A front page headline in The New York Times caught our attention Sunday: "Guantanamo Prisoners Move." What? That would be the first time in 19 years prisoners were free to move. But of course they weren't.  Despite the misleading headline, reporter Carol Rosenberg's piece was clear: prisoners had been moved from the notorious secret Camp 7 to camps in the prison where all 40 remaining prisoners are now held.
A Google Earth image of the secretive Camp 7 at Guantánamo Bay.
Camp 7 was built in 2004 to house so-called "high value detainees" after they were held around the globe in "black sites" and tortured. Anything about it has been highly classified. The new film "The Mauritanian," the story of Mohamedou ould Slahi, brought Camp 7 into public consciousness. Only terrible things happened there, and now its physical edifice was collapsing, long after its fake moral edifice crumbled.


Andy Worthington writes this week, "Moving the 'high-value detainees' solves the immediate problem of the broken prison block in which they were living, but it does nothing to solve the bigger problem of the broken prison itself. In the review of the prison's future that Biden administration officials have promised, with the suggestion that the prison's closure is Biden's aim, the six men cleared for release need to be freed, and the administration needs to accept that it cannot continue holding indefinitely men it has no intention of putting on trial, and must charge or release the 22 'forever prisoners,' including the six who are also so-called 'high-value detainees'." Continue reading...

You remember that Obama issued an order to close Guantanamo more than 12 years ago? Biden seems, maybe, to have said he might close the torture camp, if Congress allows it. Which it won't.  For better or worse, each as commander in chief, could order it closed, forcing the issue.

Let the demand be amplified by the people: Close ALL of Guantanamo now!

Next month, Mohammed Slahi's story, Guantanamo Diary, will debut as the film The Mauritanian with Jodie Foster as Slahi's attorney Nancy Hollander. Other cast members are Tahar Rahim, Shailene Woodley and Benedict Cumberbatch.

Here is information on writing to the prisoners provided by CloseGuantanamo.org:

If you are an Arabic speaker, or speak any other languages spoken by the prisoners besides English, feel free to write in those languages. Do please note that any messages that can be construed as political should be avoided, as they may lead to the letters not making it past the Pentagon's censors. Be aware, though, that your messages may not get through anyway -- but please don't let that put you off.

When writing to the prisoners please ensure you include their full name and ISN (internment serial number) below (these are the numbers before their names):

>> List of Current Prisoners. 40 men are still held, and five of these men were recommended for release by high-level governmental review processes under President Obama, decisions that Donald Trump chose to ignore after taking office in January 2017. A sixth man was approved for release towards the end of the Trump presidency.

Please address all letters to:
Detainee Name
Detainee ISN
U.S. Naval Station
Guantánamo Bay
Washington, D.C. 20355
United States of America
Please also include a return address on the envelope.

 
Psychologists Should Now Lead the Call to Close Guantánamo
 
Roy Eidelson

 

Last week, Mansoor Adayfi, Moazzam Begg, Lakhdar Boumediane, Sami Al Hajj, Ahmed Errachidi, Mohammed Ould Slahi, and Moussa Zemmouri published an open letter in the New York Review of Books. Noting that many Guantánamo detainees had been abducted from their homes, sold to the United States for bounties, and subjected to physical and psychological torture, these seven former prisoners--all held without charge or trial before their eventual release--called upon President Biden to close the detention facility. Their letter, which merits reading in its entirety, includes this plea:

 

Considering the violence that has happened at Guantánamo, we are sure that after more than nineteen years, you agree that imprisoning people indefinitely without trial while subjecting them to torture, cruelty and degrading treatment, with no meaningful access to families or proper legal systems, is the height of injustice. That is why imprisonment at Guantánamo must end.

 

These accusations are neither isolated nor unsubstantiated. Indeed, the week before Biden's inauguration, a group of United Nations experts--including Nils Melzer, the Special Rapporteur on torture--described Guantánamo as a "disgrace" and as "a place of arbitrariness and abuse, a site where torture and ill-treatment was rampant and remains institutionalised, where the rule of law is effectively suspended, and where justice is denied." They too called for its closure and reaffirmed that "The prolonged and indefinite detention of individuals, who have not been convicted of any crime by a competent and independent judicial authority operating under due process of law, is arbitrary and constitutes a form of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or even torture."
 
As an American psychologist, I recognize that my profession should be among the most vocal in supporting this humanitarian call. There are three compelling reasons why. First, the ugly, unwelcome truth is that psychologists--and other healthcare professionals--were key participants in designing and implementing the brutal "war on terror" detention and interrogation operations that have caused so much grievous harm. According to a Senate report, for example, a military psychologist and psychiatrist stationed at Guantánamo during its first year of operation recommended that "all aspects of the environment should enhance capture shock, dislocate expectations, foster dependence, and support exploitation to the fullest extent possible." Likewise, according to a memo from the Department of Justice, "close observation" by psychologists and physicians was required whenever waterboarding and other torturous "enhanced interrogation techniques" were employed at the CIA's infamous black sites. In short, Guantánamo is a potent symbol of a shameful catalog of abuses and torture from which psychologists cannot hide, one that includes sleep deprivation, extended isolation, stress positions, sensory bombardment, forced nudity, freezing temperatures, sexual and cultural humiliation, and confinement in coffin-like boxes.

 

Second, the American Psychological Association (APA)--the world's largest organization of psychologists--failed to adequately resist these unfolding horrors or defend the profession's fundamental do-no-harm principles. In the days immediately after the 9/11 attacks, Vice President Dick Cheney told a national television audience that those deemed to be our enemies would face the "full wrath" of the United States and that our operatives would "spend time in the shadows" working "the dark side" and using "any means at our disposal." Early reports from Guantánamo also raised concerns about psychologists' involvement in detainee mistreatment. The International Committee of the Red Cross even characterized the regime there as "tantamount to torture." Yet for years the APA's stance was to deny any wrongdoing by psychologists, instead insisting that their participation helped to keep these operations "safe, legal, ethical, and effective." Eventually, an independent review documented that key APA leaders had engaged in years-long covert collaboration with Department of Defense psychologists to ensure that the APA's ethics policies would not constrain the continuing participation of psychologists in Guantánamo's detention and interrogation activities.

 

Third, given our training, psychologists understand better than most how profoundly devastating trauma can be. Those who work with survivors of abuse and torture have witnessed the ongoing anguish that results from deep psychic wounds and from the feelings of brokenness and helplessness that persist long after being subjected to intentional pain and humiliation at the hands of another human being. For many victims, nightmares and flashbacks are recurrent experiences, making any lasting sense of safety seemingly unimaginable. Despite examples of remarkable resilience, many who were once imprisoned at Guantánamo will undoubtedly carry psychological scars for the rest of their lives. The familial and transgenerational effects of trauma are significant as well. As for those who are still detained indefinitely, they are understandably very distrustful of U.S. military healthcare personnelExperts from the Center for Victims of Torture and Physicians for Human Rights also warn that they suffer from deprivation and despair, along with the adverse consequences of inaccurate and misleading health records, subordination of their medical needs to security functions, and outright neglect.

 

Over the past several years, the APA has made headway in acknowledging its past failures and in resetting its moral compass. Of particular note, in 2015 the association's leadership overwhelmingly approved a policy that now prohibits military psychologists from involvement with detainees at Guantánamo or other sites that United Nations authorities have determined to be in violation of international human rights law. But for the APA, its members, and the profession at large, these and related steps face ongoing resistance from influential actors with ties to the military-intelligence establishment and defense contractors.

 

It would therefore represent an important milestone on this fraught journey forward for the APA to now call for the permanent closure of Guantánamo and the just resolution of the legal cases of the forty prisoners who are still there. Other organizations committed to human rights--ACLUAmnesty International, Center for Constitutional RightsHuman Rights FirstHuman Rights WatchNational Religious Campaign Against TortureTorture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalitionand Witness Against Torture, among others--have already done so. To join these groups would signal loudly that respect for human dignity and professional ethics had successfully overcome considerations of political and economic expediency at the APA.

 

In his book Life Lines, the late minister and theologian Forrest Church wrote, "When cast into the depths, to survive we must first let go of things that will not save us. Then we must reach out for things that can." That insight applies here: The United States should let go of Guantánamo, and the APA should help Americans understand why.
 
--
Roy J. Eidelson, Ph.D.
www.royeidelson.com
Member, Coalition for an Ethical Psychology
www.ethicalpsychology.org
Past President, Psychologists for Social Responsibility
www.psysr.org
610-513-8685

Eastman has "retired."

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A virtual program streaming on Youtube and Facebook

Online with Facebook Live
Sunday, January 17, 2021 at 1 PM PST - 3 PM PST

Andy Worthington, the British journalist and co-founder of "Close Guantanamo", will speak from the UK in a livestream event about the horror of the Guantanamo detention camp and the courage and humanity of prisoners who have died, those who have been released, and those who have resisted for years.
This virtual program will stream on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/RevolutionBooks1
Andy will be joined by Shelby Sullivan-Bennis, lawyer for several Guantanamo prisoners and victims of U.S. drone strikes outside war zones.

https://www.facebook.com/events/2934705720186689/?acontext=%7B%22source%22%3A%2229%22%2C%22ref_notif_type%22%3A%22plan_user_invited%22%2C%22action_history%22%3A%22null%22%7D&notif_id=1610482095896176&notif_t=plan_user_invited&ref=notif

http://accuracy.org/release/biden-advisor-an-apologist-for-torture-an-architect-of-kill-lists/ 

"According to former Obama senior adviser, Valerie Jarrett, putative Democratic Party candidate for president Joe Biden picked a 'superstar' when he appointed ex-CIA Deputy Director and White House attorney Avril Haines to head his national security and foreign policy team," wrote Jeffrey Kaye some months ago.

"No matter how much Obama/Biden administration officials praise her, Avril Haines' role always seems to be making the unpalatable palatable, whether it's prettifying companies like [data mining] contractor Palantir, agencies like the CIA, policies like 'targeted killing,' or war criminals like current CIA chief, 'Bloody' Gina Haspel...

"The problems with Haines don't stop with her shady connections to torture. It's known that Avril Haines was Obama's CIA deputy director. But most of the public doesn't know she was also Obama's direct advisor in constructing his targeted assassination 'Kill List' policy."

When the President-elect declared "America is back" on Tuesday, the list of nominees and appointees to key national security and foreign posts he presented should give everyone pause. All Washington veterans with ties to former President Barack Obama's administration, these nominees carry a lot of baggage. "[Obama's] actions on counterterrorism provide a case in point," noted Human Rights Watch Director Kenneth Roth in an article following Donald Trump's ascendancy to the White House: 

".. rather than reaffirming the criminality of torture, Obama leaves office sending the lingering message that, should future policymakers resort to it, prosecution is unlikely. 

"Obama's efforts to close Guantánamo have been equally halfhearted. Early in his tenure, he moved slowly, enabling Congress to adopt legislation -- which he refused to veto -- imposing various obstacles to transferring detainees overseas and barring their transfer to the United States even for trial."

With respect to surveillance, Obama continued and expanded programs begun by George W. Bush that lead to massive invasions of privacy.

To his credit, Joe Biden replaces a fascist thug in the highest office. But a return to "normal," whatever that is considered, is a poor rebuttal to the hateful legacy of American exceptionalism that enabled today's horror story.

Students and faculty at University of North Carolina, Charlotte called for the removal of John Bogdan from his position as the associate vice chancellor for safety and security. American Association of University Professors chapter president John Cox said Bogdan's hiring "had already prompted us, a lot of professors, to get together and begin to talk about the serious and deep problems at the university, as central problems of democracy and of what kind of a university is this that hires someone who presided over the Guantanamo Prison Camp for two years?" he said. (Home to the author of the 'Torture Memos' UC Berkeley comes to mind.) "Why would the university even seek to hire someone, why would they be attracted to someone with that resume?"

Thanks for forwarding this article, Ed Charles:

Professors' association revamps efforts to #FireJohnBogdan!

https://www.dailytarheel.com/article/2020/08/john-bogdan-update-0812?fbclid=IwAR0m7ADqbhRqdZCfRGxv_ih9BPFcg92VffLMKozH06Kjvj-sUuQjiWC48O0

Unfinished Business

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Berkeley Law enables the nightmare we refuse to accept

Fascist in Chief: John Yoo's Fight for a Unitary Executive

The attorney who helped craft the Bush administration's 2002 legal justification for torture told The Guardian he was giving advice to the White House on how President Trump could bypass Congress and impose his own policies.

Protesters are being snatched from the streets without warrants. Can we call it fascism yet?

Michelle Goldberg, Opinion Columnist, July 20, 2020
"Through the Trump years, there's been a debate about whether the president's authoritarianism is tempered by his incompetence. Those who think concern about fascism is overblown can cite several instances when the administration has been beaten back after overreaching. But all too often the White House has persevered, deforming American life until what once seemed like worst-case scenarios become the status quo."
"President Trump and top White House officials are privately considering a controversial strategy to act without legal authority to enact new federal policies -- starting with immigration," report Alayna Treene and Stef W. Kight. "The White House thinking is being heavily influenced by John Yoo, the lawyer who wrote the Bush administration's justification for waterboarding after 9/11."

"Yoo detailed the theory in a National Review article, spotted atop Trump's desk in the Oval Office, which argues that the Supreme Court's 5-4 DACA ruling last month "makes it easy for presidents to violate the law."

"The fact that John Yoo is employed and free to opine on legal matters is an example of the culture of impunity in the United States," says prisoner defense counsel Alka Pradhan

No one has ever been held responsible for the torture, illegal detention and other human rights violations that have been and are still being committed at Guantánamo Bay -- not even the author of those "enhanced interrogation" methods. 

 

 
On May 27th, via a live stream, you can meet Mohamedou Ould Slahi who spent 14 years at Guantánamo Bay where he was illegally imprisoned and subjected to torture. Despite living under inhuman circumstances, he learned to speak English from listening to his prison guards and wrote down his experiences in letters to his lawyers. "Guantánamo Diary" was published (albeit partly censored) while he was still captive, and it became a best-seller.
 

https://www.facebook.com/events/2597235703930920/?notif_t=event_invite_reminder&notif_id=1590258834903045

 

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