Over the past year I and other plaintiffs including Noam Chomsky and Daniel Ellsberg have pressed a lawsuit in the federal courts to nullify Section 1021(b)(2) of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). This egregious section, which permits the government to use the military to detain U.S. citizens, strip them of due process and hold them indefinitely in military detention centers, could have been easily fixed by Congress. The Senate and House had the opportunity this month to include in the 2013 version of the NDAA an unequivocal statement that all U.S. citizens would be exempt from 1021(b)(2), leaving the section to apply only to foreigners. Continue reading
WASHINGTON, Apr 26, 2011 (IPS) – Starting in late 2005, U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan began turning detainees over to the Afghan National Directorate of Security (NDS), despite its well-known reputation for torture.
Interviews with former U.S. and NATO diplomats and other evidence now available show that United States and other NATO governments become complicit in NDS torture of detainees for two distinctly different reasons.
In sifting through the avalanche of US diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks, only the Guardian, in the Western media, has picked up on cables from Islamabad relating to the case of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, the Pakistani neuroscientist who disappeared with her three young children in Karachi on March 30, 2003, and did not reappear until July 17, 2008, in Ghazni, Afghanistan, where she was reportedly arrested by Afghan forces for acting strangely, allegedly carrying a bag that contained a list of US targets for terrorist attacks as well as bomb-making instructions and assorted chemicals. When US soldiers turned up, Dr. Siddiqui then reportedly seized a gun and shot at them. Although she failed to hit her targets, at point-blank range, she was herself shot twice in the abdomen, and was then rendered to the United States, where she was put on trial for attempted murder, and was convicted and given an 86-year prison sentence in September this year.
Last week, when the High Court ordered the release of documents relating to alleged British complicity in the torture and ill-treatment of British nationals in US custody, as part of a civil claim for damages filed by six former Guantánamo prisoners, 16 pages of those documents related to interrogations by British agents of one of the six, Omar Deghayes, who was released from Guantánamo in December 2007.
In the Guardian, following up on the story, Omar Deghayes has explained in detail why he is appalled by the “highly selective” redactions in the reports, which hide evidence of British complicity in torture, concealing his “specific allegations of ill-treatment, starvation and beatings to MI6 and MI5 officers.” hide embarrassing lines of questioning that show the intelligence services in a poor light, particularly concerning the supposed significance of Omar’s scuba-diving lessons in the UK, and also hide the ludicrous line of questioning about his purported involvement in militancy in Chechnya, which played a major part in his detention for five and a half years. Continue reading
June 15, 2010 — In the wake of a rumor that WikiLeaks may soon publish a number of secret State Department cables, some are saying that the Pentagon is on the hunt for the whistleblowing organization’s founder Julian Assange. On GRITtv with Laura Flanders, Nation writer and blogger Jeremy Scahill says that while Assange may not exactly be on the run to the extent that is being portrayed, diplomats have reason to be concerned about what Wikileaks may have in its possession. “I think a lot of diplomats around the world are very, very nervous. At a minimum, they’re going to want to talk to Julian Assange,” Scahill says. “He denies that he has them [the cables], by the way.”
In addition to discussions of a potential secret prison and interrogation facility within the Bagram Air Base and the New York Times’s coverage of Afghanistan’s mineral wealth, Scahill and Flanders talk about Erik Prince and rumors that Blackwater, his controversial private military company, is for sale. “There are rumors that he [Prince] may be the target of an investigation,” Scahill says. “If you’re on the market for a private army, you could probably buy cheap and buy fast if you’re interested.
In the first of two articles about the Obama administration’s detention policies relating to the US airbase at Bagram, Afghanistan, I examined recent revelations about a secret prison inside the base, apparently run by a shadowy branch of the Pentagon, where Bush-era “enhanced interrogations,” involving sleep deprivation and isolation, are used, as authorized in Appendix M of the US Army Field Manual. This second article examines the Obama administration’s confusing attempts to bring detention policies at the main prison more in line with international accepted standards regarding the treatment of prisoners seized in wartime, with some spectacular failures — the refusal to accept that foreign prisoners rendered to Bagram from other countries should have habeas corpus rights — and some improvements, involving review boards, prisoner releases, and trials, which, nevertheless, betray the kind of confusion that will prevail while the administration insists on accepting its predecessor’s unilateral rewriting of the Geneva Conventions.
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For eight and a half years, the US prison at Bagram airbase has been the site of a disturbing number of experiments in detention and interrogation, where murders have taken place, the Geneva Conventions have been shredded and the encroachment of the US courts — unlike at Guantánamo — has been thoroughly resisted.
In the last few months, there have been a few improvements — hearings, releases, even the promise of imminent trials — but behind this veneer of respectability, the US government’s unilateral reworking of the Geneva Conventions continues unabated, and evidence has recently surfaced of a secret prison within Bagram, where a torture program that could have been lifted straight from the Bush administration’s rule book is still underway.
[So far this is the only source that has said that “45” or “60” have been killed at Bagram.]
Wed, 19 May 2010 10:17:30 GMT
At least 45 US-led forces have been killed during an attack by Taliban militants on the US-run Bagram airbase in Afghanistan, the group claims.
A Press TV correspondent quoted a Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid as saying that 45 US-led soldiers including several army generals have been killed during the attack.
Mujahid added that the attack inflicted heavy losses to the airbase.
According to the Taliban spokesman, seven Taliban militants blew themselves up at the main gate of the base, leading to its opening and letting 13 Taliban militants enter the base.
On January 15, 2010, the Pentagon released the first ever list of prisoners held in the Bagram Theater Internment Facility, the main US prison in Afghanistan for the last eight years (PDF). An annotated version of the list is available here. In a previous article, “Dark Revelations in the Bagram Prisoner List,” I examined the stories of the foreign prisoners rendered to Bagram from other countries, and described the legal challenges mounted on their behalf, explaining how, last March, three of these men won their habeas corpus petitions in a US court, in a ruling that has been challenged by the Obama administration.
I also explained the use of a secret facility within Bagram as part of a network of secret CIA prisons in Afghanistan, and asked pointed questions about the whereabouts of a number of men, known to have been held in secret prisons in Afghanistan, who are not on the list and whose apparent disappearance has never been explained — and also covered this topic in another recent article, “UN Secret Detention Report Asks, ‘Where Are The CIA Ghost Prisoners?’”
February 02, 2010
An ever increasing number of U.S. troops are fighting for peace in Afghanistan. But an investigative journalist claims to have revealed the shocking truth about surprise night raids by American forces and secret prisons where detainees are routinely tortured. In an exclusive interview to RT, Anand Gopal says Obama’s mission in Afghanistan is not much different from Bush’s in Iraq.
Over the last few years, Scott Horton of Antiwar Radio and I have had some hard-hitting interviews, covering many of the most unpalatable aspects of the Bush administration’s “War on Terror,” and, in the last year, the inadequacy of Barack Obama’s response to this toxic and corrosive legacy.
On Tuesday evening, however, we hit a new pitch of outrage (the show is available here, when we discussed two aspects of this legacy that have just surfaced: the revelation, in a compelling article for Harper’s Magazine by Scott Horton (the law professor), that the three men who died at Guantánamo in June 2006 were killed, and that the suicide story was manufactured as a cover-up (which I also wrote about here); and my preliminary analysis of the first ever publicly available list of prisoners held in the US prison at Bagram airbase in Afghanistan, in which I investigated the stories of the “ghost prisoners” — previously held in a number of secret prisons run by the CIA — who have been held in Bagram for up to six years, and asked what happened to others who are not included in the list.
Pepe Escobar shares with us his background and experience as a roving journalist for over three decades. He provides us with an overview of President Obama’s recent trip to China, relevant analysis of ordinary Chinese people’s point of view and reaction, and China’s political and economic position today within the global context. Mr. Escobar discusses energy issues and the current struggle over the resource-rich Central Asia-Caspian regions as the new battle ground for the competing interests of Russia, China, Europe, and the United States, including various strategic alliances currently under way to tap into this oil-gas rich region. He talks about the absence of real coverage of the Eurasia region by the US media, the rarely-discussed and often obscured facts and realities involving the Bagram Prison in Afghanistan, and more!
Freedom & Life: Of Turkeys & Men
Dear Mr. President:
Today is the official Presidential Turkey Pardon Day for 2009, your very first since taking office. I understand you are planning to fly your pardoned bird(s) First Class to California, where they will live at Big Thunder Ranch at Disneyland. How lucky are these birds, how kind of you to value their lives and freedom, and how generous of you to release them.
Mr. President, there are many innocent human beings who have been caged for over six years, under deplorable conditions, including torture – despite being innocent and having done nothing wrong. Their last ten months of detainment and torture have taken place under your watch, per your orders, and with your instructions.
Last year, I received one of those special emails out of the blue, from someone wise and compassionate, who, to my great delight, wished to thank me for the courage of my writing. This woman, who has worked in rural development and post-disaster rehabilitation for 20 years, mostly in Africa, has spent the last few years in Afghanistan, and last week I unexpectedly received the following letter by email, which was so perceptive and so informative that I asked for her permission to reproduce it here, and was delighted when she said yes. Continue reading
On Friday, just a few hours before I spoke to Jeff Farias, I was interviewed by Scott Horton for Antiwar Radio (the 22-minute show was broadcast on Monday, and is available here). In our tenth outing, Scott and I ran though some recent history: the administration’s decision not to push for new legislation authorizing the indefinite detention of prisoners in Guantánamo (and why it’s only a slight improvement on previous plans), the latest postponement in the fatally flawed Military Commission “terror trials” (which I wrote about here and here), the few dozen people in Guantánamo regarded as having any genuine connection to terrorism, and the government’s claims that, nevertheless, somewhere between 50 and 65 prisoners will eventually be put on trial (although whether in federal courts or in a revived version of the Military Commissions has not yet been decided).