and "annihilating" Hinduism and Judaism, having proclaimed Hindus and Jews to be enemies of Islam.

It has over the years - including 2000 when Hicks was apparently in action with it - waged a war not just targeting Indian troops in Kashmir, but also rounding up Hindus and Sikhs in the disputed territory and massacring them.

LET militants in 2000 massacred 35 Sikhs in the village of Chittisinghpura.

Since hostilities broke out in earnest in Kashmir in 1989, an estimated 5000 Indian soldiers and paramilitaries have been killed. Estimates are, too, that 80,000-odd civilians have perished, and hundreds of thousands of others have been displaced from their homes.

John Howard yesterday expressed extreme frustration at the time the US is taking to bring Hicks to trial, vowing to press them "almost daily" over the matter.

The US last week began the process of charging Hicks. But US officials have admitted the final charges could be a month away - falling short of an Australian request that the issue be dealt with by the middle of February. And they have admitted a full trial could be as much as a year away.

The Prime Minister said he was reasonably satisfied that the process was now in train, but was concerned about how long it might be before Hicks actually goes to trial.

"Let me, without getting into the weeds of the technical jargon, let me simply say that it has gone on for so long now that we will be pressing the Americans almost on a daily basis," Mr Howard told Southern Cross Broadcasting.
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Old 10-02-2007, 08:24 AM   #43
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Default Democrats Mull Plan To Close Guantanamo

Key House Democrats Suggest Speedy Trial Or Release Of Most Prisoners
WASHINGTON, Feb. 8, 2007
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/...n2452243.shtml

AP) Key House Democrats said Thursday they are considering a plan to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, by the end of 2008, with the exception of several dozen detainees in the war on terror who would be kept at the facility and tried there.

Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., said he hopes to include the provision in legislation this spring that Democrats also intend to use to try to prevent further increases in troop strength in the war in Iraq.


Quote

“Without closing it, this just plays into the propaganda of the enemy.”
Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va.


Without public notice, Murtha dispatched Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va., to the detention center at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay on a one-day trip late last month to recommend ways for closing it. Both men said the prison has become counterproductive as the United States tries to win converts overseas in the war on terror.

“Without closing it, this just plays into the propaganda of the enemy,” Moran said in an interview.

The prison was opened on Jan 11, 2002, and none of the more than 700 prisoners who have entered the facility — suspected of links to al Qaeda and the Taliban — has ever been tried.

Moran said there currently are 393 detainees at the prison, and added he had told Murtha about 80 of are likely to face trial, including 14 whom he described as high value targets.

The Virginia lawmaker said 87 other detainees can probably be released without trial and should go either to their country of origin, or if that isn't possible, to Afghanistan, where they were captured.

Moran said he had recommended requiring the administration to review the cases of the remaining detainees promptly and decide which of them should be held for trial and which should be released.

The facility at Guantanamo Bay has been the subject of extensive political and legal debate, and drawn protests by human rights activists since it was opened. The European Union has urged closing the facility.

The Pentagon recently released new rules to govern trials at the prison, based on a law passed by Congress last year that permits the administration to go ahead with special military commissioners to hear the cases.

Authorities recently drafted charges against three detainees, and they are expected to be formally filed soon. Once that occurs, regulations require preliminary hearings within 30 days and the start of a jury trial within 120 days at Guantanamo Bay.

Moran estimated that it could take five years for all the trials to take place.

He said the rest of the prison population should be out at least by the end of next year. “That is our intent. We feel this is one of the reasons we've lost so much credibility” in the war on terror, he said.

Murtha is chairman of a House subcommittee with jurisdiction over spending on military matters. Moran is a member of the panel.

© MMVII The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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Old 11-02-2007, 09:02 AM   #44
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Default Boeing helps CIA fly kidnapped suspects abroad for

Have a Nice Flight

Boeing helps CIA fly kidnapped suspects abroad for torture

by Nat Hentoff
February 4th, 2007
http://www.villagevoice.com/news/070...f,75712,2.html



On the Boeing 737 Business Jet, Khaled el-Masri said, "all the people were in black clothes and black masks. They put earplugs in my ears and a sack over my head." After putting chains on his legs, they led him onto the plane. "They threw me on the floor and injected me with something. I blacked out."

—From Ghost Plane: The True Story of the CIA Torture Program, Stephen Grey (St. Martin's Press)



Last month, a judge in Milan, Italy, began a hearing on kidnapping charges against 26 Americans, most of them CIA agents, that could lead to the first trial anywhere on the CIA's "extraordinary renditions." Scores of flights to torture chambers have been documented—along with flight logs from European and American official aviation sources—by human rights organizations and in Stephen Grey's extensively sourced book Ghost Plane.

The CIA agents in Italy left behind bountiful evidence of their violations of Italian and international laws. But the U.S. will not extradite them to Italy for doing their duty under special orders from the president on September 17, 2001, orders that gave the agency unprecedented latitude to engage in "clandestine intelligence activity" in the war on terrorism.

This Bush "notification memorandum" is "Top Secret." Vermont senator Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is striving mightily to get Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to provide him with this further proof of how the administration has been operating—as Dick Cheney advised right after 9-11—"on the dark side."

In any case, the CIA kidnappers under scrutiny in Italy, along with rampantly lawless agents elsewhere, cannot be tried in the U.S. as long as the Military Commissions Act of 2006 is in effect. The president got the Republican-controlled Congress, in that legislation, to give CIA lawbreakers a retroactive get-out-of-jail-free card for their work on "the dark side."

Meanwhile, although the CIA "renditions" are no longer secret—and Ghost Plane writer Grey has recently been talking about them to members of Congress—little has been revealed about the private American airline companies that have been supplying the CIA with the planes to transport the shackled, blindfolded, drugged passengers for interrogation in foreign torture chambers.

But now The New Yorker's Jane Mayer—in her most recent meticulously documented report on the execution of this administration's violations of our own War Crimes Act and the Geneva Conventions—has revealed the complicity of the world's largest aerospace company, Boeing, in some of these CIA kidnappings.

Her investigation, "The CIA's Travel Agent," appeared in the October 30 New Yorker; but oblivious to her disclosures, Boeing has been receiving a celebratory press: "Boeing Takes Lead in Aircraft Orders: Company Tops Airbus for the First Time Since 2000" (Washington Post, January 17) and "Why Boeing's Flying High" (George Will's widely syndicated column, in the January 18 New York Post).

Mayer found out that Boeing has a subsidiary—Jeppesen International Trip Planning, based in San Jose, California—that proclaims it "offers everything needed for efficient, hassle-free, international flight operations . . . from Aachen to Zhengzhou."

A number of American charter airlines—front companies for the CIA—are involved in "renditions," but, Mayer notes, the Boeing subsidiary handles "many of the logistical and navigational details—including flight plans, clearance to fly over other countries, hotel reservations, and ground-crew arrangements."

Consider the kidnapped Khaled el-Masri's account of the CIA flight attendants in black clothes and black masks who took him in a Boeing 737 Business Jet to Afghanistan to be tortured. The flight plans for el-Masri's unforgettable trip were prepared, Mayer reports, by the superbly reliable Boeing subsidiary, Jeppesen International Trip Planning.

She quotes a former Jeppesen employee about what Jeppesen's managing director, Bob Overby, said at an internal corporate meeting: "We do all of the extraordinary renditions flights—you know, the torture flights. Let's face it, some of those flights end up that way . . . It certainly pays well."

Overby didn't return any of Mayer's phone calls. When I tried to reach Overby in San Jose, I couldn't even get put through to his office. And Boeing headquarters in Chicago told me it was unaware of that subsidiary. (This was after Mayer's article appeared.)

With ACLU attorney Ben Wizner, Khaled el-Masri is trying to sue the CIA—and Boeing may, in time, be included as a defendant. Federal District Judge T.S. Ellis III would not even start a trial because the government invoked the "state secrets" privilege. But as Wizner said (The New York Times, November 29), the trial would only confirm "what the entire world entirely knows" from reports in the world press. (The case is on appeal.)

As I noted in a previous column, Judge Ellis did moisten his decision dismissing the case in the lower court with crocodile tears, saying el-Masri might have suffered a great injustice, but the judge's hands were tied by the Justice Department's "state secrets" maneuver.

Not incidentally, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice—in her previous post as National Security Adviser—had ordered Khalid el-Masri released in May 2004. Sorry, she said, he had been mistakenly identified as being connected to terrorism. (She did not say who misfingered him.)

Khaled el-Masri, who hasn't been able to get a job since his release, is suing for damages, but primarily, he says, he'd like an apology. He is as likely to get one from the CIA or Commander in Chief Bush as he is from the world's largest aerospace company.

When the CIA is Boeing's client, does Jeppesen supply the black masks too? On January 31, German prosecutors issued arrest warrants for 13 CIA agents involved in the rendition of el-Masri. Involved in the kidnapping, said the prosecutors, was a Boeing plane.

Copyright © 2007 Village Voice
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Old 12-02-2007, 11:56 AM   #45
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Default Gates: Prisoner abuse hurts U.S.

2/11/2007
By Tom Vanden Brook, USA TODAY
http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2...tes-nato_x.htm

MUNICH, Germany — Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Sunday that the United States needs to repair its reputation after prisoner abuse scandals in Iraq and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and tried to defuse criticism from Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Gates, speaking to world leaders, defense officials and members of Congress gathered here for a conference, said the detention of terror suspects in Cuba and abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq "have negatively impacted the reputation of the United States." The defense secretary stressed that trials of detainees at Guantanamo Bay would be fair and transparent.


U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates

One of the United States' greatest assets in the last century, he said, has been its reputation as being a champion of the rule of law and human advancement. "We have some work to do in restoring American soft power around the world," Gates said.

The defense secretary also skirted charges made by Putin Saturday that the United States acts unilaterally in foreign affairs and destabilizes the world. Gates criticized Russia for arms proliferation and using its energy resources as a weapon, even as he played down differences between the countries. He said he had accepted an invitation from Putin to visit Russia.

"Let me repeat: there is no desire for a new Cold War with Russia," Gates said at the 43rd Conference on Security Policy.

Other highlights from Gates' speech and the question-and-answer session that followed:

• He disputed Putin's contention that extending missile defense to Europe threatened Russia. The ballistic missile defense system proposed for Europe would provide defense against Iran and other threats, Gates said. Butm, he said, it is "not aimed at deterring Russia."

• Gates told Russia not to worry about the potential expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in Eastern Europe. "Russia need not fear law-based democracies on its borders," he said. Putin charged Saturday that NATO expansion there "represents a serious provocation that reduces the level of mutual trust."

• The secretary warned that failing to build a stable government in Iraq could lead to the spread of terrorism. "If there is chaos in Iraq, every member of this alliance will feel the consequences," he said.

Gates also sought to smooth over conflicts with U.S. allies in Europe and show how he his different from his predecessor, Donald Rumsfeld. In 2003, Rumsfeld referred to Germany and France as "old Europe" and said the center of gravity for NATO was shifting to the east.

On Sunday, Gates said, characterizations of "old Europe" are outdated and "belong to the past."

Gates flew to Pakistan, where he planned to meet with President Pervez Musharraf. During his talks with NATO allies, Gates stressed the need to press a military offensive against the Taliban in Afghanistan, Pakistan's neighbor. He said military forces had to be combined with economic development and a counternarcotic effort.
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Old 13-02-2007, 12:19 PM   #46
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Default 8 Reasons to Close Guantánamo Now

12/02/2007
By Karen J. Greenburg

The first detainees arrived in Guantánamo four months to the day after the 9/11 attacks. From the opening of Camp X-Ray—the first site of imprisonment, notorious for its tin-roofed open-air cages—to the recently completed permanent prison known as Camp 6, critics have called for its closure. Even President Bush has said, “I’d like to end Guantánamo. I’d like it to be over with.” Yet he refuses to close it because, he says, it holds detainees who “will murder somebody if they are let out on the street.”




It’s time to look at the powerful reasons to close Guantánamo, both the standard ones enumerated below—and also what may be the most compelling, if unspoken, one of all: Guantánamo must be closed because the United States needs to indicate that it has decided to change course. Closing Guantánamo will help to restore America’s standing in the world and in the eyes of its own citizens.


#1 It is a legal no-man’s-land

Guantánamo Bay Naval Base was established as a coaling and naval station under U.S. control in 1903. It has no civilian legal authority (you can’t get a marriage license there, and you can’t be arraigned) and U.S. military authority is limited. According to the Department of Justice, the prison is not indisputably U.S. territory, nor does it necessarily fall under the jurisdiction of any foreign entity.




According to the Church Report—an official investigation of Guantánamo prepared by Vice Admiral Albert T. Church III, a former navy inspector general for the Armed Services Committee—Guantánamo’s uncertain legal footing may have been a fundamental reason the administration decided to use the facility to interrogate al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters. “Perhaps most importantly,” the report states, “GTMO was considered a place where [other] benefits could be realized without the detainees having the opportunity to contest their detention in the U.S. courts.”




According to Northwestern University Professor Joseph Margulies, the administration’s legal position rests on “the remarkable claim that the prisoners have no rights because they are foreign nationals detained outside the sovereign territory of the United States.” In 2004, in Rasul v. Bush, the Supreme Court ruled that U.S. courts have jurisdiction in hearing habeas corpus petitions from Guantánamo. Yet through a series of laws and military rulings, the administration has continued to argue that the prisoners do not have the right to contest their detention in a U.S. court.


#2 It violates the Geneva Conventions

Guantánamo is a prisoner-of-war camp that is not labeled as such. From the beginning, the administration took the legal position that the captives brought to Cuba were not prisoners of war, but fell into the vague, newly created legal category of “enemy combatants.”




But according to the International Committee of the Red Cross Commentary to the conventions, no such intermediate ground between civilians and prisoners of war exists: “Every person in enemy hands must have some status under international law: he is either a prisoner of war and, as such, covered by the Third Convention, a civilian covered by the Fourth Convention, [or] a member of the medical personnel of the armed forces who is covered by the First Convention. There is no intermediate status; nobody in enemy hands can fall outside the law.”




As the camp was being built, military personnel I interviewed said they knew not to use the words “prison-camp,” or “prison.” Why? Under the Geneva Conventions, a prisoner cannot be interrogated, punished, or forced to answer questions beyond rank, name and serial number.

#3 Prisoners are degraded and abused

Abusive treatment of Guantánamo detainees has been documented in lawyers’ notes, FBI memos, statements from released detainees and court affidavits submitted by attorneys representing detainees.




Jumah Al Dossari, a Bahraini detainee who has been incarcerated at Gitmo for five years, wrote to his lawyer, “At Guantánamo, soldiers have assaulted me, placed me in solitary confinement, threatened to kill me, threatened to kill my daughter, and told me I will stay in Cuba for the rest of my life. They have deprived me of sleep, forced me to listen to extremely loud music and shined intense lights in my face. They have placed me in cold rooms for hours without food, drink or the ability to go to the bathroom or wash for prayers. They have wrapped me in the Israeli flag and told me there is a holy war between the Cross and the Star of David on the one hand and the Crescent on the other. They have beaten me unconscious.”




All of what he describes is illegal for the 194 countries that have ratified the Geneva Conventions—of which the United States is one—as well as those that have ratified the Convention Against Torture (which the United States has signed, with reservations).


#4 Prisoners have no way to prove their innocence

Under the Constitution, every prisoner in U.S. custody has the right to legal representation and to due process, i.e. a trial (habeus corpus). Yet the detainees at Guantánamo, though afforded Combatant Status Review Tribunals, cannot have their own counsel at those hearings and have no meaningful way of contesting evidence, some of which is secret. To date, not one individual among the nearly 800 incarcerated at Guantánamo has been charged with a crime recognized under either U.S. or international law. Moreover, the Military Commissions Act (MCA) of 2006 is the latest attempt to strip captives of their right to argue their appeals in U.S. courts.




MCA is currently being challenged in two cases—al Odah v. United States of America and Boumediene v. Bush. Briefs in these cases argue that the Act is unconstitutional and that the retroactive suspension of the detainees’ right of habeas corpus does not apply to pending cases. These briefs focus on the Constitution’s Writ of Habeus Corpus, which states that such rights shall only be revoked at times of rebellion or invasion.


#5 It undermines intelligence efforts

Despite the tens of thousands of hours of interrogation that have taken place at Guantánamo, very little worthwhile intelligence has been extracted. What information is left is now five years old, and it is doubtful that any Guantánamo prisoner has knowledge of a ticking bomb or a current plot.




And while the government maintains that detainees can provide a primer on jihad networks and al-Qaeda’s strategic goals, at this point, the information is likely out of date. Besides, what can be extracted from individuals who, for the most part, were the wrong people to imprison in the first place.




According to a report by Seton Hall School of Law, 86 percent of detainees were arrested by Pakistan or the Northern Alliance and “handed over to the United States at a time when the United States offered large bounties for capture of suspected enemies.”




Moreover, Guantánamo’s very existence has alienated potential inside sources of information. Two years ago, at a Center on Law and Security conference in Florence, Italy, two of Europe’s leading terrorism magistrates pointed out that attempts to infiltrate terrorist cells had become much more difficult in the wake of rising public anger over Guantánamo.

#6 It creates new enemies

Guantánamo has fomented that which it was created to combat—anti-American extremism and jihad.




Guantánamo is just the public face of a global network of “ghost prisons.” According to Human Rights First (formerly the Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights),the United States has acknowledged 20 detention centers in Afghanistan, in addition to the bases at Bagram and Kandahar; as a prison near the Afghan border in Kohat, Pakistan; and the al Jafr prison in Jordan. This suggests that Guantánamo may have been a smokescreen for more inhumane, less legal incarceration and interrogation practices elsewhere.




According to Armando Spataro, a senior Italian prosecutor known for his work on global terrorism, Guantánamo and the U.S. renditions policy “is extremely damaging to all our efforts to integrate our Muslim communities.” Muslims around the world are asking why there is so little international opposition to the U.S. policy of imprisonment without due process. The collateral damage of Guantánamo—the incarceration of nearly 800 individuals who are denied legal rights, who regularly report being abused and who face a lifetime of imprisonment—is incalculable. It breeds new angers and resentments, and thus new enemies.




Last March, the Department of Defense finally released the names and countries of the detainees. It turned out that many were not captured on the battlefield but picked up elsewhere in the world, in the Gambia, in Pakistan, and even in Europe. In all, persons detained in Guantánamo Bay come from 46 different nations, including Spain, France and the United Kingdom.


#7 … and alienates our allies

At a time when international solidarity is needed to confront the potent and lethal enemy of terrorism, Guantánamo has led to widespread distrust of the United States. British Prime Minister Tony Blair has called for Guantánamo’s closure. And Justice Lawrence Collins, a British high court judge, has said, “America’s idea of what is torture is not the same as ours and does not appear to coincide with that of most civilized nations.”




Baltasar Garzon, Spain’s most prominent magistrate for crimes of terrorism, has warned, “If we continue along these lines, we are on the road to committing crimes against humanity.”




In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel has said, “There is no question … An institution like Guantánamo in its present form cannot and must not exist in the long term.”


#8 It will signal a fundamental change of strategy in the war on terror

Guantánamo is the single most potent symbol in the misguided war on terror. In the wake of 9/11, the United States’ pledge to do everything in its power to protect its people from further harm led to a policy of overreaction. Closing Guantánamo will signal that the United States has emerged from its confusion, and regained a place among civilized nations.




We must no longer act like scared victims, willing to make any bargain with any devil to create the illusion of safety. We must reassert our confidence in the rule and wisdom of law. Enemies must be combatted with legal tools, military prowess and diplomacy—not with illegalities, bullying and walls of silence.




Closing Guantánamo is not about bowing to human rights concerns or even to the law. We must close it as a signal to the world that, even in the face of danger, the United States remains true to its values. Closing Guantánamo is a pledge of allegiance to the American past and to the American future.




Research for this article was contributed by Center on Law and Security Research Fellow Francesca Laguardia.




SOURCE: InTheseTimes
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Old 14-02-2007, 10:43 AM   #47
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Default Hunger strike for Hicks

13 Feb 2007
http://www.news.com.au/adelaidenow/s...006301,00.html

A FORMER Adelaide businessman is willing to give up all food from today in support of David Hicks.

The man, who wants to be known only as Mike, is going on a hunger strike for ``as long as it takes'' for Hicks to be released from Guantanamo Bay.


A former Adelaide businessman, known as "Mike", has begun a hunger strike outside St Francis Xavier's Cathedral in the city today in support of David Hicks. He has vowed to stay on hunger strike for "as long as it takes" to get Hicks out of Guantanamo Bay. Picture: BRENTON EDWARDS

Mike, wearing orange, will sit in peaceful protest in Victoria Square from 1pm today. He is encouraging others to sit with him to show support.


``I realised that I am ashamed to be an Australian and I never thought I would say that,'' Mike said.

You can text support to 0412 361 234.

(Please text if you care, i did.--accuracy)
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Old 15-02-2007, 08:45 AM   #48
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Default US okays detainee military commissions

15th February 2007

US President George W Bush has cleared another hurdle in his plan to prosecute Australian David Hicks and other "enemy combatants" held at Guantanamo Bay.

The president has issued an executive order setting the stage for military trials to go ahead.

The move is a technical step, but necessary for the US government to prosecute Hicks and two other accused terrorists at military commission trials.

Trial proceedings could begin against Hicks at the American military base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as early as next month.

"There are hereby established military commissions to try alien unlawful enemy combatants for offences triable by military commission," Bush declared in the order, released to the media by White House officials.

Adelaide-born Hicks, Salim Hamdan, a Yemeni accused of being al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden's driver, and Canadian, Omar Khadr, were selected by the US military as the first three Guantanamo inmates to be brought to trial.

US Colonel Morris Davis, the chief prosecutor for the upcoming military commissions, announced earlier this month charges had been sworn against Hicks, Hamdan and Khadr.

Davis has recommended Hicks be charged with "providing material support for terrorism and attempted murder in violation of the law of war".

If convicted, the 31-year-old former jackaroo from Adelaide faces a maximum penalty of life in a US prison.

The president's executive order paves the way for the convening authority for military commissions, Susan J Crawford, to examine Davis's recommended charges.

If Crawford, a former US Court of Appeals judge for the Armed Forces, agrees with Davis' recommendations, Hicks will likely be formally charged.

Hicks then must appear before a military judge within 30 days and a trial will start within 120 days.

The court proceedings are expected to take place in court facilities at Guantanamo Bay, a heavily fortified US military base where Hicks has been in custody for more than five years.

Hicks, 31, was captured in Afghanistan in late 2001 and accused of training with al-Qaeda.

AAP
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Old 15-02-2007, 08:49 AM   #49
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Default Hicks' mental health not suffering: US

15th February 2007

United States authorities insist there's nothing to suggest David Hicks' mental health is suffering.

They turned down an Australian request to send in an independent psychologist and instead had their own doctors check on the psychiatric health of the Adelaide-born father of two, who's been locked up in Guantanamo Bay for five years.

The Guantanamo doctor gave Hicks a clean bill of health, indicating there was nothing to suggest the Australian terror suspect was suffering depression or anxiety.

But the conditions he lives under would undoubtedly test the metal of even the most mentally healthy.

During a parliamentary hearing on Thursday, senators were given a rundown of Hicks' surroundings and daily routine in the US military prison in Cuba.

Last December he was moved to Camp Six, described this week as more humane by the US commander in charge at Guantanamo.

Hicks lives in a cell 3.6 by 2.3 metres that receives no direct sunlight, is climate controlled at 25 degrees Celsius and has glass observation panels for prison staff to check detainees aren't trying to commit suicide.

He sleeps on a double bunk bed, but has no roommate, and has a plastic table, a seat and bookshelf in his cell for reading and writing.

But the bookshelf is mostly empty. He has 52 books but is only allowed two in his cell at any one time.

Toilet paper is rationed - he's allowed 30 sheets at a time - because others at Guantanamo have used it to block the toilets and cause flooding.

The Americans describe it as a security issue.

Hicks is kept in his cell for 22 hour stretches. For two hours a day - which can be at any time of the day or night - he is allowed into the exercise yard.

But, for whatever reason, he was refused the privilege 21 times last month, meaning he was in his cell for 24 hours.

AAP
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Old 15-02-2007, 09:02 AM   #50
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Default DFAT confirms Hicks on loo paper rations

15th February 2007

David Hicks has been on toilet paper "rations" because some Guantanamo Bay detainees - but not the Australian terror suspect - have been using it to cause flooding.

Rod Smith, a senior consular officer from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), said Australian officials were first alerted to this problem in early November last year.

"Toilet paper is rationed to 30 sheets at a time but additional supplies can be provided as requested," Mr Smith said.

"(The US says) some detainees have used toilet paper to block toilets and cause floods."

American officials described it as a security measure, he said.

But Mr Smith said as far as he was aware Hicks was not one of the detainees causing the flooding problem.

"It is an issue we have taken up with the American authorities," Mr Smith said.

Australia's consul-general to Washington, John McAnulty, raised the toilet paper issue with US authorities in a letter on December 5.

The rationed toilet paper was still a problem late last month when Hicks was visited by his lawyers but, at a parliamentary hearing on Thursday, Mr Smith was unable to say if it was still an issue.

Information from US authorities also disputes claims that Hicks has not been able to use a comb since being transferred to Camp Six last year.

Mr Smith said the US had told Australia that Hicks is allowed to use a comb in the shower room.

Senators were also provided with some details of the personal effects to which Hicks has access.

Mr Smith said Hicks has a library of 52 books at the prison but was only allowed to keep two in his cell at any one time.

The Adelaide father of two spends at least 22 hours in his cell each day.

He is allowed two hours each day for exercise but Mr Smith said he refused to go to the exercise yard 21 times during January.

AAP
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Old 15-02-2007, 10:57 AM   #51
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Default Guantanamo comes to Morocco for film shoot

Feb 15, 2007
http://www.antara.co.id/en/seenws/?id=27415

Rabat (ANTARA News) - A 16th century Marrakesh palace has for the past three weeks been transformed into the infamous American prison camp in Guantanamo Bay to set the scene for a movie being shot there, Moroccan media reported on Tuesday.

South African director Gavin Hood is using the castle as a backdrop for his political "Rendition", starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Meryl Streep, Reese Witherspoon and Peter Sarsgaard.

The film tells the tale of a CIA analyst in Cairo who witnesses an unorthodox interrogation of an Egyptian chemical engineer suspected of being a terrorist.

The El Badia palace has, according to a set worker quoted by AFP from Moroccan daily Aujord'hui, been completely transformed to resemble Guantanamo, even featuring Moroccans walking around in the American camp's notorious orange jumpsuits.

The Moroccan part of the shoot is scheduled to last for eight weeks, and will include a scene shot in the seaside town of Essaouira, formerly known as Mogador.

Hood will also take his cast to South Africa and the United States to shoot other scenes for the film. (*)


Copyright © 2006 ANTARA
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Old 15-02-2007, 11:07 AM   #52
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Default Now, the 'good guys' are torturers

By David Bauder
Associated Press
http://news.cincypost.com/apps/pbcs....702140338/1005

This week on Fox's "24" a counter terrorism agent was tortured with a quarter-inch bit drilled into his chest. Earlier this season on the show agent Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) tortured his own brother by putting a plastic bag over his head.

In previous seasons Jack has cut off the head of a tortured terrorist suspect who had died to send a message and pretended to kill a terrorist's bound and gagged child before his eyes to get him to talk. Even Jack himself has died under torture, only to be resuscitated back to life.

The scenes from Fox's "24" are haunting, but hardly unusual. The advocacy group Human Rights First says there's been a startling increase in the number of torture scenes depicted on prime-time television in the post-2001 world.

Even more chilling, there are indications that real-life American interrogators in Iraq are taking cues from what they see on TV, said Jill Savitt, the group's PR director.

Human Rights First recently brought a West Point commander and retired military interrogators to Hollywood for meetings with producers of "24" and ABC's "Lost" to talk about their concerns about life imitating art. One man in the meeting was Tony Lagouranis, a former U.S. Army specialist who questioned prisoners in Baghdad's infamous Abu Ghraib prison and several other facilities around Iraq. He said he saw instances of mock executions like that in "24." Once, some fellow interrogators asked an Iraqi translator to pretend he was being tortured to strike fear in a prisoner, after they had just watched a similar scene on a DVD.

Television is hardly the only factor at play; Lagouranis said many American interrogators are young, receive little training and are pressured by commanders to quickly extract information from prisoners.

But it's enough of a concern that one professor at a military academy told Savitt that Jack Bauer represented one of his biggest training challenges. Retired U.S. Army Col. Stu Herrington, who learned interrogation techniques in Vietnam and is an expert asked by the Army to consult on conditions at Guantanimo Bay, said that if Bauer worked for him, he'd be headed for a court-martial. "I am distressed by the fact that the good guys are depicted as successfully employing what I consider are illegal, immoral and stupid tactics, and they're succeeding," he said. "When the good guys are doing something evil and win, that bothers me."

Prior to 2001, the few torture scenes on prime-time TV usually had the shows' villains as the instigators, Savitt said. In both 1996 and 1997, there were no prime-time TV scenes containing torture, according to the Parents Television Council, which keeps a programming database.

Recently they found examples on "Alias," "The Wire," "Law & Order," "The Shield" - even "Star Trek: Voyager."

In one "Lost" scene, Sayid Jarrah was depicted holding a knife to the face of one adversary, suggesting that "perhaps losing an eye will loosen your tongue."

Howard Gordon, an executive producer of "24," suggested that a helpless feeling in the nation because of terrorism and the Iraq war may be what creators are reflecting in their shows. There's been a surge in the level of violence tolerated in prime time. "Perhaps at some level it's an expression of our anger and our helplessness," he said.

But Herrington said he's concerned that much of what's on TV is misleading.

Television interrogation frequently works to a ticking clock: someone needs to find out the location of a bomb from a prisoner within the hour or it will explode. That's so rare in real life that it's essentially mythology, he said.



Publication date: 02-14-2007
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Old 15-02-2007, 11:45 AM   #53
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Default

EU endorses damning report on CIA

14 February 2007
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/6360817.stm

The European parliament has approved a damning report on secret CIA flights, condemning member states which colluded in the operations.


The EU report said the US had operated 1,245 flights


The UK, Germany and Italy were among 14 states which allowed the US to forcibly remove terror suspects, lawmakers said.

The EU parliament voted to accept a resolution condemning member states which accepted or ignored the practice.

The EU report said the CIA had operated 1,245 flights, some taking suspects to states where they could face torture.

The report was adopted by a large majority, with 382 MEPs voting in favour, 256 against and 74 abstaining.

Vigilance

The final version denounces the lack of co-operation of many EU member states and it condemns the actions of secret services and governments who accepted and concealed renditions.

It is unlikely, the report says, that European governments were unaware of rendition activities on their territory, something the British government, among others, has denied.

"This is a report that doesn't allow anyone to look the other way. We must be vigilant that what has been happening in the past five years may never happen again," said Italian Socialist Giovanni Fava, who drafted the document.

The parliament also called for an "independent inquiry" to be considered and for closure of the US' Guantanamo Bay detention camp.

Human rights campaigning group Amnesty International welcomed the EU lawmakers' vote, but urged member states to carry out independent investigations.

Revealing facts

Although the report has no force in EU law, Mr Fava said during the parliamentary debate that the related investigation, over a year, had uncovered much new evidence.

Many of those taken from EU states were subjected to torture to extract information from them, the report said.

It said there was a "strong possibility" that this intelligence had been passed on to EU governments who were aware of how it was obtained.

It also uncovered the use of secret detention facilities used as the flights made their journey across Europe towards countries such as Afghanistan.

It was not possible to contradict evidence or suggestions that secret detention centres were operated in Poland and Romania, the report said.

'Incommunicado detention'

Centre-right MEPs - the largest group in parliament - have been highly critical of the report, saying it is primarily motivated by anti-Americanism.

EU Justice Commissioner Franco Frattini said the commission would act on the truth, even if it were uncomfortable or unpalatable. But he called for a relaunching of the Euro-Atlantic relationship and said Europe must continue to work with its US partners.

During the course of their investigation, delegations of MEPs travelled to countries including Romania, Poland, the UK, the US and Germany to investigate claims of European involvement in so-called extraordinary renditions.

The governments of Austria, Italy, Poland, Portugal and the UK were criticised for their "unwillingness to co-operate" with investigators.

The report defines extraordinary renditions as instances where "an individual suspected of involvement in terrorism is illegally abducted, arrested and/or transferred into the custody of US officials and/or transported to another country for interrogation which, in the majority of cases involves incommunicado detention and torture".
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Old 18-02-2007, 08:47 AM   #54
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Default 'Sickened' Dick Smith chips in for Hicks fight

February 18, 2007
http://www.news.com.au/story/0,23599,21245206-2,00.html

BUSINESSMAN Dick Smith has given $60,000 to support the campaign to free Australian terror suspect David Hicks.

Sky News reports the businessman as saying he is angry with the Howard government's neglect of Hicks and plans to give more to help secure a fair trial.

Mr Smith's announcement yesterday came at the same time as the release of a computer generated image of the 31-year-old held at the US military camp in Cuba.

The image shows the strain of five years at Guantanamo Bay.
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Old 18-02-2007, 10:15 AM   #55
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Default Jailed 2 Years, Iraqi Tells of Abuse by Americans

By MICHAEL MOSS and SOUAD MEKHENNET
Published: February 18, 2007
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/18/wo...in&oref=slogin


Laith al-Ani, with his daughter, Al Budur, was recently released by the American military in Iraq after spending more than two years in detention facilities. He was never charged with a crime.


DAMASCUS, Syria — In the early hours of Jan. 6, Laith al-Ani stood in a jail near the Baghdad airport waiting to be released by the American military after two years and three months in captivity.

He struggled to quell his hope. Other prisoners had gotten as far as the gate only to be brought back inside, he said, and he feared that would happen to him as punishment for letting his family discuss his case with a reporter.

But as the morning light grew, the American guards moved Mr. Ani, a 31-year-old father of two young children, methodically toward freedom. They swapped his yellow prison suit for street clothes, he said. They snipped off his white plastic identification bracelet. They scanned his irises into their database.

Then, shortly before 9 a.m., Mr. Ani said, he was brought to a table for one last step. He was handed a form and asked to place a check mark next to the sentence that best described how he had been treated:

“I didn’t go through any abuse during detention,” read the first option, in Arabic.

“I have gone through abuse during detention,” read the second.

In the room, he said, stood three American guards carrying the type of electric stun devices that Mr. Ani and other detainees said had been used on them for infractions as minor as speaking out of turn.

“Even the translator told me to sign the first answer,” said Mr. Ani, who gave a copy of his form to The New York Times. “I asked him what happens if I sign the second one, and he raised his hands,” as if to say, Who knows?

“I thought if I don’t sign the first one I am not going to get out of this place.”

Shoving the memories of his detention aside, he checked the first box and minutes later was running through a cold rain to his waiting parents. “My heart was beating so hard,” he said. “You can’t believe how I cried.”

His mother, Intisar al-Ani, raised her arms in the air, palms up, praising God. “It was like my soul going out, from my happiness,” she recalled. “I hugged him hard, afraid the Americans would take him away again.”

Just three weeks earlier, his last letter home — with its poetic yearnings and a sketch of a caged pink heart — appeared in The Times in one of a series of articles on Iraq’s troubled detention and justice system.

After his release from the American-run jail, Camp Bucca, Mr. Ani and other former detainees described the sprawling complex of barracks in the southern desert near Kuwait as a bleak place where guards casually used their stun guns and exposed prisoners to long periods of extreme heat and cold; where prisoners fought among themselves and extremist elements tried to radicalize others; and where detainees often responded to the harsh conditions with hunger strikes and, at times, violent protests.

Through it all, Mr. Ani was never actually charged with a crime; he said he was questioned only once during his more than two years at the camp.

American detention officials acknowledged that guards used electric devices called Tasers to control detainees, but they said they did so rarely and only when the guards were physically threatened. The officials said that detainees had several ways to report abuse without repercussions, and that all claims were investigated.

Officials declined to give specific details about why they had detained Mr. Ani or why they had freed him.

“He was released because the board that reviewed his case didn’t believe he any longer posed a threat,” said First Lt. Lea Ann Fracasso, a spokeswoman for detention operations, in a written answer to questions. “He was originally detained as a security threat. I don’t have anything more.”

The Detention System

The American detention camps in Iraq now hold 15,500 prisoners, more than at any time since the war began. The camps are filled with people like Mr. Ani who are being held without charge and without access to tribunals where their cases are reviewed, the Times examination published last December found.

Mr. Ani, a women’s clothing merchant, said he was detained in 2004 after American soldiers who were searching for weapons in his six-family apartment building found an Iraqi military uniform in the basement. His joy upon being released in January was short-lived. Days later, he said, a Shiite militia ransacked his home in Baghdad, looking to kill him. He hid, going from house to house, until he could move his family out of Iraq.

Now he is among the estimated 1.5 million Iraqis who have taken refuge in neighboring Syria and Jordan, where sectarian rifts are springing up.

In one area of Damascus, Shiite refugees from Iraq have established a mini version of Sadr City, the Baghdad neighborhood. Sunni refugees, in turn, are forming their own enclaves. In interviews, former detainees seethed with rage at the United States.


Scott Nelson/WPN, for The New York Times
A letter written by Mr. Ani to his family from the Camp Bucca detention center in Iraq.


One, a 43-year-old man from Samarra, Iraq, said he was released last year despite having fought American troops.

“I wish to go back to Iraq and fight against the Americans, God willing,” vowed the man, who spoke on the condition that he be identified only by his nom de guerre, Abu Abdulla, for fear of reprisal.

Mr. Ani has other priorities, still exhausted from his detention and preoccupied with finding a permanent home. But he regularly turns his television to a new station called Al Zawra, transfixed by its running montage of videotaped attacks on American troops.

The station is owned by a Sunni, Meshaan al-Juburi, a former Iraqi politician who was indicted last year on charges of embezzling millions of American dollars; he denied the charges and returned to Syria, where he lived before the war. The station has become an information center for the Sunni insurgency and in the process has exasperated American and Iraqi forces. In an interview at his office here, Mr. Juburi said that he opposed Al Qaeda’s use of suicide bombers to kill Iraqi civilians but was soliciting support for Iraqis intent on killing American troops. When the image of a roadside bomb blowing up an American Humvee appears on the large flat screen on his office wall, his eyebrows rise and he urges his visitors to watch, “This is a good one.”

A Nightmare Begins

Mr. Ani’s ordeal began on Oct. 14, 2004, when soldiers brought him in for what he described as desultory questioning.

“ ‘Are you married? How many children? Sunni or Shiite? Which mosque do you pray in?’ ” Mr. Ani said he was asked. “I said I didn’t pray, and they said, ‘Are you not Muslim,’ and I said, ‘Yes, but I’m not praying and going to mosques.’ ”

“They never asked me about terrorism,” he said. “I’m a normal person, just a usual man, and don’t have anything to do with anyone who was fighting against the Americans.”

Mr. Ani spent a total of 44 days at two other American facilities before being sent to Camp Bucca. In all, he said, he was questioned just once at each site.

Mr. Ani said the electric prods were first used on him on the way to Camp Bucca. “I was talking to someone next to me and they used it,” he said, describing the device as black plastic with a yellow tip and two iron prongs. He said the prods were commonly used on him and other detainees as punishment.

“The whole body starts to shake and hurt,” he said. “And you lose consciousness for a couple of seconds. One time they used it on my tongue. One guard held me from the left and another on my back and another used it against my tongue and for four or five days I couldn’t eat.”

In a separate interview, the insurgent from Samarra said such a device had been used on him for speaking out of turn. Ahmed Majid al-Ghanem, 50, a former Baath Party official who was also freed from Camp Bucca and is now living in Syria, said in a separate interview that he witnessed the electric prods being used as punishment on other detainees.

The Times interviewed Mr. Ani at his apartment in Damascus, the Syrian capital, where he sat on a couch with his parents, wife and children. When he demonstrated how he had been held for the electric prod, his 4-year-old daughter, Al Budur, mimicked his actions.

Lt. Col. Keir-Kevin Curry, a detention system spokesman, said: “Every use of less than lethal force, to include use of Tasers, is formally reported by facility leadership, ensuring soldiers are in accordance with proper use. Touching a Taser to someone’s tongue is not one of the approved uses.”

Mr. Ani said guards treated him kindly when he arrived at the jail on Nov. 20, 2004. He recalls being given soap, and, when his hands cracked from the cold, a soldier bringing him lotion and socks.

But soon new guards came “who had had special thoughts,” he said. “They were not allowing us to talk. They cut off the salt, gave us food that was not fit for dogs. One guard named David sometimes brought us outside to stay in the sun, or when it was cold. He also didn’t respect our faith, telling us not to pray here, and when we moved not to pray there.”

The detainees also began fighting among themselves. Those who spoke to the American guards were ostracized. Long toilet lines further raised tensions.

One day the guards searched a makeshift prayer area, Mr. Ani said, “and they started to step on the Korans, which fell down.”

“A fight started,” he continued. “There was a huge demonstration. The prisoners started to throw their shoes at the guards, and we started to beat them with empty plastic bottles. The guards shot at us with rubber bullets, but then prisoners were killed and others were injured.”

A Pentagon statement at the time described such an incident in January 2005, saying that four detainees were killed when guards were compelled to use deadly force to quell the riot and that it was set off by a search for contraband. Colonel Curry said an investigation concluded that a detainee leader had fabricated the Koran allegations to instigate violence.

Mr. Ani and other former detainees said there were frequent demonstrations to protest various grievances. Mr. Ghanem said he was released in late 2003 after hunger strikes forced camp officials to review his case and those of others.

Detention officials said they were also fighting radicalization at the camps and were trying to identify and isolate extremists. Former detainees said in interviews that the influence of Islamic extremists was still growing. At Camp Bucca, they said, hundreds of men formed a group called the Brothers. Members shaved their beards and otherwise masked their ideology so they would be placed with other detainees.

Mr. Ani generally slept in a wooden barrackslike structure, with a mattress on the ground and a nail on the wall for hanging clothes. Once, when the guards found an improvised needle that he said was used to repair clothes, he was taken to an isolated cell, where he was kept for 24 days.

“You cannot see the difference between day and night,” he said. “There was no opening, not even in the door.”

Colonel Curry said it was standard to discipline detainees when they did not follow procedure.

Mr. Ani despaired of ever being released. His letter that was printed in The Times ended with, “I hope I can be dust in the storms of Bucca so that I can reach you.”

Dangers Beyond Jail

“I didn’t see any kind of solution for me,” Mr. Ani said after his release. “The only solution was to die,” he said, his eyes welling with tears. “I was hoping to die.”

In releasing Mr. Ani, the American military transferred him to Camp Cropper in Baghdad and gave him $25, which he and his parents used to hire a taxi. Along the way home, they had to dodge Shiite-controlled checkpoints, and just days later, he said, he narrowly escaped capture by a Shiite militia. Mr. Ani and other Iraqis say they believe these militias have found a way to learn when Sunni men are released from jail and then hunt and kill them.

Maj. Gen. John D. Gardner, commander of American detainee operations, said that he had heard such concerns and that he was trying to alter the process of releasing detainees to improve their safety.

Mr. Ani said that for him there was only one way to stay alive: flee Iraq.

He said he was scared and puzzled about his next step. He said he felt that he could not stay in Syria, if only because work was scarce. But he must compete with other refugees for the attention of another host country.

“Until now, I can’t sleep, really,” he said. “Whenever I hear something noisy I stand up. I’m in a very bad psychological situation. I can’t stop thinking of what we should do. I don’t have a future here. How should we live?”

When his uncle put on Al Zawra, the satellite television station, Mr. Ani turned to look at the scenes of Sunni children who had been killed and the attacks on American soldiers.

“I am an Iraqi,” he said. “I love my country. Of course, everyone who is an Iraqi at the moment, we are thinking how can we support our country.”

“The United States through its actions made people hate the Americans much more than before.”

Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company
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Old 19-02-2007, 10:20 AM   #56
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Default Taking on Guantánamo

Assigned to defend a Guantánamo detainee, jag lawyer Charles Swift joined up with legal scholar Neal Katyal and sued the president and secretary of defense over the new military-tribunal system. With their 2006 Supreme Court victory overridden by the Republican Congress, and Swift's navy career at an end, they are fighting on.

by Marie Brenner, March 2007

The whole purpose of setting up Guantánamo Bay is for torture. Why do this? Because you want to escape the rule of law. There is only one thing that you want to escape the rule of law to do, and that is to question people coercively—what some people call torture. Guantánamo and the military commissions are implements for breaking the law. Why build a prison here when there are plenty of prisons in Nebraska? Why is it, when we see photos of Abu Ghraib, we think that it is "exporting Guantánamo"? That it is the "Guantánamo method"?—Lieutenant Commander Charles Swift to the author, January 2007.

He could not even get his client a pair of socks. That realization came to Charlie Swift, a lawyer in the navy's Judge Advocate General's Corps (jag), as he landed in Guantánamo. It was December 22, 2006, a few weeks before the fifth anniversary of the arrival of the first enemy detainees at the American naval base in Cuba. Swift had been a jag defense lawyer for 12 years and was making his 30th visit to Salim Ahmed Hamdan, a diminutive Yemeni who had been held for more than five years. The first time Swift met Hamdan, in January 2004, the prisoner was in shackles. "I am freezing," Hamdan told him. "Can't you get me a pair of socks?" After that, Swift brought Hamdan socks. Sometimes his client was given them, sometimes he was not. Now, nearly three years later, Hamdan was at the center of a landmark Supreme Court case, Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, held up as a symbol of detainees' rights and the need for the Geneva Conventions, yet he was still mired in legal limbo.

The island, once again, seemed inexpressibly strange to Swift. He always drove past a sign that read honor bound to defend freedom. "This is probably not the best sign for this place," Swift said to himself on one of his first trips. Seeing the rec hall and a McDonald's, he made notes for a future jury summation: "This is the island of misfit toys."

An order had been issued just before he arrived. Hamdan was to be taken to Camp Six, a nether zone on the base, and placed in solitary confinement. His days would be spent in a tiny room kept cold by air-conditioning. Mail from his family in Yemen was withheld for months. Immediately, Swift called Washington to speak to his partner, law professor Neal Katyal. This was the fourth year Katyal had spent his holidays preparing legal briefs on the subject of President Bush's military tribunals. "They've put Salim back into solitary," Swift told him. "That is outrageous," Katyal said. "But what about the notes?" Camp authorities had seized the notes Hamdan took after a recent visit with Swift. Katyal was furious at this violation of lawyer-client privilege.

Through the holidays, Katyal wrote draft after draft of possible briefs for the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals. He made phone calls trying to learn what the Department of Defense would include in the new guidelines for Guantánamo it was issuing in January. Swift and Katyal were bogged down in procedural delay. A few months after their decisive victory the previous June, when the Supreme Court had declared the military tribunals illegal, Congress had passed an onerous new law, muting the court's ruling on the no-man's-land of Guantánamo. Now the lawyers were planning a new strategy to take before the appellate court. This time, in addition to going up against the administration, they would be challenging Congress.

From the beginning, Swift had been in an untenable situation. He had been asked, as a military lawyer, to defend enemy combatants—the government's term for the men held at Guantánamo—under rules that, were he to follow them as a civilian lawyer, would be clear ethical violations. On his first trip to see Hamdan, in 2004, he had made a list of these on a legal pad: no right to habeas corpus, no attorney-client privilege, forced guilty pleas for charges never made public, secret and coerced evidence, juries and presiding officers picked by executive fiat, clients represented even if they declined legal counsel. He and Katyal had won their case in the Supreme Court, but had anything really changed?

"We are right back to where we started," Swift said. "When I met Salim Ahmed Hamdan, he was sitting and waiting. Now he is sitting and waiting again. And he is still freezing and does not have a pair of socks." The central question remained for Swift: Could a president hold someone forever without trying him? "What are we defending here?," he asked. "Kangaroo courts where the defendants never knew what they were being indicted for?"

October 15, 2006. The day I meet Charlie Swift, he attempts to sum up the legal morass of Guantánamo. "Justice," he says, "is based on a simple idea: it can happen to you." The line comes out minutes after he arrives at a Starbucks in the suburbs of Maryland, and the intensity of his delivery causes the teenagers making out at the next table to look up. It's a Sunday afternoon, shortly after the announcement that Swift is leaving the navy. A few days earlier, on October 11, The New York Times ran a harsh editorial commenting on the subject:

In 2003, Lt. Cmdr. Charles Swift was assigned to represent Salim Hamdan, a Yemeni citizen accused of being a high-ranking member of Al Qaeda—for the sole purpose of getting him to plead guilty before one of the military commissions that President Bush created for the prisoners at Guantánamo Bay. Instead of carrying out this morally repugnant task, Commander Swift concluded that the commissions were unconstitutional. He did his duty and defended his client.… The Navy gave no reason for denying Commander Swift's promotion. But there is no denying the chilling message it sends to remaining military lawyers about the potential consequences of taking their job, and justice, seriously.

The Times editorial made it seem as if a navy hero had been slapped down for trying to put a stop to the practices at Guantánamo. On the telephone, Swift was irritated about that. "There is nothing clear-cut about this," he insisted. "It is not black-and-white."

The fog surrounding Guantánamo had seemed to lift on June 29, 2006, when Hamdan v. Rumsfeld—a case scholars have compared to Brown v. Board of Education in its ramifications for this country—was decided in the Supreme Court. The court struck down President Bush's military tribunals, declaring them illegal under long-established U.S. laws, the Geneva Conventions, and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. In a 73-page opinion, the court said that the administration had established the tribunals without congressional authorization and violated international law. At first, the decision seemed a complete victory for Swift and all the other lawyers in and out of the jag Corps who had been fighting what they considered to be Draconian conditions at Guantánamo.

The victory, however, was short-lived. On October 17, President Bush signed the Military Commissions Act of 2006, creating a new system of interrogating and prosecuting terrorism suspects and denying the 430 prisoners at Guantánamo and others around the world the right to file writs of habeas corpus. "The constitutional issue could not be more stark," Swift declared. "What they are doing is unprecedented."

read on-
http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/f...urrentPage=all
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Old 20-02-2007, 10:05 AM   #57
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Default Costello points the finger at Hicks

http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/...733612758.html


Unfamiliar face … few have seen David Hicks's face in the past five years, but his lawyers say this computer-generated image commissioned by Channel Nine, right, is an accurate reflection of how he looks now. Left, Mr Hicks before he left Australia.

Tom Allard National Security Editor
February 19, 2007

THE federal Treasurer, Peter Costello, says David Hicks could easily have killed Australian soldiers in Afghanistan - even though the US says Mr Hicks fled the battlefield before Australian forces had begun action there.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Downer, said yesterday Mr Hicks could be home before this year's election - as long as his lawyers did not appeal against the military commission process.

Mr Costello told Channel Ten yesterday that Mr Hicks faced very serious charges. "The charges include the fact that he armed himself and prepared himself to kill coalition soldiers - could easily have been Australian soldiers," he said.

However, according to the charge sheet provided by US prosecutors, Mr Hicks left the front line where Taliban and US-backed Northern Alliance fighters were engaged after only two hours, in early November 2001.

US prosecutors say he then told other fighters he was leaving the country, and that he was arrested after three weeks in hiding, after selling his weapon to raise funds to escape to Pakistan.

The full contingent of Australia's SAS troops arrived in Afghanistan in December, and it was several weeks before they began operations.

Indeed, one of the few differences between the first charge sheet produced by US prosecutors in 2004 and the second made public last week is that a reference to Australian troops being possible targets of Mr Hicks was removed.

"They had to do that because they realised there were no Australian forces there fighting at the time," said Mr Hicks's US lawyer, Major Michael Mori.

But Mr Costello said the case against Mr Hicks was "pretty straightforward". "He wasn't on a backpacker tour," he said.

Mr Downer said Mr Hicks would be back in Australia, one way or another, before the election, as long as his trial proceeded quickly.

"It'll be possible to get Mr Hicks back to Australia by the end of the year, either to serve in a prison in Australia or, of course, just to be released, depending on the result of the trial," Mr Downer told the Nine Network.

There has been mounting public concern about the five years Mr Hicks has been imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay without trial, forcing the Federal Government to press the US for a speedy resolution of the case. The businessman Dick Smith yesterday pledged $60,000 towards Mr Hicks's legal expenses.

Major Mori said it was inevitable there would be further appeals against the military commission system.

Mr Downer was non-committal about what the Government would do if there was a delay but said it would be harder to bring Mr Hicks home if the appeal was instigated by his team.

"If the reason the trial isn't going ahead is that Mr Hicks and his lawyers want to delay the trial for one reason or another - and I make no judgement about that, that is their perfect right - then it's hard to get Hicks out of Guantanamo Bay," he said.

The Greens senator Bob Brown said the Prime Minister was planning to use Mr Hicks to save his own skin as voter reaction to the Australian's continuing imprisonment turned hostile.

"Hicks will come home before Christmas so that Howard can get home before Christmas. It is very tawdry," Senator Brown said. Mr Howard had turned a blind eye to Mr Hicks's mistreatment for five years and his plan to bring him home before the election was "political cowardice".

with AAP
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Old 20-02-2007, 10:37 AM   #58
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Default U.S. rejects investigator's Guantanamo visit reque

U.S. rejects investigator's Guantanamo visit request

Reuters
Friday, February 16, 2007
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...021600603.html

PARIS (Reuters) - A European investigator probing alleged CIA abuses of detainees said on Friday the United States has refused his request to visit the controversial U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba to talk to inmates.

Council of Europe investigator Dick Marty had planned to travel to Guantanamo with Manfred Nowak, United Nations special rapporteur for torture, to question detainees about reports they were earlier held in secret prisons in Europe.

"The U.S. sent a very short reply saying that they couldn't accept his request to visit and talk to inmates," a spokesman for the Council of Europe said.

Over 20 mainly European countries colluded in a web of secret Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) jails and flight transfers of terrorism suspects stretching from Asia to Guantanamo Bay, Marty said in a June 2006 report.

"If I cannot speak freely with detainees -- as I understand from the American reply -- such a visit would be pointless," Marty said in a statement.

"I am disappointed at this refusal by the U.S., an observer to the Council of Europe, but my investigation continues."

© 2007 Reuters
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Old 21-02-2007, 11:09 AM   #59
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Default Setback for Hicks in US court appeal

February 21, 2007


A shackled detainee is escorted while being transported inside the detention centre at Guantanamo Bay.
Photo: AP


Australia's David Hicks and other Guantanamo Bay inmates suffered a significant setback today in an American court.

The US federal appeals panel in Washington DC ruled inmates held at the American military base in Cuba do not have the right to challenge their detention in lower federal courts.

The three judge panel ruled 2-1.

However, instead of paving the way for Hicks to be prosecuted at a military commission trial after five years in US custody, the court decision will likely cause more delays.

It is expected the decision will be challenged in America's highest court, the US Supreme Court.

The court ruling came after US President George W Bush and Congress introduced new legislation last year that stripped detainees' rights to challenge their detention.

Bush and Congress drew up the legislation following the landmark victory by Guantanamo detainees in the Supreme Court last year.

The new legislation survived the ruling.

"Federal courts have no jurisdiction in these cases," Judge A Raymond Randolph and Judge David B Sentelle announced.

Judge Judith W Rogers, who was the dissenting judge, offered hope to Hicks and other inmates if, as expected, their lawyers take the issue to the Supreme Court.

Rogers said the Pentagon had not come up with an adequate option outside the federal courts that Guantanamo inmates could challenge their detention.

"District courts are well able to adjust these proceedings in light of the government's significant interests in guarding national security," Rogers wrote.

Amnesty criticises decision

Amnesty International has criticised the decision by the US appeals court.

The London-based human rights group said in a statement that it "deeply regrets" the decision that the federal courts lacked jurisdiction to hear any habeas corpus appeals from so-called "enemy combatants" at the camp in Cuba.

"The right of all detainees to challenge the lawfulness of their detention is among the most fundamental principles of international law," Amnesty's US researcher Rob Freer said.

"That any legislature or any judge anywhere should contenance such stripping of this basic protection against arbitrary detention, secret custody, torture and other ill-treatment is shocking and must be challenged."

Amnesty said that of the nearly 400 detainees still held at the US-run camp, some have been held for more than five years but none has had his indefinite detention judicially reviewed.

It repeated its claims - denied by Washington - that detainees have suffered "serious human rights violations" and said those held must be either charged with recognizable criminal offences, brought to trial or released.

Meanwhile the US military has announced Adelaide-born Hicks, 31, Omar Khadr of Canada and Salim Hamdan of Yemen would be the first three Guantanamo inmates to be prosecuted via the revamped military commission trial system.

Hicks was captured in Afghanistan in late 2001 and is accused of having ties with terrorist group al Qaeda and the Taliban.

AAP
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Old 21-02-2007, 11:28 AM   #60
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Default US Guantanamo ruling 'shocking'

February 21, 2007
From correspondents in London

AMNESTY International has criticised a decision by the US appeals court preventing foreign terror suspects from challenging their detentions at Guantanamo Bay in the US legal system.

The London-based human rights group said today that it "deeply regrets" the decision that the federal courts lacked jurisdiction to hear any habeas corpus appeals from so-called "enemy combatants" at the camp in Cuba.

"The right of all detainees to challenge the lawfulness of their detention is among the most fundamental principles of international law," Amnesty's US researcher Rob Freer said.

"That any legislature or any judge anywhere should contenance such stripping of this basic protection against arbitrary detention, secret custody, torture and other ill-treatment is shocking and must be challenged."

Amnesty said that of the nearly 400 detainees still held at the US-run camp, some have been held for more than five years but none has had his indefinite detention judicially reviewed.

It repeated its claims - denied by Washington - that detainees have suffered "serious human rights violations" and said those held must be either charged with recognisable criminal offences, brought to trial or released.

"One only has to imagine what would happen if another government captured a US citizen and held him indefinitely for years on end while denying him this basic right to challenge his detention," he said.

"The US government should now turn its imagination to fully restoring an indispensable rule of law principle."
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