With the reported assassination of Osama bin Laden, one of the most alarming responses has been a kind of casual and widespread acceptance that the death of America’s number one bogeyman would not have been achieved without the use of torture, and without the existence of Guantánamo.
For T. S. Eliot, April was the cruelest month, but for the prisoners at Guantánamo it is January — from the dashed hopes of January 2009, when President Obama swept into office issuing an executive order in which he promised to close the prison within a year, to January 2010, when, having failed to do so, he added insult to injury by issuing a moratorium preventing the release of 29 Yemenis cleared for release by his own Guantánamo Review Task Force, after his opponents seized on the revelation that a failed plane bomber on Christmas Day 2009 had apparently been recruited in Yemen.
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.
A major new report on secret detention policies around the world, conducted by four independent UN human rights experts, concludes that, “On a global scale, secret detention in connection with counter-terrorist policies remains a serious problem,” and that, “If resorted to in a widespread and systematic manner, secret detention might reach the threshold of a crime against humanity.”
The 226-page report, published on Wednesday in an advance unedited version, is the culmination of a year-long Joint Study by the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, and the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances. It will be presented to the UN Human Rights Council in March.
December 30, 2009
Rachel Maddow – questioning during KSM’s torture 1/2
Rachel reveals that the questioning of KSM was “focused on trying to establish a link between al Qaeda and Iraq and we were not being successful in establishing a link between al Qaeda and Iraq. The more frustrated people got in not being able to establish this link… there was more and more pressure to resort to measures that might produce more immediate results.”
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by Peter Lance
Nov. 30, 2009
Al Qaeda’s Master Spy could be the key to them both
In its firestorm of coverage, the mainstream media has overlooked a potential link between the two biggest domestic terrorism stories of the day: the shootings at Ford Hood and the decision by the Justice Dept. to try accused 9/11 “mastermind” Khalid Shaikh Mohammed in New York City.
Five time Emmy-winning former ABC News correspondent and HarperCollins author Peter Lance shines a light on the man who may well be the greatest enigma in the “war on terror.”
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
With just over two months to go until President Obama’s deadline for the closure of Guantanamo, the administration has finally woken up to the necessity of actually doing something to facilitate the prison’s closure by announcing on Friday that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other prisoners accused of involvement in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 will be brought to New York to face federal court trials.
Despite the fact that the “War on Terror” was launched over eight years ago to pursue those responsible for the 9/11 attacks, and despite the fact that Attorney General Eric Holder noted, in a statement announcing the trial, that the opportunity for the relatives of the 9/11 victims “to see the alleged plotters of those attacks held accountable in court” had been “too long delayed,” Republican critics immediately leapt on the announcement, with Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell describing it as “a step backwards for the security of our country” that “puts Americans unnecessarily at risk.”
Nov. 16, 2009
Samantha Bee fears the media won’t be able to handle Khalid Shaikh Mohammed’s trial if it’s held in New York City.
Media commentary on the upcoming 9/11 trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed has raised concerns that state secrets may be divulged, including details about how the Bush administration used torture to extract evidence about al-Qaeda.
“I think that we’re going to shine a light on something that a lot of people don’t want to look at” is how American Civil Liberties Union attorney Denny LeBoeuf put it, according to the New York Times on Saturday.
No problem, says Attorney General Eric Holder, who claims to have “great confidence” that other evidence – apart from what may have been gleaned from the 183 times Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, for example – will suffice to convict him.
Sister of Guantanamo inmate condemns detention – 13 Nov 09
November 13, 2009
The US has announced that five people held at Guantanamo Bay will face trial before a military commission.
Among them is Canadian detainee Omar Khadr. Khadr was only a teenager when he was brought to Guantanamo after being captured in Afghanistan for allegedly killing a US soldier there.
Canadian courts have ordered their government to request his repatriation. But the government is now fighting that ruling before the supreme court.
Al Jazeera’s Monica Villamizar sat down with Khadr’s sister Zaynab for an exclusive interview and began by asking her how her brother has been treated over the past seven years in detention.
I was delighted to be invited to discuss Guantánamo on Democracy Now! this morning, just an hour after the story first broke that the Obama administration is preparing to bring Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other prisoners to the US mainland to face trials in federal court for their alleged involvement in the 9/11 attacks.
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]
At Guantánamo this week, the Military Commission trial system convened for only the second time since President Obama announced a four-month freeze on all proceedings on his first day in office to give the new administration’s inter-departmental Guantánamo Task Force an opportunity to review the best ways in which to deal with the remaining prisoners inherited from the Bush administration.
Reviving the Commissions, ill-advisedly
In May, in a major speech on national security, Barack Obama signaled that he was planning to revive the Commissions, arguing that, with some amendments, they would be “fair, legitimate, and effective,” and promising to “work with Congress and legal authorities across the political spectrum on legislation” that would fulfill these aims.
So what’s happening now? According to a joint Washington Post / ProPublica article on Friday, “The Obama administration, fearing a battle with Congress that could stall plans to close Guantánamo, has drafted an executive order that would reassert presidential authority to incarcerate terrorism suspects indefinitely,” according to “three senior government officials.”
The administration moved swiftly to refute the story, with the Justice Department maintaining that it would not comment on specific plans until after July 21, when the administration’s inter-departmental Guantánamo Task Force is scheduled to complete its review of all the Guantánamo cases, and an unnamed official telling AFP that “no such draft order existed, though internal deliberations were taking place on how to deal with those inmates who could not be released or tried in civilian courts.” The Post accordingly revised its story online, stating that administration officials were only “crafting language for an executive order.”
In a leak that seems designed to gauge public opinion — and that of lawyers and other relevant parties around the world — anonymous officials in the Obama administration have told the New York Times about a proposal, in draft legislation to be submitted to Congress, which, as the Times put it, “would clear the way for detainees facing the death penalty [in Guantánamo] to plead guilty without a full trial.”
The five alleged co-conspirators in the 9/11 attacks. From the top: Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM), Ramzi bin al-Shibh, Mustafa al-Hawsawi, Ali Abdul Aziz Ali and Walid bin Attash.