Happy Birthday: US Gulag 12 Years Old Today
Guantánamo’s Anniversary, And There’s No End In Sight
Out of 779 detainees, only seven have been convicted and sentenced. The US must end this costly disgrace
By Morris Davis
November 14, 2013 “Information Clearing House – “The Guardian” — Twelve years ago, on 13 November 2001, President George W Bush signed an order authorizing the detention of suspected al-Qaida members and supporters, and the creation of military commissions. To borrow a line from the Grateful Dead: “What a long, strange trip it’s been.”
The order was modeled on one issued by President Franklin D Roosevelt on 2 July 1942, authorizing a military commission to try eight Nazi saboteurs apprehended in the United States. The men were captured, convicted and six of the eight executed in a span of 43 days. Roosevelt’s military commission was swift, secret and severe, so some urged President Bush to dust it off and use it again.
A total of seven detainees out of the 779 men ever held at Guantánamo have been convicted and sentenced. Five of the seven are no longer at Guantánamo creating a paradox: you have to lose to win. Those lucky enough to get charged and convicted of a war crime have good odds of getting out of Guantánamo, but those who are never charged could spend the rest of their lives in prison.
The seven men tried in military commissions were all convicted of providing material support for terrorism. Two of the seven – Salim Hamdan and David Hicks – were convicted solely of providing material support. In October 2012, a three judge panel of the US Court of Appeals for the Washington DC Circuit – all appointed by Republican presidents – overturned the conviction of Salim Hamdan, Osama Bin Laden’s driver. Writing for the court, Judge Brett M Kavanaugh said that before Congress passed the Military Commissions Act in September 2006, “the international law of war did not proscribe material support for terrorism as a war crime”.
Since nearly all of the men held at Guantánamo have been there since long before 2006 and most were at best low-level flunkies, the government’s inability to charge them with providing material support for terrorism means they likely will never face a military commission for a trial that might have enabled them to find a way out of Guantánamo.
Proponents of military commissions argue that the United States is in a war on terrorism, a point they claim mandates that those captured face trial in a war court rather than federal court. In September 2006, 14 high-value detainees held in CIA black sites were transferred to military custody at Guantánamo. Only one has been tried and convicted. Ahmed Ghailani is the only detainee ever transported from Guantánamo to the United States where he was convicted in federal court for his role in the 1998 bombings of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Ghailani was tried in 2010 and sentenced to life in prison, and the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit recently affirmed his conviction.
Meanwhile, some of Ghailani’s travel companions remain mired in the military commission morass where the parties argue over whether an accused is required to come to court, whether Khalid Sheikh Mohammed can wear a camouflage vest, whether the judge or some secret CIA monitor controls the courtroom’s audio system, and how the government gained access to defense counsels’ files. As Chief Judge Colonel James Pohl slogs through these novel issues, the prosecution says it wants a trial date in late 2014. By then, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed will have been in US custody for more than 11 years. Attorney general Eric Holder said recently that the trial would be over and KSM waiting on death row had the case been prosecuted in federal court in New York City instead.
Americans are oblivious to the high price they pay for Guantánamo. By the end of the current fiscal year, nearly $5.25bn(pdf) will have been spent on detention operations. At a cost estimated at over $2.5m per year for each detainee, the price is about 75 times higher than federal prison.
The law that has evolved from Guantánamo has been a black eye for the country; from the supreme court ruling that President Bush’s military commissions were illegal to the Washington DC circuit ruling all of the men convicted in military commissions were charged with an offense that was not a legitimate war crime. America’s enemies and allies alike, in their criticism of US war on terrorism practices, cite Guantánamo as an example of failed leadership. About the only positive thing that can be said for Guantánamo is it gives fearmongers a talking point to try and paint a distorted picture of President Obama as soft on terrorists because he wants to close it.
In his 2008 bid for the White House, Senator John McCain said:
We should close Guantánamo. Our great power does not mean that we can do whatever we want, whenever we want.
President Obama has argued repeatedly that Guantánamo needs to close, saying in a speech in May, “there is no justification beyond politics for Congress to prevent us from closing a facility that should never have been opened”.
Now, a dozen years after President Bush signed the order that led to Guantánamo and the military commissions, there is still no end in sight. It is time to end this wasteful embarrassment that undermines what the United States purports to stand for. The United States cannot afford to allow Guantánamo to “just keep truckin’ on”.
CIA made doctors torture suspected terrorists after 9/11, taskforce finds
Doctors were asked to torture detainees for intelligence gathering, and unethical practices continue, review concludes
Sarah Boseley, health editor
The Guardian, Monday 4 November 2013
Doctors and psychologists working for the US military violated the ethical codes of their profession under instruction from the defence department and the CIA to become involved in the torture and degrading treatment of suspected terrorists, an investigation has concluded.
The report of the Taskforce on Preserving Medical Professionalism in National Security Detention Centres concludes that after 9/11, health professionals working with the military and intelligence services “designed and participated in cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment and torture of detainees”.
Medical professionals were in effect told that their ethical mantra “first do no harm” did not apply, because they were not treating people who were ill.
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See more at: http://xrepublic.tv/node/5969#sthash.IZUvyWjq.dpuf
Snowden’s revelations about the NSA has seen US intelligence bosses go to great lengths to justify their activities. Officially they’ve been told to use 9/11 as their main argument, according to a document leaked in the media. And some politicians are happy to follow that advice.
Revealed: NSA pushed 9/11 as key ‘sound bite’ to justify surveillance
by Jason Leopold
October 30, 2013|12:09PM ET
An internal document recommended that officials use fear of attack when pressed to explain agency’s programs. The National Security Agency advised its officials to cite the 9/11 attacks as justification for its mass surveillance activities, according to a master list of NSA talking points.
The document, obtained by Al Jazeera through a Freedom of Information Act request, contains talking points and suggested statements for NSA officials (PDF) responding to the fallout from media revelations that originated with former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
Invoking the events of 9/11 to justify the controversial NSA programs, which have caused major diplomatic fallout around the world, was the top item on the talking points that agency officials were encouraged to use.
Under the subheading “Sound Bites That Resonate,” the document suggests the statement “I much prefer to be here today explaining these programs, than explaining another 9/11 event that we were not able to prevent.”
NSA head Gen. Keith Alexander used a slightly different version of that statement when he testified before Congress on June 18 in defense of the agency’s surveillance programs.
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Wednesday, 16. October 2013
Whether it is Ali Mohamed’s employment with the United States Army and his connections with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, or Anwar al-Awlaki on the payroll of the Bureau, or the landlord of two 9/11 hijackers in San Diego, who happened to be a highly valued long-term FBI informant, we are looking at incomplete profiles and missing crucial information. In each of these cases we are dealing with a government engaged in an extraordinary level of secrecy and protection. And with every single case we are faced with the crucial why question.
While each case, individually, on its own, paints an extremely troubling picture with serious implications, we must delve into the cases as a whole, collectively, in order to see the larger theme and an even more telling story. Despite my extensive research I have not seen a report where the cases in question are presented and examined together-in one place. I believe putting together documentation like that would be a good starting point for an ongoing and evolving report that can take us further in our search for needed answers, and the truth.
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Learn History With Philip Zelikow
As Philip Zelikow prepares to teach an online history course, we peel back the layers of propaganda from the former Executive Director of the 9/11 Commission. From cover up to predictive programming, we examine the ways that Zelikow helped to shape (and write) the history he’s now teaching.
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By Revolutionary Association of Women of Afghanistan Global Research, October 08, 2013 Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA) – See more at: http://www.globalresearch.ca/afghanistan-12-years-of-occupation-down-with-the-us-invaders-and-their-afghan-stooges/5353471#sthash.vOeViyi9.dpuf
With the aggression of the US and NATO occupiers on October 7, 2001 in our homeland, it has been twelve years now that our country is facing war, destruction, and the killing of thousands of its innocent civilians. The US used the terrorist attacks of 9/11 as a pretext to change the regime in Afghanistan and pave the way for its long-term military presence in the region. For the first time in their history, Afghanistan’s people, who were tired and fed up from the crimes of the Jehadi pigs and the brutalities of the Taliban, did not react to an occupier force.
The US government and its allies promised our people democracy, but imposed upon them the most undemocratic, corrupt, and mafia government of our history; they spoke of ‘war on terror’ but brought the murderers and terrorists of the Northern Alliance, gun-lords and drug kingpins to power, and have now extended their hands in friendship to the Taliban; the US used human rights and women’s rights as an excuse, but Afghanistan still faces the worse kinds of human rights violations and horrifying catastrophes against its women; they promised our people liberation and freedom, but practically turned our country into a narco-state and the center of their longest-running criminal war.
From the very start, the democratic forces of Afghanistan and peace-loving elements of the world had recognized the US’s war in Afghanistan as part of its imperialist policies. They announced that that this superpower was only invading Afghanistan to compete with its emerging contenders and was cementing its military bases in the heart of Asia towards this purpose.
Twelve years of our country’s occupation proves the validity of this prediction. In these years, not only did the justice-seeking people of the US and world protest against the war, but a significant number of soldiers also stood up against their government’s inhumane and hypocritical policies, and started a vast and glorious anti-war movement.
The people of Afghanistan soon noticed the false nature of the US and NATO’s ‘war on terror’, when against their demand, the criminal Taliban terrorists were replaced with the misogynist terrorist gangs of the Northern Alliance. In addition to providing staunch support to the Jehadi and technocrat traitors, the US has taken the service of a group of intellectual sellouts, and have created a band of lackeys out of them by stuffing Dollars down their filthy throats. If in the past, being on the payroll of a foreign country was seen as treachery and disgrace, today this group has become so shameless and devoid of conscience that they proudly flaunt off their servitude to the US and other foreign intelligences. Karzai and those surrounding him, confessed, in an unseen blatant fashion, that they took bags of Dollars from the CIA, Vavak, MI6, RAW, ISI and others, and branded them as ‘useful’ so that their masters would continue pouring in money. The so-called Jehadi leaders have also tied themselves on the leashes of foreign countries and continue to demolish our country at their orders. This way, Afghanistan has practically become the battlefield of the intelligence services of superpowers and neighboring countries. The threat to our sovereignty and national assets grows with each passing day.
After bringing calamity upon Afghanistan and its people, the US informed the world of the withdrawal of its forces in 2014, and started a widespread propaganda that without the US presence, Afghanistan will sink into crisis and a civil war. With this false propaganda through tens of media channels, the US is manipulating and threatening the public sentiment, and trying to get the puppet Karzai government to sign the strategic pact – which would guarantee the US’s long-term presence – as soon as possible. All the reactionary forces and a group of mercenary intellectuals know that their very existence depends upon this pact and are begging for it to go through, so they can escape our people and the claws of justice under the protective wing of their military master.
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Bigger than Watergate’: US ‘regular’ meetings with Al-Qaeda’s leader; documented White House ‘false flag terrorism’ moving people ‘like sheep’; the father of Twin Towers victim tell us why he backs this month’s 9/11 campaign on Times Square and around the world; & the protests calendar for September.
Seymour Hersh on Death of Osama bin Laden: ‘It’s one big lie, not one word of it is true’
By Lisa O’Carroll
September 27, 2013 “Information Clearing House – “The Guardian” – Seymour Hersh has got some extreme ideas on how to fix journalism – close down the news bureaus of NBC and ABC, sack 90% of editors in publishing and get back to the fundamental job of journalists which, he says, is to be an outsider.
It doesn’t take much to fire up Hersh, the investigative journalist who has been the nemesis of US presidents since the 1960s and who was once described by the Republican party as “the closest thing American journalism has to a terrorist”.
He is angry about the timidity of journalists in America, their failure to challenge the White House and be an unpopular messenger of truth.
Don’t even get him started on the New York Times which, he says, spends “so much more time carrying water for Obama than I ever thought they would” – or the death of Osama bin Laden. “Nothing’s been done about that story, it’s one big lie, not one word of it is true,” he says of the dramatic US Navy Seals raid in 2011.
Hersh is writing a book about national security and has devoted a chapter to the bin Laden killing. He says a recent report put out by an “independent” Pakistani commission about life in the Abottabad compound in which Bin Laden was holed up would not stand up to scrutiny. “The Pakistanis put out a report, don’t get me going on it. Let’s put it this way, it was done with considerable American input. It’s a bullshit report,” he says hinting of revelations to come in his book.
The Obama administration lies systematically, he claims, yet none of the leviathans of American media, the TV networks or big print titles, challenge him.
“It’s pathetic, they are more than obsequious, they are afraid to pick on this guy [Obama],” he declares in an interview with the Guardian.
“It used to be when you were in a situation when something very dramatic happened, the president and the minions around the president had control of the narrative, you would pretty much know they would do the best they could to tell the story straight. Now that doesn’t happen any more. Now they take advantage of something like that and they work out how to re-elect the president.
He isn’t even sure if the recent revelations about the depth and breadth of surveillance by the National Security Agency will have a lasting effect.
Snowden changed the debate on surveillance
He is certain that NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden “changed the whole nature of the debate” about surveillance. Hersh says he and other journalists had written about surveillance, but Snowden was significant because he provided documentary evidence – although he is sceptical about whether the revelations will change the US government’s policy.
“Duncan Campbell [the British investigative journalist who broke the Zircon cover-up story], James Bamford [US journalist] and Julian Assange and me and the New Yorker, we’ve all written the notion there’s constant surveillance, but he [Snowden] produced a document and that changed the whole nature of the debate, it’s real now,” Hersh says.
“Editors love documents. Chicken-shit editors who wouldn’t touch stories like that, they love documents, so he changed the whole ball game,” he adds, before qualifying his remarks.
“But I don’t know if it’s going to mean anything in the long [run] because the polls I see in America – the president can still say to voters ‘al-Qaida, al-Qaida’ and the public will vote two to one for this kind of surveillance, which is so idiotic,” he says.
Holding court to a packed audience at City University in London’s summer school on investigative journalism, 76-year-old Hersh is on full throttle, a whirlwind of amazing stories of how journalism used to be; how he exposed the My Lai massacre in Vietnam, how he got the Abu Ghraib pictures of American soldiers brutalising Iraqi prisoners, and what he thinks of Edward Snowden.
Hope of redemption
Despite his concern about the temerity of journalism he believes the trade still offers hope of redemption.
“I have this sort of heuristic view that journalism, we possibly offer hope because the world is clearly run by total nincompoops more than ever … Not that journalism is always wonderful, it’s not, but at least we offer some way out, some integrity.”
His story of how he uncovered the My Lai atrocity is one of old-fashioned shoe-leather journalism and doggedness. Back in 1969, he got a tip about a 26-year-old platoon leader, William Calley, who had been charged by the army with alleged mass murder.
Instead of picking up the phone to a press officer, he got into his car and started looking for him in the army camp of Fort Benning in Georgia, where he heard he had been detained. From door to door he searched the vast compound, sometimes blagging his way, marching up to the reception, slamming his fist on the table and shouting: “Sergeant, I want Calley out now.”
Eventually his efforts paid off with his first story appearing in the St Louis Post-Despatch, which was then syndicated across America and eventually earned him the Pulitzer Prize. “I did five stories. I charged $100 for the first, by the end the [New York] Times were paying $5,000.”
He was hired by the New York Times to follow up the Watergate scandal and ended up hounding Nixon over Cambodia. Almost 30 years later, Hersh made global headlines all over again with his exposure of the abuse of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib.
Put in the hours
For students of journalism his message is put the miles and the hours in. He knew about Abu Ghraib five months before he could write about it, having been tipped off by a senior Iraqi army officer who risked his own life by coming out of Baghdad to Damascus to tell him how prisoners had been writing to their families asking them to come and kill them because they had been “despoiled”.
“I went five months looking for a document, because without a document, there’s nothing there, it doesn’t go anywhere.”
Hersh returns to US president Barack Obama. He has said before that the confidence of the US press to challenge the US government collapsed post 9/11, but he is adamant that Obama is worse than Bush.
“Do you think Obama’s been judged by any rational standards? Has Guantanamo closed? Is a war over? Is anyone paying any attention to Iraq? Is he seriously talking about going into Syria? We are not doing so well in the 80 wars we are in right now, what the hell does he want to go into another one for. What’s going on [with journalists]?” he asks.
He says investigative journalism in the US is being killed by the crisis of confidence, lack of resources and a misguided notion of what the job entails.
“Too much of it seems to me is looking for prizes. It’s journalism looking for the Pulitzer Prize,” he adds. “It’s a packaged journalism, so you pick a target like – I don’t mean to diminish because anyone who does it works hard – but are railway crossings safe and stuff like that, that’s a serious issue but there are other issues too.
“Like killing people, how does [Obama] get away with the drone programme, why aren’t we doing more? How does he justify it? What’s the intelligence? Why don’t we find out how good or bad this policy is? Why do newspapers constantly cite the two or three groups that monitor drone killings. Why don’t we do our own work?
“Our job is to find out ourselves, our job is not just to say – here’s a debate’ our job is to go beyond the debate and find out who’s right and who’s wrong about issues. That doesn’t happen enough. It costs money, it costs time, it jeopardises, it raises risks. There are some people – the New York Times still has investigative journalists but they do much more of carrying water for the president than I ever thought they would … it’s like you don’t dare be an outsider any more.”
He says in some ways President George Bush’s administration was easier to write about. “The Bush era, I felt it was much easier to be critical than it is [of] Obama. Much more difficult in the Obama era,” he said.
Asked what the solution is Hersh warms to his theme that most editors are pusillanimous and should be fired.
“I’ll tell you the solution, get rid of 90% of the editors that now exist and start promoting editors that you can’t control,” he says. I saw it in the New York Times, I see people who get promoted are the ones on the desk who are more amenable to the publisher and what the senior editors want and the trouble makers don’t get promoted. Start promoting better people who look you in the eye and say ‘I don’t care what you say’.
Nor does he understand why the Washington Post held back on the Snowden files until it learned the Guardian was about to publish.
If Hersh was in charge of US Media Inc, his scorched earth policy wouldn’t stop with newspapers.
“I would close down the news bureaus of the networks and let’s start all over, tabula rasa. The majors, NBCs, ABCs, they won’t like this – just do something different, do something that gets people mad at you, that’s what we’re supposed to be doing,” he says.
Hersh is currently on a break from reporting, working on a book which undoubtedly will make for uncomfortable reading for both Bush and Obama.
“The republic’s in trouble, we lie about everything, lying has become the staple.” And he implores journalists to do something about it.