ModernityBlog

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Posts Tagged ‘Gitmo

Bickering, Assange And Wikleaks.

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I hadn’t realised it but apparently there is a lot of bickering behind the recent leaks on Gitmo:

“The fight over who had what when, and was supposed to use it how, is leading to some especially hard feelings, including between folks who once got along. The gist seemed to be, “Is there no decency anymore?” Over here we have Wikileaks (presumably Julian Assange), tweeting annoyance over former colleague Daniel Domscheit-Berg’s alleged sneakiness.
“Domschiet, NYT, Guardian, attempted Gitmo spoiler against our 8 group coalition,” tweeted the Wikileaks account. “We had intel on them and published first.” And over there we have Pentagon press secretary and former NBC correspondent Geoff Morrell complaining about the New York Times’ Easter offensive. “Thx to Wikileaks we spent Easter weekend dealing w/NYT & other news orgs publishing leaked classified GTMO docs,” Morrell tweeted earlier today.

That Wikileaks earns the sarcastic thanks in Morrell’s account, considering that Times executive editor Bill Keller says in Calderone’s piece that “WikiLeaks is not our source.” But I guess it’s still a bit easier and less relationship damaging for the Pentagon to go after Assange and company than Keller and his team. “

Michael Calderone at HuffPost covers it too.

TPM LiveWire seems to get to the nub of the issue:

“Wikileaks founder Julian Assange's reputation as a fighter for transparency and destroyer of secrets ought to be thoroughly demolished by today’s spectacle of the New York Times literally forcing him to give up the Guantanamo Bay files he’d been hoarding for months.

Assange has been sitting on the 700-plus Gitmo detainee files since at least May of last year, when accused Wikileaker Bradley Manning confessed in a chat session to passing them to Wikileaks along with a plethora of classified military reports and diplomatic cables. They were the final sizable arrow in Assange’s anti-government quiver, and for months we’ve been waiting, and waiting, and waiting for their inevitable release. But Assange kept holding back.

They were published last night, at long last, only because the New York Times finagled its own copy–presumably from Wikileaks defector Daniel Domscheit-Berg–and shared it with NPR and the Guardian. Wikileaks, which had been working with the Washington Post and other papers on the Gitmo papers but was still keeping the information embargoed, scrambled to get its own version up. “

Update 1: Lest I forget, the NY times a good piece, a History of the Detainee Population.

Gitmo, 150 Totally Innocent People.

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In olden times Kings and despots would invariably imprison their opponents. They would be thrown into a dark dungeon and forgotten about.

More recently in the 17th and 18th centuries the French King would use lettres de cachet to lock up those that annoyed or offended him.

The threat of arbitrary arrest or unfair imprisonment was one of the major grievances with the remnants of feudalism. In modern society, wherever possible, those arrested have certain rights to 1) be treated fairly 2) to know the charges against them 3) to receive a fair trial etc.

In fact, the Americans went so far as to enshrine many of these rights in the fifth and sixth amendments to the US Constitution:

“In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favour, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defence.”

Rather commendable and forward thinking when you consider it, not forgetting Miranda.

However, all of these wonderful checks and balances which have developed in America were of little use to the detainees of Guantánamo Bay, or Gitmo as it is known.

Hundreds and hundreds of individuals were captured, kidnapped, many times just simply taken by local police forces or security services then handed over to the CIA (or the equivalent) and moved for rendition somewhere.

Rendition is the polite expression for forced travel and torture.

It is not quite as catchy as lettres de cachet, but the results are often similar. Instead of a dungeon the detainees would eventually end up in Gitmo, in a legal limbo, unaware of the charges against them and with no legal recourse until recently.

And all of these shameful practices have been going on since 2002, some nine years ago, and we know from recently released documents that at least 150 of the detainees were totally innocent.

The NPR’s take on it, Military Documents Detail Life At Guantanamo.

The NY Times, Classified Files Offer New Insights Into Detainees.

This is the Wikileaks page on it.

The Washington Post’s Interactive graphic tour of Guantanamo Bay.

This is not good, Detainees Transferred Or Freed Despite ‘High Risk’.

Update 1: The Guardian has a good page on Gitmo.

Written by modernityblog

25/04/2011 at 04:21

Kuwait, A Quantico Brig And Now Fort Leavenworth.

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The captivity of Bradley Manning does no favours for America, his treatment has been harsh, petty and unnecessary.

I had not appreciated that Manning was held in Kuwait for two months before his move to the US, and it is fairly clear that the regime at Quantico was used to make him lose his marbles, Kim Zetter has more:

“Manning’s treatment during his detention has been the subject of intense criticism. The ACLU called his treatment “gratuitously harsh” in a letter sent last month to U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates. And former State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley was forced to resign after publicly calling Manning’s treatment by the military “counterproductive and stupid.” President Obama found himself defending Manning’s treatment at a press conference last month.

Johnson, however, said there were a number of other issues that led the Pentagon to re-evaluate Manning’s confinement location. These included the length of time he’s expected to be confined prior to undergoing a trial, and the services available to pre-trial prisoners.

Johnson said Quantico was designed for only short pre-trial stays of a few months, whereas Manning was already in his ninth month at Quantico and is not expected to go to trial for many more months. Leavenworth was also more suitable because it has better mental health support and is an Army facility. Manning is an Army soldier, and the case against him is being handled by the Army, not the Marine Corps.

PJ Crowley On Bradley Manning.

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Being sacked for saying what you know to be true is a bit more than annoying, and in this instance rather surprising when you consider what position in the State Department that PJ Crowley held.

He was Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs.

He was the public face of the State Department, and so his criticism of Bradley Manning’s humiliating treatment holds all the more veracity and force.

PJ Crowley is not some chicken-livered-do-gooding-liberal, he’s an ex-military man who would like to see Bradley Manning prosecuted and presumably locked up for decades and decades.

But even he can see how the treatment meted out to Manning is not only degrading but stupid, he writes in the Guardian:

“Based on 30 years of government experience, if you have to explain why a guy is standing naked in the middle of a jail cell, you have a policy in need of urgent review. The Pentagon was quick to point out that no women were present when he did so, which is completely beside the point.

The issue is a loss of dignity, not modesty.

Our strategic narrative connects our policies to our interests, values and aspirations. While what we do, day in and day out, is broadly consistent with the universal principles we espouse, individual actions can become disconnected. Every once in a while, even a top-notch symphony strikes a discordant note. So it is in this instance.

The Pentagon has said that it is playing the Manning case by the book. The book tells us what actions we can take, but not always what we should do. Actions can be legal and still not smart. With the Manning case unfolding in a fishbowl-like environment, going strictly by the book is not good enough. Private Manning’s overly restrictive and even petty treatment undermines what is otherwise a strong legal and ethical position.”

Bradley Manning’s Treatment.

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I suppose that the appalling treatment of Bradley Manning is to break him, to make him confess and more, this is so wrong, the Guardian reports:

“Bradley Manning, the US soldier being held in solitary confinement on suspicion of having released state secrets to WikiLeaks, has spoken out for the first time about what he claims is his punitive and unlawful treatment in military prison.

In an 11-page legal letter released by his lawyer, David Coombs, Manning sets out in his own words how he has been “left to languish under the unduly harsh conditions of max [security] custody” ever since he was brought from Kuwait to the military brig of Quantico marine base in Virginia in July last year. He describes how he was put on suicide watch in January, how he is currently being stripped naked every night, and how he is in general terms being subjected to what he calls “unlawful pre-trial punishment”.

It is the first time Manning has spoken publicly about his treatment, having previously only been heard through the intermediaries of his lawyer and a friend. Details that have emerged up to now have inspired the UN to launch an inquiry into whether the conditions amount to torture, and have led to protests to the US government from Amnesty International.

The most graphic passage of the letter is Manning’s description of how he was placed on suicide watch for three days from 18 January. “I was stripped of all clothing with the exception of my underwear. My prescription eyeglasses were taken away from me and I was forced to sit in essential blindness.”

Manning writes that he believes the suicide watch was imposed not because he was a danger to himself but as retribution for a protest about his treatment held outside Quantico the day before. Immediately before the suicide watch started, he said guards verbally harassed him, taunting him with conflicting orders. “

Update 1: One of Hillary Clinton’s officials even acknowledges the mistreatment of Manning, calling it counterproductive:

“Hillary Clinton’s spokesman has launched a public attack on the Pentagon for the way it is treating military prisoner Bradley Manning, the US soldier suspected of handing the US embassy cables to WikiLeaks.

PJ Crowley, the assistant secretary of state for public affairs at the US state department, has said Manning is being “mistreated” in the military brig at Quantico, Virginia. “What is being done to Bradley Manning is ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid on the part of the department of defence.”

Crowley’s comments are the first sign of a crack within the Obama administration over the handling of the WikiLeaks saga in which hundreds of thousands of confidential documents were handed to the website.

It is the first time anyone within the administration has expressed concern about Manning’s treatment, which has included being held for 23 hours in solitary confinement in his cell and being stripped naked every night. Until now the US government had presented a united front, promising to aggressively pursue anyone involved in leaking state secrets. Clinton herself described the WikiLeaks material as “an attack on America” and said “we are taking aggressive steps” to hold those who leaked it to account. “

Update 3: I can understand being concerned for a potential suicide, but it appears that Manning is shackled most of the time and why he can’t be given an equivalent pair of plastic prescription glasses, with unbreakable lenses I don’t know, the Beeb has more:

“Private Manning is being held in solitary confinement at a maximum security US military jail.

He is shackled at all times and has been on suicide watch at the Quantico marine base in Virginia.”

I would like someone to explain to me, how someone shackled at all times and in his underpants, under constant supervision should have his glasses taken away?

Written by modernityblog

11/03/2011 at 15:12

News just In, Assange’s Extradition Ordered.

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According to information coming out of the hearing, Julian Assange’s extradition has been ordered.

Seemingly, he will have 7 days to appeal. Not looking good.

I imagine he’ll lose, then end up in Sweden for a while, and finally the US.

Update 1: The full judgement against Assange is here. Thanks to David Allen Green.

Update 2: This part of the judgement is interesting:

“There was at one stage a suggestion that Mr Assange could be extradited to the USA (possibly to Guantanamo Bay or to execution as a traitor). The only live evidence on the point came from the defence witness Mr Alhem who said it couldn’t happen. In the absence of any evidence that Mr Assange risks torture or execution Mr Robertson was right not to pursue this point in closing. It may be worth adding that I do not know if Sweden has an extradition treaty with the United States of America. There has been no evidence regarding this. I would expect that there is such a treaty. If Mr Assange is surrendered to Sweden and a request is made to Sweden for his extradition to the United States of America, then article 28 of the framework decision applies. In such an event the consent of the Secretary of State in this country will be required, in accordance with section 58 of the Extradition Act 2003, before Sweden can order Mr Assange’s extradition to a third State. The Secretary of State is required to give notice to Mr Assange unless it is impracticable to do so. Mr Assange would have the protection of the courts in Sweden and, as the Secretary of State’s decision can be reviewed, he would have the protection of the English courts also. But none of this was argued.

I have specifically considered whether the physical or mental condition of the defendant is such that it would be unjust or oppressive to extradite him.

In fact as I am satisfied that extradition is compatible with the defendant’s Convention rights, I must order that Mr Assange be extradited to Sweden.

Howard Riddle
Senior District Judge (Chief Magistrate)
Appropriate Judge

24th February 2011 “

Update 3: There a site for Wikileaks videos, wikileaks.videohq.tv

Written by modernityblog

24/02/2011 at 12:34

156 Pages.

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I should have written more after those seven paragraphs that the British government wanted to suppress concerning the treatment of Binyam Mohamed.

I was just reading the judgement, it is 156 pages and you can see why the British government didn’t want the appalling treatment inflicted on Binyam Mohamed to come out.

The judgement is viewable on the web or downloadable as a RTF file.

This is just a small extract:

“23. The problem in this case is not that Mr Mohamed was tortured in the UK. He was, however, subjected to torture. In Farhi Saeed Bin Mohamed, it is publicly recorded that “the Government does not challenge or deny the accuracy of Binyam Mohamed’s story of brutal treatment (p58)…the account in Binyam Mohamed’s diary bears several indicia of reliability (p61).” Note is taken of his “willingness to test the truth of his version of events in both the courts of law as well as the court of public opinion” (p62). Towards the end of its judgment two specific matters are recorded:

“(a)…[Mr Mohamed’s] trauma lasted for 2 long years. During that time, he was physically and psychologically tortured. His genitals were mutilated. He was deprived of sleep and food. He was summarily transported from one foreign prison to another. Captors held him in stress positions for days at a time. He was forced to listen to piercingly loud music and the screams of other prisoners while locked in a pitch-black cell. All the while, he was forced to inculpate himself and others in various plots to imperil Americans. The Government does not dispute this evidence.”(p64)

“(b) In this case, even though the identity of the individual interrogator changed (from nameless Pakistanis, to Moroccans, to Americans, and to special agent (the identity is redacted)), there is no question that throughout his ordeal Binyam Mohamed was being held at the behest of the United States (p68)…The court finds that [Mr Mohamed’s] will was overborne by his lengthy prior torture, and therefore his confessions to special agent…do not represent reliable evidence to detain petitioner”.

It gets worse for HMG:

“24. True to our shared traditions the District Court of Columbia made its findings publicly available. The courts in the United States, upholding the principles of open justice, have publicly revealed the essence of Mr Mohamed’s complaint and the circumstances of his detention. This provides an important aspect of my examination of the Foreign Secretary’s reliance on public interest immunity based on the control principle. Although Mr Mohamed is now discharged from the danger of proceedings in the USA, whether capital, or otherwise, there was a time when he was exposed to a genuine and serious risk that if convicted he would be executed. It was to address the risk of his conviction for a capital offence that the present proceedings were launched in this country against the Foreign Secretary. The redacted paragraphs formed part of the reasons of the court in a judgment which vindicated Mr Mohamed’s assertion that UK authorities had been involved in and facilitated the ill-treatment and torture to which he was subjected while under the control of USA authorities. “

So basically, he was tortured on behalf of the American government by various operatives from foreign powers, including an American, and the redacted name of a special agent clearly implies that HMG might have had a hand in it. At the very least, as the judgement suggests, all of this vindicates Binyam Mohamed claim that HMG were involved in and facilitating his ill-treatment and torture.

I have only skimmed the first 40 pages, but I’m sure there is more material in there to indict HMG. Clearly the actual judgement is much worse than those seven paragraphs.

Seven Paragraphs.

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The fragility of the supposed special relationship between Britain and America came into full view today, when it was argued that the release of information which detailed the torture of Binyam Mohamed would have seriously damaged the long standing Anglo-American relationship.

Such an argument did not stand up to much scrutiny, given the fact a US Court had already released the same information into the public domain.

The question as to why the Governments did not want it released is evidenced by the contents.

It has nothing to do with National Security, rather the released information would embarrass the spooks and show how they were complicit in the torture of a British citizen.

Embarrassment, the possibility of criminal proceedings and the desire to keep their questionable activities hidden was behind the court action to restrict those seven paragraphs.

The release of this information is a further nail in the coffin of Gitmo. It should have been closed years ago, and never opened in the first place.

I imagine that when Donald Rumsfeld and George W. Bush discussed the creation of an incarceration facility at Guantanamo Bay they probably thought they were being very clever. As it was something within their control, but in a grey area of legal jurisdiction, which allowed them plenty of freedom to mistreat or to condone the torture of inmates.

I would suspect that most of the torture was done by third parties around the world to keep US officials’ hands clean, but I hope the release of those seven paragraphs will bring forth more information.

We need to fully determine the culpability of those who did the torturing, who planned it and those who authorised it.

Much more than seven paragraphs needs releasing.

Written by modernityblog

10/02/2010 at 14:28

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