Links about political prisoners of conscious, torture, etc

About political prisoners of conscious, torture,  etc

ACTION ALERT NOTICE : <> for more on these subjects, and newer material, please  see

http://inlightofrecentevents.wordpress.com/


Some links about political prisoners of conscious, torture,  etc

http://www.cageprisoners.com/

http://freedetainees.org/

http://emergencyresponse.cc/

http://www.dhafirtrial.net/about-this-site/about-dr-dhafir/

http://www.jubileeinitiative.org/FreeDhafir.htm

http://muslimprisonersupport.com/

http://www.draafia.org/

http://www.toronto18.com

http://www.freefahad.com

http://www.muslimsforjustice.org/

http://www.projectsalam.org

http://www.freesamialarian.com
http://www.projectsalam.org
http://www.dhafirtrial.net/

http://www.yassinaref.com
http://www.freeali.wordpress.com/

http://www.freeshifa.com/

Especially about Solitary Confinement

http://solitarywatch.wordpress.com/

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<> Daniel Patrick Boyd From Wikipedia

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel_Patrick_Boyd

<> Some of the “etc”  of interest and for further investigation:

http://www.ifamericansknew.org/

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And Lest We (not) Forget:

(Q. Who controls the past, present and future?)

Below: Abu Ghuraib [and these were called just a few “bad apples” (spoiling the others presumably)];


Abu-Ghraib-Prison-Photos11jun04p17

abu ghraib 2

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<> Oh,,, And remember this picture of the “Guard” at Abu Ghuraib prison in Iraq, but well  of course they would be called as civilian “contractors” since the Israelis have lots of experience interrogating Palestinians  in the Arabic Language and in enhanced techniques of interrogation, like eletrcity,  water boarding, stress,  and other torture techniques,,,  etc.

guard_abu_ghraib_prison<>

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Gitmo Doctors Hid Evidence of Torture

Fri 29 Apr 2011

They explained away the bone fractures, didn’t ask what caused the lacerations, and called the hallucinations routine. Rather than blowing the whistle, medical professionals entrusted with the care of the detainees at Guantanamo Bay turned a blind eye when there were clear indications of abuse.

That’s according to a newly published report from two physicians with unprecedented access to the medical records of nine Gitmo detainees.

Writing in the online journal PLoS Medicine, Physicians for Human Rights senior medical adviser Vincent Iacopino and retired Brig. Gen. Stephen Xenakis, a psychiatrist now in private practice, found that medical personnel at Guantanamo concealed mental and physical ailments that signaled abusive treatment.

The report — which represents the first independent review of any Guantanamo detainee’s medical record — is the clearest evidence yet that members of the base’s medical staff were complicit in the torture regime there.

“Medics have an independent, professional responsibility to identify and report incidences of cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment and torture,” Xenakis tells Danger Room. “They had a responsibility to speak up.”

“Personality disorders” and “routine stressors of confinement” were catch-all explanations for psychological disturbances, according to the report. “Temporary psychotic symptoms and hallucinations did not prompt consideration of abusive treatment.”

Neither did apparent physical symptoms. Three of the detainees showed evidence of physical maltreatment: contusions, bone fractures, lacerations, peripheral nerve damage and sciatica. But the medical staff turned a blind eye in their reports. “There was no mention of any cause for these injuries,” Iacopino and Xenakis write.

In their professional opinion, “the specific allegations of torture and ill treatment were highly consistent with and supported by physical and psychological evidence observed in all cases.”

Ever since it became public that psychologists were involved in creating abusive interrogation practices for detainees, Physicians for Human Rights and other medical professional organizations have expressed fears that military medical staff were complicit in abuse at Guantanamo. Last month, Truthout published the handwritten notes of a former Air Force psychologist, Bruce Jessen, who reverse-engineered military programs on surviving the “stresses” of detention” for use against terrorism detainees. (“If these stresses are manipulated and increased against us, the cumulative effect can push us out of the optimum range of functioning.”)

Jessen’s work on a psychology-heavy detention and interrogation regimen started with the CIA; a Senate report revealed the CIA instructed the military on these tatics at Guantanamo Bay. Detainees at the facility have gone so far as to claim that medical staff forcibly administered them drugs that made them woozy ahead of interrogation sessions.

But the medical records of detainees haven’t been made public, leaving little evidence to settle the question of medical staff complicity in detention operations. Iacopino and Xenakis, however, have served as medical experts for defense lawyers at Guantanamo. That’s given them unique, privileged access to detainee medical records, which form the basis of their assessment. (They don’t substantiate the allegation of forcible injections.)

Xenakis is dismayed by what he’s found. The great majority of the medical lassitude he says he’s witnessed occurred between 2002 and 2006. But, he says, “the implications of this conduct, including the fact that the medics did not identify it, still has an effect on what happens there.”

In some cases, medical treatment appeared to be conditionally administered. “Several detainees indicated that access to medical care was linked to cooperation with the interrogators,” Iacopino and Xenakis write. In one case, medical personnel certified a detainee as fit to continue being interrogated “after several periods of unconsciousness.”

Neither the Pentagon nor Joint Task Force-Guantanamo, which oversees detention operations at the base, have seen Iacopino and Xenakis’ article. (See update below.) But Maj. Tanya Bradsher, a Pentagon spokeswoman, says the task force’s medics treat detainees “regardless of disciplinary status, level of cooperation or legal status.”

“The Joint Medical Group conducts humane care of detainees,” Bradsher says. “The JMG operations are completely independent of Joint Detention Group and Joint Intelligence operations. Detainees are treated at a dedicated medical facility with state-of-the-art equipment and an expert medical staff.”

Not being a lawyer, Xenakis says he’s not accusing any medical staff at the base of breaking the law. Nor can he specify which detainees have been subject to treatment he considers torture without violating the rules of the military commissions before which he’s testified. But as much as he’s concerned with upholding his profession’s ethical obligations, he says his article is also motivated by a concern for the ways torture jeopardizes the ability to bring detainees to trial for a final adjudication.

“How do we make decisions today about what’s going to be the disposition of these people when they’ve been subjected to such treatment?” Xenakis asks. “How does that help our national security?”

Update

The Joint Medical Group is committed to providing unconditional appropriate comprehensive medical care to all detainees regardless of their disciplinary status, cooperation, or participation in a hunger strike. The healthcare provided to the detainees being held at Guantanamo Bay rivals that provided in any community in the United States. Detainees receive timely, compassionate, quality healthcare and have regular access to primary care and specialist physicians. The care provided to detainees is comparable to that afforded our active duty service members. All medical procedures performed are justified and meet accepted standards of care. A detainee is provided medical care and treatment based solely on his need for such care and the level and type of treatment is dependent on the accepted medical standard of care for the condition being treated. Diagnosis of such conditions and medical care and treatment for them are not affected in any way by a detainee’s cooperation, or lack thereof, during an interrogation session. Similarly, medical care is not provided or withheld based on a detainee’s compliance or noncompliance with detention camp rules or on his refusal to end a hunger strike. Medical decisions and treatment are not withheld as a form of punishment. Additionally, the medical staff has no involvement in discipline decisions made by detention personnel. DoD personnel working in detention facilities operate under a high level of scrutiny and consistently provide the most humane and safe care and custody of individuals under their control.

pencer Ackerman is Danger Room’s senior reporter, based out of Washington, D.C., covering weapons of doom and the strategies they’re used to implement. – Follow

@attackerman and @dangerroom on Twitter.: Now that the Defense Department has seen Iacopino and Xenakis’ article, Bradsher emails the following response:April 27, 2011, Wired

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Ex-Bush Admin Official:

Many at Gitmo Are Innocent

ANDREW O. SELSKY / AP 19mar2009

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – Many detainees locked up at Guantanamo were innocent men swept up by U.S. forces unable to distinguish enemies from noncombatants, a former Bush administration official said Thursday. “There are still innocent people there,” Lawrence B. Wilkerson, a Republican who was chief of staff to then-Secretary of State Colin Powell, told The Associated Press. “Some have been there six or seven years.”

Wilkerson, who first made the assertions in an Internet posting on Tuesday, told the AP he learned from briefings and by communicating with military commanders that the U.S. soon realized many Guantanamo detainees were innocent but nevertheless held them in hopes they could provide information for a “mosaic” of intelligence.

“It did not matter if a detainee were innocent. Indeed, because he lived in Afghanistan and was captured on or near the battle area, he must know something of importance,” Wilkerson wrote in the blog. He said intelligence analysts hoped to gather “sufficient information about a village, a region, or a group of individuals, that dots could be connected and terrorists or their plots could be identified.”

Wilkerson, a retired Army colonel, said vetting on the battlefield during the early stages of U.S. military operations in Afghanistan was incompetent with no meaningful attempt to discriminate “who we were transporting to Cuba for detention and interrogation.”

Navy Cmdr. Jeffrey Gordon, a Pentagon spokesman, declined to comment on Wilkerson’s specific allegations but noted that the military has consistently said that dealing with foreign fighters from a wide variety of countries in a wartime setting was a complex process. The military has insisted that those held at Guantanamo were enemy combatants and posed a threat to the United States.

In his posting for The Washington Note blog, Wilkerson wrote that “U.S. leadership became aware of this lack of proper vetting very early on and, thus, of the reality that many of the detainees were innocent of any substantial wrongdoing, had little intelligence value, and should be immediately released.”

Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Vice President Dick Cheney fought efforts to address the situation, Wilkerson said, because “to have admitted this reality would have been a black mark on their leadership.”

Wilkerson told the AP in a telephone interview that many detainees “clearly had no connection to al-Qaida and the Taliban and were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Pakistanis turned many over for $5,000 a head.”

Some 800 men have been held at Guantanamo since the prison opened in January 2002, and 240 remain. Wilkerson said two dozen are terrorists, including confessed Sept. 11 plotter Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who was transferred to Guantanamo from CIA custody in September 2006.

“We need to put those people in a high-security prison like the one in Colorado, forget them and throw away the key,” Wilkerson said. “We can’t try them because we tortured them and didn’t keep an evidence trail.”

But the rest of the detainees need to be released, he said.

Wilkerson, who flew combat missions as a helicopter pilot in Vietnam and left the government in January 2005, said he did not speak out while in government because some of the information was classified. He said he feels compelled to do so now because Cheney has claimed in recent press interviews that President Barack Obama is making the U.S. less safe by reversing Bush administration policies toward terror suspects, including ordering Guantanamo closed.

The administration is now evaluating what to do with the prisoners who remain at the U.S. military base in Cuba.

“I’m very concerned about the kinds of things Cheney is saying to make it seem Obama is a danger to this republic,” Wilkerson said. “To have a former vice president fear-mongering like this is really, really dangerous.”

source: 31mar2009

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2009/03/19/ex-bush-official-guantanamo-bay-innocent/

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090319/ap_on_re_la_am_ca/cb_guantanamo_wrongly_held/print

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<> And what about Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, and so many others, and those even more notorious “black prisons” not ever  seen, heard or mentioned in public?

Below: Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan

Bagram-3

afgh-camp_bagram

afgh-bagram-worst-ixfrontpic--123417196636101700

Bagram >>> the Granddaddy of US terror camps!!!

http://www.thefirstpost.co.uk/46478,news-comment,news-politics,bagram-the-grandaddy-of-guantanamo-abu-ghraib-and-us-terror-camps

<> Bagram: Obama’s Gitmo, only worse

http://www.examiner.com/x-8131-Sunset-District-Libertarian-Examiner~y2009m6d25-Bagram-Obamas-Gitmo-only-worse

<> Day 2: U.S. abuse of detainees was routine at Afghanistan bases

http://www.mcclatchydc.com/detainees/story/38775.html

<> Bagram – the granddaddy of US terror camps

http://www.thefirstpost.co.uk/46478,features,bagram-the-grandaddy-of-guantanamo-abu-ghraib-and-us-terror-camps

<> This is a US torture camp

Evidence of prisoner abuse at Guantánamo is overwhelming – and it hasn’t made anyone safer

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2007/jan/12/comment.foreignpolicy

<> Afghanistan: Obama’s Camp Bagram Challenge

http://enduringamerica.com/2009/01/27/afghanistan-obamas-camp-bagram-challenge/

Pressure Rising on Obama to Address Bagram Prison

http://washingtonindependent.com/27518/pressure-rising-on-obama-to-address-bagram

<> US illegally detains more Afghans than ever at Bagram military base

http://www.wsws.org/articles/2008/jan2008/afgh-j09.shtml

< Torture Now an Afghanistan Issue

http://www.tomhayden.com

<> The Other Bad War: More Torture in Occupied Afghanistan

http://www.commondreams.org/views06/0302-31.htm

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Red Cross confirms ‘second jail’ at Bagram, Afghanistan

By Hilary Andersson
BBC News
Inmates from the old prison at Bagram have been moved elsewhere

The US airbase at Bagram in Afghanistan contains a facility for detainees that is distinct from its main prison, the Red Cross has confirmed to the BBC.

Nine former prisoners have told the BBC that they were held in a separate building, and subjected to abuse.

The US military says the main prison, now called the Detention Facility in Parwan, is the only detention facility on the base.

However, it has said it will look into the abuse allegations made to the BBC.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said that since August 2009 US authorities have been notifying it of names of detained people in a separate structure at Bagram.

“The ICRC is being notified by the US authorities of detained people within 14 days of their arrest,” a Red Cross spokesman said.

“This has been routine practice since August 2009 and is a development welcomed by the ICRC.”

The spokesman was responding to a question from the BBC about the existence of the facility, referred to by many former prisoners as the Tor Jail, which translates as “black jail”.

ALLEGED ‘SECRET’ JAIL ABUSEBeatings by US soldiers during arrest

Prisoners deliberately prevented from sleeping

Relatives not notified where detainees are held

Lights kept on in cells at all times

US denies abuse allegations

“We are being notified about persons at the Bagram Theatre Internment Facility [now Detention Facility in Parwan] since Feb 2008,” the ICRC spokesman added.

In recent weeks the BBC has logged the testimonies of nine prisoners who say they had been held in the so-called “Tor Jail”.

They told consistent stories of being held in isolation in cold cells where a light is on all day and night.

The men said they had been deprived of sleep by US military personnel there.

In response to these allegations, Vice Adm Robert Harward, in charge of US detentions in Afghanistan, denied the existence of such a facility or abuses.

He told the BBC that the Parwan Detention Facility was the only US detention centre in the country.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/8674179.stm

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CIA Holds Terror Suspects in Secret Prisons
Debate Is Growing Within Agency About Legality and Morality of Overseas System Set Up After 9/11

NA/KabulSaltPit

In Afghanistan, the largest CIA covert prison was code-named the Salt Pit, at center left above.

(Space Imaging Middle East)

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/11/01/AR2005110101644.html

<> Black site From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_site

<> Ghost flights to black sites 27 February 2006, 05:25PM Mona Samari looks at the CIA’s use of rendition in the war against terror. Ghost flights The Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) extradition program—now commonly referred to as extraordinary rendition— involves removing suspects without court approval and rendering them to countries that have a record of torturing suspects in order to extract information… Black sites…Both Amnesty International’s Torture and Secret Detention: Testimony of the ‘Disappeared’ in the ‘War on Terror’ report and Human Rights Watch’s (HRW) Getting away with torture? report address the issue of rendering suspects to black sites….Torture by proxy… Such ‘disappearances’ often go hand-inhand with torture and other ill-treatment….

http://www.amnesty.org.au/hrs/comments/2185/

<> New account sheds light on CIA disappearances and ‘black sites’

http://www.amnesty.org.au/news/comments/10585/

<> Mapping the black sites > Public Broadcasting interactive maps

Explore the interactive map to find out which countries are part of the CIA’s worldwide network of “black sites” and foreign prisons where the Agency has rendered dozens of terror suspects for “enhanced interrogations.” Also, see some of the U.S. front companies and aviation contractors whose planes have been used by the CIA to transport prisoners.

CIA Black world

http://www.pbs.org/frontlineworld/stories/rendition701/map/

<> Some of the whiter black sites since we know a little bit about them

ExtRenditionMap

The U.S. and suspected CIA “black sites” Extraordinary renditions allegedly have been carried out from these countries Detainees have allegedly been transported through these countries Detainees have allegedly arrived in these countries Sources: Amnesty International[31], Human Rights Watch, Black sites article on Wikipedia

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_site

<> Visiting A CIA ‘Black Site’ : from NPR: National Public Broadcasting

“… The U.S. government spends around $50 billion a year on covert activities. That’s according to Trevor Paglen. He’s the author of a book called “Blank Spots on the Map.”… secrecy involves creating spaces that are outside of the law but are outside the normal channels of oversight…. the larger that this secret world grows, the more that it bends the state in its own image, the more that it transforms the state around it to look more like itself….”

CIA-black-map900

A map of black sites across the U.S. based on Trevor Paglen’s research. Courtesty Trevor Paglen

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=101867411

<> Chalmers Johnson and The “Blowback” trilogy

Johnson sees that the enforcement of American hegemony over the world constitutes a new form of global empire. Whereas traditional empires maintained control over subject peoples via colonies, since World War II the US has developed a vast system of hundreds of military bases around the world where it has strategic interests. A long-time Cold Warrior he applauded the collapse of the Soviet Union, I was a cold warrior. There’s no doubt about that. I believed the Soviet Union was a genuine menace. I still think so.[1] But at the same time he experienced a political awakening after the USSR 1989 collapse, noting that instead of demobilizing its armed forces, the US accelerated its reliance on military solutions to problems both economic and political. The result of this militarism (as distinct from actual domestic defense) is more terrorism against the US and its allies, the loss of core democratic values at home, and an eventual disaster for the American economy. The books of the trilogy are:

  • Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire
  • The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic
  • Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chalmers_Johnson

<>  Obama’s Empire: An Unprecedented Network of Military Bases That is Still Expanding

global_network_usa2
Picture Credit: Photobucket

Barack Obama always said he would maintain for the US “the strongest military on the planet.” His national security team is committed to “rebuilding and re-strengthening alliances around the world to advance American interests and American security.” Today, with Obama as commander-in-chief, Washington is expanding its military base network. After the declaration of war on terror and right to pre-emptive war, the US military has an unprecedented global reach.

By Catherine Lutz Newstatesman July 30, 2009

http://www.globalpolicy.org/component/content/article/153-expansion-a-intervention/47999-obamas-empire-an-unprecedented-network-of-military-bases-that-is-still-expanding.html

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Below: new CIA HQ:

CIA-New-HQ

<> 100 Days To Restore The Constitution

http://ccrjustice.org/100-days-restore-constitution

and

on

and

on

See for yourself: search, seek, ask, reflect …

QUOTE:

“It is obligatory upon the Muslims to release their prisoners, even if it exhausts every penny of their wealth”

The renowned Muslim Jurist: Imam Malik bin Anas

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this below is old

As you all know she has unjustly been sentenced

to a zillion years

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Aafia Siddiqui update :

Thursday May 6 NY, NY: court sentencing date

Planned Mass Mobilization For her Support

Protest the injustice and travesty of her trial!!!

A trial that Ignored the claims about Torture

and used outrageously questionable evidence,

while ignoring much clear evidence of her innocence.

WHY? Political motivations, goals.

Read about the time she spent

in prison under torture :

Read about the fact that two of her children

are still missing and

possibly were murdered.

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seek it for yourself (it ha more impact upon your soul) …. and you will receive

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JFAC Horrified by New Abuse Revelations,

Aafia Siddiqui Forced to Walk Naked Over the Qur’an


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 30th 2010
Contact: info@justiceforaafia.org

As hundreds of concerned citizens hold a Day of Remembrance in Pakistan to commemorate the seventh anniversary of her disappearance, the Justice for Aafia Coalition reveal for the first time, in the English language, specific harrowing details of the abuse Aafia Siddiqui was forced to endure in the years spent in secret detention.

During the course of an interview by Kamran Shahid on Pakistan’s Front Line, screened 26th March, Siddiqui’s mother and sister described publicly for the first time the various forms of torture she underwent at the hands of US agents. This included being:

  • forcefully stripped by six men and then repeatedly sexually abused
  • beaten with rifle butts until she bled
  • bound to a bed, with her hands and feet tied whilst unspecified forms of torture were administered to the soles of her feet and head
  • injected with unknown substances
  • dragged by her hair
  • having her hairs pulled out one by one
  • forced to walk on the Qu’ran which had been desecrated in her cell whilst naked

Maryam Hassan, founder of the Justice for Aafia Coalition (JFAC), commented:

“These most recent horrific revelations shine a light for the first time on years of detention shrouded until now in darkness and mystery. Forced nudity, violent sexual abuse, the desecration of the Qu’ran, video-taped torture sessions have become infamous hallmarks of US detention since the start of the War on Terror, from Bagram to Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo.

The Obama administration must immediately disclose any video evidence in its possession relating to Ms Siddiqui’s detention and torture. The American public has a right to know what is being carried out in its name as much as the Pakistani public are deserving of knowing the horrendous abuse one of their citizens has been subjected to. “

For the full interview, transcribed and translated into English by the

Justice for Aafia Coalition, please visit:

http://justiceforaafia.org/index.php/articles/articles/477-front-line-interview-with-aafia-siddiquis-family-

To view the video recording of the interview in Urdu:
http://justiceforaafia.org/index.php/multimedia/475-aafia-siddiqi-front-line-special-program-26th-march-2010

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Other recent updates

Open Letter to US Attorney from Tarek Mehanna Support Committee

***Please forward***

On Friday, March 12, members of the Tarek Mehanna Support Committee attempted for the second time to meet with a representative of the Massachusetts US Attorney’s office. Again we were told to fill out a complaint form–there was no one at the office who could speak to us. We asked whether it was the explicit policy of the new US Attorney not to meet with concerned members of the public. The “Administrative Specialist” insisted that this was not the policy of the office, but couldn’t explain why our calls, faxes and our formal complaint remained unanswered.

This time we left a written statement and directed the administrative assistant to bring it to the attention of the US Attorney. We were told, once again, that someone would contact us on Monday.

Many of us had thought that the former Massachusetts US Attorney Michael Sullivan had set a low water mark for unresponsiveness to community concerns. It seems that the new holder of the office, Carmen Ortiz, may lower the bar still further.

We are releasing our statement as an open letter to the new US Attorney.

=================

United States Attorney Carmen Ortiz
John Joseph Moakley
United States Federal Courthouse
1 Courthouse Way, Suite 9200
Boston, MA 02210

Friday, March 12, 2010

US Attorney Carmen Ortiz:

We are here representing the Tarek Mehanna Support Committee.

During the week of February 22 through February 26 we made numerous phone calls and sent faxes to Assistant Attorney Chakravarty to express strong community concerns in the case of Tarek Mehanna. Chakravarty appears to have dealt with these concerns by disabling his voicemail, routing calls to the voicemail of a secretary who never returned them. As you may have been informed, we sent a delegation to your office on Friday, February 26, to raise our concerns in person. We were instructed to fill out a complaint form with our contact information so that we could arrange an appointment with you. Since then, no one from your office has contacted us.

In our conversation with your administrative assistant, we expressed our belief that the unresponsiveness of your office to community concerns shows an arrogant contempt for the residents of Massachusetts. This contempt is especially egregious in light of the history of severe prosecutorial misconduct that has come to characterize the Massachusetts US Attorney’s office from the time of Sullivan’s leadership.

We are here again to demand that you take our concerns seriously.

We believe that Tarek Mehanna is the victim of FBI retaliation and severe institutional abuse of power because of his refusal to act as an informant for the FBI–a refusal that lies fully within his constitutionally protected rights. The FBI explicitly threatened Mr. Mehanna with this retaliation, saying that they would make his life a “living hell,” by using false allegations of “terrorism” unless he agreed to act as an informant within the Muslim community.

These FBI threats and the decision of the US Attorney’s office to carry them out are reminiscent of the criminal collaboration between Assistant US Attorney Jeffrey Auerhahn–also responsible for Mr. Mehanna’s prosecution–and FBI Special Agent Michael Buckley, documented in the case Ferrara v. US.

Auerhahn’s record of conduct would merit not merely disbarment, but criminal sanctions. These practices include:

*Coercing a witness into giving false testimony (suborning perjury);

*Falsifying evidence;

*Withholding exculpatory evidence from defense;

*Lying before the court (perjury).

US Attorney Michael Sullivan’s failure to sanction Auerhahn for these practices in any meaningful way speaks of complicity in this criminal misconduct at the highest level of the Massachusetts office. As the allegations against Auerhahn came to light, rather than suspending Auerhahn, Sullivan transferred him from the Racketeering Unit to the Anti-Terrorism Unit, where he has continued in the same practices against another set of victims.

The criminal collaboration between Auerhahn and FBI agent Buckley requires that your office not only take action against Auerhahn, but reconsider those pending cases in which Auerhahn has been involved.

We believe that Tarek Mehanna is another innocent victim of illegal practices on the part of the FBI and the US Attorney’s office. We strongly urge you, as the new leader of the Massachusetts US Attorney’s Office, to break with this atrocious history.

Sincerely,

The Tarek Mehanna Support Committee

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One Day We’ll All Be Terrorists By Chris Hedges

December 28, 2009 “Truthdig

One Day We’ll All Be TerroristsBy Chris Hedges

December 28, 2009 “Truthdig” — Syed Fahad Hashmi can tell you about the dark heart of America. He knows that our First Amendment rights have become a joke, that habeas corpus no longer exists and that we torture, not only in black sites such as those at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan or at Guantánamo Bay, but also at the federal Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) in Lower Manhattan. Hashmi is a U.S. citizen of Muslim descent imprisoned on two counts of providing and conspiring to provide material support and two counts of making and conspiring to make a contribution of goods or services to al-Qaida. As his case prepares for trial, his plight illustrates that the gravest threat we face is not from Islamic extremists, but the codification of draconian procedures that deny Americans basic civil liberties and due process. Hashmi would be a better person to tell you this, but he is not allowed to speak.

This corruption of our legal system, if history is any guide, will not be reserved by the state for suspected terrorists, or even Muslim Americans. In the coming turmoil and economic collapse, it will be used to silence all who are branded as disruptive or subversive. Hashmi endures what many others, who are not Muslim, will endure later. Radical activists in the environmental, globalization, anti-nuclear, sustainable agriculture and anarchist movements—who are already being placed by the state in special detention facilities with Muslims charged with terrorism—have discovered that his fate is their fate. Courageous groups have organized protests, including vigils outside the Manhattan detention facility. They can be found at www.educatorsforcivilliberties.org or www.freefahad.com. On Martin Luther King Day, this Jan. 18 at 6 p.m. EST, protesters will hold a large vigil in front of the MCC on 150 Park Row in Lower Manhattan to call for a return of our constitutional rights. Join them if you can.

The case against Hashmi, like most of the terrorist cases launched by the Bush administration, is appallingly weak and built on flimsy circumstantial evidence. This may be the reason the state has set up parallel legal and penal codes to railroad those it charges with links to terrorism. If it were a matter of evidence, activists like Hashmi, who is accused of facilitating the delivery of socks to al-Qaida, would probably never be brought to trial.

Hashmi, who if convicted could face up to 70 years in prison, has been held in solitary confinement for more than 2½ years. Special administrative measures, known as SAMs, have been imposed by the attorney general to prevent or severely restrict communication with other prisoners, attorneys, family, the media and people outside the jail. He also is denied access to the news and other reading material. Hashmi is not allowed to attend group prayer. He is subject to 24-hour electronic monitoring and 23-hour lockdown. He must shower and go to the bathroom on camera. He can write one letter a week to a single member of his family, but he cannot use more than three pieces of paper. He has no access to fresh air and must take his one hour of daily recreation in a cage. His “proclivity for violence” is cited as the reason for these measures although he has never been charged or convicted with committing an act of violence.

“My brother was an activist,” Hashmi’s brother, Faisal, told me by phone from his home in Queens. “He spoke out on Muslim issues, especially those dealing with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. His arrest and torture have nothing to do with providing ponchos and socks to al-Qaida, as has been charged, but the manipulation of the law to suppress activists and scare the Muslim American community. My brother is an example. His treatment is meant to show Muslims what will happen to them if they speak about the plight of Muslims. We have lost every single motion to preserve my brother’s humanity and remove the special administrative measures. These measures are designed solely to break the psyche of prisoners and terrorize the Muslim community. These measures exemplify the malice towards Muslims at home and the malice towards the millions of Muslims who are considered as non-humans in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

The extreme sensory deprivation used on Hashmi is a form of psychological torture, far more effective in breaking and disorienting detainees. It is torture as science. In Germany, the Gestapo broke bones while its successor, the communist East German Stasi, broke souls. We are like the Stasi. We have refined the art of psychological disintegration and drag bewildered suspects into secretive courts when they no longer have the mental and psychological capability to defend themselves.

“Hashmi’s right to a fair trial has been abridged,” said Michael Ratner, the president of the Center for Constitutional Rights. “Much of the evidence in the case has been classified under CIPA, and thus Hashmi has not been allowed to review it. The prosecution only recently turned over a significant portion of evidence to the defense. Hashmi may not communicate with the news media, either directly or through his attorneys. The conditions of his detention have impacted his mental state and ability to participate in his own defense.

“The prosecution’s case against Hashmi, an outspoken activist within the Muslim community, abridges his First Amendment rights and threatens the First Amendment rights of others,” Ratner added. “While Hashmi’s political and religious beliefs, speech and associations are constitutionally protected, the government has been given wide latitude by the court to use them as evidence of his frame of mind and, by extension, intent. The material support charges against him depend on criminalization of association. This could have a chilling effect on the First Amendment rights of others, particularly in activist and Muslim communities.”

Constitutionally protected statements, beliefs and associations can now become a crime. Dissidents, even those who break no laws, can be stripped of their rights and imprisoned without due process. It is the legal equivalent of preemptive war. The state can detain and prosecute people not for what they have done, or even for what they are planning to do, but for holding religious or political beliefs that the state deems seditious. The first of those targeted have been observant Muslims, but they will not be the last.

“Most of the evidence is classified,” Jeanne Theoharis, an associate professor of political science at Brooklyn College who taught Hashmi, told me, “but Hashmi is not allowed to see it. He is an American citizen. But in America you can now go to trial and all the evidence collected against you cannot be reviewed. You can spend 2½ years in solitary confinement before you are convicted of anything. There has been attention paid to extraordinary rendition, Guantánamo and Abu Ghraib with this false idea that if people are tried in the United States things will be fair. But what allowed Guantánamo to happen was the devolution of the rule of law here at home, and this is not only happening to Hashmi.”

Hashmi was, like so many of those arrested during the Bush years, briefly a poster child in the “war on terror.” He was apprehended in Britain on June 6, 2006, on a U.S. warrant. His arrest was the top story on the CBS and NBC nightly news programs, which used graphics that read “Terror Trail” and “Web of Terror.” He was held for 11 months at Belmarsh Prison in London and then became the first U.S. citizen to be extradited by Britain. The year before his arrest, Hashmi, a graduate of Brooklyn College, had completed his master’s degree in international relations at London Metropolitan University. His case has no more substance than the one against the seven men arrested on suspicion of plotting to blow up the Sears Tower, a case where, even though there were five convictions after two mistrials, an FBI deputy director acknowledged that the plan was more “aspirational rather than operational.” And it mirrors the older case of the Palestinian activist Sami Al-Arian, now under house arrest in Virginia, who has been hounded by the Justice Department although he should legally have been freed. Judge Leonie Brinkema, currently handling the Al-Arian case, in early March, questioned the U.S. attorney’s actions in Al-Arian’s plea agreement saying curtly: “I think there’s something more important here, and that’s the integrity of the Justice Department.”

The case against Hashmi revolves around the testimony of Junaid Babar, also an American citizen. Babar, in early 2004, stayed with Hashmi at his London apartment for two weeks. In his luggage, the government alleges, Babar had raincoats, ponchos and waterproof socks, which Babar later delivered to a member of al-Qaida in south Waziristan, Pakistan. It was alleged that Hashmi allowed Babar to use his cell phone to call conspirators in other terror plots.

“Hashmi grew up here, was well known here, was very outspoken, very charismatic and very political,” said Theoharis. “This is really a message being sent to American Muslims about the cost of being politically active. It is not about delivering alleged socks and ponchos and rain gear. Do you think al-Qaida can’t get socks and ponchos in Pakistan? The government is planning to introduce tapes of Hashmi’s political talks while he was at Brooklyn College at the trial. Why are we willing to let this happen? Is it because they are Muslims, and we think it will not affect us? People who care about First Amendment rights should be terrified. This is one of the crucial civil rights issues of our time. We ignore this at our own peril.”

Babar, who was arrested in 2004 and has pleaded guilty to five counts of material support for al-Qaida, also faces up to 70 years in prison. But he has agreed to serve as a government witness and has already testified for the government in terror trials in Britain and Canada. Babar will receive a reduced sentence for his services, and many speculate he will be set free after the Hashmi trial. Since there is very little evidence to link Hashmi to terrorist activity, the government will rely on Babar to prove intent. This intent will revolve around alleged conversations and statements Hashmi made in Babar’s presence. Hashmi, who was a member of the New York political group Al Muhajiroun as a student at Brooklyn College, has made provocative statements, including calling America “the biggest terrorist in the world,” but Al Muhajiroun is not defined by the government as a terrorist organization. Membership in the group is not illegal. And our complicity in acts of state terror is a historical fact.

There will be more Hashmis, and the Justice Department, planning for future detentions, set up in 2006 a segregated facility, the Communication Management Unit, at the federal prison in Terre Haute, Ind. Nearly all the inmates transferred to Terre Haute are Muslims. A second facility has been set up at Marion, Ill., where the inmates again are mostly Muslim but also include a sprinkling of animal rights and environmental activists, among them Daniel McGowan, who was charged with two arsons at logging operations in Oregon. His sentence was given “terrorism enhancements” under the Patriot Act. Amnesty International has called the Marion prison facility “inhumane.” All calls and mail—although communication customarily is off-limits to prison officials—are monitored in these two Communication Management Units. Communication among prisoners is required to be only in English. The highest-level terrorists are housed at the Penitentiary Administrative Maximum Facility, known as Supermax, in Florence, Colo., where prisoners have almost no human interaction, physical exercise or mental stimulation, replicating the conditions for most of those held at Guantánamo. If detainees are transferred from Guantánamo to the prison in in Thomson, Ill., they will find little change. They will endure Guantánamo-like conditions in colder weather.

Our descent is the familiar disease of decaying empires. The tyranny we impose on others we finally impose on ourselves. The influx of non-Muslim American activists into these facilities is another ominous development. It presages the continued dismantling of the rule of law, the widening of a system where prisoners are psychologically broken by sensory deprivation, extreme isolation and secretive kangaroo courts where suspects are sentenced on rumors and innuendo and denied the right to view the evidence against them. Dissent is no longer the duty of the engaged citizen but is becoming an act of terrorism.

Chris Hedges, whose column is published on Truthdig every Monday, spent two decades as a foreign reporter covering wars in Latin America, Africa, Europe and the Middle East. He has written nine books, including “Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle” (2009) and “War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning” (2003).

Copyright © 2009 Truthdig, L.L.C.

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Americans Held in Pakistan Allege FBI Abuse

i.e. they say they are being tortured, set up,

and kept away from Media, Families, Lawyers

See the AP video exposing their cry for help

and their note thrown from the vehicle

while being transported to court

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yvozOBLSPGs

<> Aafia Siddiqui maintains her innocence

Siddiqui continues to say that the charges against her are fabricated

Mystery of Siddiqui disappearance

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/7544008.stm

Pakistani woman denies shooting US Afghan soldiers

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/8467832.stm

<> About her testimony

THE PEACE AND JUSTICE FOUNDATION

11006 Veirs Mill Rd, STE L-15, PMB 298  Silver Spring, MD. 20902

SAFAR 1431 A.H. (January 31, 2010)

THE POWERFUL TESTIMONY OF Dr. Aafia Siddiqui

Aafia Siddiqui – a daughter, a sister, a mother of three, committed Muslim, social scientist, hafiz of Qur’an – needed to be heard. For years she had suffered in virtual silence…aching to be heard, to be understood, to have certain malicious untruths corrected and exposed for the lies they were.  That day finally came on Thursday, January 28, 2010!

The high drama of that day’s proceedings revolved around the question of whether or not U.S. District Judge Richard Berman would grant Aafia’s repeated demand to take the stand in her own defense.

Aafia’s lawyers appeared to be animate in their opposition to her taking the stand, while the prosecution appeared (on the surface) to be in favor of Aafia being entitled to her Fifth Amendment right. Her brother (Muhammad) was apprehensive about her taking the stand, leaning more in favor of her following the advice of her lawyers. Even Pakistani Ambassador Hussain Haqqani became involved. During a short visit he was allowed with the defendant, he reportedly advised Aafia to follow the advice of her lawyers.

Aafia’s response to this collective concern was that she would make istiqara (a supplication to ALLAH Almighty for guidance on the matter); and in the end Aafia Siddiqui would be heard.

While I understood the reservations of those who were concerned about Aafia taking the stand (given all that she had already been through), I fully supported our sister’s right to be heard, and was guardedly optimistic about the potential outcome. More than anything, however, I knew that Aafia – like two young Muslim men in an Atlanta courtroom, and several young Muslim men in a New Jersey courtroom (who were eager, but manipulated into not taking the stand in their own defense not long ago) – needed to be heard! Aafia needed to have her day in court!

The process began with a preliminary (test) examination, with Aafia taking the witness stand in the absence of the jury – a kind of hearing within a hearing – to see how she would respond to that type of intensive and focused examination. After the judge determined that she was capable enough to enjoy her constitutional “right” to take the stand in her own defense, the jury was brought back into the courtroom, and it was on. (And what truly spectacular courtroom drama it turned out to be!)

The following summary is based on my notes from January 28th

Open court proceedings began late in the morning, due to a number of procedural issues that needed to be addressed behind closed doors. Once proceedings began, it did so with the judge explaining Aafia’s right, and the possible risks, of her taking the stand. There was extensive discussion about the course and extent of cross examination should Aafia decide to testify.

The government’s support of Aafia taking the stand was full of irony, given the fact that the government had repeatedly argued (during pre-trial and trial proceedings) that Aafia should not even be allowed to remain in the courtroom, because of her periodic outbursts and “uncontrollable” nature (in their view).

The First Witness

It was noted by the government that over a 12 day period, while Aafia was at the Craig Field Hospital at Bagram for critical care medical treatment, following her near fatal re-arrest in July 2008, two FBI agents had continuous access to the injured prisoner (a male and female who did not identify themselves to Aafia as FBI personnel).

FBI Special Agent Angela Sercer was the first to testify. She spoke about how she interrogated Aafia on a daily basis for the purpose of gathering “intelligence.” She described how she sat with Aafia for an average of eight hours each day, and of how they discussed the shooting incident and other related matters (discussions she said Aafia would always initiate). Agent Sercer prepared written reports, and disclosed during testimony that Aafia was never Mirandized (i.e. informed of her rights to remain silent and consult with an attorney before questioning) , nor did she have access to a Pakistani consular official.

According to Sercer, Aafia mostly enjoyed her discussions with this special agent. Sercer maintained that she treated Aafia with respect and did her best to respond to Aafia’s needs – i.e. when she requested food, water, bathroom access, or when she requested a Qur’an and a scarf, or when she would complain that the “soft restraints” were too tight and needed to be loosened, etc.

Between 7/19/-8/4/08, FBI agents were posted inside and outside Aafia’s room 24 hours a day, ostensibly to insure that Aafia could not escape and to provide security for hospital personnel – despite the “soft restraints” which secured her hands and legs to the bed (in what Aafia later described as very uncomfortable positions) during her stay at this field hospital in Bagram.

The second witness

The second agent to testify was FBI Special Agent Bruce Kamerman, who had reportedly been assigned on 7/21/08. He claimed that Aafia made numerous statements, that she seemed lucid and to not be in much pain. He also insisted that there was never any coercion.  He testified that Aafia had no visitors, and that no Afghan staff attended to her. He also claimed that there were occasions when Aafia would declare that her children were dead, and other times when she stated they might be living with her sister.

Following the testimony of the second agent, a hearing within the trial was held so that Aafia could give testimony (in the absence of the jury).

Aafia testified that when she first realized she was in a hospital she had tubes everywhere. She was in a narcotic state resulting from the administration of powerful drugs (one or two she could remember by name, others she couldn’t).  She recalled how her hands and feet were secured uncomfortably apart. She said the agents never identified themselves as FBI, except for “Mr. Hurley.”

Aafia accused Agent Bruce Kamerman of subjecting her to “psychological torture.” She accused him of being immodest whenever he was present and medical personnel needed to examine her, and complained of how he would stand right outside the bathroom door whenever she needed to use it. She testified that Kamerman would sometimes come in the middle of the night (when he wasn’t supposed to be there), and encourage the person assigned to take a break. Aafia said she remained in a sleep deprived state as a result of his frequent presence.

During this period she never had any contact with family, nor with any Pakistani authorities. She thought that [FBI Agent] “Angela was just a nice person.”

During the cross examination Aafia spoke about being “tortured in the secret prison,” and of how she kept asking about her children. She insisted that she never opined that they might be with her sister.

(I should note here that Aafia’s testimony was consistent with information contained on an audio CD that we’ve produced on the case.  On the CD, former Bagram and Guantanamo prisoner Moazam Beg recounts how the un-identified female prisoner at Bagram, known only as Prisoner 650, was identified as a Pakistani national who appeared to be in her 30s, and as someone who had been torn away from her children and who didn’t know where they were.)

Aafia also testified that she had multiple gunshot wounds; and that in addition to the gunshot wounds she had a debilitating back condition (resulting from being thrown on the floor after she was shot), persistent headaches, and an intubation tube. She also emphasized that she was in and out of consciousness; and, at times, mentally incoherent.

The video testimony of an Afghan security chief (by the name of Qadeer) was received by the court. While I had to briefly leave the court, and missed this testimony, it is my understanding that what Qadeer had to say about events at the Afghan National Police station in Ghazni – leading up to the shooting of Aafia – contradicted the testimony of a number of the government’s main witnesses.

Later in the afternoon, when Aafia testified in front of the jury, the overflow courtroom (where I was seated) was full of observers. The majority appeared to be non-Muslims in professional attire – a probable mix of court and Justice Department personnel (including interns), law students, and a few journalists. I would estimate that roughly a quarter of the observers in this overflow courtroom were made up of solid Aafia supporters – and yet the reaction to the testimony at times was both interesting and edifying.

When I returned to the courtroom (about 10 minutes into Aafia’s testimony), she was describing her academic work leading up to the achievement of her PhD at Brandeis University. She testified that after completing her doctorate studies she taught in a school, and that her interest was in cultivating the capabilities of dyslexic and other special needs children.

During this line of questioning, the monstrous image that the government had carefully crafted (with considerable support from mainstream media) of this petite young woman, had begun to be deconstructed. The real Dr. Aafia Siddiqui – the committed muslimah, the humanity-loving nurturer and educator, the gentle yet resolute mujahid for truth and justice – began to emerge with full force.

Testimony then proceeded to the events of July 17-18, 2008. Aafia testified that she remembered being concerned about the whereabouts of her missing children. She also remembered a press conference in an Afghan compound.

She testified about being tied down to a bed until she vigorously protested, and was later untied and left behind a curtain.  She later heard American and Afghan voices on the other side of the curtain, and concluded that they [Americans] wanted to return her to a “secret prison” again. She testified about how she had pleaded with the Afghans not to let the Americans take her away.

She testified about peaking through the curtain into the part of the room where Afghans and Americans were talking, and how when a startled American soldier noticed her, he jumped up and yelled that the prisoner had gotten loose, and shot her in the stomach. She described how she was also shot in the side by a second person. She also described how after falling back onto the bed in the room, she was violently thrown to the floor and lost consciousness.

She testified that she was in and out of consciousness, and vaguely recalled being placed on a stretcher, a helicopter, and receiving a blood transfusion – which she protested, drawing laughter in the courtroom when she recounted how she had “threatened to sue” her medical attendants if they gave her a blood transfusion. During this testimony, Aafia animatedly rejected the allegation that she picked up a [M-4] rifle and fired it (or that she even attempted to do so).

The Cross Examination

This is the time when every eye and every ear was riveted on the proceedings. It was the moment that Aafia’s defense attorneys, her brother, and a host of Muslim and non-Muslim supporters (seated within both courtrooms) dreaded. It was also the point in the proceedings that had the prosecution salivating for what opportunities would come there way – or so they thought!

Cross examination began with Aafia revisiting the degrees that she received at MIT and Brandeis universities. She acknowledged that she took a required course in molecular biology; but emphasized that her work was in cognitive neuroscience. When questioned on whether she had ever done any work with chemicals, her response was, “only when required.”

(This opening line of questioning was significant for its prejudice producing potential in the minds of jurors. While Aafia is not being charged with any terrorism conspiracy counts, the threat of terrorism has been the pink elephant in the room throughout this troubling case!)

The prosecutor attempted to draw a sinister correlation between Aafia and her [then] husband being questioned by the FBI in 2002, and leaving the U.S. a week later. Aafia noted that there wasn’t anything sinister about the timing; they had already planned to make that trip home before the FBI visit. To underscore this point, she noted how she later returned to the U.S. to attempt to find work in her field.

One of the most heart-wrenching moments in the cross-examination was when Aafia described how she was briefly re-united with a young boy in Ghazni (July 2008) who could have been her oldest son. She spoke of how she was mentally in a daze at that time, and had not seen any of her children in five years. As a result she could not definitively (than or now) determine if that was indeed her son, Ahmed.

When asked whether she had incriminating documents in her possession on the day she was arrested, Aafia testified that the bag in her possession on the day that she was re-detained was given to her. She didn’t know what was in the bag, nor could she definitively determine if the handwriting on some of the documents was hers or not. She also mentioned on a number of occasions (to the chagrin of the prosecutor) how she was repeatedly tortured by her captors at Bagram.

She was also questioned on whether she had taken a pistol course at a firing range while a student in Boston. Her initial reaction was that she did not have any recollection of taking such a course, and when pressed further, answered “No.”  When the prosecutor continued to press the issue (infusing sinister motivations in the process), Aafia admonished the prosecutor in the strong, clear voice that was heard throughout her testimony: “You can’t build a case on hate; you should build it on fact!”

Aafia testified that all she was thinking about at the time of her re-arrest in Ghazni, was “getting out of that room and not being sent back to the secret prison.” While discussions were going on between the Afghans and Americans, Aafia was searching for a way out. She repeated her assertion that she startled one of the soldiers who hollered, “She’s free! – before shooting her.

Aafia also elicited an approving reaction in the courtroom when she opined, in reaction to the government’s narration of events, she could not believe a soldier would be so irresponsible as to leave his M4 rifle on the floor unsecured.

In response to government questioning she again took the opportunity to strongly rebuke Agent Kamerman, while rejecting most of his testimony revisited by the prosecutor.

Aafia spoke highly of a number of nurses (and a doctor) who took care of her at Bagram.  There was one nurse in particular that Aafia promised to mention favorably if she ever wrote a book. She then produced laughter in the courtroom again when she stated, “Since I don’t think I’m going to write a book, I’m mentioning her now.”

One of the most powerful and revealing moments in the testimony was when she spoke about the people who systematically abused her in the “secret prison” – denouncing them as “fake Americans, not real Americans.” (Because of the way their actions both violated and damaged America’s image!)

She spoke again, under cross examination, about the strong pain medication she was on, and some of the effects this medication had on her.

Aafia also mentioned how she was instructed to translate and copy something from a book while she was secretly imprisoned. During the course of this testimony which repeatedly drew the ire of an increasingly frustrated prosecutor, Aafia noted how she can now understand how people can be framed (for crimes they are not guilty of).

At this point in the proceedings, the judge ordered a brief recess. Clearly the government had thought that they would be able to control and manipulate Aafia in manner that would work in their favor; this ended up being a MAJOR MISCALCULATION. The purpose of this break in the proceedings, in my humble opinion, was to allow the prosecutor to regain her composure, and consult with fellow prosecutors for a more effective line of attack.

When testimony resumed, Aafia spoke of how she was often forced-fed information from one group of persons at the secret prison, and then made to regurgitate the same information before a different group of inquisitors. While it was presented to her as a type of “game,” she spoke of how she would be “punished” if she got something wrong.

On defense cross, Aafia was shown pictures and asked to identify herself in them. She reluctantly did so, but with a little levity, citing how unattractive and immodest the photos were.

I could not see the photos from the overflow courtroom where I was sitting, but I assume that these were the photos of an un-covered, emaciated and emotionally disfigured Aafia Siddiqui – after her horrific ordeal at the hands of American terrorists.

A final note: I sincerely believe that Aafia Siddiqui’s time spent on the witness stand on January 28th was a cathartic experience for her – but one that the prosecution, in retrospect, now deeply regrets. For any truly objective and fair-minded person who witnessed that day’s proceedings, the U.S Government’s case against Aafia Siddiqui was exposed for what it always was…a horrific and profoundly tragic miscarriage of justice!

The struggle continues…

El-Hajj Mauri’ Saalakhan      © copyright 2010, All Rights Reserved

(Permission is granted to forward or publish this information as is, and with the appropriate attribution. )

PROCEEDINGS RESUME AT 9 AM TOMORROW

MONDAY MORNING

500 Pearl Street in lower Manhattan

Court of Judge Berman

<>

<>

<> Yvonne Ridley discusses the Aafia Siddiqui Case

Yvonne Ridley discusses the Aafia Siddiqui Case


http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article24566.htm

“Shock, Horror, Drama” That You Won’t Read In The New York Times

By Yvonne Ridley in New York

February 02, 2010 “Information Clearing House” — Dr Aafia Siddiqui is a bright, intelligent woman who has been through hell having being kidnapped, tortured in secret prisons, gunned down by US soldiers and renditioned to America where she is now facing attempted murder charges against those who shot her .

Only in the cock-eyed crosshairs of George W Bush’s War on Terror could this happen and I hope to God that the jurors who will go through the evidence during the next few hours, if not days, see through this rotten legacy and recognise the case for what it is … a tissue of lies enveloped in a web of deceit.

The last seven years of Dr Aafia’s life could have been penned by a Hollywood scriptwriter, but instead all the folk from Tinsel Town could come up with was the rather tame blockbuster movie Rendition starring Reese Witherspoon.

But several days ago those of us following the case closely were given a glimpse into the dark, mysterious world in which Dr Aafia has been forced to live since 2003.

And more importantly the details were relayed in a hushed court not by any lawyer, but by the only person qualified to talk with any authority about dark prisons, interrogations and abuse – the account relayed to the courtroom in Manhattan, New York came from the mouth of Dr Aafia herself.

Running for more than two weeks there’s been little or no record in the Western media of this shocking case other than some of the most ill-informed, embarrassingly skewed reports which indicate the noble profession of journalism is still in a narcotic malaise in the Big Apple.

That the New York Times had to apologise to its readers on the front page for selling them short on the build up to and the unfolding war in Iraq, one would have thought would have had an impact on the quality of future output.

That the US press corps, with the exception of The Baltimore Sun, had to play catch up after ‘missing’ the Abu Ghraib scandal speaks volumes.

Sadly it seems that huge swathes of the US media have learned nothing.

Just a few days ago an embarrassing wealth of riches in terms of soundbites which would have had most journalists salivating like a Pavlov Dog came tumbling out in the lower Manhattan court.

But like a gaggle of bald men fighting over a comb, the scribes present in the main courtroom could only focus on one irrelevant detail … Dr Aafia Siddiqui had fired a pistol at a gun club. Excuse me? This is America … where half the adult population live in houses where guns are kept. Let’s keep it real – America has 80 million gun owners with a total of 258 million guns.

Possibly the most wronged woman in the entire War on Terror had just revealed how she was held in secret prisons, with no legal representation, cut off from the outside world since 2003 where brutal interrogation techniques were used to break her down. And, to make matters even worse when she was kidnapped from her home city in Karachi, Pakistan her three children were also snatched … the fact two of those children are American citizens held no sway with the majority of the assembled press corps. One wondered if their pants had caught fire if they would have even smelled the smoke.

And so what held the Western media attention? Well, it transpired that Dr Aafia may have taken a pistol shooting course as part of her curriculum in an American university. That’s a bit like an American tourist ordering fish and chips and a cup of tea on arrival in Britain. Hold the front page!

So for your benefit, let me tell you about the real “shock, horror, drama” that you won’t read in the New York Times or the rest of the corporate media.

After two weeks of being baited and defamed, in a calm, articulate and precise manner Dr Aafia Siddiqui finally had her day – and her say – in court.

It should have been a moment of schadenfreude for the prosecution team as they prepared to sit back and enjoy the spectacle of the defendant rant and rave like a mad woman when she decided on her right to take the stand.

Perhaps Judge Richard Berman, a modest little man with much to be modest about, must have thought his rather unremarkable legal career would finally make more than just the current footnote in Wikipedia.

Most of her own legal team watched mortified in the belief that their reluctant client (she had dismissed them publicly many times to no effect) might destroy the robust defence they had built over two weeks.

Even her brother Muhammad, who has sat in court everyday watching and listening to the proceedings told me he wondered if his little sister was making the right decision.

Given the chance, I think I would have also advised her against speaking.

Well thank goodness Dr Aafia ignored us all – within minutes of giving evidence the prosecution wanted to shut her up, Judge Berman looked like he was sucking on the bitterest of lemons and the rest of the courtroom sat back aghast.

The Pakistan media, despatched into one of the two overspill rooms frantically scribbled down their notes so as not to miss one single word and her supporters sat back aghast watching a breathtaking spectacle.

One of the few community leaders who has been outstandingly vocal in his support, El-Hajj Mauri’ Saalakhan, probably expressed himself better than any of the nitwits sleeping on the press benches when he wrote: “She testified that after completing her doctorate studies she taught in a school, and that her interest was in cultivating the capabilities of dyslexic and other special needs children.

“During this line of questioning, the monstrous image that the government had carefully crafted (with considerable support from mainstream media) of this petite young woman, had begun to be deconstructed. The real Dr Aafia Siddiqui – the committed muslimah, the humanity-loving nurturer and educator, the gentle yet resolute mujahid for truth and justice – began to emerge with full force”.

As the evidence continued we learned that she didn’t know where her three children were – it was sensational content. She talked of her dread and fear of being handed back to the Americans when she was arrested in Ghazni and was held by police.

Terrified that yet another secret prison was waiting for her she revealed how she peaked through the curtain into the part of the room where Afghans and Americans were talking, and how when a startled American soldier noticed her, he jumped up and yelled that the prisoner was loose, and shot her in the stomach. She described how she was also shot in the side by a second person. She also described how after falling back onto the bed in the room, she was violently thrown to the floor and lost consciousness.

This ties in exactly with what I was told by the counter terrorism police chief I interviewed in Afghanistan back in the autumn of 2008 – I remember him laughing as he told me how the US soldiers panicked, shot and most of them ran out of the room in a panic. Hmm, no wonder the prosecution didn’t want him giving evidence in court.

Instead they chose to record his interview and voiced it over with a shoddy translator who has a long distance relationship with the Pashtu language … defence team take note. Demand a real Pashtu translation because what was given out in court was misleading and not the words of the actual words of police chief – don’t take my word for it … speak to someone whose first language is Pashtu. it’s hardly rocket science.

Of course there’s no way a bunch of soldiers are going to admit they lost it, but according to those I interviewed for my film In search of Prisoner 650 in Afghanistan that’s exactly what happened.

But let’s return to Aafia and the cross examination which followed. When questioned on whether she had ever done any work with chemicals, her response was, “only when required.”

As Mauri remarked: “This opening line of questioning was significant for its prejudice producing potential in the minds of jurors. While Aafia is not being charged with any terrorism conspiracy counts, the threat of terrorism has been the pink elephant in the room throughout this troubling case!”

The prosecutor attempted to draw a sinister correlation between Aafia and her now ex-husband being questioned by the FBI in 2002, and leaving the US a week later. Aafia noted that there wasn’t anything sinister about the timing; they had already planned to make that trip home before the FBI visit. To underscore this point, she noted how she later returned to the US to attempt to find work in her field.

Mauri said one of the most heart-wrenching moments in the cross-examination was when Dr Aafia described how she was briefly re-united with a young boy in Ghazni (July 2008) who could have been her oldest son. She spoke of how she was mentally in a daze at that time, and had not seen any of her children in five years. As a result she could not definitively (then or now) determine if that was indeed her son, Ahmed.

When asked whether she had incriminating documents in her possession on the day she was arrested, Aafia testified that the bag in her possession on the day that she was re-detained was given to her. She didn’t know what was in the bag, nor could she definitively determine if the handwriting on some of the documents was hers or not. She also mentioned on a number of occasions (to the chagrin of the prosecutor) how she was repeatedly tortured by her captors at Bagram.

But the killer blow was delivered when Dr Aafia mildly challenged the prosecutor in a calm, crystal clear voice that was heard throughout her testimony: “You can’t build a case on hate; you should build it on fact!”

There were other sensation moments and revealing testimony and if anyone thought that she hated Americans she removed that idea from their minds when she talked of the “fake Americans, not real Americans” who held and tortured her in the secret prisons. They were fake, she explained because real Americans would not behave in such a way to bring shame on their country.

We also discovered how she was instructed to translate and copy something from a book while she was secretly imprisoned. During the course of this testimony which repeatedly drew the ire of an increasingly frustrated prosecutor, Aafia noted how she can now understand how people can be framed (for crimes they are not guilty of).

It all got too much for Judge Berman who ordered a brief recess.

The plan to goad and incite Dr Aafia to perform some incomprehensible, demonic rant had back-fired.

When testimony resumed, we learned through the star witness how she was often forced-fed information from one group of persons at the secret prison, and then made to regurgitate the same information before a different group of inquisitors. While it was presented to her as a type of “game,” she revealed of how she would be “punished” if she got something wrong.

Now, more than ever, this trial should be brought to an end. And if Judge Berman wants to go down in history for punctuating his lack lustre career as a member of the judiciary for standing up in the cause of truth and justice now is the time to do it.

The truth will out and the US Government’s case has been exposed for what it is … a sham.

And it is a fitting tribute to the endurance of Dr Aafia, mother-of-three, that the sham has been exposed by her.

Let’s see justice being carried out in 500 Pearl Street in lower Manhattan tomorrow. Over to you, your Honour Judge Berman.

The ‘Hole’ Truth:

Defense says ‘Terror Mom’ did not Shoot at Soldiers

By BRUCE GOLDING

February 01, 2010 “New York Post” — Lawyers for accused “terror mom” Aafia Siddiqui pulled a classic “gotcha” during closing arguments today, producing video evidence that two purported bullet holes were present in a police station wall a day before she allegedly shot at Americans there.

“The government says you can’t press ‘pause’ in this case, but you can, because we have the video and we pressed ‘pause,'” lawyer Linda Moreno said as jurors looked at a still frame from a televised news conference after Siddiqui’s July 2008 arrest.

Two small holes that prosecution witnesses earlier said could have been gunshot damage from an assault rifle that Siddiqui allegedly fired were clearly visible in the background.

Moreno said the “non-existence of physical evidence” proved that Siddiqui never shot the weapon — which a Special Forces warrant officer set down on the floor — and that instead “she startled the soldier in front of her and got shot” after peeking around a curtain in the back.

“Who doesn’t believe that if Aafia Siddiqui picked up that weapon and fired into the room she wouldn’t have been shot dead?” Moreno said.

She also accused the prosecution of using “scare” tactics to try and convict the Siddiqui — who refused to attend the closings — by repeatedly focusing on hand-written plans for a “mass casualty” attack on New York City that were seized from the alleged al Qaeda associate after she was busted as a suspected suicide bomber.

Prosecutor David Rody countered that the terror plans showed Siddiqui’s “extreme desire to attack Americans” and said the absence of damage from the rounds she allegedly fired didn’t get the 37-year-old neuroscientist off the hook.

Rody said Siddiqui’s rounds could have struck furniture that was removed sometime after the incident and before an FBI investigator was able to inspect the scene six days later.

“Forensic science is an imperfect tool in this circumstance….You don’t have a good enough physical or photographic record of that room to know where the damage is,” Rody argued in Manhattan federal court.

He accused Afghan personnel of hiding two M-4 shell casings from the scene to cover up the “terribly embarrassing incident” in which they left Siddiqui free behind the curtain without telling the Americans who showed up to interrogate her.

Rody also compared Siddiqui’s “ridiculous, obvious lies” with the testimony of six prosecution eyewitnesses who said they saw her fire the rifle.

“Do you believe her when she lied to your face?” he asked, referring to Siddiqui’s claim that she didn’t take firearms training in college.’

He also downplayed differences in the various eyewitness accounts, saying “those inconsistencies are the hallmark of truth” and proved that they witnesses didn’t conspire to frame the defendant.

The jury is expected to get the case and start deliberations by the end of today.

Background on this case here

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Will Siddiqui Trial Reveal U.S. Rendition and Torture? – TIME

Once one of the most wanted women in the world, Aafia Siddiqui is at the has in the worst instances amounted to nothing less than torture by proxy.
www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1954598,00.html

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Mystery of ‘ghost of Bagram’

– victim of torture or captured in a shootout?

Mother of three in court after five-year disappearance ends in Afghanistan amid conflicting claims

“…Siddiqui’s sister, Fauzia, said she had been raped and tortured. “Her rape and torture is a crime beyond anything she was accused of,” she said. “This is the real crime of terror here.” She pleaded for the child who was with her sister when she was captured, according to the American authorities, to be immediately handed over to the family. It is unclear what has happened to the other two children….”

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/aug/06/pakistan.afghanistan

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Guantánamo “Suicides” exposed to be Murder,

then huge cover-up!!!

…. (but who’s reading, seeing ,listening, acting)

The Guantánamo “Suicides”:

A Camp Delta sergeant blows the whistle

By Scott Horton

http://www.harpers.org/archive/2010/01/hbc-90006368

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Four US soldiers cast doubt on Gitmo ’suicides’

By Daniel Tencer
Monday, January 18th, 2010 — 1:17 pm

Four members of a US military intelligence unit assigned to Guantanamo Bay are questioning the government’s official version of the deaths of three detainees in the summer of 2006.

The soldiers are offering a very different version of events than the one provided by the official report carried out by the Naval Criminal Investigation Service. Their stories suggest the three inmates may not have killed themselves — or, at least, not in the way the US military claims.

“All four soldiers say they were ordered by their commanding officer not to speak out, and all four soldiers provide evidence that authorities initiated a cover-up within hours of the prisoners’ deaths,” reports Scott Horton at Harper’s magazine.

According to the US Navy, Gitmo detainees Salah Ahmed Al-Salami, Mani Shaman Al-Utaybi and Yasser Talal Al-Zahrani were found hanged in their cells on June 9. 2006. The US military initially described their deaths as “asymmetrical warfare” against the United States, before finally declaring that the deaths were suicides that the inmates coordinated among themselves.

But a report from Seton Hall University Law School, released last fall, cast doubt on almost every element of the US military’s story. It questioned, for example, how it would have been possible for the three detainees to have stuffed rags down their throats and then, while choking, managed to raise themselves up to a noose and hang themselves.

Story continues below…


The report (PDF) stated:

There is no explanation of how each of the detainees, much less all three, could have done the following: braided a noose by tearing up his sheets and/or clothing, made a mannequin of himself so it would appear to the guards he was asleep in his cell, hung sheets to block vision into the cell—a violation of Standard Operating Procedures, tied his feet together, tied his hands together, hung the noose from the metal mesh of the cell wall and/or ceiling, climbed up on to the sink, put the noose around his neck and released his weight to result in death by strangulation, hanged until dead and hung for at least two hours completely unnoticed by guards.

A SECRET FACILITY

Army Staff Sergeant Joseph Hickman told Harper’s magazine that he was made aware of the existence of a secret detention center at Guantanamo, nicknamed by some of the guards “Camp No,” because “No, it doesn’t exist.” According to Hickman, it was generally believed among camp guards that the facility was used by the CIA.

Hickman also said there was a van on site, referred to as the “paddy wagon,” which was allowed to come in and out of the main detention area without going through the usual inspection. On the night of the three detainees’ deaths, Hickman says he saw the paddy wagon leave the area where the three were being detained and head off in the direction of Camp No. The paddy wagon, which can carry only one prisoner at a time in a cage in the back, reportedly made the trip three times.

Hickman says he saw the paddy wagon return and go directly to the medical center. Shortly after, a senior non-commissioned officer, whose name Hickman didn’t know, ordered him to convey a code word to a petty officer. When he did, the petty officer ran off in a panic.

Both Hickman and Specialist Tony Davila told Harper’s that they had been told, initially, that three men died as a result of having rags stuffed down their throats. And in a truly strange turn of events, the whistleblowers say that — even though by the next morning it had become “common knowledge” that the men had died of suicide by stuffing rags down their own throats — the camp commander, Col. Michael Bumgarner, told the guards that the media would “report something different.”

According to independent interviews with soldiers who witnessed the speech, Bumgarner told his audience that “you all know” three prisoners in the Alpha Block at Camp 1 committed suicide during the night by swallowing rags, causing them to choke to death. This was a surprise to no one—even servicemen who had not worked the night before had heard about the rags. But then Bumgarner told those assembled that the media would report something different. It would report that the three prisoners had committed suicide by hanging themselves in their cells. It was important, he said, that servicemen make no comments or suggestions that in any way undermined the official report. He reminded the soldiers and sailors that their phone and email communications were being monitored. The meeting lasted no more than twenty minutes. (Bumgarner has not responded to requests for comment.)

Scott Horton of Harper’s reports: “The presence of a black site at Guantánamo has long been a subject of speculation among lawyers and human-rights activists, and the experience of Sergeant Hickman and other Guantánamo guards compels us to ask whether the three prisoners who died on June 9 were being interrogated by the CIA, and whether their deaths resulted from the grueling techniques the Justice Department had approved for the agency’s use—or from other tortures lacking that sanction.”

Horton’s story “lacks an eye-witness, or a smoking gun,” writes Michael Scherer at Time’s Swampland blog. “But it does raise several questions that should be answered in the coming months, including: Was there a classified interrogation site at the GTMO facility? Were soldiers on the base told by a commanding officer to keep quite about the cause of death (choking on rags) of the three inmates, as multiple soldiers told Horton?”

All three of the detainees who died that night in 2006 were considered “problem prisoners” and were held in an area reserved for detainees who were troublemakers or had high-value information. All three had previously participated in hunger strikes to protest their detention.

When their deaths were announced in June, 2006, Rear Adm. Harry Harris cast the alleged suicides as an act of warfare against the US.

“They have no regard for life, either ours or their own,” he told the media. “I believe this was not an act of desperation, but an act of asymmetrical warfare waged against us.”

Rear Adm. Harris added: “They are smart. They are creative, they are committed.”

http://rawstory.com/2010/01/whistleblowers-gitmo-suicides/

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The Story Of A British Muslim Who Lost His Eye At Guantanamo

January 27, 2010

For nearly six years, British resident Omar Deghayes was imprisoned in Guantánamo and subjected to such brutal torture that he lost the sight in one eye. But far from being broken, he fought back to retain his dignity and his sanity.

How I Fought To Survive Guantánamo

By Patrick Barkham

The Guardian (UK)

21 January 2010

It is not hot stabbing pain that Omar Deghayes remembers from the day a Guantánamo guard blinded him, but the cool sen­sation of fingers being stabbed deep into his eyeballs. He had joined other prisoners in protesting against a new humiliation – inmates ­being forced to take off their trousers and walk round in their pants – and a group of guards had entered his cell to punish him. He was held down and bound with chains.

“I didn’t realise what was going on until the guy had pushed his fingers ­inside my eyes and I could feel the coldness of his fingers. Then I realised he was trying to gouge out my eyes,” Deghayes says. He wanted to scream in agony, but was determined not to give his torturers the satisfaction. Then the officer standing over him instructed the eye-stabber to push harder. “When he pulled his hands out, I remember I couldn’t see anything – I’d lost sight completely in both eyes.” Deghayes was dumped in a cell, fluid streaming from his eyes.

The sight in his left eye returned over the following days, but he is still blind in his right eye. He also has a crooked nose (from being punched by the guards, he says) and a scar across his forefinger (slammed in a prison door), but otherwise this resident of Saltdean, near Brighton, appears ­relatively ­unscarred from the more than five years he spent locked in Guantánamo Bay. Two years after his release, he speaks softly and calmly; he has the unlined skin and thick hair of a man younger than his 40 years; he has just remarried and has, for the first time in his life, a firm feeling that his home is on the clifftops of East Sussex.

Deghayes must, however, live with the darkness of Guantánamo for the rest of his days. There are reminders everywhere, from the beautiful picture of Saltdean that was painted for him while he was incarcerated, to the fact that Guantánamo ­remains open 12 months after Barack Obama vowed to close it within a year.

There are still around 200 prisoners left in the detention camp, many of whom have been there for eight years. Of the 800 freed, only one has been found guilty of any crime and he was convicted by a dubious military commission, a verdict that is likely to be overturned. Deghayes, too, does not want to forget. He says there is so much still to be ­exposed about the ­conditions there, and about British ­collusion in the ­extraordinary rendition and torture of men such as him in the months following the American-led ­invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.

Deghayes, one of five children of a prominent Libyan lawyer, first came to Saltdean from Tripoli aged five, to learn English with his brothers and ­sisters on their summer holidays. He would return and stay with British families every summer. Then, in 1980, his father, an opponent of the increasingly totalitarian Gaddafi, was taken away by the authorities. Three days later, Deghayes’ uncle was told to ­collect his body from the morgue. ­Harassed and increasingly fearful for their safety, Deghayes’ mother sought asylum for her family in Britain. They settled in the place they knew best, Saltdean, in a large white house with fine views over the sea. More than two decades on, the family still lives there.

After a secular upbringing in ­Saltdean, Deghayes became a practising Muslim while at university in ­Wolverhampton, where he graduated in law. When he finished studying to become a solicitor, he had a “longing” to return to Libya but couldn’t because of his family name and opposition to Gaddafi, so he left for a round-the-world trip to ­experience Arabic cultures and visit university friends. He enjoyed ­Pakistan’s mixture of west and east, and was then tempted into a trip to ­Afghanistan: he saw business oppor­tunities and the chance to use his ­languages (Farsi, Arabic and English) and legal training (understanding both western and Sharia law) to help ­import-export companies.

He fell in love with the country and an Afghani woman; they married and had a son. “I liked the country – such beautiful rivers and different terrains. The people were difficult to get to know at first, but if they knew you and liked you, they’d open their hearts and houses to you,” he says. Afghanistan, it seems, triggered many ambitious dreams: he says he helped set up a school in Kabul, assisted NGOs, ­experimented with an agricultural ­social enterprise and exported apples to Peshawar. “I was generating income for myself but I had more ambition than that – to establish myself as a ­lawyer,” he says. “Things were really good. Then this war broke out and ­everything was shattered.”

Fearing for his new family’s safety, he paid people-smugglers to get them all back to Pakistan in early 2002 after the US-led invasion of Afghanistan. He hoped his mother would take his wife and child back to England, while he planned to return to Afghanistan and continue his NGO and legal work. “I still thought I had nothing to fear. Even if there was an invasion, there was nothing I had been doing that was illegal.”

They rented a house in Lahore, “far away from the war atmosphere”. But then the Americans began paying large amounts of money to find Arabs who had been in Afghanistan. Suddenly, he was lucrative bounty for the Pakistani authorities. “The atmosphere changed completely. Nice Pakistan turned into a trap,” he says. One day, their house was surrounded by armed police. He was seized, but not taken to a ­normal police station. Instead he was driven, fast and under heavily armed guard, between secure rooms in hotels and villas. A Kafkaesque nightmare had begun.

Deghayes says he was beaten and ­interrogated first by Pakistani officials. He thinks the Americans and the ­Libyans competed to “buy” him from the Pakistanis, and it appears the Americans won: when he was moved from Lahore to Islamabad, a man ­introduced himself as the head of the CIA’s Libyan section. Taken between hotels by armed guards, Deghayes ­believes he saw a man who is now listed as a disappeared prisoner: an Italian Moroccan. “I remember seeing him; he was with me in the same car in Islamabad. He came out crying from the meeting, scared; he was saying, ‘No, don’t do this to me.’”

Deghayes also describes meeting a British interrogator when he met the CIA section head for the second time. “I was facing the British man, who introduced himself as Andrew. He spoke in an obvious British accent.” According to Deghayes, Andrew said he was from the intelligence services and wanted to question him.

“I was really annoyed and said, ‘You shouldn’t do this, you’re helping these people – I’m kidnapped, abducted against my will. Your job is to get me out of here. I’m British and if I go back to England, I will take you to court for what you are doing now.’ Andrew was a little bit scared, but he looked at me and said, ‘What case would you bring against me?’ I had nothing in my mind. He said, ‘Listen, if you answer my questions and co-operate with me, I will do my best. I will get you out of there.’”

Deghayes was shown an ­album of 100 photographs of supposed terrorists. He says he did not recognise anyone. One morning, he was tied, bound and blindfolded and taken to an airport. The “thin black bag” was removed from his head: he was standing in front of a mirror, guarded by two US soldiers. They tied another bag over his head, which “felt worse than the first bag – it suffocated me.” It smelt “like socks or cheese,” he says. “This was an indi­cation of the new regime – there were even harder times coming up.”

Inside the plane, it was mayhem: his feet and hands bound together and covered in bags, Deghayes was bundled on top of others in the hold. “People were crying. People were throwing up. Some people were suffocating, and there was a kick here and a kick there: ‘Get your head down, you bastard!’ Things like that. Then the plane took off and you could smell [the guards] drinking spirits.”

They landed in what he later ­realised was Bagram military air base. Here, Deghayes’ clothes were taken away and he was given two pieces of blue uniform. He was not allowed to speak to fellow inmates, and was bound to barbed wire before, he says, being beaten and made to suffer “all sorts of humiliation”. He spent several months there. “There were no rules in Bagram; people just went in and kicked people if they didn’t like them.”

He says he did not eat for more than 50 days. “I was really sick; I became a skeleton. I couldn’t walk any more. I lost my mind – I was really scared for my mental safety. I tried to eat but I threw up. I started to hear voices in my head because of the hunger. People would say something and I could not understand what they were saying. You hear shouts and you’re speaking to yourself inside your head. I started to become really scared because I thought I was losing my brains and ­going crazy.”

While he was in Bagram, he was again interrogated several times by ­officials he believes were from Britain. “They felt I was lying to them. I said to them I studied in ­Holborn, London. They said, ‘Which train did you take to get there?’ They didn’t believe anything,” he says. “They weren’t free to do what they liked; the Americans were running the show.” When he said he was too sick to speak, they called him “a bandit”.

His British interrogators “came up with lots of ­stupid things” – suggesting the scuba­diving lessons he had taken in the shabby lido in Saltdean, within yards of his family home, were terrorist training. “The Americans took that up in Guantánamo. It was a big headache. They showed me books of military ­scubadiving and ships and mines and they said, ‘Which ones did you see?’” The British also accused him of teaching people to fight in terrorist training camps in Chechnya, and claimed they had secret video evidence.

Deghayes had never been to ­Chechnya, and thought all these allegations ­laughable. Only later did he discover through Clive Stafford Smith, director of the human rights charity Reprieve, that his apparent appearance in an ­Islamic terrorist training video in Chechnya was the crucial evidence in a flimsy case against him. The ­authorities refused to give Stafford Smith, who campaigned for Guantánamo detainees, a copy of this videotape, but he eventually obtained one through the BBC.

It was, says the Reprieve director, an ­obvious case of mistaken identity: the person depicted lacked Deghayes’ small childhood scar on his face. ­Stafford Smith was able to show that the videotape was of a completely different ­person, actually a Chechnyan rebel called Abu Walid, who was dead. “This was typical of the whole Guantánamo experience,” says Stafford Smith. “They said they had evidence and they wouldn’t let you see it. Then when you did, it was incorrect.”

After two months in Bagram, Deghayes was flown to Guantánamo in autumn 2002. There, prisoners were treated brutally. According to Deghayes, when guards physically subdued them by tying them down, they would “do actions to pretend as if they are raping you. They put you down on your stomach. It was really horrible, all sexual and psychological stuff.” On other occasions, he says, guards would hold a prisoner’s head and “bang it on the floor”.

Deghayes developed a personal ­policy of resistance. Guards would ­typically arrive at a prisoner’s cell and spray pepper and other chemicals through the “bean-hole”, the hatch in the door. While most prisoners cowered at the back of their cell, Deghayes says he would grab the guards’ hands and attack them. He fought back, as viciously as he could, trying to take the fights with guards out of the privacy of his cell and into the corridors.

“It was chaos; they would fall on top of each other and it was embarrassing [for them]. They were wearing all this heavy stuff [body armour] which didn’t help either,” he says. Some guards ­became afraid of going into his cell. Most, he says, were Puerto Rican and were not driven by the patriotism of the “war on terror”. They did not want to get hurt for their meagre wages.

Deghayes did not realise how badly his eye had been beaten until a year ­after the incident, when he looked in a mirror for the first time in four years. He accepts his resistance caused him more physical pain, but believes it ­subsequently helped him. In the camp, he was less fearful.

“I was targeted more, but I was also relaxed compared with others who didn’t do that. It was really scary for [the guards] to come into my cell,” he says. “Being humiliated by getting beaten up is better than giving your own trousers out. If I’d done those things, I would’ve been really bitter now. I’m probably less bitter than ­anyone else because I know I gave them a really hard time. If I had given in, and all this was bottled up, I would have been like I see them [other ex-prisoners] – really bitter, full of hatred.”

Deghayes says his suffering made his faith stronger; it helped him ­survive. “We knew there’s a Muslim [God] ­behind things, there’s a hereafter, our patience and hardships will be ­rewarded and the pain has to end sometime. Our religion teaches these things – the good always prevails and the bad is only temporary; the patience of Job, the patience of Moses. All these teachings make a difference.” Praying five times a day delivered ­transcendence, removing him from the material world of bodily suffering. “My body and physical being can be chained, can be tarnished, can be beaten, can be raped,” he says now, “but not the spiritual: that is something that nobody can bind down. The spirit is what makes us who we are.”

As a campaign to free him gained momentum back in Brighton, Deghayes languished in Guantánamo for nearly six years. He was never charged or convicted of anything, by any authority. “And never been apologised to either,” he adds. Finally, in August 2007, the British government requested the ­release of Deghayes and four other ­detainees who were legal British ­residents. In the month before his ­release in December 2007, he says, he was deliberately fed well so he would not emerge looking gaunt and half-starved. “For one month we were ­fattened up with milk shakes, ­chocolates and really good cakes.”

When he returned to his family in ­Saltdean, he was happy but also dis­orientated. “You know if you are in a forest or walking on the moon, you can’t tell what is what. I was like this when I came out,” Deghayes says. He was stunned by some of the changes in ­Britain. “To my shock, when I came out from prison the whole country had changed – the surveillance, the Islamophobia, the control orders, secret ­evidence, and people being under ­curfews not being able to leave the house.” His neighbourhood also ­appeared to have altered: “We never had thugs and mobs in the street ­before, and kids didn’t go binge-drinking or stealing. When I came back, these were some of the changes that I had to adjust to,” he says.

While he is very appreciative of the support he had in Brighton, after he was freed his family was targeted by racist teenagers who bullied his ­nephews and threw stones and bottles at their house for months. This stopped, abruptly, after a community meeting and media coverage led the police, rather belatedly, to install a video camera in the window of their home.

His imprisonment also caused his marriage to break down. His wife wrote to him in prison but her letters were never delivered; nor were his to her. “It’s cruel, isn’t it? These were just ­normal letters between husband and wife.” Both believed they had abandoned each other, and they divorced. She now lives with her family in ­Afghanistan. His son, Sulaiman, who is now eight, is staying with Deghayes’ mother in the Emirates. They hope eventually to bring him to Britain and give him a western education.

Two years after he was released, Deghayes remarried in ­December and is now busy buying furniture for a new place in Brighton. “Brighton is such a nice city. You can just walk by the sea, and the fresh air comes across. It ­reminds me of Tripoli. ­Before, I used to long for Tripoli; now, only recently, I have started to prefer Brighton. Maybe when you are younger you want to go back to dreams, and when you get to 40 you start to think, this is nicer, this is really what I like.”

Deghayes now works with ­Reprieve and other survivors of Guantánamo on legal challenges, ­including a civil case being brought against the Home Office with help from Gareth Peirce, the human rights lawyer. Deghayes hopes there will be a public inquiry into Guantánamo to bring those to account who were ­involved in his interrogation. Financial damages are not, he says, his ­motivation. “Even if I get damages, I will give them to ­charity. The court is an opportunity to embarrass and ­expose those who committed these crimes.”

While Reprieve campaigned to get Deghayes released, Stafford Smith ­explains how Deghayes “was a ­tremendously helpful ally in Guantánamo because he was fluent in English and he had a bit of legal training”. Stafford Smith brought him legal textbooks but they were censored as a “threat” to national security, and he says he worried for Deghayes’ safety during his incarceration. “If it had been me, I would have taken the course of quieter resistance. I was always afraid for Omar, that he would get himself beaten up. I was concerned for him ­because he was constantly being beaten up by the guards, but there’s nothing you can do to stop Omar loudly saying what is just and right.”

Stafford Smith believes Deghayes has fared better than many veterans of Guantánamo since his release because he had the support of his family, an ­education – and because he has taken a very positive approach to his experiences. “He’s not just sat back and taken it; he’s tried to do something positive. Omar works a lot with us to try to help other prisoners who are still in Guantánamo. He’s also always been up for a good argument or a good ­debate.”

Deghayes appears remarkably calm; but his brother, Abubaker, says he has noticed signs of trauma. “His memory is not as good as it was. He forgets to switch off lights. If he opens a window, it stays open. He stays up at night a lot, thinking.” Abubaker is not surprised his brother struggles to sleep. “Imagine the lights are on for six years.” Has Deghayes changed as a person? “A lot of the things Omar had in his character seem to have deepened, like rebellion and resistance and not accepting oppression. I think they became more rooted in him rather than being beaten out of him.”

But isn’t he ever tempted to retreat to a quiet place, start his own business, and ­renounce the ­hassles of political campaigning? “I don’t want that life,” Deghayes says firmly. “I never ­intended to live like that before imprisonment, and nor do I intend that after imprisonment. I would not be true to ­myself if I did.

“Life is worth more. It’s good to be a number in society rather than a zero. There are many zeros around but every ­human is ­worthy of being a number, and I hope I will be something of a change for the good, rather than for harm and wars. I hope so. I really hope so.”

It is not hot stabbing pain that Omar Deghayes remembers from the day a Guantánamo guard blinded him, but the cool sen­sation of fingers being stabbed deep into his eyeballs. He had joined other prisoners in protesting against a new humiliation – inmates ­being forced to take off their trousers and walk round in their pants – and a group of guards had entered his cell to punish him. He was held down and bound with chains.

“I didn’t realise what was going on until the guy had pushed his fingers ­inside my eyes and I could feel the coldness of his fingers. Then I realised he was trying to gouge out my eyes,” Deghayes says. He wanted to scream in agony, but was determined not to give his torturers the satisfaction. Then the officer standing over him instructed the eye-stabber to push harder. “When he pulled his hands out, I remember I couldn’t see anything – I’d lost sight completely in both eyes.” Deghayes was dumped in a cell, fluid streaming from his eyes.

The sight in his left eye returned over the following days, but he is still blind in his right eye. He also has a crooked nose (from being punched by the guards, he says) and a scar across his forefinger (slammed in a prison door), but otherwise this resident of Saltdean, near Brighton, appears ­relatively ­unscarred from the more than five years he spent locked in Guantánamo Bay. Two years after his release, he speaks softly and calmly; he has the unlined skin and thick hair of a man younger than his 40 years; he has just remarried and has, for the first time in his life, a firm feeling that his home is on the clifftops of East Sussex.

Deghayes must, however, live with the darkness of Guantánamo for the rest of his days. There are reminders everywhere, from the beautiful picture of Saltdean that was painted for him while he was incarcerated, to the fact that Guantánamo ­remains open 12 months after Barack Obama vowed to close it within a year.

There are still around 200 prisoners left in the detention camp, many of whom have been there for eight years. Of the 800 freed, only one has been found guilty of any crime and he was convicted by a dubious military commission, a verdict that is likely to be overturned. Deghayes, too, does not want to forget. He says there is so much still to be ­exposed about the ­conditions there, and about British ­collusion in the ­extraordinary rendition and torture of men such as him in the months following the American-led ­invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.

Deghayes, one of five children of a prominent Libyan lawyer, first came to Saltdean from Tripoli aged five, to learn English with his brothers and ­sisters on their summer holidays. He would return and stay with British families every summer. Then, in 1980, his father, an opponent of the increasingly totalitarian Gaddafi, was taken away by the authorities. Three days later, Deghayes’ uncle was told to ­collect his body from the morgue. ­Harassed and increasingly fearful for their safety, Deghayes’ mother sought asylum for her family in Britain. They settled in the place they knew best, Saltdean, in a large white house with fine views over the sea. More than two decades on, the family still lives there.

After a secular upbringing in ­Saltdean, Deghayes became a practising Muslim while at university in ­Wolverhampton, where he graduated in law. When he finished studying to become a solicitor, he had a “longing” to return to Libya but couldn’t because of his family name and opposition to Gaddafi, so he left for a round-the-world trip to ­experience Arabic cultures and visit university friends. He enjoyed ­Pakistan’s mixture of west and east, and was then tempted into a trip to ­Afghanistan: he saw business oppor­tunities and the chance to use his ­languages (Farsi, Arabic and English) and legal training (understanding both western and Sharia law) to help ­import-export companies.

He fell in love with the country and an Afghani woman; they married and had a son. “I liked the country – such beautiful rivers and different terrains. The people were difficult to get to know at first, but if they knew you and liked you, they’d open their hearts and houses to you,” he says. Afghanistan, it seems, triggered many ambitious dreams: he says he helped set up a school in Kabul, assisted NGOs, ­experimented with an agricultural ­social enterprise and exported apples to Peshawar. “I was generating income for myself but I had more ambition than that – to establish myself as a ­lawyer,” he says. “Things were really good. Then this war broke out and ­everything was shattered.”

Fearing for his new family’s safety, he paid people-smugglers to get them all back to Pakistan in early 2002 after the US-led invasion of Afghanistan. He hoped his mother would take his wife and child back to England, while he planned to return to Afghanistan and continue his NGO and legal work. “I still thought I had nothing to fear. Even if there was an invasion, there was nothing I had been doing that was illegal.”

They rented a house in Lahore, “far away from the war atmosphere”. But then the Americans began paying large amounts of money to find Arabs who had been in Afghanistan. Suddenly, he was lucrative bounty for the Pakistani authorities. “The atmosphere changed completely. Nice Pakistan turned into a trap,” he says. One day, their house was surrounded by armed police. He was seized, but not taken to a ­normal police station. Instead he was driven, fast and under heavily armed guard, between secure rooms in hotels and villas. A Kafkaesque nightmare had begun.

Deghayes says he was beaten and ­interrogated first by Pakistani officials. He thinks the Americans and the ­Libyans competed to “buy” him from the Pakistanis, and it appears the Americans won: when he was moved from Lahore to Islamabad, a man ­introduced himself as the head of the CIA’s Libyan section. Taken between hotels by armed guards, Deghayes ­believes he saw a man who is now listed as a disappeared prisoner: an Italian Moroccan. “I remember seeing him; he was with me in the same car in Islamabad. He came out crying from the meeting, scared; he was saying, ‘No, don’t do this to me.’”

Deghayes also describes meeting a British interrogator when he met the CIA section head for the second time. “I was facing the British man, who introduced himself as Andrew. He spoke in an obvious British accent.” According to Deghayes, Andrew said he was from the intelligence services and wanted to question him.

“I was really annoyed and said, ‘You shouldn’t do this, you’re helping these people – I’m kidnapped, abducted against my will. Your job is to get me out of here. I’m British and if I go back to England, I will take you to court for what you are doing now.’ Andrew was a little bit scared, but he looked at me and said, ‘What case would you bring against me?’ I had nothing in my mind. He said, ‘Listen, if you answer my questions and co-operate with me, I will do my best. I will get you out of there.’”

Deghayes was shown an ­album of 100 photographs of supposed terrorists. He says he did not recognise anyone. One morning, he was tied, bound and blindfolded and taken to an airport. The “thin black bag” was removed from his head: he was standing in front of a mirror, guarded by two US soldiers. They tied another bag over his head, which “felt worse than the first bag – it suffocated me.” It smelt “like socks or cheese,” he says. “This was an indi­cation of the new regime – there were even harder times coming up.”

Inside the plane, it was mayhem: his feet and hands bound together and covered in bags, Deghayes was bundled on top of others in the hold. “People were crying. People were throwing up. Some people were suffocating, and there was a kick here and a kick there: ‘Get your head down, you bastard!’ Things like that. Then the plane took off and you could smell [the guards] drinking spirits.”

They landed in what he later ­realised was Bagram military air base. Here, Deghayes’ clothes were taken away and he was given two pieces of blue uniform. He was not allowed to speak to fellow inmates, and was bound to barbed wire before, he says, being beaten and made to suffer “all sorts of humiliation”. He spent several months there. “There were no rules in Bagram; people just went in and kicked people if they didn’t like them.”

He says he did not eat for more than 50 days. “I was really sick; I became a skeleton. I couldn’t walk any more. I lost my mind – I was really scared for my mental safety. I tried to eat but I threw up. I started to hear voices in my head because of the hunger. People would say something and I could not understand what they were saying. You hear shouts and you’re speaking to yourself inside your head. I started to become really scared because I thought I was losing my brains and ­going crazy.”

While he was in Bagram, he was again interrogated several times by ­officials he believes were from Britain. “They felt I was lying to them. I said to them I studied in ­Holborn, London. They said, ‘Which train did you take to get there?’ They didn’t believe anything,” he says. “They weren’t free to do what they liked; the Americans were running the show.” When he said he was too sick to speak, they called him “a bandit”.

His British interrogators “came up with lots of ­stupid things” – suggesting the scuba­diving lessons he had taken in the shabby lido in Saltdean, within yards of his family home, were terrorist training. “The Americans took that up in Guantánamo. It was a big headache. They showed me books of military ­scubadiving and ships and mines and they said, ‘Which ones did you see?’” The British also accused him of teaching people to fight in terrorist training camps in Chechnya, and claimed they had secret video evidence.

Deghayes had never been to ­Chechnya, and thought all these allegations ­laughable. Only later did he discover through Clive Stafford Smith, director of the human rights charity Reprieve, that his apparent appearance in an ­Islamic terrorist training video in Chechnya was the crucial evidence in a flimsy case against him. The ­authorities refused to give Stafford Smith, who campaigned for Guantánamo detainees, a copy of this videotape, but he eventually obtained one through the BBC.

It was, says the Reprieve director, an ­obvious case of mistaken identity: the person depicted lacked Deghayes’ small childhood scar on his face. ­Stafford Smith was able to show that the videotape was of a completely different ­person, actually a Chechnyan rebel called Abu Walid, who was dead. “This was typical of the whole Guantánamo experience,” says Stafford Smith. “They said they had evidence and they wouldn’t let you see it. Then when you did, it was incorrect.”

After two months in Bagram, Deghayes was flown to Guantánamo in autumn 2002. There, prisoners were treated brutally. According to Deghayes, when guards physically subdued them by tying them down, they would “do actions to pretend as if they are raping you. They put you down on your stomach. It was really horrible, all sexual and psychological stuff.” On other occasions, he says, guards would hold a prisoner’s head and “bang it on the floor”.

Deghayes developed a personal ­policy of resistance. Guards would ­typically arrive at a prisoner’s cell and spray pepper and other chemicals through the “bean-hole”, the hatch in the door. While most prisoners cowered at the back of their cell, Deghayes says he would grab the guards’ hands and attack them. He fought back, as viciously as he could, trying to take the fights with guards out of the privacy of his cell and into the corridors.

“It was chaos; they would fall on top of each other and it was embarrassing [for them]. They were wearing all this heavy stuff [body armour] which didn’t help either,” he says. Some guards ­became afraid of going into his cell. Most, he says, were Puerto Rican and were not driven by the patriotism of the “war on terror”. They did not want to get hurt for their meagre wages.

Deghayes did not realise how badly his eye had been beaten until a year ­after the incident, when he looked in a mirror for the first time in four years. He accepts his resistance caused him more physical pain, but believes it ­subsequently helped him. In the camp, he was less fearful.

“I was targeted more, but I was also relaxed compared with others who didn’t do that. It was really scary for [the guards] to come into my cell,” he says. “Being humiliated by getting beaten up is better than giving your own trousers out. If I’d done those things, I would’ve been really bitter now. I’m probably less bitter than ­anyone else because I know I gave them a really hard time. If I had given in, and all this was bottled up, I would have been like I see them [other ex-prisoners] – really bitter, full of hatred.”

Deghayes says his suffering made his faith stronger; it helped him ­survive. “We knew there’s a Muslim [God] ­behind things, there’s a hereafter, our patience and hardships will be ­rewarded and the pain has to end sometime. Our religion teaches these things – the good always prevails and the bad is only temporary; the patience of Job, the patience of Moses. All these teachings make a difference.” Praying five times a day delivered ­transcendence, removing him from the material world of bodily suffering. “My body and physical being can be chained, can be tarnished, can be beaten, can be raped,” he says now, “but not the spiritual: that is something that nobody can bind down. The spirit is what makes us who we are.”

As a campaign to free him gained momentum back in Brighton, Deghayes languished in Guantánamo for nearly six years. He was never charged or convicted of anything, by any authority. “And never been apologised to either,” he adds. Finally, in August 2007, the British government requested the ­release of Deghayes and four other ­detainees who were legal British ­residents. In the month before his ­release in December 2007, he says, he was deliberately fed well so he would not emerge looking gaunt and half-starved. “For one month we were ­fattened up with milk shakes, ­chocolates and really good cakes.”

When he returned to his family in ­Saltdean, he was happy but also dis­orientated. “You know if you are in a forest or walking on the moon, you can’t tell what is what. I was like this when I came out,” Deghayes says. He was stunned by some of the changes in ­Britain. “To my shock, when I came out from prison the whole country had changed – the surveillance, the Islamophobia, the control orders, secret ­evidence, and people being under ­curfews not being able to leave the house.” His neighbourhood also ­appeared to have altered: “We never had thugs and mobs in the street ­before, and kids didn’t go binge-drinking or stealing. When I came back, these were some of the changes that I had to adjust to,” he says.

While he is very appreciative of the support he had in Brighton, after he was freed his family was targeted by racist teenagers who bullied his ­nephews and threw stones and bottles at their house for months. This stopped, abruptly, after a community meeting and media coverage led the police, rather belatedly, to install a video camera in the window of their home.

His imprisonment also caused his marriage to break down. His wife wrote to him in prison but her letters were never delivered; nor were his to her. “It’s cruel, isn’t it? These were just ­normal letters between husband and wife.” Both believed they had abandoned each other, and they divorced. She now lives with her family in ­Afghanistan. His son, Sulaiman, who is now eight, is staying with Deghayes’ mother in the Emirates. They hope eventually to bring him to Britain and give him a western education.

Two years after he was released, Deghayes remarried in ­December and is now busy buying furniture for a new place in Brighton. “Brighton is such a nice city. You can just walk by the sea, and the fresh air comes across. It ­reminds me of Tripoli. ­Before, I used to long for Tripoli; now, only recently, I have started to prefer Brighton. Maybe when you are younger you want to go back to dreams, and when you get to 40 you start to think, this is nicer, this is really what I like.”

Deghayes now works with ­Reprieve and other survivors of Guantánamo on legal challenges, ­including a civil case being brought against the Home Office with help from Gareth Peirce, the human rights lawyer. Deghayes hopes there will be a public inquiry into Guantánamo to bring those to account who were ­involved in his interrogation. Financial damages are not, he says, his ­motivation. “Even if I get damages, I will give them to ­charity. The court is an opportunity to embarrass and ­expose those who committed these crimes.”

While Reprieve campaigned to get Deghayes released, Stafford Smith ­explains how Deghayes “was a ­tremendously helpful ally in Guantánamo because he was fluent in English and he had a bit of legal training”. Stafford Smith brought him legal textbooks but they were censored as a “threat” to national security, and he says he worried for Deghayes’ safety during his incarceration. “If it had been me, I would have taken the course of quieter resistance. I was always afraid for Omar, that he would get himself beaten up. I was concerned for him ­because he was constantly being beaten up by the guards, but there’s nothing you can do to stop Omar loudly saying what is just and right.”

Stafford Smith believes Deghayes has fared better than many veterans of Guantánamo since his release because he had the support of his family, an ­education – and because he has taken a very positive approach to his experiences. “He’s not just sat back and taken it; he’s tried to do something positive. Omar works a lot with us to try to help other prisoners who are still in Guantánamo. He’s also always been up for a good argument or a good ­debate.”

Deghayes appears remarkably calm; but his brother, Abubaker, says he has noticed signs of trauma. “His memory is not as good as it was. He forgets to switch off lights. If he opens a window, it stays open. He stays up at night a lot, thinking.” Abubaker is not surprised his brother struggles to sleep. “Imagine the lights are on for six years.” Has Deghayes changed as a person? “A lot of the things Omar had in his character seem to have deepened, like rebellion and resistance and not accepting oppression. I think they became more rooted in him rather than being beaten out of him.”

But isn’t he ever tempted to retreat to a quiet place, start his own business, and ­renounce the ­hassles of political campaigning? “I don’t want that life,” Deghayes says firmly. “I never ­intended to live like that before imprisonment, and nor do I intend that after imprisonment. I would not be true to ­myself if I did.

“Life is worth more. It’s good to be a number in society rather than a zero. There are many zeros around but every ­human is ­worthy of being a number, and I hope I will be something of a change for the good, rather than for harm and wars. I hope so. I really hope so.”

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The Guantánamo Suicides A Camp Delta sergeant blows the whistle

This is the full text of an exclusive advance feature by Scott Horton that will appear in the March 2010 Harper’s Magazine. The issue will be available on newsstands the week of February 15.

1. “Asymmetrical Warfare”

When President Barack Obama took office last year, he promised to “restore the standards of due process and the core constitutional values that have made this country great.” Toward that end, the president issued an executive order declaring that the extra-constitutional prison camp at Guantánamo Naval Base “shall be closed as soon as practicable, and no later than one year from the date of this order.” Obama has failed to fulfill his promise. Some prisoners there are being charged with crimes, others released, but the date for closing the camp seems to recede steadily into the future. Furthermore, new evidence now emerging may entangle Obama’s young administration with crimes that occurred during the George W. Bush presidency, evidence that suggests the current administration failed to investigate seriously—and may even have continued—a cover-up of the possible homicides of three prisoners at Guantánamo in 2006.

Late on the evening of June 9 that year, three prisoners at Guantánamo died suddenly and violently. Salah Ahmed Al-Salami, from Yemen, was thirty-seven. Mani Shaman Al-Utaybi, from Saudi Arabia, was thirty. Yasser Talal Al-Zahrani, also from Saudi Arabia, was twenty-two, and had been imprisoned at Guantánamo since he was captured at the age of seventeen. None of the men had been charged with a crime, though all three had been engaged in hunger strikes to protest the conditions of their imprisonment. They were being held in a cell block, known as Alpha Block, reserved for particularly troublesome or high-value prisoners.

As news of the deaths emerged the following day, the camp quickly went into lockdown. The authorities ordered nearly all the reporters at Guantánamo to leave and those en route to turn back. The commander at Guantánamo, Rear Admiral Harry Harris, then declared the deaths “suicides.” In an unusual move, he also used the announcement to attack the dead men. “I believe this was not an act of desperation,” he said, “but an act of asymmetrical warfare waged against us.” Reporters accepted the official account, and even lawyers for the prisoners appeared to believe that they had killed themselves. Only the prisoners’ families in Saudi Arabia and Yemen rejected the notion.

Two years later, the U.S. Naval Criminal Investigative Service, which has primary investigative jurisdiction within the naval base, issued a report supporting the account originally advanced by Harris, now a vice-admiral in command of the Sixth Fleet. The Pentagon declined to make the NCIS report public, and only when pressed with Freedom of Information Act demands did it disclose parts of the report, some 1,700 pages of documents so heavily redacted as to be nearly incomprehensible. The NCIS documents were carefully cross-referenced and deciphered by students and faculty at the law school of Seton Hall University in New Jersey, and their findings, released in November 2009, made clear why the Pentagon had been unwilling to make its conclusions public. The official story of the prisoners’ deaths was full of unacknowledged contradictions, and the centerpiece of the report—a reconstruction of the events—was simply unbelievable.

According to the NCIS documents, each prisoner had fashioned a noose from torn sheets and T-shirts and tied it to the top of his cell’s eight-foot-high steel-mesh wall. Each prisoner was able somehow to bind his own hands, and, in at least one case, his own feet, then stuff more rags deep down into his own throat. We are then asked to believe that each prisoner, even as he was choking on those rags, climbed up on his washbasin, slipped his head through the noose, tightened it, and leapt from the washbasin to hang until he asphyxiated. The NCIS report also proposes that the three prisoners, who were held in non-adjoining cells, carried out each of these actions almost simultaneously.

Al-Zahrani, according to the documents, was discovered first, at 12:39 a.m., and taken by several Alpha Block guards to the camp’s detention medical clinic. No doctors could be found there, nor the phone number for one, so a clinic staffer dialed 911. During this time, other guards discovered Al-Utaybi. Still others discovered Al-Salami a few minutes later. Although rigor mortis had already set in—indicating that the men had been dead for at least two hours—the NCIS report claims that an unnamed medical officer attempted to resuscitate one of the men, and, in attempting to pry open his jaw, broke his teeth.

The fact that at least two of the prisoners also had cloth masks affixed to their faces, presumably to prevent the expulsion of the rags from their mouths, went unremarked by the NCIS, as did the fact that standard operating procedure at Camp Delta required the Navy guards on duty after midnight to “conduct a visual search” of each cell and detainee every ten minutes. The report claimed that the prisoners had hung sheets or blankets to hide their activities and shaped more sheets and pillows to look like bodies sleeping in their beds, but it did not explain where they were able to acquire so much fabric beyond their tightly controlled allotment, or why the Navy guards would allow such an obvious and immediately observable deviation from permitted behavior. Nor did the report explain how the dead men managed to hang undetected for more than two hours or why the Navy guards on duty, having for whatever reason so grievously failed in their duties, were never disciplined.

A separate report, the result of an “informal investigation” initiated by Admiral Harris, found that standard operating procedures were violated that night but concluded that disciplinary action was not warranted because of the “generally permissive environment” of the cell block and the numerous “concessions” that had been made with regard to the prisoners’ comfort, which “concessions” had resulted in a “general confusion by the guard and the JDG staff over many of the rules that applied to the guard force’s handling of the detainees.” According to Harris, even had standard operating procedures been followed, “it is possible that the detainees could have successfully committed suicide anyway.”

This is the official story, adopted by NCIS and Guantánamo command and reiterated by the Justice Department in formal pleadings, by the Defense Department in briefings and press releases, and by the State Department. Now four members of the Military Intelligence unit assigned to guard Camp Delta, including a decorated non-commissioned Army officer who was on duty as sergeant of the guard the night of June 9, have furnished an account dramatically at odds with the NCIS report—a report for which they were neither interviewed nor approached.

All four soldiers say they were ordered by their commanding officer not to speak out, and all four soldiers provide evidence that authorities initiated a cover-up within hours of the prisoners’ deaths. Army Staff Sergeant Joseph Hickman and men under his supervision have disclosed evidence in interviews with Harper’s Magazine that strongly suggests the three prisoners who died on June 9 had been transported to another location prior to their deaths. The guards’ accounts also reveal the existence of a previously unreported black site at Guantánamo where the deaths, or at least the events that led directly to the deaths, most likely occurred.

Satellite photograph from Terraserver.

2. “Camp No”

The soldiers of the Maryland-based 629th Military Intelligence Battalion arrived at Guantánamo Naval Base in March 2006, assigned to provide security to Camp America, the sector of the base containing the five individual prison compounds that house the prisoners. Camp Delta was at the time the largest of these compounds, and within its walls were four smaller camps, numbered 1 through 4, which in turn were divided into cell blocks. Life at Camp America, as at all prisons, was and remains rigorously routinized for both prisoners and their jailers. Navy guards patrol the cell blocks and Army personnel control the exterior areas of the camp. All observed incidents must be logged. For the Army guards who man the towers and “sally ports” (access points), knowing who enters and leaves the camp, and exactly when, is the essence of their mission.

One of the new guards who arrived that March was Joe Hickman, then a sergeant. Hickman grew up in Baltimore and joined the Marines in 1983, at the age of nineteen. When I interviewed him in January at his home in Wisconsin, he told me he had been inspired to enlist by Ronald Reagan, “the greatest president we’ve ever had.” He worked in a military intelligence unit and was eventually tapped for Reagan’s Presidential Guard detail, an assignment reserved for model soldiers. When his four years were up, Hickman returned home, where he worked a series of security jobs—prison transport, executive protection, and eventually private investigations. After September 11 he decided to re-enlist, at thirty-seven, this time in the Army National Guard.

Hickman deployed to Guantánamo with his friend Specialist Tony Davila, who grew up outside Washington, D.C., and who had himself been a private investigator. When they arrived at Camp Delta, Davila told me, soldiers from the California National Guard unit they were relieving introduced him to some of the curiosities of the base. The most noteworthy of these was an unnamed and officially unacknowledged compound nestled out of sight between two plateaus about a mile north of Camp Delta, just outside Camp America’s perimeter. One day, while on patrol, Hickman and Davila came across the compound. It looked like other camps within Camp America, Davila said, only it had no guard towers and it was surrounded by concertina wire. They saw no activity, but Hickman guessed the place could house as many as eighty prisoners. One part of the compound, he said, had the same appearance as the interrogation centers at other prison camps.

The compound was not visible from the main road, and the access road was chained off. The Guardsman who told Davila about the compound had said, “This place does not exist,” and Hickman, who was frequently put in charge of security for all of Camp America, was not briefed about the site. Nevertheless, Davila said, other soldiers—many of whom were required to patrol the outside perimeter of Camp America—had seen the compound, and many speculated about its purpose. One theory was that it was being used by some of the non-uniformed government personnel who frequently showed up in the camps and were widely thought to be CIA agents.

A friend of Hickman’s had nicknamed the compound “Camp No,” the idea being that anyone who asked if it existed would be told, “No, it doesn’t.” He and Davila made a point of stopping by whenever they had the chance; once, Hickman said, he heard a “series of screams” from within the compound.

Hickman and his men also discovered that there were odd exceptions to their duties. Army guards were charged with searching and logging every vehicle that passed into and out of Camp Delta. “When John McCain came to the camp, he had to be logged in.” However, Hickman was instructed to make no record whatsoever of the movements of one vehicle in particular—a white van, dubbed the “paddy wagon,” that Navy guards used to transport heavily manacled prisoners, one at a time, into and out of Camp Delta. The van had no rear windows and contained a dog cage large enough to hold a single prisoner. Navy drivers, Hickman came to understand, would let the guards know they had a prisoner in the van by saying they were “delivering a pizza.”

The paddy wagon was used to transport prisoners to medical facilities and to meetings with their lawyers. But as Hickman monitored the paddy wagon’s movements from the guard tower at Camp Delta, he frequently saw it follow an unexpected route. When the van reached the first intersection to the east, instead of heading right—toward the other camps or toward one of the buildings where prisoners could meet with their lawyers—it made a left. In that direction, past the perimeter checkpoint known as ACP Roosevelt, there were only two destinations. One was a beach where soldiers went to swim. The other was Camp No.

// 3. “Lit up”

The night the prisoners died, Hickman was on duty as sergeant of the guard for Camp America’s exterior security force. When his twelve-hour shift began, at 6 p.m., he climbed the ladder to Tower 1, which stood twenty feet above Sally Port 1, the main entrance to Camp Delta. From there he had an excellent view of the camp, and much of the exterior perimeter as well. Later he would make his rounds.

Shortly after his shift began, Hickman noticed that someone had parked the paddy wagon near Camp 1, which houses Alpha Block. A moment later, two Navy guards emerged from Camp 1, escorting a prisoner. They put the prisoner into the back of the van and then left the camp through Sally Port 1, just below Hickman. He was under standing orders not to search the paddy wagon, so he just watched it as it headed east. He assumed the guards and their charge were bound for one of the other prison camps southeast of Camp Delta. But when the van reached the first intersection, instead of making a right, toward the other camps, it made the left, toward ACP Roosevelt and Camp No.

Twenty minutes later—about the amount of time needed for the trip to Camp No and back—the paddy wagon returned. This time Hickman paid closer attention. He couldn’t see the Navy guards’ faces, but from body size and uniform they appeared to be the same men.

The guards walked into Camp 1 and soon emerged with another prisoner. They departed Camp America, again in the direction of Camp No. Twenty minutes later, the van returned. Hickman, his curiosity piqued by the unusual flurry of activity and guessing that the guards might make another excursion, left Tower 1 and drove the three quarters of a mile to ACP Roosevelt to see exactly where the paddy wagon was headed. Shortly thereafter, the van passed through the checkpoint for the third time and then went another hundred yards, whereupon it turned toward Camp No, eliminating any question in Hickman’s mind about where it was going. All three prisoners would have reached their destination before 8 p.m.

Hickman says he saw nothing more of note until about 11:30 p.m, when he had returned to his preferred vantage at Tower 1. As he watched, the paddy wagon returned to Camp Delta. This time, however, the Navy guards did not get out of the van to enter Camp 1. Instead, they backed the vehicle up to the entrance of the medical clinic, as if to unload something.

At approximately 11:45 p.m.—nearly an hour before the NCIS claims the first body was discovered—Army Specialist Christopher Penvose, preparing for a midnight shift in Tower 1, was approached by a senior Navy NCO. Penvose told me that the NCO—who, following standard operating procedures, wore no name tag—appeared to be extremely agitated. He instructed Penvose to go immediately to the Camp Delta chow hall, identify a female senior petty officer who would be dining there, and relay to her a specific code word. Penvose did as he was instructed. The officer leapt up from her seat and immediately ran out of the chow hall.

Another thirty minutes passed. Then, as Hickman and Penvose both recall, Camp Delta suddenly “lit up”—stadium-style flood lights were turned on, and the camp became the scene of frenzied activity, filling with personnel in and out of uniform. Hickman headed to the clinic, which appeared to be the center of activity, to learn the reason for the commotion. He asked a distraught medical corpsman what had happened. She said three dead prisoners had been delivered to the clinic. Hickman recalled her saying that they had died because they had rags stuffed down their throats, and that one of them was severely bruised. Davila told me he spoke to Navy guards who said the men had died as the result of having rags stuffed down their throats.

Hickman was concerned that such a serious incident could have occurred in Camp 1 on his watch. He asked his tower guards what they had seen. Penvose, from his position at Tower 1, had an unobstructed view of the walkway between Camp 1 and the medical clinic—the path by which any prisoners who died at Camp 1 would be delivered to the clinic. Penvose told Hickman, and later confirmed to me, that he saw no prisoners being moved from Camp 1 to the clinic. In Tower 4 (it should be noted that Army and Navy guard-tower designations differ), another Army specialist, David Caroll, was forty-five yards from Alpha Block, the cell block within Camp 1 that had housed the three dead men. He also had an unobstructed view of the alleyway that connected the cell block itself to the clinic. He likewise reported to Hickman, and confirmed to me, that he had seen no prisoners transferred to the clinic that night, dead or alive.

4. “He Could Not Cry out”

The fate of a fourth prisoner, a forty-two-year-old Saudi Arabian named Shaker Aamer, may be related to that of the three prisoners who died on June 9. Aamer is married to a British woman and was in the process of becoming a British subject when he was captured in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, in 2001. United States authorities insist that he carried a gun and served Osama bin Laden as an interpreter. Aamer denies this. At Guantánamo, Aamer’s fluency in English soon allowed him to play an important role in camp politics. According to both Aamer’s attorney and press accounts furnished by Army Colonel Michael Bumgarner, the Camp America commander, Aamer cooperated closely with Bumgarner in efforts to bring a 2005 hunger strike to an end. He persuaded several prisoners to break their strike for a while, but the settlement collapsed and soon afterward Aamer was sent to solitary confinement. Then, on the night the prisoners from Alpha Block died, Aamer says he himself was the victim of an act of striking brutality.

He described the events in detail to his lawyer, Zachary Katznelson, who was permitted to speak to him several weeks later. Katznelson recorded every detail of Aamer’s account and filed an affidavit with the federal district court in Washington, setting it out:

On June 9th, 2006, [Aamer] was beaten for two and a half hours straight. Seven naval military police participated in his beating. Mr. Aamer stated he had refused to provide a retina scan and fingerprints. He reported to me that he was strapped to a chair, fully restrained at the head, arms and legs. The MPs inflicted so much pain, Mr. Aamer said he thought he was going to die. The MPs pressed on pressure points all over his body: his temples, just under his jawline, in the hollow beneath his ears. They choked him. They bent his nose repeatedly so hard to the side he thought it would break. They pinched his thighs and feet constantly. They gouged his eyes. They held his eyes open and shined a mag-lite in them for minutes on end, generating intense heat. They bent his fingers until he screamed. When he screamed, they cut off his airway, then put a mask on him so he could not cry out.

The treatment Aamer describes is noteworthy because it produces excruciating pain without leaving lasting marks. Still, the fact that Aamer had his airway cut off and a mask put over his face “so he could not cry out” is alarming. This is the same technique that appears to have been used on the three deceased prisoners.

The United Kingdom has pressed aggressively for the return of British subjects and persons of interest. Every individual requested by the British has been turned over, with one exception: Shaker Aamer. In denying this request, U.S. authorities have cited unelaborated “security” concerns. There is no suggestion that the Americans intend to charge him before a military commission, or in a federal criminal court, and, indeed, they have no meaningful evidence linking him to any crime. American authorities may be concerned that Aamer, if released, could provide evidence against them in criminal investigations. This evidence would include what he experienced on June 9, 2006, and during his 2002 detention in Afghanistan at Bagram Airfield, where he says he was subjected to a procedure in which his head was smashed repeatedly against a wall. This torture technique, called “walling” in CIA documents, was expressly approved at a later date by the Department of Justice.

5. “You All Know”

By dawn, the news had circulated through Camp America that three prisoners had committed suicide by swallowing rags. Colonel Bumgarner called a meeting of the guards, and at 7:00 a.m. at least fifty soldiers and sailors gathered at Camp America’s open-air theater.

Bumgarner was known as an eccentric commander. Hickman marveled, for instance, at the colonel’s insistence that his staff line up and salute him, to music selections that included Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony and the reggae hit “Bad Boys,” as he entered the command center. This morning, however, Hickman thought Bumgarner seemed unusually nervous and clipped.

According to independent interviews with soldiers who witnessed the speech, Bumgarner told his audience that “you all know” three prisoners in the Alpha Block at Camp 1 committed suicide during the night by swallowing rags, causing them to choke to death. This was a surprise to no one—even servicemen who had not worked the night before had heard about the rags. But then Bumgarner told those assembled that the media would report something different. It would report that the three prisoners had committed suicide by hanging themselves in their cells. It was important, he said, that servicemen make no comments or suggestions that in any way undermined the official report. He reminded the soldiers and sailors that their phone and email communications were being monitored. The meeting lasted no more than twenty minutes. (Bumgarner has not responded to requests for comment.)

That evening, Bumgarner’s boss, Admiral Harris, read a statement to reporters:

An alert, professional guard noticed something out of the ordinary in the cell of one of the detainees. The guard’s response was swift and professional to secure the area and check on the status of the detainee. When it was apparent that the detainee had hung himself, the guard force and medical teams reacted quickly to attempt to save the detainee’s life. The detainee was unresponsive and not breathing. [The] guard force began to check on the health and welfare of other detainees. Two detainees in their cells had also hung themselves.

When he finished praising the guards and the medics, Harris—in a notable departure from traditional military decorum—launched his attack on the men who had died on his watch. “They have no regard for human life,” Harris said, “neither ours nor their own.” A Pentagon press release issued soon after described the dead men, who had been accused of no crime, as Al Qaeda or Taliban operatives. Lieutenant Commander Jeffrey Gordon, the Pentagon’s chief press officer, went still further, telling the Guardian’s David Rose, “These guys were fanatics like the Nazis, Hitlerites, or the Ku Klux Klan, the people they tried at Nuremberg.” The Pentagon was not the only U.S. government agency to participate in the assault. Colleen Graffy, a deputy assistant secretary of state, told the BBC that “taking their own lives was not necessary, but it certainly is a good P.R. move.”

The same day the three prisoners died, Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly completed a reporting trip to the naval base, where, according to his account on The O’Reilly Factor, the Joint Army Navy Task Force “granted the Factor near total access to the prison.” Although the Pentagon began turning away reporters after news of the deaths had emerged, two reporters from the Charlotte Observer, Michael Gordon and photographer Todd Sumlin, had arrived that morning to work on a profile of Bumgarner, and the colonel invited them to shadow him as he dealt with the crisis. A Pentagon spokesman later told the Observer it had been expecting a “puff piece,” which is why, according to the Observer, “Bumgarner and his superiors on the base” had given them permission to remain.

Bumgarner quickly returned to his theatrical ways. As Gordon reported in the June 13, 2006, issue of the Observer, the colonel seemed to enjoy putting on a show. “Right now, we are at ground zero,” Bumgarner told his officer staff during a June 12 meeting. Referring to the naval base’s prisoners, he said, “There is not a trustworthy son of a bitch in the entire bunch.” In the same article, Gordon also noted what he had learned about the deaths. The suicides had occurred “in three cells on the same block,” he reported. The prisoners had “hanged themselves with strips of knotted cloth taken from clothing and sheets,” after shaping their pillows and blankets to look like sleeping bodies. “And Bumgarner said,” Gordon reported, “each had a ball of cloth in their mouth either for choking or muffling their voices.”

Something about Bumgarner’s Observer interview seemed to have set off an alarm far up the chain of command. No sooner was Gordon’s story in print than Bumgarner was called to Admiral Harris’s office. As Bumgarner would tell Gordon in a follow-up profile three months later, Harris was holding up a copy of the Observer: “This,” said the admiral to Bumgarner, “could get me relieved.” (Harris did not respond to requests for comment.) That same day, an investigation was launched to determine whether classified information had been leaked from Guantánamo. Bumgarner was suspended.

Less than a week after the appearance of the Observer stories, Davila and Hickman each heard separately from friends in the Navy and in the military police that FBI agents had raided the colonel’s quarters. The MPs understood from their FBI contacts that there was concern over the possibility that Bumgarner had taken home some classified materials and was planning to share them with the media or to use them in writing a book.

On June 27, two weeks later, Gordon’s Observer colleague Scott Dodd reported: “A brigadier general determined that ‘unclassified sensitive information’ was revealed to the public in the days after the June 10 suicides.” Harris, according to the article, had already ordered “appropriate administrative action.” Bumgarner soon left Guantánamo for a new post in Missouri. He now serves as an ROTC instructor at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg.

Bumgarner’s comments appear to be at odds with the official Pentagon narrative on only one point: that the deaths had involved cloth being stuffed into the prisoners’ mouths. The involvement of the FBI suggested that more was at issue.

6. “An Unmistakable Message”

On June 10, NCIS investigators began interviewing the Navy guards in charge of Alpha Block, but after the Pentagon committed itself to the suicide narrative, they appear to have stopped. On June 14, the interviews resumed, and the NCIS informed at least six Navy guards that they were suspected of making false statements or failing to obey direct orders. No disciplinary action ever followed.

The investigators conducted interviews with guards, medics, prisoners, and officers. As the Seton Hall researchers note, however, nothing in the NCIS report suggests that the investigators secured or reviewed the duty roster, the prisoner-transfer book, the pass-on book, the records of phone and radio communications, or footage from the camera that continuously monitored activity in the hallways, all of which could have helped them authoritatively reconstruct the events of that evening.

The NCIS did, however, move swiftly to seize every piece of paper possessed by every single prisoner in Camp America, some 1,065 pounds of material, much of it privileged attorney-client correspondence. Several weeks later, authorities sought an after-the-fact justification. The Justice Department—bolstered by sworn statements from Admiral Harris and from Carol Kisthardt, the special agent in charge of the NCIS investigation—claimed in a U.S. district court that the seizure was appropriate because there had been a conspiracy among the prisoners to commit suicide. Justice further claimed that investigators had found suicide notes and argued that the attorney-client materials were being used to pass communications among the prisoners.

David Remes, a lawyer who opposed the Justice Department’s efforts, explained the practical effect of the government’s maneuvers. The seizure, he said, “sent an unmistakable message to the prisoners that they could not expect their communications with their lawyers to remain confidential. The Justice Department defended the massive breach of the attorney-client privilege on the account of the deaths on June 9 and the asserted need to investigate them.”

If the “suicides” were a form of warfare between the prisoners and the Bush Administration, as Admiral Harris charged, it was the latter that quickly turned the war to its advantage.

7. “Yasser Couldn’t Even Make a Sandwich!”

When I asked Talal Al-Zahrani what he thought had happened to his son, he was direct. “They snatched my seventeen-year-old son for a bounty payment,” he said. “They took him to Guantánamo and held him prisoner for five years. They tortured him. Then they killed him and returned him to me in a box, cut up.”

Al-Zahrani was a brigadier general in the Saudi police. He dismissed the Pentagon’s claims, as well as the investigation that supported them. Yasser, he said, was a young man who loved to play soccer and didn’t care for politics. The Pentagon claimed that Yasser’s frontline battle experience came from his having been a cook in a Taliban camp. Al-Zahrani said that this was preposterous: “A cook? Yasser couldn’t even make a sandwich!”

“Yasser wasn’t guilty of anything,” Al-Zahrani said. “He knew that. He firmly believed he would be heading home soon. Why would he commit suicide?” The evidence supports this argument. Hyperbolic U.S. government statements at the time of Yasser Al-Zahrani’s death masked the fact that his case had been reviewed and that he was, in fact, on a list of prisoners to be sent home. I had shown Al-Zahrani the letter that the government says was Yasser’s suicide note and asked him whether he recognized his son’s handwriting. He had never seen the note before, he answered, and no U.S. official had ever asked him about it. After studying the note carefully, he said, “This is a forgery.”

Also returned to Saudi Arabia was the body of Mani Al-Utaybi. Orphaned in his youth, Mani grew up in his uncle’s home in the small town of Dawadmi. I spoke to one of the many cousins who shared that home, Faris Al-Utaybi. Mani, said Faris, had gone to Baluchistan—a rural, tribal area that straddles Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan—to do humanitarian work, and someone there had sold him to the Americans for $5,000. He said that Mani was a peaceful man who would harm no one. Indeed, U.S. authorities had decided to release Al-Utaybi and return him to Saudi Arabia. When he died, he was just a few weeks shy of his transfer.

Salah Al-Salami was seized in March 2002, when Pakistani authorities raided a residence in Karachi believed to have been used as a safe house by Abu Zubaydah and took into custody all who were living there at the time. A Yemeni, Al-Salami had quit his job and moved to Pakistan with only $400 in his pocket. The U.S. suspicions against him rested almost entirely on the fact that he had taken lodgings, with other students, in a boarding house that terrorists might at one point have used. There was no direct evidence linking him either to Al Qaeda or to the Taliban. On August 22, 2008, the Washington Post quoted from a previously secret review of his case: “There is no credible information to suggest [Al-Salami] received terrorist related training or is a member of the Al Qaeda network.” All that stood in the way of Al-Salami’s release from Guantánamo were difficult diplomatic relations between the United States and Yemen.

8. “The Removal of the Neck Organs”

Military pathologists connected with the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology arranged immediate autopsies of the three dead prisoners, without securing the permission of the men’s families. The identities and findings of the pathologists remain shrouded in extraordinary secrecy, but the timing of the autopsies suggests that medical personnel stationed at Guantánamo may have undertaken the procedure without waiting for the arrival of an experienced medical examiner from the United States. Each of the heavily redacted autopsy reports states unequivocally that “the manner of death is suicide” and, more specifically, that the prisoner died of “hanging.” Each of the reports describes ligatures that were found wrapped around the prisoner’s neck, as well as circumferential dried abrasion furrows imprinted with the very fine weave pattern of the ligature fabric and forming an inverted “V” on the back of the head. This condition, the anonymous pathologists state, is consistent with that of a hanging victim.

The pathologists place the time of death “at least a couple of hours” before the bodies were discovered, which would be sometime before 10:30 p.m. on June 9. Additionally, the autopsy of Al-Salami states that his hyoid bone was broken, a phenomenon usually associated with manual strangulation, not hanging.

The report asserts that the hyoid was broken “during the removal of the neck organs.” An odd admission, given that these are the very body parts—the larynx, the hyoid bone, and the thyroid cartilage—that would have been essential to determining whether death occurred from hanging, from strangulation, or from choking. These parts remained missing when the men’s families finally received their bodies.

All the families requested independent autopsies. The Saudi prisoners were examined by Saeed Al-Ghamdy, a pathologist based in Saudi Arabia. Al-Salami, from Yemen, was inspected by Patrice Mangin, a pathologist based in Switzerland. Both pathologists noted the removal of the structure that would have been the natural focus of the autopsy: the throat. Both pathologists contacted the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, requesting the missing body parts and more information about the previous autopsies. The institute did not respond to their requests or queries. (It also did not respond to a series of calls I placed requesting information and comment.)

When Al-Zahrani viewed his son’s corpse, he saw evidence of a homicide. “There was a major blow to the head on the right side,” he said. “There was evidence of torture on the upper torso, and on the palms of his hand. There were needle marks on his right arm and on his left arm.” None of these details are noted in the U.S. autopsy report. “I am a law enforcement professional,” Al-Zahrani said. “I know what to look for when examining a body.”

Mangin, for his part, expressed particular concern about Al-Salami’s mouth and throat, where he saw “a blunt trauma carried out against the oral region.” The U.S. autopsy report mentions an effort at resuscitation, but this, in Mangin’s view, did not explain the severity of the injuries. He also noted that some of the marks on the neck were not those he would normally associate with hanging.

9. “I Know Some Things You Don’t”

Sergeant Joe Hickman’s tour of duty, which ended in March 2007, was distinguished: he was selected as Guantánamo’s “NCO of the Quarter” and was given a commendation medal. When he returned to the United States, he was promoted to staff sergeant and worked in Maryland as an Army recruiter before eventually settling in Wisconsin. But he could not forget what he had seen at Guantánamo. When Barack Obama became president, Hickman decided to act. “I thought that with a new administration and new ideas I could actually come forward, ” he said. “It was haunting me.”

Hickman had seen a 2006 report from Seton Hall University Law School dealing with the deaths of the three prisoners, and he followed their subsequent work. After Obama was inaugurated in January 2009, he called Mark Denbeaux, the professor who had led the Seton Hall team. “I learned something from your report,” he said, “but I know some things you don’t.”

Within two days, Hickman was in Newark, meeting with Denbeaux. Also at the meeting was Denbeaux’s son and sometime co-editor, Josh, a private attorney. Josh Denbeaux agreed to represent Hickman, who was concerned that he could go to prison if he disobeyed Colonel Bumgarner’s order not to speak out, even if that order was itself illegal. Hickman did not want to speak to the press. On the other hand, he felt that “silence was just wrong.”

The two lawyers quickly made arrangements for Hickman to speak instead with authorities in Washington, D.C. On February 2, they had meetings on Capitol Hill and with the Department of Justice. The meeting with Justice was an odd one. The father-and-son legal team were met by Rita Glavin, the acting head of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; John Morton, who was soon to become an assistant secretary at the Department of Homeland Security; and Steven Fagell, counselor to the head of the Criminal Division. Fagell had been, along with the new attorney general, Eric Holder, a partner at the elite Washington law firm of Covington & Burling, and was widely viewed as “Holder’s eyes” in the Criminal Division.

For more than an hour, the two lawyers described what Hickman had seen: the existence of Camp No, the transportation of the three prisoners, the van’s arrival at the medical clinic, the lack of evidence that any bodies had ever been removed from Alpha Block, and so on. The officials listened intently and asked many questions. The Denbeauxes said they could provide a list of witnesses who would corroborate every aspect of their account. At the end of the meeting, Mark Denbeaux recalled, the officials specifically thanked the lawyers for not speaking to reporters first and for “doing it the right way.”

Two days later, another Justice Department official, Teresa McHenry, head of the Criminal Division’s Domestic Security Section, called Mark Denbeaux and said that she was heading up an investigation and wanted to meet directly with his client. She went to New Jersey to do so. Hickman then reviewed the basic facts and furnished McHenry with the promised list of corroborating witnesses and details on how they could be contacted.

The Denbeauxes did not hear from anyone at the Justice Department for at least two months. Then, in April, an FBI agent called to say she did not have the list of contacts. She asked if this document could be provided again. It was. Shortly thereafter, Fagell a Justice official [see update] and two FBI agents interviewed Davila, who had left the Army, in Columbia, South Carolina. Fagell The official asked Davila if he was prepared to travel to Guantánamo to identify the locations of various sites. He said he was. “It seemed like they were interested,” Davila told me. “Then I never heard from them again.”

Several more months passed, and Hickman and his lawyers became increasingly concerned that nothing was going to happen. On October 27, 2009, they resumed dealings with Congress that they had initiated on February 2 and then broken off at the Justice Department’s request; they were also in contact with ABC News. Two days later, Teresa McHenry called Mark Denbeaux and asked whether he had gone to Congress and ABC News about the matter. “I said that I had,” Denbeaux told me. He asked her, “Was there anything wrong with that?” McHenry then suggested that the investigation was finished. Denbeaux reminded her that she had yet to interview some of the corroborating witnesses. “There are a few small things to do,” Denbeaux says McHenry answered. “Then it will be finished.”

Specialist Christopher Penvose told me that on October 30, the day following the conversation between Mark Denbeaux and Teresa McHenry, McHenry an official [see update] showed up at Penvose’s home in south Baltimore with some FBI agents. She had a “few questions,” she told him. Investigators working with her soon contacted two other witnesses.

On November 2, 2009, McHenry called Mark Denbeaux to tell him that the Justice Department’s investigation was being closed. “It was a strange conversation,” Denbeaux recalled. McHenry explained that “the gist of Sergeant Hickman’s information could not be confirmed.” But when Denbeaux asked what that “gist” actually was, McHenry declined to say. She just reiterated that Hickman’s conclusions “appeared” to be unsupported. Denbeaux asked what conclusions exactly were unsupported. McHenry refused to say.

10. “They Accomplished Nothing”

One of the most intriguing aspects of this case concerns the use of Camp No. Under George W. Bush, the CIA created an archipelago of secret detention centers that spanned the globe, and authorities at these sites deployed an array of Justice Department–sanctioned torture techniques—including waterboarding, which often entails inserting cloth into the subject’s mouth—on prisoners they deemed to be involved in terrorism. The presence of a black site at Guantánamo has long been a subject of speculation among lawyers and human-rights activists, and the experience of Sergeant Hickman and other Guantánamo guards compels us to ask whether the three prisoners who died on June 9 were being interrogated by the CIA, and whether their deaths resulted from the grueling techniques the Justice Department had approved for the agency’s use—or from other tortures lacking that sanction.

Complicating these questions is the fact that Camp No might have been controlled by another authority, the Joint Special Operations Command, which Bush’s defense secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, had hoped to transform into a Pentagon version of the CIA. Under Rumsfeld’s direction, JSOC began to take on many tasks traditionally handled by the CIA, including the housing and interrogation of prisoners at black sites around the world. The Pentagon recently acknowledged the existence of one such JSOC black site, located at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan, and other suspected sites, such as Camp Nama in Baghdad, have been carefully documented by human-rights researchers.

In a Senate Armed Services Committee report on torture released last year, the sections about Guantánamo were significantly redacted. The position and circumstances of these deletions point to a significant JSOC interrogation program at the base. (It should be noted that Obama’s order last year to close other secret detention camps was narrowly worded to apply only to the CIA.)

Regardless of whether Camp No belonged to the CIA or JSOC, the Justice Department has plenty of its own secrets to protect. The department would seem to have been involved in the cover-up from the first days, when FBI agents stormed Colonel Bumgarner’s quarters. This was unusual for two reasons. When Pentagon officials engage in a leak investigation, they generally use military investigators. They rarely turn to the FBI, because they cannot control the actions of a civilian agency. Moreover, when the FBI does open an investigation, it nearly always does so with great discretion. The Bumgarner investigation was widely telegraphed, though, and seemed intended to send a message to the military personnel at Camp Delta: Talk about what happened at your own risk. All of which suggests it was not the Pentagon so much as the White House that hoped to suppress the truth.

In the weeks following the 2006 deaths, the Justice Department decided to use the suicide narrative as leverage against the Guantánamo prisoners and their troublesome lawyers, who were pressing the government to justify its long-term imprisonment of their clients. After the NCIS seized thousands of pages of privileged communications, the Justice Department went to court to defend the action. It argued that such steps were warranted by the extraordinary facts surrounding the June 9 “suicides.” U.S. District Court Judge James Robertson gave the Justice Department a sympathetic hearing, and he ruled in its favor, but he also noted a curious aspect of the government’s presentation: its “citations supporting the fact of the suicides” were all drawn from media accounts. Why had the Justice Department lawyers who argued the case gone to such lengths to avoid making any statement under oath about the suicides? Did they do so in order to deceive the court? If so, they could face disciplinary proceedings or disbarment.

The Justice Department also faces questions about its larger role in creating the circumstances that led to the use of so-called enhanced interrogation and restraint techniques at Guantánamo and elsewhere. In 2006, the use of a gagging restraint had already been connected to the death on January 9, 2004, of an Iraqi prisoner, Lieutenant Colonel Abdul Jameel, in the custody of the Army Special Forces. And the bodies of the three men who died at Guantánamo showed signs of torture, including hemorrhages, needle marks, and significant bruising. The removal of their throats made it difficult to determine whether they were already dead when their bodies were suspended by a noose. The Justice Department itself had been deeply involved in the process of approving and setting the conditions for the use of torture techniques, issuing a long series of memoranda that CIA agents and others could use to defend themselves against any subsequent criminal prosecution.

Teresa McHenry, the investigator charged with accounting for the deaths of the three men at Guantánamo, has firsthand knowledge of the Justice Department’s role in auditing such techniques, having served at the Justice Department under Bush and having participated in the preparation of at least one of those memos. As a former war-crimes prosecutor, McHenry knows full well that government officials who attempt to cover up crimes perpetrated against prisoners in wartime face prosecution under the doctrine of command responsibility. (McHenry declined to clarify the role she played in drafting the memos.)

As retired Rear Admiral John Hutson, the former judge advocate general of the Navy, told me, “Filing false reports and making false statements is bad enough, but if a homicide occurs and officials up the chain of command attempt to cover it up, they face serious criminal liability. They may even be viewed as accessories after the fact in the original crime.” With command authority comes command responsibility, he said. “If the heart of the military is obeying orders down the chain of command, then its soul is accountability up the chain. You can’t demand the former without the latter.”

The Justice Department thus faced a dilemma; it could do the politically convenient thing, which was to find no justification for a thorough investigation, leave the NCIS conclusions in place, and hope that the public and the news media would obey the Obama Administration’s dictum to “look forward, not backward”; or it could pursue a course of action that would implicate the Bush Justice Department in a cover-up of possible homicides.

Nearly 200 men remain imprisoned at Guantánamo. In June 2009, six months after Barack Obama took office, one of them, a thirty-one-year-old Yemeni named Muhammed Abdallah Salih, was found dead in his cell. The exact circumstances of his death, like those of the deaths of the three men from Alpha Block, remain uncertain. Those charged with accounting for what happened—the prison command, the civilian and military investigative agencies, the Justice Department, and ultimately the attorney general himself—all face a choice between the rule of law and the expedience of political silence. Thus far, their choice has been unanimous.

Not everyone who is involved in this matter views it from a political perspective, of course. General Al-Zahrani grieves for his son, but at the end of a lengthy interview he paused and his thoughts turned elsewhere. “The truth is what matters,” he said. “They practiced every form of torture on my son and on many others as well. What was the result? What facts did they find? They found nothing. They learned nothing. They accomplished nothing.”

http://harpers.org/archive/2010/01/hbc-90006368

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From The Sunday Times

February 7, 2010

The three dead Guantanamo men crying for justice

The US military insists three men who died in Guantanamo were suicides, but our correspondent is not convinced

(Shane T McCoy)

Despite Obama’s hopes, new horrors are emerging from Guantanamo Bay

Andrew Sullivan

// Recommend? (9)

During the night of June 9-10, 2006, something nightmarish happened in the detention camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Three prisoners, we were told, had committed suicide simultaneously by hanging themselves in their cells. Rear Admiral Harry Harris explained it thus: “This was not an act of desperation, but an act of asymmetric warfare committed against us.” A Bush administration official said the suicides — one by a man captured at 17, charged with no crime and scheduled for release — was “a good PR move”. At the time I remember thinking how off-key that sounded in response to three suicides. But then I moved on.

The US Naval Criminal Investigative Service took two years to complete an inquiry which came to the same conclusion as Harris immediately after the event. There have been many suicide attempts at Gitmo and hunger strikes. And collective suicide by terrorists is not unknown. Members of the BaaderMeinhof gang killed themselves in Stammheim prison in 1977. But that was accomplished by gunshots, impossible in such a tightly controlled jail as Gitmo. And the Alpha Block where their bodies were allegedly discovered is supposed to be closely monitored, with guard checks of every cell required every 10 minutes.

There were five guards for 28 prisoners. And yet the NCIS report found that the bodies were not discovered for two hours. More to the point, none of the guards on duty was ever disciplined for negligence, a baffling decision after such a massive and embarrassing breach in protocol.

The NCIS report was 1,700 pages long and heavily redacted. It was released only by court order through a freedom of information request. Last autumn a group of students at Seton Hall University law school undertook a thorough assessment of the report and found its conclusions incredible. I’ve read the full report. It’s bizarre.

The report claimed that the three men — not in adjoining cells — braided a noose from their sheets or clothing, attached them to the top of a wire mesh wall, hung sheets to prevent the guards seeing into their cells, bundled other sheets up to make it look as if they were in bed, bound their own hands and feet, tied cloths over their faces like a mask to muffle any sound they might make as they died, then climbed onto their sinks, or by some other means hanged themselves, swinging there for two full hours before being found. When discovered, the military said that rags were stuffed down their throats. They claimed these were the remnants of the cloth masks which had been “inhaled as a natural reaction to death by asphyxiation”.

Guards were immediately ordered not to write reports on the incident; some were warned that they had already made statements that the command viewed as untrue; the videotape of the cell block was impounded and the military stated that it contained nothing of any evidentiary value. A month later, half a ton of records were confiscated from all the prisoners’ lawyers — including those covered by attorney-client privilege — to find evidence of a co-ordinated plot. The military stated that suicide notes were found on the prisoners. When one of these notes was shown to the father of the youngest of the three — Yasser al-Zahrani — he replied: “This is a forgery.” The father also claims he saw needle marks on his 21-year-old son’s arms, when the mutilated corpse was returned to him.

When the bodies of the men were returned to their families, more surrealism: their necks, hearts and kidneys had all been removed, rendering a second autopsy examination impossible. Analysis of the necks would be crucial to determining a death by hanging. One prisoner had a broken hyoid bone, which the military claimed occurred accidentally when they were removing the neck for the examination.

Dr Michael Baden, the former chief medical examiner for New York city, told Harper’s Magazine that “a fracture of the hyoid bone occurs more commonly in homicidal manual strangulation than in suicidal hanging”. How it happened in an autopsy is never explained. The military denied that the families had requested the missing organs. One of the families has produced the letter requesting them, delivered to the US authorities, dated June 29, 2006.

All of this would be bizarre enough, but in the new issue of Harper’s four members of the military intelligence unit assigned to guard Camp Delta provide a very different account of what occurred. The most critical is a decorated noncommissioned army officer, Joe Hickman, who was on duty as sergeant of the guard on the night of June 9. None — amazingly — had been interviewed in the NCIS report.

Hickman was inspired to join the military by Ronald Reagan, whom he describes as “the greatest president we’ve ever had”. He kept silent until the Obama administration. He says he saw a paddy wagon transport three prisoners from their cell blocks in Camp 1 to a facility outside the perimeter of the main camp late that night. He claims the facility was known in Gitmo as Camp No, as in “No, it doesn’t exist”. Google Maps shows such a facility. Hours later he says he observed the paddy wagon returning — to the clinic. Another soldier, Christopher Penvose, says he was then told by an agitated NCO to give a codeword to a female officer in the chow hall. When he did so, he says she got up immediately and rushed out. Half an hour later the entire camp lit up with a rush of personnel centred on the clinic.

Hickman, concerned that something had happened on his watch, says he hurried to the clinic. From Harper’s: “He asked a distraught medical corps man what had happened. She said three dead prisoners had been delivered to the clinic. Hickman recalled her saying that they had died because they had rags stuffed down their throats and that one of them was severely bruised.”

Another guard that night confirms that is what he learnt as well. Two guards in watchtowers also confirmed to Harper’s that they saw no transport of prisoners from Camp 1 to the clinic that night. At 7am the next day, according to independent interviews with several soldiers, a senior officer gave a speech to about 50 troops telling them “you all know” that three prisoners died by having rags stuffed down their throats the previous night, but the official story would be suicide by hanging.

What really happened? I do not know. But it seems to me that these credible witnesses should have at least been interviewed by the NCIS; that the official story has gaping holes of logic; that the autopsies are beyond bizarre; and that the slightest possibility that something is amiss requires further investigation. If there is any chance that these prisoners were accidentally tortured to death and their deaths then covered up as suicide, this is the biggest story in the grim annals of the Bush-Cheney era since Abu Ghraib. And yet, other than to carry a brief synopsis from Associated Press, no main US newspaper has delved into the Harper’s cover-story.

And indeed, a year ago Hickman and his fellows went to Obama’s justice department to explain what they believed needed to be investigated further. The FBI interviewed other witnesses who backed Hickman up. Last November, after months of waiting for a response, Hickman’s lawyer got a call from the justice department. The case was closed. The NCIS report stood. When Hickman’s lawyer asked why, he was told that Hickman’s conclusions “appeared” to be unsupported.

This is the change we were asked to believe in.

andrewsullivan.com

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/article7017704.ece

Six Questions for Dr. Michael Baden: The Guantánamo autopsies

By Scott Horton

Dr. Michael Baden, the former chief medical examiner for New York City, was host of the HBO series Autopsy and is the forensic science contributor to Fox News. I furnished Baden copies of the official autopsy reports for the three Guantánamo prisoners who died under mysterious circumstances in 2006, as well as information about secondary autopsies arranged by the families of the deceased.

Michael Baden (Courtesy of HBO)

1. When the U.S. government released its autopsy reports, it redacted the names of the pathologists and observers involved in preparing the report. It suggests that this was done to protect their privacy. Is this a normal practice?

Redacting the names of pathologists is not normal in either civilian or military practice. It is necessary to know the pathologists’ names to be able to evaluate their qualifications, certifications, and experience. This may also help the family assess whether a second autopsy should be done. Mistakes can be made. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, in a recent decision establishing a right to cross-examine forensic experts, wrote that “A forensic analyst responding to a request from a law enforcement official may feel pressure—or have an incentive—to alter the evidence in a manner favorable to the prosecution.” Science must remain independent of politics. It is necessary that names of the pathologists be known to the family for accountability purposes.

2. Do deaths in the context of confinement in prison raise any special concerns for a medical examiner conducting an autopsy?

Yes, a death in prison raises a special set of concerns that are not present when a person dies at liberty. The prison keepers have a duty to care for and protect prisoners. They must provide a reasonable level of health care, and they must address mental health issues of prisoners. They need to ascertain whether a prisoner has suicidal tendencies, and if so, they have to develop strategies to prevent suicide such as security cameras or one-on-one observation. A medical examiner presented with a death in prison needs to independently determine the cause and manner of death and how it happened so that such deaths can be prevented in the future.

3. It appears that the autopsies of the three Guantanamo prisoners were commenced within one day of their deaths and that no effort was made to notify their families or secure permission for an autopsy. Does this strike you as normal procedure?

The steps that were taken to conduct these autopsies need to be measured against the rules that had been established for deaths at the prison. Family permission is not needed in these circumstances. However, it is always proper procedure to notify the next of kin of a death and of the decision to conduct an autopsy. The next of kin will need to arrange removal and burial, or may also arrange for a second autopsy. Should there be religious objections to an autopsy, explanations should be provided as to why the autopsy was necessary.

4. The throats and internal organs were removed from all three prisoners and were not turned over to the families together with the remainder of the bodies. A lawyer acting for one of the families wrote a letter to Armed Forces Institute of Pathology demanding the missing materials, but thus far has been unable to examine them. Does this strike you as irregular?

When an autopsy is finished, all organs are normally returned to the body except those necessary for further tests, such as toxicology or histology. In cases where death is attributed to neck compression, as here, the neck organs may also be retained for further study. The families of the deceased always have the right to have a second autopsy performed. Properly qualified pathologists representing the families should be able to examine any organs retained and not present in the body at the time it is turned over. If the pathologists who conducted the first autopsy still need those parts for testing or examination, they should make them available to the pathologist conducting the second autopsy—either by sending the removed parts to the pathologist, or by allowing the pathologist to examine the parts at the site where the organs have been kept. It is not appropriate to be unresponsive to the pathologists conducting the second autopsy. If the body parts that were removed have been properly preserved, they can still be examined years later to assist in independently establishing how the death occurred.

5. One of the autopsy reports notes that the hyoid bone was broken, but it states that this occurred accidentally in the process of removing the throat. Do you attach any significance to these facts?

Yes. A fracture of the hyoid bone occurs more commonly in homicidal manual strangulation than in suicidal hanging. A pathologist performing the second autopsy should be able to examine the hyoid bone and larynx to independently determine if the fracture happened while the decedent was alive or inadvertently after death during autopsy removal of the larynx.

6. The government has accounted for the presence of rags in the mouths of the three prisoners by suggesting that they stuffed the rags in their own mouths to muffle noise which might alert guards, and that the rags were “inhaled as a natural reaction to death by asphyxiation.” Are you familiar with any other cases in which prisoners committed suicide by binding their feet, binding their hands, stuffing rags down their throats (and putting on a surgical mask to keep the rags in place), and while so bound, climbing up onto something to put their heads through a noose? In your opinion, would it be appropriate for a medical examiner to reach a conclusion that rags “were inhaled as a natural reaction to death by asphyxiation?”

I am not aware of any other case in which suicide was accomplished in this way, at least not with a gag in his mouth covered by a surgical mask. Occasionally someone ties his feet and wrists and then tightens a noose around his neck—but this is more common in accidental deaths during autoerotic activity than when someone intends to commit suicide.

http://www.harpers.org/archive/2010/02/hbc-90006466

Suicides in Guantanamo: A Swiss Autopsy Reveals Troubling Facts

InfoSud

Prof. Patrice Mangin. Photo: Humberto Salgado 3 March 07 – In June 2006 three detainees were found dead in their cells in Guantanamo. An American autopsy concluded “suicide by hanging”. But the families have asked the Institute for Legal Medicine in Lausanne for a second opinion. An interview with the professor Patrice Mangin.

Carole Vann – « Suicide by hanging ». That is what the US authorities concluded following the deaths of a Yemeni and two Saudi Arabians in their cell in Guantanamo on the 10th June 2006. But their families have always questioned the results of the autopsies carried out by the medical military team. Along with Alkarama for Human Rights, they have asked the Institute for Legal Medicine at the University of Lausanne to conduct a second autopsy. The Swiss medical team, with no permission to go to Saudia Arabia, has only been able to examine the body of the Yemeni. Today, Professor Patrice Mangin, the head of the team, delivered his report in Geneva. Interview.

You carried out the second autopsy eleven days after the death of the detainees. In what sort of state did you find the body of Ahmed Ali Abdullah?

To our great surprise, the body was remarkably well preserved. It had been transported from the United States to Yemen in a state of the art aluminium container which kept the body frozen.

What have you been able to detect ?

There were traces of pressure around the neck. Some bruising on the back of the right hand could have been due to a puncture of the vein. There were lesions on the teeth and mouth. One thing which was unexplainable was that the finger and toe nails were cut short. What is more, some of the organs in the pharynx, larynx and the throat were missing. These are often the most important parts to examine when there has been a hanging… We have also been able to be sure who the body was by analysing the blood. We have not found any substance in the body.

What are your conclusions?

There was asphyxiation which could be due to suicide but also to other reasons. We have too little information to make any definitive conclusions. How were the bodies discovered? What was their position? The method of hanging? Their state before death? What was the medical response when they were found? And above all, what was the state of the missing organs? We have written to the American authorities, but so far we have not had any reply.

How do you interpret the silence?

It is surprising. On the one hand they have taken so much care to send us the body in an extraordinarily well preserved state, which would have involved some serious work. On the other hand, some key information is missing.

And the two bodies sent back to Saudia Arabia?

A Saudi doctor has carried out an autopsy on them and has had the same problems. The organs around the neck are missing. And there has been no reply from the Americans.

Could this mean that there has been some sort of sleight of hand in order to make people believe it was suicide?

I would not go that far. It is perhaps legitimate to take out these organs in order to conserve them as evidence. But it is really regrettable that we can not have access to the American medical reports.

Are you excluding the possibility of execution by hanging or strangulation?

No. In the case of executions by hanging, traces of lesions around the neck are more pronounced than in a suicide. Once again, in order to really know we need to have the missing organs.

And the short nails?

Under medical law, the finger nails can be cut in order to detect any traces of the DNA of the attacker. But the toe nails? They did the same thing on the two Saudis. It is truely bizarre.

Your thoughts?

As an expert, I only deal in facts. But it does raise some questions. According to the testimony of former prisoners in Guantanamo, they would never be left alone for more than five minutes without a warder checking on their cell. In this case, the timing does not add up. It takes at least three minutes to die from hanging. So someone would only have had two minutes to set it up… and three deaths from hanging the same day?

How much has the autopsy cost you?

Excluding travel, the medical costs are about five thousand Swiss francs [$4,000].

Translated from French by Claire Doole

http://www.humanrights-geneva.info/Suicides-in-Guantanamo-A-Swiss,1211

Doubt cast over Guantanamo “suicides”

Image Caption: Professor Mangin said the US authorities hadn’t played ball (Keystone)

Related Stories

Swiss forensic pathologists who carried out an autopsy on a Guantanamo inmate say many questions surrounding his death remain unanswered.

The team from Lausanne University said all the available evidence pointed to suicide but they could not be 100 per cent sure because the prison authorities had withheld information and material.

“What I find both disappointing and regrettable is that even though there is a priori no reason to doubt suicide, they have not let us have access to evidence that substantiates this theory,” said forensic pathologist Patrice Mangin.

According to the United States authorities, Yemeni Ahmed Ali Abdullah, who was in his thirties, was found hanged in his cell at Guantanamo Bay on June 10, 2006. Two Saudi inmates reportedly hanged themselves the same night.

The US government sparked a furore at the time of the “suicides” when senior officials described their deaths as an act of war.

Abdullah’s family rejected the initial autopsy carried out at the naval base, saying he would never have taken his own life.

They contacted Geneva-based non-governmental organisation Alkarama for Human Rights which asked Lausanne University’s Institute of Legal Medicine to carry out a second autopsy.

This was performed at a military hospital in Sanaa, the capital of Yemen, on June 21 by a team led by professor Mangin.

Cause of death

Their report, presented in Geneva on Friday, made it clear that suicide was the most likely cause of death. But Mangin said other hypotheses could not be ruled out as body parts were missing and vital pieces of information had not been handed over.

A request was sent to the US army medical authorities asking for a copy of the original autopsy, histological and anatomical samples, and further explanation surrounding Abdullah’s death. But these were not forthcoming.

Pieces of his upper airways including the larynx, hyoid bone and thyroid cartilage – key elements in an autopsy on a hanging victim – were all missing.

Pathologists still don’t know how the body was found, the precise nature of the ligature around Abdullah’s neck and what measures were taken to revive him (there was a puncture mark on the body).

A Saudi forensic pathologist who carried out a second autopsy on the two Saudi inmates is said to have encountered similar problems with the US authorities.

” All these outstanding questions lead us to reject the suicide theory. ”
Rachid Mesli, Alkarama legal director

Prisoner resistance

The Yemeni spent four years at Guantanamo where, according to human rights campaigners, he was one of the ringleaders of prisoner resistance, along with the two dead Saudis.

Rachid Mesli, Alkarama’s legal director, said a number of witnesses had dismissed the suicide theory.

He added that a “collective suicide” was unlikely due to a number of reasons – not least because the prisoners were under intense surveillance and that it was practically impossible to attach a cord in one of the cells.

“All these outstanding questions lead us to reject the suicide theory,” he said.

Dan Wendell, spokesman for the US embassy in Bern, insisted that Washington took its responsibilities at Guantanamo very seriously.

“We do everything possible to protect the inmates even from their own attempts to harm themselves,” he told swissinfo.

He added that the bodies of the dead men had been treated humanely and with cultural sensitivity.

swissinfo, Adam Beaumont in Geneva

http://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/Doubt_cast_over_Guantanamo_suicides.html?cid=5758394

U.S. officials still quiet on suicide of Yemeni

Guantánamo detainee

Autopsy complete, Guantánamo officials are still mum on the circumstances of the death of a Yemeni suspected of killing himself.

// Similar stories:

Military still quiet on suicide of Yemeni Guantánamo detainee

Military still quiet on suicide of Yemeni Guantánamo detainee

With a doctor from the Miami-Dade Medical Examiner’s Office observing, military pathologists Wednesday conducted an autopsy on a Yemeni detainee at Guantánamo who apparently committed suicide in his cell, the military said.

Detention center officials declined to describe the circumstances of the death of Muhammad Ahmad Abdullah Salih, 31, the first captive to die during the Obama administration at the U.S. Navy base in southeast Cuba.

Guards and military medical staff discovered his body in a cell sometime Monday and could not revive him, according to a short military account. Salih’s was the fifth suspected suicide in the prison camps’ seven-year history.

Dead detainee sent from Guantánamo to Yemen

Dead detainee sent from Guantánamo to Yemen

Still mum on the circumstances of the death, the United States on Thursday sent to Yemen the autopsied remains of a long-held detainee at Guantánamo who the military said committed suicide in his cell.

Detention center officials declined to say why they suspected suicide in the death of Muhammed Ahmed Abdullah Salih, 31, the first captive to die during the Obama administration at the U.S. Navy base in southeast Cuba.

Guards and military medical staff discovered his body in a cell sometime Monday and could not revive him, according to a brief military account, which was short on details.

Yemeni detainee found dead of suspected suicide at Guantánamo

Yemeni detainee found dead of suspected suicide at Guantánamo

A long-held Yemeni captive and frequent hunger striker committed suicide in a cell at the prison camps at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, the military said Tuesday.

Guards tried unsuccessfully to revive Muhammad Ahmad Abdallah Salih, 31, known as Prisoner Number 78, after he was found unconscious on Monday night, said Navy Lt. Cmdr. Brook DeWalt, a prison camps spokesman.

Salih was the fifth captive to apparently commit suicide in the sprawling American prison camps compound since the Bush administration opened the prison camps in January 2002. He was the first during the tenure of President Barack Obama, who has ordered the detention center emptied by Jan. 22.

Guantánamo captive called himself jihadist

Guantánamo captive called himself jihadist

An Arab captive found dead inside a steel and cement cell at Guantánamo Bay this week was a Saudi Arabian army veteran who reportedly admitted to being a holy warrior in defense of Afghanistan but was not seeking to kill American soldiers.

Guards discovered the body of Abdul Rahman al Amri, 34, at about 1 p.m. Wednesday inside Camp 5 — a maximum-security building equipped with interrogation rooms outfitted with video monitors, faux Persian carpets and reclining chairs and an ankle shackle.

But on Thursday, the detention center’s new commander, Rear Adm. Mark Buzby, and his staff were exceptionally tight-lipped about what went wrong.

Captives rigged nooses

Captives rigged nooses

GUANTANAMO BAY NAVY BASE, Cuba — All four captives who killed themselves at the prison camps for suspected terrorists hanged themselves in their cells with craftily fashioned nooses, a senior officer said Wednesday.

”We’ve had four individuals commit suicide — all of them hanging — three of the four in a cradlelike noose,” said Navy Capt. Patrick McCarthy, the senior lawyer on the prison camps management team. “I can tell you that we did not perpetrate the deaths.”

McCarthy made the disclosure in an interview in which he bristled at jokes made about the discovery — unrelated to the suicides — of two captives now at Guantánamo wearing contraband underwear. One was wearing a Speedo swimsuit, the other had an unauthorized type of athletic underwear popular with U.S. forces troops called “Under Armour.”

BY CAROL ROSENBERG

crosenberg@MiamiHerald.com

With a doctor from the Miami-Dade Medical Examiner’s Office observing, military pathologists Wednesday conducted an autopsy on a Yemeni detainee at Guantánamo who apparently committed suicide in his cell, the military said.

Detention center officials declined to describe the circumstances of the death of Muhammad Ahmad Abdallah Salih, 31, the first captive to die during the Obama administration at the U.S. Navy base in southeast Cuba.

Guards and military medical staff discovered his body in a cell sometime Monday, and could not revive him, according to a short military account. Salih’s was the fifth suspected suicide in the prison camps’ seven-year history.

The New York Center for Constitutional Rights, meantime, said that Salih, who also at times used the surname al Hanashi, was one of only about eight of 240 detainees currently in the camps who had never consulted an attorney.

His Guantánamo military intelligence case file alleged that Salih left his homeland in April 2001 to defend the Taliban in Afghanistan against the Northern Alliance. He was captured at age 23 during the U.S. invasion in reprisal for the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Although the Obama administration has screened and cleared more than 50 of the Guantánamo detainees for transfer, a government source said Wednesday that Salih was not among them. A Justice Department-led ] task force is examining each captive’s case, and had yet to decide what to do about Salih, said the source, who had access to the task force tally but was not authorized to speak about it.

The task force is dividing detainees into categories — those to be released, those to be charged in civilian and military courts and those who should be subjected to indefinite detention without trial.

A pro-bono team from the law firm Winston & Strawn had agreed to handle Salih’s unlawful detention suit, said CCR attorney Shayna Kadidal, who coordinates Guantánamo captives’ cases.

But the team had only recently obtained Justice Department authorization to visit him, Kadidal said. They were slated to introduce themselves later this month.

Unclear was whether Salih would agree to see them.

At the base, Lt. Cdr. Brook DeWalt declined to say when Salih’s remains might be repatriated to Yemen, a nation with which the U.S. has yet to reach an agreement on returning prisoners.

DeWalt confirmed that the Miami medical examiner’s office had dispatched an independent observer, at the request of the military. He did not name the doctor and The Miami Herald was unable to reach a spokesperson for the office late Wednesday.

http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation/story/1080535.html

The Guantanamo “Suicides” and the Dishonor Upon Us All

By Stephen Soldz (about the author)     Page 1 of 2 page(s)

opednews.com Permalink

//

For OpEdNews: Stephen Soldz – Writer

My friends who served in the military speak of the pride with they performed what they viewed as their duty. This duty included the obligation to act with honor, including, above all, following the Geneva Conventions when handling detainees and prisoners of war. My friends tell sadly of the despair they felt in seeing this obligation shredded during the Bush administration as word came down that they should do “whatever it takes.” Some of them resigned in disgust. Others resisted what they viewed as moral decay from within.

A new story by attorney Scott Horton at Harpers reveals yet another very disturbing episode of dishonor. Horton reveals strong credible evidence that three alleged “suicides” at Guantanamo in June 2006 were really homicides. The official story is that during the night of June 9, 2006, three prisoners were found hanging in their cells in Alpha Block of Guantanamo’s Camp 1.

The deaths were immediately proclaimed suicides, as examples of vicious “asymmetric warfare,” and all service members present were informed that they were not to challenge this conclusion. Early reports made no mention of the rags reportedly found stuffed down their throats that might lead to questioning of the suicide claim. Secret autopsies by unknown physicians were conducted. When the bodies were received by families, portions of the throat, including the larynx and nearby bones, were missing, thus removing evidence of how the men died. Requests by independent pathologists for the missing organs went unanswered by the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology.

Nonetheless, the bodies showed signs of bruising, hemorrhaging, and needle marks suggesting that they had been tortured. The father of one of the men, a Saudi police brigadier general, examined his son’s body and proclaimed the death a homicide:

“There was a major blow to the head on the right side,” he said. “There was evidence of torture on the upper torso, and on the palms of his hand. There were needle marks on his right arm and on his left arm.” None of these details are noted in the U.S. autopsy report. “I am a law enforcement professional,” Al-Zahrani said. “I know what to look for when examining a body.”

We already knew from work by Mark Denbeaux and students at Seton Hall Law School that the official investigation of these deaths by the Navy Criminal Investigative Service [NCIS] was not credible as many potential witnesses were not questioned and such important sources of information as the surveillance videotapes of the hallways outside the cell where the prisoners allegedly hung themselves were never examined.

Horton also reveals for the first time the existence of a hidden “black site” facility at Guantanamo, nicknamed “Camp No” because anyone who asked if it existed was told “No, it doesn’t.” Horton speculates that Camp No is run, either by the CIA or by the Joint Special Operations Command, JSOC, which was commanded by Gen. Stanley McChrystal, appointed by Obama to be the commanding general in Afghanistan. JSOC is well known to those concerned with US torture because some of the most brutal interrogations in Iraq were reportedly conducted by JSOC. The Washington Post and New York Times recently revealed reports of abuses at a secret JSOC-run detention facility at Bagram air base. [See also the 2008 New York Times article mentioning the existence of prisoners held by JSOC at Bagram.]

Horton reports guards’ accounts of a mysterious van that transported three prisoners toward Camp No earlier in the evening of June 9. The van returned late that evening and backed up into a dock, as if unloading cargo. Shortly thereafter, the deaths were announced.

Horton speculates that the dead prisoners were tortured at Camp No on the night of their deaths. As evidence of torture he produces the account in a sworn federal court deposition of a fourth detainee,

Shaker Aamer, in which Aamer reports abuse that same night:

On June 9th, 2006, [Aamer] was beaten for two and a half hours straight. Seven naval military police participated in his beating. Mr. Aamer stated he had refused to provide a retina scan and fingerprints. He reported to me that he was strapped to a chair, fully restrained at the head, arms and legs. The MPs inflicted so much pain, Mr. Aamer said he thought he was going to die. The MPs pressed on pressure points all over his body: his temples, just under his jawline, in the hollow beneath his ears. They choked him. They bent his nose repeatedly so hard to the side he thought it would break. They pinched his thighs and feet constantly. They gouged his eyes. They held his eyes open and shined a mag-lite in them for minutes on end, generating intense heat. They bent his fingers until he screamed. When he screamed, they cut off his airway, then put a mask on him so he could not cry out.

The treatment Aamer describes is noteworthy because it produces excruciating pain without leaving lasting marks. Still, the fact that Aamer had his airway cut off and a mask put over his face “so he could not cry out” is an alarming fact. This is the same technique that appears to have been used on the three deceased prisoners.

Despite pressure from Britain, the US has refused to release Mr. Aamer, citing “security concerns.” Horton speculates that those concerns may be that Aamer could be a witness in a criminal prosecution of those responsible for the three June 9 deaths. However, the connection to the deaths is speculative, partly because there is no report in Aamer’s account of his being transported to a separate facility before his abuse.

Horton does not discuss the fate of Camp No. If it was open in 2006, it may still open, as is apparently the JSOC prison at Bagram. Certainly, no press reports have announced its closing. It is to be hoped that Horton’s article, by pulling pack the veil on some dark secrets, will ultimately lead to answers to this and other open questions.

No fair reader of Horton’s account can end reading it without serious questions regarding what happened that June night three and a half years ago. The testimony of the guards, along with evidence of inconsistencies in the official account, make the account of a triple suicide extremely unlikely. The only other alternative is that these men were killed, possibly as a result of “enhanced interrogation” torture gone awry. But even that explanation has problems. How could three “accidental” deaths occur in the same night using the same techniques? If the deaths were unintentional, why didn’t the torturers stop after one, or even two, deaths? Given this question, the possibility that the three men were deliberately murdered cannot be ruled out.

1 |  2

Stephen Soldz is psychoanalyst, psychologist, public health researcher, and faculty member at the Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis. He is co-founder of the Coalition for an Ethical Psychology (more…)

The Guantanamo “Suicides” and the Dishonor Upon Us All

By Stephen Soldz (about the author)     Page 2 of 2 page(s)

opednews.com Permalink

As Horton tells it, immediately after the murders, our government went into high gear, controlling the press, concocting the suicide cover story, and acting to destroy evidence and intimidate witnesses in order to destroy doubts about the official account. The FBI raided the home of a Guantanamo Colonel whose ego apparently led him to allow a press team to report on the rags stuffed down the dead men’s throat. NCIS conducted its sham investigation, while intimidating the detainees and guards into silence, including by seizing every piece of paper, including confidential attorney-client communications, from the prisoners. When Justice Department lawyers defended this seizure in court, they relied upon press accounts of the “suicides,” thus potentially avoiding making false statements under oath about the deaths

Horton also reveals that the Obama administration has been aware of the cover-up since February, 2010, when a Military Intelligence Staff Sergeant who witnessed suspicious events the night of the murders went to them. The Obama Justice Department “investigated” and then dismissed the report, despite confirmation from several military police ion duty that night. Only then did this Sergeant seek out the press.

Horton’s revelations place our country at an important crossroads. There have certainly been a number of other deaths previously attributed to detainee abuse. However, the June 9, 2006 deaths are especially notable both in that they occurred far from the battlefield and in the extent of potential high-level cover-up involved.

This report that there is credible evidence of murder by our government, and that many government agencies may have participated in a cover-up constitutes a grave moral crisis for the nation. Will we demand an independent investigation, and accountability if justified? Or is the possibility of government murder just something we will accept? Does President Obama’s vaunted desire to “look forward and not backward” includes possible homicide?

As Horton quotes retired Rear Admiral John Hutson

“Filing false reports and making false statements is bad enough, but if a homicide occurs and officials up the chain of command attempt to cover it up, they face serious criminal liability. They may even be viewed as accessories after the fact in the original crime.” With command authority comes command responsibility, he said. “If the heart of the military is obeying orders down the chain of command, then its soul is accountability up the chain. You can’t demand the former without the latter.”

In our system of government, the President is the Commander in Chief. As the one at the top of the command structure, he bears ultimate responsibility “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.”It is his duty to guarantee a truly independent investigation of these charges. Unfortunately, given the possible involvement of numerous government agencies, including the NCIS, FBI and Justice Department, no investigation through the ordinary channels can possible be credible. We need an investigation truly independent of all government agencies that may have participated in a possible cover-up.

However, the responsibility does not rest with the President alone. As citizens it is our duty to insist that he acts. Only through a thorough independent investigation of these charges, and of the entire spectrum of abuses that occurred during the “War on Terror,” can my military friends’ honor be restored. They, and we, need to know that the words in the Geneva Conventions, the UN Convention Against Torture, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, not to mention the US Constitution, are more than words cynically taught to new recruits. These new accusations will provide a test of what type of people we are.

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Stephen Soldz is psychoanalyst, psychologist, public health researcher, and faculty member at the Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis. He is co-founder of the Coalition for an Ethical Psychology (more…)

http://www.opednews.com/articles/The-Guantanamo-Suicides–by-Stephen-Soldz-100118-150.html

Andy Worthington

Journalist and author of “The Guantanamo Files”

Posted: August 26, 2008 04:29 AM

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Guantanamo Suicide Report: Truth or Travesty?

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Read More: Al-Qaeda, Ali Al-Salami, Guantanamo, Guantanamo Detainees, Guantanamo Suicides, Mani Al-Utaybi, Murat Kurnaz, Naval Criminal Investigative Service, Taliban, Terrorism, The Guantanamo Files, Yasser Al-Zahrani, Politics News

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Two years and two months after three prisoners at Guantánamo died, apparently as the result of a coordinated suicide pact, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS), which has been investigating the deaths ever since the three long-term hunger strikers were found dead in their cells on June 10, 2006, issued a 934-word statement on Friday that purported to draw a line under the whole sordid affair.

The deaths of the three men — Ali al-Salami, Mani al-Utaybi and Yasser al-Zahrani — have been controversial from the moment that they were first announced, when Guantánamo’s then-Commander, Rear Adm. Harry Harris, attracted international opprobrium by declaring that they were an act of “asymmetric warfare,” and Colleen Graffy, the deputy assistant secretary of state for public diplomacy, had similar scorn heaped upon her when she described the men’s deaths as a “good PR move.”

As I have explained previously, the administration soon assumed a slightly more placatory role, when Cully Stimson, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for detainee affairs, declared, “I wouldn’t characterize it as a good PR move. What I would say is that we are always concerned when someone takes his own life, because as Americans, we value life, even the lives of violent terrorists who are captured waging war against our country.”

In keeping with the unjustified rhetoric that concluded Stimson’s “apology,” the Pentagon proceeded to pump out propaganda portraying the men as terrorists, even though, like all the prisoners in Guantánamo, the majority of the information against them had come from interrogations in which torture and coercion were widespread, and none of the men had ever been screened adequately to determine whether or not there was any basis for their automatic designation as “enemy combatants” who could be held indefinitely without charge or trial.

Al-Zahrani, who was only 17 years old at the time of his capture, was accused of being a Taliban fighter who “facilitated weapons purchases,” even though this scenario was highly unlikely, given his age. In al-Utaybi’s case, he was declared an “enemy combatant” because of his involvement with Jamaat-al-Tablighi, a vast worldwide missionary organization whose alleged connection to terrorism was duly exaggerated by the Pentagon, which had the effrontery to describe the avowedly apolitical organization as “an al-Qaeda 2nd tier recruitment organization.” The administration also admitted that al-Utaybi had actually been approved for “transfer to the custody of another country” in November 2005, although Navy Commander Robert Durand said he “did not know whether al-Utaybi had been informed about the transfer recommendation before he killed himself.” In the case of al-Salami, who was captured in a guest house in Pakistan with over a dozen other prisoners, most of whom have persistently claimed that they were students, the Pentagon alleged that he was “a mid- to high-level al-Qaeda operative who had key ties to principal facilitators and senior members of the group.”

Sadly, the NCIS statement (published in full here) does little to address long-standing concerns about the circumstances of the men’s deaths. The investigators unreservedly backed up the suicide story by reporting that “Autopsies were performed by physicians from the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology at Naval Hospital Guantánamo on June 10 and 11. The manner of death for all detainees was determined to be suicide and the cause of death was determined to be by hanging, the medical term being ‘mechanical asphyxia.'”

Their major contribution to the story of the men’s deaths was to revive claims that they had left suicide notes. They wrote that “A short written statement declaring their intent to be martyrs was found in the pockets of each of the detainees,” and that “Lengthier written statements were also found in each of their cells.”

The contents of the alleged suicide notes were not revealed in the NCIS statement, but were part of “more than 3,000 pages of military investigative documents, medical records, autopsies, and statements from guards and detainees” obtained by the Washington Post. According to the NCIS, the “case file will be posted in its entirety on the DOD FOIA web site in the near future.”

As the Washington Post described it, Ali al-Salami wrote, “I am informing you that I gave away the precious thing that I have in which it became very cheap, which is my own self, to lift up the oppression that is upon us through the American Government,” adding, “I did not like the tube in my mouth, now go ahead and accept the rope in my neck.” He also apparently criticized the International Committee of the Red Cross, accusing its representatives, who secure access to some of the world’s most notorious prisons primarily on the basis that they will not publicly disclose their findings, of “conspiring in the detainees’ suffering” because it had been “covering the American Government repugnance since the first day.”

In the Miami Herald, Carol Rosenberg reported that the other two prisoners had left notes that stated, “I turned in my Koran not insult … Now I’m turning in my body and sacred are so you not insult it,” and “I left out of the cage despite of you,” and wondered, with some justification, whether the report had “quoted awkward Arabic-English translations of the detainees’ notes,” or if the men had, in fact, “written in crude English.”

The rest of the NCIS statement essentially explained the long delay in submitting the report. “Due to similarities in the wording of the statements and the manner of suicides, as well as statements made by other detainees interviewed,” the investigators wrote, “there was growing concern that someone within the Camp Delta population was directing detainees to commit suicide and that additional suicides might be imminent. Representatives of other law enforcement agencies involved in the investigation were later told that on the night in question, another detainee (who did not later commit suicide) had walked through the cell block telling people ‘tonight’s the night.'”

They added, “The cells of other detainees were searched during the week following the suicides in an attempt to find evidence regarding whether the suicides had been part of a larger conspiracy which might result in additional detainees also taking their lives,” and explained that the searches produced 1,065 pounds of documents, including “additional handwritten notes found in cells other than those where the suicides took place.” These, they wrote, were then subjected to translation and analysis, and they went on to explain that the process was particularly time-consuming because a separate body had to be set up to ensure that documents relating to confidential correspondence between prisoners and their lawyers was not included.

Rather disturbingly, reporting on the story has been noticeably muted. In the Washington Post, Josh White painted a vivid picture of how the men apparently committed suicide, but was content to parrot the NCIS’s line about the deaths, noting that the NCIS investigation “and other documents reveal that the men took advantage of lapses in guard protocol and of lenient policies toward compliant detainees to commit what suicide notes described as an attack on the United States.”

He added, “Investigators found that guards had become lax on certain rules because commanders wanted to reward the more compliant detainees, giving them extra T-shirts, blankets and towels. Detainees were allowed to hang such items to dry, or to provide privacy while using the toilet, but were not supposed to be able to obscure their cells while sleeping. Guards told officials that it was not unusual to see blankets hanging in the cells and that they did not think twice when they passed several cells on the night of June 9, 2006, with blankets strung through the wire mesh. Authorities believe the men probably hanged themselves around 10 p.m., but they were not discovered until shortly after midnight on June 10.”

White’s most explosive revelation was reserved for the end of his article, where he explained that the documentation revealed that the military’s Criminal Investigation Task Force had “decided years earlier” that Ali al-Salami, “who was arrested near his college in Pakistan in March 2002 and was turned over to U.S. authorities on May 2, 2002, in Afghanistan, was not someone they could prosecute.” Far from being “a mid- to high-level al-Qaeda operative who had key ties to principal facilitators and senior members of the group,” as the Pentagon alleged after his death, what was described as “a previously ‘secret’ document” revealed that investigators had concluded instead that “Although many of the individuals apprehended during the raid have strong connections to al-Qaeda, there is no credible information to suggest Ahmed received terrorist related training or is a member of the al-Qaeda network.” This, of course, is a shockingly belated vindication of al-Salami’s innocence, which deserves far more publicity than it has so far received.

If Josh White was rather soft on the administration, Carol Rosenberg was more challenging, writing that the NCIS statement “shed little light” on the circumstances of the men’s deaths. She spoke to a “senior Pentagon official who read the report and provided details in exchange for anonymity,” who, she wrote, noted, as if reading from a script prepared by Dick Cheney, “that the Navy investigation found the simultaneous suicides to be acts of ‘defiance and martyrdom,'” and she pointedly asked why the report “left unexplained one key question — why guards had not checked on the men for two and a half hours before they were discovered hanging in their cells.” “For years,” she added, drawing on her long experience as Guantánamo’s most frequent visiting journalist, “tours of the prison camps have described a strict doctrine that had guards check on each detainee every few minutes.”

Perhaps when — or if — the full case file is released publicly, the documents it contains will shed more light on the deaths of Ali al-Salami, Mani al-Utaybi and Yasser al-Zahrani, but for now the investigation has the appearance of a whitewash. As al-Salami’s lawyer, David Engelhardt, explained to the Washington Post, “It’s simply astounding that it took the government over two years to conclude a so-called investigation of three men who died in a small cage under the government’s exclusive control. The investigation itself is what needs to be investigated, along with the people who’ve perpetrated the disgraceful, extra-constitutional detentions.”

Not mentioned in the current round of discussions are two of the most convincing explanations of the men’s apparent suicide, which I have also reportedly previously. In my book The Guantánamo Files, which features a chapter on the suicides and hunger strikes at Guantánamo, I cite an article by Tim Golden from the New York Times Magazine in September 2006, in which Guantánamo’s warden, Col. Mike Bumgarner, explained that the British resident Shaker Aamer had told him that “several of the detainees had had a ‘vision,’ in which three of them had to die for the rest to be freed.” As I also reported in a previous article, Aamer also seemed to endorse the view that the men had committed suicide, explaining that a guard had told him before the men’s deaths, “They have lost hope in life. They have no hope in their eyes. They are ghosts, and they want to die. No food will keep them alive now. Even with four feeds a day, these men get diarrhea from any protein which goes right through them.”

Even so, other burning questions about the men’s deaths remain unanswered. In an environment in which cell searches are notoriously frequent and access to pens and paper is strictly rationed, is it really plausible that the three men could actually have written and secreted the suicide notes they were alleged to have written? And, as Carol Rosenberg asked, is it also plausible that the regime had become so lax that three men who had been on painfully long hunger strikes would have been left unmonitored for at least two hours?

One person who is not convinced is Murat Kurnaz, the German-born Turkish citizen and German resident, who was released in August 2006. In his extraordinary account of his experiences, Five Years of My Life: An Innocent Man in Guantánamo, Kurnaz wrote about the men’s deaths, specifically addressing these questions, providing a view of the prison’s security that is completely at odds with the blanket-shrouded cells and lax security described by the NCIS, and reaching a far darker conclusion.

Kurnaz was not present in the cell block — Block Alpha in Camp 1 — on the night the men died, but several weeks later some prisoners who were moved to cells near him explained their take on what had happened. These prisoners, who had been in Block Alpha, “said that dinner had come early that evening and that everyone in the block suddenly got tired and had fallen asleep — even though it was never quiet in the block at that hour, even when the guards left us in peace. There was always someone who couldn’t fall asleep, who wanted to pray or who kept waking up throughout the night.” Kurnaz added that Yasser’s last neighbor also noted, “The metal shutters in front of the windows had also been closed from the outside … as if a storm were approaching.”

This man explained that, although “he had been woken up in the middle of the night by a loud bang” and had seen a team of guards entering Yasser’s cell, he had thought nothing of it, as this was a regular occurrence. Some time later, however, the guards woke everyone up, and Yasser’s body was carried out of his cell on a stretcher, with a piece of sheet in his mouth, other pieces binding his arms and legs, and “more sheet around his neck, like a noose.”

The guards proceeded to explain that Yasser “had hung himself,” but, the man explained, “we didn’t think that could be true. He would have had to attach the noose to the sharp metal lattices with his hands and feet tied and with no chair to stand on. That was nearly impossible.” In addition, as Kurnaz noted, “It seemed highly unlikely that the guards would have failed to catch him in time.” Reinforcing Carol Rosenberg’s doubts, he explained, “They barely let us out of their sight for a minute.”

Kurnaz also noted, “The guards claimed he had covered the walls of his cage so that they hadn’t seen him do it. But what was he supposed to have used to cover the cage? The same sheets with which he allegedly hung himself?” He added, taking exception to the official claims that, at the time of the deaths, “it was not unusual to see blankets hanging in the cells,” “And what about the rule prohibiting us from hanging anything on the walls of our cells?”

He continued: “It seemed too much of a coincidence that the other two dead men had hung themselves at exactly the same time in exactly the same way in the same block, while all the other inmates had been sleeping like babies. When the guards were patrolling the corridors, it never took long before other guards came to ensure we were following the rules. The guards never took a break since they, too, were kept under surveillance to ensure that they too were carrying out their duties.” While this could, in theory, be explained by the report’s conclusion that security had slipped on the night in question, no one in authority addressed the next question posed by Kurnaz: “And what about the sharpshooters in the watchtowers? Hadn’t they noticed anything?”

After noting, poignantly, that Mani al-Utaybi had indeed been informed “a few days earlier” that he was going to be released — and that he was “[o]verjoyed,’ that he “had told everyone about it,” and that, consequently, he “didn’t seem to have much of a reason for killing himself” — Kurnaz presented the prisoners’ unavoidable conclusion about the men’s deaths: “No, we prisoners unanimously agreed, the men had been killed. Maybe they had been beaten to death and then strung up, or perhaps they had been strangled.”

He added that no one knew why, but that he and many others believed that it may have been because many of the guards in Guantánamo “were afraid of being sent to Iraq,” and that some of them thought that “if prisoners died in Guantánamo, it would create trouble for the Bush government, and they wouldn’t have to take part in the war.”

This strikes me as a far-fetched interpretation, but it’s clear that, although we may never know the truth about the deaths of Ali al-Salami, Mani al-Utaybi and Yasser al-Zahrani, the NCIS’s insistence that the investigation into the deaths is now closed is premature, despite the long delay in its production. Scorned in death, and hacked up and shipped home like packages of meat, these three men deserve much more than has so far been delivered in the way of justice.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/andy-worthington/guantanamo-suicide-report_b_121358.html

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The Truth About US Justice & Dr Aafia | Yvonne Ridley
Sat at 8:19am

By Yvonne Ridley

Many of us are still in a state of shock over the guilty verdict returned on Dr Aafia Siddiqui.

The response from the people of Pakistan was predictable and overwhelming and I salute their spontaneous actions.

From Peshawar to Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore and beyond they marched in their thousands demanding the return of Aafia.

Even some of the US media expressed discomfort over the verdict returned by the jurors … there was a general feeling that something was not right.

Everyone had something to say, everyone that is except the usually verbose US Ambassador Anne Patterson who has spent the last two years briefing against Dr Aafia and her supporters.

This is the same woman who claimed I was a fantasist when I gave a press conference with Tehreek e Insaf leader Imran Khan back in July 2008 revealing the plight of a female prisoner in Bagram called the Grey Lady.

She said I was talking nonsense and stated categorically that the prisoner I referred to as “650” did not exist.

By the end of the month she changed her story and said there had been a female prisoner but that she was most definitely not Dr Aafia Siddiqui.

By that time Aafia had been gunned down at virtually point blank range in an Afghan prison cell jammed full of more than a dozen US soldiers, FBI agents and Afghan police.

Her Excellency briefed the media that the prisoner had wrested an M4 gun from one soldier and fired off two rounds and had to be subdued. The fact these bullets failed to hit a single person in the cell and simply disappeared did not resonate with the diplomat.

In a letter dripping in untruths on August 16 2008 she decried the “erroneous and irresponsible media reports regarding the arrest of MsAafia Siddiqui”. She went on to say: “Unfortunately,there are some who have an interest in simply distorting the facts in an effort to manipulate and inflame public opinion. The truth is never served by sensationalism…”

When Jamaat Islami invited me on a national tour of Pakistan to address people about the continued abuse of Dr Aafia and the truth about her incarceration in Bagram, the US Ambassador continued to issue rebuttals.

She assured us all that Dr Aafia was being treated humanely had been given consular access as set out in international law … hmm. Well I have a challenge for Ms Patterson today. I challenge her to repeat every single word she said back then and swear it is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

As Dr Aafia Siddiqui’s trial got underway, the US Ambassador and some of her stooges from the intelligence world laid on a lavish party at the US Embassy in Islamabad for some hand-picked journalists where I’ve no doubt in between the dancing, drinks and music they were carefully briefed about the so-called facts of the case.

Interesting that some of the potentially incriminating pictures taken at the private party managed to find the Ambassador was probably hoping to minimize the impact the trial would have on the streets of Pakistan proving that, for the years she has been holed up and barricaded behind concrete bunkers and barbed wire, she has learned nothing about this great country of Pakistan or its people.

One astute Pakistani columnist wrote about her: “The respected lady seems to have forgotten the words of her own country’s 16th president Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865): “Youcan fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people someof the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time”.

And the people of Pakistan proved they are nobody’s fool and responded to the guilty verdict in New York in an appropriate way.

When injustice is the law it is the duty of everyone to rise up and challenge that injustice in any way possible.

The response – so far – has been restrained and measured but it is just the start. A sentence has yet to be delivered by Judge Richard Berman in May.

Of course there has been a great deal of finger pointing and blame towards the jury in New York who found Dr Aafia guilty of attempted murder.

Observers asked how they could ignore the science and the irrefutable facts … there was absolutely no evidence linking Dr Aafia to the gun, no bullets, no residue from firing it.

But I really don’t think we can blame the jurors for the verdict – you see the jury simply could not handle the truth. Had they taken the logical route and gone for the science and the hard, cold, clinical facts it would have meant two things. It would have meant around eight US soldiers took the oath and lied in court to save their own skins and careers or it would have meant that Dr Aafia Siddiqui was telling the truth.

And, as I said before, the jury couldn’t handle the truth. Because that would have meant that the defendant really had been kidnapped, abused, tortured and held in dark, secret prisons by the US before being shot and put on a rendition flight to New York. It would have meant that her three children – two of them US citizens – would also have been kidnapped, abused and tortured by the US.

They say ignorance is bliss and this jury so desperately wanted not to believe that the US could have had a hand in the kidnapping of a five-month -old baby boy, a five-year-old girl and her seven-year-old brother.

They couldn’t handle the truth … it is as simple as that.

Well I, and many others across the world like me, can’t handle any more lies. America’s reputation is lying in the lowest gutters in Pakistan at the moment and it can’t sink any lower.

The trust has gone, there is only a burning hatred and resentment towards a superpower which sends unmanned drones into villages to slaughter innocents.

It is fair to say that America’s goodwill and credibility is all but washed up with most honest, decent citizens of Pakistan.

And I think even Her Excellency Anne Patterson recognizes that fact which is why she is now keeping her mouth shut.

If she has any integrity and any self respect left she should stand before the Pakistan people and ask for their forgiveness for the drone murders, the extra judicial killings, the black operations, the kidnapping, torture and rendition of its citizens, the water-boarding, the bribery, the corruption and, not least of all, the injustice handed out to Dr Aafia Siddiqui and her family.

She should then pick up the phone to the US President and tell him to release Aafia and return Pakistan’s most loved, respected and famous daughter and reunite her with the two children who are still missing.

Then she should re-read her letter of August 16, 2008 and write another … one of resignation.

* Yvonne Ridley is a patron of Cageprisoners which first brought the plight of Dr Aafia Siddiqui to the world’s attention shortly after her kidnap in March 2003. The award-winning, investigative journalist also co-produced the documentary In Search of Prisoner 650 with film-maker Hassan al Banna Ghani which concluded that the Grey Lady of Bagram was Dr Aafia Siddiqu

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The Abduction,

Secret Detention,

Torture,

and Repeated Raping,

of Aafia Siddiqui

[No media coverage, no outrage, no investigation, no justice,,,

and where is her other child???]

The Abduction Secret Detention Torture and Repeated Raping of Aafia Siddiqui

The Abduction, Secret Detention, Torture, and Repeated Raping of Aafia Siddiqui
Written by Stephen Lendman
Tuesday, 16 December 2008 11:16

by Stephen Lendman

Post-9/11, the “war on terror” has been a jihad against Islam, the colonizers v. the colonized, or what Edward Said called “the familiar (America, Europe, us) and the strange (the Orient, East, them).” Dr. Aafia Siddiqui is one of its most tragic, aggrieved, and ravaged victims. Her ordeal continues horrifically.

Boston Magazine’s Katherine Oxment asked: “Who’s afraid of Aafia Siddiqui? She went to MIT and Brandeis, married a (physician, lived in Boston), cared for her children… raised money for charities… did other volunteer work, hosted play groups in her apartment, (is) deeply religious… distribute(d) Korans to inmates in area prisons,” and did nothing out of the ordinary. (She) “was a normal woman living a normal American life. Until the FBI called her a terrorist… a high-profile Al Qaeda operative,” but we’ve seen these charges before, and each time they were bogus. They’re egregiously so against Aafia – a woman guilty only of being Muslim at the wrong time in America or elsewhere if you’re on Washington’s target list.

Against her and others, no evidence exists so prosecutors invent it. Most (or key parts) is kept classified, unavailable to the defense, and trials are judicial equivalents of circuses. Witnesses are enlisted, pressured, coerced, and/or bought off to cooperate. Proceedings are carefully orchestrated. Due process is effectively denied, and juries are intimidated to convict the innocent for political advantage.

The dominant media cooperate. Using information from Washington Post writer, Douglas Farah, and other sources, writer Lindsey Worth of FMS, Inc. referred to “the mysterious Aafia Siddiqui… allegedly Al Qaeda’s only female leader” in connecting her to “the Al Queda diamond operation” in West Africa.

The Times Online calls Aafia “Al-Qaeda woman,” and for ABC News she’s “Mata Hari” in a lengthy report featuring unsubstantiated charges against her, including:

— possessing detailed radiological, chemical and biological information, including possessing a liter of cyanide and instructions for a “dirty bomb;”


— more documents for a mass casualty attack;


— a list of New York targets, including the Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge, Empire State Building, Wall Street, and the animal disease center on Plum Island;


— terrorist recruiting;


— possessing excerpts from “The Anarchist’s Arsenal;”


— “documents detailing US military assets;”


— methods of attack by reconnaissance drones, underwater bombs and gliders; and


— a thumb (or flash) drive packed with emails detailing “specific cells” and planned attacks to carry out.

According to the FBI, she is, or was when captured, a potential “treasure trove” of information on terrorist supporters, sympathizers or sleepers in America and overseas. CIA officer John Kiriakou said she’s “the most significant capture in five years,” and an unnamed counterterrorism official called her “a very dangerous person, no doubt about it.”

For Kiriakou, she’s a “radical” involved in planning “a wide variety of different operations (perhaps with WMDs),” including a “possible attempt on the life of the President.” Unnamed sources from three federal agencies accused her of an “ill conceived” and perhaps amateurish plot to “kill all living US presidents,” including Jimmy Carter by poisoning.

By marriage to his nephew, she’s also reputedly linked to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the “principal architect of the 9/11 attacks,” according to the 9/11 Commission. He reportedly “gave her up” after capture on March 1, 2003, and shortly thereafter she and her children disappeared.

The DOJ also connects her to Adnan El Shukrijumah, another suspected Al Qaeda member “involved in terrorist planning with senior Al Qaeda leaders overseas and across America,” according to John Ashcroft.

Aafia’s friends and family deny all charges. They call her an innocent victim of US persecution, and an especially egregious one for being ravaged in detention. One supporter (Abu Sabaya) said this about the woman he knew:

“I want you to come to know of the concern and dedication that this woman had for Islam as described by those who knew her – a dedication that was manifested by way of actions that were very simple and easy, yet seldom carried out by those who are able.

Those who knew Aafia recall that she was a very small, quiet, polite, and shy woman who was barely noticeable in a gathering. However… she would say what (was) needed” when necessary.

While at MIT, she organized drives to deliver Korans and other Islamic literature to Muslims in local prisons. She was also dedicated to Islam on campus where fellow students described her as soft-spoken, studious, religious, but not extremist or fundamentalist. She wrote three instructional guides on the faith. More as well on how to run a daw’ah table to provide religious information and training for da’iyas (callers to Islam). She wrote:

“Imagine our humble, but sincere daw’ah effort turning into a major daw’ah movement in this country! Just imagine it! And us, reaping the reward of everyone who accepts Islam throught this movement (for) years to come. Think and plan big. May Allah give this strength and sincerity to us so that our humble effort continues and expands until America becomes a Muslim land.”

Aafia taught local Muslim children on Sundays, but her greatest passion was to help oppressed Muslims worldwide. She spoke publicly, sent emails, gave slideshow presentations, and raised donations while a student and caring for three young children at home.

Because of her faith, activism, and passion for the oppressed, it’s little wonder she was targeted and why Assistant US Attorney Christopher LaVigne called her “a high security risk” despite no evidence to prove it.

Her Background and What Happened

Aafia is a Pakistani national with degrees from MIT and a doctorate in neurocognitive science from Brandeis. Despite false media reports, she’s not a microbiologist, geneticist or neurologist. Nor did her training provide expertise for WMD terrorism. As her lawyer, Elaine Whitfeld Sharp, explains:

The prosecution claimed “that Aafia was involved in biochemical warfare. She wasn’t taking brain cells and testing how they reacted to gases. But there’s all this news in the media about the changing face of Al Qaeda, the neurobiology scare, and now we’ve got this MIT graduate with a Brandeis Ph.D. who’s cooking up all these viruses.”

Boston Magazine writer Katherine Ozment explained what Aafia “was actually cooking up” – the simple concept that people learn by imitation. To study it, “she devised a computer program and used adult volunteers, who came to her office and watched various objects move randomly across the screen, then reproduced what they recalled. The point was to see how well they retained the information having seen in on the screen.”

Brandeis professor of cognitive science Paul DiZio laughed about how this could apply to terrorism. “I can’t see how it can be applied to anything. It’s not applied work. It didn’t have a medical aspect to it. And, as a computer expert, she was competent. But you know, calling her a mastermind or something (is ludicrous) – I never saw any evidence.”

She and her husband (a medical resident at the time at Brigham and Women’s Hospital) used their apartment for a 1999 nonprofit organization they began called the Institute of Islamic Research and Teaching. It had nothing to do with terrorism. According to the neighborhood Mosque’s Imam, Abdullah Faruuq: “What I know of (Aafia) is that she was living here in America, and her organization was for sharing Islamic information with the American people.”

Faruuq was impressed with her dedication. “Aafia was an American girl and a good sister.” She also wanted her husband to use his medical skills to help the less fortunate. Despite her devout faith, “there was nothing radical about Siddiqui. She just seemed like a very kind person.”

She’s also a mother of three, and a victim of extreme viciousness in detention. According to her mother, Ismet, she “left the family home in Gulshan-e-lqbal in a taxi on March 30 to catch a flight for Rawalpindi, but never reached the airport.” Inside sources claim she was picked up by intelligence agents en route, and initial reports suggest then handed over to the FBI.

She was missing for over a year when the agency posted her photographs on its web site. Shortly afterward, a story was leaked about her involvement in the 2001 Liberian diamond trade with her as an Al Qaeda operative. The family’s attorney, Elaine Whitfield Sharp, called the allegation a blessing in disguise because it placed Aafia in Liberia at a specific time when she can prove she was in Boston that week.

Aafia’s mother says that only days after her daughter’s disappearance a man on motorcycle came to her family home and warned her to say nothing about what happened if she wanted to see Aafia and her grandchildren again. She hasn’t since, and according to the Pakistani Urdu press, the family was picked up by local authorities and taken into custody. A government interior ministry spokesman and two unnamed US officials confirmed the report in the press. They then retracted their statements, but local Chicago NBC news (based on a Press Trust of India account) reported that Aafia was being interrogated by US intelligence officials.

At the time, the FBI website stated: “Although the FBI has no information indicating this individual is connected to specific terrorist activities, the FBI would like to locate and question this individual.” The agency knew full well what happened – that Aafia was in secret detention, that her horrific ordeal had begun, and that they and other US authorities were involved.

A Brief Timeline of Affia’s Case

— March 18, 2003: the FBI issues an alert requesting information about Aafia;

— March 29: UPI reports that the FBI believes Aafia may be an Al Qaeda “fixer,” transferring money to support “terrorist” operations;

— March 30: Aafia disappears en route to the airport for a flight to Rawalpindi;

— April 3: CNN reports that Al Qaeda figure Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (arrested March 1) mentioned Aafia during interrogation; Pakistani authorities deny any knowledge of her whereabouts;

— April 4: the FBI denies that it captured and is detaining Aafia;

— May 26: John Ashcroft and FBI director Robert Mueller cite reports that Al Queda plans an attack on the US in the summer or fall; Aafia is named as an Al Qaeda “operative and facilitator” and is one of seven Al Qaeda members being sought;

— May 28, 2004: Pakistan’s Interior Ministry confirms that Aafia was turned over to US authorities in 2003 after it was unable to establish any links she may have had with Al Qaeda;

— A 2006 Amnesty International report includes Aafia as one of many of the “disappeared” in the “war on terror;”

— A 2007 Ghost Prisoner Human Rights Watch report said that Aafia “may have once been held” in secret CIA detention;

— A February 2008 Asian Human Rights Commission report said Aafia was brought to Karachi and severely tortured to secure her compliance as a government witness against Khalid Shiekh Mohammed;

— July 7, 2008: UK journalist Yvonne Ridley identifies Aafia as “Prisoner 650” at the US Bagram, Afghanistan torture-prison;

— July 11: US Lt. Col. Rumi Nielson-Green denies that any women are being held at Bagram;

— July 31: the FBI tells Aafia’s brother that she’s in US custody;

— August 4: a DOJ press release says that Afghanistan National Police arrested Aafia in Ghazni on July 17 and that she was wounded the next day while trying to shoot US Army personnel;

— August 6: US Magistrate Judge Ronald Ellis orders Aafia be held without bail; her court-appointed lawyer, Elizabeth Fink, says charges against her are “absurd;” a bail hearing was set for August 11 and another for August 18 to determine if she should be tried;

— August 12: the Washington Pakistani embassy formally requests that Aafia be repatriated to Pakistan;

— August 13: the US military in Afghanistan denies it ever held Aafia in detention and that an unnamed female prisoner was someone else;

— September 12: according to a report in MIT’s The Tech, court documents released today indicate that Aafia “was diagnosed with chronic depressive type psychosis;”

— September 23: Judge Richard Berman enters a “not guilty” plea on behalf of Aafia; she refuses to come to court because doing so requires she be strip-searched; he sets December 17 as the next hearing date to determine her fitness to stand trial; he also sets March 9, 2009 as a tentative trial date;

— September 29: World Net Daily reports that for the “first time since 9/11, counterterrorism field agents have been authorized to spy on young Muslim men and women – including American citizens – who have traveled to Pakistan without any specific evidence (suggesting) wrongdoing;”

— October 2: Aafia is moved to the Carswell Federal Medical Center, Fort Worth, TX for psychiatric evaluation; in vain, her lawyer pleaded that she not be sent because she urgently needs medical treatment;

— October 6: Pakistani senators Mushahid Hussain Syed, Sadia Abbasi Mehmood, and SM Zafar met with Aafia; Faqir Saeed of the Pakistani embassy as well; she tells them of her ordeal – that she was abducted in 2003, given an injection, found herself in a cell, and was forced to sign papers and confess to things she didn’t do; her children’s lives were threatened and she was abused grievously;

— November 17: Judge Richard Berman indicates that a psychiatric evaluation indicates that Aafia is “not competent to proceed as a result of her mental disease, which renders her unable to understand the nature and consequences of the proceedings against her;”

— December 17: the next scheduled date (in New York District Court) to determine if Aafia is fit to stand trial;

— March 9, 2009: the tentative date for Aafia’s trial to begin.

The US Bagram, Afghanistan Torture-Prison

After her abduction, Aafia disappeared into Bagram hell and was known only as “Prisoner 650.” Then later, by released prisoners, as the “Gray Lady of Bagram” because of her screams they heard for years.

At one time, Bagram (north of Kabul at the US air base) held twice as many prisoners as Guantanamo and likely still holds hundreds. They’re crammed into wire cages, routinely tortured, forced to sleep on floor mats, and have buckets for latrines, or at least did until recently. Many prisoners are held secretly, have been there for years, have no access to lawyers, or any knowledge of the allegations against them. Most, perhaps all, are innocent victims and guilty only of being Muslims at the wrong time in the wrong place.

What’s known about Bagram comes from released or transfered prisoners who got access to counsel. In early 2008, The New York Times also reported that the International Committee of the Red Cross filed a confidential complaint with US authorities charging that its detainees were held incommunicado for weeks or months in isolation cells and subjected to cruel treatment (torture) in violation of international law.

In February 2005, The London Guardian reported that a prisoner named Mustafa was blindfolded, handcuffed, gagged, and forced to bend down over a table by three US soldiers. They then “forcibly rammed a stick up my rectum… I could not stop screaming when this happened.”

Another case involved Wesam Abdulrahman Ahmed Al Deemawi. For over a 40 days, he was threatened with dogs, stripped and photographed “in shameful and obscene positions,” placed in a cage with a hook and hanging rope, and hung on it blindfolded for two days. Both men were never charged and were later released.

Other prisoners were beaten, chained, hung from the ceiling by their wrists, and subjected to numerous other tortures and indignities – for months or years. In some cases so horrifically they died. Aafia and other women were (and still are) at Bagram and other US torture- prisons (including torture-ships at sea), according to British journalist Yvonne Ridley: “There are many Muslim women in the captivity of American forces and if (people remain) silent, (they’ll) lose their sisters forever.” Some are treated even worse than Aafia.

Ridley wrote about Bagram’s “Prisoner 650” and her ordeal of torture and repeatedly being raped for over four years. “The cries of (this) helpless woman echoed (with such torment) in the jail that (it) prompted prisoners to go on hunger strike.” Ridley called her a “gray lady (because) she (was) almost a ghost, a spectre whose cries and screams continue to haunt those who heard her. This would never happen to a Western woman.” It did to Aafia, other Muslim women as well, and their ordeal continues horrifically.

US and International Law on Prisoners of War and Enforced Disappearances

US and international law are clear and unequivocal on prisoner detentions and their treatment. America under George Bush defiles it, and, given the rogue team he’s assembled, the Obama administration (with or without Guantanamo) promises little or no change. These practices are grievous crimes of war and against humanity and should never be tolerated against anyone for any reason. Yet they persist.

The US War Crimes Act (1996) defines these offenses as grave breaches under the Geneva Conventions (1949) and violations of its Common Article 3. It states in part:

… “the following acts are prohibited at any time and in any place… :

— violence to life and person (including) murder, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture;

— … humiliating and degrading treatment;”

— sentencing or executing detainees “without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court affording all the judicial guarantees… recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples;” and

— assuring wounded and sick are (properly) cared for.

The US Army Field Manual 27-10 is also explicit on the rule of law. It incorporates the Nuremberg Principles prohibiting crimes against humanity, and specifically obligates soldiers to disobey illegal orders or be subject to prosecution under international law. Paragraph 498 states that any person, military or civilian, who commits a crime under international law bears responsibility and may be punished. Paragraph 499 defines a “war crime.” Paragraph 509 denies the defense of superior orders in the commission of a crime, and paragraph 510 denies the defense of an “act of state.”

Under Article VI of the Constitution (the supremacy clause), international law is part of domestic law, and US presidents take an oath under Article II, Section 1, Clause 7 to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution… ” Further, Article II, Section 3 requires the president to “take Care that the Laws be faithfully exercised.”

International human rights law also strictly prohibits secret detentions. Under Principle 6 of the (May 1989) UN Principles on the Effective Prevention and Investigation of Extra-legal, Arbitrary and Summary Executions:

“Governments shall ensure that persons deprived of their liberty are (to be) held in officially recognised places of custody, and that accurate information on their custody and whereabouts, including transfers, is made promptly available to their relatives and lawyers or other persons of confidence.”

US and international laws leave no ambiguity on torture or its seriousness when practiced. The (1949) Third Geneva Convention’s Article 13 (on the Treatment of Prisoners of War) states:

Detainees “must at all times be humanely treated. Any unlawful act or omission by the Detaining Power causing death or seriously endangering the health of a prisoner of war in its custody is prohibited… (these persons) must at all times be protected, particularly against acts of violence or intimidation… “

Third Geneva also prohibits physical or mental torture, all other forms of coercion, collective punishment, corporal punishments, and any type of violence. These acts are “war crimes.” Various other US and international laws also prohibit them, yet they’re official US policy, so far with impunity.

In December 1992, the UN General Assembly passed the Declaration on the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearance. It states that:

“any act of enforced disappearance is an offence to human dignity.” It “places the persons subjected thereto outside the protection of the law and inflicts severe suffering on them and their families. It constitutes a violation of the rules of international law guaranteeing, inter alia (among other things), the right to recognition as a person before the law, the right to liberty and security of the person, and the right not to be subjected to torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment… No state shall practice, permit or tolerate enforced disappearances” and must terminate any such acts “in any territory under its jurisdiction.” Such practices are crimes of war and against humanity.

In 2005, the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice (CHR&GJ, New York University School of Law) published a report titled: “Fate and Whereabouts Unknown: Detainees in the “War on Terror.” It presented “factual summaries of (28) individuals who may be in secret (US) detention sites” and included known information about Aafia at the time.

CHR&GJ said enforced disappearances happen “when individuals are deprived of their liberty by state agents and the state fails to provide information about their fate or whereabouts; through these actions, detainees are placed outside the protection of law.”

“Disappearances” include these practices:

— individuals (often unidentified) held in secret US-run or controlled “black sites;”

— individuals in foreign-based sites under US control or direction;

— individuals “extraordinarily renditioned” to “black” or other sites; and

— individuals held in conflict areas and not properly registered and/or identified, such as CIA “ghost prisoners” on US military facilities like at Bagram.

United States of America v. Aafia Siddiqui

On September 2, the Justice Department (DOJ) indicted Aafia “for attempting to kill United States Nationals in Afghanistan and Six Additional Charges.” On September 4, she was arraigned before Judge Richard Berman in US District Court for the Southern District of New York.

Michael Garcia, US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, stated (in a September 2 press release) that on July 18, 2008, “a team of United States servicemen and law enforcement officers, and others assisting them, attempted to interview Aafia Siddiqui in Ghazni, Afghanistan, where she had been detained by local police the day before… unbeknownst to the United States interview team, unsecured, behind a curtain — Siddiqui obtained one of the United States Army officer’s M-4 rifles and attempted to fire it, and did fire it, at another United States Army officer and other members of the United States interview team…

Siddiqui then assaulted one of the United States Army interpreters, as he attempted to obtain the M-4 rifle from her. Siddiqui subsequently assaulted one of the FBI agents and one of the United States Army officers, as they attempted to subdue her.”

Garcia said nothing about years of torture and rape at Bargram or that this frail, weakened, 110 pound woman was confronted by three US Army officers, two FBI agents, and two Army interpreters, yet inexplicably managed to assault three of them, get one of their rifles, open fire at close range, hit no one, and only she was severely wounded. As her attorney put it:

“Picture this woman who is very tiny (and extremely frail and weakened from her ordeal), and ask yourself how she engaged in armed conflict… with six (armed and well-trained) military men, how did this happen? And how did she get shot? I think you can answer that, can’t you (and question the absurdity of DOJ’s charges against her)?

Garcia outlined, but didn’t indict, on the above-listed allegations about specific “cells,” handwritten notes about a “mass casualty attack,” constructing “dirty bombs,” and using various devices and means to deliver them. It was also alleged that before 9/11 she travelled to Liberia where she was involved in illegal diamond trading to support Al Qaeda and then opened a Baltimore post office box for one of its members. None of these claims are credible or showed up in her indictment.

Count One

Attempted Murder of United States Nationals by obtaining a US Army Officer’s M-4 rifle and attempting to fire and firing it at him, two other US Interview Team members, and repeatedly stating her intent and desire to kill Americans.

Count Two

Attempted Murder of United States Officers and Employees in the same manner while they were engaged in and on account of the performance of their official duties.

Count Three

Armed Assault of United States Officers and Employees in the same manner.

Count Four

Discharge of A Firearm During (a) Crime of Violence as described above.

Count Five

Assault of United States Officers and Employees as described above.

Count Six

(Further charges of) Assault of United States Officers and Employees as described above.

Count Seven

(More charges of) Assault of United States Officers and Employees as described above.

Aafia’s Deteriorating Health

In response to British MP Lord Nazir’s letter on Aafia’s whereabouts, US authorities confirmed that she’s incarcerated at Carswell Federal Medical Center, Fort Worth, TX (pursuant to an October 1, 2008 US District Court, NY judicial directive) where she’s undergoing psychiatric evaluation, but not getting desperately needed medical attention.

Nazir earlier raised questions about her detention and said “she (was) physically tortured and continuously raped by the officers at the (Bagram) prison” – for over four years. He now wants her immediately released and repatriated to Pakistan after it was learned she’s held on dubious charges plus all the horrific treatment she endured – yet is guilty of nothing.

Aafia is in deplorable condition and, according to Judge Berman, not in a correct state of mind to stand trial. On August 7, 2008, Iqbal Haider, Co-chairperson of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) expressed concern about her. He called it shocking and of grave concern that pictures of her show a beat-up frail and helpless woman, the effects of years of torture, abuse, and continuous rape. There are dark circles under her eyes, a badly repaired broken nose, “made up” teeth and crumbled lips, and overall “a picture of a severely dehydrated, sick person almost as if on the death bed. It shows the inhumane brutality of an apparently civilised nation by the administration of a country which claims to be much civilised.”

According to HRCP and Aafia’s family, her physical condition is deplorable, and she badly needs immediate medical treatment outside the Carswell prison where it’s not given. “Her wound was oozing blood,” and her clothes were soaked in it. Earlier in custody, one of her kidneys was removed, yet her abdominal pain persists. She has large stitches down her torso from the surgery, negligently done, and may be suffering from internal bleeding. Her teeth were removed. Her nose was broken and improperly reset. Her gunshot wound was incompetently dressed, and her overall condition is dire and life-threatening.

This poor woman was savaged by a criminal state operating outside the law for political advantage. Her outrageous treatment continues. Her son, Ahmed (a US citizen), is being detained in Afghanistan, but the whereabouts of her other two children is unknown.

A Final Comment

Post-9/11, the Bush administration:

— declared permanent war without cause;

— ravaged Iraq and Afghanistan;

— incited and/or engaged in other direct and proxy wars;

— militarized the country;

— enacted repressive police state laws;

— trashed the rule of law;

— made human and civil rights a nonstarter;

— defiled every human dignity imaginable;

— institutionalized illegal spying and electoral theft;

— made torture official US policy;

— criminalized dissent;

— waged war on working Americans;

— engineered the largest ever wealth transfer to the rich;

— turned government into a crime syndicate;

— looted the national treasury;

— bankrupted the nation;

— criminally defrauded the public; and

— waged a global jihad against Islam.

Aafia is one of its most aggrieved. She’s been destroyed physically and emotionally. Her former being no longer exists. Her survival is in jeopardy, yet she remains incarcerated, has been indicted, will be tried, likely convicted, and may spend the rest of her life in prison. And for what? For her faith, devoutness, ethnicity, humble charity, all at the wrong time in America. The message to everyone is clear. We’re all Aafia Siddiquis.

Stephen Lendman is a Research Associate of the Centre of Research on Globalization. He lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to The Global Research News Hour on RepublicBroadcasting.org Monday through Friday at 10AM US Central time for cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on world and national topics. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=11378

http://www.atlanticfreepress.com/news/1/6746-the-abduction-secret-detention-torture-and-repeated-raping-of-aafia-siddiqui-.html

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Are the Children of Aafia Siddiqui still alive??


Are Children of Dr. Aafia Still Alive?

Posted on 02 February 2010 by Pramilla Srivastava

Throughout the trial of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, human rights observers have been waiting anxiously for more clues as to what happened to her and her children during the five years that she was reported missing by family members. They come every day earlier and earlier, to ensure they get a seat in the very limited space reserved for the public.

Shortly after the trial began as a government eyewitness described the documents that were allegedly found in her possession, including hand written notes on how to make a dirty bomb, she shouted out “it’s a lie…I was told to copy from a magazine…if you were held in a secret prison and your children were tortured”; at which point she was whisked away by U.S. Marshalls.

The court then took a recess and when the trial resumed, prosecutors requested that it be stricken from the record. But in closing remarks, defense attorney reminded everyone that the prosecution never challenged that assertion. Something terrible happened to Dr. Siddiqui, Moreno said. But without more information, it would be hard for any juror who is not an avid consumer of non-mainstream or foreign media, to be able to even imagine what that horror may have been.

In the morning before the closing remarks, the last government witness, FBI Special Agent, Angela Sercer testified. Sercer monitored Siddiqui for 12 hours a day over a two week period while she was at a hospital in Bagram. She tried to rebut Aafia Siddiqui’s testimony, by saying that Siddiqui told her she was in “hiding” for the last five years and further that she “married” someone to change her name.

However under cross examination, Sercer admitted that while at the hospital Siddiqui expressed fear of “being tortured”. Sercer also admitted that Siddiqui expressed concern about the “welfare of the boy” and asked about him “every day”. Moreover, that Siddiqui only agreed to talk to her upon promises that the boy would be safe. According to the testimony Siddiqui said that the Afghans had “beaten her”; that her “husband had beaten her and her children”; and that she was “afraid of coming into physical harm”.

When Sercer was further questioned about what Siddiqui said about her children during that two week period, she admitted that Siddiqui expressed concern about the “safety and welfare of her children”, but felt that the “kids had been killed or tortured in a secret prison”. “She said that they were dead, didn’t she” asked Defense attorney, Elaine Sharpe; reluctantly Sercer answered, “Yes”.

Siddiqui herself may not know whether the children are alive or not. In a psychiatric report she told an interviewer “my baby is flying but he does not grow”, “maybe it’s because I’m not nursing him”. Nonetheless, it is surprising that the testimony presented at her trial did not prompt an immediate state department investigation. After all, at least one of the children, Maryum, who would now be 10 years old, is a U.S. Citizen.

If it is true that the kids have been killed, then, the question arises, who will be charged with “attempting to murder a U.S. National”, for that crime.

http://ibrahimsajidmalick.com/are-children-of-dr-aafia-still-alive/1051/

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Binyam Mohamed MI5 and Whitehall accused of torture cover-up\

MI5 and the Foreign Office have been accused of systematically covering up their involvement in the torture of terrorism suspects in an extraordinary attack by the country’s second most senior judge.

By Gordon Rayner and Duncan Gardham
Published: 9:45PM GMT 10 Feb 2010

Link to this video

The Master of the Rolls, Lord Neuberger, said there was such a “culture of suppression” in the Security Service and the Foreign Office that the public and the courts should “distrust” any assurances from them that they respect human rights.

Lord Neuberger also bluntly accused MI5 officers of lying to parliament about the Service’s role in the torture of a former Guantanamo Bay detainee and said civil servants in the Foreign Office deliberately withheld information from the Foreign Secretary.

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His comments prompted such alarm in Government that the Foreign Office took the unprecedented step of secretly asking the judge to remove them from a Court of Appeal judgment, in direct contravention of a 400-year-old legal principle. Legal precedent prevents lawyers from secretly communicating with the courts.

The successful bid to remove the full detail of the judge’s comments led to accusations that the Government had displayed “contempt” for the law by intervening in the legal process in a cynical attempt to stifle the truth.

Three senior judges agreed to remove the most damning passage, but Lord Neuberger later admitted he may have been “over-hasty” in removing his comments at the request of Jonathan Sumption QC, working on behalf of the Foreign Secretary, David Miliband.

Lord Neuberger had attacked MI5 and the Foreign Office in a draft version of a ruling in which he and two other judges threw out an attempt by Mr Miliband to censor information about MI5’s alleged complicity in the torture of Binyam Mohamed, who was released from Guantanamo Bay last year.

The final judgment released on Wednesday showed that MI5 had been aware that Mr Mohamed, a British citizen, was deprived of sleep, shackled and made to think he might “disappear”.

But the removal of the most damning part of the judgment provoked a political row.

The Conservative MP David Davis, who has campaigned for greater transparency over the treatment of terrorism suspects, said the Foreign Office was “trying to perpetrate a cover-up of improper behaviour by Government agencies in collusion with torture”.

The human rights group Liberty, which supported Mr Mohamed, said the Government had shown “contempt for the law” by secretly writing to Lord Neuberger, while Mark Stephens, who represented a group of American newspapers in the case, described it as “anti-constitutional behaviour of the most disquieting kind”.

A copy of Mr Sumption’s letter to the judge was later leaked to the media, in which the QC made extensive references to the judge’s “exceptionally damaging” comments which he said would lead to “an unprecedented breakdown in relations between the courts and the executive”.

The passages which were removed at Mr Sumption’s request were “likely to receive more public attention than any other part of the judgments”, the QC said.

He said: “They will be read as statements by the Court that the Security Service does not in fact operate a culture that respects human rights or abjures participation in coercive interrogation techniques” and that this was “particularly true” of an MI5 officer known as Witness B, who is currently under police investigation over his role in the interrogation of Mr Mohamed.

He added that Witness B’s behaviour was categorised by the judge as “characteristic of the Service as a whole” as the judge had said “it appears likely that there were others”, and that MI5 officers “deliberately misled” parliament on this point.

The judge had also referred to “a culture of suppression” which “penetrates the Service to such a degree as to undermine any UK government assurances based on the Service’s information and advice”. The court “should distrust” any such assurance as a result, he said.

Furthermore, Lord Neuberger had suggested that MI5’s interest in suppressing information was “shared by…Foreign Office officials who have advised the Foreign Secretary”.

The Appeal Court judges agreed to remove the “sweeping criticisms” from the judgment until MI5 and the Foreign Office had had a chance to defend themselves.

But Lord Neuberger later said he had only agreed to remove the comments because he thought Mr Sumption’s letter had been given to all parties in the case, and that no-one had objected to it.

He said: “Contrary to what I understood, it appears that Mr Sumption’s email was not sent out to the other parties, just to me.”

All parties in the case will now have a chance to make representations to the judges before they decide whether to reinstate the controversial comments.

The row will intensify the bitter fight between the Government and the judiciary over who has ultimate control over deciding matters of national security.

A spokesman for the Foreign Office said: “This is not about suppressing criticism of the agencies.

“This is about ensuring the judgment did not contain unsubstantiated allegations that could have prejudiced ongoing legal proceedings.”

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/terrorism-in-the-uk/7207818/Binyam-Mohamed-MI5-and-Whitehall-accused-of-torture-cover-up.html

UK govt forced to publish U.S. torture allegations

Keith Weir and Michael Holden

LONDON

Wed Feb 10, 2010 7:07pm EST

Related News

9:42am EST

LONDON (Reuters) – The British government lost a legal battle Wednesday to prevent the disclosure of secret U.S. intelligence material relating to allegations of “cruel and inhuman” treatment involving the CIA.

London’s Court of Appeal rejected a request by British Foreign Secretary David Miliband to prevent senior judges from disclosing claims that former Guantanamo Bay detainee Binyam Mohamed had been shackled and subjected to sleep deprivation and threats while in U.S. custody.

The office of Dennis Blair, U.S. director of national intelligence, issued a statement saying the British court’s decision “to release classified information provided by the United States is not helpful, and we deeply regret it.”

“The protection of confidential information is essential to strong, effective security and intelligence cooperation among allies,” the statement said. It indicated the ruling would create “challenges” but the two countries would “remain united in our efforts to fight against violent extremist groups.”

Miliband had argued that full disclosure of the redacted claims might make the United States less willing to share intelligence and thus prejudice Britain’s national security.

Recent events showed the importance of sharing intelligence, and the U.S. authorities were concerned about the release of such material, he told parliament, adding that he was working with U.S. officials to ensure bilateral ties were not damaged.

Mohamed, an Ethiopian national and British resident, was arrested in Pakistan in April 2002. He says he was flown to Morocco on a CIA plane and held for 18 months, during which he says he was repeatedly tortured, including having his penis cut with a knife. Morocco has denied holding him.

He was transferred to Afghanistan in 2004 and later moved to Guantanamo Bay, U.S. authorities have said. He was never charged and returned to Britain in February 2009.

KEY PARAGRAPHS ‘REDACTED’

London’s High Court ruled in 2008 that the British government must disclose all evidence held against Mohamed.

The court excluded seven sensitive paragraphs supplied by U.S. intelligence services, and judges said later the United States had threatened to end intelligence cooperation if the evidence of alleged torture was released.

But last October, two High Court judges ruled there was “an overwhelming public interest” in releasing the details, a decision the Appeal Court upheld Wednesday.

“The treatment reported … could be readily contended to be at the very least cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment by the United States authorities,” the now public judgment said.

Miliband said the Appeal Court would have upheld the principle that no country should disclose intelligence from another without its agreement — had the substance of the paragraphs not already been put into the public domain by a U.S. court judgment in a separate case in December.

“Without that disclosure, it is clear that the Court of Appeal would have overturned the Divisional Court’s decision to publish the material,” Miliband said in a statement.

He told parliament Britain was opposed to torture. “The UK firmly opposes torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment. This is not just about legal obligations, it is also about our values as a nation …”

Human rights campaigners said the government had gone to great lengths to conceal torture and the Foreign Office had been concerned mainly with saving face.

“These embarrassing paragraphs reveal nothing of use to terrorists but they do show something of the UK government’s complicity with the most shameful part of the War on Terror,” said Shami Chakrabati, director of rights campaign group Liberty.

(Additional reporting by David Alexander in Washington; editing by Tim Pearce and Anthony Boadle)

http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE61A00V20100211

Binyam Mohamed court ruling shatters spies’ culture of secrecy

Key to the ruling was a recent case in a US court where the judge noted that Mohamed’s ‘trauma lasted for two long years’

Binyam Mohamed in London on 17 August 2009 after his release from Guantánamo Bay. Photograph: Shaun Curry/AFP/Getty Images

Three of the country’s most senior judges today shattered the age-old ­convention that the courts cannot ­question claims by the government relating to national security, whatever is done in its name, in an unprecedented ruling that is likely to cause deep anxiety among the security and intelligence agencies.

They directly challenged David ­Miliband’s claims that Britain’s national security would be harmed and British lives threatened if information emanating from the CIA was disclosed showing that MI5 was complicit “at the very least” in the cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of an Ethiopian-born British resident, ­Binyam Mohamed.

For 18 months the foreign secretary and his legal advisers argued in the courts that the US had threatened to stop ­sharing valuable intelligence with the UK if the ­information were disclosed.

Miliband insisted, as he did again in the Commons today, that the “control principle” was vital – that is to say, only the provider of the intelligence could release the information, not the receiver of it, whatever the circumstances. So sensitive did Miliband regard the judgment that he warned Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, about it in a telephone call on Tuesday night.

The judges said they were sceptical about the US threats, especially after the Obama administration, unlike its predecessor, had taken such a robust approach towards torture and Guantánamo Bay, where Mohamed was incarcerated.

Their ruling that a British court’s seven-paragraph summary of the CIA information must be disclosed contains two key passages. “In principle, a real risk of serious damage to national security, of whatever degree, should not automatically trump a public interest in open justice when it concerned UK knowledge of unlawful interrogation techniques used by US officials,” they said.

Despite Miliband’s suggestion to the contrary, the judges said the “control principle” was not absolute. It could not be applied, they said, if it concealed “those for whom the executive in this country is ultimately responsible were involved in or facilitated wrongdoing in the context of the abhorrent practice of torture”.

The judges – Sir Igor Judge, the lord chief justice; Lord Neuberger, the master of the rolls; and Sir Anthony May, president of the Queen’s Bench – also stressed the importance of the media in supporting the principle of open justice in a case which, they said, raised issues of “fundamental importance”, of “democratic accountability and … the rule of law itself”.

The case for disclosing the material was “compelling”, since it concerned the involvement of alleged wrongdoing by agents of the state. The material helped “vindicate 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 US authorities”.

Key to the ­ruling was a recent case in a US court where the judge noted that Mohamed’s “trauma lasted for two long years. During that time he was ­physically and psychologically tortured. His ­genitals were mutilated … Captors held him in stress positions for days … all the while he was forced to inculpate himself and others in various plots to imperil Americans.”

The court in Washington DC was hearing a case brought by Farhi Saeed Bin Mohammed, another detainee at Guantánamo Bay. But the American judge accepted the truth of Binyam Mohamed’s evidence to that court. In a key passage, the US judge stated that Binyam Mohamed was told “that the British government knew of his situation and sanctioned his detention”.

If there was any doubt, said Neuberger and May, that tipped the balance.

In a stinging reference to claims by Jonathan Sumption QC, Miliband’s ­counsel, that high court judges in earlier rulings were “irresponsible” in saying that CIA intelligence relating to ill-treatment and torture and Britain’s knowledge of it should be disclosed, the lord chief justice said: “No advantage is achieved by bandying deprecatory epithets.”

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/feb/10/law-binyam-mohamed-case

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Trial Begins But Where Are the Children?

Posted on 17 January 2010 by Pramilla Srivastava

As the War on Terror enters a new decade with a new administration, ghosts from the Bush era are beginning to emerge from the dark corridors of hidden detention centers, secret renditions, and elusive intrigues.

One of those ghosts whose story has been haunting the imagination of the Pakistani public for several years and recently even in Europe, is now beginning to capture the attention of Americans bold enough to enter the war’s most ghastly graveyard.

It is the ghost of Dr. Aaffia Siddiqui, a Pakistani MIT graduate and mother of three, who disappeared from the streets of Karachi in March 2003 along with her  3 children, at the time age under 6 mos, 3, and 7.

For years her family searched for her desperately, at times believing the worst; that she was dead.  Then suddenly, 5 years later the ghost appeared live in the flesh, 12,000 miles from where she had disappeared.

In September 2008 the MIT Mom was brought to a Manhattan Court Room to be indicted on charges of trying to kill American soldiers and being a member of Al Qaeda.   She was frail, delusional, incoherent, and wounded with a bullet wound to her abdomen dressed so badly that the judge had to order immediate medical attention. Her mugshot picture portrayed unspeakable horrors.

During the pre-trial hearing Dr. Siddiqui appeared in a complete veil, unusal for her according to family members.   Her court room outbursts and body language signified a completely broken human being.  Although there has been no independent assessment of her mental condition, she was clearly paranoid and incoherent. Moreover, her family has been unable to see her or communicate with her.

Few American’s are familiar with the facts surrounding her case; even less are familiar with the shocking claims being made by her family and indeed, by a majority of Pakistanis.  Pakistan was so concerned with her plight that there have been resolutions passed in the parliament demanding her release.  Meanwhile the western media has portrayed her as the Mata-Hari of Al-Qaeda,  the female version of Chemical Ali,  the “mother” of all terrorist.  And much of this continues even as the prosecution made a stunning reversal when they announced to the court on January 11th that they would “not be charging” her with any connection to “any terrorist group”;   This includes any connection to Al Qaeda, the Taliban, or Osama bin Laden.

However to the family, to the majority of Pakistanis, and to her growing number of supporters throughout the world, she is in fact prisoner 650,  known as the “Gray Lady of Bagram”, whose shreaks and cries were so disturbing  that the prisoners went on a hunger strike to demand that the torture against her stop.   Several released detainees have since identified Dr. Siddiqui as the same prisoner 650 and several human rights groups also maintain that she is indeed prisoner 650.  In fact, the weeks before her sudden and mysterious appearance at a police station in Afghanistan, human rights groups had been intensifying their demands to have prisoner 650 identified and produced.

Even more disturbing than what may have happened to her is what has come of her two still missing children.  Though the older child who is now 13, was returned to the family in Pakistan shortly after her arrest, there is no information on the whereabouts of her two younger children who should now be age 6 and 9.   Whether or not the prosecution is able to prove its limited attempted murder case to an American jury, surely no one can deny the innocence of the two missing young children.

The case of Aafia Siddiqui raises a number of mysterious questions are still to be explored.  Now that the prosecution has decided not to charge her with terrorism why was she placed on the FBI’s terrorist list to begin with? What happened to her during those 5 missing years.  What was the level of cooperation between Pakistani and American intelligence in her pursuit and possible abduction?  What does her case mean for the future of Pakistan, U.S. relations.   How does her case redefine the war on terror and the meaning of law, liberty, and human rights in  21st century  America? And, the most troubling and pressing question of all; where are the children?

The trial of Aafia Siddiqui will begin on January 19th at the S.D.N.Y. courthouse at 500 Pearl St. Manhattan, New York.

We are expecting her case to wrap-up in two weeks. Cell-phones and laptops are not allowed. So we will cover as real-time as possible.

Stay tuned!

http://ibrahimsajidmalick.com/trial-begins-but-where-are-the-children/732/

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Published on Monday, February 8, 2010 by TruthDig.com

The Terror-Industrial Complex

by Chris Hedges

The conviction of the Pakistani neuroscientist Aafia Siddiqui in New York last week of trying to kill American military officers and FBI agents illustrates that the greatest danger to our security does not come from al-Qaida but the thousands of shadowy mercenaries, kidnappers, killers and torturers our government employs around the globe.

The bizarre story surrounding Siddiqui, 37, who received an undergraduate degree from MIT and a doctorate in neuroscience from Brandeis University, often defies belief. Siddiqui, who could spend 50 years in prison on seven charges when she is sentenced in May, was by her own account abducted in 2003 from her hometown of Karachi, Pakistan, with her three children—two of whom remain missing—and spirited to a secret U.S. prison where she was allegedly tortured and mistreated for five years. The American government has no comment, either about the alleged clandestine detention or the missing children.

Siddiqui was discovered in 2008 disoriented and apparently aggressive and hostile, in Ghazni, Afghanistan, with her oldest son. She allegedly was carrying plans to make explosives, lists of New York landmarks and notes referring to “mass-casualty attacks.” But despite these claims the government prosecutors chose not to charge her with terrorism or links to al-Qaida—the reason for her original appearance on the FBI’s most-wanted list six years ago. Her supporters suggest that the papers she allegedly had in her possession when she was found in Afghanistan, rather than detail coherent plans for terrorist attacks, expose her severe mental deterioration, perhaps the result of years of imprisonment and abuse. This argument was bolstered by some of the pages of the documents shown briefly to the court, including a crude sketch of a gun that was described as a “match gun” that operates by lighting a match.

“Justice was not served,” Tina Foster, executive director of the International Justice Network and the spokesperson for Aafia Siddiqui’s family, told me. “The U.S. government made a decision to label this woman a terrorist, but instead of putting her on trial for the alleged terrorist activity she was put on trial for something else. They tried to convict her of that something else, not with evidence, but because she was a terrorist. She was selectively prosecuted for something that would allow them to only tell their side of the story.”

The government built its entire case instead around disputed events in the 300-square-foot room of the Ghazni police station. It insisted that on July 18, 2008, the diminutive Siddiqui, who had been arrested by local Afghan police the day before, seized an M4 assault rifle that was left unattended and fired at American military and FBI agents. None of the Americans were injured. Siddiqui, however, was gravely wounded, shot twice in the stomach.

No one, other than Siddiqui, has attempted to explain where she was for five years after she vanished in 2003. No one seems to be able to explain why a disoriented Pakistani woman and her son, an American citizen, neither of whom spoke Dari, were discovered by local residents wandering in a public square in Ghazni, where an eyewitness told Harpers Magazine the distraught Siddiqui “was attacking everyone who got close to her.” Had Siddiqui, after years of imprisonment and torture, perhaps been at the U.S. detention center in Bagram and then dumped with one of her three children in Ghazi? And where are the other two children, one of whom also is an American citizen?

Her arrest in Ghazi saw, according to the official complaint, a U.S. Army captain and a warrant officer, two FBI agents and two military interpreters arrive to question Siddiqui at the police headquarters. The Americans and their interpreters were shown to a meeting room that was partitioned by a yellow curtain. “None of the United States personnel were aware,” the complaint states, “that Siddiqui was being held, unsecured, behind the curtain.” The group sat down to talk and “the Warrant Officer placed his United States Army M-4 rifle on the floor to his right next to the curtain, near his right foot.” Siddiqui allegedly reached from behind the curtain and pulled the three-foot rifle to her side. She unlatched the safety. She pulled the curtain “slightly back” and pointed the gun directly at the head of the captain. One of the interpreters saw her. He lunged for the gun. Siddiqui shouted, “Get the fuck out of here!” and fired twice. She hit no one. As the interpreter wrestled her to the ground, the warrant officer drew his sidearm and fired “approximately two rounds” into Siddiqui’s abdomen. She collapsed, still struggling, and then fell unconscious.

But in an article written by Petra Bartosiewicz in the November 2009 Harper’s Magazine, authorities in Afghanistan described a series of events at odds with the official version. The governor of Ghazni province, Usman Usmani, told a local reporter who was hired by Bartosiewicz that the U.S. team had “demanded to take over custody” of Siddiqui. The governor refused. He could not release Siddiqui, he explained, until officials from the counterterrorism department in Kabul arrived to investigate. He proposed a compromise: The U.S. team could interview Siddiqui, but she would remain at the station. In a Reuters interview, however, a “senior Ghazni police officer” suggested that the compromise did not hold. The U.S. team arrived at the police station, he said, and demanded custody of Siddiqui. The Afghan officers refused, and the U.S. team proceeded to disarm them. Then, for reasons unexplained, Siddiqui herself somehow entered the scene. The U.S. team, “thinking that she had explosives and would attack them as a suicide bomber, shot her and took her.”

Siddiqui told a delegation of Pakistani senators who went to Texas to visit her in prison a few months after her arrest that she never touched anyone’s gun, nor did she shout at anyone or make any threats. She simply stood up to see who was on the other side of the curtain and startled the soldiers. One of them shouted, “She is loose,” and then someone shot her. When she regained consciousness she heard someone else say, “We could lose our jobs.”

Siddiqui’s defense team pointed out that there was an absence of bullets, casings or residue from the M4, all of which suggested it had not been fired. They played a video to show that two holes in a wall supposedly caused by the M4 had been there before July 18. They also highlighted inconsistencies in the testimony from the nine government witnesses, who at times gave conflicting accounts of how many people were in the room, where they were sitting or standing and how many shots were fired.

Siddiqui, who took the stand during the trial against the advice of her defense team, called the report that she had fired the unattended M4 assault rifle at the Americans “the biggest lie.” She said she had been trying to flee the police station because she feared being tortured. Siddiqui, whose mental stability often appeared to be in question during the trial, was ejected several times from the Manhattan courtroom for erratic behavior and outbursts.

“It is difficult to get a fair trial in this country if the government wants to accuse you of terrorism,” said Foster. “It is difficult to get a fair trial on any types of charges. The government is allowed to tell the jury you are a terrorist before you have to put on any evidence. The fear factor that has emerged since 9/11 has permeated into the U.S. court system in a profoundly disturbing way. It embraces the idea that we can compromise core principles, for example the presumption of innocence, based on perceived threats that may or may not come to light. We, as a society, have chosen to cave on fear.”

I spent more than a year covering al-Qaida for The New York Times in Europe and the Middle East. The threat posed by Islamic extremists, while real, is also wildly overblown, used to foster a climate of fear and political passivity, as well as pump billions of dollars into the hands of the military, private contractors, intelligence agencies and repressive client governments including that of Pakistan. The leader of one FBI counterterrorism squad told The New York Times that of the 5,500 terrorism-related leads its 21 agents had pursued over the past five years, just 5 percent were credible and not one had foiled an actual terrorist plot. These statistics strike me as emblematic of the entire war on terror.

Terrorism, however, is a very good business. The number of extremists who are planning to carry out terrorist attacks is minuscule, but there are vast departments and legions of ambitious intelligence and military officers who desperately need to strike a tangible blow against terrorism, real or imagined, to promote their careers as well as justify obscene expenditures and a flagrant abuse of power. All this will not make us safer. It will not protect us from terrorist strikes. The more we dispatch brutal forms of power to the Islamic world the more enraged Muslims and terrorists we propel into the ranks of those who oppose us. The same perverted logic saw the Argentine military, when I lived in Buenos Aires, “disappear” 30,000 of the nation’s citizens, the vast majority of whom were innocent. Such logic also fed the drive to root out terrorists in El Salvador, where, when I arrived in 1983, the death squads were killing between 800 and 1,000 people a month. Once you build secret archipelagos of prisons, once you commit huge sums of money and invest your political capital in a ruthless war against subversion, once you empower a network of clandestine killers, operatives and torturers, you fuel the very insecurity and violence you seek to contain.

I do not know whether Siddiqui is innocent or guilty. But I do know that permitting jailers, spies, kidnappers and assassins to operate outside of the rule of law contaminates us with our own bile. Siddiqui is one victim. There are thousands more we do not see. These abuses, justified by the war on terror, have created a system of internal and external state terrorism that is far more dangerous to our security and democracy than the threat posed by Islamic radicals.

Copyright © 2010 Truthdig, L.L.C.

Chris Hedges writes a regular column for Truthdig.com. Hedges graduated from Harvard Divinity School and was for nearly two decades a foreign correspondent for The New York Times. He is the author of many books, including: War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning, What Every Person Should Know About War, and American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America. His most recent book is Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle.

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Fear Vs Fact in Aafia Siddiqui Case

Posted on 05 February 2010 by Pramilla Srivastava

No issue has evoked such impassioned and divergent opinions than the case of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani woman who was found guilty on 7 counts of attempted murder and assault of U.S. Nationals by a 12 member jury in a federal court in New York City this week.

With allegations of being an Al-Qaeda operative headlining nearly every report in the American media and allegations that she was held in a secret prison and tortured for the 5 years before her capture dominating reports in the Pakistani media, the only way to get close to a “common sense” perspective is to take a look at what we actually do know and don’t know about this case.

We do know that in March of 2003 Aafia Siddiqui was a mother of 3 children who disappeared in Karachi, Pakistan as she was on her way to the airport, along with her three children.

We do know that in 2003 the children were Suleman under-6 months, Maryam-Age 3, and Ahmed-Age 7

We do know that in March 2003 she was named by the FBI as a “person of interest”.

We do know that early in March 2003 Khalid Sheik Mohammed was captured by Pakistanis, turned over to Americans, and interrogated in which he named Aafia Siddiqui as an Al Qaeda “fixer”

We do know that Khalid Sheik Mohammed was water boarded almost 100 times during his interrogation.

We do know that a little later in March 2003 Aafia Siddiqui’s ex-husband, Amjad Khan, was questioned by FBI officials and released.

We do know that at the time the couple had gone through a bitter divorce.

We do know that in 2002 Aafia Siddiqui’s husband, Amjad Khan, was questioned by the FBI for purchasing “night vision goggles” and “military manuals” over the internet and that Aafia was questioned incidentally as his wife.

We do know that Amjad Khan admitted to purchasing the equipment but said that it was for big gaming hunting for a relative and was not detained by the FBI.

We do know that the couple were having marital problems at the time which included allegations of domestic abuse.

We do know that the Siddiqui’s familiy’s claims that Aafia was a victim of domestic abuse was corroborated by friends and colleagues of Siddiqui from Brandeis

We do know that in April and May 2003 there were reports in the American media that Dr. Siddiqui was being “detained” for questioning by Pakistani authorities regarding her alleged ties to Al-Qaeda. “U.S. intelligence officials are reportedly interrogating a Pakistani woman alleged to have moved funds and assisted with logistics planning for al-Qaeda.” The NBC report makes clear that she is “not considered a member of Al-Qaeda” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6xwCHha5ITM
http://web.archive.org/web/20070416115222/http://www.intellnet.org/news/2003/04/03/19137-1.html

We do know that she was considered a “person of interest” by the FBI in 2003 and wanted for questioning.

We do know that there were reports in 2003 in some Pakistani newspapers as well, that Siddiqui and her children were picked up by both Pakistani and American intelligence.

We do know that in 2004 the FBI gave a press conference in which they labeled her as one of seven most wanted “terrorist”. At that time they denied having her in their custody.

We do know that shortly after that press conference in 2004 numerous media reports accused Siddiqui of transferring diamonds to Liberia for Al Qaeda in mid June 2001, 3 months before 9/11

We do know, however, that in mid-June 2001 Aafia Siddiqui was with her husband and kids in Boston running a play group.

We do know that in 2005 former detainees at Bagram began alleging that there was a female prisoner being held at the prison who was from Pakistan.

We do know that the U.S. Government at the time denied having any women at Bagram.

We do know that in 2006 Amnesty International Reported Aafia Siddiqui as a “missing person” believed to be in U.S. Custody.

We do know that in 2007 Human Rights Watch named Aafia Siddiqui as a “missing person” possibly held in U.S. custody.

We do know that in June 2008 journalist, Yvonne Ridley, alleged that Aafia Siddiqui was prisoner 650 held for the past 5 years at a Secret Prison in Bagram

We do know that shortly after Ridley’s report in June 2008 Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and the ICRC began demanding the U.S. for access to prisoner 650.

We do know that the following month in July 2008, 5 years after her initial disappearance, Aafia Siddiqui was seen on TV at a press conference in Ghazni Afghanistan with only her oldest son, in which it was reported that she was found with a terrorist’s handbag.

We do know that the handbag she was found with contained fantastically incriminating evidence including plans for “mass casualty” attacks and “how to make a dirty bomb”, along with pictures of New York Landmarks.

We do know that the next day she was shot in the abdomen by U.S. Soldiers.

We do know that when she disappeared she was a slightly heavy woman.

We do know that when she was shown in the press conference she was substantially thinner than when she disappeared.

We do know that in her arrest photograph taken by the Afghan National Police she looked beaten. Her nose was altered and her teeth were missing.

We do not know why she was considered a “person of interest” by the FBI; why she was labeled a “wanted terrorist”; or why she was alleged to be a “Al Qaeda facilitator”, by the FBI

We do know that the U.S. Government did not prosecute her with attempting to commit acts of terrorism or any connections to Al Qaeda or the Taliban.

We do know that the U.S. government has chosen to keep crucial information about her case classified.

We do not know where the two younger missing children are.

We do know that during the trial all the New York newspapers had nearly daily headlines labeling Siddiqui a member of Al-Qaeda.

We do know that FBI officials and ISI officials had been meeting with reporters privately to allege that she was an a member of Al-Qaeda but they could charge her without “compromising their sources”.

We do know that this jury was not sequestered.

We do know that airport style security was ordered outside the courtroom because of possible threats from the gallery.

We do know that this was unprecedented in judicial proceedings

This is a work in progress. I will be updating.

http://ibrahimsajidmalick.com/fear-vs-fact-in-aafia-siddiqui-case/1133/

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How MI5 colluded in my torture: Binyam Mohamed claims British agents fed Moroccan torturers their questions – WORLD EXCLUSIVE

By David Rose

Last updated at 5:01 PM on 08th March 2009

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MI5 directly colluded in the savage ‘medieval’ torture in Morocco of Binyam Mohamed, the Guantanamo inmate who was last week released to live in Britain.

The revelation came as Mohamed broke his silence about the full horror of his seven years in detention in a compelling interview with The Mail on Sunday.

Documents obtained by this newspaper – which were disclosed to Mohamed through a court case he filed in America – show that months after he was taken to Morocco aboard an illegal ‘extraordinary rendition’ flight by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, MI5 twice gave the CIA details of questions they wanted his interrogators to put to him, together with dossiers of photographs.

Binyam Mohamed

7-year ordeal: Binyam Mohamed near the home in the English countryside where he is trying to recover

At the time, in November 2002, Mohamed was being subject to intense, regular beatings and sessions in which his chief Moroccan torturer, a man he knew as Marwan, slashed his chest and genitals with a scalpel.

Mohamed, 30, who returned to Britain last month from Guantanamo Bay after seven years detained without charge, said that he reached his lowest ebb the moment he realised that Britain was conniving in his torture.

He said: ‘They started bringing British files to the interrogations – not one, but several of them, thick binders, some of them containing sheaves of photos of people who lived in London and places there like mosques.

More…

* Briton to sue Jacqui Smith over MI5 torture claim: ‘They knew I was beaten and threatened’

* MAIL ON SUNDAY COMMENT: Nobody’s hero, but who’s next after Binyam?

‘It was obvious the British were feeding them questions about people in London.

‘When I realised that the British were co-operating with the people who were torturing me, I felt completely naked.

‘It was when they started asking the questions supplied by the British that my situation worsened. They sold me out.’

His disclosures suggest that MI5 misled Parliament’s spy watchdog, the Intelligence and Security Committee.

Security Service witnesses told an inquiry by the committee in 2007 that it had no idea that Mohamed was subjected to ‘extraordinary rendition’.

The revelations will put Foreign Secretary David Miliband under even greater pressure to come clean about British involvement in the rendition and alleged torture of Muslim terror suspects.

Last month his lawyers persuaded the High Court not to allow parts of a judgement that summarised Mohamed’s treatment to be published, on the grounds that to do so  would jeopardise Britian’s intelligence-sharing relationship with America.

The judges agreed with great reluctance, saying that the suppressed section, which was based on admissions by American officials, amounted to evidence of torture, but contained nothing that could be described as sensitive intelligence.

Mr Milliband maintained that the new administration or President Obama was just as concerned  about publication as its predecessor – but later he had to admit in the Commons that in fact he had not checked whether this was so.

According to the documents, MI5 knew Mohamed had not been transferred to any known U.S. base, and did not know his whereabouts, but still fed the CIA questions in the knowledge that while he must be in some ‘third country’, he was ultimately under CIA control.

The documents also show that MI5 officers held a ‘case conference’ on Mohamed with their U.S. colleagues at MI5’s London headquarters on September 30, 2002, when Mohamed’s torture in Morocco had been going on for weeks.

What was said at the conference remains unknown.

As late as February 2003, MI5 received a report from the Americans of what Mohamed said under torture. A copy of the report given to Mohamed has been heavily redacted (blanked out).

David Davis, the former Shadow Home Secretary, demanded that Mr Miliband make a fresh parliamentary statement on the case.

‘The Government can no longer continue to claim ignorance,’ he said.

‘It is also time for an independent judicial inquiry. Only then can we have confidence the British Government will not allow, condone or collude in torture or inhuman treatment in future.’

Speaking at a house in the English countryside where he has been staying since his release, Mohamed also described how he was interrogated by an MI5 officer in Pakistan in May 2002, before his rendition to Morocco.

Binyam Mohamed

Mr Mohamed, pictured in an image released by human rights organisation Reprieve, says MI5 allegedly colluded in his torture

He said the officer knew he had already been tortured numerous times after his capture the previous month, with methods that included days of sleep deprivation, a mock execution and being beaten while being hung by his wrists for hours on end.

He said this torture in Pakistan made him confess to a plan that was never more than fantasy – to build a ‘dirty’ radioactive bomb.

He also revealed the nightmarish physical torture inflicted on him in the CIA’s ‘dark prison’ in Kabul, Afghanistan, where he was forced to listen, chained in total blackness, to the same music – a CD by rap artist Eminem, played at ear-splitting volume over and over again, 24 hours a day for a month.

That, he said, was when he came closest to losing his mind: ‘It’s a miracle my brain is still intact.’

The strongest evidence of British collusion comes in the form of a confidential telegram sent from MI5 to the CIA on November 5, 2002.

Headed ‘Request for further Detainee questioning,’ the telegram suggests its author was aware of the explosive consequences if details of the torture leaked out.

It said: ‘This information has been communicated in confidence to the recipient government and shall not be released without the agreement of the British Government.

‘We would be grateful if the following can be passed to Binyam Mohamed.’

The telegram asked that his interrogators show him and ask him questions about a ‘photobook recently sent over’.

Large portions of the rest of the telegram, which set out detailed questions, have been redacted, but it added: ‘We would be grateful if the following could be put to Binyam Mohamed, in addition to the questioning above.

‘Does Mohamed know [two lines redacted]? What was the man’s name? How does Mohamed know him? Can Mohamed describe him? Where did they meet?

‘Where was the man from? Who facilitated his travel from the UK? Where did this man go? What were his intentions?

‘We would appreciate the opportunity to pose further questions, dependent on answers given to the above.’

A further telegram sent by MI5 on November 11 was headed ‘update request’.

It too has been heavily redacted but the surviving portion states: ‘We note that we have also requested that briefs be put to Binyam Mohamed and would appreciate a guide from you as to the likely timescale for these too.

‘We fully appreciate that this can be a long-winded process, but the urgent nature of these enquiries will be obvious to you.’

The Foreign Office refused to comment on the allegations, on the grounds that MI5 officers accused of colluding in Mohamed’s torture may face criminal charges.

A spokesman said: ‘The Attorney General is considering an allegation of criminal wrongdoing by British personnel.

‘In these circumstances it would be wrong to make any comment and because of this we cannot discuss the points you raise.’

Now read the full, exclusive interview

The worst time in Binyam Mohamed’s seven-year ordeal in American captivity, worse even than the medieval tortures he endured for 18 months in Morocco, came in the first half of 2004 when he was held for five months at a secret CIA prison in Afghanistan.

Kabul’s dark prison was just that: a place where inmates spent their days and weeks in total blackness.

Other than during interrogations, which took place away from the cells, the only time the prisoners could see was in the brief moments when the guards used torches when bringing trays of food.

Binyam Mohamed

Binyam Mohamed

Finally released: Mr Mohamed arrives back in Britain at RAF Northolt after seven years in prison in Afghanistan, Morocco and Guantanamo Bay

‘The toilet in the cell was a bucket. Without light, you either find the bucket or you go on your bed,’ Mohamed says.

‘There were loudspeakers in the cell, pumping out what felt like about 160 watts, a deafening volume, non-stop, 24 hours a day.

‘They played the same CD for a month, The Eminem Show.

‘It’s got about 20 songs on it and when it was finished it went back to the beginning and started again.

‘While that was happening, a lot of the time, for hour after hour, they had me shackled.

‘Sometimes it was in a standing position, with my wrists chained to the top of the door frame.

‘Sometimes they were chained in the middle, at waist level, and sometimes they were chained at the bottom, on the floor.

‘The longest was when they chained me for eight days on end, in a position that meant I couldn’t stand straight nor sit.

‘I couldn’t sleep. I had no idea whether it was day or night.

‘You got a shower once a week, with your arms chained above you, stripped naked, in the dark, with someone else washing you.

‘The water was salty and afterwards you felt dirtier than when you went in. It wasn’t a shower for washing: it was for humiliation.’

In Kabul, Mohamed says the food was also contaminated, and he often suffered from sickness and diarrhoea.

‘The weight just dropped off me,’ he said.

‘The floor was made of cement dust. Whatever movement you made, the air would be full of cement and I started getting breathing problems.

‘ My bed was a thin mattress on the floor, surrounded by that dust.’

‘I said I had met Osama Bin Laden 30 times’

Much later, when Mohamed was being held at Guantanamo Bay, he and a fellow inmate discussed the time both had spent at the dark prison.

‘They had just opened Oscar Block, a new Guantanamo punishment wing, and he’d been in it.

Clive Stafford-Smith, lawyer for Binyam Mohamed

Mr Mohamed began dictating a diary of his ordeal since it began in September 2002 to lawyer Clive Stafford-Smith

‘I was worried – I wanted to know what it was like. He told me, “Binyam, it’s not even a twentieth as bad as Kabul.

“‘A hundred nights in Oscar Block is the equivalent of one night in the dark prison”.

‘In Kabul I lost my head. It felt like it was never going to end and that I had ceased to exist.’

Mohamed, 30, spoke to The Mail on Sunday at the house in the English countryside where he has been staying since he was flown to Britain from Guantanamo at the end of last month.

After years of abuse and confinement and a hunger strike he began at the end of last year, he has been trying to build up his strength with simple home cooking and rambles in the open air.

He revealed new details about MI5’s alleged collusion in his torture, speaking for the first time about being interrogated in Pakistan by an MI5 officer who knew he had already been tortured numerous times after his capture, and how torture made him confess to a fantastical plot that never was – to build and detonate a ‘dirty’ radioactive bomb in New York.

He disclosed details of confidential MI5 telegrams to the American Central Intelligence Agency that show that at the very time he was being subjected to nightmarish tortures in Morocco, where his chest and penis were repeatedly slashed with a razor, MI5 was not only supplying his interrogators with background information but making specific requests about what they wanted him to be asked.

Mohamed was given these and other documents as part of an American court case, and made a verbatim record.

Other sources have confirmed his record is accurate. He has made it available to The Mail on Sunday.

Since photos were taken of him emerging from the aircraft that brought him from Guantanamo, Mohamed has trimmed his beard and cut his hair.

Wearing a sports shirt, tracksuit and a Muslim prayer cap, he looks spruce and relaxed.

But when he slips off his jacket, it is evident his frame is still skeletal.

Yet his eyes are bright and he speaks with animation, sometimes smiling ruefully when he recalls the more bizarre aspects of his ordeal.

He seems straightforward and makes no attempt to hide the chain of events that had led to his capture – including the training he received in an Afghan camp.

Much of what he says can be corroborated from other sources.

But while the British and American governments persist in imposing secrecy over a lot of what happened to him, other parts must be taken on trust.

Mohamed says most of his physical injuries have healed. But when he is asked about their psychological consequences, his voice falters.

‘Mentally right now, the result of my experience is that I feel emotionally dead.

‘You could do anything to me and I wouldn’t feel it any more.’

His lawyer, Clive Stafford Smith, from the human rights group Reprieve, has arranged therapy for him through London’s Helen Bamber Foundation, a world-renowned centre that cares for victims of torture.

Still fearful for his safety, Mohamed asked us to ensure he could not be recognised from the photograph published here.

‘The British co-operated… they sold me out’

His odyssey began in 1992, when he was just 14.

His father was a senior executive with the state-owned Ethiopian Airlines and following the ousting of the dictator Haile Mengistu, many of his colleagues were being arrested by the new government.

He decided to flee, uprooting Mohamed and his elder brother and sister from the home in Addis Ababa where they had spent their childhood. He left behind his wife, Mohamed’s mother.

For almost two years, Mohamed, his siblings and his father lived in a suburb of Washington DC.

However, Mohamed says he became a victim of racist bullying at his school.

‘I didn’t like the U.S. at all. It just didn’t feel right for me to be there and I wanted to get out.’

The family had no connections in Britain, but because Mohamed spoke good English, his father decided to see if he could settle in London.

They arrived in the spring of 1994, travelling on their Ethiopian passports, which had not yet expired.

For about a week, Mohamed says, they stayed in a hotel. Then, although he was not quite 16, his father returned to America, leaving him vulnerable, without guidance or support.

Mohamed remained in regular phone contact with his family, but he had to fend for himself.

Before he left, Mohamed’s father told him to go to Social Services.

At first they suggested foster care, but when he turned 16 they helped him claim state benefits while he stayed in a Notting Hill hostel and, eventually, a housing association flat.

Meanwhile he applied for asylum and was given leave to remain.

He enrolled at Paddington Green sixth-form college and passed an A-level in electronic engineering, and then began a BTEC course at City of Westminster College.

At first he stayed out of trouble. But in the summer of 1996 some friends persuaded him to try cannabis at Notting Hill Carnival.

‘About two weeks later I smoked my first joint. It started from there.’

By 1998, Mohamed was regularly ‘chasing the dragon’ to smoke heroin and sometimes crack cocaine.

‘Often I didn’t even bother to go to college. I was surrounded by people who were doing the same thing.

‘I was also drinking a lot. Finally, I dropped out.’

The following year, Mohamed says, he tried hard to stop using drugs.

Part of the answer turned out to be kick-boxing, and if he was searching for a father figure, he seems to have found it in his kick-boxing instructor, of whom he still speaks reverentially.

He says: ‘I had to get fit again, and I started using my money to buy food again, not heroin.’

Although his mother was a Muslim, he had never practised any religion.

‘I wanted to protect civilians, not kill them’

However, he lived in an area with thousands of Muslims and several mosques. There he began to find a more spiritual solution to his efforts to get clean.

He says: ‘I went to the mosque to see if there was something happening there that would help.’

Guantanamo

Detainees wearing orange jumpsuits at a holding bay at Camp X-Ray at Guantanamo Bay

In the middle of 2000, he was offered a job as a mosque janitor and began to spend as much time there as he could, often staying the night – largely in order to avoid his old drug-abusing friends who still clustered around his apartment.

Mohamed says that someone at the mosque told him about the radical American civil rights leader Malcolm X, saying he had come to understand his religion properly when he went on a pilgrimage to Mecca.

Mohamed, he suggested, should go to see the ‘pure’ form of Islam being practised in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.

How much did he know about what the Taliban stood for?

‘Minus one,’ Mohamed says. ‘I really had no idea what it was.’

He had saved some money and flew to Islamabad, Pakistan’s capital, in May 2001.

As an asylum-seeker, he couldn’t apply for a new Ethiopian passport and had been unable to obtain a British travel document.

Instead, he borrowed a genuine British passport from a friend and substituted his own photograph.

After a week in Islamabad, Mohamed crossed the Afghan border by truck. It was, he says, easy: ‘No one looked at my documents. I just kept down.’

Later, after the attacks of 9/11, the Americans who led the ‘war on terror’ assumed that because the Taliban had given refuge to Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda, the two were interchangeable, and that anyone who had the least involvement with the Taliban was a fully-fledged terrorist, bent – as former U.S. defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld said when he opened the Guantanamo prison in January 2002 – on ‘killing millions of ordinary Americans’.

Mohamed insists that this was not the way he saw the world at all.

Back in London he had been moved and appalled by watching TV news stories about the plight of civilians caught in Russia’s second war against Chechnya, where thousands, mainly Muslims, had been killed and tortured.

‘To me, the Chechens were the freedom fighters and the Russians were the oppressors,’ Mohamed says.

‘It was the sight of the women and the kids being killed: innocent lives being lost for no reason.

‘I wanted to go there to do what I could – not for fighting, but as an aid and rescue worker.’

At a guest house in Jalalabad, the first town in which he stayed in Afghanistan, he found people who had links with the Chechen resistance.

‘I was told that the Russians don’t separate between aid workers and those doing the fighting, and that if I wanted to go to Chechnya, I needed basic training.

‘I was so young, I didn’t question it. I didn’t expect to fire a gun except in training, let alone kill someone.’

Mohamed adds: ‘I would never have taken up arms against British or American soldiers, let alone attacked civilians.

‘I wanted to protect civilians, not kill them.’

‘They carried out a mock execution on me’

He underwent a 45-day boot camp course. Much of the time, Mohamed says, was spent sitting around doing nothing.

He even abandoned the course halfway through for a few days, before being persuaded that if he wanted to go to Chechnya he had to finish it.

He says he learnt nothing that could be construed as terrorist training: there were no lessons on bomb-making, for example.

Guantanamo protest

Demonstrators protest over Guantanamo outside the White House in Washington. Mohamed was the first to be released from Guantanamo after President Obama pledged to close it down

Afterwards, Mohamed went to Kabul, where he contracted malaria. While he was recovering in hospital, news broke of 9/11.

It was evident the West was likely to attack Afghanistan, and Mohamed’s immediate impulse was to leave.

‘All I wanted to do was to get back to London, to the country that I thought of as home, to continue my education and find a job; to get back to my life, minus the drugs.’

As the U.S.-led coalition advanced, Mohamed became swept up in the tide of refugees.

He fled from city to city and in 2002 managed to cross into Pakistan and made his way to Karachi.

He booked a flight to London for April 3, but officials saw that his passport looked wrong and sent him packing.

Six days later, using the same document, he tried again. This time the Pakistanis detained him – and this was the start of almost seven years of incarceration without trial, interrogation and torture.

Two weeks after being detained, having been held in Landi prison, he met an American who called himself ‘Chuck’ and said he worked for the FBI.

Mohamed says: ‘I told him I wanted a lawyer. He told me, “The law’s changed. There are no lawyers.

“‘Either you’re going to answer me the easy way or I get the information I need another way.”‘

Senior U.S. officials in Washington say that in these early months after 9/11, American intelligence agencies were ‘obsessed’ with the possibility that Al Qaeda might have acquired nuclear fissile material.

‘Every interrogator would ask questions about it,’ one former CIA officer says. Thus it was that Mohamed unwittingly contributed to his fate.

As The Mail on Sunday revealed last month, his interrogation began to turn nasty after he mentioned that while he was in Pakistan he had seen a website with spoof instructions for building a nuclear device – instructions that included advice to refine bomb-grade uranium by whirling a bucket round one’s head.

‘I mentioned the website to Chuck,’ Mohamed says.

‘It was obviously a joke: it never crossed my mind that anyone would take it seriously.

‘But that’s when he started getting all excited.

‘Towards the end of April he began telling me about this A-bomb I was supposed to be building, and he started on about Osama Bin Laden and his top lieutenants, showing me pictures and making out I must have known them.

‘He started asking me about operations and what type I had been trained for.’

As the interrogations became more serious, the treatment meted out in the time between them brutally worsened.

Mohamed says: ‘For at least ten days I was deprived of sleep.

‘Sometimes the Pakistanis chained me from the top of the gate to the cell by my wrists from the end of one interrogation to the start of the next for about 22 hours.

‘If I shouted, sometimes I would be allowed to use a toilet. Other times, they wouldn’t let me go and I would p*** myself.

‘They had a thick wooden stick, like a kind of paddle, which they used to beat me while I was chained.

‘They’d beat me for a few minutes, then stop, then start again. They also carried out a mock execution.

‘A guard put a gun to my head and said he was going to pull the trigger. They were saying, “This is what the Americans want us to do.”‘

Details of the abuse Mohamed underwent in Pakistan are contained in the ‘redacted’ section of the British High Court judgment on his case that Foreign Secretary David Miliband is refusing to release, claiming that to do so would damage the intelligence-sharing relationship with America.

As the court has made clear in the open section of its judgment, when an MI5 officer known as ‘John’ went to interrogate Mohamed on May 17, 2002, he was made fully aware of what had been happening.

‘John was a white male, 30, with short black hair and a goatee,’ Mohamed says.

‘He was about 5ft 10in and stocky.

‘There was another guy with him, about the same size with a full, dark beard. I don’t know if he was British or American.

‘The Americans had already been threatening to send me somewhere where I would be tortured far worse, like Jordan or Egypt.

‘I was given a cup of tea and asked for one sugar. The other guy told me, “You’ll need more than one sugar where you’re going.”

‘They asked me about the A-bomb website and I told them it was a joke.

‘They wanted to know everything about my life in the UK and I gave them all the information I had.

‘Later I realised that was part of my undoing: I told them the area I lived in had 10,000 Moroccans and was known as Little Morocco.

‘The feedback I got later from the Americans was that because the Brits told them I had lived in a Moroccan area, they thought Moroccans would be more likely to make me talk.

‘At the same time, they thought I must know something about what Moroccans were up to in London.’

Mohamed says that a Moroccan interrogator who would deal with him later was even more specific.

‘He told me, “Do you know who sent you here? The British sent you here.”‘

The materials seen by The Mail on Sunday confirm much of his account.

One MI5 memo from this period, disclosed to Mohamed via the American courts, suggests the British saw themselves as central to his interrogation.

It said: ‘We believe that our knowledge of the UK scene may provide contextual background useful during any continuing interview process.

‘This may enable individual officers to identify any inconsistencies during discussions.

‘This will place the detainee under more direct pressure and would seem to be the most effective way of obtaining intelligence on Mohammed’s [sic] activities/plans concerning the UK.’

Regarding the ‘dirty bomb’, MI5 could see the ‘inconsistencies’ in Mohamed’s account. John dutifully recorded that he claimed the website was a joke.

But MI5 concluded that Mohamed and another prisoner being interrogated were ‘lying to protect themselves’ and ‘evidently holding back’.

Day after day, MI5 kept the Americans supplied with questions and information.

Mohamed says: ‘John told me that if I co-operated he’d tell the Americans to be more lenient with my treatment.’

In a further confidential memo John wrote: ‘I told Mohammed [sic] that he had an opportunity to help us and help himself.

‘The U.S. authorities will be deciding what to do with him and this would depend to a very large degree on his co-operation – I said that I could not and would not negotiate up-front, but if he persuaded me he was co-operating fully then (and only then) I would explore what could be done for him with my U.S. colleagues.’

Evidently, John felt he wasn’t co-operating enough.

His memo concluded: ‘While he appeared happy to answer any questions, he was holding back a great deal of information on who and what he knew in the UK and in Afghanistan.’

Mohamed was flown – trussed, gagged, blindfolded and wearing a giant nappy – from Islamabad to Rabat in Morocco on July 21, 2002.

He gave this date to Stafford Smith four years ago, it has since been confirmed by the CIA aircraft’s flight logs.

Mohamed would not leave again for 18 months, for most of which he was horribly tortured.

Shuddering, he says the details of what he endured in Morocco are such that he cannot bring himself to relate them again.

But in 2005, when he first met Stafford Smith in Guantanamo, he dictated a detailed diary, which described the abuse that began at the beginning of September 2002.

He had, he said, already endured beatings at the hands of an interrogator named Marwan.

Now, he went on, ‘they cut off my clothes with some kind of doctor’s scalpel. I was totally naked. I was afraid to ask Marwan what would happen because it would show fear.

‘I tried to put on a brave face. But maybe I was going to be raped. Maybe they’d electrocute me. Maybe castrate me.

‘They took the scalpel to my right chest. It was only a small cut. Maybe an inch. Then they cut my left chest.

‘One of them took my penis in his hand and began to make cuts. He did it once, and they stood still for maybe a minute, watching my reaction.

‘I was in agony, crying, trying desperately to suppress myself, but I was screaming.

‘I remember Marwan seemed to smoke half a cigarette, throw it down, and start another. They must have done this 20 to 30 times in maybe two hours.

‘There was blood all over. They cut all over my private parts.

‘One of them said it would be better just to cut it off, as I would only breed terrorists.’

This, Mohamed says, was repeated many times over the next 15 months.

Even after this treatment started, the documents disclosed to Mohamed for the U.S. court case reveal that MI5 was colluding with his tormentors.

In late September, one document reveals: ‘The Service received a report from the U.S. of an interview of Mr Mohamed.

‘On September 30, MI5 held a case conference about him with their American colleagues at MI5s London headquarters.

Weeks later, on November 5, came the strongest evidence to emerge of British collusion in Mohamed’s illegal ‘rendition’ and torture, in the form of a telegram from MI5 to the CIA.

Headed ‘Request for further Detainee questioning’, it stated: ‘This information has been communicated in confidence to the recipient government and shall not be released without the agreement of the British government.

‘We would be grateful if the following can be passed to Binyam Mohamed.’

It went on to ask that his interrogators show him and ask him questions about a ‘photobook recently sent over’.

Large portions of the telegram, which set out detailed questions, have been redacted, but it added: ‘We would be grateful if the following could be put to Binyam Mohamed, in addition to the questioning above.

‘Does Mohamed know [two lines redacted]? What was the man’s name? How does Mohamed know him? Can Mohamed describe him? Where did they meet? Where was the man from?

‘Who facilitated his travel from the UK? Where did this man go? What were his intentions?

‘We would appreciate the opportunity to pose further questions, dependent on answers given to the above.’

A further telegram sent by MI5 on November 11 was headed ‘update request’.

It, too, has been heavily redacted but the surviving portion states: ‘We note that we have also requested that briefs be put to Binyam Mohamed and would appreciate a guide from you as to the likely timescale for these too.

‘We fully appreciate that this can be a long-winded process, but the urgent nature of these enquiries will be obvious to you.’

Mohamed remembers very clearly the moment when MI5’s questions were first channelled by his Moroccan interrogators.

He says: ‘They started bringing British files to the interrogations – thick binders, some of them containing sheaves of photos of people who lived in London and places there like mosques.

‘It was obvious the British were feeding them questions about people in London.

‘When I realised that the British were co-operating with the people torturing me, I felt completely naked.

‘It was when they started asking the questions supplied by the British that my situation worsened. They sold me out.’

Under this torture, Mohamed’s confessions became ever more elaborate.

‘They had fed me enough through their questions for me to make up what they wanted to hear. I confessed to it all.

‘There was the plot to build a dirty nuclear bomb, and another to blow up apartments in New York with their gas pipes.’

This – supposedly the brainchild of the 9/11 planner Khalid Shaikh Mohammed – always sounded improbable: it was never quite clear how gas pipes might become weapons.

‘I said Khalid Shaikh Mohammed had given me a false passport after I was stopped the first time in Karachi and that I had met Osama Bin Laden 30 times. None of it was true.

‘The British could have stopped the torture because they knew I had tried to use the same passport at Karachi both times.

‘That should have told them that what I was saying under torture wasn’t true. But so far as I know, they did nothing.’

Mohamed was finally ‘rendered’ by the CIA again in January 2004 and taken to Afghanistan. He says the agents he met there responded with horror.

‘When I got to Kabul a female agent started taking close-up pictures of my genitals. She was shocked.

‘When they removed my diaper she could see blood was still oozing from the cuts on my penis.

‘For the first two weeks they had me on antibiotics and they took pictures of my genitals every day.

‘They told me, “This is not for us. It’s for Washington.” They wanted to be sure it was healing.’

Then came his ordeal in the dark prison. Mohamed says the thrust of his interrogations had changed.

Since he madehis fantastical confession, the Americans wanted him to become a prosecution witness in their system of special military commissions, against Al Qaeda bigwigs he had never met.

He reached Guantanamo in September 2004.

There, the interrogations continued but there had been another shift.

He says: ‘They said they were worried I would tell the court that I had only confessed through torture. They said now they needed me to say it freely.

‘We called them the clean team, they wanted to say they had got this stuff from a clean interrogation.’

After Mohamed had spent more than four years at Guantanamo, Barack Obama became U.S. President and announced the camp’s impending closure and an end to the military commissions.

But according to Mohamed, there was little sign of an improvement.

‘Since the election it’s got harsher. The guards would say, yes, this place is going to close down, but it was like they wanted to take their last revenge.’

The feared Emergency Reaction Force, a SWAT team used to punish inmates in their cells, is being used more often, he says.

Mohamed recalls an occasion when it was deployed against him.

The reason was that he was refusing to give his fingerprints which, despite all the torture, had unaccountably not been taken before: he says he feared they might use them to frame him.

‘They nearly broke my back. The guy on top was twisting me one way, the guys on my legs the other.

‘They marched me out of the cell to the fingerprint room, still cuffed. I clenched my fists behind me so they couldn’t take prints, so they tried to take them by force.

‘The guy at my head sticks his fingers up my nose and wrenches my head back, jerking it around by the nostrils.

‘Then he put his fingers in my eyes. It felt as if he was trying to gouge them out.

Another guy was punching my ribs and another was squeezing my testicles. Finally I couldn’t take it any more. I let them take the prints.’

Last October, before the election, all charges against him were dropped, even the Americans had come to realise there was no ‘dirty bomb’ plot.

Yet to Mohamed, it seemed he was no closer to release – hence his decision, on December 29 last year, to go on hunger strike.

Release, when it finally came last month, took him by surprise. It is, he admits, still difficult to accept.

‘I kept being told, you’ll be free in ten days, and they would pass, and then I’d be told another ten days, and still it wasn’t for real.’

As for the future, he is determined to stay in Britain, despite MI5’s alleged collusion with his torturers.

‘It’s the only place I can call home,’ he says. ‘I want to live a normal life, to find a wife, get married, have a family, a job.

‘Meanwhile, I’ll do whatever I can to get the other innocent prisoners out of Guantanamo.’

* The Mail on Sunday has made no payment to Binyam Mohamed. We will be making a donation to the Helen Bamber Foundation.

Explore more:

People:

David Miliband,

Osama Bin Laden,

Barack Obama

Places:

London,

Morocco,

Afghanistan

Organisations:

British Government

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1160238/How-MI5-colluded-torture-Binyam-Mohamed-claims-British-agents-fed-Moroccan-torturers-questions–WORLD-EXCLUSIVE.html#ixzz0fI3AePtC

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U.S. citizen’s solitary confinement

raises serious questions

By Jeanne Theoharis, March 1, 2010

A U.S. citizen has spent his last three birthdays in solitary confinement awaiting trial.

Not in Iran.

Not in North Korea.

But in the Metropolitan Correctional Center in lower Manhattan.

His name is Fahad Hashmi. He turned 30 last week.

But there was no celebration with family and friends, though they are but a few miles away. He grew up in Queens, N.Y., where his family still lives, and he received his bachelor’s from Brooklyn College.

Hashmi is awaiting trial on four charges of material support to al-Qaida.

Under special administrative measures imposed by the U.S. attorney general, Hashmi is not allowed contact with anyone — outside his lawyers and highly restricted visits every two weeks with his parents (which in December were suspended without explanation).

His cell is electronically monitored inside and out, 24 hours a day. He is allowed only one hour out of his cell a day and is forced to exercise in a solitary cage. Because much of the evidence in the case is classified, he has not been allowed to review it.

The “centerpiece” of the U.S. government’s material support charges against him, it claims, is the testimony of a cooperating witness, Junaid Babar.

Babar, an acquaintance of Hashmi’s who came to London in 2004 when Hashmi was doing his graduate study there, asked to stay with him for two weeks. The government claims that Babar had luggage containing raincoats, ponchos and waterproof socks in Hashmi’s apartment, and that later Babar delivered these materials to the third-ranking member of al-Qaida in South Waziristan, Pakistan. In addition, Hashmi allowed Babar to use his cell phone, who then allegedly called other conspirators in terrorist plots. Babar was subsequently arrested and has agreed to testify in a number of cases in exchange for a much-reduced sentence.

On Tuesday, Feb. 23, the U.S. Supreme Court took up the issue of these material support laws, hearing arguments in Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project. Brought by the Humanitarian Law Project and the Center for Constitutional Rights, the case challenges certain aspects of the material support provisions introduced under President Clinton’s Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act and expanded under the Patriot Act. The law defines and bans material support as the knowing provision of “any service, training, [or] expert advice or assistance” to a group designated by the federal government as a foreign terrorist organization. The challengers argue that aspects of the ban — and its definition of material support — are overly vague and violate the First and Fifth Amendments by inhibiting a range of protected activities.

Material support laws are the black box of domestic terrorism prosecutions, a shape-shifting space into which all sorts of constitutionally protected activities can be thrown and classified as suspect, if not criminal. Their vagueness is key. They criminalize guilt by association and often use political and religious beliefs to demonstrate intent and state of mind.

Hashmi, for instance, had drawn the attention of authorities years earlier as an outspoken activist in the Muslim community and member of the New York political group al-Muhajiroun while he was a student at Brooklyn College. He faces charges of material support without being accused of being a member of al-Qaida, of trying to help al-Qaida commit any act of terrorism or any crime, or of even having any direct contact with al-Qaida.

This is the new McCarthyism, under the guise of “material support” for terrorism but bearing a stark resemblance in practice to the criminalization of belief and association a half century ago.

And so Fahad Hashmi sits in isolation, still awaiting trial, in a legal black hole in New York City. Let us hope the current Supreme Court heeds former Chief Justice’s Earl Warren’s caution: “It would indeed be ironic if, in the name of national defense, we would sanction the subversion of … those liberties … which makes the defense of this nation worthwhile.”

Jeanne Theoharis is professor of political science and endowed chair in women’s studies at Brooklyn College of CUNY. She is the author of numerous books on civil rights and is the co-founder of Educators for Civil Liberties. She can be reached at pmproj@progressive.org.

http://www.progressive.org/mp/theoharis030110.html

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Naji Hamdans Nightmare ie of CIA torture

Naji Hamdan’s Nightmare

By Anna Louie Sussman

March 4, 2010

CAITLIN DOVER

Beirut, Lebanon

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Human Rights

Christopher Hayes: In 2002, the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel, at the behest of the CIA and in conjunction with the White House, drafted a memo on acceptable standards of interrogation. Now the authors have been cleared of wrongdoing.

Torture

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Anna Louie Sussman: An American auto-parts businessman says he was tortured in the UAE–with US complicity.

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At only one point in his story did Naji Hamdan cry. Sitting in an office chair as he recounted how he was arrested, tortured and ultimately convicted of terrorism charges in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), his voice barely wavered. Only when he described how Emirati interrogators threatened to rape his wife in front of him if he did not confess to charges of supporting Al Qaeda did he lose control, pausing to accept a fistful of Kleenex before he continued his story.

“For two weeks I could not stand on my feet. I had to use the help of a Nepali guard to drag me to the bathroom,” he said of a period following a particularly brutal beating, around three weeks into his two-month detention.

Hamdan, 43, was born in Lebanon and moved to the United States in 1984. He studied aerospace engineering, worked at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) as an aircraft mechanic, then for Northrop Grumman, and eventually opened his own auto parts business, HondAcura Palace. In his downtime, he played soccer, camped and hiked, and as of 1992 began raising his son, Khaled. A few years later he became a naturalized citizen. A devout Sunni Muslim, he was active in the Muslim community and helped to found the Islamic Center of Hawthorne, in Southern California.

In 1999 the Federal Bureau of Investigation visited him at home, inquiring about a possible millennial terrorist attack. The bureau also interrogated others in the local Muslim community, asking whether they knew of any imminent plots.

“They asked if I knew any terrorists, would I go and tell them,” said Hamdan. “Of course I would. My kids were going to school there. I have businesses there.”

Hamdan’s brother Hossam, who goes by the name Sam, got a visit too. At the time, he recalled, “We were like, What the hell are they talking about?”

The FBI kept Hamdan on its radar for the next ten years, contacting him, he estimates, on six occasions. Officials asked about his business, his political beliefs and whether he knew Osama bin Laden (he knew bin Laden as well as anyone else did at the time, “from the media,” as he put it). During this time, air travel became increasingly difficult for him; he was often stopped and questioned for hours, on one occasion missing a flight out of LAX.

Hamdan moved his family to Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates in 2006, where he hoped to expose his children to Islamic culture and the Arabic language, as well as the American culture of business and entrepreneurship. There, he thought, they could have “the best of both worlds.” He had heard it was “more modern and developed” than the rest of the region.

“And peaceful,” added his wife, a look of pained irony on her face.

Even after relocating, he continued to face harassment at airports and particularly on trips back to the United States, where he and Sam continued to operate the auto parts business. On one visit in March 2007, he says, he was interrogated at LAX for more than four hours, followed by SUVs with tinted windows and repeatedly photographed. He cut his trip short.

“They were kind of pushing me out of the country as if I’m not an American citizen anymore,” he said. “And that is sad.”

That treatment was gentle compared with the reception he got from the government of the United Arab Emirates. At noon on August 26, 2008, six weeks after FBI agents had summoned him for about four hours of interrogation at the US Embassy in Abu Dhabi, he got a call saying his car, parked downstairs from his apartment, had been in an accident. The sun shining, he went downstairs in shorts and a T-shirt (he had been napping) to check his vehicle. Emirati officials arrived on the scene, handcuffed and blindfolded him, and drove away in custom-made SUVs with tinted windows.

Held incommunicado for one month and twenty-three days, Hamdan says he was subject to near-daily beatings and torture for the first few weeks, after which the beatings slowed to every few days. In between he was left in total isolation.

“I don’t know if it’s a tactic or not,” he said, “but it was painful also to leave me without even the guard talking to me.”

The beatings were intended to elicit a confession of in-
volvement with a rotating cast of terrorist groups that would change from one day to the next. Initially, Hamdan protested his innocence. But the threat against his wife was too much, and he broke down.

“The interrogator said, You’re going to sign a confession that you’re with Al Qaeda and put your fingerprint on it,” Hamdan remembers. But a few days later, he was taken from his cell to another interrogator, who said he’d received information “from a friendly country” that Hamdan was supporting the Gaza-based Palestinian group Hamas.

“He said, You have to change your confession,” said Hamdan. Still fearing for his wife, he told them, “Listen, I’ll do whatever you want.”

Hamdan quickly came to believe that his Emirati interrogators were acting at the behest of the United States; at one point they questioned him about his recent interview with the FBI at the embassy, asking him why he was tense during their meeting.

“I didn’t think of it when I first got detained, but when the beatings started, I knew right away,” he said.

During one interrogation, Hamdan said, he believed an American interrogator was present in the room. He identified the man by his accent and his dress, which differed from the rest of the interrogators, who were wearing either white robes, a traditional men’s dress in the Gulf, or the uniform that high-ranking military officers wear.

“From underneath my blindfold, I could see feet. He had on gray suit pants and black dress shoes,” said Hamdan, “and he had a pure American accent. I encountered the FBI several times before. I have no doubt he was FBI.”

As UAE agents introduced him to their full spectrum of torture techniques (a freezing cold isolation room, an electric chair they sat him in and threatened to turn on, kicks and punches to his already frail liver), his family searched in vain to discover his whereabouts. His wife says she went to the State Security offices and was told they’d never heard of her husband. She also says she called the US Embassy and the State Department, where staff claimed they were unaware of his case. Hamdan’s brother Sam said he called Joshua Stone, an FBI agent who had interviewed Hamdan in Abu Dhabi.

“They weren’t interested in talking about him,” Sam recalled. “If he really didn’t know what was happening to Naji, he would have been more interested. He’d want to know more,” he concluded. At one point, he suggested to Stone that perhaps Naji was suspected of stealing cars, since he dealt in used automobiles.

“The guy laughed and said, ‘Criminally? It’s not that,'” Sam said.

Naji Hamdan’s Nightmare (Page 2)

By Anna Louie Sussman

This article appeared in the March 22, 2010 edition of The Nation.

March 4, 2010

CAITLIN DOVER

The Hamdan family reached out to the American Civil Liberties Union, which filed a habeas corpus suit in a Washington, DC, district court in November 2008. Although the judge dismissed the case in August 2009, finding a lack of jurisdiction, the suit shone light on Hamdan’s predicament for the first time and highlighted the responsibility of the US government to attend to the detention of one of its citizens.

“One month and twenty-three days,” said Hamdan incredulously of the time he was held incommunicado. “Normally if [Abu Dhabi authorities] detain a US citizen, they should report it to the embassy right away. But they did not.”

After that period, Hamdan met with Sean Cooper, the consular chief for the US Embassy in Abu Dhabi. Three days before they met, his captors took his measurements, and on the day of the meeting gave him a brand-new outfit–shoes, pants, a shirt, underwear and socks–and a warning: “You better behave, because if you tell them anything, you’re coming back to us, and you know what’s going to happen.” Looking spiffy, he arrived to find three Emirati officials, who would be present throughout the interview. He tried to use body language to indicate to Cooper that all was not well.

“He asked if I was being mistreated,” remembered Hamdan, “and as I said no, I would turn my face to the side. Later, when I saw him, he said he had no idea something was wrong.”

After their meeting, the beatings stopped, although another month passed before Hamdan was transferred to criminal custody. According to his lawyer, Jennie Pasquarella of ACLU Southern California, instead of helping the Hamdans secure Naji’s release, the US government put up “major roadblocks at every turn.” She and her colleagues were unable to persuade lawmakers to take up Hamdan’s case publicly (she imagines they were “skittish” about “championing the case of someone labeled a terrorist”) and got “the runaround” both in Washington and the Emitates.

“Even Congress has had little success at obtaining information about people the US has asked other countries to detain. Although our government is responsible for their detention, there is a black hole of information about those cases,” she said.

In April 2009 Pasquarella and her colleagues obtained a nugget of information about a prior case that shed light on the possible circumstances of Hamdan’s arrest and detention. A Freedom of Information Act request filed by the British House of Commons All Party Parliamentary Group on Extraordinary Rendition turned up an e-mail from US Immigration and Customs Enforcement that read, “At this time [redacted] is the only one we can get to. He is currently being held by the UAE pending our ability to do a Extraordinary Rendition.” This e-mail, and America’s historically warm economic and diplomatic relationship with the UAE, suggests that collusion in the field of counterterrorism would not be unheard of. Hamdan, who was not being held by the US, could not have been subject to extraordinary rendition–in which suspects are transferred from US to foreign custody–but his arrest fits the profile of a “proxy detention,” in which the United States requests that someone be taken into custody in a foreign country.

The Bureau of Consular Affairs in Washington, the United Arab Emirates office of the State Department, the US Embassy in Abu Dhabi and an Abu Dhabi government spokesman all declined to comment on the case. Laura Eimiller, a spokeswoman for the FBI’s Los Angeles field office, said that the bureau does not confirm or deny investigating Hamdan, but she added that the US government did not request a proxy detention in Hamdan’s case.

With Hamdan’s trial approaching in Abu Dhabi Federal Supreme Court last year, the FBI continued to investigate his businesses in America. It subpoenaed Daniel Sieu, 49, a former customer of Hamdan’s who is the executive director of the Los Angeles-based Asian Pacific Revolving Loan Fund. Sieu had made several small loans to Hamdan as he expanded his business and bought small parcels of real estate. In January 2009 the FBI asked Sieu for everything in his files on Hamdan, which he says consisted of “a few basic loan applications.” He was never called in for questioning and has not gotten back any of the material he submitted.

“Naji is a very nice guy,” he said. “I consider him a friend.”

The FBI also pursued another friend of Naji’s, Jehad Suliman, beginning in 2002 with interrogations at HondAcura Palace, where Suliman is the manager. In July 2009, as Hamdan’s case was playing out in Abu Dhabi, Suliman estimates that roughly a dozen agents entered his home with a search warrant relating to MediCal fraud. They seized a number of possessions, including documents unrelated to MediCal that referred to Hamdan and HondAcura Palace.

On January 29 of this year, Pasquarella filed a FOIA request for further information on the government’s activities related to the Hamdan brothers and Suliman, but she expects it will take substantial litigation before anything comes to light.

Ultimately, after five hearings in front of Abu Dhabi’s Federal Supreme Court, Hamdan was convicted of support for and spreading of terrorism. The prosecutor’s case relied on Hamdan’s signed confessions and a transcript of a chat-room conversation from a jihadi website in which Hamdan says he was not even a participant. According to Hamdan, in the course of the trial, he was accused of membership in six different terrorist groups, including Al Qaeda, Ansar al-Islam of Iraq and Fatah al-Islam.

Sitting in their living room in his eighth-floor apartment in Mar Elias, a busy commercial neighborhood in Beirut, and discussing his verdict, Hamdan and his wife still have trouble accepting it. “How could he have had the time” to be involved with all of these groups, his wife wondered aloud, while running an international auto parts business?

“They’re six different organizations that are against each other,” pointed out Hamdan.

Pasquarella, who was barred from attending one of the sessions on the pretext that the trial chamber’s air-conditioning was broken, called the trial “a facade for political processes.” A respected human rights lawyer in the UAE, who did not wish to be identified because of previous government harassment, said that while the UAE Supreme Court is generally independent, on national security issues it toes the government line.

According to Hamdan, the prosecutor had sought four counts of the death penalty and four counts of life imprisonment, which he was eligible for under the UAE 2004 anti-terrorism legislation. Instead, the court gave him an eighteen-month time-served sentence, essentially setting him free despite a finding of guilt.

“I knew I was not going to be acquitted, because it would show their guilt, but I was still hoping they would go back to their conscience and acquit me,” he said resignedly. “I wasn’t relieved at the sentence, though, because now I’m considered a terrorist.”

After nine days and a bit of paperwork, he was deported to Lebanon.

Now he mostly spends his days with his wife, mother
and son, relaxing and looking after his health. His father died in October 2008; Hamdan said he died of a heart attack upon hearing of his son’s detention. Recently his brother Sam received a notice addressed to Naji that his aircraft mechanic’s license was being rescinded by the Transportation Security Administration. Hamdan still suffers pains in his wrists, neck and shoulders from the beatings, and he is taking medication for his liver and kidneys. But it is the mental scars that most stubbornly refuse to heal.

“Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night, just thinking about it,” he said. “What bothers me the most is the unfairness of it all…. I got beaten, tortured and forced to sign something I didn’t even read. I left all my wealth over there in that country, and I’m here, empty-handed, with these memories that are eating me alive.”

http://www.thenation.com/doc/20100322/sussman

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HERO or terrorist ???


The amazing true story of Zeitoun

Abdulrahman Zeitoun is the real-life hero of Dave Eggers’s new book. In the aftermath of hurricane Katrina he paddled from house to house in a canoe, offering help to his neighbours. For his trouble, he was arrested as a suspected terrorist

Abdulrahman Zietoun in the New Orleans Greyhound bus station where he was held after ­being arrested. Photograph: Julie Dermansky/Polaris

Saturday afternoon and the Zeitoun household is bustling with activity, as you quickly get the impression it always is. Kathy Zeitoun, dressed in a blue silk shirt and matching hijab, is fluttering around making spiced pumpkin-flavoured coffee and answering the constantly ringing phone. Noises emanating from four of her five children bubble up like broth from the back room where they are watching Kung Fu Panda on a giant flat-screen TV. Kathy seats me in the neat and orderly living room, which is dominated by cream leather sofas and a watercolour of a street scene from her husband’s native Syria. Beside it is a framed 3D model of the Qur’an.

Gradually, out of this domestic pleasure dome, telltale signs emerge of the calamity that struck the Zeitouns almost five years ago. An outside wall of the house is stained with a faint but still clearly discernible line at about shoulder height, a record etched in paint of where the flood waters settled.

“Most of the time I don’t think about what happened at all,” Kathy says, as she pours the coffee. “Until I step out on to the street – then it all comes back to me.”

In recent days Kathy has been forced to think back a lot on the events leading up to and following 29 August 2005, when hurricane Katrina ripped through her city of New Orleans, breaching its levees and immersing much of it, including her home, in several feet of water. The reason for her current preoccupation is the publication of the new book by that one-man literary factory Dave Eggers, whose best-known previous work is the memoir A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius.

The book, entitled Zeitoun, is, as its name suggests, a very personal telling of a national tragedy. It explores what happens when the entire fabric of society collapses, plunging a city into a parallel universe where there is no justice, no government, no protection, no respect. It does so exclusively through the eyes of the Zeitouns. Eggers spent three years on and off interviewing the family, then translating their memories into his trademark vivid yet restrained prose.

At the centre of the book is Kathy’s husband, Abdulrahman, or Zeitoun as he is universally known, a New Orleans building contractor who has attained almost mythical status. Not only is he the dominant character in the 339 pages of Eggers’s book, but in the US press he has been dubbed an “all-American hero” for the phlegmatic way he conducted himself in the midst of catastrophe.

That said, when I arrive at his house he is nowhere to be seen. He turns up an hour and a half late, which Kathy insists is wholly true to form and actually not that bad: he kept her waiting for two hours on their wedding day. He could have turned up 10 hours late and still you’d forgive him, just as soon as you felt his firm handshake and the embrace of his warm smile. “Zeitoun,” he says in self-introduction, as though there were any doubt.

He comes into the room straight from a building site with his trousers splattered in mud. “I really don’t feel we deserve all this attention,” he says in a thick Middle-Eastern accent. “I only did what I had been brought up to do.”

What he did was to stay in New Orleans when the hurricane struck, driven by a conviction that that is where he belonged. While Kathy and the kids joined the mass evacuation from the city, he hunkered down at home; and when the levees broke and the flood water poured in, he put to use a battered old canoe he owned to navigate the streets of his neighbourhood, now turned into canals.

Zeitoun paddling through New Orleans in his canoe may well become one of the enduring images of Katrina. A line drawing of him in the boat is printed on the cover of Eggers’s book, and the film director Jonathan Demme plans to make an animated movie of his story next year.

Zeitoun takes us on a guided tour of the route that he negotiated in his canoe in the days after the storm. He begins by pointing to a pillar at the front of his house. “That’s where I kept the canoe tied, like you’d tie up your horse.”

We set off by car along the maze of streets around his neighbourhood. On every street corner he has a tale to tell. The first stop we make is at a house of grey clapboard standing on stilts. In the hurricane, the flood waters reached almost up to its windows. As he paddled by, Zeitoun explains, he heard a voice faintly crying “Help!”. He swam to the front door and inside found a woman in her 70s hovering above him. In one of the most memorable phrases of the book, Eggers writes: “Her patterned dress was spread out on the surface of the water like a great floating flower.”

“She was inside the house holding on to the bookshelf with water up to her shoulder,” Zeitoun recalls, as we stand outside the house. “She must have been in the water for about 24 hours by then.”

Zeitoun helped the woman reach safety in a fishing boat, which was no small feat given that she weighed 90kg (14st). His construction skills and great strength proved invaluable as he levered her on a ladder out to the vessel.

Our tour continues and we pass the house of a local Baptist church pastor and his wife whom the Zeitouns had known for years and who similarly cried out for help. Further on, we come to the residence of a man who was stranded and to whom Zeitoun brought food and water every day while he still had his canoe and his liberty.

All in all, Zeitoun reckons he must have helped to save or rescue more than 10 neighbours. “The way I thought of it was, anything you can do to help. God left me here for a reason. I did what I was brought up to do – to help people.”

At this point, our journey begins its descent to a much darker place. Zeitoun points out the spot where he saw a human body floating in the filthy water. Then we arrive at Claiborne Avenue where the weirdness truly began. It was 6 September, six days after the hurricane, and he was in the house – his own property, which he rents out – along with a Syrian friend, Nasser Dayoob, his tenant Todd Gambino and Ronnie, a white man Zeitoun didn’t know but who had asked to stay in the house for shelter. Zeitoun was on the phone to his brother in Syria when six unidentified police officers and National Guardsmen burst through the front door dressed in military fatigues and bullet-proof vests and carrying M16s and pistols. Zeitoun explained he was the landlord, but the only response was a demand from one of the National Guardsmen for his identity card.

“All he did was look at my ID,” Zeitoun says, “and that was enough. Nothing else. No other questions. The moment he saw my name he said, ‘Get into the boat!'”

We get back into the car and retrace the route of that boat ride, stopping at the Greyhound bus station near the city centre. Today it’s back to a semblance of normality, with its familiar canine logo and silver buses lined in rows. But when Zeitoun was carted off there, he and his three companions found themselves surrounded by 80 or so men with assault rifles and dogs, a mixture of National Guardsmen, prison wardens and soldiers, some of whom had recently been serving in Iraq and who seemed to approach the situation in New Orleans with a war-zone mentality. The closest thing it reminded him of was Guantánamo.

‘You guys are al-Qaida,’ said one soldier. ‘Taliban,’ said another

He takes us to see a concrete compound at the back of the bus station and describes the network of chain-fence pens that had been erected overnight to convert the area into a makeshift detention centre. Zeitoun and his companions were flung into one such cage, with armed soldiers standing guard over them on the roof.

“Why are we here?” they asked a passing soldier. “You guys are al-Qaida,” came the reply. Another soldier said as he passed: “Taliban.”

It was like a dagger blow for Zeitoun, for himself personally and for his vision of America, the country where he had come to live as a young merchant seaman from Syria and which he had always believed was a land of fairness and opportunity. He had come initially in search of work, never expecting to stay, but he then met Kathy, a local Louisiana woman who had converted to Islam four years previously. They had built a life together, grown their construction business and had children. And now here he was being called a terrorist. “I felt very bad. It was very hurtful. These guys wanted revenge on us, no matter what.”

He was kept penned up at the bus station for three days and nights, and interviewed by officers from homeland security who seemed to think they had caught a big fish. He says now that whenever he drives by the Greyhound station – or Camp Greyhound as it was dubbed – dark thoughts enter his mind.

What dark thoughts? “Being called those terrible names. The memory of people refusing to help. Imagine you see a doctor and you shout at him, ‘Can you help me?’, because your foot is infected and hurting badly, and he’s wearing a green medical gown and a stethoscope around his neck, and he says, ‘I’m not a doctor,’ and walks on. How would you feel?”

While Zeitoun was incarcerated, first at Camp Greyhound and then in a maximum-security prison, Kathy was, as she puts it, “battling her own demons”. One of the gross injustices against them both was that Zeitoun was allowed no phone call, which left her in mounting despair. For two weeks she had no word from her husband, concluding in the end that he must be dead. Then, on 19 September, she learned of his detention from a missionary who called her after having seen Zeitoun in prison.

She dashed back to the city from Texas, where she had been staying with friends. The nadir came for her when she tried to find out the address of the courthouse where he was due to appear, charged with looting. Court officials told her they couldn’t divulge such information as it was private.

“I cracked open at that point,” she tells me. “How could the address of a courthouse be private? I cried harder then than I did at any other time. I felt like I was a little kid again – with no say-so, no rights, no voice. I felt lost.”

Zeitoun was detained for almost a month before he was released on $75,000 (£50,000) bail for having looted his own house. The others fared worse: Dayoob, Gambino and Ronnie spent five, six and eight months in prison respectively, despite Zeitoun’s efforts to prise them out. Eventually, the charges against all four of them were dropped.

Their experiences were just a blip in the civil rights catastrophe that was Katrina. Camp Greyhound held a total of 1,200 detainees in the aftermath of the hurricane, most of whom were African-Americans and all of whom suffered the indignity of having their right to habeas corpus removed.

As they approach the fifth anniversary of those events, the Zeitouns have managed with striking success to put their lives back together. The children are starting to sleep in their own beds again having for years insisted on cramming into their parents’ for security.

Kathy has been diagnosed with symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, including memory loss and dizziness. “Katrina was a great reality slap. I was naive before – I felt I had things under control. But I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t control anything. I’m in control of nothing,” she says.

Zeitoun still gets angry about the way he was treated, particularly as an American Muslim. “Muslim is a very simple word. Translated into English it means peace or believers. So why have these two nice, beautiful words been changed in people’s minds to ‘terrorist’?” he asks.

Despite that, he refuses to be bitter and vengeful. Instead, he dedicates his time to rebuilding the city, which is what he was doing when he was so late for our meeting. So far he has renovated a museum, some schools and about 250 houses damaged in the floods.

He says he is more disciplined now about his religious observance, making sure he at least is punctual for his five daily prayer sessions. He is also extra careful to follow all the civil rules – he doesn’t speed or cut through red lights or park where he shouldn’t. “I don’t want to give these guys the chance to do the same thing to me again.”

He has never even thought of abandoning the US. He refuses to bear a grudge, and says, for him, it remains a great country – you don’t judge 300 million people on the behaviour of a few bad guys. Nor will he contemplate quitting New Orleans. “This is my home, my city. My life is here now,” he says.

To prove the point to himself, perhaps, he plans to buy another boat; his canoe went missing following his arrest. This time, though, he wants a bigger model that would allow him to rescue people more easily.

But surely that suggests that he fears another Katrina, I ask him.

“It happened before,” he says. “It can happen again.”

Zeitoun by Dave Eggers is published by Hamish Hamilton in hardback on 15 March, £18.99.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/mar/11/dave-eggers-zeitoun-hurricane-katrina

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The intelligence factory How America makes its

enemies disappear

The intelligence factory:

How America makes its enemies disappear

By Petra Bartosiewicz

Petra Bartosiewicz is a writer living in Brooklyn. Her last story for Harper’s Magazine, “I.O.U. One Terrorist,” appeared in the August 2005 issue.

When I first read the U.S. government’s complaint against Aafia Siddiqui, who is awaiting trial in a Brooklyn detention center on charges of attempting to murder a group of U.S. Army officers and FBI agents in Afghanistan, the case it described was so impossibly convoluted—and yet so absurdly incriminating—that I simply assumed she was innocent. According to the complaint, on the evening of July 17, 2008, several local policemen discovered Siddiqui and a young boy loitering about a public square in Ghazni. She was carrying instructions for creating “weapons involving biological material,” descriptions of U.S. “military assets,” and numerous unnamed “chemical substances in gel and liquid form that were sealed in bottles and glass jars.” Siddiqui, an MIT-trained neuroscientist who lived in the United States for eleven years, had vanished from her hometown in Pakistan in 2003, along with all three of her children, two of whom were U.S. citizens. The complaint does not address where she was those five years or why she suddenly decided to emerge into a public square outside Pakistan and far from the United States, nor does it address why she would do so in the company of her American son. Various reports had her married to a high-level Al Qaeda operative, running diamonds out of Liberia for Osama bin Laden, and abetting the entry of terrorists into the United States. But those reports were countered by rumors that Siddiqui actually had spent the previous five years in the maw of the U.S. intelligence system—that she was a ghost prisoner, kidnapped by Pakistani spies, held in secret detention at a U.S. military prison, interrogated until she could provide no further intelligence, then spat back into the world in the manner most likely to render her story implausible. These dueling narratives of terrorist intrigue and imperial overreach were only further confounded when Siddiqui finally appeared before a judge in a Manhattan courtroom on August 5. Now, two weeks after her capture, she was bandaged and doubled over in a wheelchair, barely able to speak, because—somehow—she had been shot in the stomach by one of the very soldiers she stands accused of attempting to murder.

It is clear that the CIA and the FBI believed Aafia Siddiqui to be a potential source of intelligence and, as such, a prized commodity in the global war on terror. Every other aspect of the Siddiqui case, though, is shrouded in rumor and denial, with the result that we do not know, and may never know, whether her detention has made the United States any safer. Even the particulars of the arrest itself, which took place before a crowd of witnesses near Ghazni’s main mosque, are in dispute. According to the complaint, Siddiqui was detained not because she was wanted by the FBI but simply because she was loitering in a “suspicious” manner; she did not speak the local language and she was not escorted by an adult male. What drove her to risk such conspicuous behavior has not been revealed. When I later hired a local reporter in Afghanistan to re-interview several witnesses, the arresting officer, Abdul Ghani, said Siddiqui had been carrying “a box with some sort of chemicals,” but a shopkeeper named Farhad said the police had found only “a lot of papers.” Hekmat Ullah, who happened to be passing by at the time of her arrest, said Siddiqui “was attacking everyone who got close to her”—a detail that is not mentioned in the complaint. A man named Mirwais, who had come to the mosque that day to pray, said he saw police handcuff Siddiqui, but Massoud Nabizada, the owner of a local pharmacy, said the police had no handcuffs, “so they used her scarf to tie her hands.” What everyone appears to agree on is this: an unknown person called the police to warn that a possible suicide bomber was loitering outside a mosque; the police arrested Siddiqui and her son; and, Afghan sovereignty notwithstanding, they then dispatched the suspicious materials, whatever they were, to the nearest U.S. military base.

The events of the following day are also subject to dispute. According to the complaint, a U.S. Army captain and a warrant officer, two FBI agents, and two military interpreters came to question Siddiqui at Ghazni’s police headquarters. The team was shown to a meeting room that was partitioned by a yellow curtain. “None of the United States personnel were aware,” the complaint states, “that Siddiqui was being held, unsecured, behind the curtain.” No explanation is offered as to why no one thought to look behind it. The group sat down to talk and, in another odd lapse of vigilance, “the Warrant Officer placed his United States Army M-4 rifle on the floor to his right next to the curtain, near his right foot.” Siddiqui, like a villain in a stage play, reached from behind the curtain and pulled the three-foot rifle to her side. She unlatched the safety. She pulled the curtain “slightly back” and pointed the gun directly at the head of the captain. One of the interpreters saw her. He lunged for the gun. Siddiqui shouted, “Get the fuck out of here!” and fired twice. She hit no one. As the interpreter wrestled her to the ground, the warrant officer drew his sidearm and fired “approximately two rounds” into Siddiqui’s abdomen. She collapsed, still struggling, then fell unconscious.

The authorities in Afghanistan describe a different series of events. The governor of Ghazni Province, Usman Usmani, told my local reporter that the U.S. team had “demanded to take over custody” of Siddiqui. The governor refused. He could not release Siddiqui, he explained, until officials from the counterterrorism department in Kabul arrived to investigate. He proposed a compromise: the U.S. team could interview Siddiqui, but she would remain at the station. In a Reuters interview, however, a “senior Ghazni police officer” suggested that the compromise did not hold. The U.S. team arrived at the police station, he said, and demanded custody of Siddiqui, the Afghan officers refused, and the U.S. team proceeded to disarm them. Then, for reasons unexplained, Siddiqui herself somehow entered the scene. The U.S. team, “thinking that she had explosives and would attack them as a suicide bomber, shot her and took her.”

Siddiqui’s own version of the shooting is less complicated. As she explained it to a delegation of Pakistani senators who came to Texas to visit her in prison a few months after her arrest, she never touched anyone’s gun, nor did she shout at anyone or make any threats. She simply stood up to see who was on the other side of the curtain and startled the soldiers. One of them shouted, “She is loose,” and then someone shot her. When she regained consciousness she heard someone else say, “We could lose our jobs.”

Siddiqui’s trial is scheduled for this November. The charges against her stem solely from the shooting incident itself, not from any alleged act of terrorism. The prosecutors provide no explanation for how a scientist, mother, and wife came to be charged as a dangerous felon. Nor do they account for her missing years, or her two other children, who still are missing. What is known is that the United States wanted her in 2003, and it wanted her again in 2008, and now no one can explain why.


As the “global war on terror” enters its ninth year, under the leadership of its second commander in chief, certain ongoing assumptions have gained the force of common wisdom. One of them, as Barack Obama explained in a major policy speech last May, is that we have entered a “new era” that will “present new challenges to our application of the law” and require “new tools to protect the American people.” Another, as Obama made clear in the same speech, is that the purpose of these new tools and laws is “to prevent attacks instead of simply prosecuting those who try to carry them out.” These positions are appealing, but they fail to address what might be thought of as an underlying economic disequilibrium. The continued political appetite for a global war on terror has led to a commodification of “actionable intelligence,” which is a product, chiefly, of human prisoners like Aafia Siddiqui. Because this war, by definition, has no physical or temporal boundaries, the demand for such intelligence has no limit. But the world contains a relatively small number of terrorists and an even smaller number of terrorist plots. Our demand for intelligence far outstrips the supply of prisoners. Where the United States itself has been unable to meet that demand, therefore, it has embraced a solution that is the essence of globalization. We outsource the work to countries, like Pakistan, whose political circumstances allow them to produce prisoners with far greater efficiency.

What the CIA and the FBI understand as an acquisition solution, however, others see as a human-rights debacle. Just as thousands of political dissidents, suspected criminals, and enemies of the state were “disappeared” from Latin America over the course of several decades of CIA-funded dirty wars, so too have hundreds of “persons of interest” around the world begun to disappear as a consequence of the global war on terror, which in many ways has become a globalized version of those earlier, regional failures of democracy.

Many individual cases are well known. Binyam Mohamed, an alleged conspirator in Jose Padilla’s now debunked “dirty bomb plot,” was arrested in Karachi in 2002 and flown by the CIA to Morocco, where he was tortured for eighteen months. He eventually emerged into the non-covert prison system, as a detainee at Guantánamo, and was released earlier this year without charge. Maher Arar, a Canadian citizen, was arrested at New York City’s John F. Kennedy Airport in 2002 while on his way home from a vacation, flown by the CIA to a Syrian prison, held in a coffin-size cell for nearly a year, and then released, also without charges. Saud Memon, a Pakistani businessman rumored to own the plot of land where the Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl was murdered, was arrested in 2003, held by the United States at an unknown location until 2006, then “released” to Pakistan, where in April 2007 he finally emerged, badly beaten and weighing just eighty pounds, on the doorstep of his Karachi home. He died a few weeks later.

The total number of men and women who have been kidnapped and imprisoned for U.S. intelligence-gathering purposes is difficult to determine. Apart from Iraq and Afghanistan, the main theaters of combat, Pakistan is our primary source of publicly known detainees—researchers at Seton Hall University estimated in 2006 that two thirds of the prisoners at Guantánamo were arrested in Pakistan or by Pakistani authorities—and so it is reasonable to assume that the country is also a major supplier of ghost detainees. Human Rights Watch has tracked enforced disappearances in Pakistan since before 2001. The group’s counterterrorism director, Joanne Mariner, told me that the number of missing persons in the country grew “to a flood” as U.S. counterterrorism operations peaked between 2002 and 2004. In that same three-year period, U.S. aid to Pakistan totaled $4.7 billion, up from $9.1 million in the three years prior to the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan. Correlation does not prove causation, of course, but Pakistan’s former president, Pervez Musharraf, did claim in his 2006 memoir, In the Line of Fire, that his country had delivered 369 Al Qaeda suspects to the United States for “millions of dollars” in bounties (a boast he neatly elides in the Urdu edition). It is reasonable to suspect this figure is on the low side.

One reason estimates are so inconclusive, of course, is that the business of disappearance is inherently ambiguous. Missing-person reports filed in Pakistan rarely claim that the detained individual was picked up by the CIA or the FBI. Instead, the detainee is almost always arrested by “city police” or “civilian clothed men” or unidentified “secret agency personnel” who arrive in “unmarked vehicles.” The secretary-general of the Pakistani NGO Human Rights Commission, Ibn Abdur Rehman, described the process. “A man is picked up at his house, brought to the police station,” he said. “The family comes with him and are told, ‘He’ll be released in an hour, go home.’ They come back in an hour and are told, ‘Sorry, he’s been handed off to the intelligence people and taken to Islamabad.’ After that, the individual is never heard from again. When the family tries to file a missing-person report, the police won’t take it, and no one admits to having custody of the person.” Some of the disappeared pass directly to U.S. custody and reappear months or years later at Guantánamo or Bagram air base. Others remain captives of Pakistan’s multiple intelligence agencies or are shipped to places like Uzbekistan, whose torture policies are well known. Others simply vanish, their fate revealed only by clerical errors, or when they turn up dead.

Most of the arrests and detentions take place under the auspices of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), which the CIA helped expand in the 1980s largely in order to wage a proxy war against Soviet forces in Afghanistan (where the ISI continues to wield considerable influence). The agency has evolved into a powerful institution with its own agendas and alliances—it has long pursued ethnic separatists in the Baluchistan region, for instance, where the Human Rights Commission estimates that at least 600 individuals have disappeared—and the result is that the CIA itself often has little knowledge of the provenance or purpose of a given arrest.

Such may be the case with Siddiqui. To my knowledge, the only current or former U.S. official to comment publicly on the significance of her capture was John Kiriakou, a retired CIA officer who gained notoriety in 2007 when he told ABC News that the CIA waterboarding of Abu Zubaydah, an Al Qaeda lieutenant, produced life-saving intelligence in less than a minute. Although Justice Department memos later revealed that Zubaydah was waterboarded eighty-three times, Kiriakou’s comments did much to foster acceptance of the practice among the American public—and his description of Siddiqui seemed calibrated to achieve a similar effect. In 2008 he told ABC News, which had hired him as a consultant after his waterboarding interview, “I don’t think we’ve captured anybody as important and as well connected as she since 2003. We knew that she had been planning, or at least involved in the planning of, a wide variety of different operations.” When I called Kiriakou to ask him about those operations, though, he said the extent of his knowledge was that Siddiqui’s name “had popped up an awful lot” while he was in Pakistan searching for Zubaydah in 2002, and that “the FBI talked about her so often that I thought she must be a big fish.” After he left Pakistan, he forgot all about Siddiqui until ABC called for an interview. “I actually had to Google as to remember who she was,” he said.


Last spring, in the hope that I might discover how Siddiqui became such a sought-after commodity, I took the eighteen-hour flight from New York to Karachi. Pakistan’s cities are like many in the Third World: overwhelmed with humanity, underserved by government, and ruled by a wealthy elite who cultivate an atmosphere of lawless entitlement. The current president, Asif Ali Zardari, widower of slain former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, was once charged with (though not tried for) attempting to extort a Pakistani businessman by strapping a remote-controlled bomb to the man’s leg. My host in Karachi, a friend of a friend, was a charming fashion designer and gun aficionado who also happened to be a bona-fide feudal lord. The day after my arrival, as one of his servants massaged his neck, he explained to me that he could have the subjects on his lands killed, though I had the impression that he would consider such an act gauche.

Siddiqui’s own family is well known in Karachi. They are religiously conservative, but also, in certain respects, “Western.” Siddiqui’s father, who died in 2002, was a doctor educated in England. Her brother is an architect in Houston; her sister, now one of Pakistan’s premier neurologists, received her training at Harvard. Siddiqui herself attended MIT as an undergraduate, and earned her doctorate in neuroscience at Brandeis. Her education, and the privilege it implies, is part of what made her disappearance so newsworthy. Families like hers are understood to have enough connections, or at least enough hired guards, to prevent their members from being kidnapped, even by the government.

The national press nonetheless seems to take for granted that Siddiqui and her children were abducted by Pakistani intelligence in 2003, most likely at the behest of the United States. Almost no one I spoke to in Karachi believed she could have remained underground and undetected by the ISI for five days, let alone five years. But there was one important exception. A few days before I arrived, Siddiqui’s ex-husband, Amjad Khan, told a reporter from the Pakistani daily News that he thought she was an “extremist” and that of course she had been on the run. This so infuriated Siddiqui’s sister, Fowzia, that she later called a press conference of her own and told reporters Khan was an abusive husband and father, and that if anyone was an extremist it was him.

Khan now lives in Karachi with his new wife and their two children, in the well-appointed home of his father, a retired businessman. He is thirty-nine years old, tall and slender, and when we met he was wearing the long beard that denotes his strict devotion to Islam. He invited me into the drawing room and signaled a servant to bring cookies and cold glasses of lassi, a yogurt drink. Khan came to know Siddiqui, he said, in 1993. She was an active supporter of Islamic causes at MIT, and during a visit to Karachi, Khan’s mother arranged for her to come to their home and give a talk on the plight of Bosnian Muslims. After the talk, Khan’s mother, presumably impressed, asked him if he liked what he saw. He said yes, and the parents arranged a wedding. The ceremony took place over the phone while Khan was in Karachi and Siddiqui already back in Boston, but Khan, who had studied medicine in Pakistan, soon followed her and took a research position at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Khan said he loved Siddiqui in the early years of their marriage but that the relationship was always somewhat volatile; he casually described an incident in which he threw a baby bottle at Siddiqui’s face and she had to go to the hospital to get stitches. The marriage began to unravel, he said, after the attacks of September 11, 2001. Siddiqui, shaken by the U.S. reaction to the attacks, flew with the children to Karachi soon after, and when Khan joined them in November, he says, Siddiqui’s “extreme nature” became apparent. She wanted him to go with her to Afghanistan to serve as a medic for the mujahedeen. When he refused, he said, “she became hysterical. She started pounding on my chest with her fists. She openly asked for a divorce in front of my family.” Khan’s parents urged him to return to Boston without Siddiqui, to complete his board exams, which he did. In January 2002, he convinced Siddiqui to return to Boston, where they patched things up sufficiently that Siddiqui became pregnant with their third child.

Then, in June 2002, the couple received a visit from the FBI. The agents said they were following up on a suspicious-activity report from Fleet Bank in Boston. Why had someone at the Saudi embassy in Washington wired $70,000 to accounts linked to their address? And why had Khan recently purchased night-vision goggles, body armor, and, according to Khan, as many as seventy military manuals, among them Fugitive, Advanced Fugitive, and How to Make C-4? “I asked the FBI,” he said, “whether I should return some of the objectionable books, and the agent replied, ‘No, we are a free country. You are free to read these books.’” Khan told me that the “night-vision goggles” were actually just a single night-vision scope for his hunting rifle; the “body armor” was a bulletproof vest for his uncle, a big-game hunter in Karachi. The $70,000 was not for them. It had been sent to a Saudi man who sublet Khan’s first Boston apartment in 2001 after the couple had moved to another place—the money was to pay for medical treatment for his son. And the military manuals, Khan explained, less convincingly, were an appeasement gift for Siddiqui. “By that time I knew the marriage wasn’t going to last,” he said. “But I had my exams coming up and needed to keep things neutral.”

The arguments continued, however, and in the end it was Khan who, in August 2002, finally demanded a divorce. The parting was quite bitter, and perhaps not entirely because of Siddiqui’s purported radical proclivities. Even before the divorce was finalized that October, Khan had contracted a marriage with his current wife, an act that Siddiqui, according to divorce papers her sister gave me, said was done “without her consent or prior knowledge.” And although Khan said he offered to pay child support and sought to see the children, the divorce papers note that he gave up permanent custody and would “have no right of any nature with the children.” He has never seen his son, Suleman, who was born that September.

Khan said he learned that Siddiqui was missing only when the FBI issued an alert in March 2003, five months after the divorce was finalized, seeking both of them for questioning. He told me he cleared his own name several weeks later in a four-hour joint interview with the FBI and the ISI, and that his “contacts in the agencies” informed him that Siddiqui had gone underground. He had no idea where his children were, he said—a claim he would later contradict. He said he and his driver saw Siddiqui in a taxi in Karachi in 2005. But they did not follow her.

As we talked, Khan’s father came and sat down and soon began answering questions for his son, who deferred to him. Eventually the father decided the interview had gone on long enough, and so Khan walked me outside, where his two young daughters from his second marriage were playing on the lawn. One was named Mariam, the same name as his daughter with Siddiqui. I asked if he had given up on the possibility of the first Mariam coming home. Khan shrugged and said he just liked the name.


Fowzia lives in Gulshan-e-Iqbal, an affluent enclave of palm trees and high-walled compounds not far from Amjad Khan’s home. When I called, she was about to hold her press conference and told me to come right over. “I got a video of the prison strip search,” she said. “It’s really gruesome.”

I knew Siddiqui had been searched when she left her holding cell for preliminary hearings. She was still recovering from her gunshot wounds and had found the process, which included a cavity search, to be humiliating and extremely painful. I assumed Fowzia had somehow acquired a tape of the search. Images of a devout Muslim woman being stripped in the presence of Western prison guards would be offensive and inflammatory, and thus newsworthy, and could help Fowzia gain sympathy for her sister’s cause.

Several TV satellite trucks were idling outside the house when I arrived, and in the living room three dozen reporters were watching the video, which Fowzia played on her laptop computer. I leaned in to get a better look and saw that it was indeed a strip search. But the woman was not Siddiqui. The video, taken from a U.S. television report on an entirely unrelated case, was meant to depict what Fowzia’s sister might have gone through—not an outright deception but a well-timed ploy to shift attention away from the damaging claims of an angry ex-husband.

After the reporters left, we sat down to discuss the case in greater detail. Fowzia kept steering the conversation away from questions about her sister’s culpability and the whereabouts of her niece and nephew. Instead, she wanted to discuss Khan’s perfidy. “He’s on a lying spree,” she said. “Let him continue!” Fowzia speculated that Khan was inventing tales about Siddiqui in order to save himself from prosecution, that he was a criminal who had been turned into an informant, that he could be trusted by no one. I asked her what proof she had that Khan had been involved in terrorist activities. She said she had none. But he certainly held extremist views, she said, and as evidence she produced a copy of the couple’s divorce agreement and directed me to a proviso that Khan had inserted: “Under no circumstances would the children be admitted in any of the schools which render education in Western style or culture.”

Fowzia’s resignation about the missing children puzzled me, as had Khan’s. When I asked her about it, she said, “I’ve coped by assuming the kids are dead.” A few years ago, she explained, a Pakistani intelligence agent had come to her house and told her that Suleman, who had been born prematurely and was sick at the time Aafia disappeared, had died in custody. I asked her who the agent was, but she said he refused to give his name. (After I left Pakistan, Khan emailed me to say he had received “confidential good news” from the ISI that Mariam and Suleman were “alive and well” with Fowzia. When I asked if he could tell me more, he wrote back that he possessed “a lot of detailed information” about his children and implied they had been with the Siddiqui family all along, but he refused to provide any of that information “because I was forbidden by the agencies/my lawyer to do so for my own safety.” Fowzia says she still has not seen the children.)

On my way out of Fowzia’s house, I passed a boy who was watching television. It was Siddiqui’s eldest son, Ahmad, now twelve years old. After his arrest at the market in Afghanistan he had again vanished, and for a month U.S. authorities denied any knowledge of his whereabouts. In fact, he had been turned over to an Afghan intelligence agency, which held him for six weeks and finally sent him to Pakistan to live with his aunt. I waved to Ahmad. He said hello and then went back to the Bollywood film he was watching. “He hasn’t talked in great detail about where he was,” Fowzia said. “He tries to figure out what answer you want him to give and he gives that answer.”


What most of us understand as human relationships, infinitely varied and poignant with ambiguity, criminal investigators understand simply as a series of associations. The mapping of “known associates” is an old and powerful investigative technique. But within the context of the global war on terror, the technique—known variously as “social-network analysis,” “link analysis,” or “contact chaining”—has been used less for solving crimes and more for preventing them. Using large computer arrays and the kind of automated data analysis that already dominate the world of global finance, investigators cobble together every scrap of available information in order to create what they hope is a picture not of a single true past but of an infinite variety of theoretical futures. In such a system, the universe of possible associations—and therefore the universe of possible detainees—also becomes unlimited. When the FBI detained more than a thousand Muslim immigrants in 2001, for instance, it provided judges at secret detention hearings an affidavit explaining that “the business of counterterrorism intelligence gathering in the United States is akin to the construction of a mosaic” and that evidence “that may seem innocuous at first glance” might ultimately “fit into a picture that will reveal how the unseen whole operates.” The FBI reasoned that even the possessors of this intelligence might not be aware of the significance of what they knew, and so they could be detained simply because the agency was “unable to rule out” their value.

It was precisely such a mosaic, in which none of the myriad connections were quite intelligible but all were laden with vague significance, that set off alarms at the FBI and CIA in the months leading up to the moment Siddiqui disappeared in 2003. In early 2002, the FBI became aware of a United Nations investigation into Al Qaeda financing that mentioned Siddiqui. A “confidential source” claimed he had “personally met” her in Liberia, where she was on a mission to “evaluate diamond operations” for her Al Qaeda bosses in Pakistan. Dennis Lormel, an FBI agent who was investigating terrorism financing at the time, told me the agency quickly debunked this specific claim. Nonetheless, the notion that Siddiqui was involved in money laundering had entered the picture.

Then, in late December 2002, two months after her divorce, Siddiqui flew from Pakistan to the United States, where she had a job interview at a hospital in Baltimore. On December 30, she made her way to nearby Gaithersburg, Maryland, and opened a post office box. She listed as a co-owner of the box a man named Majid Khan, whom she falsely identified as her husband. According to court records, the FBI began to monitor the box almost immediately.

On March 1, 2003, intelligence agents in Pakistan arrested Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged operational planner of the September 11 attacks. U.S. interrogators quickly elicited from him the names of dozens of possible co-conspirators. Among them was Majid Khan. Mohammed said he had assigned Khan to deliver “a large sum of money” to Al Qaeda.

On March 5, the ISI arrested Khan, along with his pregnant wife. According to a statement by Khan’s father, “U.S. and Pakistani agents, including FBI agents,” interrogated his son for at least three weeks at a secret detention center in Karachi. What Khan told his captors is not publicly known, but by March 18 the FBI was alarmed enough to issue a bulletin seeking Siddiqui and her ex-husband for questioning.

On March 28, FBI agents in New York City detained a twenty-three-year-old man named Uzair Paracha, who had just arrived there from Pakistan to help his father sell units of a beachfront property in Karachi. His father also owned an import/export business in Manhattan, and Paracha worked from an office there. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed had planned to use the company, he told investigators, “to smuggle explosives into the United States.” Among the first questions agents in New York asked Paracha was whether he knew Majid Khan. He said he did. And there was more: he also had the key to his post office box.

At some point that same month, Siddiqui disappeared. Her family would not, or could not, give me a specific date. The last traces of her I found came from news accounts. On March 28, the day the FBI detained Paracha, the Pakistani daily Dawn reported that local authorities took Siddiqui “to an undisclosed location” for questioning and that “FBI agents were also allowed to question the lady.” Three weeks later, on April 21, a “senior U.S. law enforcement official” told Lisa Myers of NBC Nightly News that Siddiqui was in Pakistani custody. The same source retracted the statement the next day without explanation. “At the time,” Myers told me, “we thought there was a possibility perhaps he’d spoken out of turn.”

There was one final association to take into account. On April 29, the Pakistani authorities arrested Ammar al Baluchi, a computer technician they suspected was plotting to bomb the U.S. embassy in Pakistan. Baluchi was the nephew of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. The FBI and the CIA suspected that he had provided the 9/11 hijackers with almost a quarter of their financing. They had also come to believe, as was later reported in an undated Department of Defense “detainee biography,” that Baluchi had “married Siddiqui shortly before his detention.”

The means by which we assemble such intelligence have become more sophisticated and also more violent. During his initial month of detention, Mohammed was waterboarded 183 times. Khan’s father claims that his son was forced “to sign a statement that he was not even allowed to read,” and Khan later attempted suicide, twice, by chewing through an artery in his arm.

The interrogations yielded a great deal of data, but it is unclear how useful any of that data actually was. Mohammed later said, “I gave a lot of false information in order to satisfy what I believed the interrogators wished to hear.” Paracha told many contradictory stories, and Baluchi, who had maintained his innocence during his U.S. military tribunal hearing, later filed a statement saying, in effect, that he was proud of his involvement in the September 11 attacks.

The roles Siddiqui and Paracha played in the post-office-box affair may have been entirely innocent. Majid Khan said at his own military tribunal hearings that his travel documents had expired while he was in Karachi and he wanted to renew them. He asked his friend Baluchi to enlist Siddiqui and Paracha to help maintain the ruse that he was still in the United States by establishing a mailing address. Khan and Baluchi both contended at Paracha’s trial that he was ignorant of their ties to Al Qaeda.

Such intelligence may actually be worse than useless. In a 2006 Harvard study of the efficacy of preemptive national-security practices, Jessica Stern and Jonathan Wiener note that “taking action based only on worst-case thinking can introduce unforeseen dangers and costs” and propose that “a better approach to managing risk involves an assessment of the full portfolio of risks—those reduced by the proposed intervention, as well as those increased.” Rather than understanding all intelligence as actionable, they write, “decision makers” should create “mechanisms to ensure that sensible risk analysis precedes precautionary actions.” At the moment, no such mechanisms appear to exist. The leader of one FBI conterterrorism squad recently told the New York Times that of the 5,500 terrorism-related leads its twenty-one agents had pursued over the past five years, just 5 percent were credible and not one had foiled an actual terrorist plot. But the gathering of intelligence continues apace.


As I traveled from Karachi to Lahore to Islamabad, questioning family members, lawyers, and spies, I heard every possible story about Aafia Siddiqui. She was a well-known extremist. She was an innocent victim. She was an informant working for the United States or Pakistan or both sides at once. Most people continued to believe that she had been arrested by someonein 2003, but it was proving impossible to determine who actually apprehended her, or who ordered the arrest, or why. I interviewed an attorney in Lahore who swore he had seen a cell-phone video of the arrest that showed what he believed was a female CIA officer slapping Siddiqui across the face. And as to her whereabouts before the arrest, the most persistent account—that she was held by the U.S. military in Bagram prison in Afghanistan—emerged from the testimony of two former detainees, one of whom, Moazzam Begg, was not even at Bagram during the years Siddiqui was missing.

One afternoon in Islamabad I met a recently retired senior Pakistani intelligence officer who had promised, if I agreed not to name him, to answer all of my questions. We spoke at his home, a gated mansion in one of the city’s wealthiest precincts. He had silver hair and a silver mustache, and he wore a gold pinky ring fitted with a large green stone. When I called to arrange the interview, he initially said he did not know why Siddiqui had disappeared. But he had since then contacted a friend at one of Pakistan’s intelligence agencies, “a very good chap” who had been “pretty senior in the hierarchy” when Siddiqui disappeared in 2003. Now, over the customary drinks and cookies, the retired intelligence officer recounted their conversation, the upshot of which was that Siddiqui had in fact been picked up by Pakistani intelligence and delivered to “the friends,” which was shorthand, he said, for the CIA.

“You people didn’t have the decency to tell me she’d been picked up?” he’d asked his colleague, referring to the jurisdictional problems that plague intelligence agencies around the world. “No, no, it was very sudden,” the colleague replied. “The friends, they were insisting.” My host told me that such insistence was irritating and disrespectful. “It was very difficult, very embarrassing for us to turn her over to you,” he said. “The decision was made at the highest levels. Bush and Musharraf likely would have known about it. After two to three days, we passed her along to the CIA.”

By the time our meeting ended, I was convinced that I had heard the definitive account if not of Siddiqui’s reappearance then at least of her disappearance—until, after a fifteen-minute taxi ride later to a less fashionable neighborhood, I arrived at the home of Siddiqui’s elderly maternal uncle, Shams ul Hassan Faruqi, a geologist. As we sat in his home office, surrounded by maps and drawings of rock strata, Faruqi told an entirely different story. He said Siddiqui showed up at his house unannounced one evening in January 2008, a time when, according to the intelligence officer I had just left, she was supposedly in the hands of the CIA. Her face had been altered, Faruqi said, as if she had undergone plastic surgery, but he knew her by her voice. She said she had been held by the Pakistanis and the Americans and was now running operations for both of them against Al Qaeda. She had slipped away for a few days, though, because she wanted him to smuggle her across the border into Afghanistan so she could seek sanctuary with the Taliban, members of which Faruqi had known from his years of mineral exploration.

A few days later I heard yet another account, this one from Ahmed Rashid, a Pakistani reporter who has been writing about the Taliban and the ISI for thirty years. As I interviewed him, we were joined by his three golden Labradors, who had just been shaved bare to make the heat more tolerable for them. Rashid told me that he, too, had heard from his sources that the Pakistanis had picked up Siddiqui. But instead of handing her directly to the CIA, they hung on to her. “It’s possible there were some conditions being laid for her being released which the Americans didn’t want to meet. So we held her for a long time,” he said. “I think she was used as a bargaining chip for something completely different which we were pissed off about.”

Perhaps the most believable account came from Ali Hasan, senior South Asia researcher for Human Rights Watch, whom I visited at his home in Lahore. “My professional view,” he said, “is they’re all lying. Siddiqui’s family is lying, the husband is lying, the Pakistanis are lying, the Americans are lying, for all I know the kids are lying. And because they’re all lying the truth is probably twenty times stranger than we all know.”


One of the chief conveniences of outsourcing is that certain costs are externalized. Pollution, for instance, is expensive. Manufacturers that pollute in the United States are required to bear its cost by paying a fine. If they outsource to a country where the cost of the pollution is borne directly by the people, they make more money. Such a transfer is obviously desirable from the point of view of the manufacturer, but it often generates political unrest in the host country, for reasons that are equally obvious. This phenomenon applies as well when the external cost of manufacturing intelligence is paid in freedom. The governments that did the outsourced work of U.S. intelligence agencies in previous dirty wars—in Argentina and Chile, Guatemala and Uruguay—eventually were toppled by popular protest, in large part because the people became aware that their leaders had profited from their suffering. Pakistanis today appear no less aware that this type of transaction is occurring in their country. Indeed, a recent poll found that the only nation they find more threatening than India, whose nuclear missiles point directly at them, is the United States. And they have begun to hold their leaders accountable for the association.

The rising number of disappearances became a decisive political issue in 2007, after Pakistan’s Supreme Court, under its chief justice, Iftikhar Chaudhry, opened hearings on behalf of the missing, demanding that they appear before the court. This initiative turned up the locations of 186 disappeared persons, many of whom were found in known Pakistani detention centers, including Imran Munir, a Malaysian of Pakistani origin who had been missing since 2006. During Munir’s hearing, it came to light that Pakistani security agents had continued trying to hide him even after the court demanded his presence. Chaudhry’s efforts to locate the disappeared were met with considerable resistance from the government. In March 2007, the chief justice himself was summoned to appear before Musharraf, where, with ISI and military chiefs present, he was ordered to resign. Chaudhry refused, and so Musharraf charged him with misconduct and suspended him from office.

In July 2007, a panel of thirteen judges reinstated Chaudhry, who quickly returned to his investigation of the disappeared. This time, he warned, he would order the heads of the security agencies themselves to testify. He also summoned Imran Munir once again, but before Munir could appear, Musharraf declared a state of emergency and put Chaudhry under house arrest. Lawyers around Pakistan, horrified to see the chief justice so flagrantly humiliated, rose up to demand his reinstatement. The Lawyers’ Movement, as it came to be known, was soon embraced by hundreds of thousands of Pakistani citizens, who marched in massive protests, and Musharraf, in the end, was the one who had to resign.

The current president, Asif Ali Zardari, gained considerable momentum in his election campaign by pledging to reinstate Chaudhry. But once in office, he hesitated to follow through on that pledge, likely because he was concerned that the court would reopen a series of corruption cases against him. The marches grew larger, though, and on March 16, 2009, while I happened to be in Pakistan, Zardari finally reinstated Chaudhry, along with several other similarly deposed justices.

I joined the hundreds of supporters gathered at the chief justice’s house in Islamabad. Families came with children, people waved placards that bore Chaudhry’s image, and a marching band with bagpipes played. Chaudhry had always maintained that his struggle was legal, not political, but the scene had all the markings of a post-campaign victory celebration. I made my way along the receiving line until I reached Chaudhry, who was surrounded by the leaders of the Lawyers’ Movement. He had been shaking hands for several hours, but I thought I would try to ask a question. When I reached him, I took his hand and asked him when he planned to take up the missing-person cases with which his name had become synonymous. He paused, as if parsing the political consequences of his answer. “I don’t know,” he finally said, and giggled uncomfortably as his handlers, looking equally uncomfortable, hustled me down the line.


It is the shooting, oddly enough, that has generated the most detailed evidence about Siddiqui’s present circumstances. After the confrontation in Ghazni, she was choppered by air ambulance to the Craig Joint Theater Hospital at Bagram air base—the same base, of course, where she may or may not once have been a prisoner. Her medical intake record notes that she was a three on the fifteen-point Glasgow Coma Scale, meaning she was almost dead. The surgeons opened her up from breastbone to bellybutton, searching for bullets. They cut out twenty centimeters of her small intestine. They also gave her transfusions of red blood cells and fresh frozen platelets and dosed her with clotting medication, which suggests she had experienced heavy blood loss. “FBI agents in room with patient at all times,” the medical record stated. “Patient is in four-point restraints.” In the span of just two weeks she went from near clinical death to being deemed “medically stable and capable of confinement.” The doctor witnessed every detail of her recovery. “Details of pertinent medical findings: Very thin, sallow coloring, dry cracked lips,” and also “flat affect, crying at times.”

From that point forward, however, the clarity of medical detail is clouded by legal concerns. Siddiqui had no lawyer during her two weeks at Bagram or on her flight to the United States. The day after she landed, she was in a Manhattan courtroom, facing charges of attempted murder. In allowing her to be transported to the United States without even a consular visit, her own government, notwithstanding its public pronouncements of support and calls for repatriation, effectively gave her up without a fight. The Pakistani embassy eventually hired a team of three attorneys to augment her two existing public defenders, but Siddiqui refused to work with them. During a prison phone call in June, she told her brother, “I just protest against this whole process and don’t want to participate.”

The only people Siddiqui seemed to trust, strangely, were the FBI agents who sat by her bedside at Bagram, and whose presence she repeatedly requested in the apparent belief that if only she could speak to them for a moment she could clear everything up. According to notes taken by the agents, she was voluble during those early days of her detention in Afghanistan. She said she “made some bad decisions in the past, but mostly did so out of naivety.” In contrast to her later statements, she confirmed that she was married to Ammar al Baluchi, whom she met when his sister rented a room at her mother’s house, and that Baluchi had asked her to help his friend Majid Khan with his immigration problem. She admitted having possession of chemicals including sodium cyanide at the time of her capture, though “not for nefarious purposes,” and she said that she had been “in ‘hiding’ for the last five years” and “aware that various law enforcement agencies had been looking for her.” She had little to say about her children. “She finds it easier to presume them dead,” the agents noted. She also volunteered to become a U.S. intelligence “asset” in the hope that she could find the “truth to the inner depths.”

It is uncertain what the defense’s theory of the case will be when Siddiqui goes on trial this November. Perhaps, as one of her lawyers told me, she never even touched the gun. Perhaps she acted in self-defense. Or perhaps, as another of her lawyers claimed at an early hearing, “she’s crazy.” In this last matter, ambiguity is once again the rule. Four prison psychiatrists examined Siddiqui. Two of them determined she was malingering, the faked illness being insanity. A third said she was delusional and that her behavior was “diametrically opposed to everything we know about the clinical presentation of malingerers,” and the fourth psychiatrist initially diagnosed her as depressive—and possibly psychotic—but later switched to the malingering camp. Siddiqui’s own contribution to the debate came in the form of a rambling letter, written last July to “All Americans loyal to the U.S.A.,” in which she proclaimed her innocence, decried the propaganda being spun against her by the “Zionist-controlled U.S. media,” and alleged that she spent years in a prison “controlled by the ‘Americans,’ of the kind that control the U.S. media.” Later that month the court ruled that she “may have some mental health issues” but that she was fit enough to stand trial.

Aafia Siddiqui is not presently charged with any act of terrorism, nor is she accused of conspiring with terrorists or giving comfort to terrorists. Her trial is unlikely to yield satisfactory answers about where she was, who picked her up and why, or even who she really is. Maybe she was working for the United States, or Pakistan, or maybe she was just in the United States looking for a job and committed a minor bit of immigration fraud that catalyzed a violent farce. One FBI official told _U.S. News & World Report _in 2003, “There’s a distinct possibility she was just a victim.” Perhaps Aafia Siddiqui is guilty of nothing more than poor choice in men. We simply do not know, and the system in which she has found herself ensures that neither will her captors.


The person who seemed best able to explain what really happened to Siddiqui, her sister, Fowzia, remained elusive until my last day in Pakistan. At our first meeting she had promised to pull together all sorts of evidence of her sister’s innocence, but by the time she finally agreed to meet again, my bags were packed and my plane just hours from departure.

She said she avoided me all these weeks because she’d been told by “multiple people” that I worked for the CIA. “All you want are documents,” she said. “I just want someone who can listen.” Then she dragged out a family photo album and started showing me pictures of her sister with various animals: goats, a camel, the family cat. “Aafia loved animals,” she said.

Then she opened a more formal binder. She flipped to a grainy photocopy of a woman lying on a bed. The woman bore a striking resemblance to Siddiqui, only she looked younger and softer, as if she’d been airbrushed; sitting at her bedside was a young man—Fowzia wouldn’t say who—and mounted on a wall behind her was what appeared to be the seal of the United States government. The seal, Fowzia said, proved the picture was taken in Bagram, but she wouldn’t say why it proved this, and before I could inspect the image any further she flipped the page and wouldn’t let me look at it again. “I’d love it if a real investigator would come and devote himself to the case,” she said. “You know, really work on it.”

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SEE ALSO: Siddiqui, Aafia; Career as Pakistan’s chief justice; Disappeared persons; Chaudhry, Iftikhar Muhammad; Imprisonment; Military intelligence; Pakistan; Pakistanis; Political prisoners; Prevention; Prisoners and prisons; Terrorism; Trials (Murder); United States. Central Intelligence Agency; United States. Federal Bureau of Investigation; War on Terrorism, 2001-
Response: January 2010, page 5

http://www.harpers.org/archive/2009/11/0082719


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AMAZING SPEECH BY WAR VETERAN  Mike Prysner

Iraq WAR VETERAN Mike Prysner said:

“…the real terrorist was me and the real terrorism was this occupation (i.e Iraq) …

racism is a vital weapon employed by this government … the ruling class, the billionaires who profit from human suffering, care only about explaining their wealth, and controlling the world economy, …we need to wake up and realize that our real enemies are not in some distant land, they’re not people whose names we don’t know and cultures we don’t understand, the enemy is people we know very well and who we can identify, the enemy is a system that wages war when it is profitable, the enemy is a CEO who lays us off from our job when it is profitable, it is the insurance companies who deny us health care when it is profitable, it’s the banks who take away our homes when its profitable, our enemy is not 5000 miles away but they’re right here at home. If we  organize and fight with our brothers and sisters we can stop this war, we can stop this government,  and create a better world .

See it all at

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=akm3nYN8aG8

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A Different Concept of Justice

What’s Behind the New Mission in Afghanistan?

By MIKE PRYSNER

The Pentagon generals have warned that we should be braced for hundreds of U.S. casualties every month in this new phase of the war in Afghanistan.

We are told that we must risk life and limb—that tens of thousands of us must flood into Afghanistan, where U.S. casualties have skyrocketed year after year. The generals and politicians tell us we must die and be maimed to defeat an enemy, the Taliban, that threatens our “freedom” and our “way of life.”

And this is the main explanation and justification for why we must fight and die endlessly in Afghanistan: to drive the Taliban from any chance at political power, for their unacceptable Islamic extremism, anti-U.S. hatred, repression of women and friendship with al-Qaeda.

Why, then, at the same time we are being sent to kill and be killed in Afghanistan, are the politicians sitting down to dinner with the same people we are being sent to fight?

Are the Taliban and al-Qaeda the real reasons for the war on Afghanistan?

When President Obama announced the vast escalation of the war in Afghanistan, his speech made clear that the fate of the United States, and its allies around the world, rested with a U.S. victory in Afghanistan.

He invoked the 9/11 attacks and the fear of another al-Qaeda attack.

General Petraeus, General McChrystal and other Pentagon brass have openly admitted to the media that al-Qaeda is no longer operating in Afghanistan.

Although al-Qaeda claims to operate in approximately 100 different countries, the generals and politicians maintain that controlling Afghanistan is the key to preventing another al-Qaeda attack.

As former-President Bush explained in his announcement of the invasion of Afghanistan, it was not only al-Qaeda that needed to be defeated, but the Taliban government, which was supposedly equally responsible for the attacks. We were told by Bush, and now told the same story by Obama, that if the Taliban is not defeated they will allow al-Qaeda to return and launch more attacks against the United States.

The Taliban was once a friend of the U.S. government, emerging as an outgrowth of the brutal U.S.-funded and trained “Mujaheddin,” and continued to receive U.S. funding up until the 9/11 attacks. They had absolutely no role in the attacks, and in fact offered to extradite bin Laden to face trial. In their short history, the Taliban has never expressed any desire to attack the United States, and even today its leaders maintain that they have no interest in launching attacks against the United States—they are fighting to drive out what they rightfully see as a colonial-type occupation by foreign invaders.

We are expected to believe that it is just a coincidence that Afghanistan is an enormous economic prize for Wall Street and oil giants, and a significant geopolitical and military prize for the Pentagon. President Obama went so far as to state on national TV during his escalation speech that the United States is not an empire, not a colonizer.

But the U.S. relationship with the Taliban exposes the truth about U.S. foreign policy and military intervention: The war on “terrorism” is a war for colonial-style control of Afghanistan and Iraq and many other countries deemed important to a U.S.-dominated network of global domination. We live in the era of capitalism, which has as its natural extension the oppression of workers and whole peoples in the pursuit of profit and control of resources, markets and trade routes. Plain and simple: The United States is an imperialist country.

In 1996, when the Taliban was locked in a civil war with other factions vying for state power, U.S. officials began visiting the country. Among others, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Robin Raphel met with Taliban leaders. Her meeting reveals the true nature of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan.

She stated to those she met with that “we are … concerned that economic opportunities here will be missed, if political stability cannot be restored.” At that time it was unclear which faction would succeed in the civil war, and while the United States was supporting the Taliban, they wanted to chum it up with all factions—it is not the nature of the government that concerns U.S. imperialism; only whether or not the victors will be welcoming of the proposed “economic opportunities.”

The “economic opportunities” that Raphel was sent to Afghanistan to work out was a proposed gas pipeline that the oil giant Unocal wanted to build, that would spell hundreds of billions of dollars in profits for Unocal, countless other businesses that would cash in, and their paid representatives in Washington and in the Pentagon.

Afghanistan itself is rich in natural resources, and is in a key location for hugely lucrative oil pipelines. But more valuable is its positioning in the region, giving U.S. imperialism a crucial foothold to exert dominance over Central Asia, shifting the balance of power in favor of U.S. interests.

Permanent military bases in Afghanistan would allow Washington to dominate the region, in particular the natural gas-rich former Soviet republics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. Afghanistan’s western border is the Caspian Sea coast directly across from Azerbaijan, also brimming with oil profits. Each of these countries has a wealth of natural resources to be plundered by U.S. capital.

When the Taliban won state power, it eventually became clear that the vast “economic opportunities” that U.S. officials fantasized about would not be realized. The 9/11 attacks provided a pretext to seize control of the country.

The Bush administration arrogantly thought that Afghanistan would fall easily and become a new bastion of U.S. interests. Military bases in Afghanistan would secure those “economic opportunities” within its borders, and give the United States a launching pad to gain access to the economic opportunities throughout the region. But the excitement about the new balance of power in Central Asia was premature, as mounting resistance in both Afghanistan and Iraq began to crush the dreams of the Wall Street CEOs and their functionaries in the White House and the Pentagon.

Year after year, the resistance grew, as more and more Afghans were compelled to fight the occupation in response to endless bombings, raids and dead civilians.

By last year, it was clear that the U.S./NATO force was being defeated at the hands of not only the Taliban, but over 140 different armed organizations that sprouted out of the horrific conditions of living under occupation. When General McChrystal issued his assessment of the war effort after he took command, it was exceedingly grim, and predicted a complete U.S. defeat if there was not a dramatic shift in the size and scope of the operation.

Pentagon’s frustration leads to escalation

The new phase of the war will more than triple the size of the occupation, and focuses on storming urban centers and occupying the cities, as we have just witnessed in Marja. The generals have admitted that this new phase will be extremely bloody, as droves of young men and women will return from Afghanistan dead, maimed or psychologically disabled.

But the official posturing in relation to the Taliban has shifted significantly. The first phases of the war were characterized by chest-thumping slogans of “smoking them out of their caves” and “no mercy” for those who “harbor terrorists.” The media pumped out stories of the Taliban’s brutality to justify thousands of civilian deaths at the hands of the U.S. occupation.

In this new phase, however, the tone has changed. General McChrystal said recently that “if [the Taliban] want to fight, then obviously that will have to be an outcome. But if they don’t want to fight, that’s fine, too, if they want to integrate into the government.” A far cry from “no mercy.” (New York Times, Feb. 4)

On Jan. 8, a U.N. official met with several senior Taliban officials to discuss a deal with the U.S./NATO occupiers that includes giving the Taliban a place in the Afghan government. In addition to that meeting, the New York Times reported that U.S. officials are taking the first steps to push those talks forward.

Afghan puppet-President Hamid Karzai has also publicly confirmed that, acting as a functionary of Washington, he will begin begging the Taliban to make a few concessions in exchange for awarding them political power.

Over 1,000 U.S. troops have now perished in Afghanistan, and tens of thousands have endured life-changing injuries—they all died because they were told that driving the Taliban from the government was crucial to the safety of the United States.

So why the change? How come after eight years of ruthless battle, after thousands of dead civilians, after more than 1,000 dead GIs—all under the justification that the Taliban was unacceptable and had to be driven from any sliver of political power or influence—why now do the generals and politicians want to award them seats in the Afghan government?

Even with the 30,000 additional troops, the United States will not be able to defeat the Taliban. That is the reason for the change. Washington and the Pentagon are faced with the reality that they cannot win militarily in Afghanistan.

Because the real aim in Afghanistan is to create an area friendly to U.S. business interests and to secure military bases for future imperialist wars, a deal with the Taliban is on the table. The only political position that the U.S. government cares about is whether or not U.S. capitalism is allowed access—so if the Taliban will take seats in the government in exchange for making some concessions to U.S. interests, then the U.S. politicians and the Taliban can become friends once again.

But getting the Taliban to agree to a deal is not possible now—the Taliban are clearly winning the war, so it has no need to make concessions.

As Afghan puppet-President Hamid Karzai put it, striking a power-sharing deal with the Taliban is the new goal, but cannot happen “without an atmosphere conducive to it.” (McClatchy News, Feb. 8)

That “conducive atmosphere” means getting the Taliban into a defensive military position, where they are more likely to be receptive to a deal. That is what is behind the troop surge and the new strategy in Afghanistan.

We need a new independent fighting movement

The new strategy in Afghanistan, both the massive troop surge and attempts to rekindle the friendship with the Taliban, is a move of desperation on the part of the United States. It is the admission that the United States is losing the war, with fading hopes of regaining control.

The quagmire in Afghanistan, coupled with the devastating and deepening economic crisis here at home, puts the U.S. government in an increasingly fragile position. It is now, when they are in crisis, that a fighting mass movement of the people must emerge in order to take advantage of Washington’s plummeting credibility.

The current situation puts the people in a possibly much more advantageous position to force the war to end and win jobs, health care and more. Now is the time to capitalize on the mounting resistance to U.S. imperialism abroad and growing frustration with the capitalist system here at home.

On March 20, tens of thousands of people will take to the streets of Washington, D.C., San Francisco, and Los Angeles to say ‘NO’ to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and ‘YES’ to spending money on education, health care, and other human needs here at home.

Mike Prysner is an Iraq war veteran and co-founder of March Forward!, an organization of veterans and service members fighting to end the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq (www.MarchForward.org).

http://www.counterpunch.org/prysner03122010.html

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Meet Michae Prysner march forward ANSWER

Michael Prysner joined the U.S. Army when he was 17 years old, between his junior and senior year of high school.

Of his decision to join, Michael writes: “I was compelled to join the military for two distinct factors: the first was rooted in reality, realizing that I could not afford a college education, and my recruiters actively bolstered fears that nothing awaited after high school except economic hardship; the second was rooted in fantasy, believing that the U.S. government stood for freedom, justice and equality, and by serving in the U.S. military I would be a part of a heroic force for good in the world.”

Michael left for basic training in June 2001, and spent six months training at the U.S. Army Military Intelligence Academy, where he was taught to operate a radar system used to call air strikes and artillery barrages on vehicle convoys.

Of this experience, Michael writes: “Throughout the school, our instructors frequently referenced and praised the successful use of this system during the first Gulf War, which was actually the only time it had been used. It was used in the notorious massacre of the fleeing population, where the U.S. military destroyed every vehicle traveling on the highway, leaving behind hundreds of smoldering cars filled with families who were trying to escape the violence. This was the job I was trained to do in the military I had felt so honored to join: to use a computer to kill hundreds of innocent people. Our platoon’s motto was ‘Point, Click, Kill.’”

Michael was assigned to he 10th Mountain Division in Fort Drum, N.Y., and in March 2003 his company was attached to the 173rd Airborne Brigade to take part in the initial invasion of Iraq.

Of this experience, Michael wrote: “Once in Iraq, there was no computer screen separating me from the suffering civilian population. Because of the Bush administration’s failure to anticipate the resistance of the Iraqi people, there was an inadequate number of soldiers in my unit, and I ending up having to do a myriad of different jobs. I spent 12 months in Iraq, doing everything from prisoner interrogations, to ground surveillance missions, to home raids. It was my firsthand experiences in Iraq that radicalized me. I believed I was going to Iraq to help liberate and better the lives of an oppressed people, but I soon realized that my purpose in Iraq was to be the oppressor, and to clear the way for U.S. corporations with no regard for human life.

“I separated from the Army in 2005, by which time I had begun to make sense of my experiences in Iraq, and understood that the occupation I was a part of was a crime against humanity. I understood that illegal conquering of Iraq was for profit, carried out by a system that serves a tiny class of superrich whose endless drive for wealth is at the expense of working people in the United States and abroad.

“I left this Army with a new understanding of the system under which we all live, and the nature of U.S. foreign policy. But, I still had the same drive to fight for freedom, justice and equality as I did when I joined, and I understood that fighting for those things meant fighting against the U.S. government, not on behalf of it.”

http://www.pephost.org/site/PageServer?pagename=VSMTF_contact

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The Murder of Gul Rehman

01/04/10 – Asim Qureshi

Walking through a dilapidated mud-hut village in Peshawar, I was being directed by my guide to the home of Mohammed – the brother of Abdul Manan Gul Rehman. Fortunately I had remembered to wear my shalwaar-kamees, as wearing western clothes in the more conservative parts of Peshawar does not engender a great deal of respect. I had travelled around Peshawar before, in 2005 to be exact, and at that time there was little difficulty in moving about and people were very welcoming, no matter your origin or appearance. This time was very different.  For the first time I felt frightened of being in Pakistan – even my guide, a former Guantanamo prisoner himself,  was worried that we would be stopped at one of hundreds of checkpoints that had been established. I was there to meet with other former Guantanamo prisoners and to investigate the extent of disappearances within this part of the country – and it was for the latter purpose that I found myself making my way towards the family of Gul Rehman.

The room in the house that I was brought into was typical of some of the depravation that exists in this part of the world. Mohammed soon entered the room however and I was immediately reminded of what makes the Pashtun people so special: a majestic appearance coupled with an unassuming countenance and their hospitality of legend.

The family explained that Gul Rehman was an exceptional individual. He was known very well for his kindness and good nature to all, even those who would have disagreements with him. Mohammed explained,

“Abdul Manan[Gul] is younger than me; but we used to consider him like an elder. Whenever there was a dispute in the village, people would turn to him to help resolve the problem. Whenever his name is mentioned amongst the family, people can’t help but cry.”

The family’s history is not unfamiliar in the region: Gul Rehman’s father had been killed by the Soviets during the Afghan-Soviet war. The US government had supported the efforts of the mujahideen against the Soviet forces and Gul Rehman found himself joining the forces of Hizb-e-Islami under Gulbuddin Hikmatyar as they sought to liberate Afghanistan from foreign occupation. Following the Soviet defeat, Gul Rehman returned to a simple life selling wood in order to support his family. In the final year of the government under former mujahideen leader Burhanuddin Rabbani – an avowed opponent of Hikmatyar -,  Gul Rehman took up employment as the driver of Dr Ghairat Baheer, the Afghani ambassador to Pakistan and more signifcantly, the son-in-law of Hikmatyar.

Gul Rehman remained in the Baheer family’s employ as a driver until six months prior to his arrest. In October 2002, he returned to Islamabad to receive treatment at a hospital that specialised in allergies and fatefully stayed at the home of his former employer as a guest. His unfortunate visit coincided with a planned security service raid of Dr. Baheer’s home. Dr. Baheer spent the next six years held in US custody – mostly at the notorious Bagram detention facility in Afghanistan. Gul Rehman was not so fortunate.

According to an investigation by the Associated Press, there was a suggestion that Gul Rehman had a nom de guerre, ‘Abdul Manan‘ and that it was the name he used as part of alleged militant activities. However in an interview I conducted with Dr Baheer in 2008, he clarified, amongst other things, that ‘Abdul Manan’ was part of his full-name,

“It was at midnight that very night that people came to the home and arrested everyone, not just Gul Rehman and myself, but everyone, even the ones serving us tea. Only my wife and children were spared. After one week Gul Rehman and I were separated, we were met by American interrogators on that day and they asked me about Gul Rehman’s identity. I explained to them that his full name was Abdul Manan Gul Rehman and that in Afghan culture you often go by two or more names. They said to me that if I was afraid of him I should not worry as I would never see his face again and so I should just tell them the truth. I told them that I was not afraid of him as he was my driver and I had no cause to be afraid. They insisted that his name was not Abdul Manan and that it was Gul Rehman.

We were detained in a secret place and one day he was taken away in shackles and handcuffs and since then I have not seen him. There has been no correspondence between him and the family and he has not been seen by the ICRC, not in Bagram, not in the Dark Prison, and those released from Guantanamo knew nothing of him. It means that he has completely disappeared. The Americans have not given any indication that he was sick or that he died; there is complete silence from them.”

Since October 2002, no one had heard anything of Gul Rehman’s detention. Dr Baheer was convinced of his death as no word had reached him or the family of his detention. In Afghanistan most Afghani prisoners were able to get word out but there was no information to confirm the story either way. The family had approached both the Americans and the ICRC in order to find any piece of information that they could but met with no success.

When I met Mohammed in 2008, despite the tears in his eyes, he remained hopeful that one day he would see the brother who was so dearly beloved to all his family. He spoke of a man that completed the family and the deep sense loss they felt without him. Of all the things he mentioned though, the saddest and most telling was the statement of Gul Rehman’s daughters,

“If only we had been men! If only we had not be born as women! We would have taken up the cause of finding our father.”

Unfortunately for this family, finding their father was never an option. According to the Associated Press investigation revealed on 28 March 2010, Gul Rehman died in US custody on 20 November 2002, over a month after his detention. Their information suggests he was being detained in the Salt Pit (the infamous CIA ‘black site in Afghanistan) facility, left half-naked and in the cold where he died after being subjected to sustained period in freezing temperatures. The US authorities have never acknowledged killing him, relating the death to the family or even returning the body. Rather, the family has been left in limbo all these years, to wonder about when he will return to them.

The murder of Abdul Manan Gul Rehman stands as one of the many cases of the disappeared, which now plagues Pakistan and inflames the already volatile situation there. How many others who were handed over to US custody have been killed in a similar fashion? Cases like Masood Ahmad Janjua come to mind – a man who disappeared in 2005 into the custody of Pakistani security services and whose wife has been leading the fruitless struggle to uncover such disappearances. Could it be that he too has been killed by the US agencies and the family not informed of such a killing?

Instead of recognising the role that Gul Rehman played in helping to free Afghanistan from Soviet occupation, the Americans chose to subject him to the most inhumane of treatment – a treatment that resulted in his death. Although many will claim that his death was from a different period of the War on Terror, and that now such policies are not in place, the reality is that until this time, Gul Rehman’s death has been hidden. Such wanton disregard for human life will not go unnoticed and eventually will lead to further disaffection until people stop using terror in the name of fighting against it.

http://www.cageprisoners.com/articles.php?id=31210

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Not Just Guantanamo:

U.S. Torturing Muslim Pre-trial Detainee

in New York City

by Bill Quigley
April 3rd, 2010,
Dissident voice

Today in New York City, the U.S. is torturing a Muslim detainee with no prior criminal record who has not even gone to trial.

For the last almost three years, Syed Fahad Hashmi has been kept in total pre-trial isolation inside in a small cell under 24 hour video and audio surveillance. He is forced to use the bathroom and shower in full view of the video. He has not seen the sun in years. He takes his meals alone in his cell. He cannot see any other detainees and he is not allowed to communicate in any way with any prisoners. He cannot write letters to friends and he cannot make calls to anyone but his lawyer. He is prohibited from participating in group prayer. He gets newspapers that are 30 days old with sections cut out by the government. One hour a day he is taken into another confined room where he is also kept in total isolation.

Children are taught that the U.S. Constitution protects people accused of crimes. No one is to be punished unless their guilt or innocence has been decided in a fair trial. Until trial, people are entitled to the presumption of innocence. They are entitled to be defended by an attorney of their choice. And the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibits cruel and unusual punishment.

The punishment of Mr. Hashmi has been going on for years while he has been waiting for trial. In addition to the punitive isolation he is subjected to today, he was denied the attorney of his choice. He was allowed only counsel investigated and pre-approved by the government. He is not allowed to look at any translated documents unless the translator is pre-approved by the government. He is not allowed any contact with the media at all. One member of his family can visit through the heavy screen for one hour every other week unless the government takes away those visits to further punish him. The government took away his family visits for 90 days when he was observed shadow boxing in his cell and talked back to the guard who asked what he was doing.

If the Constitution prohibits cruel and unusual punishment, what is the impact of forced isolation? Medical testimony presented in his case in federal court concluded that after 60 days in solitary people’s mental state begins to break down. That means a person will start to experience panic, anxiety, confusion, headaches, heart palpitations, sleep problems, withdrawal, anger, depression, despair, and over-sensitivity. Over time this can lead to severe psychiatric trauma and harms like psychosis, distortion of reality, hallucinations, mass anxiety and acute confusion. Essentially, the mind disintegrates.

That is why, under international standards for human rights, extended isolation is considered a form of torture and is banned. The conditions and practices of isolation are in violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the U.N. Convention against Torture, and the U.N. Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

In 1995, the U.N. Human Rights Committee stated that isolation conditions in certain U.S. maximum security prisons were incompatible with international standards. In 1996, the U.N. special rapporteur on torture reported on cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment in U.S. supermax prisons. In 2000, the U.N. Committee on Torture roundly condemned the United States for its treatment of prisoners, citing supermax prisons. In May 2006, the same committee concluded that the United States should “review the regimen imposed on detainees in supermax prisons, in particular, the practice of prolonged isolation.”

John McCain said his two years in solitary confinement were torture. “It crushes your spirit and weakens your resistance effectively than any other form of mistreatment.” The reaction of McCain and many other victims of isolation torture were described in a 2009 New Yorker article on isolation by Atul Gawande. Gawande concluded that prolonged isolation is objectively horrifying, intrinsically cruel, and more widespread in the U.S. than any country in the world.

Who is this man? Syed Fahad Hashmi grew up in Queens and attended Brooklyn College. He became an outspoken Muslim activist. He moved to London and received a master’s degree in international relations there.

Yet the federal judge hearing his case continues to approve of the forced isolation and the rest of the restrictions on this presumably innocent man.

The reason that this is allowed to continue is that Hashmi is accused of being involved with al Qaeda.

Mr. Hashmi is accused of helping al Qaeda by allowing rain gear (raincoats, ponchos and socks) that were going to Afghanistan to be stored in his Queens apartment, he allowed his cell phone to be used to contact al Qaeda supporters and he made post-arrest threatening statements.

Supporters of Fahad have demonstrated outside his jail, set up a website and have worked for years to alert the public to his torture. Articles by Amy Goodman, Chris Hedges and Jeanne Theoharris have been written over the past several years documenting and protesting these human rights violations.

But, once accused of connections with terrorism or al Qaeda, apparently, the U.S. constitution and international human rights apparently do not apply. Torture by the U.S. is allowed. Pre-trial punishment is allowed. The presumption of innocence goes out the window. Counsel of choice is not allowed. Communication with news media not allowed.

Bill Quigley represented Pere Jean-Juste many times in Haiti along with the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux in Port au Prince and the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti. Bill is on leave from Loyola University College of Law in New Orleans serving as Legal Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights. He can be reached at: quigley77@gmail.com. Read other articles by Bill, or visit Bill’s website.

http://dissidentvoice.org/2010/04/not-just-guantanamo-u-s-torturing-muslim-pre-trial-detainee-in-new-york-city/

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Abu Zubaydah: Tortured for Nothing

http://www.andyworthington.co.uk

The story of Abu Zubaydah — a Saudi-born Palestinian whose real name is Zayn al-Abidin Muhammad Husayn — has always been absolutely central to the “War on Terror.” Seized in a house raid in Faisalabad, Pakistan on March 28, 2002, he was immediately touted as “al-Qaeda’s chief of operations and top recruiter,” who would be able to “provide the names of terrorists around the world and which targets they planned to hit.” He then pretty much vanished off the face of the earth for four and a half years.

In September 2006, he resurfaced in Guantánamo, when President Bush announced that he was one of 14 “high-value detainees,” previously held in secret CIA prisons, whose existence had been resolutely denied by the administration until that point.

In a speech on September 6, 2006, Bush finally conceded that “a small number of suspected terrorist leaders and operatives captured during the war [on terror] have been held and questioned outside the United States, in a separate program operated by the Central Intelligence Agency,” and claimed that when Abu Zubaydah, who he described as “a senior terrorist leader and a trusted associate of Osama bin Laden,” became “defiant and evasive” after his capture, “the CIA used an alternative set of procedures. These procedures were designed to be safe, to comply with our laws, our Constitution, and our treaty obligations. The Department of Justice reviewed the authorized methods extensively and determined them to be lawful.”

This was a reference to the CIA’s torture program for “high-value detainees,” which was first publicly revealed when a memo that purported to redefine torture so that it could be used by the CIA, written by Justice Department lawyer John Yoo and issued in August 2002, was leaked in the wake of the Abu Ghraib scandal in 2004.

However, another narrative had already appeared to challenge the one put forward by the President. In June 2006, Ron Suskind’s book The One Percent Doctrine was published, which explained, as I described it in an article a year ago, that:

Zubaydah “turned out to be mentally ill and nothing

like the pivotal figure they supposed him to be,”

in the words of Barton Gellman, who reviewed Suskind’s book for the Washington Post in 2006. He “appeared to know nothing about terrorist operations,” and was, instead, the “go-to guy for minor logistics — travel for wives and children and the like” …

Suskind described how, through a close scrutiny of his diaries, in which FBI analysts found entries in the voices of three people — a boy, a young man and a middle-aged alter ego — which recorded in numbing detail, over the course of ten years, “what people ate, or wore, or trifling things they said,” Dan Coleman, the FBI’s senior expert on al-Qaeda, told his superiors, “This guy is insane, certifiable, split personality.”

Since then, more and more compelling evidence has emerged to demonstrate that Abu Zubaydah was indeed nothing more than a “safehouse keeper” with mental health problems, who “claimed to know more about al-Qaeda and its inner workings than he really did,” and a “kind of travel agent” for would-be jihadists, who “was not even an official member of al-Qaeda.” This included Abu Zubaydah’s own testimony at his Combatant Status Review Tribunal at Guantánamo in 2007, when he stated that he was tortured by the CIA to admit that he worked with Osama bin Laden, but insisted, “I’m not his partner and I’m not a member of al-Qaeda.”

Moreover, following on from Ron Suskind’s explanation of how “The United States would torture a mentally disturbed man and then leap, screaming, at every word he uttered,” further confirmation was also provided that his torture yielded no significant information and led only to vast amounts of the intelligence agencies’ time being wasted on false leads. A year ago, summing up the results of Zubaydah’s torture, a former intelligence official stated, bluntly, “We spent millions of dollars chasing false alarms.”

In addition, the details of the torture program that was specifically developed for use on Abu Zubaydah have also been revealed — primarily through a leaked International Committee of the Red Cross report (PDF), based on interviews with the “high-value detainees,” including Abu Zubaydah, and also through other Justice Department “torture memos” released by the Obama administration last April. The grim list of techniques includes waterboarding (a form of controlled drowning), confinement in tiny, coffin-like boxes, prolonged sleep deprivation, prolonged isolation, and the use of violence and stress positions, sustained nudity, loud music and noise.

Given all these facts — that the Bush administration implemented torture for use on a man whose importance was hideously overstated, which led to no useful intelligence and a hideous waste of the agencies’ time — Abu Zubaydah’s story is one of the most distressing examples of hubris in the whole of the Bush administration’s brutally inept “War on Terror,” but his story has not come to an end, of course, and his continued detention, and the Obama administration’s attempts to justify it, continue to throw up new revelations, as was made clear just last week when a court submission filed by the government in September 2009 was unclassified.

In response to 213 requests by Abu Zubaydah’s lawyers for discovery in his habeas corpus petition, the government itself provided the most comprehensive rebuttal to date of the kind of claims put forward by the Bush administration in defense of its torture program, and, specifically, its claims regarding Abu Zubaydah, on the basis that requests for discovery are only relevant when they refer to claims made by the government.

In seeking to turn down the lawyers’ requests, the government revealed that it “has not contended … that Petitioner was a member of al-Qaeda or otherwise formally identified with al-Qaeda” and “has not contended that Petitioner had any personal involvement in planning or executing either the 1998 embassy bombings in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, or the attacks of September 11, 2001.”

Instead, the government now claims that the ongoing detention of Abu Zubaydah “is based on conduct and actions that establish Petitioner was ‘part of’ hostile forces and ‘substantially supported’ those forces,” and that he “facilitat[ed] the retreat and escape of enemy forces” after the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001.

In response, as Jason Leopold reported for Truthout:

Zubaydah’s attorneys claim that “the persons whom [Zubaydah] assisted in escaping Afghanistan in 2001 included ‘women, children, and/or other non-combatants’” and that the government has evidence to support those assertions. The lawyers also questioned the government’s history of falsehoods about their client.

“The Government’s accounts frequently have been at variance with the actual facts, and the government has generally been loath to provide the facts until forced to do so,” said Zubaydah’s attorney, Brent Mickum, in an interview. “When the Government was forced to present the facts in the form of discovery in Zubaydah’s case, it realized that the game was over and there was no way it could support the Bush administration’s baseless allegations. So it changed the charges.”

Mickum continued, “I’m not surprised at all that the Government has dropped the old charges against our client and is alleging new charges against him. That is their tried-and-true modus operandi … [W]hen their case falls apart, they re-jigger the evidence, and come up with new charges and [say] ‘we will defend the new charges with the same zeal we defended the earlier bogus charges.’”

Since taking up Abu Zubaydah’s case and filing a habeas corpus petition in February 2008, his lawyers have always maintained not only that their client was not a member of al-Qaeda, but also that Khaldan, the training camp for which he was the “safehouse keeper,” was closed down by the Taliban in 2000 after the camp’s leader refused to allow it to come under the control of Osama bin Laden. Even the government now accepts that Khaldan was “organizationally and operationally independent of al-Qaeda,” and as Brent Mickum told Jason Leopold, reviewing all of the above, “We have never deviated from that position, and now the government admits that we were correct all along.”

These extensive concessions on the part of the government seem only to reveal that the Justice Department is painting itself into a corner with Abu Zubaydah, engaged in a slow-moving legal process, which senior officials must be hoping can be strung out indefinitely. Otherwise, profoundly difficult truths will emerge — about the extent of Abu Zubaydah’s torture, its particular futility, and, it should be noted, his relationship to Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, the emir of Khaldan who turned down Osama bin Laden.

Rendered to Egypt after his capture at the end of 2001, al-Libi was tortured until he confessed that Saddam Hussein was helping al-Qaeda obtain chemical weapons, a wildly improbable scenario, which, nevertheless, was used to justify the invasion of Iraq in March 2003. What makes the revival of al-Libi’s story particularly unappealing for the US government is that, after years of detention in secret prisons, he was returned to Libya, where, last May, he conveniently died in prison — reportedly by committing suicide — just three days before the US embassy reopened in Tripoli after being closed for 40 years.

When it comes to dealing with Khaldan, the stories of Abu Zubaydah and Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi not only demonstrate the Bush administration’s legacy at its most toxic and self-defeating, but also at its most cruel and pointless, from which, it seems clear, there is no easy way out.

Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK). To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed (and I can also be found on Facebook and Twitter). Also see my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, updated in January 2010, details about the new documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (co-directed by Polly Nash and Andy Worthington, and launched in October 2009), and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.

As published exclusively on the website of the Future of Freedom Foundation.

For a sequence of articles dealing with the use of torture by the CIA, on “high-value detainees,” and in the secret prisons, see: Guantánamo’s tangled web: Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Majid Khan, dubious US convictions, and a dying man (July 2007), Jane Mayer on the CIA’s “black sites,” condemnation by the Red Cross, and Guantánamo’s “high-value” detainees (including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed) (August 2007), Waterboarding: two questions for Michael Hayden about three “high-value” detainees now in Guantánamo (February 2008), Six in Guantánamo Charged with 9/11 Murders: Why Now? And What About the Torture? (February 2008), The Insignificance and Insanity of Abu Zubaydah: Ex-Guantánamo Prisoner Confirms FBI’s Doubts (April 2008), Guantánamo Trials: Another Torture Victim Charged (Abdul Rahim al-Nashiri, July 2008), Secret Prison on Diego Garcia Confirmed: Six “High-Value” Guantánamo Prisoners Held, Plus “Ghost Prisoner” Mustafa Setmariam Nasar (August 2008), Will the Bush administration be held accountable for war crimes? (December 2008), The Ten Lies of Dick Cheney (Part One) and The Ten Lies of Dick Cheney (Part Two) (December 2008), Prosecuting the Bush Administration’s Torturers (March 2009), Abu Zubaydah: The Futility Of Torture and A Trail of Broken Lives (March 2009), Ten Terrible Truths About The CIA Torture Memos (Part One), Ten Terrible Truths About The CIA Torture Memos (Part Two), 9/11 Commission Director Philip Zelikow Condemns Bush Torture Program, Who Authorized The Torture of Abu Zubaydah?, CIA Torture Began In Afghanistan 8 Months before DoJ Approval, Even In Cheney’s Bleak World, The Al-Qaeda-Iraq Torture Story Is A New Low (all April 2009), Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi Has Died In A Libyan Prison , Dick Cheney And The Death Of Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, The “Suicide” Of Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi: Why The Media Silence?, Two Experts Cast Doubt On Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi’s “Suicide”, Lawrence Wilkerson Nails Cheney On Use Of Torture To Invade Iraq, In the Guardian: Death in Libya, betrayal by the West (in the Guardian here), Lawrence Wilkerson Nails Cheney’s Iraq Lies Again (And Rumsfeld And The CIA) (all May 2009) and WORLD EXCLUSIVE: New Revelations About The Torture Of Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi (June 2009), The Logic of the 9/11 Trials, The Madness of the Military Commissions (November 2009), UK Judges Compare Binyam Mohamed’s Torture To That Of Abu Zubaydah (November 2009), UN Secret Detention Report Asks, “Where Are The CIA Ghost Prisoners?” (January 2010), Binyam Mohamed: Evidence of Torture by US Agents Revealed in UK (February 2010). Also see the extensive archive of articles about the Military Commissions.

For other stories discussing the use of torture in secret prisons, see: An unreported story from Guantánamo: the tale of Sanad al-Kazimi (August 2007), Rendered to Egypt for torture, Mohammed Saad Iqbal Madni is released from Guantánamo (September 2008), A History of Music Torture in the “War on Terror” (December 2008), Seven Years of Torture: Binyam Mohamed Tells His Story (March 2009), When Torture Kills: Ten Murders In US Prisons In Afghanistan (July 2009), US Torture Under Scrutiny In British Courts (July 2009), What The British Government Knew About The Torture Of Binyam Mohamed (August 2009), Torture in Bagram and Guantánamo: The Declaration of Ahmed al-Darbi (September 2009), UK Judges Order Release Of Details About The Torture Of Binyam Mohamed By US Agents (October 2009), “Model Prisoner” at Guantánamo, Tortured in the “Dark Prison,” Loses Habeas Corpus Petition (December 2009), Dark Revelations in the Bagram Prisoner List (January 2010), and also see the extensive Binyam Mohamed archive.

And for other stories discussing torture at Guantánamo and/or in “conventional” US prisons in Afghanistan, see: The testimony of Guantánamo detainee Omar Deghayes: includes allegations of previously unreported murders in the US prison at Bagram airbase (August 2007), Guantánamo Transcripts: “Ghost” Prisoners Speak After Five And A Half Years, And “9/11 hijacker” Recants His Tortured Confession (September 2007), The Trials of Omar Khadr, Guantánamo’s “child soldier” (November 2007), Former US interrogator Damien Corsetti recalls the torture of prisoners in Bagram and Abu Ghraib (December 2007), Guantánamo’s shambolic trials (February 2008), Torture allegations dog Guantánamo trials (March 2008), Sami al-Haj: the banned torture pictures of a journalist in Guantánamo (April 2008), Former Guantánamo Prosecutor Condemns “Chaotic” Trials in Case of Teenage Torture Victim (Lt. Col. Darrel Vandeveld on Mohamed Jawad, January 2009), Judge Orders Release of Guantánamo’s Forgotten Child (Mohammed El-Gharani, January 2009), Bush Era Ends With Guantánamo Trial Chief’s Torture Confession (Susan Crawford on Mohammed al-Qahtani, January 2009), Forgotten in Guantánamo: British Resident Shaker Aamer (March 2009), A Child At Guantánamo: The Unending Torment of Mohamed Jawad (June 2009), Torture In Guantánamo: The Force-feeding Of Hunger Strikers (June 2009), As Judge Orders Release Of Tortured Guantánamo Prisoner, Government Refuses To Concede Defeat (Mohamed Jawad, July 2009), Torture And Futility: Is This The End Of The Military Commissions At Guantánamo? (September 2009), A Truly Shocking Guantánamo Story: Judge Confirms That An Innocent Man Was Tortured To Make False Confessions (Fouad al-Rabiah, September 2009), UK Court Orders Release Of Torture Evidence In The Case Of Shaker Aamer, The Last British Resident In Guantánamo (December 2009), Shaker Aamer: UK Government Drops Opposition To Release Of Torture Evidence (December 2009), Afghan Nobody Faces Trial by Military Commission (January 2010), Murders at Guantánamo: Scott Horton of Harper’s Exposes the Truth about the 2006 “Suicides” (January 2010), Two Algerian Torture Victims Are Freed from Guantánamo (January 2010), and the extensive archive of articles about the Military Commissions.

http://www.andyworthington.co.uk/2010/04/06/abu-zubaydah-tortured-for-nothing/

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Rendition and the “Global War on Terrorism”:

28 Nations Have Supported the US

in the Detention and Torture of “Suspects”

By Sherwood Ross

Global Research, April 1, 2010

Twenty-eight nations have cooperated with the U.S. to detain in their prisons, and sometimes to interrogate and torture, suspects arrested as part of the U.S. “War on Terror.”

The complicit countries have kept suspects in prisons ranging from public interior ministry buildings to “safe house” villas in downtown urban areas to obscure prisons in forests to “black” sites to which the International Committee of the Red Cross(ICRC) has been denied access.

According to published reports, an estimated 50 prisons have been used to hold detainees in these 28 countries. Additionally, at least 25 more prisons have been operated either by the U.S. or by the government of occupied-Afghanistan in behalf of the U.S., and 20 more prisons have been similarly operated in Iraq.

As the London-based legal rights group Reprieve estimates the U.S. has used 17 ships as floating prisons since 2001, the total number of prisons operated by the U.S. and/or its allies to house alleged terrorist suspects since 2001 exceeds 100. And this figure may well be far short of the actual number.

Countries that held prisoners in behalf of the U.S. based on published data are Algeria, Azerbaijan, Bosnia, Djibouti, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gambia, Israel, Jordan, Kenya, Kosovo, Libya, Lithuania, Mauritania, Morocco, Pakistan, Poland, Qatar, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Somalia, South Africa, Thailand, United Kingdom, Uzbekistan, Yemen, and Zambia. Some of the above-named countries held suspects in behalf of the Central Intelligence Agency(CIA); others held suspects in behalf the U.S. military, or both.

Francis Boyle, professor of international law at the University of Illinois, Champaign, termed the detention policies used by the U.S. “Crimes against Humanity”:

“These instances of the enforced disappearances of human beings and their consequent torture, because they are both widespread and systematic, constitute Crimes against Humanity in violation of the Rome Statute for the International Criminal Court, which have been ordered by the highest level officials of the United States government…”

Referring to President Bush and his principal advisers, Boyle continued, “Since these criminal activities took part in several states that are parties to the ICC Rome Statute, that renders these U.S. government officials subject to prosecution by the International Criminal Court on the grounds of territoriality of the offense, even though the United States is not a party to the Rome Statute.”

According to Human Rights Watch, as of Jan., 2004, the U.S. held detainees from 21 different countries including Algeria, Egypt, India, Iran, Iraq, Israeli-occupied Gaza and West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Sweden, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, the United Kingdom and Yemen.

The nations that cooperated with the U.S. to detain these prisoners have done so even though detainees commonly were held — in the words of an Associated Press report of Sept. 18, 2006 –“beyond the reach of established law.” Efforts by this reporter to learn from the Pentagon the total number of prisoners held captive and related information proved futile.

However, in Feb., 2005, Maj. Gen. Donald Ryder, Army Provost Marshal General, said, “In all, roughly 65,000 people have been screened for possible detention, and about 30,000 of those were entered into the system, at least briefly, and assigned internment serial numbers.” Possibly, to date, the U.S. and its allies have detained 100,000 suspects or more.

It is not known whether the customary legal rights of any of these tens of thousands of captives have been honored. But given the absence of due process, trials, and convictions compared to the vast numbers of those detained, the “War on Terror” takes on the appearance of a monumental fraud.

As Jane Mayer wrote in “The Dark Side” (Anchor Books), “Seven years after the attacks of September 11, not a single terror suspect held outside of the U.S. criminal court system has been tried. Of the 759 detainees acknowledged to have been held in Guantanamo, approximately 340 remained there, only a handful of whom had been charged. Among these, not a single ‘enemy combatant’ had yet had the opportunity to cross-examine the government or see the evidence on which he was being held.” Similarly, Nick Turse of TomDispatch.com reported U.S. intelligence officials themselves estimated that 70-90% of prisoners detained in Iraq “had been arrested by mistake.”

According to the German weekly Der Spiegel in a Dec. 10, 2005, article: “It is likely that nobody will ever know how many terror suspects abducted by the CIA have died in the torture chambers of Egyptian, Algerian, Syrian, or Saudi Arabian prisons.”

It was “because of the gruesome treatment of prisoners that made it expedient to remove suspects as much as possible from the responsibility of American judges. This practice gave birth to the Guantanamo prisoner camp, as well as a whole range of so-called black sites, or secret interrogation areas, where the CIA keeps its most valuable prisoners under continuous observation,” Der Spiegel said. Writing in The Washington Post on Nov. 2, 2005, Dana Priest put it this way: “It is illegal for the government to hold prisoners in such isolation in secret prisons in the United States, which is why the CIA placed them overseas, according to several former and current intelligence officials and other U.S. government officials. Legal experts and intelligence officials said that the CIA’s internment practices also would be considered illegal under the laws of several host countries, where detainees have rights to have a lawyer or to mount a defense against allegations of wrongdoing.”

In a concise observation that appears to summarize the U.S. campaign of detention, Patrick Quinn of the Associated Press wrote, “Captured on battlefields, pulled from beds at midnight, grabbed off streets as suspected insurgents, tens of thousands now have passed through American detention, the vast majority in Iraq. Many have said they were often interrogated around the clock, then released months or years later without apology, compensation, or any word on why they were taken.”

Clive Stafford Smith, legal director of British human rights group Reprieve, told the UK Guardian June 2, 2008: “By its own admission, the US government is currently detaining at least 26,000 people without trial in secret prisons, and information suggests up to 80,000 have been ‘through the system’ since 2001. The US government must show a commitment to rights and basic humanity by immediately revealing who these people are, where they are, and what has been done to them.” Note: The UN Commission on Human Rights asserts prolonged incommunicado detention itself can “constitute a form of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or even torture.”

A brief look at the prison operations of America’s accomplices follows:

AFGHANISTAN: Human Rights First says since Nov., 2001, the U.S. has operated approximately 25 detention facilities in Afghanistan. Secret prisons at Bagram Air Force Base include the “Dark Prison” and “Salt Pit.” It was in Salt Pit in Nov., 2002, that guards stripped an Afghan prisoner naked, chained him to the concrete floor and left him in below-zero temperatures all night. He was dead in the morning, Der Spiegel reported. Other prisons include Rissat and Rissat2, north of Kabul, and Prison Number 3. At Kandahar Air Force Base, U.S. army officers hung prisoners from the ceiling for days. At times, the prison held up to 40 detainees. Other Afghan sites include transient facilities near Asadabad, Gereshk, Jalalabad, Tycze, Gardez, and Khost. A federal Grand Jury in North Carolina indicted CIA contractor David Passaro for allegedly beating detainee Abdul Wali to death at Khost in June, 2003. Officials there also told the family of Sher Mohammed Khan he was killed by snakebite when his body showed marks of abuse. Another base, according to the Feb. 15, 2010, issue of The Nation, is Rish-Khor, an Afghan army facility atop a mountain overlooking Kabul. The magazine also reported there are nine Field Detention Sites the Red Cross is aware of that “are enveloped in a blanket of official secrecy.” There may, however, “be other sites whose existence on the scores of U.S. and Afghan military bases that dot the country have not been disclosed,” writes the magazine’s Anand Gopal. At Bagram, Gopal wrote, former detainees allege they were “regularly beaten, subjected to blaring music twenty-four hours a day, prevented from sleeping, stripped naked and forced to assume what interrogators term ‘stress positions.” It is routine to hold prisoners at Bagram for two or three years without access to lawyers, Red Cross, or their families. And the official U.S. detention center in Kandahar is known among former inmates as “Camp Slappy.”

AZERBAIJAN: prisoners have been detained in behalf of the U.S. in Baku, the capital. The country is known for imprisoning journalists and other critics, some of whom have been tortured and murdered by authorities.

ALGERIA: The U.S. transferred prisoners there from Guantanamo. Amnesty International has warned against transfer of prisoners to Algeria based on the country’s history of torture and warned “Algeria has become a prime ally of the United States (US) and other governments preoccupied with the so-called War on Terror.” According to Wikipedia, Manfred Nowak, a special reporter on torture, has catalogued in a 15-page U.N. report that the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and other nations have violated international human rights conventions by deporting terrorist suspects to countries such as Algeria.

BOSNIA: the Eagle Base in Tuzla is a black site. The British Telegraph said Eagle is part of a U.S. military facility where alleged Al-Qaeda members were tortured.

DIEGO GARCIA(UK): a British possession in the Indian Ocean the U.S. has transformed into a powerful military base to dominate the Middle East and Asia. Reportedly, the CIA has a facility there that was used in 2005-06 to hold Mustafa Setmariam Nasar, a Syrian-Spanish national. According to Reprieve, “the UK has a significant military and administrative presence on Diego Garcia, which has its own independent administration run by the East Africa Desk of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London.” Reprieve further stated, “In October, 2003, Time Magazine cited interrogation records from the US prisoner Hambali that had reportedly been taken on the island, while respected international investigators at the Council of Europe and the United Nations expressed similar suspicions. US officials went on to make seemingly careless public statements confirming the use of Diego Garcia for secret detentions.”

DJIBOUTI: said to have three CIA-run prisons, according to the UK Guardian. The former French foreign legion base Camp Lemonnier is a U.S. facility at Djibouti-Ambouli International Airport.

EGYPT: said to operate six prisons in behalf of the CIA, where numerous victims have been rendered, one of them being the General Intelligence Directorate in Cairo. U.S. officials are alleged to have participated in interrogation/torture sessions there where prisoners are hung from hooks and electrical shocks administered. On June 13, 2004, the UK Observer reported, “Egypt has also received a steady flow of militants from American installations.” The paper also identified Mulhaq al-Mazra prison as a facility used in behalf of the U.S.

ETHIOPIA: has held detainees on behalf of CIA. U.S. agents interrogated one man there for three months. An investigation by the Associated Press published April 3, 2007, found, “CIA and FBI agents hunting for al-Qaida militants in the Horn of Africa have been interrogating terrorism suspects from 19 countries held at secret prisons in Ethiopia, which is notorious for torture and abuse.” Three prisons are used for such purposes, the report said.

GAMBIA: in Banjul, the capital, safe houses in a residential area were used to jail Bisher Al-Rawi. He was also jailed in Guantanamo where he was said to be subjected to cold temperatures and had his prayer rug taken away when he tried to use it as a blanket.

GUANTANAMO: In addition to Camp Delta, a military prison, this base is the site of “Camp No” about a mile to the north, that is either CIA or under Joint Special Operations Command. It was to this camp, according to Harper’s, where three prisoners were taken and never again seen alive. In 2006, the UN called for closing Guantanamo. According to The Miami Herald’s Carol Rosenberg, (Jan. 29, 2010) Guantanamo has held about 770 prisoners since it opened eight years ago and nearly 580 have been released over the years. What’s more, a review by DOD and five other agencies agreed unanimously that “roughly 110” more are eligible for release, meaning there was not enough evidence on 690 of the 770 prisoners to prosecute them—further proof, if any is needed, of the fraudulent nature of the War on Terror. Amnesty International called for Guantanamo detainees to be either released from their “super max” high security cells or allowed to stand trial. Irene Khan, Amnesty International’s general secretary, termed Guantanamo “the gulag of our time.”

IRAQ: The U.S. and its allies have operated at least 20 prisons. In 2006, Human Rights First documented 98 deaths in U.S. custody there, including five in CIA custody. Every detainee in Iraq “is detained because he poses a security threat to the government of Iraq, the people of Iraq, or coalition forces,” said a spokesman for U.S.-led detainee operations in Iraq, Army Lt. Col. Keir-Kevin Curry. This statement is hard to credit as virtually all of the tens of thousands of persons arrested have never been charged with an offense and the vast majority of them have been let go. Scott Horton wrote in Harper’s that the U.S. “is holding 19,000 Iraqis at its two main detention centers, at Camp Cropper and Camp Bucca.” Horton noted Iraqi law requires any detention to be justified before a magistrate in a matter of only a few days but the U.S. has “complete contempt for the requirements of Iraqi law.” It should be noted that Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki’s government complained U.S. detention violates Iraq’s national rights. In March, 2006, UN Secy.-Gen. Kofi Annan said the extent of arbitrary detention in Iraq is “not consistent with provisions of international law governing internment on imperative reasons of security.” Since, as of this January, the U.S. is said to hold only 5,000 detainees in Iraq, apparently tens of thousands of persons have been released without ever being charged. Between June, 2004, and Sept., 2006, alone, the U.S. released some 18,700 Iraqi detainees, according to a reliable source.

This points to a massive conspiracy to deprive innocent people of their rights by the U.S. on a scale not seen since the U.S. interned its own Japanese-American population during World War II. “It was hard to believe I’d get out,” Baghdad shopkeeper Amjad Qassim al-Aliyawi, told the Associated Press after his release, without charge. “I lived with the Americans for one year and eight months as if I was living in hell.” It was in the U.S. Forward Operating Rifles Base in Al Asad where Abdul Jaleel was murdered in Jan., 2004, after being beaten and tied by his hands to the top of a door frame. At the U.S. detention facility in Al Qaim, Baghdad, former Iraqi Major-General Abed Hamad Mowhoush, was tortured and smothered to death in Nov., 2003. At Camp Bucca, in the southern desert, said to hold 9,500, detainees were forcibly showered with cold water and exposed to cold air. At Site 4, a prison run by Iraq’s Ministry of Interior and which in May, 2006, held some 1,431 detainees, there was evidence of systematic physical and psychological abuse and in a prison in the Green Zone run by Baghdad Brigade detainees suffered severe ill treatment.

At the notorious Abu Ghraib, Ms. Umm Taha, an Iraqi woman detainee, told of tortures she witnessed. Soldiers made prisoners stand one leg “then they kicked them to make them fall to the ground.” She said she watched GI Lynndie England use a rubber glove to snap the detainees on their genitals. “The soldiers also made all the men lay on the ground, face down, spread their legs, then men and women soldiers alike kicked the detainees between their legs. I can still remember their screaming.” Ms. Taha was interviewed by Nagem Salam, an American journalist, according to Islam Online of June 14, 2004. At its peak occupancy in 2004, Abu Ghraib, also known also known as the Baghdad Central Correctional Facility, was said to hold 7,000 prisoners. At Al-Jadiriya prison, in Baghdad many prisoners were detained off the books, and at least 168 unlawfully detained were abused there. Among the main detention facilities in Iraq are Camp Redemption and Camp Ganci, both located at Abu Ghraib, as well as Camp Cropper, near the Baghdad Airport. Other major facilities include Camp Bucca in Umm Qasr and Talil Air Force Base south of Baghdad, also known as Whitford Camp. Additional Iraqi bases where prisoners were held included Al-Rusafa, Al-Kadhimiyya, and Al-Karkh, in Baghdad and Camp Falcon, near Baghdad; the Al-Diwaniyya Security Detainee Holding Area; Ashraf Camp MEK near Al-Ramadi; FOB Tiger in Anbar province; an FOB near Al-Asad, outside Mosul; a temporary holding camp near Nasiriyah; an FOB in Tikrit, in northern Iraq; Al-Qasr al-Jumhouri and Al-Qasr al-Sujood. Another facility, Camp Sheba, is under British command.

According to GlobalSecurity.org, Camp Whitehorse is a Marine-run detention site near Nasiriyah in Southern Iraq: “Prisoners were held at Whitehorse until they could be interrogated by a Marine ‘human exploitation team,’ which would determine whether the detainees should be released or transferred elsewhere. Prisoners were forced to stand 50 minutes of every hour, in heat sometimes topping 120 degrees, for up to 10 hours at a time. Prisoners were forced to stand until interrogators from the Human Exploitation Team arrived. If the team failed to get the information it wanted, prisoners were forced to continue standing.” GlobalSecurity.org reported further, “In October 2003 the US military charged eight US Marine reservists, including two officers, with brutal treatment of Iraqi prisoners of war that may have resulted in the death of one Iraqi man. The eight fought in Iraq as part of the First Marine Division and were detailed to guard prisoners at Camp Whitehorse. Military prosecutors allege that an Iraqi man named Nagem Sadoon Hatab died at Camp Whitehorse in early June 2003 following a possible beating by US guards.”

ISRAEL: “Thanks to the Israeli paper Haaretz,” wrote Reporter Tom Engelhardt of TomDispatch.com of Nov. 2, 2006, “we learned for the first time that at least some CIA rendition flights stopped at Ben-Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv on their way to and from Cyprus, Jordan, Morocco, and other spots east and west, north and south — and that the first case ‘of the United States handing Israel a world jihadi suspect’ in a rendition operation has been confirmed.”

JORDAN: Abducted men rendered by CIA were held in Jordan’s General Intelligence Department (GID) in Amman. One detainee said his experience was “beyond description.” On June 13, 2004, the UK Observer reported prisoners were also held “in desert locations in the east of the country.” Al Jafr Prison, in the southern Jordanian desert, has held prisoners for the U.S. In the Israeli publication Ha’aretz, an article in Oct., 2004, said the CIA was holding 11 high-level Al Qaeda prisoners incommunicado in Jordan. The Jordanian government flatly denies there are any U.S. detention facilities in Jordan. One of the 11 is said to have been Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the hijacked airliner attacks on New York and Washington. Citing international intelligence sources, Ha’aretz said: “Their detention outside the U.S. enables CIA interrogators to apply interrogation methods that are banned by U.S. law, and to do so in a country where cooperation with the Americans is particularly close, thereby reducing the danger of leaks.”

KENYA: Detained 84 captives for the U.S. in Nairobi with no opportunity to challenge their detention. One captive, Mohamed Ezzoueck, a Britsh national, was detained at three different police stations in Nairobi, and also at a military police station located near Kiunga. Suspects “disappeared” in 2007 in the region were believed to have been interrogated by the CIA and FBI.

KOSOVO: CIA-operated Camp Bondsteel, a black site; was said by some, including an official of the European Commission on Human Rights, to be similar in design to Guantanamo. The British Telegraph reported alleged members of Al-Qaeda were questioned and tortured at Bondsteel.

LIBYA: Since 2004, for example, the CIA has handed five Libyan fighters to authorities in Tripoli. Two had been covertly nabbed by the CIA in China and Thailand, while the others were caught in Pakistan and held in CIA prisons in Afghanistan, Eastern Europe and other locations, according to Libyan sources, Craig Whitlock reported in The Washington Post of October 27, 2007.

LITHUANIA: The CIA operated a prison in a riding academy in Antaviliai, on the outskirts of capital Vilnius. Lithuania held eight terror suspects there for the CIA.

MAURITANIA: CIA reportedly operated one detention facility there. In an article in the June 25, 2007, The New Yorker, investigative reporter Seymour Hersh wrote: “I was told by the former senior intelligence official and a government consultant that after the existence of secret C.I.A. prisons in Europe was revealed, in the Washington Post, in late 2005, the Administration responded with a new detainee center in Mauritania. After a new government friendly to the U.S. took power, in a bloodless coup d’état in August, 2005, they said, it was much easier for the intelligence community to mask secret flights there.”

MOROCCO: Held CIA detainees at a prison in al-Temara. The CIA rendered Binyam Mohamed, a British citizen, to Morocco, where he was moved around to three different prisons. Abou Elkassim Britel, an Italian and Moroccan, was tortured at al-Temara. The prison is located in a forest five miles outside of Rabat, the capital. It was in Morocco that Binyam Mohamed, an Ethiopian-born British resident arrested in Pakistan in 2002 was tortured by interrogators who sliced his penis with a scalpel and later transferred him to Guantanamo Bay. He was freed in Feb., 2009, without charge and allowed to return to England. The London Sunday Times reported Feb. 12, 2006, that Morocco “is one of America’s principal partners in the secret ‘rendition’ programme in which the CIA flies prisoners to third countries for interrogation.” The paper said Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have compiled dossiers “detailing the detention and apparent torture of radical Islamists at the DST’s current headquarters, at Temara, near Rabat.” DST is the Moroccan secret police.

PAKISTAN: Human Rights Watch said men claimed the U.S. tortured them when detained there in behalf of the CIA. Several hundred suspects were seized in Pakistan in 2001-2002 and held in prisons in Kohat and Peshawar. Prisoners also held in an old fortress outside of Lahore; in the military barracks in Islamabad. It was in Islamabad that Moazzam Begg was held and severely tortured. At one villa in central Peshawar run by U.S. authorities, prisoners were beaten regularly. Another facility in Peshawar was underground where Americans did all the interrogating. A black prison was also reported to be in Alzai. Seymour Hersh received a report in May, 2005 of “800-900 Pakistani boys 13-15 years of age in custody.”

POLAND: The CIA operated a black prison from 2003 to 2005 where eight “high value” detainees were held in the village of Kiejkuty. One of them was said to be Khalid Sheik Mohammed, alleged 9/11 mastermind, who was severely tortured.

QATAR: The UK Observer reported on June 13, 2004, “Scores more (terror suspects) are thought to be at a US airbase in the Gulf state of Qatar…”

ROMANIA: Three CIA detention centers operated there, including one in downtown Bucharest and one in Timisoara.

SAUDI ARABIA: Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, was convicted in U.S. federal court in Nov., 2005, on charges of conspiracy to commit terrorism. Amnesty International said his trial was flawed as prosecution relied largely on evidence obtained when he was flogged and beaten by the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Interior’s General Intelligence while imprisoned with apparent U.S. knowledge. In Saudi Arabia, the UK Observer reported on June 13, 2004, “CIA agents are allowed to sit in on some of the interrogations.”

SYRIAN ARAB REPUBLIC: The CIA rendered a number of captives to Far Falestin prison. Canadian Maher Arar was held there were he was tortured with cables and electrical cords. When the Canadian government found Arar was tortured, the Prime Minister apologized to him and Canada paid him $10.5-million in compensation plus legal fees. UK Observer reported June 13, 2004, “In Syria, detainees sent by Washington are held at ‘the Palestine wing’ of the main intelligence headquarters and a series of jails in Damascus and other cities.”

SOMALIA: Suleiman Abdallah, never charged, was arrested in Somalia and held there for a short time by warlord Mohammed Dere, allegedly working for the U.S., and later interrogated by CIA and FBI. Another captive, Mohamed Ezzoueck, a British subject, was held at the Army base in Baidoa, Somalia, but never charged.

SOUTH AFRICA: UK Guardian reported Jan. 23, 2009, that South Africa has two CIA “black sites.”

THAILAND: One of the first CIA black sites known as “Cat’s Eye” is located outside of Bangkok. Al-Qaeda operatives were flown there to be interrogated and tortured, including waterboarding. Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri were videotaped there. Some 92 videotapes were made and stored and subsequently destroyed by the CIA. In 2005 ABC News reported Zubaydah was held in an unused warehouse on an airbase where he was made to stand in a cold cell and waterboarded.

UZBEKISTAN: The New York Times reported in May, 2005, the U.S. had sent dozens of suspects to Tashkent.

YEMEN: U.S. handed over prisoners, including some from its Bagram prison, to Yemen, where they allegedly were tortured.

ZAMBIA: According to UK’s Guardian Jan. 23, 2009, Zambia is one of countries with a CIA secret prison facility.

In addition to the prisons in the above-cited nations, the U.S. operates a number of illegal floating prisons.

U.S. PRISON SHIPS: On June 2, 2008 UK’s Guardian reported, “The US has admitted that the Bataan and Peleliu were used as prison ships between December 2001 and January 2002”. According to Reprieve, the U.S. may have used 17 ships as “floating prisons” since 2001. Detainees are interrogated on ships and may be rendered to other, undisclosed locations. Reprieve expressed concern over the time the U.S.S. Ashland spent off Somalia in early 2007. According to The Guardian, “At this time many people were abducted by Somali, Kenyan and Ethiopian forces in a systematic operation involving regular interrogations by individuals believed to be members of the FBI and CIA. Ultimately more than 100 individuals were ‘disappeared’ to prisons in locations including Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Guantanamo Bay. Reprieve believes prisoners may have also been held for interrogation on the USS Ashland and other ships in the Gulf of Aden during this time.”

The U.S. Navy, through a spokesman, said, “There are no detention facilities on US navy ships” but Commander Jeffrey Gordon told The Guardian some individuals had been put on ships “for a few days” during initial days of detention.

Reprieve quoted one prisoner released from Guantanamo who was on one of the U.S. ships who said there were 50 other prisoners in cages in the bottom of the ship and they were beaten even more severely than in Guantanamo. Clive Stafford Smith, Reprieve’s legal director, is quoted as saying, “They choose ships to try to keep their misconduct as far as possible from the prying eyes of the media and lawyers. We will eventually reunite these ghost prisoners with their legal rights.”

From all of the above, it would be difficult to conclude anything other than that the U.S., with the help of a score of other nations, illegally seized and then processed countless innocent persons from the Middle East who were held incommunicado in scores of facilities where they were abused, tortured, denied all legal rights, and where approximately 100 of them that we know of died in Iraq alone, probably the victims of homicide.

Professor Boyle of the University of Illinois said he would submit the findings of this article to the Prosecutor of the ICC in support of his previous Complaint calling on the ICC to open “an international criminal investigation of these (President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, etc.) former U.S. governmental officials.”

Sherwood Ross is an award-winning journalist who formerly reported for the Chicago Daily News and worked as a columnist for several wire services. Reach him at sherwoodross10@gmail.com. Ross wishes to express his gratitude to the journalists whose works he quoted for their original research that exposed the conditions in prisons described above, and particularly to the Associated Press.


Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Centre for Research on Globalization. The contents of this article are of sole responsibility of the author(s). The Centre for Research on Globalization will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article.

© Copyright Sherwood Ross, Global Research, 2010
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Hatred and Another Agenda A Response by Moazzam Begg
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26/02/2010

By Moazzam Begg

In the Name of Allah Most Compassionate Most Merciful

I had not imagined that the poorly researched Sunday Times article last week with the suggestion that it promised to expose a tangible link between Amnesty International, the Taliban and I was actually a prelude to something far more sinister against Cageprisoners and I in the days to come.

What I’ve found most puzzling about this whole episode is the timing and what the argument claims to be about. So here I wish to point out some glaring facts that have been purposefully neglected by those leading the charge against me, including I’m afraid, Gita Sahgal, who I’d really hoped would have applied a little more wisdom before she began her crusade.

The first and only time I’ve ever met Ms. Sahgal was on a BBC Radio 4, Hecklers programme hosted by Mark Easton, in 2006. She made a presentation which alleged that the Blair government was pandering to fundamentalists in its fight against terrorism by engaging with groups like the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) – who she alleged were linked to ‘some of the most dangerous movements of our time’. Responding to her I joined a panel that included Daud Abdullah (MCB), Tariq Ramadan, Tahmina Saleem of the Islamic Society of Britain (ISB) and Nazir Ahmad of the House of Lords.

Ms Sahgal now avers that Amnesty’s relationship is damaged through association with me but, her ideas seemed a little more paradoxically amenable when I suggested that her thesis was flawed because the MCB, ISB, Mr. Ramadan and Ahmed – with all due respect – were largely regarded as sell-outs by some of the very people we needed to engage. I gave her the example of the British government’s banning the BBC from broadcasting Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams’ voice during the Irish ‘Troubles’. I said, based on this experience that the government should in fact be speaking to people like Abu Qatadah, no matter how unpalatable that sounded. Ms Sahgal responded unexpectedly by saying she had no quarrel with my analysis.

So if Gita Sahgal in fact does not oppose dialogue with ‘extremists’ then why all this fuss now? I have been harking on about engagement for years. This seems even more bizarre because only a couple of weeks ago Gordon Brown met in London with Hamid Karzai and outlined a new policy to engage with the Taliban. How ludicrous it seems therefore that I am described the very next week as ‘Britain’s most famous supporter of the Taliban’. Does anyone really believe this? Surely if that was the case I’d have been invited to the discussions with Messrs. Brown and Karzai about talking to the Taliban, being their ‘most famous supporter’?

If this matter was not so serious I’d be rolling over in laughter. But it is – deadly serious. Over the past few days we have received numerous death threats at Cageprisoners – and this is just the beginning. No doubt, the police will be trawling through the copious hate-mongering posts on right-wing, anti-Muslim blogs but, I doubt that will solve anything.

I think much of it can be traced back to when Cageprisoners launched a report on the detention of terrorism suspects in the UK last year entitled Detention Immorality, which was hijacked by a seemingly unhinged lawyer-cum-blogger who has openly stated that he aims to destroy Cageprisoners and me – though I still don’t understand why. He regularly blogs and cross-posts attacks against Cageprisoners, Islamic organisations and me – amongst others – in an effort to ‘expose’ us. But that is only a part of the problem.

In a BBC discussion with my colleague, Asim Qureshi, last week Ms Sahgal said, “I feel “profoundly unsafe…talking to Asim Qureshi and Moazzam Begg, but I’m more than willing to meet them.” This sits very strangely with the fact that Asim was already seated next to her during the discussion and, that she expressed no such sentiment when she actually did meet me in 2006. In reality it is we who are and have been living in fear for a very long time. We are afraid not only of Britain’s anti-terror measures, which are amongst the most draconian in the world – that would see, for example, a girl convicted of terror offenses for writing poetry – but, we have to accept on a daily basis, the vilification of all things Muslim by certain politicians, a public that increasingly sees Muslims as a ‘fifth column’, fuelled by a media and blogosphere that vilifies us as a matter of routine. Still, I’d be more than happy to sit with Ms.Sahgal, safety permitting, and put to her some of the things I’ve written here.

I could insist that she first disassociate from the support and association she has from the pro-war lobby as they have cemented and justified, through the media, illegal wars of occupation which have led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people and created severe human rights abuses for many – not least women – or, her status as universal human rights advocate should be publicly called into question. However, it is my code of life that my oppressor does not become my teacher. And guilt by association does not mean  moral bankruptcy. I am more interested in the work I do – and I had hoped the same of Ms. Sahgal, a lot of whose work she might be surprised to discover I would support.

In May last year I appeared alongside Colonel Tim Collins (famous for the stirring speech he gave to British soldiers on the eve of the 2003 Iraq invasion) on a televised panel discussion about Barack Obama’s attempt to censor the publication of photographs of alleged prisoner abuse which included images of apparent rape and sexual abuse of Iraqi women by US soldiers. Col. Collins opined that these pictures should be made public so that the world becomes aware of the abuses and that the culprits are brought to book. Again, there was a deafening silence on this issue – especially from the journalists who promoted the war, the same ones who now champion Ms.Sahgal’s work on women’s rights.

Sadly, Ms. Sahgal, and subsequent columnists and bloggers, have wilfully misled people into believing that I am somehow opposed to women’s rights. During the mid-90s I took several aid convoys to Bosnia, motivated to help the people there after genocide, ethnic cleansing and mass rape was used as a weapon of war against women. Bizarrely, my decision to go there too has been described as part of a mindless ‘jihadist’ fantasy, overlooking completely that an entire Muslim population, in the heart of Europe, was being systematically put to the sword, under the noses and ‘protection’ of European nations.

It is by now public knowledge that I was involved in the establishing and running of a school for girls in Kabul, Afghanistan, during the rule of the Taliban. The Taliban did not give us a licence to operate but, neither did they impede us from having the school – openly – or from having the girls collected to and from the school in buses clearly marked with the name of the girl’s school. There is a deliberate attempt by my detractors to neglect this point each time I mention it – and I can only assume why: it doesn’t fit the stereotype, or the agenda. Then there is the repeated allegation that because I went to live in Afghanistan – with my wife and children – I deserve what happened to me because I chose to live under a regime that was known for abusing women’s rights – amongst other things. I have never denied the Taliban were guilty of abusing women’s rights, but my presence there should not be equated as an endorsement of their views regarding them. A similar charge however is not put to the numerous white, Caucasian and non-Muslim NGO workers who were living there during the time of the Taliban – sometimes with their families – well before I ever arrived. I wonder why?

It might come as a surprise to some that the executive director of Cageprisoners for over six years was a Muslim woman – someone who was regarded as the backbone of the organisation and an immense source of pride for us all. Since my return from Guantanamo Cageprisoners and I have been very closely involved in organisations which assist the silent victims of anti-terror measures (utilised against men detained without charge): their wives and children. These organisations help to empower women to face the harsh reality of life without a partner.  Cageprisoners’ patron, Yvonne Ridley, has been the most active and vociferous in this regard whilst I am a patron of one of these support groups for women. But what support, if any, have this section of our population received from the great women’s rights defenders who claim to champion their cause?

I’m not sure why, after having spent years in Bagram and Guantanamo and being subjected to innumerable human rights violations and abuses – including witnessing two murders – I might be expected to be an expert on women’s issues, especially when almost every single prisoner I encountered was male, even though some of the abuses were carried out by female soldiers. There was however, one woman whose screams I still hear sometimes in my head. I was led to believe she was my wife being tortured in the next room while photographs of her and my children were waved in front of me as I lay tied to the ground with guns pointing at me and interrogators asking: “What do you think happened to them the night we took you away? Do you think you’re going to see them again?”

Several months later I received news via the ICRC that my wife and kids were, thankfully, safe but, I knew the screams had been real, that it had been somebody’s wife, sister, daughter or mother I had heard. After my return from Guantanamo I began investigating who that person might have been but have been unsuccessful in my findings. However, through my own investigations I discovered that there was a female prisoner once held in Bagram and her number was 650. After years of denial of the existence of women prisoners the US administration finally admitted that there had indeed been a female held in Bagram – but only after I’d asked a colleague to request the US administration’s official policy on detaining women in Afghanistan.

Shortly after his return from Guantanamo Binyam Mohamed told me that he believed prisoner 650 was in fact Dr. Aafia Siddiqui. This is the same Dr. Siddiqui that last week’s Times extraordinarily provides as evidence of Cageprisoners campaigns for convicted terrorists. (And while I’m making the point, Cageprisoners has not campaigned for anyone who has received a fair, transparent and appropriate sentence as a result of proper due process. As I’ve stated previously that Cageprisoners is an information portal which merely carries information and reports on the cases of all held as part of the War on Terror. In no place does Cageprisoners ever claim that some of these convicted prisoners are “innocent” or faced a “miscarriage of justice”. Cageprisoners has raised the cases of those held under control orders, deportation, detention without trial, US extradition – making them no different from other human rights organisations that similarly do not face the same accusations as a result. The people we do campaign for are highlighted clearly on our campaigns page on the site. But we also recognise that not everyone who is convicted of terrorism is always necessarily an ‘embodiment of evil’ – Nelson Mandela serves as the greatest reminder of that).

In October last year I attended a conference in Malaysia where I met survivors of the Abu Ghraib prison. Amongst them was a woman who told me about some extremely disturbing experiences she and others had gone through. She now runs a woman’s refuge in Syria for Iraqi refugees. Cageprisoners intends to do more work on the cases of such women and it is an issue I discussed with some Amnesty UK members who were very keen to bring her over and start highlighting issues related to sexual violence against women during incarceration. In fact, I discussed this issue at the Amnesty Human Rights Action Centre only in November on a panel with Professor Joanna Bourke, who spoke about ‘Sexual Violence in the War on Terror’. Ms. Sahgal, oddly, was nowhere to be seen. After countless events with Amnesty– or any of the 600 plus I’ve spoken at around the country – I’ve still never encountered Ms. Sahgal since meeting with her in 2006 when she had “no quarrel with my views”.

I may be no expert on women’s rights issues but I think I have a little idea and sympathy to some of their causes – as a husband and father. Take Johina Aamer for example, a 12 year old girl whose father, Shaker Aamer, has been held for over eight years without charge or trial in Guantanamo. Johina’s mother has undergone repeated psychiatric treatment since her husband’s abduction all those years ago. I went with Johina, Vanessa Redgrave, Victoria Brittain, Helena Kennedy, Gareth Peirce, Kate Hudson and Kate Allen to Downing Street so she could deliver a letter to the Prime Minister, asking that her father finally be allowed home. None of those who attack me now were there – from media or otherwise – to show their support for this innocent little girl. That really is shameful, because this is the sort of thing they are opposing when they address my relationship with Amnesty.

There is another charge implicitly laid against me (and Cageprisoners): that I am only concerned with the rights of Muslims. Just a few months after my release from Guantanamo I saw on the television images of four hostages in Iraq, dressed in orange Guantanamo-like suits, facing threats of execution.  I contacted all the former Guantanamo prisoners I knew and issued a televised and written statement in all our names calling for their release: Sadly, the only American hostage was killed but, the others, a Briton, an Australian and a Canadian (all non-Muslims) all lived and are safely back home. All of them have written to me the warmest messages of support I’ve ever read. I told them it was the orange suits that did it.

I find incredible too that there a new re-reading of my book, Enemy Combatant, – after having been in print for over four years – as some kind of handbook for the propagation of the Taliban, fanaticism and a latent Islamic extremism. That sits very peculiarly with the fact that it has received very positive reviews from the likes of Tony Benn, Jon Snow, David Ignatius (Washington Post), Yasmin Alibhai-Brown (The Independent) and, ironically, Christina Lamb (Sunday Times). Did I fool them all? The book – and I – has been scrutinised at every literary festival I can think of, from Hay-on-Wye to Edinburg and Dartington to Keswick. The common response I get is that it (and I) lacks bitterness, is devastatingly reasonable, conciliatory in nature and as Desmund Tutu says: I feel that Enemy Combatant has the capacity to win hearts and minds.

Unfortunately some minds are not accompanied by hearts in order that they can be won. I would have thought that the pioneering work done by Cageprisoners and myself might also have served to create more understanding and less hatred by engaging in dialogue with former US soldiers and interrogators – but I seem to have been proved wrong. Up until now I have spoken all around the country addressing over 50,000 people with a view to educate, debate, understand and be understood so that hatred is eroded through interaction and knowledge.

The numbers of people who have told me they’ve been inspired to learn more, get involved, join human rights groups like Amnesty International, raise awareness and develop a new and nuanced understanding is countless. But, in spite of all the blatant anti-Muslim feeling and the rise of the far-right Islamophobic sentiments it is only now, after this episode with Ms. Sahgal and her protagonists, that I am reconsidering my entire approach towards engagement and dialogue to create understanding and acceptance. The fact is the climate of fear has just been raised a level – and I am no longer immune. I will continue to campaign for the men suffering in the concentration camps of Bagram, Guantanamo and the secret prisons. But withdrawal to a place of safety, my own Muslim community, seems to be the best option right now. It seems, at least to some, that engagement has its limits.

Before I do though it is worth noting how we have reached this point.

The Times led the libellous charge straight after the failed Detroit bomb plot by suggesting that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab had become radicalised by attending a couple of Cageprisoners’ lectures, without offering one shred of evidence, and once again, choosing to completely ignore Cageprisoners’ response. This charge was parroted again last week in David Aaronovitch’s contribution to the attack.

A quick look at how the Sunday Times has dealt with the latest issue almost beggars belief: an article written by Richard Kerbaj, who quotes almost nothing of what I say and uses language to suggest the Taliban is actually involved in the whole affair as a headline. I write an immediate response, registering a complaint with the Press Complaints Commission, his editor and my lawyers. The following Sunday another two articles appear in the same paper: the first, a more sober one by Margaret Driscoll, which actually uses my responses that Kerbaj had so deliberately omitted the week before. The second, by Kerbaj again, claims that ‘Second Amnesty chief attacks Islamist links’ showing clearly the Sunday Times sees the problem isn’t even about the Taliban anymore, rather it’s about having Islamic ideals. The only problem is that, Sam Zarifi, upon whom the article is based, also says Kerbaj has mischaracterized his views. It is strange that Mr. Kerbaj and the Sunday Times make careers out of this sort of thing calling it ‘news’.

The fuse, however, had been lit and out came the others, the way they had done before, demonstrating their credentials in supporting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan – and everything that came with that. This is what it comes down to in my estimation. The attacks have been very personal, questioning everything I’ve done in my life in the same way as the US/UK intelligence services had sought to when they colluded in my abduction, false imprisonment, torture and abuse. What no one had bargained for though, not even me, was what would happen after my release. The motto of Cageprisoners is ‘giving a voice to the voiceless’. That voice has echoed across the world and has even reached the ears of some very influential and powerful people, who recognise just how appalling this whole process has been.

Cageprisoners’ previous work on reports like Off the Record which details the cases of ‘ghost prisoners’ and enforced disappearance and the secret detentions network discussed in Beyond the Law illustrate the levels of criminality we have stooped to in the name of fighting terrorism . The extent to which our own government has been involved in this is quite breathtaking too. Our report last year, Fabricating Terrorism II, highlighted the cases of 29 individuals – one of them before September 11 – who had been tortured and abused with the complicity of British intelligence services, while Detention Immorality showed the extent to which prisoners are held without charge or trial in the UK under secret evidence.

The cases we, the former Guantanamo prisoners and torture victims, have against our own government for complicity in torture is so troubling that I have actually been questioned at UK airports if I had travelled abroad in pursuance of my case against the intelligence services.

Last week’s revelations that British intelligence was involved in the torture of Binyam Mohamed came as no surprise to me. It is something I’ve been saying publicly, at Amnesty meetings, in my book and my writings since my return. Cageprisoners and I have also led the campaign for Shaker Aamer who I believe was not only tortured in the presence of MI5 but, the government is very worried that revelations of complicity in his torture might be even worse than Binyam’s.

Ms Sahgal has, perhaps unwittingly, become a cause celebre for some of the pro-war (hence, pro-by-products of the wars: targeted assassinations, ‘collateral damage’, refugee crises, secret and military prisons, torture etc) hacks in this country – and around the world. A tool for the intelligence services or people like Paul Rester, the director of the Joint Intelligence Group at Guantanamo, who says, “[Begg] is doing more good for al Qaeda as a British poster boy than he would ever do carrying an AK-47.” I firmly believe this, more than anything else, is the reason why people want my voice and that of Cageprisoners silenced. But it won’t be –not as long as I can help it.

It has been my great pleasure to break many a stereotype one would assume of a Guantanamo terrorism suspect who believes in Islam as a way of life. As a child I had studied at a Jewish primary school and as an adult I married a Palestinian woman. Both have given me fond and loving memories. Last week I was walking with a friend in the streets of Berlin, where Adolph Hitler had once created – and ultimately destroyed – the capital of his Nazi wonderland. My friend is an observant Jew whose family had fled the pogroms in Eastern Europe around the same time. The experience was surreal for both of us: for him, the knowledge of the sort of hatred that once spewed out on these very streets so many years ago changed the world; for me, the growing feeling that hatred of a comparable sort, albeit in a subtler guise, is on the march once again. I can’t help but to think now, as we passed what was once the Reich Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda, what Joseph Goebbels once said about the truth: If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.

My God was he right.

http://www.cageprisoners.com/articles.php?id=31061

US continues to detain, torture prisoners at secret Afghan base By David Walsh
WSWS, 12 May 2010The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has confirmed to the British Broadcasting Corporation that the US military is operating a second “black jail” at its Bagram airbase near Kabul in Afghanistan, contrary to the Pentagon’s public denials.

The BBC’s Hilary Andersson writes that in response to a question about the existence of the secret facility, “The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said that since August 2009 US authorities have been notifying it of names of detained people in a separate structure at Bagram.” The Red Cross has not had access to these prisoners.

At that site, according to numerous former detainees, prisoners are abused, beaten, humiliated and subjected to sleep deprivation, sensory deprivation and other forms of torture.

The BBC reported on the second Bagram detention facility in April. At the time, Andersson cited the comments of nine witnesses, interviewed separately, who provided similar descriptions of conditions at the “secret jail.” The former detainees told of being beaten by American soldiers at the time of their arrests, being locked in tiny, windowless concrete cells, in which a light bulb was constantly illuminated, and being prevented from sleeping by various means.

When the BBC put the allegations to Pentagon officials in April, the latter denied any abuse and the existence of the secret site. Vice Admiral Robert Harward, in charge of the new Parwan detention facility, said, “I’ve never heard of it. This [Parwan] is the only detention facility in Afghanistan.” As the Red Cross statement makes clear, Harward was lying.

In response to a question from a reporter in January, Harward declared, “There are no black-jail secret prisons.… We do have field detention sites we do not disclose, but they’re held there for very short periods, and then they’re moved—if they’re determined to need additional internment, they’re moved to the detention facility at Parwan or released.” Again, Harward was lying through his teeth. He will not, of course, be called to account by anyone.

The New York Times and the Washington Post reported in November 2009 the allegations of numerous Afghan detainees, some of them teenagers, about a “black” site at Bagram. The Post’s article noted that the prisoners “appeared to have been in a facility run by U.S. Special Operations forces that is separate from the Bagram Theater Internment Facility, the main American-run prison, which holds about 700 detainees.”

The Times pointed out that when Barack Obama “signed an order to eliminate so-called black sites run by the Central Intelligence Agency in January [2009], it did not also close this jail, which is run by military Special Operations forces.”

Both the Post and the Times reported horrific allegations. One of the teenagers detained at Bagram, Rashid, a woodcutter from the Sabari district of Khost province, told the Post that “he lived in a small concrete cell that was slightly longer than the length of his body. Food was tossed in a plastic bag through a slot in the metal door. Both teenagers said that when they tried to sleep, on the floor, their captors shouted at them and hammered on their cells.

“When summoned for daily interrogations, Rashid said, he was made to wear a hood, handcuffs and ear coverings and was marched into the meeting room. He said he was punched by his interrogators while being prodded to admit ties to the Taliban; he denied such ties. During some sessions, he said, his interrogator forced him to look at pornographic movies and magazines while also showing him a photograph of his mother.

“‘I was just crying and crying. I was too young,’ Rashid said. ‘I didn’t know what a prison looks like or what a prison is.’”

One of the detainees, a farmer named Hamidullah, told the Times, “The black jail was the most dangerous and fearful place. It is a place where everybody is afraid. In the black jail, they can do anything to detainees. They don’t let the ICRC officials or any other civilians see or communicate with the people they keep there.” None of the individuals interviewed were ever charged with a crime.

After the initial BBC report about the secret jail in April, an Amnesty International USA blog noted “the complete lack of interest that the US media has taken in the story…the silence has been deafening.” Now the confirmation by the Red Cross of the accuracy of that report, in the face of Pentagon stonewalling, has also elicited next to no interest.

Human rights activists now refer to Bagram as “Obama’s Guantánamo.”

The conditions at the officially acknowledged Parwan detention facility at Bagram, where 800 detainees are currently held, are savage enough. The BBC’s Andersson was allowed into the prison for an hour in April. This is what she described:

“In the new jail, prisoners were being moved around in wheelchairs with goggles and headphones on.

“The goggles were blacked out, and the purpose of the headphones was to block out all sound. Each prisoner was handcuffed and had their legs shackled.

“Prisoners are kept in 56 cells, which the prisoners refer to as ‘cages.’ The front of the cells are made of mesh, the ceiling is clear, and the other three walls are solid.

“Guards can see down into the cells [from] above.”

This is what US military spokesmen refer to as “humane” treatment. Col. John Garrity, a commander at Bagram, told the Washington Post in November, “I want to be clear that there is no harsh treatment at all.”

In June 2009 the BBC reported on allegations by 27 ex-inmates at Bagram, none of whom either was ever charged with any offense or put on trial: “Many allegations of ill-treatment appear repeatedly in the interviews: physical abuse, the use of stress positions, excessive heat or cold, unbearably loud noise, being forced to remove clothes in front of female soldiers.

“In four cases detainees were threatened with death at gunpoint.

“‘They did things that you would not do against animals let alone to humans,’ said one inmate known as Dr. Khandan.

“‘They poured cold water on you in winter and hot water in summer. They used dogs against us. They put a pistol or a gun to your head and threatened you with death,’ he said.

“‘They put some kind of medicine in the juice or water to make you sleepless and then they would interrogate you.’”

This kind of barbaric treatment is defined as torture and banned by various international laws and conventions.

The Obama administration, following in the footsteps of its predecessor, has intervened to prevent elemental legal rights being granted to Bagram detainees. In a case brought by the International Justice Network (IJN) on behalf of two Yemenis and one Tunisian citizen, who have been held incommunicado at Bagram for more than six years, the Obama Justice Department has argued that because Afghanistan is an active war zone the minimal rights available to Guantánamo detainees should be denied prisoners held in that country.

Using the same reactionary language as the Bush-Cheney-Rove cabal, lawyers for the Obama administration have insisted that granting detainees legal rights could harm the president’s “ability to succeed in armed conflict and to protect the United States’ forces” by limiting his powers to conduct military operations.

Tina Foster, executive director of the IJN, told the media last year that Bagram inmates exist “in a legal black-hole, without access to lawyers or courts.” She accused the new administration of “using the same arguments as the Bush White House.”

In an interview with Spiegel Online posted in September 2009, Foster noted, “Unfortunately, the US government did not change its position on Bagram when Obama took office. The government still claims that our clients are not entitled to any legal protections under US law. It maintains that even those individuals who they brought to Bagram from other countries, and have held without charge for more than six years, are still not entitled to speak with their attorney, and they are arguing now that they are not entitled to have their cases heard in US courts.”

The Spiegel interviewer asked, “But what then is the difference between the Bush and Obama administrations?”

“Foster: There is absolutely no difference between the Bush administration and the Obama administration’s position with respect to Bagram detainees’ rights. They have made much ado about nothing, in the hope that the courts and the public will not examine the issue more closely.”

:: Article nr. 65934 sent on 13-may-2010 08:56 ECT

www.uruknet.info?p=65934

:: The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website.

http://www.uruknet.de/?p=65934

Picture of holding cage in Bagram Air Force Base where there is also a massive prison, amidst allegation that torture still takes place at secret locations within the huge facility, recently visited by US president Obama to support the US troops on March 28, 2010

http://www.allvoices.com/contributed-news/1022211-pakistan-cage/images

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Bagram: Obama’s Gitmo, only worse

2010 June 25, 8:46 PM Sunset District Libertarian Examiner

Robert Taylor

There has been plenty of justified praise for President Obama as he slowly but surely closes the Gitmo Gulag. It is by well known that the Bush Regime used this prison, as well as others, to torture men who committed the “crimes” of resisting the American desert-killing fields in Mesopotamia and having Arab names. We later learned out from Blitzkrieg Rumsfeld that these “terrorists” were actually beaten, starved, deprived of sleep, and tortured with insects in an attempt to produce a false 9/11-Iraqi link.

But what about the lesser known, and even crueler, military prison in Bagram, Afghanistan? What goes on at Bagram makes Gitmo look like a day-care camp. According to a 2,000 page U.S. Army report, two prisoners were chained to the ceiling and then beaten to death. Autopsies later revealed extreme trauma to both of their legs, describing it as similar to being run over by a bus. The International Red Cross Report reported massive overcrowding, harsh conditions, threats of HIV-infection and sodomy, weeks of complete isolation, routine beatings, and stress positions (a favorite at Abu Ghraib).

It went nearly unnoticed, but Obama’s “Justice” Department stated that it agreed with the previous Administration that the over 600 detainees at Bagram Airfield cannot use U.S. Courts to challenge their detention, and it only took two sentences. That’s it. No investigations, no hearings, no discussions. Bush’s Military Commissions Act of 2006, one of the scariest pieces of legislation I’ve ever seen, was used to justify these indefinite imprisonments, and Obama’s silence on Bagram can only mean he condones this Caesar-esque power.

Why is Obama closing one U.S. Gulag but keeping open another? Well, Gitmo is 90 miles off the shore of Florida, so its stain hits closer to home, and it’s a way of throwing a bone to his anti-war base while he pulls new war levers like a debt-ridden gambler at a casino. You might not know it from any of the Pharoah-fanning media, but Obama is doing his best Alexander the Great Slaughterer impression in Afghanistan as his 21,000 troop “surge” is beginning to arrive. In fact, the bombing of Afghanistan has increased every single month Obama has been in office. There’s going to be a lot more detainees headed Bagram’s way thanks to O-bomber (and his equally bloodthirsty Sec. of State Hillary the Hawk) as he spends $200 million dollars a day bombing the Afghan countryside.

I bring up Obama’s torture two-face because tomorrow, June 26, is the International Day of Support for Victims of Torture. The CIA, FBI, and the Pentagram Pentagon might be up for weeks if they thought about all of their victims of torture, as well as the other rarely-discussed victims: the 5th and 8th Amendments of the Bill of Rights. The 8th protects against “cruel and unusual punishment,” and the 5th declares that no one “shall be compelled to be a witness against himself.” Obama, like Bush before him, is willing to use tortured confessions to prosecute detainees, and Obama’s civil liberties axe is just as sharp as Bush’s.

On Torture Day, Obama’s White House will continue to be haunted by the ghosts of Bagram.

-R.T.

http://www.examiner.com/x-8131-Sunset-District-Libertarian-Examiner~y2009m6d25-Bagram-Obamas-Gitmo-only-worse

Human Rights Lawyer on Bagram Prison

‘The Obama Administration Has Completely Failed’

Human rights lawyer Tina Foster talks to SPIEGEL about detainee abuses in the US military prison in Bagram, Afghanistan and her disappointment with the Obama administration.

SPIEGEL: Right after taking office, US President Barack Obama announced his plan to close Guantanamo. It looked like he would reverse the human rights policies of the Bush administration. Will the detainees the US military prison in Bagram, Afghanistan now be given legal rights?

Foster: Unfortunately, the US government did not change its position on Bagram when Obama took office. The government still claims that our clients are not entitled to any legal protections under US law. It maintains that even those individuals who they brought to Bagram from other countries, and have held without charge for more than six years, are still not entitled to speak with their attorney, and they are arguing now that they are not entitled to have their cases heard in US courts.

SPIEGEL: But there has been an important legal decision stating that detainees in Bagram have the right to legal representation.

Foster: The April 2 decision of Judge John D. Bates, a George Bush appointee, was that our clients were entitled to have their cases reviewed by the court. That was a huge success.

SPIEGEL: Is the Obama administration complying with the Bates decision in providing each detainee a representative?

Foster: Before we could present any evidence or proceed in their cases, the Obama administration appealed the decision to the court of appeals, and is now arguing that it should be overturned. The announcement was intended to generate a positive media spin on the “new” procedures at Bagram, which were announced at this time because the government’s filing in the court of appeals was due the following day. If you look at the actual procedures, you will see that the detainees will not be given any legal representation. Instead, the Department of Defense is saying that it will send non-lawyer “representatives” to question the detainees and look into their cases. Those individuals are not officers of the court, and have no duty of confidentiality or loyalty to the detainee.

SPIEGEL: But what then is the difference between the Bush and Obama administrations?

Foster: There is absolutely no difference between the Bush administration and the Obama administration’s position with respect to Bagram detainees’ rights. They have made much ado about nothing, in the hope that the courts and the public will not examine the issue more closely.

SPIEGEL: Is it true that the human rights situation has gotten much better at Bagram in the last 18 months?

Foster: Some of our clients have been at Bagram since its early days, and they still are not being told what the charges are against them, or given the ability to challenge those allegations in any fair legal proceeding. Moreover, several of our clients were brought to Bagram from outside of Afghanistan. For example, Amin Al Bakri — a Yemeni gem trader who was kidnapped while on a business trip in Thailand, rendered to secret prisons, tortured and finally ended up at Bagram — is still being held incommunicado and without access to his attorneys. We believe he was tortured in CIA secret prisons before being transferred to Bagram, which is why I believe the government does not want to allow us to speak with him. It’s a cover up. Amin has been at Bagram for more than six years. It’s hard to imagine any other reason why the government would not allow him a simple hearing in a US court.

SPIEGEL: What about the case of Jawed Ahmad, which received a certain amount of media coverage?

Foster: Our client Jawed “Jojo” Ahmad was a young journalist working for the Canadian television network CTV. He was also taken into custody by the military and held without charge for more than a year before the US government finally released him. This all happened in 2007-2008 — in other words, fairly recently. That “mistake” by the US government cost Jojo his life. We were eventually able to convince the US government that he was innocent, and happily he was released. Jojo committed his time after he got out of prison to exposing other injustices at Bagram and beyond in Afghanistan. He helped us with the cases of other innocent people who are currently being held at Bagram, and was essentially our star witness in this litigation. This was all cut short earlier this year, when Jojo was shot and killed in broad daylight. His assassins have never been identified. It was one of the most terrible moments of my life. He was a great person and a friend.

SPIEGEL: Can you compare the human rights situation in Bagram with that in Guantanamo?

Foster: What most people don’t realize is that Bagram has always been far worse than Guantanamo. One thing that has not been stressed enough in media accounts regarding Guantanamo is that much of the abuse that the Guantanamo prisoners suffered actually happened at Bagram. Many of our former clients were subjected to sexual humiliation and assault akin to Abu Ghraib-style torture. In terms of torture and abuse, Bagram has a far worse history than Guantanamo. There are at least two detainees who died there after being tortured by US interrogators. One of them was strung up by interrogators by his wrists, and then beaten until his legs were “pulpified,” according to the military’s own autopsy report. Our clients who have been released more recently report exposure to extreme temperatures, sleep deprivation, prolonged isolation and other torture that is still ongoing. Bagram has always been a torture chamber — there is no way that the United States will ever be able to rid it of that reputation unless it discontinues the practice of holding detainees incommunicado and in secret.

SPIEGEL: Major General Douglas M. Stone, who was charged to investigate Bagram, has been quoting as saying that many of the detainees in Bagram are innocent.

Foster: I think General Stone’s report confirms what we have learned over the years from our clients — most of the people at Bagram are being imprisoned unjustly. General Stone reviewed the military’s own records and determined that, of the 600 current detainees at Bagram, there are 400 innocent people that the US government should not be detaining. It’s obvious that the procedures that the military is using to determine who to imprison and who to release are completely flawed. What is completely baffling is why these 400 innocent individuals have not been released. It doesn’t make sense to hold innocent people in our custody — it’s completely counterproductive and undermines the entire war effort.

SPIEGEL: You worked on the Obama campaign last year. Do you regret that now?

Foster: I voted and campaigned for Obama, like all the other folks here in the US who wanted to see this country recover from the illegal and unjust policies of the Bush administration. When I heard Obama’s announcement to close Guantanamo, I breathed a sigh of relief that perhaps this extremely ugly chapter of American history was finally being put to an end. Unfortunately, since then, the Obama administration has completely failed in delivering the change that was promised. For a time, we believed that perhaps it would just take the new administration time to shift its policies. The reality is that the Bush and the Obama administrations have the same position on the rights of detainees in Bagram.

Interview conducted by John Goetz

http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,650324,00.html

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Ex-detainees allege Bagram abuse

Advertisement

Former detainee: ‘They put medicine in our drink to prevent us sleeping’

By Ian Pannell
BBC News, Kabul

Allegations of abuse and neglect at a US detention facility in Afghanistan have been uncovered by the BBC.

A number of former detainees have alleged they were beaten, deprived of sleep and threatened with dogs at the Bagram military base.

The BBC spoke to 27 ex-inmates around the country over two months. Just two said they had been treated well.

The Pentagon has denied the charges and insisted that all inmates in the facility are treated humanely.

All the men were asked the same questions and they were all interviewed in isolation.

Ill-treatment

They were held at various times between 2002 and 2008. They were all accused of belonging to or helping al-Qaeda or the Taliban.

BAGRAM AIR BASEBase built by the Soviet military in the 1980s

Around 600 people are held

Prisoners are classified as “unlawful enemy combatants’

Officials react to Bagram ‘abuse’

Foreign detainees ‘have US right’

Bagram: US base in Afghanistan

Afghan ex-prisoner speaks of fear

None was charged with any offence or put on trial – some even received apologies when they were released.

Many allegations of ill-treatment appear repeatedly in the interviews: physical abuse, the use of stress positions, excessive heat or cold, unbearably loud noise, being forced to remove clothes in front of female soldiers.

In four cases detainees were threatened with death at gunpoint.

“They did things that you would not do against animals let alone to humans,” said one inmate known as Dr Khandan.

“They poured cold water on you in winter and hot water in summer. They used dogs against us. They put a pistol or a gun to your head and threatened you with death,” he said.

“They put some kind of medicine in the juice or water to make you sleepless and then they would interrogate you.”

The findings were shown to the Pentagon.

Lt Col Mark Wright, a spokesman for the US Secretary of Defence, insisted that conditions at Bagram “meet international standards for care and custody”.

Col Wright said the US defence department has a policy of treating detainees humanely.

“There have been well-documented instances where that policy was not followed, and service members have been held accountable for their actions in those cases,” he said.

‘Legal black hole’

Amnesty ‘shocked’ by Bagram claims

Bagram has held thousands of people over the last eight years and a new detention centre is currently under construction at the camp.

Some of the inmates are forcibly taken there from abroad, especially Pakistanis and at least two Britons.

Since coming to office US President Barack Obama has banned the use of torture and ordered a review of policy on detainees, which is expected to report next month.

But unlike its detainees at the US naval facility at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, the prisoners at Bagram have no access to lawyers and they cannot challenge their detention.

The inmates at Bagram are being kept in “a legal black-hole, without access to lawyers or courts”, according to Tina Foster, executive director of the International Justice Network, a legal support group representing four detainees.

None of the detainees were charged or put on trial

She is pursuing legal action that, if successful, would grant detainees at Bagram the same rights as those still being held at Guantanamo Bay.

But the Obama administration is trying to block the move.

Last year, the US Supreme Court ruled that detainees at Guantanamo should be given legal rights.

Speaking on the presidential campaign trail, Barack Obama applauded the ruling: “The court’s decision is a rejection of the Bush administration’s attempt to create a legal black hole at Guantanamo.

“This is an important step toward re-establishing our credibility as a nation committed to the rule of law, and rejecting a false choice between fighting terrorism and respecting habeas corpus.”

Ms Foster accuses the new administration of abandoning that position and “using the same arguments as the Bush White House”.

In its legal submissions, the US justice department argues that because Afghanistan is an active combat zone it is not possible to conduct rigorous inquiries into individual cases and that it would divert precious military resources at a crucial time.

They also argue that granting legal rights to detainees could harm Mr Obama’s “ability to succeed in armed conflict and to protect United States’ forces” by limiting his powers to conduct military operations.

A US federal appeals court judge is expected to rule soon.

These revelations come at a time when Mr Obama is trying to re-set Washington’s relationship with the Muslim world and trying harder than ever to win the war in Afghanistan.

It is a controversy that threatens to damage the image of the new administration in both Afghanistan and Pakistan

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/8116046.stm

 

<>

Citizen Spies And Brutal Torture Foreshadow What American Citizens Face In The Domestic War on Terror

  Posted by – July 27, 2011 at 1:22 pm – Permalink Source via Alexander Higgins Blog

Citizen Spies And Brutal Torture Foreshadow What American Citizens Face In The Domestic War on Terror
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An innocent European, who was sold to U.S. military by a citizen spy, spent nearly five years in Guantanamo Bay prison without charges exposes the brutality of torture.  With the DHS anti-terror apparatus now turned inward, do American citizens face the same treatment?

Eric Blair
Activist Post

Martin Luther King Jr. wisely proclaimed “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Murat Kurnaz, a German-born Turkish citizen, describes in the video below his chilling story of torture under United States custody.  Kurnaz was rounded up in Pakistan at the height of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 when locals sold him to the U.S. military for $3000, the bounty paid to citizen spies for “terror suspects.”  With the Department of Homeland Security ramping up its own citizen spy program, can we expect the same treatment in America?

Working for a peaceful NGO, Kurnaz was detained on his way to return home to Germany.  Over the next five years he was repeatedly tortured by the United States with no charges ever filed. According to Amnesty USA, “his 2006 release was prompted by a personal plea by German Chancellor Angela Merkel to President George W. Bush even though official documents show that U.S. and German authorities had determined in 2002 that he was innocent.”

Murat’s story echoes that of other released Guantanamo detainees, and verifies that events that took place in Abu Ghraib were definitely not an isolated case. How many more cases of criminal torture must Americans hear before they demand an end to these actions done in their name?  If this was done to even one innocent person, like Murat, it is a catastrophe to justice, freedom, and basic moral conscience. These are war crimes by every definition.

When American officials excoriate other nations for being brutal regimes, it rings more hollow than ever after listening to Murat’s testimony.  America is becoming history’s most evil empire by engaging in such wicked brutality.  This is the shameful reputation that Americans must now wear when they travel abroad.  No longer is America a shining example of liberty and morality.  The U.S. government is increasingly a criminal organization, and its citizens in their apathy seem like willing accomplices.

Americans and Brits, with their endless distractions, may not realize it, but this stunningly evil injustice machine is coming home to roost.  You see, Murat was turned in by a citizen spy for financial compensation.  America is now acting on similar anonymous tips to corral potential dissidents; and the U.K already pays its citizens to monitor CCTV for crimes.

The Department of Homeland Security has proudly unveiled its very own citizen spy program.  Although they are not yet paying for tips, the citizen snitch can remain anonymous while having immunity in case of wrongful accusations.  The DHS promotional video below, with its hypnotic background music and monotone narrator, comically shows ridiculous scenarios that citizen spies should report on:

The injustices of detainment without charges and vicious torture has been allowed to happen because abductees were suspected of being “enemy combatants” somewhere over there.  But now, the DHS has openly announced that the primary target for their anti-terror apparatus is focused inward on American soil. With its citizen spy program in full swing, we can expect many innocent people to be wrongfully snitched on.  And if history is any indicator, victims will face Jack Bauer justice with little recourse.  Beware: an injustice there is quickly becoming an injustice here.

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Shocking statistics proving the economic elite have launched a deliberate systemic financial terrorist attack against 99.9% of the population. An all out campaign of corporate and government propagand has obscured the …

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Social Media Targeted by Pentagon for Strategic Communication

European regulators are now demanding increased domestic spying on citizens online internet activities in the wake of the Oslo terror attacks according to several online news reports. In a knee-jerk reaction, …

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Full Story: blog.alexanderhiggins.com An innocent man sold to the US military by a citizen spy was tortured in prison for five years foreshadows what Americans face from the DHS …

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HB Gary Federal At Center Of Sinister Cyber Surveillance Plot

A sinister cyber surveillance plot revealed in this rare fascinating look deep into the underground world of the fascist partnership of corporate and government black operations. I recently pointed …

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fuckyouwashington hashtag takes twitter by storm

Jeff Jarvis, a journalism professor at the City University of New York, an expert on new media, and the author of ‘What Would Google Do?’ has started a shit storm …

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Atomic Mushroom Cloud Associated With World War 3

The United States Congress is set to vote on legislation that authorizes the official start of World War 3. The legislation authorizes the President of the United States to take unilateral …

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Leon Panetta, Secretary of Defense - Official Department of Defense Portrait

Adding to his long list of lies, including promises to close torture prisons and end Bush’s assassination program, Obama extends the deadline to withdrawal troops from Iraq and Afghanistan. With Bin …

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CIA Using NYPD To Illegally Spy On American Citizens

An Associated Press Investigation reveals that the CIA is bypassing laws that prevent it from spying on American citizens by covertly using local police departments. NEW YORK (AP) — In New …

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An Army Slide Show Shows Which Army Officials Are In Charge Of What Areas

The Intel Hub Alex Thomas & Popeye of FederalJack.com August 10, 2011 As the United Kingdom continues to riot many have wondered how the United States would respond to a similar outbreak of …

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Yayyy!!! Look at that debt ceiling GO! ;D

The Super Congress will use dictatorial powers to bypass constitutional checks and balances and ram through a fascist agenda taking direct orders from the criminal bankers on Wall Street. Saman Mohammadi THE …

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Feds Circulate Propaganda Video To Law Enforcement Officials

Feds distribute civil liberties propaganda video to 18,000 law enforcement officials do deceive the masses into believing that enforcers of our dictatorial police state actually respect civil liberties. Popeye over at …

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Police On Alert After Activist "Liked" A Facebook Article

Police are on alert because a political activist liked a Facebook article about the right to resist illegal police authority with the sensational title “When Should You Shoot A Cop” Brandon …

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The Wall Street Pentagon Papers: Biggest Scam In World History Exposed – Are The Federal Reserve’s Crimes Too Big To Comprehend?

What if the greatest scam ever perpetrated was blatantly exposed, and the US media didn’t cover it? Does that mean the scam could keep going? That’s what we are about …

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U.S. Government Now Accepting Donations To Pay Down The Public Debt

The U.S government has put up a page provided by the Department of The Treasury to accept donations to pay down the public debt. The federal government has put a form …

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Feds Charge Man As Enemy Combatant Supporting Terrorism
Innocent Man Imprisoned For 5 Years Survived CIA
Financial Terrorism in America: Over 1 Million Deaths
Oslo Terror Attacks Being Used To Justify Sinister
Citizens Urged To Spy On Domestic White Terrorist
Sinister Cyber Surveillance Plot Revealed In Fascinating Glimpse
Tsunami Of Public Rage Unleashed As #FuckYouWashington Hashtag
Congress To Vote On Declaration Of World War

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