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.
The mainstream media likes to claim that it has high journalistic standards, but when the opportunity for a sensational headline turns up, those principles are often abandoned. A recent example of this was the hysterical response to the supposed swine flu epidemic last year, and a new example — central to my work and that of many others chipping away at the enduring lies of the “War on Terror” – is currently sweeping the UK.
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Last week, while the UK Court of Appeal was shining a spotlight on the case of Binyam Mohamed, ordering details of his torture by US agents to be revealed to the public, Binyam himself — a British resident, subjected to “extraordinary rendition” and torture, who was released from Guantánamo last February — was thinking about someone else.
Binyam was thinking about Omar Khadr, the Canadian citizen, who was just 15 years old when he was seized after a firefight in Afghanistan in July 2002, and who now faces a trial in the much-criticized Military Commission trial system that was ill-advisedly resuscitated and revived by the Obama administration and Congress last summer. I have written extensively about Khadr’s case (and would be delighted if you checked out one of my favorite articles here), and was dismayed when Attorney General Eric Holder announced in November that Omar Khadr would face a trial by Military Commission.
Wednesday 10 February 2010 21.40 GMT
MI5 faced an unprecedented and damaging crisis tonight after one of the country’s most senior judges found that the Security Service had failed to respect human rights, deliberately misled parliament, and had a “culture of suppression” that undermined government assurances about its conduct.
The condemnation, by Lord Neuberger, the master of the rolls, was drafted shortly before the foreign secretary, David Miliband, lost his long legal battle to suppress a seven-paragraph court document showing that MI5 officers were involved in the ill-treatment of a British resident, Binyam Mohamed.
Last week, as I explained in a recent article, Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in Guantánamo, who was seized in Afghanistan in 2001 after traveling to Afghanistan with his friend Moazzam Begg (and their families) to establish a girls’ school in Kabul, won a significant victory in the British High Court. Lord Justice Jeremy Sullivan ruled that evidence in the possession of the British government, regarding his torture in US custody in Kandahar, Afghanistan, before his transfer to Guantánamo, must be made available to lawyers working on his behalf in the United States, so that they can make representations to the Obama administration’s interagency Task Force, which is currently reviewing the cases of the remaining prisoners in Guantánamo, and is expected to reach a decision sometime next month.
Reprieve, the legal action charity whose lawyers represent dozens of prisoners still held at Guantánamo, won a court victory last Tuesday, in the case of the British resident Shaker Aamer, which appears to draw on the organization’s success in securing a judicial review in the case of another of their clients, Binyam Mohamed. Initiated in May 2008, this led, eventually, to a fast-track review of Mohamed’s case by the Obama administration, and his return to the UK in February this year.
The key to the pressure exerted by Reprieve is torture, and, specifically, what the British government knew about the torture of both men while in US custody. Mohamed’s case is well-known, as he was rendered to Morocco by the CIA in July 2002, three months after his capture in Pakistan, where he was reportedly subjected to torture for 18 months.
Binyam Mohamed is a British resident, seized in Pakistan in April 2002, who was held in Pakistani custody, supervised by US agents, until July 2002, when he was sent by the CIA to be tortured for 18 months in Morocco, and was tied in with a “dirty bomb plot” that never even existed. After his ordeal in Morocco, he spent four months in the CIA’s “Dark Prison” in Kabul, and was then flown to Guantánamo in September 2004.
For the last 15 months, Mohamed has watched as two British High Court judges have tried to release to the public information conveyed by the US intelligence services to their British counterparts regarding his torture in Pakistan, prior to his rendition to Morocco.
The Peter B Collins Show
Info on Podcast #69
British journalist Andy Worthington returns to update us on the delayed closure of Guantanamo and the Obama decision to try KSM and others in Federal Court in New York. Worthington is the author of The Guantanamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison and is co-producer and presenter of the new documentary Outside the Law: Stories from Guantanamo. We talk about the complacency of most Americans about the torture and detention schemes, about Binyam Mohammed now released and Shakar Amer still held in isolation at Gitmo, and about the utter lawlessness of the Bush policies. We also talk frankly about Obama’s challenges from fellow Democrats that have hindered the plan to close Gitmo.
Updated: Nov. 23, 2009
Andy Worthington Discusses The Closure Of Guantánamo Or Not With Peter B. Collins
Those of us who have been aware that the principles of open justice in the UK are being threatened in an unprecedented manner have, to date, focused largely on the use of secret evidence in cases related to terrorism — widely ignored by the general public, and by much of the media — and on the use of “super-injunctions,” which recently broke into the mainstream with the Twitter-storm over the Trafigura case.
The use of secret evidence in cases related to terrorism involves prisoners held on control orders (a form of house arrest), or imprisoned on deportation bail, who are assigned special advocates to speak on their behalf in closed sessions of the Special Immigrations Appeal Court (SIAC), but who are then prohibited from speaking to the special advocates about what took place in these closed sessions. This regime is now under threat, after the Law Lords ruled in June that imposing control orders breaches Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which guarantees the right to a fair trial, because a suspect held under a control order is not given “sufficient information about the allegations against him to enable him to give effective instructions to the special advocate assigned to him.”
By Robert Stevens
5 November 2009
A US registered plane named in a 2007 European Parliament report into alleged Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) “extraordinary rendition” flights was observed to land at Birmingham Airport in England on October 2 of this year.
The 22-seat Gulfstream jet was met minutes later by two special forces helicopters belonging to Britain’s elite Special Air Service. The two army air corps Dauphin 2 helicopters are used by the SAS from their base at Credenhill, near Hereford.
The plane, registered N478GS, arrived in the UK from an undisclosed location.
The Gulfstream is registered to L-3 Integrated Systems, a Montana-based subsidiary of a US defence corporation. According to a report in the Daily Mail, the parent company, L-3 Communications, is a “multi-billion-dollar defence corporation based in New York, whose clients include several American government departments, among them the Department of Homeland Security.”
Well, that took a while. Nearly a year after George W. Bush’s Republican party was voted out of office, and at least five years after reports first surfaced that music was being used in “War on Terror” facilities in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantánamo as part of a package of “enhanced interrogation technique,” — which, in any world other than the reality-defying one inhabited by Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, would have been defined as torture — several noted musicians have spoken out to condemn the practice.
As was reported widely yesterday, REM, Pearl Jam, Trent Reznor, Tom Morello, and other artists including Jackson Browne, Billy Bragg, Michelle Branch, T-Bone Burnett, David Byrne, Rosanne Cash, Marc Cohn, Steve Earle, the Entrance Band, Joe Henry, Bonnie Raitt, Rise Against, and The Roots launched a formal protest against the use of music as torture.
In August 2008, while British resident Binyam Mohamed still languished in a prison cell in Guantánamo, two British High Court judges attempted to inform the public about what, in May 2002, the CIA had told their British counterparts about how they had treated him while he was being held in Pakistani custody, shortly before a British agent interrogated him.
The judges were Lord Justice Thomas and Mr. Justice Lloyd Jones, and their attempt to inform the public came in a judgment that followed a judicial review of Mohamed’s case during the summer of 2008, which was itself triggered by the British government’s refusal to release 42 documents in its possession regarding his detention in Pakistan.
by Richard Norton-Taylor
Friday 16 October 2009
High court orders publication of US report, saying British foreign secretary’s actions were harmful to the rule of law
David Miliband, the foreign secretary, acted in a way that was harmful to the rule of law by suppressing evidence about what the government knew of the illegal treatment of Binyam Mohamed, a British resident who was held in a secret prison in Pakistan, the high court has ruled.
In a devastating judgment, two senior judges roundly dismissed the foreign secretary’s claims that disclosing the evidence would harm national security and threaten the UK’s vital intelligence-sharing arrangements with the US.
Court Orders Torture Records Of British GITMO Detainee Be Released To Public!
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from the archives:
September 03, 2009
The former Guantanamo Bay detainee, Binyam Mohamed, has reversed a decision to stay out of the public eye by signalling his determination to campaign for justice for prisoners at the American detention camp. Six months after his release, the British resident used his first public speech to explain the legacy of his seven years in detention. Roshan Muhammed Salih reports from London.
Andy Worthington, author of The Guantánamo Files, reports on three important court cases in the UK this week, focusing on “extraordinary rendition” and torture in the “War on Terror.” These cases have implications not only for the complicity of the British government in the Bush administration’s flight from the law, but also for the Obama administration, which, on a number of fronts, appears to be doing all in its power to either maintain Bush-era policies or to shield the previous administration from accountability for its actions.
Binyam Mohamed and Jeppesen, “The CIA’s Travel Agent”