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March 20, 2009
It's the Sixth Anniversary of the Iraq War

Does anyone care? Seems like it's just me.

Well I do care. I'm very upset. And I don't think Obama is doing enough to get us out of Iraq, and I also don't see how it's any different than what Bush did, if he sends more troops over to Afghanistan, like he's talking about.

Feels a little like in the months after 911, frankly. When everybody was all "yea us!" while Bush moved in on Iraq, and everyone assured me that we would do the right thing.

I'll say it again: Waiting a year to close Guantanamo is wrong.

Not even mentioning the sixth anniversary of the war - just plain wrong.

I know the economy is everyone's first priority, but stalling on taking action on Guantanamo and Iraq, when lives are at stake, can't be right.

That's what it feels like is going on right now.

I waited a day, as I often do, to see if I still felt this way, before sharing my feelings with you. But I just felt stronger about it this morning. So there it is :-)

thanks!

lisa


Posted by Lisa at 09:15 AM
January 21, 2009
Obama Says Guantanamo Will Close In A Year

Of course, that's not really soon enough.

Barack Obama: Administration drafts order to close Guantanamo camp within year

Draft order would also declare a halt to all trials currently under way at the facility

By Mark Tran and Matthew Weaver for the Guardian U.K.


Moazzam Begg, the former British detainee at Guantanamo Bay, urged Obama to go further. "There is no clear statement about this being stopped and the whole process being recognised as illegal," he said.

"For myself and other former detainees, until we see something tangible happening we are going to reserve judgment. That is because we have been here before - Bush has stated he wanted Guantanamo closed."

Here is the full text of the entire article, in case the link goes bad:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/jan/21/guantanamo-barack-obama-draft-order-closure

Barack Obama: Administration drafts order to close Guantánamo camp within year
Draft order would also declare a halt to all trials currently under way at the facility

* Mark Tran and Matthew Weaver
* guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 21 January 2009 17.52 GMT
* Article history

The Obama administration is circulating a draft executive order that calls for closing the controversial US military prison at Guantánamo Bay within a year, it emerged today.

The draft order, obtained by the Associated Press, would also declare a halt to all trials currently under way at the facility, where roughly 245 detainees are being held. Most have not been charged. The Bush administration created the camp after the September 11 2001 attacks.

The draft order would start the process of shutting down a facility that has been strongly criticised by human rights groups and European governments.

News of the draft order came as President Barack Obama ordered a suspension of the controversial Guantánamo Bay military tribunals, in one of his first actions after being sworn in yesterday.

Within hours of taking office Obama's administration filed a motion to halt the war crimes trials for 120 days, until it completes a review of the much-criticised system for trying suspected terrorists.

The move, which will suspend cases against 21 men, was made at the direction of Obama and Robert Gates, George Bush's defence secretary, who has kept his job in the new administration.

The first military judge to consider the motion, US Army Colonel Patrick Parrish, granted the request to suspend the trial of Omar Khadr, a Canadian who is accused of killing an American soldier with a grenade in Afghanistan in 2002. Later another military judge will consider suspending the case of five men charged with plotting the 9/11 attacks.

The halt to the tribunals was sought "in the interests of justice", the official request to the judges said.

Moazzam Begg, the former British detainee at Guantánamo Bay, urged Obama to go further. "There is no clear statement about this being stopped and the whole process being recognised as illegal," he said.

"For myself and other former detainees, until we see something tangible happening we are going to reserve judgment. That is because we have been here before - Bush has stated he wanted Guantánamo closed."

Human rights groups who were at Guantánamo Bay to observe this week's session of the tribunals welcomed the move.

"It's a great first step but it is only a first step," said Gabor Rona, the international director of Human Rights First. "It will permit the newly inaugurated president and his administration to undertake a thorough review of both the pending cases and the military commissions process generally.

"The suspension of military commissions so soon after President Obama took office is an indication of the sense of urgency he feels about reversing the destructive course that the previous administration was taking in fighting terrorism."

Jamil Dakwar, director of the human rights programme at the American Civil Liberties Union, said it was a positive step but noted, "The president's order leaves open the option of this discredited system remaining in existence."

Clive Stafford Smith, a human rights lawyer who has represented Guantánamo suspects, said, "It's great isn't it? There is no doubt it will stop the practices at Guantánamo. After all, Obama is now the commander-in-chief."

Speaking on BBC Radio 4, Stafford Smith said, "It's going to take some work but what he [Obama] is looking at, I think, here is a very clear-cut distinction between this administration and the last."

Relatives of victims of the 9/11 attacks, who were also at the base to observe the hearings, have said they oppose any further delay in the trials of the men charged in the case.

The requested suspension came on the day a military judge adjourned the war crimes court just before Obama was sworn in by noting that the future of the commissions was in doubt.

Obama had previously pledged to close the Guantánamo Bay detention camp and had been expected to suspend the widely criticised tribunals.

The president's nominee for attorney general, Eric Holder, has said the military commissions lack sufficient legal protections for defendants and that they could be tried in the US.

Posted by Lisa at 12:08 PM
January 20, 2009
Day 1 of Obama - Day 1 Without An Executive Order Closing Guantanamo

I'm excited about our new president, but I'm more excited about closing Guantanamo NOW.

I hope that, tomorrow morning, or at least sometime this week, I'll get to look like a doubting thomas when Obama closes Guantanamo like he said he would.

Obama Will Issue Executive Order Within First Week to Shut Guantanamo

By Laura Meckler and Evan Perez, in the Wall St. Journal

Mr. Obama acknowledged over the weekend the process will take time. "It is more difficult than I think a lot of people realize," he told ABC's "This Week." "I think it's going to take some time." He added: "But I don't want to be ambiguous about this. We are going to close Guantanamo and we are going to make sure that the procedures we set up are ones that abide by our Constitution."
Here is the full text of the entire article, in case the link goes bad: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123179018983674483.html

Obama Will Issue Executive Order Within First Week to Shut Guantanamo

By LAURA MECKLER and EVAN PEREZ

WASHINGTON -- President-elect Barack Obama plans within his first week in office to issue an executive order to close the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, two people with knowledge of the plan said Monday.

The order won't immediately close the prison, the people said.

It is the first step in what is expected to be a long process of determining what to do with the approximately 250 suspects and potential witnesses in the war on terror who are held at Guantanamo.

Mr. Obama is expected to issue several executive orders in his opening days in office.

One person familiar with his plans said an order regarding interrogation methods is also planned.

This person said that the Guantanamo order isn't likely to come on Jan. 20, the day Mr. Obama is inaugurated.

The Guantanamo prisoners include so-called high-value detainees the U.S. officials still consider dangerous, among them Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged al Qaeda mastermind of the 9/11 terrorist plot.

Hundreds more detainees have gone through the facility, which opened in 2002 after the U.S. invaded Afghanistan. Guantanamo offered U.S. officials a place where they could hold detainees away from U.S. soil so they didn't qualify for legal protections.

President George W. Bush declared the detainees "unlawful combatants," who didn't qualify for protections under the Geneva Convention.

Rep. Jane Harman (D., Calif.) introduced a bill last week to close Guantanamo and said that as a result of operating the prison, the U.S. "has paid a steep price in eroded moral authority. We've flouted the very legal protections that we've tried to export to the rest of the world."

According to people familiar with Mr. Obama's plans, the executive order will direct officials to examine each detainee's case to determine who can be released and find a place to send those who must remain held.

Mr. Obama acknowledged over the weekend the process will take time.

"It is more difficult than I think a lot of people realize," he told ABC's "This Week." "I think it's going to take some time."

He added: "But I don't want to be ambiguous about this. We are going to close Guantanamo and we are going to make sure that the procedures we set up are ones that abide by our Constitution."

He said "part of the challenge" is that many of the people who have been detained may be "very dangerous" but have not been put on trial or had any formal adjudication, and the evidence against them may be tainted.
Posted by Lisa at 11:45 AM
January 25, 2005
Sending A Second Letter's Even Sweeter - Help Stop Gonzales Confirmation

I've written a second letter that I'm sending now to all of the members on the judiciary committee. (Hopefully I'll have a better list by email of them soon...)

Here's a link to the first letter, in case you haven't sent that one yet.

Subject header: Protect Our Troops - Oppose Gonzales Nomination


Dear Senator,

I'm writing you to a second time to request that you vote against the confirmation of Alberto Gonzales as US Attorney General because I feel it is so vitally important.

We must protect the Geneva Conventions, the War Crimes Act, and our diplomatic credibility throughout the rest of the free world. Now more than ever, with an unprecedented number of our armed forces and National Guard forces on active duty all over the world.

Send a message of strength and a clear signal that the abuses of Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib are being taken seriously, and that those days are over. Otherwise, you will send our troops, our country and the rest of the world in a very dangerous direction.

Sincerely,

Lisa Rein


Send to:

All the senators on the
judiciary committee
.

Senator Dick Durbin, (202) 224-2152,

http://durbin.senate.gov/sitepages/contact.htm

Senator Patrick Leahy, (202) 224-4242, senator_leahy@leahy.senate.gov

Senator Barbara Boxer, (202) 224-3553,

http://boxer.senate.gov/contact/webform.cfm

Senator Russ Feingold, (202) 224-5323, russ_feingold@feingold.senate.gov

Senator Edward Kennedy, 202/224-4543, senator@kennedy.senate.gov

Senator Tom Harkin, (202) 224-3254, tom_harkin@harkin.senate.gov

Senator Jim Jeffords, (202) 224-5141, Vermont@jeffords.senate.gov

Posted by Lisa at 08:09 AM
December 01, 2004
Red Cross Confirms Prisoner Abuse In Guantanamo


Red Cross Finds Detainee Abuse in Guantnamo

By Neil A Lewis for the NY Times.


The International Committee of the Red Cross has charged in confidential reports to the United States government that the American military has intentionally used psychological and sometimes physical coercion "tantamount to torture" on prisoners at Guantnamo Bay, Cuba.

The finding that the handling of prisoners detained and interrogated at Guantnamo amounted to torture came after a visit by a Red Cross inspection team that spent most of last June in Guantnamo.

The team of humanitarian workers, which included experienced medical personnel, also asserted that some doctors and other medical workers at Guantnamo were participating in planning for interrogations, in what the report called "a flagrant violation of medical ethics."...

It was the first time that the Red Cross, which has been conducting visits to Guantnamo since January 2002, asserted in such strong terms that the treatment of detainees, both physical and psychological, amounted to torture. The report said that another confidential report in January 2003, which has never been disclosed, raised questions of whether "psychological torture" was taking place...

The report of the June visit said investigators had found a system devised to break the will of the prisoners at Guantnamo, who now number about 550, and make them wholly dependent on their interrogators through "humiliating acts, solitary confinement, temperature extremes, use of forced positions." Investigators said that the methods used were increasingly "more refined and repressive" than learned about on previous visits.

"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 report said. It said that in addition to the exposure to loud and persistent noise and music and to prolonged cold, detainees were subjected to "some beatings." The report did not say how many of the detainees were subjected to such treatment...

Here is the full text of the article in case the link goes bad:

http://www.nytimes.com/2004/11/30/politics/30gitmo.html

Red Cross Finds Detainee Abuse in Guantnamo
By NEIL A. LEWIS

Published: November 30, 2004

ASHINGTON, Nov. 29 - The International Committee of the Red Cross has charged in confidential reports to the United States government that the American military has intentionally used psychological and sometimes physical coercion "tantamount to torture" on prisoners at Guantnamo Bay, Cuba.

The finding that the handling of prisoners detained and interrogated at Guantnamo amounted to torture came after a visit by a Red Cross inspection team that spent most of last June in Guantnamo.

The team of humanitarian workers, which included experienced medical personnel, also asserted that some doctors and other medical workers at Guantnamo were participating in planning for interrogations, in what the report called "a flagrant violation of medical ethics."

Doctors and medical personnel conveyed information about prisoners' mental health and vulnerabilities to interrogators, the report said, sometimes directly, but usually through a group called the Behavioral Science Consultation Team, or B.S.C.T. The team, known informally as Biscuit, is composed of psychologists and psychological workers who advise the interrogators, the report said.

The United States government, which received the report in July, sharply rejected its charges, administration and military officials said.

The report was distributed to lawyers at the White House, Pentagon and State Department and to the commander of the detention facility at Guantnamo, Gen. Jay W. Hood. The New York Times recently obtained a memorandum, based on the report, that quotes from it in detail and lists its major findings.

It was the first time that the Red Cross, which has been conducting visits to Guantnamo since January 2002, asserted in such strong terms that the treatment of detainees, both physical and psychological, amounted to torture. The report said that another confidential report in January 2003, which has never been disclosed, raised questions of whether "psychological torture" was taking place.

The Red Cross said publicly 13 months ago that the system of keeping detainees indefinitely without allowing them to know their fates was unacceptable and would lead to mental health problems.

The report of the June visit said investigators had found a system devised to break the will of the prisoners at Guantnamo, who now number about 550, and make them wholly dependent on their interrogators through "humiliating acts, solitary confinement, temperature extremes, use of forced positions." Investigators said that the methods used were increasingly "more refined and repressive" than learned about on previous visits.

"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 report said. It said that in addition to the exposure to loud and persistent noise and music and to prolonged cold, detainees were subjected to "some beatings." The report did not say how many of the detainees were subjected to such treatment.

Asked about the accusations in the report, a Pentagon spokesman provided a statement saying, "The United States operates a safe, humane and professional detention operation at Guantnamo that is providing valuable information in the war on terrorism."

It continued that personnel assigned to Guantnamo "go through extensive professional and sensitivity training to ensure they understand the procedures for protecting the rights and dignity of detainees."

The conclusions by the inspection team, especially the findings involving alleged complicity in mistreatment by medical professionals, have provoked a stormy debate within the Red Cross committee. Some officials have argued that it should make its concerns public or at least aggressively confront the Bush administration.

The International Committee of the Red Cross, which is based in Geneva and is separate from the American Red Cross, was founded in 1863 as an independent, neutral organization intended to provide humanitarian protection and assistance for victims of war.


Angel Franco/The New York Times
A cell and a meeting room at Camp Echo at Guantnamo, where lawyers can meet with detainees.

Its officials are able to visit prisoners at Guantnamo under the kind of arrangement the committee has made with governments for decades. In exchange for exclusive access to the prison camp and meetings with detainees, the committee has agreed to keep its findings confidential. The findings are shared only with the government that is detaining people.

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Beatric Mgevand-Roggo, a senior Red Cross official, said in an interview that she could not say anything about information relayed to the United States government because "we do not comment in any way on the substance of the reports we submit to the authorities."

Ms. Mgevand-Roggo, the committee's delegate-general for Europe and the Americas, acknowledged that the issue of confidentiality was a chronic and vexing one for the organization. "Many people do not understand why we have these bilateral agreements about confidentiality," she said. "People are led to believe that we are a fig leaf or worse, that we are complicit with the detaining authorities."

She added, "It's a daily dilemma for us to put in the balance the positive effects our visits have for detainees against the confidentiality."

Antonella Notari, a veteran Red Cross official and spokeswoman, said that the organization frequently complained to the Pentagon and other arms of the American government when government officials cite the Red Cross visits to suggest that there is no abuse at Guantnamo. Most statements from the Pentagon in response to queries about mistreatment at Guantnamo do, in fact, include mention of the visits.

In a recent interview with reporters, General Hood, the commander of the detention and interrogation facility at Guantnamo, also cited the committee's visits in response to questions about treatment of detainees. "We take everything the Red Cross gives us and study it very carefully to look for ways to do our job better," he said in his Guantnamo headquarters, adding that he agrees "with some things and not others."

"I'm satisfied that the detainees here have not been abused, they've not been mistreated, they've not been tortured in any way," he said.

Scott Horton, a New York lawyer, who is familiar with some of the Red Cross's views, said the issue of medical ethics at Guantnamo had produced "a tremendous controversy in the committee." He said that some Red Cross officials believed it was important to maintain confidentiality while others believed the United States government was misrepresenting the inspections and using them to counter criticisms.

Mr. Horton, who heads the human rights committee of the Bar Association of the City of New York, said the Red Cross committee was considering whether to bring more senior officials to Washington and whether to make public its criticisms.

The report from the June visit said the Red Cross team found a far greater incidence of mental illness produced by stress than did American medical authorities, much of it caused by prolonged solitary confinement. It said the medical files of detainees were "literally open" to interrogators.

The report said the Biscuit team met regularly with the medical staff to discuss the medical situations of detainees. At other times, interrogators sometimes went directly to members of the medical staff to learn about detainees' conditions, it said.

The report said that such "apparent integration of access to medical care within the system of coercion" meant that inmates were not cooperating with doctors. Inmates learn from their interrogators that they have knowledge of their medical histories and the result is that the prisoners no longer trust the doctors.

Asked for a response, the Pentagon issued a statement saying, "The allegation that detainee medical files were used to harm detainees is false." The statement said that the detainees were "enemy combatants who were fighting against U.S. and coalition forces."

"It's important to understand that when enemy combatants were first detained on the battlefield, they did not have any medical records in their possession," the statement continued. "The detainees had a wide range of pre-existing health issues including battlefield injuries."


Angel Franco/The New York Times
A detainee who cooperates with interrogators and follows rules is given white clothing to wear.

The Pentagon also said the medical care given detainees was first-rate. Although the Red Cross criticized the lack of confidentiality, it agreed in the report that the medical care was of high quality.

Leonard S. Rubenstein, the executive director of Physicians for Human Rights, was asked to comment on the account of the Red Cross report, and said, "The use of medical personnel to facilitate abusive interrogations places them in an untenable position and violates international ethical standards."

Mr. Rubenstein added, "We need to know more about these practices, including whether health professionals engaged in calibrating levels of pain inflicted on detainees."

The issue of whether torture at Guantnamo was condoned or encouraged has been a problem before for the Bush administration.

In February 2002, President Bush ordered that the prisoners at Guantnamo be treated "humanely and, to the extent appropriate with military necessity, in a manner consistent with" the Geneva Conventions. That statement masked a roiling legal discussion within the administration as government lawyers wrote a series of memorandums, many of which seemed to justify harsh and coercive treatment.

A month after Mr. Bush's public statement, a team of administration lawyers accepted a view first advocated by the Justice Department that the president had wide powers in authorizing coercive treatment of detainees. The legal team in a memorandum concluded that Mr. Bush was not bound by either the international Convention Against Torture or a federal antitorture statute because he had the authority to protect the nation from terrorism.

That document provides tightly constructed definitions of torture. For example, if an interrogator "knows that severe pain will result from his actions, if causing such harm is not his objective, he lacks the requisite specific intent even though the defendant did not act in good faith," it said. "Instead, a defendant is guilty of torture only if he acts with the express purpose of inflicting severe pain or suffering on a person within his control."

When some administration memorandums about coercive treatment or torture were disclosed, the White House said they were only advisory.

Last month, military guards, intelligence agents and others described in interviews with The Times a range of procedures that they said were highly abusive occurring over a long period, as well as rewards for prisoners who cooperated with interrogators. The people who worked at Camp Delta, the main prison facility, said that one regular procedure was making uncooperative prisoners strip to their underwear, having them sit in a chair while shackled hand and foot to a bolt in the floor, and forcing them to endure strobe lights and loud rock and rap music played through two close loudspeakers, while the air-conditioning was turned up to maximum levels.

Some accounts of techniques at Guantnamo have been easy to dismiss because they seemed so implausible. The most striking of the accusations, which have come mainly from a group of detainees released to their native Britain, has been that the military used prostitutes who made coarse comments and come-ons to taunt some prisoners who are Muslims.

But the Red Cross report hints strongly at an explanation of some of those accusations by stating that there were frequent complaints by prisoners in 2003 that some of the female interrogators baited their subjects with sexual overtures.

Gen. Geoffrey Miller, who commanded the detention and intelligence operation at Guantnamo until April, when he took over prison operations in Iraq, said in an interview early this year about general interrogation procedures that the female interrogators had proved to be among the most effective. General Miller's observation matches common wisdom among experienced intelligence officers that women may be effective as interrogators when seen by their subjects as mothers or sisters. Sexual taunting does not, however, comport with what is often referred to as the "mother-sister syndrome."

But the Red Cross report said that complaints about the practice of sexual taunting stopped in the last year. Guantnamo officials have acknowledged that they have improved their techniques and that some earlier methods they tried proved to be ineffective, raising the possibility that the sexual taunting was an experiment that was abandoned.


Posted by Lisa at 10:37 PM
November 13, 2004
Judge Halts War-Crime Trial at Guantnamo


Judge Halts War-Crime Trial at Guantnamo

By Neil A. Lewis for The New York Times.


A federal judge ruled Monday that President Bush had both overstepped his constitutional bounds and improperly brushed aside the Geneva Conventions in establishing military commissions to try detainees at the United States naval base here as war criminals.

The ruling by Judge James Robertson of United States District Court in Washington brought an abrupt halt to the trial here of one detainee, one of hundreds being held at Guantnamo as enemy combatants. It threw into doubt the future of the first set of United States military commission trials since the end of World War II as well as other legal proceedings devised by the administration to deal with suspected terrorists.

The administration reacted quickly, saying it would seek an emergency stay and a quick appeal.

Judge Robertson ruled against the government in the case of Salim Ahmed Hamdan, a former driver for Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan who is facing terrorism charges. Mr. Hamdan's lawyers had asked the court to declare the military commission process fatally flawed.

The ruling and its timing had a theatrical effect on the courtroom here where pretrial proceedings were under way with Mr. Hamdan, a 34-year-old Yemeni in a flowing white robe, seated next to his lawyers.

About 30 minutes into the afternoon proceedings, the presiding officer, Col. Peter S. Brownback III, was handed a note from a Marine sergeant. Colonel Brownback immediately called a recess and rushed from the room with the commission's two other officers. When he returned, he announced that the proceeding was in recess indefinitely and he departed quickly.

Neal K. Katyal, a Georgetown Law School professor who is one of Mr. Hamdan's lawyers and who supervised the federal lawsuit, told the puzzled courtroom audience, "We won."

Mark Corallo, a Justice Department spokesman, said in a statement, "The process struck down by the district court today was carefully crafted to protect America from terrorists while affording those charged with violations of the laws of war with fair process, and the department will make every effort to have this process restored through appeal."

Mr. Corallo said, "By conferring protected legal status under the Geneva Conventions on members of Al Qaeda, the judge has put terrorism on the same legal footing as legitimate methods of waging war."

Judge Robertson ruled that the administration could not under current circumstances try Mr. Hamdan before the military commissions set up shortly after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks but could only bring him before a court-martial, where different rules of evidence apply.

In the 45-page ruling, the judge said the administration had ignored a basic provision of the Geneva Conventions, the international treaties signed by the United States that form the basic elements of the laws governing the conduct of war.

The conventions oblige the United States to treat Mr. Hamdan as a prisoner of war, the judge said , unless he goes before a special tribunal described in Article 5 of the Third Geneva Convention that determines he is not. A P.O.W. is entitled to a court-martial if there are accusations of war crimes but may not be tried before a military commission.

The United States military did not conduct Article 5 tribunals at the end of the Afghanistan war, saying they were unnecessary. Government lawyers argued that the president had already used his authority to deem members of Al Qaeda unlawful combatants who would be deprived of P.O.W. status.

But Judge Robertson, who was nominated to be on the court by President Bill Clinton, said that that was not enough. "The president is not a panel tribunal," he wrote. "The law of war includes the Third Geneva Convention, which requires trial by court-martial as long as Hamdan's P.O.W. status is in doubt."


Here is the full text of the article in case the link goes bad:

http://www.nytimes.com/2004/11/09/politics/09gitmo.html

By NEIL A. LEWIS

Published: November 9, 2004


Correction Appended

GUANTNAMO BAY, Cuba, Nov. 8 - A federal judge ruled Monday that President Bush had both overstepped his constitutional bounds and improperly brushed aside the Geneva Conventions in establishing military commissions to try detainees at the United States naval base here as war criminals.

The ruling by Judge James Robertson of United States District Court in Washington brought an abrupt halt to the trial here of one detainee, one of hundreds being held at Guantnamo as enemy combatants. It threw into doubt the future of the first set of United States military commission trials since the end of World War II as well as other legal proceedings devised by the administration to deal with suspected terrorists.

The administration reacted quickly, saying it would seek an emergency stay and a quick appeal.

Judge Robertson ruled against the government in the case of Salim Ahmed Hamdan, a former driver for Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan who is facing terrorism charges. Mr. Hamdan's lawyers had asked the court to declare the military commission process fatally flawed.

The ruling and its timing had a theatrical effect on the courtroom here where pretrial proceedings were under way with Mr. Hamdan, a 34-year-old Yemeni in a flowing white robe, seated next to his lawyers.

About 30 minutes into the afternoon proceedings, the presiding officer, Col. Peter S. Brownback III, was handed a note from a Marine sergeant. Colonel Brownback immediately called a recess and rushed from the room with the commission's two other officers. When he returned, he announced that the proceeding was in recess indefinitely and he departed quickly.

Neal K. Katyal, a Georgetown Law School professor who is one of Mr. Hamdan's lawyers and who supervised the federal lawsuit, told the puzzled courtroom audience, "We won."

Mark Corallo, a Justice Department spokesman, said in a statement, "The process struck down by the district court today was carefully crafted to protect America from terrorists while affording those charged with violations of the laws of war with fair process, and the department will make every effort to have this process restored through appeal."

Mr. Corallo said, "By conferring protected legal status under the Geneva Conventions on members of Al Qaeda, the judge has put terrorism on the same legal footing as legitimate methods of waging war."

Judge Robertson ruled that the administration could not under current circumstances try Mr. Hamdan before the military commissions set up shortly after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks but could only bring him before a court-martial, where different rules of evidence apply.

In the 45-page ruling, the judge said the administration had ignored a basic provision of the Geneva Conventions, the international treaties signed by the United States that form the basic elements of the laws governing the conduct of war.

The conventions oblige the United States to treat Mr. Hamdan as a prisoner of war, the judge said , unless he goes before a special tribunal described in Article 5 of the Third Geneva Convention that determines he is not. A P.O.W. is entitled to a court-martial if there are accusations of war crimes but may not be tried before a military commission.

The United States military did not conduct Article 5 tribunals at the end of the Afghanistan war, saying they were unnecessary. Government lawyers argued that the president had already used his authority to deem members of Al Qaeda unlawful combatants who would be deprived of P.O.W. status.

But Judge Robertson, who was nominated to be on the court by President Bill Clinton, said that that was not enough. "The president is not a panel," he wrote. "The law of war includes the Third Geneva Convention, which requires trial by court-martial as long as Hamdan's P.O.W. status is in doubt."

The government is in the midst of conducting a separate set of tribunals here at Guantnamo, similar to those required by the Geneva Conventions, to determine whether detainees were properly deemed unlawful enemy combatants. Those proceedings, called combatant status review tribunals, were quickly put into place by the Bush administration after the Supreme Court's ruling in June that the Guantnamo prisoners were entitled to challenge their detentions in federal court. Judge Robertson said, however, that those tribunals were not designed to satisfy the Geneva Convention requirement and were insufficient.

page 2

The ruling on Monday may also make those tribunals obsolete, but Scott L. Silliman, professor of military law at Duke University, said the military might modify them to fit the Geneva Convention requirements.

The judge also said that in asserting that the Guantnamo prisoners are unlawful combatants and outside the reach of the Geneva Conventions, "the government has asserted a position starkly different from the positions and behavior of the United States in previous conflicts, one that can only weaken the United States' own ability to demand application of the Geneva applications to Americans captured during armed conflicts abroad."
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Professor Katyal told reporters that while the ruling on Monday applied only to the Hamdan case, "the spirit of the ruling extends more broadly, perhaps to everything that is going on here in Guantnamo Bay."

Mr. Hamdan is one of about 63 Guantnamo detainees on whose behalf lawsuits have been filed in federal court. The lawsuits consist of habeas corpus petitions, in which people may demand that the government provide some explanation as to why they are imprisoned.

Critics have said that the military commissions fall short of the rights that defendants have in courts-martial in two respects. But Judge Robertson said that one of those reasons, the inability to appeal to the federal judiciary, was not a serious problem. The principal problem, he said, was that defendants before commissions did not have a fair opportunity to respond to charges because some of the evidence was classified and would be withheld. He said that no American court could approve of any proceeding that had such a glaring lack of the right to confront one's accusers and the evidence.

Stephen Saltzburg, a professor at the George Washington University Law School, said it was inevitable that a federal judge somewhere would find fault with the administration's approach "that you can keep people locked up for two and three years and you still don't really know who they are and why we're keeping them."

Professor Saltzburg also said the ruling could set up a sharp confrontation between the judiciary and the executive branch. "No president, Democrat or Republican, is going to welcome the idea that judges who sit in Washington are going to supervise who is detained on the battlefield," he said.

Capt. Brian Thompson of the Air Force, who is defending one of the other three detainees who have been charged with war crimes before a military commission, said he was confident that Judge Robertson's ruling would apply to his client as well. "Not in a strict legal sense," he said, "but certainly in a practical sense."

Commission officials said they were considering whether to halt action on the other cases as well.

Correction: Nov. 12, 2004, Friday

A front-page article and the Quotation of the Day on Tuesday about a decision that halted the trial of a detainee at the United States naval base in Guantnamo Bay, Cuba, misstated part of a quotation from the opinion of James Robertson, a federal judge, who said President Bush had ignored the Geneva Conventions in establishing military tribunals to try such detainees. He wrote that "the president is not a tribunal"; he did not say "not a panel."

Posted by Lisa at 09:54 PM
November 09, 2004
Judge Rules Guantanamo Trials Unlawful

They're calling this decision a setback for Bush's policy.

It's definitely a plus for democracy.

Judge Says Detainees' Trials Are Unlawful

By Carol D. Leonnig and John Mintz for The Washington Post.


The special trials established to determine the guilt or innocence of prisoners at the U.S. military prison in Cuba are unlawful and cannot continue in their current form, a federal judge ruled yesterday.

In a setback for the Bush administration, U.S. District Judge James Robertson found that detainees at the Navy base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, may be prisoners of war under the Geneva Conventions and therefore entitled to the protections of international and military law -- which the government has declined to grant them.

The decision came in a lawsuit filed by the first alleged al Qaeda member facing trial before what the government calls "military commissions." The decision upends -- for now -- the administration's strategy for prosecuting hundreds of alleged al Qaeda and Taliban detainees accused of terrorist crimes.

Human rights advocates, foreign governments and the detainees' attorneys have contended that the rules governing military commissions are unfairly stacked against the defendants. But Robertson's ruling is the first by a federal judge to assert that the commissions, which took nearly two years to get underway, are invalid.

The Bush administration denounced the ruling as wrongly giving special rights to terrorists and announced that it will ask a higher court for an emergency stay and reversal of Robertson's decision. Military officers at Guantanamo immediately halted commission proceedings in light of the ruling.

"We vigorously disagree. . . . The judge has put terrorism on the same legal footing as legitimate methods of waging war," said Justice Department spokesman Mark Corallo. "The Constitution entrusts to the president the responsibility to safeguard the nation's security. The Department of Justice will continue to defend the president's ability and authority under the Constitution to fulfill that duty."

Robertson ruled that the military commissions, which Bush authorized the Pentagon to revive after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, are neither lawful nor proper. Under commission rules, the government could, for example, exclude people accused of terrorist acts from some commission sessions and deny them access to evidence, which the judge said would violate basic military law.

Robertson said the government should have held special hearings for detainees to determine whether they qualified for prisoner-of-war protections when they were captured, as required by the Geneva Conventions. Instead, the administration declared the captives "enemy combatants" and decided to afford them some of the protections spelled out by the Geneva accords.

Robertson ordered that until the government provides the hearing, it can prosecute the detainees only in courts-martial, under long-established military law.

Robertson issued his decision in the case of Salim Ahmed Hamdan, a detainee captured in Afghanistan in late 2001 and accused of being a member of al Qaeda. Robertson's opinion is expected to set the standard for treatment of other detainees before military commissions. So far, four Guantanamo Bay detainees have been ordered to stand trial...

Kevin Barry, a retired Coast Guard judge who is critical of the Pentagon's legal justifications for the Guantanamo Bay detentions, called Robertson's ruling a "remarkable" decision that "will give heart to all who think the rule of law should apply in the Afghanistan conflict." Barry said the war on terrorism is the first U.S. war since the Geneva Conventions' adoption in 1949 in which the government has not accorded POW status to enemy fighters.

"Even the Viet Cong, who were farmers by day and fighters at night, were accorded that status," he said. "The judge got these issues right."

Here is the full text of the article in case the link goes bad:

http://www.truthout.org/docs_04/111004X.shtml

Judge Says Detainees' Trials Are Unlawful
By Carol D. Leonnig and John Mintz
The Washington Post

Tuesday 09 November 2004

Ruling is setback for Bush policy.

The special trials established to determine the guilt or innocence of prisoners at the U.S. military prison in Cuba are unlawful and cannot continue in their current form, a federal judge ruled yesterday.

In a setback for the Bush administration, U.S. District Judge James Robertson found that detainees at the Navy base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, may be prisoners of war under the Geneva Conventions and therefore entitled to the protections of international and military law -- which the government has declined to grant them.

The decision came in a lawsuit filed by the first alleged al Qaeda member facing trial before what the government calls "military commissions." The decision upends -- for now -- the administration's strategy for prosecuting hundreds of alleged al Qaeda and Taliban detainees accused of terrorist crimes.

Human rights advocates, foreign governments and the detainees' attorneys have contended that the rules governing military commissions are unfairly stacked against the defendants. But Robertson's ruling is the first by a federal judge to assert that the commissions, which took nearly two years to get underway, are invalid.

The Bush administration denounced the ruling as wrongly giving special rights to terrorists and announced that it will ask a higher court for an emergency stay and reversal of Robertson's decision. Military officers at Guantanamo immediately halted commission proceedings in light of the ruling.

"We vigorously disagree. . . . The judge has put terrorism on the same legal footing as legitimate methods of waging war," said Justice Department spokesman Mark Corallo. "The Constitution entrusts to the president the responsibility to safeguard the nation's security. The Department of Justice will continue to defend the president's ability and authority under the Constitution to fulfill that duty."

Robertson ruled that the military commissions, which Bush authorized the Pentagon to revive after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, are neither lawful nor proper. Under commission rules, the government could, for example, exclude people accused of terrorist acts from some commission sessions and deny them access to evidence, which the judge said would violate basic military law.

Robertson said the government should have held special hearings for detainees to determine whether they qualified for prisoner-of-war protections when they were captured, as required by the Geneva Conventions. Instead, the administration declared the captives "enemy combatants" and decided to afford them some of the protections spelled out by the Geneva accords.

Robertson ordered that until the government provides the hearing, it can prosecute the detainees only in courts-martial, under long-established military law.

Robertson issued his decision in the case of Salim Ahmed Hamdan, a detainee captured in Afghanistan in late 2001 and accused of being a member of al Qaeda. Robertson's opinion is expected to set the standard for treatment of other detainees before military commissions. So far, four Guantanamo Bay detainees have been ordered to stand trial.

The unusual coalition of defense lawyers and conservative military law experts who banded together to challenge the commissions hailed the decision as a major victory in efforts to level the playing field for the detainees, some of whom have been held for nearly three years.

"We are thrilled by this ruling," said Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, a New York-based group that represents the families of some Guantanamo Bay prisoners. "Military commissions were a bad idea and an embarrassment. The refusal of the Bush administration to apply the Geneva Conventions was a legal and moral outrage."

Kevin Barry, a retired Coast Guard judge who is critical of the Pentagon's legal justifications for the Guantanamo Bay detentions, called Robertson's ruling a "remarkable" decision that "will give heart to all who think the rule of law should apply in the Afghanistan conflict." Barry said the war on terrorism is the first U.S. war since the Geneva Conventions' adoption in 1949 in which the government has not accorded POW status to enemy fighters.

"Even the Viet Cong, who were farmers by day and fighters at night, were accorded that status," he said. "The judge got these issues right."

The government has been under pressure since June to revise other facets of its strategy for handling the cases of the more than 500 Guantanamo Bay detainees. In a landmark ruling that month, the Supreme Court rejected the government's argument that the president may indefinitely hold and interrogate alleged al Qaeda and Taliban members captured on the battlefield without filing charges or providing them lawyers.

The court ruled that the detainees were entitled to hear the charges against them and challenge their imprisonment in U.S. federal courts. Nearly 70 have filed such challenges, called habeas corpus petitions, in federal courts here.

Since the Supreme Court ruling, the government has begun holding "combatant status review tribunals" at Guantanamo Bay for each detainee to determine whether he should continue to be held. The detainees do not have legal representation at those hearings. So far 317 hearings have been held and 131 cases have been adjudicated, all but one in favor of continued detention.

Douglass Cassel, director of the Center for International Human Rights at the Northwestern University School of Law, said he hopes the Bush administration reconsiders its overall strategy in light of the Supreme Court's June decision and Robertson's ruling yesterday.

"I hope the government sits back and says, 'This is a chance to regain the high ground in the court of public opinion,' " he said. "This decision is of enormous importance to the perceived commitment of the United States to the rule of law."

But Douglas W. Kmiec, a Pepperdine University law professor, called Robertson "sadly mistaken" for intervening in the case at this point. He said the judge should have postponed any ruling until the military commissions had completed their work.

Eugene R. Fidell, a Washington lawyer specializing in military justice, said it will be difficult for military commissions and status review panels to decide fairly whether a detainee is a prisoner of war, after top executive branch and military leaders have declared all of them enemy combatants, not POWs.

"That's where they got into trouble," Fidell said. "The people driving the train were not people familiar with the military justice system."

-------

Posted by Lisa at 12:32 PM
November 08, 2004
Video Of 60 Minutes II Interview With National Guardsman Who Got Brain Damage While Posing As A Prisoner During Guantanamo "Drill"

This is from the November 3, 2004 program of 60 Minutes II. This post goes with this one.

Here's the story on Sean Baker from the 60 Minutes II website.

This Administration doesn't give a damn about anybody.

Here's how the Administration treats the most patriotic of its soldiers.

(Sorry for the sound quality. My 60 minutes broadcasts are almost always distorted on my cable system now. Not sure what I can do about it...)

Interview with Sean Baker - Part 1 of 2
(17 MB)

Interview with Sean Baker - Part 2 of 2
(16 MB)

Baker makes the point that if a real detainee was trying to explain himself to the interrogators in a foreign language, he would undoubtedly have no chance at all:
"What does he think would have happened if he had been a real detainee? "I think they would have busted him up," says Baker. "I've seen detainees come outta there with blood on 'em. If there wasn't someone to say, 'I'm a U.S. soldier,' if you were speaking Arabic or Pashto or Urdu or some other language in the camp, we may never know what would have happened to that individual."

Summary:

Sean Baker received brain damage because the Guantanamo officers didn't know he was a plant during the "drill." Video tapes are usually kept for such drills, but in this case, of course, there is no video tape to be found.

Baker was a model soldier during the Gulf war. Then, immediately following 911, he joined the National Guard because he felt his country needed him.

He volunteered to take part as a prisoner plant during Guantanamo Bay guard drills. They put him in an orange prisoner jumpsuit and told him to go lay down on the floor underneath a bunk bed in a prisoners cell. He was frightened, but his squad leader kept assuring him "you'll be fine."

He was then brutally attacked by two guards who continually smashed his forehead into the steel floor until he received severe brain damage.

This guy is so dedicated, that after he got out of the hospital, he requested to be sent back to Guantanamo to finish his tour with his unit. He hoped that no one would notice the 10-20 seizures he was having every day as a result of his injuries.

(He is on 9 different medications a day in an attempt to treat these seizures, but he still has them on a daily basis, despite the medications.)

He can't sue the government because of a Supreme Court Decision from the 1950's that prohibits members of the Military from suing the government.

There are no pictures of what happened in the prison camp at Guantanamo last year. But Correspondent Bob Simon has a shocking story -- and it's not about what Americans did to foreign detainees. It's about what Americans did to a fellow American soldier, Sean Baker. Sean Baker has seizures an average of four times a week. 60 Minutes Wednesday went to see him a few weeks ago in a New York hospital.

Baker, a National Guardsman, was working last year as a military policeman in the Guantanamo Bay prison when other MPs injured him during a training drill. It was a drill during which Baker was only obeying orders.

"I was assaulted by these individuals," says Baker. "Pure and simple."...

In November 2002, Baker's unit was sent to Guantanamo Bay, home to what the Pentagon called the most vicious terrorists in the world. Spc. Bakers job was to escort prisoners and walk the causeways of the prison block.

He was the new guy on the block, and he says he got special treatment from the detainees: "They wanna try the new guy. See how much they can push you. You know? How much water they can throw on you. How much urine they can throw on you. How much feces they can dump on you."

His unit was on duty at 2 a.m. on Jan. 24, 2003, when his squad leader got a message. "'Someone needs to go for training,'" says Baker. "And I looked around the room. I couldnt believe that everyone had not stood up, and said, 'I'll go.' But I said, 'Right here, Sarg.'"

Baker was always the first to volunteer. This time, it was to go to the block where the most dangerous detainees were kept in isolated cells. There, Baker was met by Second Lt. Shaw Locke of the 303rd Military Police Company from Michigan. Locke, who was in charge of an IRF (Immediate Reaction Force) team, briefed Baker about the training drill he was planning.

"'Were going to put you in a cell and extract you, have their IRF team come in and extract you. And what Id like you to do is go ahead and strip your uniform off and put on this orange suit,'" says Baker, who was ordered to wear an orange jumpsuit, just like the ones worn by the detainees at Guantanamo.

"Id never questioned an order before. But, at first I said, my only remark was, Sir?' Just in the form of a question. And he said, Youll be fine," recalls Baker. "I said, Well, you know whats gonna happen when they come in there on me? And he said, Trust me, Spc. Baker. You will be fine."

Drills to practice extracting uncooperative prisoners took place every day, with a U.S. soldier playing the role of a detainee, but not in an orange jumpsuit, and not at full force.

"You always train at 70 percent. Never 100 percent," says Michael Riley, who was Baker's platoon sergeant. "Seventy percent means you want to practice and be proficient, but not get anybody hurt."

Baker says his orders that night were to get under a bunk on a steel floor in a dark cell, and wait: "I said, 'Sir, you're going to tell that IRF team that I'm a U.S. soldier?' He said, 'Yes, you'll be fine, Spc. Baker. Trust me.'"

But in fact, Locke later acknowledged in a sworn statement that he did not indicate whether the scenario was a drill or not a drill to the IRF team. Locke did, however, tell the team the detainee had not responded to pepper spray.

"They wanted to make training a little more realistic," says Baker. "Put this orange suit on."

Locke gave Baker a code word red - to shout out in case of trouble. From under the bunk, Baker heard the extraction team coming down the causeway. In sworn statements, however, four members of the team said they thought they were going after a real detainee.

"My face was down. And of course, theyre pushing it down against the steel floor, you know, my right temple, pushing it down against the floor," recalls Baker. "And someones holding me by the throat, using a pressure point on me and holding my throat. And I used the word, red. At that point I, you know, I became afraid."

Apparently, no one heard the code word red because Baker says he continued to be manhandled, especially by an MP named Scott Sinclair who was holding onto his head.

"And when I said the word Red, he forced my head down against the steel floor and was sort of just grinding it into the floor. The individual then, when I picked up my head and said, Red, slammed my head down against the floor," says Baker. "I was so afraid, I groaned out, Im a U.S. soldier.' And when I said that, he slammed my head again, one more time against the floor. And I groaned out one more time, I said, Im a U.S. soldier. And I heard them say, Whoa, whoa, whoa,' you know, like he wanted to, he was telling the other guy to stop."

Bloodied and disoriented, Baker somehow made it back to his unit, and his first thought was to get hold of the videotape. "I said, 'Go get the tape,'" recalls Baker. "'They've got a tape. Go get the tape.' My squad leader went to get the tape."

Every extraction drill at Guantanamo was routinely videotaped, and the tape of this drill would show what happened. But Baker says his squad leader came back and said, "There is no tape."

"That was the only time that I heard that a tape had gone missing," says Riley, Baker's platoon sergeant.

"Of all the tapes, this was probably the most important one that we should have kept," adds England.

Baker started having a seizure that morning and was whisked to the Naval Hospital at Guantanamo. "[He looked like] he'd had the crap beat out of him. He had a concussion. I mean, it was textbook," says Riley. "[His face} was blank. You know, a dead stare, like he was seeing you, but really looking through you."

Baker was airlifted to the Portsmouth Naval Medical Center in Virginia, where doctors determined he had suffered an injury to the right side of his brain. He was released after four days, and Baker says he requested to go back to Cuba.

"I wanted to go back and perform my duties," says Baker. "I wanted to be back with my unit."

Baker got back to Guantanamo, and hoped no one would notice he was having seizures, but they got to the point where he says he couldn't hide them: "I was shaking and convulsing around people."

Some days, he says, he was having 10 to 12 seizures per day...

Baker was finally taken off Guantanamo and sent to the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, where he was put in a psychiatric ward. His diagnosis: traumatic brain injury. After 47 days, he was ordered to report to a medical hold unit at Fort Dix, N.J. But the seizures continued.

"He was shaking all over his whole body. It just looked like he was -- you ever seen 'The Exorcist?' Thats what it looked like. It was pretty freaky," says Spc. Sean Bateman, who saw Baker. "He had plenty [of seizures]. I can't count them all is pretty much what I'm saying. He had some so often, it was pretty much expected."

But back at Guantanamo, a promised investigation into what happened to Baker wasnt getting anywhere.

"There was what was called a commanders inquiry. It doesnt really tell me anything," says England. "And after that it more or less seemed like, least said the best said. That was my opinion of it."

Riley says he and England approached Capt. Judith Brown, the commander of the Kentucky National Guard at Guantanamo, and asked her what was going on with that investigation. What did the captain say? "I'll paraphrase. It's something like, it's being looked into, but we really don't wanna get anybody in trouble," says Riley.

Nobody got into trouble because the Army didnt conduct a serious investigation into what happened to Spc. Baker -- not for 17 months. Only then, and only after word of Bakers beating got leaked to the media, did the Pentagon launch a criminal investigation into how he got so badly hurt that January morning in Guantanamo.

The criminal investigation is still going on. 60 Minutes Wednesday wanted to talk to someone at the Pentagon about the Baker case, but was told no one would talk about it.


Here is the full text of the article in case the link goes bad:

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2004/11/02/60II/main652953.shtml

G.I. Attacked During Training

Nov. 3, 2004


Spc. Sean Baker was brutally attacked by other soldiers during a training exercise in Guantanamo Bay. (Photo: CBS)

"When I said the word 'red,' he forced my head down against the steel floor and was sort of just grinding it into the floor."
Spc. Sean Baker

Baker, who was a military policeman in the Guantanamo Bay prison, now requires heavy doses of medication each day. (Photo: CBS)

There are no pictures of what happened in the prison camp at Guantanamo last year. But Correspondent Bob Simon has a shocking story -- and it's not about what Americans did to foreign detainees. It's about what Americans did to a fellow American soldier, Sean Baker. Sean Baker has seizures an average of four times a week. 60 Minutes Wednesday went to see him a few weeks ago in a New York hospital.

Baker, a National Guardsman, was working last year as a military policeman in the Guantanamo Bay prison when other MPs injured him during a training drill. It was a drill during which Baker was only obeying orders.

"I was assaulted by these individuals," says Baker. "Pure and simple."

Its all the more bizarre because Baker was considered a model soldier and he had served as an MP in Saudi Arabia during the First Gulf War.

Then, minutes after the attack on the Pentagon on Sept. 11, Baker made a phone call from the auto repair shop in Lexington, Ky., where he was working. "I had to get back in the military right then," recalls Baker. "I had to go back then. I had to do something."

And he did. At 35, married and with a child, Baker volunteered to join the 438th Military Police Company in Murray, Ky., because it was about to be deployed overseas.

Ron England was Bakers first sergeant. "He seemed to like being a soldier," says England. "He loved being a soldier. He was always more than willing to give his part and somebody elses, or to pitch in for somebody else."

In November 2002, Baker's unit was sent to Guantanamo Bay, home to what the Pentagon called the most vicious terrorists in the world. Spc. Bakers job was to escort prisoners and walk the causeways of the prison block.

He was the new guy on the block, and he says he got special treatment from the detainees: "They wanna try the new guy. See how much they can push you. You know? How much water they can throw on you. How much urine they can throw on you. How much feces they can dump on you."

His unit was on duty at 2 a.m. on Jan. 24, 2003, when his squad leader got a message. "'Someone needs to go for training,'" says Baker. "And I looked around the room. I couldnt believe that everyone had not stood up, and said, 'I'll go.' But I said, 'Right here, Sarg.'"

Baker was always the first to volunteer. This time, it was to go to the block where the most dangerous detainees were kept in isolated cells. There, Baker was met by Second Lt. Shaw Locke of the 303rd Military Police Company from Michigan. Locke, who was in charge of an IRF (Immediate Reaction Force) team, briefed Baker about the training drill he was planning.

"'Were going to put you in a cell and extract you, have their IRF team come in and extract you. And what Id like you to do is go ahead and strip your uniform off and put on this orange suit,'" says Baker, who was ordered to wear an orange jumpsuit, just like the ones worn by the detainees at Guantanamo.

"Id never questioned an order before. But, at first I said, my only remark was, Sir?' Just in the form of a question. And he said, Youll be fine," recalls Baker. "I said, Well, you know whats gonna happen when they come in there on me? And he said, Trust me, Spc. Baker. You will be fine."

Drills to practice extracting uncooperative prisoners took place every day, with a U.S. soldier playing the role of a detainee, but not in an orange jumpsuit, and not at full force.

"You always train at 70 percent. Never 100 percent," says Michael Riley, who was Baker's platoon sergeant. "Seventy percent means you want to practice and be proficient, but not get anybody hurt."

Baker says his orders that night were to get under a bunk on a steel floor in a dark cell, and wait: "I said, 'Sir, you're going to tell that IRF team that I'm a U.S. soldier?' He said, 'Yes, you'll be fine, Spc. Baker. Trust me.'"

But in fact, Locke later acknowledged in a sworn statement that he did not indicate whether the scenario was a drill or not a drill to the IRF team. Locke did, however, tell the team the detainee had not responded to pepper spray.

"They wanted to make training a little more realistic," says Baker. "Put this orange suit on."

Locke gave Baker a code word red - to shout out in case of trouble. From under the bunk, Baker heard the extraction team coming down the causeway. In sworn statements, however, four members of the team said they thought they were going after a real detainee.

"My face was down. And of course, theyre pushing it down against the steel floor, you know, my right temple, pushing it down against the floor," recalls Baker. "And someones holding me by the throat, using a pressure point on me and holding my throat. And I used the word, red. At that point I, you know, I became afraid."

Apparently, no one heard the code word red because Baker says he continued to be manhandled, especially by an MP named Scott Sinclair who was holding onto his head.

"And when I said the word Red, he forced my head down against the steel floor and was sort of just grinding it into the floor. The individual then, when I picked up my head and said, Red, slammed my head down against the floor," says Baker. "I was so afraid, I groaned out, Im a U.S. soldier.' And when I said that, he slammed my head again, one more time against the floor. And I groaned out one more time, I said, Im a U.S. soldier. And I heard them say, Whoa, whoa, whoa,' you know, like he wanted to, he was telling the other guy to stop."

Bloodied and disoriented, Baker somehow made it back to his unit, and his first thought was to get hold of the videotape. "I said, 'Go get the tape,'" recalls Baker. "'They've got a tape. Go get the tape.' My squad leader went to get the tape."

Every extraction drill at Guantanamo was routinely videotaped, and the tape of this drill would show what happened. But Baker says his squad leader came back and said, "There is no tape."

"That was the only time that I heard that a tape had gone missing," says Riley, Baker's platoon sergeant.

"Of all the tapes, this was probably the most important one that we should have kept," adds England.

Baker started having a seizure that morning and was whisked to the Naval Hospital at Guantanamo. "[He looked like] he'd had the crap beat out of him. He had a concussion. I mean, it was textbook," says Riley. "[His face} was blank. You know, a dead stare, like he was seeing you, but really looking through you."

Baker was airlifted to the Portsmouth Naval Medical Center in Virginia, where doctors determined he had suffered an injury to the right side of his brain. He was released after four days, and Baker says he requested to go back to Cuba.

"I wanted to go back and perform my duties," says Baker. "I wanted to be back with my unit."

Baker got back to Guantanamo, and hoped no one would notice he was having seizures, but they got to the point where he says he couldn't hide them: "I was shaking and convulsing around people."

Some days, he says, he was having 10 to 12 seizures per day.

What does he think would have happened if he had been a real detainee? "I think they would have busted him up," says Baker. "I've seen detainees come outta there with blood on 'em. If there wasn't someone to say, 'I'm a U.S. soldier,' if you were speaking Arabic or Pashto or Urdu or some other language in the camp, we may never know what would have happened to that individual."

Baker was finally taken off Guantanamo and sent to the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, where he was put in a psychiatric ward. His diagnosis: traumatic brain injury. After 47 days, he was ordered to report to a medical hold unit at Fort Dix, N.J. But the seizures continued.

"He was shaking all over his whole body. It just looked like he was -- you ever seen 'The Exorcist?' Thats what it looked like. It was pretty freaky," says Spc. Sean Bateman, who saw Baker. "He had plenty [of seizures]. I can't count them all is pretty much what I'm saying. He had some so often, it was pretty much expected."

But back at Guantanamo, a promised investigation into what happened to Baker wasnt getting anywhere.

"There was what was called a commanders inquiry. It doesnt really tell me anything," says England. "And after that it more or less seemed like, least said the best said. That was my opinion of it."

Riley says he and England approached Capt. Judith Brown, the commander of the Kentucky National Guard at Guantanamo, and asked her what was going on with that investigation. What did the captain say? "I'll paraphrase. It's something like, it's being looked into, but we really don't wanna get anybody in trouble," says Riley.

Nobody got into trouble because the Army didnt conduct a serious investigation into what happened to Spc. Baker -- not for 17 months. Only then, and only after word of Bakers beating got leaked to the media, did the Pentagon launch a criminal investigation into how he got so badly hurt that January morning in Guantanamo.

The criminal investigation is still going on. 60 Minutes Wednesday wanted to talk to someone at the Pentagon about the Baker case, but was told no one would talk about it.

Despite repeated calls, Capt. Judith Brown refused to speak to 60 Minutes Wednesday. Crews tried to interview Shaw Locke, the man in charge that night, and Scott Sinclair, the man Baker accused of bashing his head, but they wouldnt meet with 60 Minutes Wednesday either. Sinclair did write in a sworn statement after the incident that Baker was resisting and that Sinclair merely placed his head back on the floor of the cell.

Meanwhile, Baker was stuck in bureaucratic limbo at Fort Dix for 10 months, long after Locke, Sinclair and the 303rd returned home to Michigan to a celebration in September 2003.

Baker was left to fight the Pentagon for a disability check, and he says it took four months to get his first check. Meantime, he says drew unemployment insurance, about half of what he was accustomed to making, to get by.

"These are our American veterans," says England. "Sean Baker was one that wasnt taken care of. In my own personal opinion, Sean Baker wasnt taken care of."

When Baker got home to Kentucky, he didnt complain. But he needed help just to get his disability check. Attorney Bruce Simpson agreed to help Baker, pro bono. But Baker is unable to sue because of a 1950 Supreme Court ruling that bars members of the military from suing the government.

"Hell not get a dime from what happened to him through the court system because the doors to the federal courthouse as to Sean Baker are closed," says Simpson, who adds that no one has paid a price for what happened to Baker that night. "Hes been destined to a life of walking in a minefield of unexploded seizures. He doesnt know when theyre gonna come. And he doesnt know when they are gonna bring him to his knees."

"Its as if they just went on living their lives, as if theyve done nothing. Nothing wrong," adds Baker, who now takes nine medications a day, can't get a job, has put on 50 pounds and has constant nightmares.

At the end of September, Baker went to Columbia University Medical Center in New York to consult with Dr. Carl Bazil, a seizure specialist, and one of the top neurologists in the country.

While undergoing testing, Baker suffered a seizure in front of Bazil, who believes Baker has intractable epilepsy which means his seizures are difficult to control.

Is it an injury Baker could have received as a result of having his head repeatedly knocked against a steel floor? "Oh, absolutely. That is the kind of injury that would be severe enough to result in epilepsy," says Bazil, who believes that with better treatment, Baker's condition could improve. "If he doesn't get better treatment, that will probably continue indefinitely."

"So, if you got your health back, I take it, after your experience with the Army, youd never serve again," Simon asks Baker.

"Id be in," says Baker. "Till the day I die."

Posted by Lisa at 12:33 PM
This Isn't What The Supreme Court Had In Mind: Hasty Military Tribunals For Guantanamo Prisoners

A makeshift double-wide trailer is the "court," and three anonymous military officers constitute the "judge and jury."

Prisoners are not allowed proper representation by attorneys.

Translators seem to be provided, but they are not doing an adequate job. Prisoners who refuse to attend their tribunal hearing are sentenced in absentia.

But no one's listening to what the prisoners have to say anyway. They are not allowed to know the names of anyone on the panel or see any of the "evidence" against them, because it's classified.

The U.S. used to set the bar for humanitarian treatment of P.O.W.'s, now it's setting the standard for modern day fascism.

This is not what the Supreme Court meant when it declared that "a state of war is not a blank check for the president," and said that "enemy combatants" must be allowed to challenge their detention before a "judge" or "other neutral decision maker." (Does anyone have the link to the decision itself?)

The Shrub Administration is arguing that the Supreme Court should reject the numerous petitions filed on behalf of Guantanamo prisoners because these military tribunals satisfy the Supreme Court's requirements. But this quote from Guantanamo's Captain Jamison proves beyond a reasonable doubt that these "administrative procedures" do not qualify as criminal courts:


Captain Jamison said the tribunals were administrative procedures and thus did not have to meet standards of regular criminal proceedings.

These are the kinds of conditions you used to hear about happening in third world countries -- to Americans. These are the situations that the Geneva Convention was created to address. This is a travesty of Justice, to say the least.


Guantnamo Prisoners Getting Their Day, but Hardly in Court

By Neil A. Lewis for the New York Times.


Each day, several shackled detainees are marched by their military guards into a double-wide trailer behind the prison camp's fences and razor wire to argue before three anonymous military officers that they do not belong here.

One, a 27-year-old Yemeni, spent more than an hour on Saturday telling a panel that he was not a member of Al Qaeda or a sympathizer, saying that he had never fought against the United States and should never have been detained here at Guantnamo as an unlawful enemy combatant.

The Yemeni, a scraggly-bearded man bound hand and foot, sat in a low chair, his shackles connected to a bolt in the floor, frustrating his efforts to gesture with his hands to make his arguments. Inside the small, harshly lighted room, he alternated between pleading his case and angrily criticizing the process as unfair. Although he spoke Arabic that had to be translated by a woman sitting beside him, there was no mistaking his contempt for the panel members, who sat on a raised platform about 10 feet away and whose questions he ridiculed frequently.

These briskly conducted proceedings, which have received little notice, constitute the Bush administration's principal answer to the Supreme Court's ruling regarding the rights of detainees who have been imprisoned since the administration began its fight against terrorism after the Sept. 11 attacks. The court ruled 6 to 3 in June that the detainees had a right to challenge their detentions in federal court, saying that even though the base is outside the sovereign territory of the United States, federal judges have jurisdiction to consider petitions for writs of habeas corpus from those who argue that they are being unlawfully held.

The hearings here have come under heavy criticism because they do not meet the traditional standards of court proceedings. For one thing, the detainees are left to argue their cases for themselves, without assistance from lawyers.

The hearings, formally called combatant status review tribunals, were hurriedly devised and put into place just weeks after the Supreme Court's ruling. The administration, which has been battling to have the military retain as much control as possible over the detainees, told a federal court in Washington last week that the tribunals more than satisfy the Supreme Court ruling. The government argued that because of the tribunals, federal judges should reject the dozens of petitions they have received from defense lawyers asking them to intervene...

The Yemeni who appeared Saturday denied through his translator that he had any affiliation with Al Qaeda. He said the United States had no proof and "should know that a person is innocent until proven guilty, not the other way around." Throughout the hearing, the man, whose name may not be published under the conditions set by the military, complained, sometimes with sarcasm, that "this is like a game."

An officer not on the panel acted as sort of a prosecutor in assembling the charges, while yet another acted as the detainee's personal representative to explain the proceedings but not to serve as a defense lawyer. All the officers had their name tags covered by tape...

Critics have complained that the tribunals are fatally flawed, not only because the detainees do not have lawyers but because they are generally hampered in disputing any charges because they are not allowed to see most of the evidence against them because it is classified...

Captain Jamison said the tribunals were administrative procedures and thus did not have to meet standards of regular criminal proceedings...

The war-crimes trials before a military commission have faced difficulties, including translation problems and complaints from military lawyers that the officers on the panel are unsuitable. Although the war-crimes proceedings are separate from reviews of the detainees' enemy combatant status, the two collided last week. One of the three officers on the military commission trying war crimes asked to see the information from the combatant review tribunal for David Hicks, 29, an Australian who is charged with terrorism and attempted murder and whose case was being considered last week.

Joshua Dratel, a civilian lawyer from New York representing Mr. Hicks, erupted in anger in the courtroom, saying it was outrageous for the commission to consider information from a proceeding with lesser guarantees of due process.

"This man is on trial for his life," Mr. Dratel said. He said that for the military commission to consider accepting evidence from the other proceeding - a proceeding in which the prisoner cannot confront his accuser or see all of the evidence against him - showed that the war-crimes trials were "not just on a different island from the rest of the world but a different planet."...

The administration has asserted that the Guantnamo detainees are not entitled to the prisoner-of-war protections of the Geneva Conventions as they do not meet the criteria of regular soldiers. International lawyers have criticized the United States, saying that the Geneva Conventions require hearings to determine whether they can be deemed other than P.O.W.'s.

Here is the full text of the entire article in case the link goes bad:

http://www.nytimes.com/2004/11/08/national/08gitmo.html

Guantnamo Prisoners Getting Their Day, but Hardly in Court
There are 550 detainees remaining at Guantnamo Bay, Cuba.
Andres Leighton/Associated Press
There are 550 detainees remaining at Guantnamo Bay, Cuba.

By NEIL A. LEWIS

Published: November 8, 2004

GUANTNAMO BAY, Cuba, Nov. 7 - Each day, several shackled detainees are marched by their military guards into a double-wide trailer behind the prison camp's fences and razor wire to argue before three anonymous military officers that they do not belong here.

One, a 27-year-old Yemeni, spent more than an hour on Saturday telling a panel that he was not a member of Al Qaeda or a sympathizer, saying that he had never fought against the United States and should never have been detained here at Guantnamo as an unlawful enemy combatant.

The Yemeni, a scraggly-bearded man bound hand and foot, sat in a low chair, his shackles connected to a bolt in the floor, frustrating his efforts to gesture with his hands to make his arguments. Inside the small, harshly lighted room, he alternated between pleading his case and angrily criticizing the process as unfair. Although he spoke Arabic that had to be translated by a woman sitting beside him, there was no mistaking his contempt for the panel members, who sat on a raised platform about 10 feet away and whose questions he ridiculed frequently.

These briskly conducted proceedings, which have received little notice, constitute the Bush administration's principal answer to the Supreme Court's ruling regarding the rights of detainees who have been imprisoned since the administration began its fight against terrorism after the Sept. 11 attacks. The court ruled 6 to 3 in June that the detainees had a right to challenge their detentions in federal court, saying that even though the base is outside the sovereign territory of the United States, federal judges have jurisdiction to consider petitions for writs of habeas corpus from those who argue that they are being unlawfully held.

The hearings here have come under heavy criticism because they do not meet the traditional standards of court proceedings. For one thing, the detainees are left to argue their cases for themselves, without assistance from lawyers.

The hearings, formally called combatant status review tribunals, were hurriedly devised and put into place just weeks after the Supreme Court's ruling. The administration, which has been battling to have the military retain as much control as possible over the detainees, told a federal court in Washington last week that the tribunals more than satisfy the Supreme Court ruling. The government argued that because of the tribunals, federal judges should reject the dozens of petitions they have received from defense lawyers asking them to intervene.

Capt. Charles Jamison of the Navy, who oversees the tribunal proceedings here at Guantnamo, said he expected to have them completed for all 550 remaining prisoners by the end of the year. So far, some 320 detainees have appeared before the tribunals, and so far, the Pentagon has passed final judgment on 104. Of that group, 103 were found to have been properly deemed unlawful enemy combatants and properly imprisoned; one detainee was released.

Those deemed unlawful enemy combatants will have a chance to argue in a separate proceeding that they should be released because they are no longer a threat.

Even without any legal proceedings, the United States has released more than 150 Guantnamo detainees to their home governments, saying they no longer posed a threat, and it is expected that many of the remaining ones will also be released.

The Yemeni who appeared Saturday denied through his translator that he had any affiliation with Al Qaeda. He said the United States had no proof and "should know that a person is innocent until proven guilty, not the other way around." Throughout the hearing, the man, whose name may not be published under the conditions set by the military, complained, sometimes with sarcasm, that "this is like a game."

An officer not on the panel acted as sort of a prosecutor in assembling the charges, while yet another acted as the detainee's personal representative to explain the proceedings but not to serve as a defense lawyer. All the officers had their name tags covered by tape.

page 2


Guantnamo Prisoners Getting Their Day, but Hardly in Court
There are 550 detainees remaining at Guantnamo Bay, Cuba.
Andres Leighton/Associated Press
There are 550 detainees remaining at Guantnamo Bay, Cuba.


Published: November 8, 2004

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(Page 2 of 2)

Critics have complained that the tribunals are fatally flawed, not only because the detainees do not have lawyers but because they are generally hampered in disputing any charges because they are not allowed to see most of the evidence against them because it is classified.

Captain Jamison said the tribunals were administrative procedures and thus did not have to meet standards of regular criminal proceedings.

One official said it was apparent from the unconvincing explanations of many detainees as to why they had been carrying a gun or were at a battle site that they were indeed enemy combatants.

Like detainees at all the hearings, the Yemeni was given an unclassified summary of the charges, but the evidence to support the most serious accusations is classified and was considered in a closed session after he was taken back to his cell.

In the public session, an officer told the panel that the man was "a supporter of Al Qaeda" because he had traveled to Pakistan from his home country and had been "recruited by Jama'at al-Tabligh," an organization based in Pakistan that posed as an Islamic missionary group but was really a cover for helping Qaeda terrorists with travel arrangements.

The man asked the panel, "Where's the proof?" He said that if the government was claiming he had a connection to Al Qaeda, "there should be evidence that I support Al Qaeda." The Army colonel who was the panel's president responded, "We're not here to debate these points." She said, "This is what we're given and this is your opportunity to give us your story."

The Yemeni was disdainful of another panel member, a Navy commander, who asked him if he believed in jihad, answering that he did so as all Muslims did but that that did not mean he meant harm to America.

Another detainee, a 33-year-old Afghan who served as a municipal police commissioner in his village, tried to convince a different military panel on Thursday that he was an unwilling member of the Taliban government. The man admitted that he had supervised a ritual stoning to death of three people charged with adultery but said he had not chosen the people or the penalty.

A Tunisian detainee on Thursday decided at the last moment to refuse to attend his hearing. His personal representative, an Air Force lieutenant colonel, said the Tunisian man said he had been told by Allah not to attend. The officer, however, offered the detainee's responses to the charges that he was a member of Al Qaeda and had a Kalashnikov assault rifle when he was captured.

About a third of the detainees decline to attend the tribunals, officials said, and they are then tried in absentia, as was the Tunisian prisoner. The military has established a panel at the Pentagon to hear many of those cases. There are four panels here at Guantnamo.

The detention of hundreds of men at Guantnamo has led to a variety of legal proceedings, some wholly contained within the military and others involving federal courts.

Last week, for example, a military commission heard pretrial motions in the set of war-crimes trials being conducted on a different part of the base. Four detainees have been charged in those proceedings.

The war-crimes trials before a military commission have faced difficulties, including translation problems and complaints from military lawyers that the officers on the panel are unsuitable. Although the war-crimes proceedings are separate from reviews of the detainees' enemy combatant status, the two collided last week. One of the three officers on the military commission trying war crimes asked to see the information from the combatant review tribunal for David Hicks, 29, an Australian who is charged with terrorism and attempted murder and whose case was being considered last week.

Joshua Dratel, a civilian lawyer from New York representing Mr. Hicks, erupted in anger in the courtroom, saying it was outrageous for the commission to consider information from a proceeding with lesser guarantees of due process.

"This man is on trial for his life," Mr. Dratel said. He said that for the military commission to consider accepting evidence from the other proceeding - a proceeding in which the prisoner cannot confront his accuser or see all of the evidence against him - showed that the war-crimes trials were "not just on a different island from the rest of the world but a different planet."

Lt. Col. Sharon Shaffer, the deputy chief judge of the Air Force who is defending another detainee before the war-crimes commission, said it was wrong for an enemy combatant review tribunal to question a detainee who was represented by a lawyer in other proceedings. Colonel Shaffer represents Ibrahim Ahmed Mahmoud al Qosi of Sudan, who is charged with conspiracy to commit murder and terrorism. The colonel instructed Mr. Qosi to demand that one of his lawyers accompany him to the enemy combatant tribunal. She said they simply tried him in absentia and declared him an enemy combatant.

Conversations with senior military officials suggest that there is an informal expectation that after most of the detainees are found to be enemy combatants, the military will start releasing what eventually will be a majority of them after yet another set of proceedings. Those proceedings, called annual review boards, are expected to start as early as next month and are supposed to determine if the enemy combatant remains a threat and may be released. One official said that approach would allow the military to assert that most of the detainees were not wrongfully imprisoned, but it would also provide a solution for the administration's desire not to hold such a large number for years.

The administration has asserted that the Guantnamo detainees are not entitled to the prisoner-of-war protections of the Geneva Conventions as they do not meet the criteria of regular soldiers. International lawyers have criticized the United States, saying that the Geneva Conventions require hearings to determine whether they can be deemed other than P.O.W.'s.


Posted by Lisa at 11:39 AM
November 05, 2004
Meanwhile, A Little Reminder Of Typical Shrub Administration Tactics: Prisoner AbuseAbuse Of Our Own Soldiers Within Military Prisons

I'm taping the 60 Minutes Episode right now. I'll have it up tomorrow sometime.Here's the video.

Abuses found at military prison

By Carol Rosenberg, Free Press Foreign Correspondent for the Detroit Free Press.


CBS's "60 Minutes II" aired a report featuring Spec. Sean Baker, a Kentucky National Guardsman, who said he suffered brain damage while being manhandled by fellow Guantanamo guards during a rehearsal for the forced removal of prisoners from cells.

Baker describes confusion in the drill, during which he acted as a prisoner and wore a jumpsuit, over whether he was a real prisoner and argues that he escaped worse injury by persuading guards that he was a fellow soldier.

Had it been a real prisoner, Baker said in the show, "I think they would have busted him up.

"I've seen detainees come outta there with blood on 'em. If there wasn't someone to say, 'I'm a U.S. soldier,' if you were speaking Arabic or Pashto or Urdu or some other language in the camp, we may never know what would have happened to that individual."

The two most curious cases outlined in the report involved interrogations in April 2003.

Officers discovered a prisoner had bruises on his knees after an interrogator used a so-called fear-up/harsh technique by directing military police to repeatedly bring the prisoner from a standing to a prone position and back, according to the report.

Pentagon officials disclosed the interrogation technique in the aftermath of the abuses in Iraq. They said it was briefly used at Guantanamo Bay.

Here is the full text of the entire article in case the link goes bad:

http://www.freep.com/news/nw/gitmo5e_20041105.htm

Abuses found at military prison

Pentagon study documents 8 cases; critics dispute report

November 5, 2004

BY CAROL ROSENBERG
FREE PRESS FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT

GUANTANAMO BAY NAVY BASE, Cuba -- How badly have guards behaved at this detention and interrogation center for terror suspects?

In answer to a weeks-old query, the Pentagon has released details of eight confirmed abuse cases. Among them were an instance where a woman soldier took off her uniform blouse during an interrogation, exposing her T-shirt, then climbed onto the lap of a prisoner and rustled his hair; and a case where a medical team found bruises on a prisoner's knees from a now-forbidden interrogation technique.

They stand in contrast to the abuses at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and allegations by four Britons who sued the U.S. government for $40 million last week, claiming gross abuses while they were held for two years in Guantanamo.

"In every respect, the standard of physical and medical care applied here is fully consistent with the Geneva Conventions. They've not been mistreated, they've not been tortured in any respect," Army Brig. Gen. Jay Hood, the prison commander, said in an interview Wednesday.

That night, CBS's "60 Minutes II" aired a report featuring Spec. Sean Baker, a Kentucky National Guardsman, who said he suffered brain damage while being manhandled by fellow Guantanamo guards during a rehearsal for the forced removal of prisoners from cells.

Baker describes confusion in the drill, during which he acted as a prisoner and wore a jumpsuit, over whether he was a real prisoner and argues that he escaped worse injury by persuading guards that he was a fellow soldier.

Had it been a real prisoner, Baker said in the show, "I think they would have busted him up.

"I've seen detainees come outta there with blood on 'em. If there wasn't someone to say, 'I'm a U.S. soldier,' if you were speaking Arabic or Pashto or Urdu or some other language in the camp, we may never know what would have happened to that individual."

The two most curious cases outlined in the report involved interrogations in April 2003.

Officers discovered a prisoner had bruises on his knees after an interrogator used a so-called fear-up/harsh technique by directing military police to repeatedly bring the prisoner from a standing to a prone position and back, according to the report.

Pentagon officials disclosed the interrogation technique in the aftermath of the abuses in Iraq. They said it was briefly used at Guantanamo Bay.

In the same month, six months before female soldiers were posing with prisoners for snapshots in Iraq, the military noted this episode in Guantanamo:

"During the approach phase of an interrogation, a female interrogator took off her uniform top," though her brown T-shirt was still worn, "ran her fingers through the detainee's hair and sat on his lap," the report said. "A supervisor monitoring the interrogation immediately terminated the session.

"The interrogator was given a written reprimand for her conduct and received additional training before being allowed to continue duties as an interrogator."

Separately, the prison commander said this week that U.S. forces at Guantanamo don't strip prisoners or abuse them physically. "These are not techniques which are beneficial or helpful in the course of interrogations of a strategic nature," Hood said.

Human rights monitors are not convinced.

"We're confident that there's more information out there that hasn't been released," said Jameel Jaffer of the American Civil Liberties Union, which has obtained nearly 6,000 documents about procedures at U.S.-run prisons.

Four British citizens who were held in Guantanamo until earlier this year filed suit last week against the U.S. government, saying they were abused there. The men include Shafiq Rasul, the lead plaintiff in the landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June that granted judicial review to the prisoners.Their suit claims numerous beatings, being exposed to inhumane extremes of temperature, being tormented by unmuzzled dogs and being forced to strip.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Posted by Lisa at 05:04 PM
October 18, 2004
Widespread Torture at Guantanamo Confirmed

Check out the other posts within this topic for some background on the situation and an interview with Amnesty International's Matthew Van Saun.
Broad Use of Harsh Tactics Is Described at Cuba Base

By Neil A. Lewis for The New York Times.


Many detainees at Guantnamo Bay were regularly subjected to harsh and coercive treatment, several people who worked in the prison said in recent interviews, despite longstanding assertions by military officials that such treatment had not occurred except in some isolated cases.

The people, military guards, intelligence agents and others, described in interviews with The New York Times a range of procedures that included treatment they said was highly abusive occurring over a long period of time, as well as rewards for prisoners who cooperated with interrogators...

The new information comes from a number of people, some of whom witnessed or participated in the techniques and others who were in a position to know the details of the operation and corroborate their accounts.

Those who spoke of the interrogation practices at the naval base did so under the condition that their identities not be revealed. While some said it was because they remained on active duty, they all said that being publicly identified would endanger their futures. Although some former prisoners have said they saw and experienced mistreatment at Guantnamo, this is the first time that people who worked there have provided detailed accounts of some interrogation procedures...

The new accounts of mistreatment at Guantnamo provide fresh evidence about how practices there may have contributed to the abuses at Abu Ghraib. One independent military panel said in a report that the approach used at Guantnamo had "migrated to Abu Ghraib.

Here is the full text of the entire article in case the link goes bad:

http://www.nytimes.com/2004/10/17/politics/17gitmo.html

Broad Use of Harsh Tactics Is Described at Cuba Base
By Neil A. Lewis
The New York Times

Sunday 17 October 2004

Washington - Many detainees at Guantnamo Bay were regularly subjected to harsh and coercive treatment, several people who worked in the prison said in recent interviews, despite longstanding assertions by military officials that such treatment had not occurred except in some isolated cases.

The people, military guards, intelligence agents and others, described in interviews with The New York Times a range of procedures that included treatment they said was highly abusive occurring over a long period of time, as well as rewards for prisoners who cooperated with interrogators.

One regular procedure that was described by people who worked at Camp Delta, the main prison facility at the naval base in Cuba, was making uncooperative prisoners strip to their underwear, having them sit in a chair while shackled hand and foot to a bolt in the floor, and forcing them to endure strobe lights and screamingly loud rock and rap music played through two close loudspeakers, while the air-conditioning was turned up to maximum levels, said one military official who witnessed the procedure. The official said that was intended to make the detainees uncomfortable, as they were accustomed to high temperatures both in their native countries and their cells.

Such sessions could last up to 14 hours with breaks, said the official, who described the treatment after being contacted by The Times.

"It fried them," the official said, who said that anger over the treatment the prisoners endured was the reason for speaking with a reporter. Another person familiar with the procedure who was contacted by The Times said: "They were very wobbly. They came back to their cells and were just completely out of it."

The new information comes from a number of people, some of whom witnessed or participated in the techniques and others who were in a position to know the details of the operation and corroborate their accounts.

Those who spoke of the interrogation practices at the naval base did so under the condition that their identities not be revealed. While some said it was because they remained on active duty, they all said that being publicly identified would endanger their futures. Although some former prisoners have said they saw and experienced mistreatment at Guantnamo, this is the first time that people who worked there have provided detailed accounts of some interrogation procedures.

One intelligence official said most of the intense interrogation was focused on a group of detainees known as the "Dirty 30" and believed to be the best potential sources of information.

In August, a report commissioned by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld found that tough techniques approved by the government were rarely used, but the sources described a broader pattern that went beyond even the aggressive techniques that were permissible.

The issue of what were permissible interrogation techniques has produced a vigorous debate within the government that burst into the open with reports of abuses at Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad and is now the subject of several investigations.

Since the Sept. 11 attacks and the war in Afghanistan, the administration has wrestled with the issue of what techniques are permissible, with many arguing that the campaign against terrorism should entitle them to greater leeway. Alberto R. Gonzales, the White House counsel said, for example, in one memorandum that the Geneva Conventions were "quaint" and not suitable for the war against terrorism.

David Sheffer, a senior State Department human rights official in the Clinton administration who teaches law at George Washington University, said the procedure of shackling prisoners to the floor in a state of undress while playing loud music - the Guantnamo sources said it included the bands Limp Bizkit and Rage Against the Machine, and the rapper Eminem - and lights clearly constituted torture. "I don't think there's any question that treatment of that character satisfies the severe pain and suffering requirement, be it physical or mental, that is provided for in the Convention Against Torture," Mr. Sheffer said.

Pentagon officials would not comment on the details of the allegations. Lt. Cmdr. Alvin Plexico issued a Defense Department statement in response to questions, saying that the military was providing a "safe, humane and professional detention operation at Guantnamo that is providing valuable information in the war on terrorism."

The statement said: "Guantnamo guards provide an environment that is stable, secure, safe and humane. And it is that environment that sets the conditions for interrogators to work successfully and to gain valuable information from detainees because they have built a relationship of trust, not fear."

The sources portrayed a system of punishment and reward, with prisoners who were favored for their cooperation with interrogators given the privilege of spending time in a large room nicknamed "the love shack" by the guards. In that room, they were free to relax and had access to magazines, books, a television and a video player and some R-rated movies, along with the use of a water pipe to smoke aromatic tobaccos. They were also occasionally given milkshakes and hamburgers from the McDonald's on the base.

The Pentagon said the information gathered from the detainees "has undoubtedly saved the lives of our soldiers in the field," adding: "And that information also saves the lives of innocent civilians at home and abroad. At Guantnamo we are holding and interrogating people that are a clear danger to the U.S. and our allies and they are providing valuable information in the war on terrorism."

Although many critics of the detentions at Guantnamo have said that the majority of the roughly 590 inmates are low-level fighters who have little intelligence to impart, Pentagon and intelligence officials have insisted that the facility houses many dangerous veteran terrorists and officials of Al Qaeda.

The intelligence official said that many of those imprisoned at Guantnamo had valuable information but that it was not always clear what their standing in Al Qaeda was. The official said the first four detainees now facing war crimes charges before a military tribunal at the base were specifically chosen because they had not been harshly treated and therefore would be less likely to make any embarrassing allegations.

The people who worked at the prison also described as common another procedure in which an inmate was awakened, subjected to an interrogation in a facility known as the Gold Building, then returned to a different cell. As soon as the guards determined the inmate had fallen into a deep sleep, he was awakened again for interrogation after which he would be returned to yet a different cell. This could happen five or six times during a night, they said.

Much of the harsh treatment described by the sources was said to have occurred as recently as the early months of this year. After the scandal about mistreatment of prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq became public in April, all harsh techniques were abruptly suspended, they said.

The new accounts of mistreatment at Guantnamo provide fresh evidence about how practices there may have contributed to the abuses at Abu Ghraib. One independent military panel said in a report that the approach used at Guantnamo had "migrated to Abu Ghraib.

The vigorous debate within the administration about what techniques were permissible in interrogations was set off when the Justice Department provided a series of memorandums to the White House and Defense Department providing narrow definitions of torture. In February 2002, Mr. Bush ordered that the prisoners at Guantnamo be treated "humanely and, to the extent appropriate with military necessity, in a manner consistent with" the Geneva Conventions.

In March 2002, a team of administration lawyers accepted the Justice Department's view, concluding in a memorandum that President Bush was not bound by either the Convention Against Torture or a federal antitorture statute because he had the authority to protect the nation from terrorism. When some of the memorandums were disclosed, the administration tried to distance itself from the rationale for the harsher treatment.

At the request of military intelligence officials who complained of tenacious resistance by some subjects, Mr. Rumsfeld approved a list of 16 techniques for use at Guantnamo in addition to the 17 methods in the Army Field Manual in December 2002. But he suspended those approvals in January 2003 after some military lawyers complained they were excessive and possibly unlawful.

In April 2003, after a review, Mr. Rumsfeld issued a final policy approving of 24 techniques, some of which needed his permission to be used.

But the approved techniques did not explicitly cover some that were used, according to the new accounts. The only time that using loud music and lights seems to appear in the documents, for example, is as a proposal that seems never to have been adopted. The April 16 memorandum allows interrogators to place a detainee "in a setting that may be less comfortable" but should not "constitute a substantial change in environmental quality."

Officials said the guards' patience was often stretched, especially when inmates threw human waste at the military police officers, a frequent occurrence. The guards, for their part, had their own tricks, including replacing the prayer oil in little bottles given to the inmates with a caustic pine-smelling floor cleaner.

An August 2004 report by a panel headed by James R. Schlesinger, the former defense secretary, said the harsher approved techniques on Mr. Rumsfeld's list were used on only two occasions. In addition, the report said, there were about eight abuses by guards at Guantnamo that occurred and were investigated.

In guided tours of Guantnamo provided to the news media and members of Congress, the military authorities contended that the system of rewards and punishments affected only issues like whether the inmates could be deprived of books, blankets and toilet articles. The interrogation sessions themselves, the officials consistently said, did not employ any harsh treatment but were devised only to build a trusting relationship between the interrogator and the detainee.

-------

Posted by Lisa at 06:54 PM
June 28, 2004
Supreme Court Comes Through On Due Process For "Enemy Combatants"

And off in the distance, we see a tiny glimmer of hope, and my faith in the system is temporarily renewed. (For an instant...)

Supreme Court Affirms Detainees' Right to Use Courts

By David Stout for the NY Times.


The Supreme Court ruled today that people being held by the United States as enemy combatants can challenge their detention in American courts the court's most important statement in decades on the balance between personal liberties and national security.

The justices declared their findings in three rulings, two of them involving American citizens and the other addressing the status of foreigners being held at the Guantnamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba. Taken together, they were a significant setback for the Bush administration's approach to the campaign against terrorism that began on Sept. 11, 2001.

"Due process demands that a citizen held in the United States as an enemy combatant be given a meaningful opportunity to contest the factual basis for that detention before a neutral decisionmaker," Justice Sandra Day O'Connor wrote. She and seven other justices held that the detention of Yaser Esam Hamdi, a native-born United States citizen seized in Afghanistan in 2001, was invalid for constitutional or statutory reasons. Only Justice Clarence Thomas dissented from that basic position.

Justice O'Connor wrote that the campaign against terrorism notwithstanding, "a state of war is not a blank check for the president when it comes to the rights of the nation's citizens."

In the Guantnamo case, the court ruled, 6 to 3, that federal courts have the jurisdiction to consider challenges to the custody of foreigners. The finding repudiated a central argument of the administration.

Here is the full text of the article in case the link goes bad:

http://www.nytimes.com/2004/06/28/politics/28CND-SCOT.html?hp

Supreme Court Affirms Detainees' Right to Use Courts
By DAVID STOUT

Published: June 28, 2004

WASHINGTON, June 28 The Supreme Court ruled today that people being held by the United States as enemy combatants can challenge their detention in American courts the court's most important statement in decades on the balance between personal liberties and national security.

The justices declared their findings in three rulings, two of them involving American citizens and the other addressing the status of foreigners being held at the Guantnamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba. Taken together, they were a significant setback for the Bush administration's approach to the campaign against terrorism that began on Sept. 11, 2001.

"Due process demands that a citizen held in the United States as an enemy combatant be given a meaningful opportunity to contest the factual basis for that detention before a neutral decisionmaker," Justice Sandra Day O'Connor wrote. She and seven other justices held that the detention of Yaser Esam Hamdi, a native-born United States citizen seized in Afghanistan in 2001, was invalid for constitutional or statutory reasons. Only Justice Clarence Thomas dissented from that basic position.

Justice O'Connor wrote that the campaign against terrorism notwithstanding, "a state of war is not a blank check for the president when it comes to the rights of the nation's citizens."

In the Guantnamo case, the court ruled, 6 to 3, that federal courts have the jurisdiction to consider challenges to the custody of foreigners. The finding repudiated a central argument of the administration.

"Aliens at the base, like American citizens, are entitled to invoke the federal courts' authority," Justice John Paul Stevens wrote for the majority. "United States courts have traditionally been open to nonresident aliens."

The dissenters were Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist and Justices Thomas and Antonin Scalia.

And in the other case involving an American citizen, Jos Padilla, the court ruled on what at first glance was a technical issue: that Mr. Padilla filed his habeas corpus petition in the wrong court. A 5-to-4 majority said he should have filed in federal court in South Carolina, since he has been held in a brig in Charleston, rather than in the Southern District of New York.

The majority said, too, that the proper target for his case is not Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld but, rather, Cmdr. Melanie Marr, who is in charge of the brig. "This rule serves the important purpose of prevent forum shopping by habeas petitioners," the majority held.

Chief Justice Rehnquist wrote the opinion, joined by Justices O'Connor, Scalia, Thomas and Anthony M. Kennedy. Justices John Paul Stevens wrote an emotional dissent that was joined by Justices David H. Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer.

Justice Stevens wrote that there was ample precedent for finding that the Southern District of New York, where a material-witness warrant was first issued for Mr. Padilla, was the proper court to take up the case, and he lamented that the majority seemed to sidestep the main issues.

"At stake in this case is nothing less than the essence of a free society," Justice Stevens wrote. "For if this nation is to remain true to the ideals symbolized by its flag, it must not wield the tools of tyrants even to resist an assault by the forces of tyranny."

The American Civil Liberties Union called the rulings historic and said they embodied "a strong repudiation of the administration's arguments that its actions in the war on terrorism are beyond the rule of law and unreviewable by American courts."

Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee's subcommittee on the Constitution, "reaffirms that even in a time of war, the president does not have the authority to act as a tyrant."

Although the cases of Mr. Hamdi, Mr. Padilla and the Guantnamo detainees all arose from the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and weighed national security against personal liberty, they were considerably different from one another in circumstances.

Supreme Court Affirms Detainees' Right to Use Courts

Published: June 28, 2004


(Page 2 of 2)

The Guantnamo case involved foreigners: about 600 men of various nationalities seized in Afghanistan and Pakistan during operations against the Taliban; 16 of the detainees, all maintaining their innocence, filed suit. Their case, Rasul v. Bush, No. 03-334, named for the detainee Shafiq Rasul, was argued before the justices on April 20.

Besides the basic issue in their case, there was a secondary but still vital question involving the status of Guantnamo Bay itself.

Since a 1950 Supreme Court case has been interpreted to mean that enemy combatants held outside the United States have no right to habeas corpus, the detainees had to show through their lawyers that Guantnamo Bay is functionally, if not formally, part of the United States.

On the one hand, a long-ago treaty with Cuba said that it retained sovereignty over the base. On the other hand, the treaty also said that the United States exercised jurisdiction and control.

In any event, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled last year that the federal courts lacked jurisdiction to hear habeas corpus petitions from the detainees a position that the Supreme Court rejected today.

The majority noted that the 1950 case cited by the administration involved German citizens captured by United States forces in China, then tried and convicted of war crimes by an American military commission in Nanking, and finally imprisoned in occupied Germany.

In contrast, the Supreme Court majority noted today, the Guantnamo detainees are not only held in territory arguably under United States control but they also have not had their guilt or innocence determined, unlike the Germans of a half-century ago, and have been held without formal charges.

Justice Scalia's dissent, joined by Chief Justice Rehnquist and Justice Thomas, was as emotional in tone as was Justice Stevens's dissent in the other direction in the Padilla case. The majority's holding in the Guantnamo case was so reckless as to be "breathtaking," Justice Scalia asserted.

Justice Scalia went on to declare that the majority's position needlessly upset settled law, and was particularly harmful in a time of war. "The commander in chief and his subordinates had every reason to expect that the internment of combatants at Guantnamo Bay would not have the consequence of bringing the cumbersome machinery of our domestic courts into military affairs," he wrote.

As for the Hamdi and Padilla cases, although they both involve American citizens, the similarities largely end there. For one, Mr. Hamdi was captured in Afghanistan, where the Bush administration contends he was fighting for the Taliban. (His father asserted that he had gone to Afghanistan to do relief work.) Mr. Padilla was arrested at O'Hare Airport in Chicago.

Their cases, Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, No. 03-6696, and Rumsfeld v. Padilla, No. 03-1027, were argued together on April 28, having reached the Supreme Court by opposite paths.

Mr. Hamdi's lawyers were appealing a ruling by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, in Richmond. That court held last year that Mr. Hamdi was entitled to challenge his detention by petitioning for a writ of habeas corpus. But the Fourth Circuit dismissed his petition after holding that the government had provided ample justification for classifying him an enemy combatant.

In the Padilla case, the government brought the appeal to the Supreme Court in hope of overturning a ruling by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, in New York City. Citing a law passed by Congress in 1971 to prohibit the detention of citizens without explicit authorization by Congress, the Second Circuit found that the president was without authority to detain Mr. Padilla, despite the Congressional resolution authorizing military force after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Posted by Lisa at 08:32 PM
May 22, 2004
Bill Moyers On Relevance Of Shrub Administration's Policy Of Rejecting The Geneva Convention

Michael Isikoff discovered
this Shrub Administration memo
which outlines a policy of rejecting the Geneva Convention for War On Terror prisoners.

Here's the Newsweek story that got this all started:

Double Standard?
.

This is a big deal guys, and Bill Moyers and Brian Brancaccio do their usual great job of explaining exactly why -- and within a historical context. Then Brian interviews Columbia Law School Professor Scott Horton about the frighting implications of this policy.

This is from the May 21, 2004 program of Bill Moyers Now.

Want to mirror these clips?? Let me know! (
Mirror 1
of the complete version.)

This first clip provides details of the memo and some historical context:

Moyers On The Shrub's Geneva-Rejection Policy - Part 1 of 3
(Small - 10 MB)

These next two clips contain an interview with Scott Horton where he analyses the Shrub's justifaction for a Geneva Convention "double standard":

Moyers On The Shrub's Geneva-Rejection Policy - Part 2 of 3

(Small - 14 MB)


Moyers On The Shrub's Geneva-Rejection Policy - Part 3 of 3

(Small - 14 MB)


Here's the whole thing in a huge 37 MB file


David Brancaccio talks to Scott Horton, President of the International League for Human Rights. Horton will discuss the legal basis for the global war on terror and the U.S. government classified memo that puts forth what NEWSWEEK described as "a legal framework to justify a secret system of detention and interrogation that sidesteps the historical safeguards of the Geneva Convention." Mr. Horton also recently spearheaded a Bar Association of New York report: "
Human rights standards applicable to the United States' interrogation of detainees
."

More about Scott from his website:


Mr. Horton has been a lifelong activist in the human rights area, having served as counsel to Andrei Sakharov, Elena Bonner, Sergei Kovalev and other leaders of the Russian human rights and democracy movements for over twenty years and having worked with the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights and the International League for Human Rights, among other organizations. He is currently president of the International League and a director of the Moscow-based Andrei Sakharov Foundation. Mr. Horton is also an advisor of the Open Society Institute's Central Eurasia Project, and a director of the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law, the Council on Foreign Relations's Center for Preventive Action and numerous other NGO organizations.

Mr. Horton is an adjunct professor at the Columbia University School of Law and the author of over 200 articles and monographs on legal developments in nations in transition.


Posted by Lisa at 04:50 PM
Government Memo Proves Bush Administration Ignored Geneva Convention Provisions As A Matter Of Policy

This post goes with this footage from Bill Moyers Now


Double Standards?

A Justice Department memo proposes that the United States hold others accountable for international laws on detaineesbut that Washington did not have to follow them itself
By
Michael Isikoff
for Newsweek.


In a crucial memo written four months after the September 11, 2001, terror attacks, Justice Department lawyers advised that President George W. Bush and the U.S. military did not have to comply with any international laws in the handling of detainees in the war on terrorism. It was that conclusion, say some critics, that laid the groundwork for aggressive interrogation techniques that led to the abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

The draft memo, which drew sharp protest from the State Department, argued that the Geneva Conventions on the treatment of prisoners of war did not apply to any Taliban or Al Qaeda fighters being flown to the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, because Afghanistan was a failed state whose militia did not have any status under international treaties.

But the Jan. 9, 2002 memo, written by Justice lawyers John Yoo and Robert J. Delahunty, went far beyond that conclusion, explicitly arguing that no international lawsincluding the normally observed laws of warapplied to the United States at all because they did not have any status under federal law.


Here is the complete article in case the link goes bad:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/5032094/site/newsweek/


WEB EXCLUSIVE
By Michael Isikoff
Investigative Correspondent
Newsweek
Updated: 1:42 p.m. ET May 22, 2004

May 21 - In a crucial memo written four months after the September 11, 2001, terror attacks, Justice Department lawyers advised that President George W. Bush and the U.S. military did not have to comply with any international laws in the handling of detainees in the war on terrorism. It was that conclusion, say some critics, that laid the groundwork for aggressive interrogation techniques that led to the abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.


The draft memo, which drew sharp protest from the State Department, argued that the Geneva Conventions on the treatment of prisoners of war did not apply to any Taliban or Al Qaeda fighters being flown to the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, because Afghanistan was a failed state whose militia did not have any status under international treaties.

But the Jan. 9, 2002 memo, written by Justice lawyers John Yoo and Robert J. Delahunty, went far beyond that conclusion, explicitly arguing that no international lawsincluding the normally observed laws of warapplied to the United States at all because they did not have any status under federal law.

As a result, any customary international law of armed conflict in no way binds, as a legal matter, the President or the U.S. Armed Forces concerning the detention or trial of members of Al Qaeda and the Taliban, according to a copy of the memo obtained by NEWSWEEK. A copy of the memo is being posted today on NEWSWEEKs Web site.

More War Crimes Memos
Read the complete Yoo-Delahunty memo:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Read the memo on habeas jurisdiction
At the same time, and even more striking, according to critics, the memo explicitly proposed a de facto double standard in the war on terror in which the United States would hold others accountable for international laws it said it was not itself obligated to follow.

After concluding that the laws of war did not apply to the conduct of the U.S. military, the memo argued that President Bush could still put Al Qaeda and Taliban fighters on trial as war criminals for violating those same laws. While acknowledging that this may seem at first glance, counter-intuitive, the memo states this is a product of the presidents constitutional authority to prosecute the war effectively.

The two lawyers who drafted the memo, entitled Application of Treaties and Laws to Al Qaeda and Taliban Detainees, were key members of the Justice Departments Office of Legal Counsel, a unit that provides legal advice to the White House and other executive-branch agencies. The lead author, John Yoo, a conservative law professor and expert on international law who was at the time deputy assistant attorney general in the office, also crafted a series of related memosincluding one putting a highly restrictive interpretation on an international torture conventionthat became the legal framework for many of the Bush administrations post-9/11 policies. Yoo also coauthored another OLC memo entitled Possible Habeas Jurisdiction Over Aliens Held in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, that concluded that U.S. courts could not review the treatment of prisoners at the base.

Critics say the memos disregard for the United States treaty obligations and international law paved the way for the Pentagon to use increasingly aggressive interrogation techniques at Guantanamo Bayincluding sleep deprivation, use of forced stress positions and environmental manipulationthat eventually were applied to detainees at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. The customary laws of war, as articulated in multiple international treaties and conventions dating back centuries, also prohibit a wide range of conduct such as attacks on civilians or the murder of captured prisoners.

Kenneth Roth, the executive director of Human Rights Watch, who has examined the memo, described it as a maliciously ideological or deceptive document that simply ignored U.S. obligations under multiple international agreements. You cant pick or choose what laws youre going to follow, said Roth. These political lawyers set the nation on a course that permitted the abusive interrogation techniques that have been recently disclosed.

When you read the memo, the first thing that comes to mind is that this is not a lofty statement of policy on behalf of the United States, said Scott Horton, president of the International League for Human Rights, in an interview scheduled to be aired tonight on PBSs Now with Bill Moyers show. You get the impression very quickly that it is some very clever criminal defense lawyers trying to figure out how to weave and bob around the law and avoid its applications.

More From Michael Isikoff
Memos Reveal War Crimes Warnings
Prison Scandal: Brooklyn's Version of Abu Ghraib?
At the time it was written, the memo also prompted a strong rebuttal from the State Departments Legal Advisors office headed by William Howard Taft IV. In its own Jan. 11, 2002, response to the Justice draft, Tafts office warned that any presidential actions that violated international law would constitute a breach of an international legal obligation of the United States and subject the United States to adverse international consequences in political and legal fora and potentially in the domestic courts of foreign countries.

The United States has long accepted that customary international law imposes binding obligations as a matter of international law, reads the State Department memo, which was also obtained by NEWSWEEK. In domestic as well as international fora, we often invoke customary international law in articulating the rights and obligations of States, including the United States. We frequently appeal to customary international law. The memo then cites numerous examples, ranging from the U.S. Army Field Manual on the Law of Land Warfare (The unwritten or customary law of war is binding upon all nations, it reads) to U.S. positions in international issues such as the Law of the Sea.

But the memo also singled out the potential problems the Justice Department position would have for the military tribunals that President Bush had recently authorized to try Al Qaeda members and suspected terrorists. Noting that White House counsel Alberto Gonzales had publicly declared that the persons tried in such commissions would be charged with offenses against the international laws of war, the State Department argued that the Justice position would undercut the basis for the trials.

We are concerned that arguments by the United States to the effect that customary international law is not binding will be used by defendants before military commissions (or in proceedings in federal court) to argue that the commissions cannot properly try them for crimes under international law, the State memo reads. Although we can imagine distinctions that might be offered, our attempts to gain convictions before military commissions may be undermined by arguments which call into question the very corpus of law under which offenses are prosecuted.

The Yoo-Delahunty memo was addressed to William J. Hanes, then general counsel to the Defense Department. But administration officials say it was the primary basis for a Jan. 25, 2002, memo by White House counsel Gonzaleswhich has also been posted on NEWSWEEKs Web sitethat urged the president to stick to his decision not to apply prisoner-of-war status under the Geneva Conventions to captured Al Qaeda or Taliban fighters. The presidents decision not to apply such status to the detainees was announced the following month, but the White House never publicly referred to the Justice conclusion that no international lawsincluding the usual laws of warapplied to the conflict.

FREE VIDEO
Launch
Inside Abu Ghraib Prison
This video, provided by The Washington Post, shows U.S. soldiers with Abu Ghraib prisoners. The undated footage was said to have been shot last fall.

NEWSWEEK
One international legal scholar, Peter Spiro of Hofstra University, said that the conclusions in the memo related to international law may be defensible because most international laws are not binding in U.S. courts. But Spiro said that technical and legalistic argument does not change the effect that the United States still has obligations in international courts and under international treaties. The United States is still bound by customary international law, he said.

One former official involved in formulating Bush administration policy on the detainees acknowledged that there was a double standard built into the Justice Department position, which the official said was embraced, if not publicly endorsed, by the White House counsels office. The essence of the argument was, the official said, it applies to them, but it doesnt apply to us.

But the official said this was an eminently defensible position because there were many categories of international law, some of which clearly could not be interpreted to be binding on the president. In any case, the general administration position of not applying any international standards to the treatment of detainees was driven by the paramount needs of preventing another terrorist attack. The Department of Justice, the Department of Defense and the CIA were all in alignment that we had to have the flexibility to handle the detaineesand yes, interrogate themin ways that would be effective, the official said.

Posted by Lisa at 03:20 PM
April 19, 2004
Enemy Combatant Protest In San Francisco On Tuesday

Hope I can make it. I wanted to let you guys know about it.


CAN THE RIGHTS OF THE PEOPLE SIMPLY DISAPPEAR BY PRESIDENTIAL ORDER?

NO TO THE "ENEMY COMBATANT" STATUS!

WHEN: TUESDAY, APRIL 20TH, 12 NOON

WHERE: FEDERAL BUILDING, SAN FRANCISCO, GOLDEN GATE & POLK

WHAT: PRESS CONFERENCE IN SOLIDARITY WITH THE DEMONSTRATION AT THE SUPREME COURT IN WASHINGTON D.C., WHERE ORAL ARGUMENTS WILL BE HEARD ON BEHALF OF GUANTANAMO BAY PRISONERS BEING HELD AS "ENEMY COMBATANTS"

Press contacts: 510-610-7070 or 510-684-8270

General information: Larry, 510 684-8270


Bay Area participants and endorsers:

Bob Kearney of ACLU of No. California
American Muslim Voice
Blue Triangle Network
California Interfaith Alliance For Prison Reform
Cecilia Chang of Justice for New Americans*
Global Exchange
Grace Shimizu, Japanese American Community organizer
Gray Panthers
Stacy Tolchin, National Lawyers Guild, Immigration Committee
Not In Our Name
Riva Enteen, Chair KPFA Board*
Refuse and Resist
Reverend Michael Yoshi, Buena Vista Methodist Church*
Sara Olson, Indep. Radio Journalist, author of "Under Attack" 30 min. audio documentary
about attacks on the Muslim, Arab, S. Asian community
Shashi Dalal, Board of Trustees, *Fellowship Church
Rev. Dorsey O. Blake, Sr. Pastor

* Organizations mentioned for identification purposes.

Below is a national call and a list of national endorsers for actions
at the Supreme Court in opposition to the use of Guantanamo Bay as a torture center/prison camp and against the ability of the president to designate persons, including citizens, as in the cases of Yaser Hamdi and Jose Padilla, as 'enemy combatants' and then lock them away incommunicado indefinitely without charges or judicial review:

Can the Rights of People Simply Disappear by Presidential Order?

What does it mean when the President of the United States can on his own designate a citizen in the U.S. as an "enemy combatant" and order the military to hold that person incommunicado, indefinitely, and without charges? The U.S. Supreme Court is now deciding whether the courts even have the right to question the President's action.

What does it mean when the U.S. military internationally can literally snatch people off the street, designate them as "enemy combatants," and assert that they are beyond the reach of either U.S. or international law? Many are transported to a facility under total U.S. control and funded by Congressional appropriations, where they are held incommunicado, indefinitely, without charges, and some are threatened with trials before a military commission that falls short of basic standards of justice.

If the Supreme Court upholds these actions, it will condone the President's claim of virtually unlimited "wartime powers" without a formal declaration of war by the Congress, and with no or extremely limited oversight by the courts or the Congress.

On April 20 the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on the President's alleged right to create a "law free zone" at the Guantnamo detention center in Cuba. And on April 28, the Court will hear oral arguments on the President's asserted right to designate citizens as "enemy combatants," hold them at the U.S. Navy base in Charleston, SC, and deny them the ability to challenge the lawfulness of their detention.

We believe that the President cannot be allowed to create a "legal Black Hole" into which people are dropped with no recourse to the courts or to international law. Among us we hold many varied views on how and why this situation has arisen and what is ultimately needed to ensure justice. But we all agree that this dangerous new presidentially designated category of "enemy combatants" who have no legal rights is unjust, illegal, and immoral, and cannot be allowed to stand.

The silence over this perilous issue must be broken, and public opposition must be manifested. Join us in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on April 20 and April 28 to declare a resounding NO!

Our future and the future of hundreds of anonymous detainees now hang in the balance. This is a watershed event in history. What is at stake is just how much the President will be allowed to get away with. Your silence will be taken as assent.

[list in formation]
American Friends Service Committee
Amnesty International USA
Bill of Rights Defense Committee
Blue Triangle Network
Cambios Planetarios
Community Solutions Foundation Trust, LLC.
Council on American-Islamic Relations
Equal Justice USA/Moratorium Now!
First Amendment Foundation
Freedom Socialist Party
Guantanamo Human Rights Commission
La Resistencia
Muslim Civil Rights Center
National Committee Against Repressive Legislation (NCARL)
National Lawyers Guild
Oct. 22nd Coalition to Stop Police Brutality, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation
Pax Christi USA
Refuse & Resist!
Solidarity USA

Posted by Lisa at 07:48 AM
April 13, 2004
Protest Against "Enemy Combatant" Designation In Front Of The Supreme Court On April 20

This just in from:

Amnesty International USA
Bill of Rights Defense Committee
Blue Triangle Network
First Amendment Foundation
Guantanamo Human Rights Commission
National Committee Against Repressive Legislation (NCARL)
National Lawyers Guild
Refuse & Resist!
Solidarity USA
Communities United Against Police Brutality (Minneapolis)
Greensboro Justice Fund
Elaine Cassel, Civil Liberties Watch
Stephen Rohde, Civil liberties lawyer

Website: http://www.nlg.org/eccases/

On April 20 the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on the President'??s alleged right to create a '??law free zone'?? at the Guantanamo detention center in Cuba. And on April 28, the Court will hear oral arguments on the President'??s asserted right to designate citizens as '??enemy combatants,'?? hold them at the U.S. Navy base in Charleston, SC, and deny them the ability to challenge the lawfulness of their detention.

We believe that the President cannot be allowed to create a '??legal Black Hole'?? into which people are dropped with no recourse to the courts or to international law. Among us we hold many varied views on how and why this situation has arisen and what is ultimately needed to ensure justice. But we all agree that this dangerous new presidentially-designated category of '??enemy combatants'?? who have no legal rights is unjust, illegal, and immoral, and cannot be allowed to stand.

The silence over this perilous issue must be broken, and public opposition must be manifested. Join us in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on April 20 and April 28 to declare a resounding NO! Legally permitted, non-violent demonstrations will occur on both days from 9:30 am to 12:30 pm with a program of speakers beginning at 11:am.

Our future and the future of hundreds of anonymous detainees now hang in the balance. This is a watershed event in history. What is at stake is just how much the President will be allowed to get away with. Your silence will be taken as assent.

To endorse this call, e-mail eccases@nlg.org.

Exact email that I received:

Below is a call for protest outside the US Supreme Court on the dates of hearings about the presidentially designated category of enemy combatant. As the call says: Our future and the future of hundreds of anonymous detainees now hang in the balance. This is a watershed event in history. What is at stake is just how much the President will be allowed to get away with. Your silence will be taken as assent. Please endorse this call and start mobilzing for it. Email eccases@nlg.org for more info.

Demonstrate April 20 (Tuesday) & April 28 (Wednesday)

9:30am-12:30pm In front of the US Supreme Court, Washington, DC

11am Speakers. Legally permitted rally. www.nlg.org/eccases/


Can the Rights of People Simply Disappear by Presidential Order?

What does it mean when the President of the United States can on his own designate a citizen in the U.S. as an '??enemy combatant,'?? and order the military to hold that person incommunicado, indefinitely, and without charges? The U.S. Supreme Court is now deciding whether the courts even have the right to question the President'??s action.

What does it mean when the U.S. military internationally can literally snatch people off the street, designate them as '??enemy combatants,'?? and assert that they are beyond the reach of either U.S. or international law? Many are transported to a facility under total U.S. control and funded by Congressional appropriations, where they are held incommunicado, indefinitely, without charges and some are threatened with trials before a military commission that falls short of basic standards of justice.

If the Supreme Court upholds these actions, it will condone the President'??s claim of virtually unlimited '??wartime powers'?? without a formal declaration of war by the Congress, and with no or extremely limited oversight by the courts or the Congress.

On April 20 the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on the President'??s alleged right to create a '??law free zone'?? at the Guantanamo detention center in Cuba. And on April 28, the Court will hear oral arguments on the President'??s asserted right to designate citizens as '??enemy combatants,'?? hold them at the U.S. Navy base in Charleston, SC, and deny them the ability to challenge the lawfulness of their detention.

We believe that the President cannot be allowed to create a '??legal Black Hole'?? into which people are dropped with no recourse to the courts or to international law. Among us we hold many varied views on how and why this situation has arisen and what is ultimately needed to ensure justice. But we all agree that this dangerous new presidentially-designated category of '??enemy combatants'?? who have no legal rights is unjust, illegal, and immoral, and cannot be allowed to stand.

The silence over this perilous issue must be broken, and public opposition must be manifested. Join us in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on April 20 and April 28 to declare a resounding NO! Legally permitted, non-violent demonstrations will occur on both days from 9:30 am to 12:30 pm with a program of speakers beginning at 11:am.

Our future and the future of hundreds of anonymous detainees now hang in the balance. This is a watershed event in history. What is at stake is just how much the President will be allowed to get away with. Your silence will be taken as assent.

To endorse this call, e-mail eccases@nlg.org.

[national and international organizations]

Amnesty International USA

Bill of Rights Defense Committee

Blue Triangle Network

First Amendment Foundation

Guantanamo Human Rights Commission

National Committee Against Repressive Legislation (NCARL)

National Lawyers Guild

Refuse & Resist!

Solidarity USA

[regional and local organizations]

Communities United Against Police Brutality (Minneapolis)

Greensboro Justice Fund

[individuals]

Elaine Cassel, Civil Liberties Watch

Stephen Rohde, civil liberties lawyer

Website: http://www.nlg.org/eccases/

Posted by Lisa at 11:56 AM
November 25, 2003
Guantanamo Bay Prisoners Continue To Be Denied Due Process

Meanwhile 4,000 Miles Away in Guantanamo Bay, 660 Prisoners Have No Idea When They Will be Freed
By Andrew Buncombe for the Independnet Uk.


The Guantanamo Bay prison camp - established after the terror attacks of 11 September and the war in Afghanistan - was meant to be a temporary detention centre, somewhere to hold the "worst of the worst".

Almost two years later, the camp has been transformed into a de facto permanent facility where 660 adults and three children are kept in a legal black hole, cut off from the outside world and with no idea whether they will ever be charged with a crime or released. Critics claim the prison, which operates with hardly any independent scrutiny, has become a live experiment in long-term interrogation where experts constantly seek to hone and improve their techniques.

"It's like it has become a cold storage facility," said Richard Bourke, a lawyer in Louisiana representing two Australian citizens who are among the prisoners. "You hear comments from the camp commander about how they are constantly improving their interrogation techniques. They are just experimenting in areas that interest them."

Guantanamo Bay and the nine Britons held there have become the focus of increasing tension between Britain and the US and will be a subject of talks between George Bush and Tony Blair this week...

Few critics claim that prisoners at Camp Delta, as the incarceration unit is known, suffer physical torture, though in the first six months of its operation interrogators used techniques known as "stress and duress" to intimidate and soften up their subjects. Such techniques include sleep deprivation, exposing prisoners to hot or cold conditions and making them sit or stand in uncomfortable positions.

But lawyers and activists say the prisoners - to whom the Bush administration refuses to grant the protection of the Geneva Conventions - face a form of psychological torture by being refused information about their future or access to legal advice. There are regular reports of suicide attempts among the prisoners and recently Commander Louis Louk, the officer in charge of the prison's hospital, revealed that one in five of the prisoners received medication for what he termed "clinical depression".

Against this backdrop the Bush administration received unprecedented criticism last month from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the only non-state organisation permitted to visit the camp, which said its refusal to inform prisoners about their future was causing an intolerable situation. "The main concern for us is that the US authorities have effectively placed them beyond the law," said Amanda Williamson, an ICRC spokes-woman. "After more than 18 months of captivity, the internees have no idea about their fate, no means of recourse through any legal mechanism. They have been placed in a legal vacuum, a legal black hole. This, for the ICRC, is unacceptable."...

Campaigners received a boost last week when the Supreme Court announced that it would examine whether Guantanamo Bay fell within the jurisdiction of the US courts. Lower courts had supported the claim of the Bush administration that Guantanamo Bay, technically leased from Cuba, was outside the jurisdiction and prisoners were not eligible for the protection of the US constitution. If the Supreme Court places Guantanamo Bay within US legal jurisdiction there is likely to be a flood of lawsuits demanding the US to charge the prisoners or release them. Ms Patten said: "The question is can the government carve out a place in the world beyond the law, beyond the reach of the courts that review the legality of such actions."


Here is the full text of the entire article in case the link goes bad:

http://news.independent.co.uk/world/americas/story.jsp?story=465110


Meanwhile 4,000 Miles Away in Guantanamo Bay,
660 Prisoners Have No Idea When They Will be Freed
By Andrew Buncombe
Independnet Uk

Wednesday 19 November 2003

The Guantanamo Bay prison camp - established after the terror attacks of 11 September and the war in Afghanistan - was meant to be a temporary detention centre, somewhere to hold the "worst of the worst".

Almost two years later, the camp has been transformed into a de facto permanent facility where 660 adults and three children are kept in a legal black hole, cut off from the outside world and with no idea whether they will ever be charged with a crime or released. Critics claim the prison, which operates with hardly any independent scrutiny, has become a live experiment in long-term interrogation where experts constantly seek to hone and improve their techniques.

"It's like it has become a cold storage facility," said Richard Bourke, a lawyer in Louisiana representing two Australian citizens who are among the prisoners. "You hear comments from the camp commander about how they are constantly improving their interrogation techniques. They are just experimenting in areas that interest them."

Guantanamo Bay and the nine Britons held there have become the focus of increasing tension between Britain and the US and will be a subject of talks between George Bush and Tony Blair this week.

It was announced in the summer that two of the Britons, Moazzam Begg, 35, and Feroz Abbasi, 23, were among six prisoners selected to be tried by military tribunals, a process outside the normal judicial process and without the protection usually offered to defendants. In this process Mr Bush would act in effect as the ultimate arbiter on what would happen to the prisoners if convicted.

Belatedly and with little apparent enthusiasm, the British Government has sought to obtain some safeguards for Mr Abbasi and Mr Begg. Until it was announced that they were to be placed before a tribunal, Britain did very little to help the nine, a position that was in stark contrast to the governments of other prisoners at Guantanamo, such as Sweden.

Although the prosecution has been officially put on hold, the prisoners' lawyers remain extremely worried. Louise Christian, a solicitor representing the family of Mr Abbasi, said last night: "I am very concerned that he has made some sort of confession. The military tribunal process is technically on hold - just this morning I received another letter from the [UK] Attorney General that repeated the US denial that there has been some sort of a deal. But I am concerned that a confession has obtained under conditions that amount to coercion. They have been interrogated for nearly two years without a lawyer being present."

Few critics claim that prisoners at Camp Delta, as the incarceration unit is known, suffer physical torture, though in the first six months of its operation interrogators used techniques known as "stress and duress" to intimidate and soften up their subjects. Such techniques include sleep deprivation, exposing prisoners to hot or cold conditions and making them sit or stand in uncomfortable positions.

But lawyers and activists say the prisoners - to whom the Bush administration refuses to grant the protection of the Geneva Conventions - face a form of psychological torture by being refused information about their future or access to legal advice. There are regular reports of suicide attempts among the prisoners and recently Commander Louis Louk, the officer in charge of the prison's hospital, revealed that one in five of the prisoners received medication for what he termed "clinical depression".

Against this backdrop the Bush administration received unprecedented criticism last month from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the only non-state organisation permitted to visit the camp, which said its refusal to inform prisoners about their future was causing an intolerable situation. "The main concern for us is that the US authorities have effectively placed them beyond the law," said Amanda Williamson, an ICRC spokes-woman. "After more than 18 months of captivity, the internees have no idea about their fate, no means of recourse through any legal mechanism. They have been placed in a legal vacuum, a legal black hole. This, for the ICRC, is unacceptable."

Despite such criticism, the attitude of the US appears clear. While it has not yet charged a single prisoner held at Guantanamo Bay, there are no plans to release the majority of them soon. Although a handful of the oldest and most sick have been repatriated the US authorities are putting up long-term buildings at the base and replacing the razor wire and fencing with solid walls.

Campaigners say that rather than building permanent prison facilities, the US should grant the prisoners legal access and allow them "due process". Wendy Patten, US advocacy director of Human Rights Watch, said it was essential that the US observed the Geneva Conventions, which would give the prisoners free and unfettered access to lawyers.

"Here are a set of rules that governments abide by during times of war," she said. "The signal that the US sends out by refusing to observe them is that it is all right to pick and choose from the rules of war."

Campaigners received a boost last week when the Supreme Court announced that it would examine whether Guantanamo Bay fell within the jurisdiction of the US courts. Lower courts had supported the claim of the Bush administration that Guantanamo Bay, technically leased from Cuba, was outside the jurisdiction and prisoners were not eligible for the protection of the US constitution. If the Supreme Court places Guantanamo Bay within US legal jurisdiction there is likely to be a flood of lawsuits demanding the US to charge the prisoners or release them. Ms Patten said: "The question is can the government carve out a place in the world beyond the law, beyond the reach of the courts that review the legality of such actions."

Posted by Lisa at 03:54 PM
October 17, 2003
Lawyer Claims "Good Old-fashioned Torture" The Norm At Guantanamo Bay

The scariest part (aside from the torture allegations, of course) is in the last paragraph:
"The U.S. government says they could be held until it declares an end to its "war on terrorism."

We know that the "War On Terrorism" is poorly defined with a definition that keeps changing to suit the current objectives of the Shrub Administration. These people need to be charged or released, as we would expect Americans to be treated under the Geneva Convention.

Oh yeah. That means torture's out too :-)


Lawyer Says Guantanamo Detainees Tortured

By the Associated Press in the NY Times.

Here's the whole article. It's just a little thing.


The U.S. military has tortured terrorist suspects held without charge at the Guantanamo Bay military prison, an Australian lawyer representing some of the suspects claimed Wednesday.

U.S.-based Richard Bourke, who has been working for almost two years on behalf of dozens of detainees at Guantanamo Bay, said American military officials were using old-fashioned torture techniques to force confessions out of prisoners.

The methods "clearly" fell under the definition of torture under international conventions, he told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio in an interview from the United States.

"They are engaging in good old-fashioned torture, as people would have understood it in the Dark Ages," he said.

About 660 prisoners captured in Afghanistan and elsewhere are being held at Guantanamo without charges or access to lawyers -- some since January 2002. The U.S. government rarely comments on activities at the prison which has been dubbed Camp X-ray because of the strict security.

Earlier this year, U.S. officials denied using torture and said detainees are interrogated humanely, allowed to practice their religion and given good medical care.

Families are denied access and can only communicate with detainees through heavily censored mail. Human rights groups and the media have been given only limited and strictly controlled access.

Bourke told ABC radio that his claims are based on reports leaked by U.S. military personnel and from descriptions by some detainees that have been released.

"One of the detainees had described being taken out and tied to a post and having rubber bullets fired at them. They were being made to kneel cruciform in the sun until they collapsed," he said.

Media reports that many detainees have attempted suicide and are suffering mental health problems backed up claims of harsh treatment, he said.

Bourke said governments around the world must stand up to the U.S. government and demand that the United Nations investigate the reports of torture.

Almost all the detainees, from more than 40 countries, are said to be members of al-Qaida terrorist network or the ousted Afghan Taliban regime. They are to be tried by secret military tribunals. The U.S. government says they could be held until it declares an end to its "war on terrorism."

Here is the full text of the article in case the link goes bad:

http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/international/AP-Australia-Guantanamo-Bay.html


Lawyer Says Guantanamo Detainees Tortured
By The Associated Press
New York Times

Wednesday 08 October 2003

The U.S. military has tortured terrorist suspects held without charge at the Guantanamo Bay military prison, an Australian lawyer representing some of the suspects claimed Wednesday.

U.S.-based Richard Bourke, who has been working for almost two years on behalf of dozens of detainees at Guantanamo Bay, said American military officials were using old-fashioned torture techniques to force confessions out of prisoners.

The methods "clearly" fell under the definition of torture under international conventions, he told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio in an interview from the United States.

"They are engaging in good old-fashioned torture, as people would have understood it in the Dark Ages," he said.

About 660 prisoners captured in Afghanistan and elsewhere are being held at Guantanamo without charges or access to lawyers -- some since January 2002. The U.S. government rarely comments on activities at the prison which has been dubbed Camp X-ray because of the strict security.

Earlier this year, U.S. officials denied using torture and said detainees are interrogated humanely, allowed to practice their religion and given good medical care.

Families are denied access and can only communicate with detainees through heavily censored mail. Human rights groups and the media have been given only limited and strictly controlled access.

Bourke told ABC radio that his claims are based on reports leaked by U.S. military personnel and from descriptions by some detainees that have been released.

"One of the detainees had described being taken out and tied to a post and having rubber bullets fired at them. They were being made to kneel cruciform in the sun until they collapsed," he said.

Media reports that many detainees have attempted suicide and are suffering mental health problems backed up claims of harsh treatment, he said.

Bourke said governments around the world must stand up to the U.S. government and demand that the United Nations investigate the reports of torture.

Almost all the detainees, from more than 40 countries, are said to be members of al-Qaida terrorist network or the ousted Afghan Taliban regime. They are to be tried by secret military tribunals. The U.S. government says they could be held until it declares an end to its "war on terrorism."

Posted by Lisa at 05:26 PM
October 11, 2003
Father Of British Guantanamo Bay Detainee Asks For Justice



Emotional appeal from detainee's father

In the BBC.


The father of one of the British detainees in Guantanamo Bay has made an emotional appeal for the release of his son...

He said his son should be punished if found guilty, but said he could not understand "under what law, under what human rights he has been kept there".

He said: "I just want my son back. I do not say set him free, what I say is let him come back to this country he belongs to, where he was born, where he was brought up...

"If he isn't found guilty he shouldn't be there for a second. Why is this not happening what is wrong with our laws?"

Moazzam Begg, from Sparkbrook in Birmingham, was held by US forces in Pakistan in February 2002. He was transferred to Guantanamo Bay a year later.

The conference backed a call to the government to deliver "due process and justice" for those held at Guantanamo Bay.



Here is the full text of the article in case the link goes bad:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/politics/3135708.stm


Emotional appeal from detainee's father
Azmat Begg's son has been in detention for more than 18 months
The father of one of the British detainees in Guantanamo Bay has made an emotional appeal for the release of his son.

Azmat Begg broke down in tears as he addressed the Liberal Democrat conference in Brighton.

Mr Begg urged the US to release his son from the Camp Delta base in Cuba to face justice in the UK.

Moazzam Begg is one of nine Britons being held at Camp Delta.


I just want my son back. I do not say set him free, what I say is let him come back to this country he belongs to, where he was born, where he was brought up
Azmat Begg
His father, a Liberal Democrat, was addressing the conference during debates on foreign affairs.

He said his son should be punished if found guilty, but said he could not understand "under what law, under what human rights he has been kept there".

He said: "I just want my son back. I do not say set him free, what I say is let him come back to this country he belongs to, where he was born, where he was brought up.

"Keep him there behind bars, let him feel that he is back...

"If he is fit then justice should be done to him, if he's found guilty he should be punished.

"If he isn't found guilty he shouldn't be there for a second. Why is this not happening what is wrong with our laws?"

Call backed

Moazzam Begg, from Sparkbrook in Birmingham, was held by US forces in Pakistan in February 2002. He was transferred to Guantanamo Bay a year later.

The conference backed a call to the government to deliver "due process and justice" for those held at Guantanamo Bay.

Home affairs spokesman Simon Hughes said: "Fair trials are the cornerstone of any true justice system and an essential guarantee of liberty. America has long been the beacon of liberty.

"But the US cannot hope to win hearts and minds in Iraq, Afghanistan and anywhere else if it continues to deny fundamental rights to the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay.

"Who will stand up for American values if Americans do not?

Posted by Lisa at 08:13 PM
Red Cross Asks Supreme Court To Intervene In Guantanamo Bay

Guantanamo detentions blasted
In the BBC.


A senior Red Cross official has launched a rare attack on the US detention of al-Qaeda and Taleban suspects at Guantanamo Bay.

Christophe Girod told the New York Times it was unacceptable that the 600 detainees should be held for open-ended terms without proper legal process.

His criticism came as a group of American former judges, diplomats and military officers called on the US Supreme Court to examine the legality of holding the foreign nationals for almost two years, without trial, charge or access to lawyers.

Mr Girod said the International Committee of the Red Cross was making the unusually blunt public statement because of a lack of action after previous private contacts with American officials.

"One cannot keep these detainees in this pattern, this situation, indefinitely," he said during a visit to the US naval base where the Taleban and al-Qaeda suspects are being held...

Mr Girod is leading a team from the International Committee of the Red Cross, which has just completed an inspection tour of the detention camp in Cuba.

Although he did not criticise any physical conditions at the camp, he said that it was intolerable that the complex was used as "an investigation centre, not a detention centre".

"The open-endedness of the situation and its impact on the mental health of the population has become a major problem," he told the New York Times.

Christine Huskey, an American lawyer representing 28 Kuwaiti inmates, told the BBC she had had "absolutely" no access to them.

"I represent a ghost," she told the World Today programme.

In the past 18 months, 21 detainees have made 32 suicide attempts, and many more are being treated for depression, the New York Times says...

On Sunday a group including former American judges and military officials filed legal papers urging the US Supreme Court to intervene.

Don Guter, the US navy's judge advocate general until last year, said it was not acceptable simply to hold suspected al-Qaeda or Taleban members until the US war on terror was over.

The argument filed to the Supreme Court by Mr Guter and others said: "The lives of American military forces may well be endangered by the United States' failure to grant foreign prisoners in its custody the same rights that the United States insists be accorded to American prisoners held by foreigners."

That view was backed by ex-prisoners-of-war, some of whom told the Supreme Court they owed their lives to the fact that their captors abided by the Geneva conventions.

On Wednesday an Australian lawyer representing some of the suspects said they were being submitted to torture.

US officials have denied torturing detainees, saying they are allowed to practise their religion and given good medical care.


http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/3179858.stm

Guantanamo detentions blasted
Guantanamo security is especially tight after recent spy fears
A senior Red Cross official has launched a rare attack on the US detention of al-Qaeda and Taleban suspects at Guantanamo Bay.

Christophe Girod told the New York Times it was unacceptable that the 600 detainees should be held for open-ended terms without proper legal process.

His criticism came as a group of American former judges, diplomats and military officers called on the US Supreme Court to examine the legality of holding the foreign nationals for almost two years, without trial, charge or access to lawyers.

Mr Girod said the International Committee of the Red Cross was making the unusually blunt public statement because of a lack of action after previous private contacts with American officials.

"One cannot keep these detainees in this pattern, this situation, indefinitely," he said during a visit to the US naval base where the Taleban and al-Qaeda suspects are being held.

'Ghosts'

US officials insist there are reasons for holding the alleged fighters and say they will get a fair legal hearing in due course.


The open-endedness of the situation and its impact on the mental health of the population has become a major problem
Christophe Girod, ICRC
Mr Girod is leading a team from the International Committee of the Red Cross, which has just completed an inspection tour of the detention camp in Cuba.

Although he did not criticise any physical conditions at the camp, he said that it was intolerable that the complex was used as "an investigation centre, not a detention centre".

"The open-endedness of the situation and its impact on the mental health of the population has become a major problem," he told the New York Times.

Christine Huskey, an American lawyer representing 28 Kuwaiti inmates, told the BBC she had had "absolutely" no access to them.

"I represent a ghost," she told the World Today programme.

Deaf ear?

In the past 18 months, 21 detainees have made 32 suicide attempts, and many more are being treated for depression, the New York Times says.

Mr Girod says prisoners who spoke to his team regularly asked about what was going to happen to them.


GUANTANAMO BAY
United States Navy base in south-eastern Cuba
Leased by Washington since 1903, but not regarded as US territory
Houses more than 600 al-Qaeda and Taleban suspects
Inmates not covered by US constitutional guarantees

Detainees' status
"It's always the number one question," he said. "They don't know about the future."

Camp officials have said most of the detainees' mental health problems existed before they arrived.

The Geneva-based ICRC is the only group outside the US Government allowed to visit the detention camp.

In exchange for access, the committee has agreed to take any initial complaints directly to Washington. It publicises its views only when it feels they are not being heeded.

In this instance, the ICRC says it has been urging the White House for months to make significant changes in Guantanamo.

The administration, Mr Girod said, should consider establishing a policy of giving detainees some idea of when they can learn whether they will be charged or released.

'Repugnant'

On Sunday a group including former American judges and military officials filed legal papers urging the US Supreme Court to intervene.

US legal experts have begun to press for change
Don Guter, the US navy's judge advocate general until last year, said it was not acceptable simply to hold suspected al-Qaeda or Taleban members until the US war on terror was over.

The argument filed to the Supreme Court by Mr Guter and others said: "The lives of American military forces may well be endangered by the United States' failure to grant foreign prisoners in its custody the same rights that the United States insists be accorded to American prisoners held by foreigners."

That view was backed by ex-prisoners-of-war, some of whom told the Supreme Court they owed their lives to the fact that their captors abided by the Geneva conventions.

On Wednesday an Australian lawyer representing some of the suspects said they were being submitted to torture.

US officials have denied torturing detainees, saying they are allowed to practise their religion and given good medical care.

Posted by Lisa at 05:34 PM
Group Of Ex-Judges, Diplomats, and Former Military Lawyers Takes Due Process For Guantanamo Detainees To The Supreme Court

Things are finally heating up around the Guantanamo Bay Prison/Death Camp Situation and the lack of Due Process for its terrorist suspects. This article is the first of several I'll be putting up today.

'Justice denied' at Guantanamo

By Rachel Clarke for BBC News.


A diverse group of ex-judges, diplomats and former military lawyers is urging the US Supreme Court to intervene on behalf of hundreds of men being held without trial by the government...

They hope the top court will agree to review the detention of suspected al-Qaeda and Taleban members in the US military camp at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

US officials insist there are reasons for holding the alleged fighters and say they will get a fair legal hearing in due course.

But opponents say it is already nearly two years since most of the detainees were captured and they should be afforded more rights now.

John Gibbons, a former appeals court judge, said justice was being "totally denied" to the detainees in Guantanamo.

"They don't have access to lawyers; they have had no hearings; they are just in limbo. That's as clear an example of justice denied as you can find," he said.

A key issue is that the detainees are foreign citizens being held on foreign soil and as such may not come under the jurisdiction of the civil courts.

Mr Gibbons said he found it "repugnant" that the administration could order the imprisonment of people possibly beyond the reach of law, especially as he said the US clearly ruled over Guantanamo Bay, even if it was technically part of Cuba.

Here is the full text of the article in case the link goes bad:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/3179014.stm

'Justice denied' at Guantanamo
By Rachel Clarke
BBC News Online in Washington

A diverse group of ex-judges, diplomats and former military lawyers is urging the US Supreme Court to intervene on behalf of hundreds of men being held without trial by the government.

Detainees have been given no access to lawyers

They hope the top court will agree to review the detention of suspected al-Qaeda and Taleban members in the US military camp at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

US officials insist there are reasons for holding the alleged fighters and say they will get a fair legal hearing in due course.

But opponents say it is already nearly two years since most of the detainees were captured and they should be afforded more rights now.

John Gibbons, a former appeals court judge, said justice was being "totally denied" to the detainees in Guantanamo.

"They don't have access to lawyers; they have had no hearings; they are just in limbo. That's as clear an example of justice denied as you can find," he said.

A key issue is that the detainees are foreign citizens being held on foreign soil and as such may not come under the jurisdiction of the civil courts.

Mr Gibbons said he found it "repugnant" that the administration could order the imprisonment of people possibly beyond the reach of law, especially as he said the US clearly ruled over Guantanamo Bay, even if it was technically part of Cuba.

Shafiq Rasul is among the Britons held at the military camp
He said he hoped the Supreme Court would be persuaded to "restore the rule of law" with the filing of the legal papers by the seven groups supporting two cases brought concerning 16 detainees, including two Britons - Shafiq Rasul and Asif Iqbal.

There is no compulsion for the US Supreme Court to review the cases, but Mr Gibbons said he was optimistic that the support needed from four of the nine justices would be forthcoming.

Retribution feared

Don Guter, the US navy's judge advocate general until last year, said extreme measures were necessary after the 11 September 2001 attacks on the United States.

But Mr Guter, who was inside the Pentagon when it was deliberately hit by a hijacked plane that day, said it was not acceptable simply to hold suspected al-Qaeda or Taleban members until the US' war on terror was over.

Such a victory might never come he said, and even if there was no public outcry about the treatment of Guantanamo detainees the US should permit them various rights, not least to stop possible retributions.

The US has the might, but not the right, the advocates say
The argument filed to the Supreme Court by Mr Guter and other former military lawyers said: "The lives of American military forces may well be endangered by the United States' failure to grant foreign prisoners in its custody the same rights that the United States insists be accorded to American prisoners held by foreigners."

That view was backed by ex-prisoners-of-war, some of whom told the Supreme Court they believed they owed their lives to the fact that their captors abided by the Geneva Conventions designed to protect captured soldiers.

William Rogers, a former undersecretary of state, said there was concern that the situation in Guantanamo would take the US from the moral high ground where it could be a role model to other nations to a much lower position.

He and 18 former US diplomats, including 11 ambassadors, filed their own papers which said: "The perception of this case abroad - that the power of the United States can be exercised outside the law and even, it is presumed , in conflict with the law - will diminish our stature in the wider world."

Posted by Lisa at 04:40 PM
July 11, 2003
Britons Denied Due Process

...along with everyone else being held at Guantanamo Bay.

What kind of precedent are we setting for the rest of the world? This is truly frightening.

Confess or die, US tells jailed Britons
Outrage over plight of Guantanamo detainees
By Martin Bright, Kamal Ahmed and Peter Beaumont for The Observer.

The two British terrorist suspects facing a secret US military tribunal in Guantanamo Bay will be given a choice: plead guilty and accept a 20-year prison sentence, or be executed if found guilty.

American legal sources close to the process said that the prisoners' dilemma was intended to encourage maximum 'co-operation'.

The news comes as Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, prepares to urge US Secretary of State Colin Powell to repatriate the two Britons. He will say that they should face a fair trial here under English law. Backed by Home Secretary David Blunkett, Straw will make it clear that the Government opposes the death penalty and wants to see both men tried 'under normal judicial process'.

Lawyers acting for Moazzam Begg, 35, from Sparkbrook, Birmingham, and Feroz Abassi, 23, from Croydon, said that any confessions gathered while the men were kept without charge or access to lawyers in Bagram airbase in Afghanistan and Camp Delta in Cuba would have no status in international law and would be inadmissible in British courts.

Gareth Peirce, who acts for Moazzam Begg, said: 'Anything that any human being says or admits under threat of brutality is regarded internationally and nationally as worthless. It makes the process an abuse. Moazzam Begg had a year in Bagram airbase and then six months in Guantanamo Bay. If this treatment happened for an hour in a British police station, no evidence gathered would be admissible,' she said...

'The trial system in Guantanamo Bay allows a whole series of serious breaches of defendant rights that would mean that they could never come to trial in the US.

'First, it allows the wiretapping of attorney-client meetings, although those wiretaps cannot actually be used in evidence. Then there is the fact that the Pentagon "Appointing Authority" - probably US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld - has the ability to remove a judge at any time without giving any reason.'

Among other concerns about the 50-page Final Rule, which was published by the Department of Defence last week for governing the trials, are:

that rules of evidence are so broad that it is left at the discretion of the trial's presiding officer whether to allow any evidence he believes would be convincing to a 'reasonable person' and that that would appear to allow the admission of hearsay evidence; that evidence can be admitted by telephone and by pseudonym; that it is insisted that only security-screened civil attorneys be allowed to appear before the court and they can also be removed at any time.

The concerns follow allegations by Amnesty and other human rights groups that US detainees in Guantanamo Bay have suffered severe abuse, including beatings that may have led to the death of two men held at the US detention facility at Bagram.

In March, Amnesty wrote to President Bush to complain about the treatment of detainees after US military officials reportedly confirmed that post-mortem reports in the cases of the two men who died at Bagram gave cause of death as 'homicide' and 'blunt force injuries'.


Here is the full text of the article in case the link goes bad:

http://observer.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,6903,992467,00.html

Confess or die, US tells jailed Britons

Outrage over plight of Guantanamo detainees

Martin Bright, Kamal Ahmed and Peter Beaumont
Sunday July 6, 2003
The Observer

The two British terrorist suspects facing a secret US military tribunal in Guantanamo Bay will be given a choice: plead guilty and accept a 20-year prison sentence, or be executed if found guilty.

American legal sources close to the process said that the prisoners' dilemma was intended to encourage maximum 'co-operation'.

The news comes as Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, prepares to urge US Secretary of State Colin Powell to repatriate the two Britons. He will say that they should face a fair trial here under English law. Backed by Home Secretary David Blunkett, Straw will make it clear that the Government opposes the death penalty and wants to see both men tried 'under normal judicial process'.

Lawyers acting for Moazzam Begg, 35, from Sparkbrook, Birmingham, and Feroz Abassi, 23, from Croydon, said that any confessions gathered while the men were kept without charge or access to lawyers in Bagram airbase in Afghanistan and Camp Delta in Cuba would have no status in international law and would be inadmissible in British courts.

Gareth Peirce, who acts for Moazzam Begg, said: 'Anything that any human being says or admits under threat of brutality is regarded internationally and nationally as worthless. It makes the process an abuse. Moazzam Begg had a year in Bagram airbase and then six months in Guantanamo Bay. If this treatment happened for an hour in a British police station, no evidence gathered would be admissible,' she said.

Stephen Jakobi of Fair Trials Abroad, which is leading the campaign for the two men, said: 'Our concern is that there will be no meaningful way of testing the evidence against these people. The US Defence Department has set itself up as prosecution, judge and defence counsel and has created the rules of trial. This is patently a kangaroo court.'

Begg's family believe he was kidnapped in Pakistan by US authorities. He was taken to Bagram on suspicion of passing funds to al-Qaeda and later transferred to Camp Delta. He has not seen a lawyer since he was seized.

In a clear signal of the high lev els of concern within the Government, the acting British ambassador in Washington, Tony Brenton, will raise 'official concern' with the White House.

According to US legal and constitutional experts, the Final Rule, the regulations that will govern the military commissions, has rendered a fair trial almost impossible.

Among those representing the two British men in the United States is Michael Ratner, of the Centre for Constitutional Rights, who believes the tribunals are weighted in favour of securing guilt verdicts.

'The trial system in Guantanamo Bay allows a whole series of serious breaches of defendant rights that would mean that they could never come to trial in the US.

'First, it allows the wiretapping of attorney-client meetings, although those wiretaps cannot actually be used in evidence. Then there is the fact that the Pentagon "Appointing Authority" - probably US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld - has the ability to remove a judge at any time without giving any reason.'

Among other concerns about the 50-page Final Rule, which was published by the Department of Defence last week for governing the trials, are:

that rules of evidence are so broad that it is left at the discretion of the trial's presiding officer whether to allow any evidence he believes would be convincing to a 'reasonable person' and that that would appear to allow the admission of hearsay evidence; that evidence can be admitted by telephone and by pseudonym; that it is insisted that only security-screened civil attorneys be allowed to appear before the court and they can also be removed at any time.

The concerns follow allegations by Amnesty and other human rights groups that US detainees in Guantanamo Bay have suffered severe abuse, including beatings that may have led to the death of two men held at the US detention facility at Bagram.

In March, Amnesty wrote to President Bush to complain about the treatment of detainees after US military officials reportedly confirmed that post-mortem reports in the cases of the two men who died at Bagram gave cause of death as 'homicide' and 'blunt force injuries'.

Posted by Lisa at 10:10 AM
July 10, 2003
Interview With Amnesty International's Matthew Van Saun About Guantanamo Bay

As I've mentioned in an earlier post, there appears to be a real problem going on at Guantanamo Bay right now with regard to the treatment of prisoners, the treatment of under age youths, and the recent floating of plans to convert the facility into a Death Camp.

I took the liberty of interviewing Amnesty International's Matthew Van Saun about this issue a few weeks ago while attending the Friday 13, 2003 INS Mass Deportation Protest in San Francisco. Matthew emphasized that now is the time to be proactive in letting our representatives know that these people deserve trials and executing them without due process is unacceptable.

The wind was blowing really hard, so I've transcribed the entire interview, in case portions of it are too hard to hear over the wind.

Video: Matthew Van Saun On Guantanamo Bay (Small - 9 MB)

Van Saun: I'm out here today regarding the deportation of 13,000 Arab and Muslim men -- giving a statement for Amnesty International.

Question: Can you confirm some of the reports that we've been hearing about the government sort of floating plans to turn Guantanamo Bay into a death camp?

Van Saun: Well, I can tell you that Amnesty International, if these reports turn out to be true, would be very opposed to that plan. Because, what they would be doing is basically executing people without a trial and without due process. Amnesty International has a very strong platform against the death penalty in the United States.

We would be very concerned if they were building a purported "camp" to actually put people to death in Guantanamo. It's something that Amnesty International has sent out issue briefs on and press statements, and if it turns out to be true, I'm sure that Amnesty International would like to send a delegation down to Guantanamo to inspect this camp or this proposed idea of setting up some sort of death camp. If it's legitimate.

Question: If it's legitimate? There have been people from the Administration saying they're thinking about it, basically?

Van Saun: Yes. Well, if we have information that says that they are actually going to follow through with their proposal of turning it into a quasi-death camp. If that's what they're planning on. Then we would be very much opposed to such a thing.

Question: But it's hard to really oppose it until they've announced that they're implementing something?

Van Saun: Well, we can still oppose it by pressuring members of Congress and the government. Especially the Justice Department and the Department of Defense. We can still shoot it down as well because we would really want to make sure that they know that it would not be acceptable, even for an idea, to put people to death at Guantanamo.

Question: Do you think these days that maybe Congress is a better bet than the Department of Justice as far as telling people that care what we think?

Van Saun: I think so. I think if we put a lot of pressure on our Congressman and our Senators, in San Francisco and all over the country, to make sure they're aware of these issues. Some congressman sometimes aren't even aware of what's going on. And it's best to be proactive in stopping the government before they act in such an instance, if they were going to do something.

Question: So maybe we'd write a letter to bring it to their attention, or something, before it even gets their desks?

Van Saun: Letters, phone calls, emails, faxes -- whatever it takes to get people to realize that this is an unacceptable form of punishment.

Question: Does Amnesty International have a position you can talk about in terms of Guantanamo Bay and the conditions that the prisoners are being kept in? Did you guys have an inspection team there or anything?

Van Saun: I don't think Amnesty actually ever had an inspection team allowed into Guantanamo Bay.

Question: So there hasn't been one?

Van Saun: As far as I know, there has never been an inspection team from Amnesty International allowed into Guantanamo Bay.

Posted by Lisa at 12:44 PM