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Old 22-11-2009, 08:59 AM   #401
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Terror trials differ in civilian, military courts

Terror trials: Civilian courts more independent; military tribunals easier on evidence

MARK SHERMAN
AP News

Nov 21, 2009 10:37 EST

The federal courts and military tribunals that will prosecute suspected terrorists vary sharply in their independence, public stature and use of evidence. But the Obama administration has so far offered no clear-cut rationale for how it chooses which system will try a detainee.
The fuzzy line drawn by the administration has made it easier for critics on both the left and right to assert that no firm legal principle is guiding the choices.

The administration has said similarly situated suspects can be tried in either system, while others may still be held without trial because there is insufficient evidence for either proceeding, but they are considered too dangerous to release.

"I think the Obama administration is trying to straddle this debate between whether we should approach al-Qaida as a problem of massive-scale criminality or as a problem of war," said Matthew Waxman, a former Bush administration State Department and Pentagon official now at Columbia University law school.

Indeed, on Capitol Hill last Wednesday, Attorney General Eric Holder testified, "The 9/11 attacks were both an act of war and a violation of our federal criminal law, and they could have been prosecuted in either federal courts or military commissions."

The administration is sending professed Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four alleged henchmen to a civilian trial in New York, while a suspect in the USS Cole bombing in 2000 and four other terror suspects will be tried by military commissions.

The major differences between the systems are the federal judiciary's independence, rooted in the Constitution and lifetime appointments of judges, and the relaxed rules for admitting evidence in military tribunals.

Federal courts bar evidence obtained by coercion. And the new law regarding military commissions that President Barack Obama signed last month forbids evidence derived from torture and other harsh interrogation techniques. But the commissions still have rules that allow greater use of hearsay testimony and, in some instances, could permit the introduction of coerced testimony.

Military judges ultimately will decide what evidence can be admitted, but the new law allows statements made by defendants to be used even if they are not given voluntarily in certain circumstances, including in combat situations. Written witness statements, rather than live testimony that is subject to cross-examination, also can be admitted by military judges.

The larger issue, for some civil libertarians, is what the American Civil Liberties Union's Jonathan Hafetz called a "legitimacy deficit."

The commissions set up under President George W. Bush to try terrorism detainees have been revised several times based on Supreme Court decisions and acts of Congress that moved their rules and procedures closer to federal courts.

"But they just don't have the credibility and never will have the credibility that federal courts have," Hafetz said.

Joanne Mariner, director of the terrorism and counterterrorism program at Human Rights Watch, said another indication of the reduced stature of the commissions is that, by law, they can never be used to try U.S. citizens.

"The federal courts are a co-equal branch of government and judges are constitutionally protected from interference. That is really important in politically charged and high-profile cases," Mariner said. "Military commission judges and prosecutors have no such protection."

On the other hand, supporters of the military tribunals say they provide sufficient protections for accused terrorists. Moreover, they say, the Sept. 11 attack is a classic war crime — the mass murder of civilians — for which military tribunals have traditionally been used.

"Other things being equal, you would think that targeting civilians makes the crime more grave," said Gregory G. Katsas, a Bush Justice Department official. "If you don't try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed by military commission, I don't know who you try."

A host of leading Republicans, including Bush's last attorney general, Michael Mukasey, and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, have said the 9/11 defendants should be tried by military tribunal.

The administration appears to have made pragmatic and political choices after determining that it is likely to win convictions in a civilian trial of the alleged Sept. 11 plotters, but seems less sure of its prospects if suspects from other attacks were tried in federal court.

Holder hinted at this balancing act in his Senate Judiciary Committee testimony.

"I am a prosecutor, and as a prosecutor my top priority was simply to select the venue where the government will have the greatest opportunity to present the strongest case in the best forum," he said, while rejecting senators' assertions that convictions are easier in military commissions.

But he also said those who attacked a civilian target on U.S. soil were being sent to a civilian federal court and those who attacked or plotted against military targets abroad were going before tribunals.

Holder's formulation puts the U.S. in the position of distinguishing between American interests based on which government agency was attacked. The attack on a Navy warship, the Cole, is to be handled by military commission, while the bombings of U.S. embassies in Africa in 1998 have been prosecuted by successive administrations in federal court.

Waxman said that it is unlikely al-Qaida makes that distinction. "We're talking about a transnational terrorist network whose criminality extends across borders," he said. "The scene of the crime is global."

The lack of a clear explanation of the administration's choice has led some legal experts to conclude federal courts will be used when convictions seem assured and commissions will handle cases where evidence is weaker or more difficult to get past a federal judge.

"It somewhat supports the idea that if we can't make the case, we'll send them to a second-class system, which is the military commission," said Laura Olson, senior counsel at The Constitution Project, which objects to using military tribunals.

This two-tiered system may not entirely satisfy civil libertarians who want the administration to abandon the commissions or the Republican-led opposition in Congress that objects to giving Mohammed and the others their day in federal court.

But it could prove a viable approach that both avoids the credibility problems of using commissions for the highest visibility cases and the risk of acquittals if less devastating attacks were tried in civilian courts, said University of Chicago law professor Eric Posner.

"This moderate view that avoids the two extremes may be very appealing to people in the long run," Posner said.

http://wire.antiwar.com/2009/11/21/t...litary-courts/
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Old 26-11-2009, 08:21 AM   #402
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'Cruel, illegal, immoral': Human Rights Watch condemns UK's role in torture
Pressure for inquiry grows as torturers themselves allege British complicity

Ian Cobain guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 24 November 2009 20.09 GMT


Under pressure: attorney general Lady Scotland. Photograph: Anthony Devlin/PA

The attorney general was under intense pressure tonight to order a wider series of police investigations into British complicity in torture after one of the world's leading human rights organisations said there was clear evidence of the UK government's involvement in the torture of its own citizens.

After an investigation spanning more than a year, Human Rights Watch (HRW) today condemned Britain's role in the torture of terror suspects detained in Pakistan as cruel, counter-productive and in clear breach of international law.

Critically, a report published today by HRW – entitled Cruel Britannia: British Complicity in the Torture and Ill-treatment of Terror Suspects – draws upon corroborative evidence received from the Pakistani torturers themselves.

Researchers at the New York-based NGO spoke to Pakistani intelligence agents directly involved in the torture who say their British counterparts knew they were mistreating British terrorism suspects. These agents said British officials were "breathing down their necks for information" while they were torturing a medical student from London, and that British intelligence officers were "grateful" they were "using all means possible" to extract information from a man from Luton being beaten, whipped, deprived of sleep and threatened with an electric drill.

"UK complicity is clear," the report says, adding that it had put the government in a "legally, morally and politically invidious position".

The attorney general, Lady Scotland, has already asked Scotland Yard to investigate two alleged cases of British complicity in torture, one involving Binyam Mohamed, a British resident tortured in Pakistan and Morocco, and a second involving an unnamed MI6 officer and an alleged victim not identified.

William Hague, the shadow foreign secretary, said it was vital that Scotland be asked to examine all cases where there is credible evidence of British complicity. "We believe that any credible allegations of UK complicity in torture should be referred to the attorney general to establish whether police investigation is necessary," he said.

"The prime minister made a commitment to do just that. It is up to the government now to say what it will do in light of the allegations contained in the report."

The former shadow home secretary David Davis said the report was "astonishing", in that it "destroys the last remnants of any defence the government might have". He called on the government to hold an independent judicial inquiry.

HRW added to the growing number of calls for an inquiry into Britain's role in the torture. Among those issuing demands are parliament's joint committee on human rights, the Liberal Democrats, Amnesty International, and the former director of public prosecutions Sir Ken Macdonald. Lord Carlile, the government's independent reviewer of counterterrorism legislation, Lord Guthrie, a former chief of defence staff, and Lord King of Bridgwater, a former Conservative defence and Northern Ireland secretary, have also called for an inquiry.

HRW pointed out todaythat the government may have little choice but to investigate British complicity, not only because a failure to do so is threatening to undermine its core values, but because it is a requirement of international law.

"The convention against torture requires states to reinforce the prohibition against torture through legislative, administrative, judicial and other measures," the report says.

Privately the Conservatives are aware that they may inherit this problem if they win the next election.

Asked todaywhether the government's repeated insistence that it does not condone, encourage or solicit torture was any longer credible, a Foreign Office spokesperson replied with the prepared statement: "There is no truth in the more serious suggestion that it is our policy to collude in, solicit, or even directly participate in abuses of prisoners." Human Rights Watch had not suggested any direct British participation in torture.

The Guardian reported this year that an official government policy, devised to govern British intelligence officers while interrogating people held overseas, resulted in people being tortured, and that Tony Blair, when prime minister, was aware of the existence of this policy.

The Guardian has repeatedly asked Blair about any role he played in approving the policy, whether he knew that it led to people being tortured, whether he personally authorised interrogations that took place in Guantánamo and Afghanistan as well as Pakistan, and whether he made any effort to change the policy. Blair's spokesman responded by saying: "It is completely untrue that Mr Blair has ever authorised the use of torture. He is opposed to it in all circumstances. Neither has he ever been complicit in the use of torture."

When the Guardian pointed out to Blair that it had not suggested that he had authorised the use of torture – as opposed to asking him whether he had authorised a policy that led to people being tortured – and that his spokesman had not answered the questions that were asked, his spokesman replied: "Tony Blair does not condone torture, has never authorised it nor colluded in it. He continues to think our security services have done and continue to do a crucial and very good job."

http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2...k-role-torture
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Old 27-11-2009, 08:29 AM   #403
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Official Charged With Closing Guantánamo Quits


By ELISABETH BUMILLER
Published: November 24, 2009
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/25/us/25gitmo.html?_r=1

WASHINGTON — The Defense Department official in charge of closing the military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, has resigned after only seven months in the job, the Pentagon said Tuesday.

Phillip Carter, who was named deputy assistant secretary of defense for detainee policy in April, resigned last Friday because of “personal issues,” a Pentagon official said. Mr. Carter could not be reached for comment and no other reasons were given for his departure.

Mr. Carter, 34, a lawyer and an Army adviser to the Iraqi police in Baquba in 2005 and 2006, was in charge of veterans outreach in President Obama’s 2008 campaign.

Mr. Carter’s departure comes as the administration has acknowledged that it will not be able to close the prison by Jan. 22, the self-imposed deadline Mr. Obama announced immediately after taking office.

Mr. Carter has also left in the middle of the administration’s efforts to prosecute some of the Guantánamo detainees and find a location in the United States to house perhaps 50 to 100 terrorism suspects indefinitely. The Cuba prison now has 215 detainees.

The administration is looking closely at the possibility of holding some of the detainees in a maximum-security prison in Thomson, Ill., about 125 miles west of Chicago.

Gregory B. Craig, the White House counsel in charge of detainee policy for Mr. Obama, also announced his resignation this month.
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Old 27-11-2009, 08:35 AM   #404
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Old 01-12-2009, 07:56 AM   #405
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Court sides with Gov't in detainee photo case

Mon Nov 30, 10:16 am ET
WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court has thrown out an appeals court ruling ordering the disclosure of photographs of detainees being abused by their U.S. captors.

In doing so Monday, the high court cited a recent change in federal law that allows the pictures to be withheld.

The justices issued a brief, and expected, order Monday directing the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York to take another look at a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union to obtain the photos of detainee abuse. President Barack Obama at first didn't oppose the release, but he changed his mind, saying they could whip up anti-American sentiment overseas and endanger U.S. troops.

The administration appealed the matter to the Supreme Court, but also worked with Congress to give Defense Secretary Robert Gates the power to keep from the public all pictures of foreign detainees being abused.

Gates invoked his new authority in mid-November, saying widespread distribution of the pictures would endanger American soldiers.

The ACLU has said it will continue fighting for the photos' release.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who served on the 2nd Circuit until August, did not take part in the court's consideration of the case, Department of Defense v. ACLU, 09-160.
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20091130/...VydHNpZGVzd2k-
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Old 02-12-2009, 08:29 AM   #406
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2 Guantanamo detainees arrive in Italy

Tue Dec 1, 2:45 pm ET

ROME – Italy is considering taking in other prisoners from Guantanamo to help President Barack Obama close down the prison, the country's foreign minister said Tuesday, a day after Italy accepted two former detainees.

Premier Silvio Berlusconi promised Obama at a White House meeting in June that Italy would accept three people as part of the U.S. administration's bid to close down Guantanamo.

Obama said last month that he would miss his January deadline to close the prison, partly because he cannot persuade other nations to take the detainees.

Italy took in two Tunisian inmates Monday as a "concrete political sign" of the country's commitment to help Washington close Guantanamo, Justice Minister Angelino Alfano said in a statement late Monday.

Two other inmates from Guantanamo were sent to France and Hungary also on Monday, U.S. officials said, leaving 211 detainees at the U.S.-run prison in Cuba. Since 2002, more than 550 detainees have been transferred from the military base.

But France said Tuesday it did not plan to take in any more inmates following the arrival of Saber Lahmar, the second detainee taken in by France at Obama's request. The Algerian spent seven years at Guantanamo following his detention in Bosnia on suspicion of plotting to bomb the U.S. Embassy in Sarajevo, but was later cleared for lack of evidence.

Adel Ben Mabrouk, 39, and Mohamed Ben Riadh Nasri, 43, of Tunisia, were immediately taken into custody upon arrival in Milan late Monday. Both men are accused of being members of a terror group with ties to al-Qaida and of recruiting fighters for Afghanistan, officials said.

Italy plans to put the Tunisians on trial. Nasri spoke with prosecutors past midnight, and Mabrouk will be questioned in the next few days.

"He was heard, more than interrogated," attorney Roberto Novellino said of Nasri. "Physically he's fine, just tired because the trip was long." He said Nasri discussed why he was sent to Guantanamo and the circumstances of his transfer there.

Washington has asked Italy to take in more Guantanamo detainees and gave a list of names, which Rome is studying, Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said.

Frattini declined to give any details about the third detainee's identity or arrival date. But he said Italy has agreed "to take in others."

So far, "we haven't pinpointed yet" which detainees Italy will take, Frattini said.

Prosecutors said that two collaborators in Italy's witness protection program have given statements on the two Tunisians. Interior Minister Roberto Maroni said he wants them to be put on trial and convicted quickly.

According to prosecutors, a lawyer and a transcript obtained by The Associated Press, both men frequented an Islamic center in Milan in the 1990s that a U.S. Treasury report at the time labeled as "the main al-Qaida station house in Europe."

Lazhar Ben Mohamed Tlil, a key prosecution witness, said Nasri, known by his alias Abou Doujana, was head of an organization of Tunisians at a camp in Afghanistan where recruits received both ideological and military training. It was at this camp, the witness said, that he and other recruits were taught that "to kill infidels was the duty of every Muslim" and were prepared to carry out suicide attacks.

Tlil was recently questioned by U.S. investigators and identified from photos fellow Tunisian trainees in the Afghan camps, his court-appointed lawyer, Davide Boschi, told the AP.

Nasri had previously fought in Bosnia, according to the witness.

An Italian prosecutor, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Mabrouk and Nasri traveled from Italy to Afghanistan and, once there, maintained a "functional relationship inside the organization" of Tunisians here to recruit fighters for suicide missions.

Nasri was allegedly the head of the organization and was described by the U.S. military as a "dangerous" Tunisian operative when he appeared before a U.S. military review panel.

Obama confirmed last month that he would miss his January deadline to close the Guantanamo prison — partly because he cannot persuade other nations to take the detainees.

Monday's transfers leave 211 detainees at Guantanamo. Since 2002, more than 550 detainees have been transferred from the military base.

The U.S. alleged that Nasri traveled to Afghanistan, via Italy and Pakistan, and trained at an al-Qaida-linked camp. He fled from Jalalabad, Afghanistan, when it fell to the Northern Alliance and was wounded in the U.S. bombing of the Tora Bora area, where he was captured and turned over to American forces.

Nasri also had alleged links to Muslim fighters in Bosnia as well as Algerian militants, officials said in documents released after he appeared at the military panel. He was also previously convicted in Italy for passing counterfeit money, and was convicted in Tunisia of being a member of a terrorist organization and sentenced to 10 years, the documents said.

He told the U.S. military that he did not belong to a Tunisian Islamist group, much less head one, and denies ever trying to overthrow the Tunisian government.

In Italy, Nasri is accused along with eight other people of criminal association, aiding illegal immigration and terrorism charges stemming from 1997-2001.

Mabrouk had been held without charge at Guantanamo since February 2002.

He lived in Italy before traveling to Afghanistan in early 2001, according to the transcript of his hearing before the U.S. military panel that reviewed his case. U.S. authorities alleged he had links to al-Qaida and trained at one of its camps. The U.S. also alleged he had previously associated with extremists in Bosnia and had been sentenced to 20 years in prison in Tunisia for being a member of a terrorist organization.

Mabrouk's 2005 arrest warrant in Italy accuses him of international terrorism, falsification of documents, aiding illegal immigration, theft and drug trafficking. He is alleged to have been part of a group affiliated with the Milan mosque that provided logistical and financial support for recruiting fighters for Iraq.

Mabrouk was captured on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border by Pakistani forces and turned over to the U.S.

He told the U.S. military panel that he only went to Afghanistan as an immigrant and did receive some weapons training but denied ever being in Bosnia or knowing about any prison sentence in Tunisia, according to U.S. military documents.

___
Associated Press writers Colleen Barry, Nicole Winfield and Frances D'Emilio in Italy and Devlin Barrett in Washington contributed to this report.
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20091201/...d1YW50YW5hbW9k
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Old 02-12-2009, 08:33 AM   #407
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United States Transfers a Guantanamo Bay Detainee to France

WASHINGTON, Dec. 1 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Department of Justice today announced that a detainee has been transferred from the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay to the control of the government of France.

As directed by the President's Jan. 22, 2009 Executive Order, the interagency Guantanamo Review Task Force conducted a comprehensive review of this case. As a result of that review, the detainee was approved for transfer from Guantanamo Bay. In accordance with Congressionally-mandated reporting requirements, the Administration informed Congress of its intent to transfer the detainee at least 15 days before his transfer.

Late last night, Sabir Lahmar, a native of Algeria, was transferred to the government of France. On Nov. 20, 2008, a federal court ruled that Lahmar may no longer be detained under the Authorization for the Use of Military Force and ordered the government to take all necessary and appropriate diplomatic steps to facilitate his release from detention at Guantanamo Bay. The United States is grateful to the government of France for helping achieve President Obama's directive to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility.

This transfer was carried out under an arrangement between the United States and the government of France. The United States has coordinated with the government of France to ensure the transfer takes place under appropriate security measures and will continue to consult with the government of France regarding this individual.

Since 2002, more than 550 detainees have departed Guantanamo Bay for other destinations, including Albania, Algeria, Afghanistan, Australia, Bangladesh, Bahrain, Belgium, Bermuda, Chad, Denmark, Egypt, France, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Italy, Jordan, Kuwait, Libya, Maldives, Mauritania, Morocco, Pakistan, Palau, Portugal, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Sweden, Sudan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Uganda, United Kingdom and Yemen.


SOURCE U.S. Department of Justice
http://www.prnewswire.com/news-relea...-78218002.html
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Old 03-12-2009, 08:06 AM   #408
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Iranian doctor 'killed by poisoned takeaway salad'

Quote:
A doctor who exposed the torture of jailed protesters in Iran died after his salad was poisoned, prosecutors alleged yesterday.

By Our Foreign Staff
Published: 5:32PM GMT 02 Dec 2009

Ramin Pourandarjani, 26, was based at Kahrizak, a prison on Tehran's outskirts where hundreds of opposition protesters were taken after being arrested in the crackdown following June's disputed presidential elections.

He died in mysterious circumstances on November 10, weeks after telling a parliamentary committee that a protester he had treated at the facility had died from heavy torture.

Authorities in Iran had initially claimed that Pourandarjani was killed in a car accident before suggesting that a heart attack or suicide was the cause.

However, Abbas Dowlatabadi, Tehran's public prosecutor, claimed that the young physician died from an overdose of propranolol – a drug used to treat high blood pressure and lower heart rate – in a takeaway salad.

Last week, Iran's top police commander, Ismail Ahmadi Moghaddam, insisted the death was a suicide, saying the doctor faced charges over failure to fulfil his duties to treat the detainees and killed himself in despair in a lounge at the courthouse. The police chief said a note was found with the body.

Opposition supporters have claimed that Pourandarjani was killed because he knew the conditions of a number of torture victims at Kahrizak, including 24-year-old Mohsen Rouhalamini, the son of a prominent conservative figure.

Hundreds of protesters and opposition activists were arrested in the crackdown that suppressed protests following the disputed June 12 presidential election. The opposition says at least 69 people were killed while the government has confirmed around 30 deaths.

More than 100 protesters, activists and pro-reform opposition have been on trial, accused of fuelling the protests and being part of a plot to overthrow the government.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worl...way-salad.html
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Old 05-12-2009, 07:43 AM   #409
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Torture continues at US prisons in Afghanistan

December 4, 2009

Recent media reports reveal that the US military continues to carry on torture and illegal detention in Afghanistan at a dungeon known to inmates as "the black prison."
The jail, located on the Bagram Air Base next to the notorious Bagram prison north of Kabul, operates under the executive order of President Obama. After entering office, Obama ordered the closure of Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) prison "black sites"-which were in fact no longer active-but exempted those prisons run by the military's Special Operations, which was headed from 2003 until 2008 by General Stanley McChrystal, now US commander of the Af-Pak theater.


US military officials recently said they had no plans to close the Afghan jail and another like it at the Balad Air Base in Iraq, which they claimed were needed to interrogate "high-value detainees."
Two teenage Afghan boys told the Washington Post that they were beaten, photographed naked, sexually humiliated, denied sleep, and held in solitary confinement by American guards at the prison this year. Interviewed at a juvenile detention center in Kabul, where they have been transferred, "the teenagers presented a detailed, consistent portrait" of the abuse they experienced, the newspaper reported. Their descriptions of the prison were confirmed by two other former prisoners.

In addition to being punched and slapped, Rashid, who the Post describes as "younger than 16," said he was forced to view pornography "alongside a photograph of his mother." He was also forced to strip naked in front of about a half-dozen US soldiers. "They touched me all over my body," he said. "They took pictures, and they were laughing and laughing. They were doing everything."

"That was the hardest time I have ever had in my life," said Rashid, who was arrested this spring. "It was better to just kill me. But they would not kill me. ... I was just crying and crying. I was too young."
On Saturday, the New York Times published interviews with three former inmates who also spoke of the black prison near Bagram. Each informant "was interviewed separately and described similar conditions," the Times notes, and "[t]heir descriptions also matched those obtained by two human rights workers who had interviewed other former detainees at the site." One of the three men was arrested months after Obama's inauguration as US president, as were the two teenage boys interviewed by the Post.

All of those interviewed by the Times and the Post maintained that they were not "Taliban." Without being charged with a crime, they were seized by US soldiers, then bound, gagged, and hooded, and taken to the "black prison."

The jail, according to the Times' sources, "consists of individual windowless concrete cells, each illuminated by a single light bulb glowing 24 hours a day." The cells are small; one prisoner said his was only slightly longer than the length of his body. US soldiers throw food into the cells through slots in the door.

Prisoners are exposed to extreme cold and sleep deprivation. The teenage boys told the Post that when they attempted to sleep on the hard floor, US soldiers "shouted at them and hammered on their cells." Prisoners' only respite from this extreme solitary confinement are twice-a-day interrogations, during which some are beaten or humiliated.

"He kept asking me, 'Tell us the truth.' I told them the truth more than 10 times," Mohammad told the Post. "That I'm a farmer, my father was a farmer, my brother was a farmer. But they said, 'No, help us with this case. Tell us the truth.' That's why he was slapping me."

The prisoners are held in these conditions for weeks-35 to 40 days, according to the Times-their families unaware of their fate. "For my whole family it was disastrous," said Hayatullah, a Kandahar resident who said he was working in his pharmacy when he was arrested. "Because they knew the Americans were sometimes killing people, and they thought they had killed me because for two to three months they didn't know where I was."


Hamidullah, who was held five and a half months in detention, including five to six weeks in the black jail, said he heard the sounds of other detainees being tortured and abused. "They beat up other people in the black jail, but not me," he said. "But the problem was that they didn't let me sleep. There was shouting noise so you couldn't sleep."
Interrogators insisted he was a Taliban fighter named Faida Muhammad. "I said, 'That's not me,'" he recalled. "They blamed me and said, 'You are making bombs and are a facilitator of bomb making and helping militants,'" he said. "I said, 'I have a shop. I sell spare parts for vehicles, for trucks and cars.'"
The US military permits no contact with the outside world, and in violation of international law, denies the International Committee of the Red Cross access to the secret prison.

Gulham Khan, a 25-year-old sheep trader, who mostly delivers sheep and goats for people who buy the animals in the livestock market in Ghazni, was captured in late October 2008 and released in early September this year. He told the Times, "They kept saying to me, 'Are you Qari Idris?' I said, 'I'm not Qari Idris.' But they kept asking me over and over, and I kept saying, 'I'm Gulham. This is my name, that is my father's name, you can ask the elders.'"
Ten months after his initial detention, American soldiers went to the group cell where he was then being held and told him he had been mistakenly picked up under the wrong name, Khan told the Times. "They said, 'Please accept our apology, and we are sorry that we kept you here for this time.' And that was it. They kept me for more than 10 months and gave me nothing back."
The Times noted, "In their search for him, Mr. Khan's family members spent the equivalent of $6,000, a fortune for a sheep dealer, who often makes just a dollar a day. Some of the money was spent on bribes to local Afghan soldiers to get information on where he was being held; they said soldiers took the money and never came back with the information."
"This is something nobody can bear. It's extraordinary," said Malik Mohammad Hassan, a tribal elder from the Jalalabad area, "They treated us like wild animals."

After Special Operations soldiers have finished interrogating the prisoners, they are transferred to the regular Bagram prison where they are packed into cages holding approximately 20 men each.

Bagram, which reputedly holds an estimated 700 inmates, is a hated symbol of US imperialism to Afghans-so much that the Obama administration has announced its intention to end its use as a prison. Prisoners at Bagram are denied access to legal assistance or the right to know the charges and evidence against them. There have been many reports of torture there, among them at least two cases in which prisoners were brutally beaten to death by US soldiers; one of these cases is memorialized by the documentary Taxi to the Dark Side.

The revelations of torture and illegal detention continuing under Obama give the lie to his claim that the war in Afghanistan is about "protecting the American people" and "fighting terrorism."

Washington aims to subjugate Afghanistan in order to place the US military close to the region's oil and gas reserves and to head off the growing influence of other powers in the region. It is acutely aware that defeat and withdrawal would spell a drastic weakening of its global position.

These predatory aims require the US military to terrorize and intimidate the entire Afghan population. It is notable that those prisoners interviewed by the Times and the Post were ordinary Afghans-a wood carver, a farmer, a sheep herder, a pharmacist, a retired teacher, and a used parts dealer-all of whom denied any involvement with the Taliban.

Obama's decision to increase the US military presence in Afghanistan by 30,000 soldiers and escalate the dirty colonial war will inevitably result in more horrors perpetrated against the people of Afghanistan.



Josh Mitteldorf, a senior editor at OpEdNews, was educated to be an astrophysicist, and has branched out from there to mathematical modeling in a variety of areas. He has taught mathematics, statistics, and physics at several universities. He is an (more...)

The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author
and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.
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Old 05-12-2009, 08:11 AM   #410
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US military suicides reach new high

02 Dec 2009



WSWS) -- The number of serving American military personnel who took their lives in 2009 has already exceeded last year’s record. These suicides are first of all tragic. Secondly, they indicate the immense psychological harm that the neo-colonial wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have inflicted on members of the armed forces.

The US Army, the largest branch of the military, suffered the most dramatic increase. By 16 November, 140 soldiers on active duty and 71 National Guard and Reserve personnel had taken their lives this year—a total of 211. By comparison, there were 52 Army suicides in 2001. The number steadily rose over the following years, reaching 197 in 2008.

The overall suicide rate in the US Army has reached 20.2 per 100,000 personnel. The Marine Corp recorded 42 suicides as of October 31—the same number as in all of 2008 and a rate of more than 19 per 100,000 personnel.

Among Americans in a comparable age bracket to military personnel, the annual suicide rate is approximately 19 per 100,000 people. For the overall US population, the rate in 2006 was 11.6 per 100,000, though the number is expected to have increased since the onset of severe recession and mass lay-offs.

The correlation between the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the rise in military suicides is clear. The rate among Navy and Air Force personnel—who have not been flung into the front lines of the conflicts—is roughly the same as 2001 and well below the national average. Before 2001, the Army and Marine rate was also below the national average and, more significantly, generally half that registered in a comparable age bracket. People seeking to enlist undergo psychological examinations. Those with diagnosable disorders that contribute to suicidal tendencies are generally turned down.

What has changed is the deployment of hundreds of thousands of soldiers and marines to Iraq and Afghanistan. Many have been involved in or witnessed terrible events. At least one in five have returned with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). A study of veterans with PTSD published in August by the Journal of Traumatic Stress found that 47 percent had had suicidal thoughts before seeking treatment and 3 percent had attempted to kill themselves.

Every day, an average of five members of the armed forces attempt suicide. Since 2003, close to 1,000 have succeeded—more than have died in the entire eight-year war in Afghanistan. Of that number, 41.8 percent had served one tour in either Afghanistan or Iraq, 10.3 percent had been sent on two deployments, 1.7 percent had served three tours and 0.9 percent had been deployed four or more times. The majority were male and under 30 years of age. More than half were married or divorced at the time.

Web searches produce numerous accounts of the terrible impact that suicide has wrought over the past eight years. A poignant interview with the wife of a soldier who took his life was published on November 29 by MPNnow, a Rochester, New York-based publication.

Tricia Hobart lost her husband and father of her three children on October 16, 2005. Mike Hobart committed suicide while back in the US on two weeks leave from a tour in Iraq. His leave was in order to receive treatment for nerve damage he suffered in an engagement.

Tricia Hobart told MPNnow: “I feel really bad for the families that have gone through what we have or that will be going through it in the future. After seeing what a year of deployment in Iraq did to my husband, I felt that there would be many more suicides to follow. Mike was a very loving, caring and understanding man, but after being in Iraq for many months, things changed his behaviour.

“The men and women, after being there in times of war, are changed for life in one way or another. Some learn to deal with their nightmares and flashbacks of what they saw and did while there, and some cannot put it behind them. Unfortunately, for those men and women that can’t put it behind them, suicide is one of the ways they choose to deal with life after war.”

The suicides among serving personnel are only the tip of the iceberg. Hundreds of former soldiers, veterans of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars who have left the military either voluntarily or involuntarily, are also taking their lives.

The US Department of Veteran Affairs does not kept an official tally. However, a study in 2007 commissioned by CBS News found staggering levels of suicide among Afghanistan and Iraq veterans. Of 6,256 veterans who took their own lives in 2005, for example, the highest rate was among former soldiers aged 20 to 24, which was estimated to be as much as four times higher than the national average.

The veterans’ suicide telephone hotline operating out of a clinic in Canandaigua, New York, has already taken 118,984 calls so far this year and believes it has prevented 3,709 veterans killing themselves.

The psychological problems suffered by many veterans are being compounded by the stresses flowing from the US economic downturn. A study earlier this year found that at least 15 percent of former soldiers aged 20 to 24 were unemployed. Overall unemployment among Afghanistan and Iraq veterans was at least 11.2 percent, compared with 8.8 percent among non-veterans in a comparable age bracket.
The US Army, the largest branch of the military, suffered the most dramatic increase. By 16 November, 140 soldiers on active duty and 71 National Guard and Reserve personnel had taken their lives this year—a total of 211. By comparison, there were 52 Army suicides in 2001. The number steadily rose over the following years, reaching 197 in 2008.The overall suicide rate in the US Army has reached 20.2 per 100,000 personnel. The Marine Corp recorded 42 suicides as of October 31—the same number as in all of 2008 and a rate of more than 19 per 100,000 personnel.Among Americans in a comparable age bracket to military personnel, the annual suicide rate is approximately 19 per 100,000 people. For the overall US population, the rate in 2006 was 11.6 per 100,000, though the number is expected to have increased since the onset of severe recession and mass lay-offs.The correlation between the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the rise in military suicides is clear. The rate among Navy and Air Force personnel—who have not been flung into the front lines of the conflicts—is roughly the same as 2001 and well below the national average. Before 2001, the Army and Marine rate was also below the national average and, more significantly, generally half that registered in a comparable age bracket. People seeking to enlist undergo psychological examinations. Those with diagnosable disorders that contribute to suicidal tendencies are generally turned down.What has changed is the deployment of hundreds of thousands of soldiers and marines to Iraq and Afghanistan. Many have been involved in or witnessed terrible events. At least one in five have returned with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). A study of veterans with PTSD published in August by the Journal of Traumatic Stress found that 47 percent had had suicidal thoughts before seeking treatment and 3 percent had attempted to kill themselves.Every day, an average of five members of the armed forces attempt suicide. Since 2003, close to 1,000 have succeeded—more than have died in t
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Old 09-12-2009, 08:24 AM   #411
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"Suicides" at Gitmo

Why is Obama fact-blocking the suspicious deaths?

Link

http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/gl...amo/print.html

Quote:
From bartcop's site:

Excerpt:
On June 10, 2006, three detainees were found dead in their individual cells. Without any autopsy or investigation,
U.S. military officials proclaimed "suicide by hanging" as the cause of each death, and immediately sought to exploit
the episode as proof of the evil of the detainees. Admiral Harry Harris, the camp's commander, said it showed
"they have no regard for life" and that the suicides were "not an act of desperation, but an act of asymmetric warfare
aimed at us here at Guantanamo"; another official anonymously said that the suicides showed the victims were
"committed jihadists (who) will do anything they can to advance their cause," while another sneered that
"it was a good PR move to draw attention."

Questions immediately arose about how it could be possible that three detainees kept in isolation and under constant
and intense monitoring could have coordinated and then carried out group suicide without detection, particularly since
the military claimed their bodies were not found for over two hours after their deaths. But from the beginning, there was
a clear attempt on the part of Guantanamo officials to prevent any outside investigation of this incident.

To allay the questions that quickly emerged, the military announced it would conduct a sweeping investigation and publicly
release its finding, but it did not do so until more than two years later when -- in August, 2008 -- it released a heavily redacted
reported purporting to confirm suicide by hanging as the cause. Two of the three dead detainees were Saudis and one was
Yemeni and they had participated in hunger strikes to protest the brutality, torture and abuse to which they were routinely subjected.
Perversely, one of the three victims had been cleared for release earlier that month.
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Old 11-12-2009, 07:44 AM   #412
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Cleared Guantánamo detainee sent to Kuwait

Posted on Wednesday, 12.09.09

BY CAROL ROSENBERG
[email protected]
A Kuwaiti royal jet evacuated from Guantánamo Wednesday a Kuwaiti Airways engineer who was freed from eight years detention because a U.S. judge ruled interrogators wrung a false confession out of him at the U.S. Navy base in Cuba.

The case of Fouad al Rabia, a 50-year-old father of four, brought into sharp relief the quality of evidence intended for his trial by a military commission.

Rabia's case also illustrated the long and twisted path Guantánamo detainees have faced in trying to challenge their imprisonment. Rabia first sued for his freedom in early 2002, but his case was heard only this year.

"This innocent citizen of one of the United States' best allies was wrongfully imprisoned at Guantánamo Bay for almost eight years, during which he was tortured, abused and coerced into making false confessions,'' said defense attorney David Cynamon.

A Kuwaiti families committee retained a Washington, D.C., law firm for nearly eight years in their quest to release their citizens at Guantánamo.

At one point, there were 12 Kuwaitis held in the makeshift prison camps in southeast Cuba. Wednesday's release left two Kuwaitis among the 210 foreign captives.

In September, U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly instructed the Obama administration to release Rabia "forthwith,'' an order that took three months in part because the U.S. government was weighing its options.

In the end, Cynamon said, the Emir of Kuwait sent one of his personal jets, a J-5 twin engine 12-seater, to fetch him under a release agreement negotiated between the two countries.

To win Rabia's freedom, his lawyers argued that the military mistakenly profiled the graduate of Daytona's Embry Riddle Aeronautical University as a key aide to Osama bin Laden at the 2001 battle of Tora Bora -- and then subjected him to systematic abuse at Guantánamo until he told them what they wanted to hear.

Kollar-Kotelly, with access to secret Pentagon evidence, agreed in a 65-page ruling.

She found that Rabia had been subjected to a sleep deprivation program forbidden by the U.S. Army's field manual, that his interrogators themselves didn't believe his confession, and that the evidence backed his assertion that he was in Afghanistan on a humanitarian mission that he undertook annually.

"If there exists a basis for al Rabia's indefinite detention, it most certainly has not been presented to this court.''

Human rights advocates and military commission critics said the case illustrated how much the war court prosecutions relied on self-incrimination and coerced testimony that would be excluded from federal criminal trials.

"The legal system that freed him certainly failed him because it took the government seven years to have a hearing on the merits, in which the judge ruled they essentially had no reason to hold him in the first place,'' said attorney Andrea J. Prasow, a former Pentagon defense lawyer now working on counterterrorism issues at Human Rights Watch.

She blamed a culture at Guantánamo, and within the U.S. government, that didn't take a dispassionate look at the evidence against detainees.

"The interrogators as well as everyone else were told they were the worst of the worst and they've all done terrible things,'' she said. "I don't think the mind-set allowed for the possibility that some of them were innocent.''

The Justice Department confirmed the release Wednesday afternoon, once the Kuwaiti aircraft carrying Rabia had left the Navy base.

"The United States will continue to consult with the government of Kuwait regarding this individual,'' a Justice Department statement said. It declined to give details.

The Pentagon says one of the nine Kuwaitis released from Guantánamo returned to the battlefield as a suicide bomber in Iraq. Abdallah al Ajmi was released in 2005 and drove a truck filled with explosives into an army base outside Mosul, killing 13 Iraqi soldiers and himself.

The last two Kuwaitis at Guantánamo include Fawzi al Odah, 32, whose case was also reviewed by Kollar-Kotelly. In that instance she found the Defense Department had presented sufficient evidence to hold him indefinitely at Guantánamo.

Al Odah's father has championed the Kuwaiti efforts to get their relatives out of Guantánamo.

The other is Fayiz al Kandari, whom a Pentagon prosecutor alleges trained with al Qaeda, "served as an advisor to Osama bin Laden'' and produced jihad recruiting tapes.

Cynamon said the release Wednesday did not end the Kuwaiti's quest to clear his name.

"We call upon President [Barack] Obama to provide both a formal apology on behalf of the United States and appropriate compensation,'' he said, adding that Rabia "can never reclaim the eight years he lost at Guantánamo Bay.''


http://www.miamiherald.com/news/brea...y/1374078.html
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Old 13-12-2009, 07:33 AM   #413
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Attempt to Secure Freedom for Last Briton in Guantanamo Bay Is Rejected

Miliband snubbed by US over prisoner's release

By Robert Verkaik, Law editor


Saturday, 12 December 2009

Quote:
The government has clashed with the Obama administration over the return of the last UK resident to be held at Guantanamo Bay.


Foreign Office officials yesterday confirmed that Foreign Secretary David Miliband last month made an "exceptional" request to the US for the release of Shaker Aamer, but that his appeal has been rejected.

Mr Aamer, 42, who lived with his British wife and four children in London for five years after arriving in Britain in 1996, has been detained at the prison camp in Cuba since February 2002 after his capture in Afghanistan in December 2001. He was later handed over to American forces and held at Bagram prison, where he claims he was subjected to torture during interrogations.

Britain made its first request for the release of Mr Aamer to representatives of the Bush administration in August 2007. Mr Miliband was known to have discussed Mr Aamer's release with Hillary Clinton after President Obama's election victory, but it was not known until yesterday that a second request had been made.

A Foreign Office spokesperson said: "We have made an exceptional request for the release and return of Shaker Aamer, a Saudi national, to the UK.

"This is because of the exceptional nature of the Guantanamo facility and our sustained efforts to see it closed. Though we were successful with securing the return of four other non-UK nationals, we have not been able yet to do so with Shaker."

Mr Aamer has never been charged with an offence.

This week the High Court in London ruled that there was evidence of wrong-doing in Mr Aamer's case and ordered the UK Government to disclose secret documents that Mr Aamer alleges prove Britain was complicit in his torture.

The case is potentially more damaging to Britain than that of former Guantanamo detainee Binyam Mohamed because British agents are accused of being present during Mr Aamer's alleged torture. In one allegation an MI5 agent is said to have been present when Mr Aamer's US interrogators banged his head against a wall, although the agent did not intervene.

In his court victory on Tuesday two judges ruled that Mr Aamer was entitled to see UK Government documents relating to his detention. His lawyers say they contain evidence supporting his claims that confessions he made were obtained through torture.

Lord Justice Sullivan said: "Our present view is that this matter is clearly very urgent. If this information is to be of any use it has to be put in the claimant's hands as soon as possible."

Later Mr Aamer's solicitor, Irene Nembhard, said: "It is the first ray of light for Shaker and his family. [They] will be overjoyed and they will be expecting that the British Government will give their lawyers the documents to assist them in persuading the Americans to release Shaker." President Obama made the closure of the US naval base a key priority when he was elected last year. He set himself a deadline of one year but has since admitted that he will not be able to meet this target.

Clive Stafford Smith, the director of UK legal charity Reprieve, has represented Mr Aamer in the US. He said that the British and American governments seem to working in unison to keep information about Mr Aamer's treatment from being made public. "It seems to be another big example of the British government working with the US to hide their mutual wrongdoing," he said.

The US have told the UK that they believe Mr Aamer represents a security risk.
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/wo...e-1838764.html
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Old 15-12-2009, 08:28 AM   #414
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Guantanamo Detainee Deaths

Quote:
By Stephen Lendman
12-14-9

Under the direction of Professor Mark Denbeaux, Seton Hall University School of Law's Center for Policy & Research (CP&R) published 15 "GTMO Reports," including profiles of detainees held, allegations against them, and discrepancies in government accounts explaining reasons for reported deaths.

An earlier report analyzed unclassified government data (obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests) based on evidentiary summaries of 2004 military hearings on whether 517 detainees held at the time were "enemy combatants." Most were non-belligerents. In fact, a shocking 95% were seized randomly by bounty hunters, then sold to US forces for $5,000 per claimed Taliban and $25,000 for supposed Al Qaeda members. At least 20 were children, some as young as 13.

The latest report titled, "Death in Camp Delta," covers three simultaneous detainee deaths on June 9, 2006 in the maximum security Alpha Block. Yassar Talal Al Zahrani, Mani Shaman Turki Al Habardi Al Tabi, and Ali Abdullah Ahmed were found dead shortly after midnight on June 10.

At first, the Pentagon's said they were found hanging in their cells as part of an anti-American "asymmetrical warfare conspiracy" based on medical personnel saying a short written note on each body indicated a coordinated effort to rebel against confinement as martyrs as well as longer confirming statements in their cells. At the same time, the media was shut out and lawyers prevented from visiting clients to minimize the incident and suppress truths.

CP&R's report found "dramatic flaws in the government's investigation (and) raise(s) serious questions about the security of the Camp (and) derelictions of duty by officials of multiple defense and intelligence agencies" who let them die, more likely killed them, then whitewashed the investigation to suppress it.

According to official autopsies, the men were hanging unobserved for at least two hours, despite constant surveillance by five guards responsible for 28 inmates in a lit cell block monitored by video cameras. Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) require each detainee be observed at least once every 10 minutes. They weren't, yet no guards were disciplined in spite of evidence of "a camp in total disarray."

In August 2008, over two years later, investigators from the Naval Criminal Investigation Service (NCIS) released "a heavily redacted report (concluding) that the detainees had hanged themselves in their cells and that (another) detainee, while walking the corridors that night had announced, 'tonight's the night.' "

Still key questions are unanswered, including:

-- the time and exact means of death;

-- how the dead men braided a noose using torn up sheets and/or clothing unobserved and made mannequins of themselves to look like asleep bodies in bed;

-- hung sheets to obstruct viewing into their cells;

-- stuffed rags down their throats to choke;

-- tied their hands and feet together;

-- hung the noose from the metal mesh of the cell wall or ceiling;

-- climbed on a sink, placed the noose around their necks, released their weight, and were strangled; and

-- did all this unobserved for two or more hours.

In addition, one man was scheduled for release in 19 days. Now he's dead so for sure he was murdered because dead men tell no tales, and maybe he had plenty to say.

CP&R's report "examines the investigation, not to determine what happened that night, but rather to assess why an investigation into three deaths could have failed to address significant issues."

It also covers suspicions that something very sinister was involved. Consider the following:

-- the Pentagon initially suppressed the fact that the men were dead for two or more hours before discovery;

-- how they could have hung in their cells unobserved;

-- why wasn't required constant supervision done - by guards and video camera monitoring;

-- how did all three follow precisely the same procedure, even more surprising as they were on the same cell block less than 72 hours with occupied and unoccupied cells between them - under constant supervision so they couldn't have cooperatively planned anything, let alone identical suicides;

-- why weren't guards ordered to make sworn statements about the incident;

-- why didn't the government determine which guards were on duty that night;

-- why was no explanation given why guards, who brought the bodies to medics, didn't tell them what happened, and why didn't medics ask;

-- why was no one disciplined;

-- why weren't cell block guards, tower guards, and medics "systematically interviewed" about the incident; and

-- why wasn't relevant, easily accessible information reviewed and reported, including from:

-- audio and video recordings;

-- "Pass-On" books in which each shift provides information to the next one;

-- the Detainee Information Management System (DIMS) records of all occurrences; and

-- Serious Incident Reports that include suicide attempts.

Why was an alleged conspiracy to commit simultaneous suicides not fully investigated? Why not after another detainee allegedly said "tonight's the night" wasn't security tighter than usual? Why weren't all material witnesses questioned? Why so much secrecy and cover up unless to suppress disturbing truths?

At issue is that three men died with "little to no explanation of how this could have occurred in a maximum security facility." Investigators didn't clarify what happened or answer basic questions as to "who, what, where, when, why, and how Al Zahrani, Al Tabi, and Ahmed died."

Many questions remain. No detainee cries were heard nor unusual activity to indicate a suicide attempt. On duty guards, other military personnel, and various detainee statements revealed inconsistencies and unanswered questions. CP&R drew no conclusions. It evaluated known facts and reported critical omissions to let others make their own assessments.

Various investigative files were analyzed - from the DOD, NCIS, the Criminal Investigation Task Force (CITF), US Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), the Staff Judge Advocate (SJA), Armed Forces Medical Examiner autopsies, and FOIA obtained documents, in spite of names, dates, and other relevant facts on most pages completely redacted.

"The report provides an in-depth look at the SOPs of Camp Delta....It then scrutinizes the (detainee) deaths and the subsequent autopsies. Next the report analyzes the (investigative) findings....Finally, it points out the defects in the investigation" that smack of cover up to suppress the truth.

NCIS Investigation

NCIS is the "primary law enforcement and counterintelligence arm of the United States Department of the Navy" with three objectives - prevent terrorism, protect secrets, and reduce crime.

It evaluated autopsy reports, and conducted interviews with guards, officers on duty, escort control, guards from other cell blocks, medical personnel, and 16 Alpha Block detainees. Its findings concluded that the three detainees committed suicide by hanging.

CITF Report

Established in 2002, it includes members from all US armed services branches to investigate detainees captured in the "war on terrorism" and build criminal cases against them. It's a Joint Task Force that includes members from the Army Criminal Investigation Division (CID), NCIS, and Air Force Office of Special Investigations (OSI). About half of its findings were redacted, and its documents revealed no final conclusions.

SOUTHCOM

It's one of DOD's global commands and the umbrella unit for JTF-GITMO. Its material supplements NCIS and CITF files, specifically documents found in detainees' cells, including purported suicide notes and "uncertified translations." It drew no conclusions regarding the information collected and examined during its investigative involvement.

The SJA Report

Its "informal investigation" focused on whether specific SOP violations occurred on June 9 and 10, and if so, whether they contributed to aiding the detainee deaths. It found six violations, redacted as "not insignificant" that may or may not have contributed to the detainees' deaths.

Camp Delta

Operating as one of three Guantanamo detention facilities, it's governed by SOPs that extensively monitor detainees from the moment they arrive with guard instructions to maintain a "continuous presence on the blocks" by conducting frequent headcounts, cell searches, and various other security measures.

Containing four camps, numbered 1 through 4, each with 10 cell blocks, Alpha Block is in Camp 1 with 48 cells, all clearly visible, aligned in two rows facing each other along a corridor called a tier. It's a maximum security facility for detainees separated for either behavioral or intelligence purposes, each in a separate cell measuring six feet, eight inches by eight feet with a sink, toilet, and cot. On each cell door is a "bean hole" or small window-like opening through which guards deliver meals and perform shackling and medical checks. A small rear window lets in some natural light.

Camp 1 is under constant surveillance by cell block guards and others in towers able to look directly into cells to monitor all movement throughout the facility. Sally Ports control access to all persons entering and exiting the camp. The Detention Operations Center (DOC) headquarters oversees all detention and security operations for complete control.

Chain of Command

SOPs define chain of command responsibilities, headed by the Commander of Joint Detention Operations Group (CJDOG) in charge of camp operations. The on-duty Commanding Officer (CO) is in charge of Camp Delta and reports to the CJDOG.

All movement is tightly secured, so when detainees are removed from cells, SOPs require they be escorted by guards following strict procedures, including the use of three-piece restraints to prevent escape. Surveillance is constant and detainees are subjected to an "intense intelligence-gathering operation" that involves horrific torture and abuse for extended periods. It wasn't part of CP&R's report, but it's relevant to what happened.

An Immediate Response Force (IRF) five-member team is also used for forced cell extractions and in cases of "self-harm incidents." Video monitoring documents everything.

Compliance with SOPs is central to maintaining camp security. Guard violations may lead to disciplinary action.

Estimated Time of Death

Medical examiners said the detainees were dead and hanging in their cells for an extended time without being noticed - "at least a couple of hours prior to the discovery." However body descriptions showed they were deceased longer.

The government's SJA Report includes Dr. Dean Hawley's evaluation, an Indiana University Pathology Professor, expert in the field of strangulation and asphyxiation deaths. Ligature abrasions (rope burns) on the bodies indicate they were hanging post-mortem for several hours. Their advanced rigor mortis proved they were dead much longer than two hours, "under continuous guard presence." Their bodies were also "cold to the touch" indicating they were hanging a long time, likely several hours.

The investigations were whitewashed with the NCIS, CITF, and SJA unanimously pronouncing the three deaths suicides. Yet until the bodies were discovered, nothing unusual was observed by guards or other detainees although in past self-harm incidents:

"other detainees (made) it urgently and loudly known that (an inmate) was carrying out some type of self-harm. Despite their ability to see into other cells, no detainee alerted the guards to any (incidents) that night, nor did the guards, who were on high alert, notice anything unusual...."

Colonel Bumgarner and Admiral Harris Statements

Blame the victims was part of the coverup. In a June 9 Fox News interview, Colonel Bumgarner (Camp Delta Joint Detention Group commander) told host Bill O'Reilly than he believed an Al Qaeda cell was operating in the camp, and said:

"Make no mistake....they will cut your throat in a heartbeat. Make no mistake about it...."

In an 11-page statement, he added that the detainees were becoming more violent, yet how could they alone in cells, and when outside painfully shackled hands and feet.

In another media statement, camp commander Admiral Harris called the suicides an act of coordinated "asymmetric warfare" against America, "not an act of desperation." He added that they were:

"tied to a mystical belief at Guantanamo that three detainees must die at the camp for all the detainees to be released....They are smart. They are creative. They are committed. They have no regard for human life, neither ours nor their own....I believe this was not an act of desperation, but rather an act of asymmetrical warfare waged against us."

According to Colleen Graffy, Assistant Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy, the incident was a "good PR move to draw attention."

Evidence Without Findings, Findings Without Evidence

"The investigations contain many pieces of evidence that are never explained or explored further," suggesting coverup. In addition:

"The government reported that the detainees committed suicide as part of a conspiracy," yet "fail(s) to present any (supporting) evidence," suggesting there's none. "In fact, all (known) evidence is inconsistent with the conclusion that the detainees conspired."

Reported suicide notes on detainees' bodies and in their cells had similar, ambiguous wording with investigators saying "there is not explicit discussion of suicide in the handwritten portion" of the longer note in one cell.

No evidence corroborates the claim that another detainee walked through the cell block on June 9 saying "tonight's the night." In fact, detainees are prohibited from walking through the corridors of a maximum security facility or communicating with each other.

Yet NCIS' Statement of Findings said "there was a growing concern that someone within the Camp Delta population was directing detainees to commit suicide." But investigative files omit mentioning who did it, and no evidence shows steps taken to identify the supposed offender or enhance security to stop him.

"There are no documents, statements, video surveillances, log-book notes, DIMS reports, or other records that suggest a coordinated act. No guard was questioned about how the detainees could have communicated to conspire or coordinate their elaborate acts while under constant surveillance....The investigation fails to mention that Al Tabi was cleared for transfer to his native Saudi Arabia and scheduled to leave Guantanamo before the end of the month."

Also, he'd only been in Alpha Block 72 hours, hardly enough time to conspire or for any reason, given his impending release. In addition, the three men were on the same cell block side, separated by vacant and occupied cells supervised by five guards every 10 minutes and constant video monitoring.

"The investigative file contains no evidence of either oral or written communications between the three detainees or any others or any evidence to show how the three would be able to coordinate all the necessary preparations for committing suicide simultaneously."

In addition, guard interviews were "superficial," containing little information on what each saw and did before discovering the bodies. Other interviews were just as faulty, sketchy, and delayed until days after the incident. "There was no systematic attempt" to obtain detained accounts of what everyone knew and could relate. Questions weren't asked, specifically:

-- if detainees were hanging in their cells for over two hours, why didn't guards see and report it;

-- if sheets and blankets were hung in cells to obscure vision inside, why weren't they immediately removed;

-- if guards saw detainees braiding noses, why didn't they stop them;

-- how could materials have been gotten to make mannequins asleep in their beds look life-life enough to fool guards; and

-- if guards saw notes passed between detainees or heard them communicate, why didn't they immediately halt them.

Six days after the incident, four guards were told that they were suspected of making false statements and/or not obeying direct orders, yet no disciplinary action was taken. In addition, evidence was missing, including:

-- "Sworn statements on required forms

-- Serious Incident Reports

-- Surveillance video

-- Audio recordings

-- Duty roster

-- Detainee transfer book

-- Pass-on book

-- DIMS system information

-- Statements from additional witnesses, including tower guards," able to view inside all cells easily; and

-- interviews with other Detainee Operations Center personnel.

In addition:

"The way in which the investigative files are presented makes it difficult to understand how the investigation was conducted. It produced more than 1,700 pages of interviews and information regarding the events of June 9 and 10, but the evidence obtained as presented is virtually impenetrable. Pages are missing, paragraphs are redacted, and documents with information are disorganized, making it difficult to review any of the evidence obtained...."

The investigation took three months, but wasn't released until April 28, 2009, 18 months later.

CP&R concluded that the men "died under questionable circumstances," with the investigation producing "more questions than answers." Without proper investigation, it's impossible to determine the deaths' true cause, suggesting they were by means other than reported to suppress the truth. It wouldn't be the first time.

Known Murders in US Torture-Prisons

In his 2007 book, "The Guantanamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America's Illegal Prison," British historian Andy Worthington reviewed them all, who they are, the majority being non-belligerents, and the use of torture, in some cases harsh enough to kill.

Chapter 14 of his book recounted "Murders in Bagram," America's notorious Afghanistan torture-prison, now undergoing a $60 million expansion to hold 1,100 more prisoners besides the 600 or more now there.

Besides the most unspeakable tortures, he detailed at least 10 known murders, naming names and explaining that their treatment, in fact, killed them.

Mullah Habibullah for one, called "uncooperative," placed in isolation, shackled by his wrists to the wire ceiling, then beaten until after four days he was coughing and complaining of chest pains. The violence still continued and killed him.

Dilawar was a taxi driver, randomly seized and imprisoned. Also called non-compliant, he apparently spat on one soldier who beat him brutally for two days and killed him.

Former UK prisoner, Moazzam Begg (now freed) reported witnessing one death in late 2002, and with two other detainees another in July, never investigated. They said a young Afghan man was fine on arrival, "and the next thing they were carrying him out on a stretcher."

Begg spent 10 months at Bagram, wrote a book titled "Enemy Combatant: My Imprisonment at Guantanamo, Bagram, and Kandahar," in which he explained that a Kandahar guard he knew told him about a murder caused by "hitting (a) detainee so hard that he felt he had fractured something," and that another guard used "Thai-style elbow-and-knee techniques." Still another one confirmed the murder, then later denied it.

A UK Bargram detainee now released, Omar Deghayes, confirmed witnessing two murders while there, including "a prisoner shot dead after he had gone to the aid of an inmate who was being beaten and kicked by the guards," and another prisoner beaten to death.

These and others at Bargram, Guantanamo, and other US torture-prisons are unreported or called suicides or naturally occurring deaths. Strong evidence confirms otherwise and suggests the three Guantanamo detainees didn't commit suicide. They were murdered in
cold blood.

Stephen Lendman is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization. He lives in Chicago and can be reached at [email protected].

Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to the Lendman News Hour on RepublicBroadcasting.org Monday - Friday at 10AM US Central time for cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on world and national issues. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://republicbroadcasting.org/Lendman
http://www.rense.com/general88/Guant.htm
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