Saturday, May 20, 2006

Summer Camp at Gitmo

posted by The Vidiot @ 1:25 PM Permalink

I came across this op-ed by Gitmo Torturer In Chief Navy Rear Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr., who is liable for detainee operations and intelligence gathering at the camp

Inside Guantanamo Bay

GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba -- On Sunday, the Tribune editorial page asked readers: What should the U.S. do with the Guantanamo Bay detention camp? Harry B. Harris Jr., the commander of the Joint Task Force Guantanamo, offered this essay in response.

I lead the soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, Coast Guardsmen and civilians responsible for the safe and humane care and custody of the unlawful enemy combatants* held here at Guantanamo--a responsibility we take very seriously.
Here's an example of how seriously they take it:
The Tribune's characterization of Guantanamo as a "detention camp" is precisely correct. Despite our persistent efforts to correct the record, many mainstream outlets--print, voice and electronic--persist in referring to this facility as a "prison camp." This is not mere parsing of words or semantic folderol. Prisons are about punishment and rehabilitation; Guantanamo is about neither.

What we are about is the detention of unlawful enemy combatants--dangerous men associated with Al Qaeda or the Taliban captured on the battlefield waging war on America and our allies, running from that battlefield, or otherwise closely associated with Al Qaeda and the Taliban--and, as you correctly pointed out, preventing them from returning to the fight. We hold men who proudly admit membership at the leadership level in Al Qaeda and the Taliban, many with direct personal contact and knowledge of the Sept. 11, 2001, attackers. We are keeping terrorist recruiters, facilitators, explosives trainers, bombers and bombmakers, Osama bin Laden bodyguards and financiers from continuing their jihad against America.
Here's a small sample of the most dangerous men in the world:
_ Hafizullah Shah, from the village of Galdon in Afghanistan, was being held based on classified evidence he was not allowed to see. The farmer said he was walking to a bazaar when he was arrested. The United States said Shah was wearing an olive green jacket and was seen by soldiers with a group caching weapons. "I was just walking in the street and I was captured," Shah said. "The next thing I found out is that I am sitting here" in Guantanamo Bay.

_ Abdur Sayed Rahman, of Pakistan, identified himself as a poor chicken farmer. The United States alleged he was in the Taliban, either as a military judge or deputy foreign minister. It emerged during the hearing that the deputy minister is Abdur Zahid Rahman, a near homonym of the detainee. Police searched Abdur Sayed Rahman's home in Pakistan in the fall of 2001 and arrested him. "An American told me I was wrongfully taken and that in a couple of days I'd be freed," Rahman said. "I never saw that American again and I'm still here."

_ Zakirjan Asam traveled from Tajikistan to Afghanistan in the spring of 2001. He was accused of being a member of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, which allegedly has ties to the Taliban. Asam said he came to Afghanistan as a refugee and was turned over to U.S. forces because he could not afford to pay a bribe.

_ Salih Uyar, 24 at the time of his tribunal hearing, traveled to Afghanistan from Turkey in 2000. He was accused of living with a known al-Qaida member for two months just before raids began in Kabul, Afghanistan, and of associating with Turkish radical religious groups. At the time of his capture, he had a Casio watch - a model that authorities say was used in bombings. "If it's a crime to carry this watch, your own military personnel also carry this watch, too," Uyar told the military tribunal. "Does that mean that they're just terrorists as well?" Uyar also went to Syria but said his purpose was to study Arabic.
So the fashion police ('wearing a green jacket?', a 'casio watch?'), and the language police ('a near homonym of the detainee'), are protecting us from terrerists!?

Virtual tour

I do reject out of hand, however, the Tribune's notion that we are somehow delinquent in our moral responsibility to transform the camp and that the camp is "unsatisfactory." This is simply not true. Your editorial is either misleading or ill-informed. Conditions have improved dramatically for detainees since they first arrived in 2002. More important, we aggressively look for ways to build on the "safe and humane care and custody" mission with which I opened this dialogue.
Really!? What about this:

Hearings may consider torture
The specter of military torture entered pretrial debate over how to proceed in the trial of a Yemeni captive.

GUANTANAMO BAY NAVY BASE, Cuba -- A U.S. Army colonel presiding over four war-crimes cases here acknowledged on Wednesday that upcoming trials may have to weigh whether torture was used to gather testimony against alleged al Qaeda conspirators.
Air Force Maj. Jane Boomer, said after the hearing that Military Commissions rules that protect information for national security reasons do not specifically ban evidence gained through torture.

''Hypothetically, is it possible? Do the rules allow for it?,'' she said. ``Yes.''
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld issued, then repealed, interrogation regulations that some senior Pentagon insiders saw as abusive. FBI agents, in internal e-mails, described detainees shackled to the floor, naked, left to urinate on themselves and blasted with icy temperatures and mind-numbing music -- in order to break their will during interrogations.
Nothing to see here, just move along.
Detainees have sent and received more than 44,000 pieces of mail since February 2002[...]
How is that possible since until about a week ago no one except the Pentagon knew their names, and the Pentagon only released their names because of a lawsuit. Bonus fun fact: The Pentagon's excuse? "Personal information on detainees was withheld solely to protect detainee privacy and for their own security,", which is almost as funny as their excuse for not releasing torture photos "The Pentagon originally argued that releasing the images would violate the Geneva Convention rights of the detainees", you remember, those rights that Bush declares they don't have.
Doctors in the house

We provide outstanding medical care to every detainee, the same quality as what our service members receive. We are improving the health and extending the life span of the detainee population in our charge.
With methods like these!?
Army Doctors Implicated in Abuse
Medical Workers Helped Tailor Interrogations of Detainees, Article Says

U.S. Army doctors violated the Geneva Conventions by helping intelligence officers carry out abusive interrogations at military detention centers, perhaps participating in torture, according to an article in today's edition of the New England Journal of Medicine.
It says that medical workers gave interrogators access to patient medical files, and that psychiatrists and other physicians collaborated with interrogators and guards who, in turn, deprived detainees of sleep, restricted them to diets of bread and water and exposed them to extreme heat and cold.
And this:
Force-Feeding an End to Guantanamo Dissent
Pentagon ruling on hunger strikers raises concerns
Report for UN calls the practice akin to `torture'

The policy to tube-feed detainees appears to contradict what's set out in Article 5 of the 1975 World Medical Association Tokyo Declaration to which the United Sates is bound through its membership with the American Medical Association.

It states: "Where a prisoner refuses nourishment and is considered by the doctor as capable of forming an unimpaired and rational judgment concerning the consequences of such a voluntary refusal of nourishment, he or she shall not be fed artificially."

Former commander of the base Maj.-Gen. Jay Hood told a group of civilian doctors, psychologists and ethicists who visited the camp's medical facility in October 2005 that doctors had been "screened, before coming to Guantanamo, "to ensure they do not have ethical objections to assisted feeding," according to an account of that visit in The New England Journal of Medicine.
I hear they call it the Mengele test.
Passing inspections

The International Committee of the Red Cross, which enjoys full diplomatic status, has unfettered access to the detainees. Their reports are useful, meaningful and confidential.[...]
Perhaps he's referring to these reports:
Red Cross: Guantanamo Tactics 'Tantamount to Torture'

WASHINGTON - The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has accused the U.S. military of using tactics "tantamount to torture" on prisoners at the U.S. Navy base in Guantanamo Bay, The New York Times reported on Tuesday.
In Geneva, the ICRC said it would neither confirm nor deny the New York Times report -- in which allegations of treatment tantamount to torture go further than what the neutral intermediary has publicly stated before about inmates held at Guantanamo.

But, in a statement, the Geneva-based ICRC said it remained concerned that "significant problems regarding conditions and treatment at Guantanamo Bay have not yet been adequately addressed," and it was pursuing talks with U.S. authorities.
The Times said the U.S. government and military officials received the ICRC report in July and rejected its findings.
The Times said the Red Cross investigators had found a system devised to break the will of prisoners through "humiliating acts, solitary confinement, temperature extremes, use of forced positions."

"The construction of such a system, whose stated purpose is the production of intelligence, cannot be considered other than an intentional system of cruel, unusual and degrading treatment and a form of torture," the Times quoted the report as saying.
But wait, there's more!
The Red Cross said yesterday that the U.S. may have committed war crimes at Guantanamo Bay if reports of detainees being tortured at the military base are true. This according to a report in the Guardian of London. The comment by the Red Cross comes a day after three former detainees from Britain revealed they were the victims of systemic abuse at the hands of their US captors both in Afghanistan and at Guantanamo Bay.
Danger within

The U.S. government remains committed to not detaining any person any longer than is absolutely required.[...]
Sounds good ... unless you know this:
15 Muslims, Cleared of Terrorism Charges, Remain at Guantanamo With Nowhere to Go

In late 2003, the Pentagon quietly decided that 15 Chinese Muslims detained at the military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, could be released. Five were people who were in the wrong place at the wrong time, some of them picked up by Pakistani bounty hunters for U.S. payoffs. The other 10 were deemed low-risk detainees whose enemy was China's communist government -- not the United States, according to senior U.S. officials.

More than 20 months later, the 15 still languish at Guantanamo Bay, imprisoned and sometimes shackled, with most of their families unaware whether they are even alive.
All 15 Uighurs have actually been cleared for release from Guantanamo Bay twice, once after a Pentagon review in late 2003 and again last March, U.S. officials said. Seven other Uighurs were ruled to be enemy combatants and will continue to be detained.

Even after the second decision, however, the government did not notify the 15 men for several months that they had been cleared. "They clearly were keeping secret that these men were acquitted. They were found not to be al Qaeda and not to be Taliban," Willett said. "But the government still refused to provide a transcript of the tribunal that acquitted them to the detainees, their new lawyers or a U.S. court."
And this:
The U.S. military says 759 detainees have been held at Guantanamo Bay since the detention center began taking prisoners in the U.S. war on terror in January 2002. About 275 have been released or transferred.

The U.S. has filed charges against 10 detainees.
Remember this part from his lies above? "We are keeping terrorist recruiters, facilitators, explosives trainers, bombers and bombmakers, Osama bin Laden bodyguards and financiers How does that square with only charging 10 out of 759 detainees?

And how does Rear Admiral Harris' fiction compare to these facts?
Six hurt in violent clashes as Guantánamo Bay uprising is put down by US guards
According to Guantánamo Bay naval base commander Rear Admiral Harry Harris, the unrest began when guards were set upon as they came to the aid of a detainee pretending to hang himself in Camp 4
Pretending!? You mean like these guys?
Earlier on Thursday, two other prisoners made suicide attempts by swallowing prescription medicine they had been hoarding. Military officers yesterday described them as stable but unconscious.
There have been 41 suicide attempts at the facility since it was opened in January 2002 to house prisoners seized on the battlefields of Afghanistan, and suspected members of al-Qaida.

In 2003, according to the US military, 23 detainees carried out a coordinated attempt to kill themselves during a week-long protest. The attempts were classified as "self-injurious behaviour" rather than suicide attempts.

One prisoner, Bahraini Juma'a al-Dossari, has made 12 suicide attempts in four years - including one last October during a visit by his attorney, Joshua Colangelo-Bryan. "I saw a pool of blood on the floor in front of me, and then I looked up and saw him hanging from the inside of the steel mesh wall of the cell. He had a large gash in his arm, and he was unconscious," Mr Colangelo-Bryan told the Guardian.

James Yee, a former US army chaplain at Guantánamo, said the number of suicide attempts had become much worse. "When I was down there it was happening pretty often," he told CNN.

Last August, more than 120 prisoners went on hunger strike to protest at their indefinite imprisonment and beatings by the Immediate Response Force squads which are used to put down such protests.

* Can we finally put paid to the fiction that the term "unlawful enemy combatant" exists anywhere but in the minds of Bushco?
The Convention Against Torture prohibits its signatories from using cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment of prisoners, and obliges them to ensure that any detainee is given certain minimum legal rights. President Ronald Reagan signed the treaty, President George H.W. Bush formally sent it to the Senate for approval, and the Senate ratified it in 1994.
Congress also passed legislation turning the treaty's provisions into domestic law, which President Bill Clinton signed. But after the 9/11 attacks, President Bush's legal team told him that he had the power to bypass domestic and international restrictions on the treatment of prisoners, such as the antitorture treaty or the Geneva Conventions.
Last year Congress passed a law making clear that no US official can use any form of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment against detainees, anywhere in the world. But when Bush signed the new torture ban, he issued a ''signing statement" reasserting his claim that he has the power, as commander-in-chief, to authorize interrogators to bypass the restrictions.
I just read the constitution again, and I can't find anywhere in it that the president can ignore laws when he signs them just because he kept his fingers crossed.


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