Casting Doubt on U.S. Claims of Suicide, Attorney Scott Horton Reveals 3 Gitmo Prisoners Died After Torture at Secret Site
New evidence has emerged suggesting three Guantanamo prisoners whom the U.S. claims took their own lives in June 2006 died not from suicide, but torture. A six-month investigation by Harper’s Magazine indicates the three prisoners were suffocated and tortured during questioning at a secret black site facility at Guantanamo known as “Camp No”.The article is based in part on testimony from a former staff sergeant who says the Obama administration has refused to investigate his claims.
Last Tuesday, in a letter to Illinois governor Pat Quinn, five senior Obama administration officials — Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Attorney General Eric Holder, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair, and Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano — announced that “the President has directed, with our unanimous support, that the Federal Government proceed with the acquisition” of Thomson Correctional Center, a maximum-security prison about 150 miles north-west of Chicago, to house prisoners from Guantánamo.
On August 21, District Court Judge Gladys Kessler granted the habeas corpus petition of Mohammed al-Adahi, a Yemeni prisoner in Guantánamo who was 39 years old when he was seized on a bus in Pakistan. I described the broad outline of al-Adahi’s story in my book The Guantánamo Files as follows:
Married with two children, al-Adahi had never left the Yemen until August 2001, when he took a vacation from the oil company where he had worked for 21 years to accompany his sister to meet her husband … As he told his tribunal, “In Muslim society, a woman does not travel by herself.” After flying to Karachi, they traveled to Kandahar, where his brother-in-law was living. Al-Adahi stayed in Afghanistan for a month, “to ease his sister’s transition to life in Afghanistan,” and then made his way back to Pakistan, where he was arrested by soldiers while traveling on a bus. “They were capturing everybody with Arabic features,” he said. “I gave them my passport and that shows that I’m an Arab. They said, ‘why don’t you follow us, we need you at the Center.’ From that point on they brought us over here.”
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 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 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 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.
On Monday, the Obama administration announced that it had transferred four prisoners from Guantánamo: Sabir Lahmar, an Algerian, was transferred to France; an unidentified Palestinian was transferred to Hungary; and two Tunisians, Adel Ben Mabrouk bin Hamida Boughanmi and Mohammed Tahir Riyadh Nasseri, were transferred to the custody of the Italian government.
Last week, lawyer, ex-Army Captain and Iraq veteran Phillip Carter, described by Glenn Greenwald as “a very harsh critic of the Bush administration’s detention and interrogation policies,” suddenly resigned his post as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Detainee Policy, which he had occupied since April. Carter claimed that he was leaving due to “personal issues,” which may be true, but as Greenwald noted, “the policies Obama has adopted in the last six months in the very areas of Carter’s responsibilities were ones Carter vehemently condemned when implemented by Bush.”
Greenwald then proceeded to explain how, in May 2008, Carter had condemned the Bush administration’s Military Commissions (the trial system for Guantánamo prisoners) as “fundamentally and fatally flawed,” arguing that “the rule of law will prevail only if they are perpetually blocked,” and cited a trial in a “civilian court” (his emphasis) of accused terrorists in France that involved “a combination of open and sealed (i.e., classified) evidence to prove the defendants’ guilt in a six-day trial,” which he regarded as the only viable model for the United States to follow.
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.
Andy Worthington, author of The Guantanamo Files, discusses Obama’s broken promise to close Gitmo within a year, the enthusiastic U.S. embrace of rendition and torture after 9/11, the extralegal indefinite detention of innocent prisoners, endemic racism that makes torture less objectionable and the dangerous legal precedents established by failing to prosecute Bush administration crimes.
Alleged 9/11 Mastermind and 4 Other Gitmo Prisoners to Stand Trial in NY Federal Court
Attorney General Eric Holder is expected to announce today that five men accused of plotting the September 11, 2001 attacks, including alleged mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, will be tried in a criminal court in New York instead of a military commission. The move marks one of the first major steps by the Obama administration to close the prison at Guantanamo. To assess the future of Guantanamo Bay and the more than 200 men still in detention there, we speak with British journalist and historian Andy Worthington, author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison. [includes rush transcript]
In summer, ACLU representatives traveled to the UK to interview five former Guantánamo prisoners: Moazzam Begg and Omar Deghayes (both featured in my new film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo,” co-directed by Polly Nash), plus Bisher al-Rawi, Ruhal Ahmed and Shafiq Rasul (the latter being two of the “Tipton Three,” featured in the 2006 film “The Road to Guantánamo”). The short film that was made as a result of these interviews is available below (via YouTube):
After railing against Senators and Representatives for their cowardly, uninformed and unacceptable attempts to prevent President Obama from bringing any Guantánamo prisoner to the US mainland for any reason — even for trials — which I wrote about most recently in an article entitled, “On Guantánamo, Lawmakers Reveal They Are Still Dick Cheney’s Pawns,” I’m delighted to report that, last Tuesday, the Senate finally saw sense, voting, by 79 votes to 19, as part of a $42.8 billion bill for Homeland Security, to accept that the administration can bring prisoners to the US mainland to face trials.
The vote follows a similar climbdown two week ago by the House of Representatives, which had recently allowed itself to be mesmerized by a paranoid motion proposed by Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ken.), and the bill will now be signed into law by President Obama.
Published on November 9 by NYU Press (and available from Amazon), The Guantánamo Lawyers: Inside a Prison, Outside the Law, is edited by Mark Denbeaux (Seton Hall Law School) and Jonathan Hafetz (ACLU) and “contains over one hundred personal narratives from attorneys who have represented detainees held at ‘GTMO’ as well as at other overseas prisons, from Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan to secret CIA jails or ‘black sites.’” A website for the book is here.
This is a powerful book, covering every facet of the Bush administration’s lawless “War on Terror,” and is essential reading for anyone who wants an insight into the stories of the men held, from the only people outside the US administration (and the International Committee of the Red Cross) who have been allowed to meet them. It is also invaluable for anyone who wants to understand the legal struggles to secure rights for these men, and to hear, from first-hand experience, the kinds of obstructions that have been raised at every step of the way between the lawyers and their clients.