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Posts tagged ‘Guantanamo’

A Legal Black Hole

A Legal Black Hole

Our country continues to preserve the disgrace of Guantanamo bay. How is it in the United States of America that people cleared for release continue to rot in a legal black hole for years on end? Either there are 86 people there cleared for release or else there are not. Either they were wrongfully detained or else they were not. And if they deserve to be freed, then they must be freed.

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Close Guantanamo Now Action Page: http://www.peaceteam.net/action/pnum1126.php

And yet cowards of both parties would rather heap injustice on a multitude of innocents, lest some right wing nut accuse them of accidentally letting someone go who might, BECAUSE of our torture and mistreatment of them, turn to future violence. How can we call ourselves a just and civilized country, and continue to operate on the principle that it doesn’t matter who we lock up as long as we’re locking up somebody?

Guantanamo was conceived of as an outlaw garrison, contrived to be beyond the reach of any manner of justice. Even our currently reactionary Supreme Court could not swallow that one whole. We have lots (and we do mean lots) of perfectly good prisons here in America, that hold lots of convicted terrorists right now. And we did not need kangaroo court tribunals to put them there. We need to either convict these people fair and square or we need to let them go.

The most cowardly suggestion of all is that we should be afraid of housing anyone so convicted in actual American prisons. “I don’t want these terrorists in prisons in MY state,” you hear members of Congress say. If our supermax prisons cannot protect local people from the criminals inside the prisons, what’s the point of having prisons at all?

Close Guantanamo Now.

Though our corporate news media have avoided the subject like a plague, the hunger striking detainees at Guantanamo are being brutally force-fed, itself a form of torture. Torture by America has not stopped, they’re just trying to keep it quiet. And you should know there are some amazingly valiant activists who are on indefinite hunger strikes themselves, to try to force attention on this issue.

Here is what Cynthia Papermaster has to say.

We are asking President Barack Obama to immediately begin releasing the 86 cleared for-release Guantanamo detainees. My hunger strike is now 31 days old. I have not eaten solid food for 31 days, and am existing on less than 300 calories a day. I’ve lost about 20 pounds. I am committed to continuing my hunger strike until the President, who has the clear authority to do so, begins to release the cleared, innocent men from the prison. Cynthia Johnson has been fasting on mostly liquids for nearly 25 days.

Our City Council in Berkeley passed a Resolution co-authored by me, Peace and Justice Commissioner Rita Maran, and the national group “No More Guantanamos”, in October 2011, which welcomes one or two cleared detainees to settle in our community, at private expense. We’ve been successfully raising funds for this purpose.

The Resolution also said that the Council would urge Obama to close Guantanamo Prison and Congress to lift the ban against detainees resettling in the United States. Well, that hasn’t happened, yet we think that if the men had a place to live, a safe and welcoming place, that Obama could use his Executive Order privilege to allow them to live in the USA, in Berkeley.

We also know that there is a waiver in the National Defense Authorization Act that allows him to release detainees. So there’s really no reason for him to refuse, especially since I, Elliot Adams and Tarak Kauff are on long-term, open-ended hunger strike. Elliot is on day 60 of his hunger strike. Tarak is on day 47. We are all taking less than 300 calories a day. You can see our profiles and hunger strike statements at www.closegitmo.net. Click on “Hunger Strikes/Fasts” tab.

Because my health is at risk, I think it’s time to step up the actions for helping the men go free.

As Dr. Martin Luther King said- “These are the times for real choices and not false ones. We are at the moment when our lives must be placed on the line if our nation is to survive its own folly. Every man of humane convictions must decide on the protest that best suits his convictions, but we must all protest.

Peaceteam.net

Most Notorious Prison Camp

Dear friends across the US,

In 24 hours, President Obama could finally move to close Guantanamo — the most notorious prison camp on earth.

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With inmates on a 100-day hunger strike and massive calls for Obama to act, our president has been pushed to respond with a major speech about the prison. If enough of us demand a plan — he could free the prisoners already cleared for release, and appoint a White House official with one mission: close Guantanamo down!

We’re at a tipping point. Sign up to demand Obama close this shameful gulag down, and share the shocking facts below so others join this urgent call:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/obama_shut_down_gitmo_us/?bMPbqab&v=25082

The facts speak for themselves:
Detainees in Guantanamo now: 166
Detainees facing active charges: 6
Detainees cleared for immediate release, but stuck in the camp: 86
Guantanamo inmates on hunger strike: 103
Hunger strikers strapped down and force fed: 30
Prisoners who have died in custody: 9
Children the US has held at Guantanamo: 21
Detainees tried in civilian court: 1
“Unreleasable” detainees who can’t be tried for lack of evidence or torture: 50
Prisoners released by the Bush administration: 500+
Prisoners released by the Obama administration: 72
Current annual cost to US taxpayers: $150 million
Days since Obama first pledged to close Gitmo: 1579
Days since first prisoners arrived at Guantanamo: 11 years, 4 months, 11 days

For years, Obama has blamed the US Congress for the failure to close Guantanamo. But since Congress granted the Defense Department waiver authority that allows prisoners who have been cleared to be transferred out, Obama himself can free these 86 men. And while he will need Congressional cooperation to close the prison completely, if he truly wants to shut it down, he can task someone at the White House right now to show it is a priority and make it happen.

Sign now to demand Obama announce a plan to close Guantanamo, and then let’s up the pressure by flooding the White House with calls in these final hours — it’s time we end this shame!

http://www.avaaz.org/en/obama_shut_down_gitmo_us/?bMPbqab&v=25082

When he first campaigned to become US president, Obama promised to close Guantanamo down. This illegal and repulsive prison has led to far too much suffering and fuelled great divisions and hate in our world. Enough is enough. Let’s get Obama to act and close this painful scar on humanity.

With hope and determination,

Dalia, Joseph, Allison, Bissan, Nick, Alice, Ricken and the whole Avaaz team

UnAmerican Detention At Guantanamo

President Obama: Close Detention Facility at Guantanamo Bay
by Morris D. at Change.org
Gainesville, Virginia

I served 25 years in the US Air Force, I was the Chief Prosecutor for the Terrorism Trials at Guantanamo Bay for more than two years, and now I need your help.

I personally charged Osama Bin Laden’s driver Salim Hamdan, Australian anathema David Hicks, and Canadian teen Omar Khadr. All three were convicted … and then they were released from Guantanamo. More than 160 men who have never been charged with any offense, much less convicted of a war crime, remain at Guantanamo with no end in sight. There is something fundamentally wrong with a system where not being charged with a war crime keeps you locked away indefinitely and a war crime conviction is your ticket home.

As of April 29, 2013 – 100 of the 166 men who remain in Guantanamo are engaged in a hunger strike in protest of their indefinite detention. Twenty-one of them are being force-fed and five are hospitalized. Some of the men have been in prison for more than eleven years without charge or trial. The United States has cleared a majority of the detainees for transfer out of Guantanamo, yet they remain in custody year after year because of their citizenship and ongoing political gamesmanship in the U.S.

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That is why I am calling on Secretary of Defense Charles Hagel to use his authority to effect cleared transfers from Guantanamo and on President Obama to appoint an individual within the Administration to lead the effort to close Guantanamo. Obama announced on April 30 that he plans to do his part to close Guantanamo, but he has made this promise before. Now is the time to hold him to his promise and urge him to take the steps necessary to dismantle Guantanamo Bay Prison.

If any other country were treating prisoners the way we are treating those in Guantanamo we would roundly and rightly criticize that country. We can never retake the legal and moral high ground when we claim the right to do unto others that which we would vehemently condemn if done to one of us.

It is probably no surprise that human rights and activist groups like the Center For Constitutional Rights, Witness Against Torture and Amnesty International have been outspoken critics of Guantanamo. It may surprise you that a former military prosecutor and many other retired senior military officers and members of the intelligence community agree with them.

The Patriotic thing, the American thing, the Human thing to do here is to Close Guantanamo. Please join us in the fight by signing this petition.

Keep Your Word Mr. President

Dear Gabriel,

“Don’t blow it.” That’s what I want to say to President Obama.

This is the moment that will define the future of the United States’ commitment on human rights. President Obama’s second term will determine whether the post 9/11 stains on the United States’ human rights record are an anomaly or the “new normal.”

President Obama promised to support and advance human rights. Let’s hold him to it.

When he was first elected in 2008, President Obama promised a new dawn of American leadership. As a new president, he acknowledged that the protection of human rights cannot rest on exhortation alone.

He offered the promise of an administration that would respect human rights — closing the Guantánamo prison, bringing detention practices in line with international law, repudiating secrecy and ensuring that human rights weren’t traded away in the name of national security.

It really isn’t a choice for the President to make. Under international law, the U.S. government is obligated to respect, protect and fulfill human rights, and ensure accountability for violations of those rights.

Tell President Obama to live up to his promises and uphold human rights.

The prison at Guantánamo, indefinite detention, unfair trials, unlawful killings with drones and other human rights violations committed by the U.S government undermine the rule of law in the U.S. and around the world. These abuses also create a climate in which other countries can point to a double-standard to justify their own human rights abuses with the refrain, ‘if the U.S. government does that, why shouldn’t we?’

By taking bold steps to restore respect for human rights President Obama can help ensure justice, security and accountability here in the U.S. and around the world. That’s why he must take three bold actions immediately:

Close the prison at Guantánamo
Stop unlawful killing with drones
Ensure the UN adopts a strong Arms Trade Treaty

President Obama has been given a second chance to keep his promises on human rights. Please stand with us today and call on the president to live up to those promises.

Thank you for everything you do to protect and advance human rights.

Sincerely,

Suzanne Nossel
Executive Director
Amnesty International USA

Indefinite Detention

From Nation of Change
12 January 2012
by Amy Goodman

Guantanamo at 10: The Prisoner and the Prosecutor

Ten years ago, Omar Deghayes and Morris Davis would have struck anyone as an odd pair. While they have never met, they now share a profound connection, cemented through their time at the notorious U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Deghayes was a prisoner there. Air Force Col. Morris Davis was chief prosecutor of the military commissions there from 2005 to 2007.

Deghayes was arrested in Pakistan and handed over to the U.S. military. He told me: “There was a payment made for every person who was handed to the Americans. … We were chained, head covered, then sent to Bagram [Afghanistan]—we were tortured in Bagram—and then from Bagram to Guantanamo.”

At Guantanamo, Deghayes, one of close to 800 men who have been sent there since January 2002, received the standard treatment: “People were subjected to beatings, daily fear … without being convicted of any crime.”

While Deghayes and his fellow inmates were suffering in their cages, the Bush administration was erecting a controversial legal framework to prosecute the Guantanamo prisoners. It labeled those rounded up “enemy combatants,” argued they had no protections under the U.S. Constitution, nor under the Geneva Conventions, no rights whatsoever. Guantanamo became a legal black hole.

When I asked Col. Davis if he felt that torture was used at Guantanamo, he said:

“I don’t think there’s any doubt. I would say that there was torture. Susan Crawford, a Dick Cheney protegee, said there was torture. John McCain has said waterboarding was torture, and we’ve admitted we’ve waterboarded. There have been at least five judges in federal court and military courts that have said detainees were tortured.”

Chained, kept in cages in orange jumpsuits, subjected to harsh interrogations and humiliations, with their Muslim faith vilified, the prisoners at Guantanamo began to fight back, through the time-honored tradition of nonviolent noncooperation. They began a hunger strike. In response, examples were made of Deghayes and the other protesters. He recalled: “After beating me in the cell, they dragged me outside, and then one of the guards, while another officer was standing, observing what was happening, [tried] to gouge my eyes out. … I lost sight in both of my eyes. Slowly, I regained my sight in one of the eyes. The other eye has completely gotten worse. And they went to do the same thing to the next cell and the next cell and next cell … to frighten everyone else from campaigning or from objecting to any policies.”

Deghayes now has sight in one eye. His right eye remains shut. After his release from Guantanamo, he was sent back to Britain. He is suing the British government for its collaboration in his imprisonment and torture.

Col. Morris Davis, disgusted with the military tribunal process, resigned his position in 2007, and in 2008 retired from the military. He went to work at the Congressional Research Service. After penning an opinion piece critical of the Obama administration’s embrace of the military tribunals, which was published in The Wall Street Journal in 2009, Davis was fired.

Read entire story at Nation of Change.

End Indefinite Detention

Dear Gabriel,

Osama bid Laden may be dead, but the War on Terror is still being used as an excuse to sacrifice our values and our rights.

On New Year’s Eve, President Obama signed a bill into law that gives him and future presidents the power to use the U.S. military to pick up and indefinitely detain civilians accused of supporting terrorism — including American citizens — anywhere in the world without charges and without a trial.

This represents a further entrenchment of the Guantanamo mindset that jettisons our most cherished values and our constitutional rights all in the name of national security.

Tell President Obama and Congress: Close Guantanamo and end indefinite detention. Click here to automatically sign the petition.

The president and all members of Congress need to see that Americans are outraged by the support in all three branches of government for this outrageous attack on our constitutional rights.

Even if your representative or your senators voted against the bill that allows indefinite detention, they need to hear from you.1

What’s more, they need to see a groundswell of support behind a renewed effort to shut down the shameful American gulag at Guantanamo.

Guantanamo is a black mark on our national conscience that started under George W. Bush in the wake of 9-11. But it has only continued, despite promises to the contrary, under President Obama.

Tomorrow marks the tenth anniversary of the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. It’s long past time we shut it down.

Tell President Obama and Congress: Close Guantanamo and end indefinite detention. Click here to automatically sign the petition.

Indefinite detention without charges or trial is fundamentally contrary to the democratic values that our system of government rests upon.

For that reason alone, President Obama could have and should have vetoed legislation that prevented the closure of Guantanamo and allowed for the indefinite military detention of American citizens.

But Congress also must shoulder much of the blame.

There is a disturbing degree of elite consensus that the War on Terror justifies rolling back our civil liberties and our obligations under the Geneva Conventions.

While there are many elected officials who to their credit have spoken out against this, the recent defense bill that allows for the indefinite military detention of Americans passed with large, bi-partisan majorities in both chambers of Congress.

The worst thing we can do in the face of this is remain silent.

We need to speak up and make sure that our elected officials know we are watching, and we must demand that they live up to the best of our nation’s values.

Tell President Obama and Congress: Close Guantanamo and end indefinite detention. Click below to automatically sign the petition:

http://act.credoaction.com/r/?r=366370&id=33280-266627-ENbk89x&t=10

Thank you for speaking out.

Matt Lockshin, Campaign Manager
CREDO Action from Working Assets

Threat of Indefinite Detention

From Nation of Change
by Jane Olzen
5 January 2012

Speak Out: The Rising Threat of Indefinite Detention

The irony of it all is way more telling than the State of the Union address that we will hear in a few weeks. A constitutional lawyer who was freely elected president signs into law an act that betrays the very principles that the nation he represents was founded on. While the more cautious of us might shy away from the word fascism to describe a nation’s military having the right to detain citizens without trial, it is certainly not hyperbole. There has already been an onslaught of criticism regarding the controversial National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that Congress legislated and President Obama signed into law on January 1, 2012.

Historically, the NDAA was a spending bill that set the annual budget for the US military. Recently, the guaranteed passage of the NDAA has been used by legislators—in spite of vehement rhetorical opposition by progressive and GOP legislators, the bill still passed, unsurprisingly, with overwhelming support (86-13 with one abstaining in the Senate; 322-96 with eleven abstaining in the House)—to craft the policies and politics of the war on terror.

The same day President Obama signed the NDAA, activists with Witness Against Torture (WAT) began preparing for a January 3, 2012 trial to defend themselves against charges stemming from a June 2011 protest when they interrupted House of Representative deliberations on a Defense Appropriations Bill—a precursor to the final NDAA.

The reason for WAT’s protest was not the provision that allows the president to indefinitely detain anyone, anywhere, which was not included in the early drafts of the 2012 military spending bill. Rather WAT was protesting the provisions in the bill—which did make it into the NDAA—that establish the prison in Guantanamo Bay as a permanent fixture in U.S. foreign policy and seriously question America’s commitment to human and civil rights. Journalist Andy Worthington describes the provisions that make it near impossible to transfer detainees for trial in civilian courts or release them to foreign countries.

The uproar regarding the NDAA’s potential treatment of U.S. citizens as “enemy combatants,” without rights to counsel or trial, in the war on terror is simply the realization of a misguided, immoral, and ineffective domestic and foreign response to terrorism. The chickens are coming home to roost. The American legacy of the 2000s is one of torture, illegal domestic spying, the flouting of international law, and unconscionable detention practices. Meanwhile, nonviolent alternatives for effectively dealing with terrorists—such as a long-stalled potential rehabilitation center for Guantanamo detainees or peer-group centers that challenge and shift the narratives of Islamist terrorism (such as Abdul Haqq Baker and the STREET center that WNV favorite Tina Rosenberg has reported on)—are not given much official consideration.

Read entire article at Nation of Change.

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