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Exonerated but helpless: 4 years at Guantanamo Bay

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I post dozens of newsbits at Clipmarks. This one brought a comment that I wanted you to see. First, the clip:

clipped from www.democracynow.org
Newly-revealed documents show the U.S. held a German prisoner at Guantanamo Bay despite privately acknowledging his innocence just months after his capture. Murat Kurnaz was kidnapped and handed over to U.S. forces in Pakistan in December 2001. Four weeks later he became one of the first prisoners to arrive at Guantanamo—where he would spend the next four years. Declassified documents show U.S. and German intelligence officials concluded he had no links to terrorism as early as September 2002. A newly-formed military tribunal finally took up his case in 2004. But the panel ignored the intelligence assessments and twice ordered his ongoing imprisonment. During this time Kurnaz says he suffered severe torture. He says he was beaten, given electric shocks, submerged in water, starved, and chained to a ceiling for days. Kurnaz says he saw several people die and often thought he would die himself. He was finally released in August 2006—nearly five years after his capture.

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Gitmoljsdesign just killed me with this comment:

What gets me is those people who are willing to turn a blind eye. It’s the only way, it’s for the greater good, we’re just protecting ourselves. The ends justify the means.

We will ALL have to account for this. One day our children will come to us and ask “why did this happen? How could we have done these things? How could you allow it to happen?”

What explanation could we ever give them that would justify it. How would we explain away our own responsibility for why we let it happen and let it continue?

Ah, that’s the awful truth about governments: They do it because we let them do it.

Raise your voice, won’t you?


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Written by Monte

December 6, 2007 at 1:35 pm

Posted in Iraq, News, Terrorism

U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture: US “has a clear obligation” to prosecute Bush, Rumsfeld

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Apparently, international law (which is, in this case, US law as well) is pretty clear.
clipped from thinkprogress.org
In remarks that aired on German television last night, Manfred Nowak, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, urged the U.S. to pursue former President George W. Bush and defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld on charges that they authorized torture and other harsh interrogation techniques:

bushrummyweb.jpg

Rumsfeld, Bush

“Judicially speaking, the United States has a clear obligation” to bring proceedings against Bush and Rumsfeld. […] He noted Washington had ratified the UN convention on torture which required “all means, particularly penal law” to be used to bring proceedings against those violating it. […]

Indeed, a bipartisan Senate report released last month found that Rumsfeld “bore major responsibility” for abuses committed at Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib and other military detention centers […]

[L]ast week, a Bush administration official overseeing Gitmo trials said Rumsfeld approved the torture of one particular detainee.

Bush himself said last year that […] he personally authorized waterboarding Kalid Sheik Muhammad […]

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I wonder how the USA could demand compliance by any nation to any treaty obligation if it doesn’t fulfill its own solemn obligations in this case.

If we can look away when torture suits the leaders of the moment, can’t everyone? If we can find lawyers who’ll write opinions excusing our leaders when they feel torture appropriate, can’t everyone?

Robert Mugabe will see himself and the USA as birds of a feather.


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Obama, day 1: Intervention at Gitmo

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Only hours into his presidency, Obama moves to begin untangling the Gitmo debacle.
clipped from www.dailykos.com
President Obama requested a 120 day suspension in the military commissions trial pending this week.

The instruction came in a motion filed with a military court in the case of five defendants accused of organizing the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. The motion called for “a continuance of the proceedings” until May 20 so that “the newly inaugurated president and his administration [can] review the military commissions process, generally, and the cases currently pending before military commissions, specifically.” […]

“We welcome our new commander-in-chief and this first step towards restoring the rule of law,” said Army Maj. Jon Jackson, a military defense attorney […]
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BarackMichelleWalk_Inauguration
Image by dalesun via Flickr

This preliminary step would delay trials 120 days to give the Obama administration time to plan the next step. Judges are not obliged to grant the motion, but should rule quickly on it.

According to Kos, the ACLU is calling for “the withdrawal of charges and an end to the military commissions process, with cases that warrant prosecution proceeding in regular federal criminal courts.”

I am glad for this quick start.  Decisive action is an important step toward regaining an America that walks its talk: that all “are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights.”


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US General: Bush Administration committed war crimes, must be held accountable

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MG TagubaYou may remember Major General Antonia Taguba, USA (Retired); he headed up the Abu Ghraib abuse investigation, carefully and openly laying out the details before Congress in 2004.  The Pentagon was not pleased;  Taguba appears to have been coerced into retirement as a result.

Yesterday, Physicians for Human Rights released a new report, “outlining the medical evidence of torture perpetrated by the United States.”  Maj. Gen. Taguba wrote the preface.  His statements of fact—coming, as they do, from a top-level military investigator—are startling.  Apparently, America is long overdue for a reckoning with justice.

I reprint it in full (from Truthout), below.  The full Physicians for Human Rights report can be read at their website.
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Preface to Broken Laws, Broken Lives

By Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba, USA (Retired)

This report tells the largely untold human story of what happened to detainees in our custody when the Commander-in-Chief and those under him authorized a systematic regime of torture. This story is not only written in words: It is scrawled for the rest of these individuals’ lives on their bodies and minds. Our national honor is stained by the indignity and inhumane treatment these men received from their captors.

The profiles of these eleven former detainees, none of whom were ever charged with a crime or told why they were detained, are tragic and brutal rebuttals to those who claim that torture is ever justified. Through the experiences of these men in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, we can see the full scope of the damage this illegal and unsound policy has inflicted – both on America’s institutions and our nation’s founding values, which the military, intelligence services, and our justice system are duty-bound to defend.

Bush, Rumsfeld, CheneyIn order for these individuals to suffer the wanton cruelty to which they were subjected, a government policy was promulgated to the field whereby the Geneva Conventions and the Uniform Code of Military Justice were disregarded. The UN Convention Against Torture was indiscriminately ignored. And the healing professions, including physicians and psychologists, became complicit in the willful infliction of harm against those the Hippocratic Oath demands they protect.

After years of disclosures by government investigations, media accounts, and reports from human rights organizations, there is no longer any doubt as to whether the current administration has committed war crimes. The only question that remains to be answered is whether those who ordered the use of torture will be held to account.

The former detainees in this report – each of whom is fighting a lonely and difficult battle to rebuild his life – require reparations for what they endured, comprehensive psycho-social and medical assistance, and even an official apology from our government.

But most of all, these men deserve justice as required under the tenets of international law and the United States Constitution.

And so do the American people.


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Written by Monte

June 19, 2008 at 2:05 pm

Do coercive interrogation methods work?

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Ask counter-terrorism experts –
clipped from www.iamprogress.org

"Who Would Jesus Torture?" Sign At The Interna...

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Quote of the Day

Their conclusion is unanimous: not only have coercive methods failed to generate significant and actionable intelligence, they have also caused the squandering of resources on a massive scale through false leads, chimerical plots, and unnecessary safety alerts.

– — Vanity Fair December 2008, talking to top counterterrorism officials

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Written by Monte

February 1, 2009 at 8:24 pm