Real People Are in Guantanamo Torture Camp

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Statement from Former Prisoner on the 9th Anniversary of Guantanamo

Omar Deghayes_cropped.jpg

"It isn't my eye, not my broken fingers or broken ribs, not the sexual abuse or the humiliation that is the worst.  It is missing those seven early years of my child's life." -Omar Deghayes, Outside the Law

Deghayes was arrested in his house in Lahore, Pakistan on the other side of the country from Afghanistan and far from any battlefield.  His house was suddenly surrounded by police and he was taken away from his family, including the adorable little boy, about my favorite baby Lars' age now, whose entire early childhood was stolen both from his father who loved him and cherishes those years of his children's life, and from the child whose security and stability at that age were also wrenched from him.  These losses can never be returned nor compensated.

Worthington himself was present for the event and will go to Washington.  Also present was lawyer and author Scott Horton who exposed last year many facts about the deaths of three prisoners at Guantanamo that had been reported by the US government as suicides.  The evidence provided by guards at the torture camp rule that possibility out all together.  His article The Guantanamo "Suicides": A Camp Delta sergeant blows the whistle in Harper's Magazine of March 20, 2010 was cited earlier on this blog here and here.

After the screening of the film, which shows several of the English speaking prisoners who were tortured and imprisoned for years, ending with the statement above, Horton, who had not seen the film before, was asked to comment on it.  He was impressed that the film showed the story of the prisoners, not of the US.  He, who knows the prison and is another authority on US torture and offenses against the Geneva Conventions and US law which have been perpetrated since 2001 and are increasing by an order of magnitude under the Obama regime, added other details and corroborations.  Horton said that the US government does not want the stories of these prisoners to be known.  He, as Worthington does, wants the US public to know these people, not to see them as faceless, identical "detainees," but as individual people with real stories.

I was aware of the fact that most, if not all, of the prisoners had nothing whatever to do with attacks on the US.  Horton, an authority on military law, explained that until 2001 and Cheney's orders during the Bush regime, there was a practice dating from George Washington, of evaluating those taken in battles and war as soon after their capture as possible and as close to the point of capture as possible.  Innocent persons have been swept up in the melee.  When they were discovered to be innocent bystanders through these battlefield tribunals, they were dismissed.  Usually as many as 90%, of those captured were released.

In Afghanistan, these battle field tribunals, at Cheney's order, with the legal complicity of his lawyer Addington, were not held.  The arrests of most of the people held in Guantanamo are gross miscarriages of justice and crimes against humanity.  There was good reason for Cheney to order that because these prisoners were not captured on the field of battle as reported; virtually all of the prisoners were sold to the US by bounty hunters and Pakistani officials, at the cost of millions of dollars of US taxpayers' money.

Horton told a story that he says has been published widely in the world: in India and the far east, in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Iraq, in the Arab States.  Though I read widely daily in the Western press, my inability to read Eastern languages has meant this was news to me.  Of course, the failure of the corporate press to report this is part of what makes me grateful to Julian Assange as well as Scott Horton and Andy Worthington and their colleagues who are doing the work of journalists, at the possible cost of their lives.

Horton reported that early in the Afghan conflict, military leaders estimated there were about 600 Taliban and Al Quaeda leaders who were key to the resistance against the US invasion.  Assuming they would capture these persons, they wanted a place to incarcerate them, which was part of the rational for what became the torture camp at Guantanamo.  The widely reported incident that was completely news to me at this event, was as follows, reported in his 2008 book Descent into Chaos by Pakistani journalist and professor Ahmed Rashid:

"One senior (U.S.) intelligence analyst told me, 'The request was made by Musharraf to Bush, but Cheney took charge--a token of who was handling Musharraf at the time. The approval was not shared with anyone at State, including Colin Powell, until well after the event. Musharraf said Pakistan needed to save its dignity and its valued people. Two planes were involved, which made several sorties a night over several nights. They took off from air bases in Chitral and Gilgit in Pakistan's northern areas, and landed in Kunduz, where the evacuees were waiting on the tarmac. Certainly hundreds and perhaps as many as one thousand people escaped. Hundreds of ISI officers, Taliban commanders, and foot soldiers belonging to the IMU and al Qaeda personnel boarded the planes. What was sold as a minor extraction turned into a major air bridge.'"

Horton says that having let the leaders get away into Pakistan, Cheney, the arrogant, the one who could never fail or make mistakes, had to save his face.  The result was the infamous call for bounty hunters to round up anyone they could.  Worthington's film shows some of the flyers distributed by US personnel promising huge sums of money to anyone who turned in "bad guys" to them.  Pakistan, having fooled the US into allowing the leaders to leave (don't you suspect Bin Laden might have been among them?) also collected vast sums of money for turning people over.

People like Deghayes, who had nothing to do with any aggression against the US or indeed anyone, were turned over by corrupt officials and bounty hunters, tortured at Bagram, flown in what he reports as a truly horrific manner to Guantanamo where they were tortured and abused for years.

Though of the 800 original men and boys who were imprisoned there many have been freed without charge, some also receiving reparations, 174 remain.

Binyam Mohamed.jpg

Binyam Mohmed, another of those freed, was represented by Col. Yvonne Bradley, who spoke in New York last year and whose witness you can read on this blog.  Another of his lawyers, Clive Stafford Smith appears in Worthington's film.  He said that Mohamed had been subjected to "unspeakable" horrors.  I already know of a good many things he endured, and cannot ever fathom what else there could have been.

Moazzam Begg.jpg

Moazzan Begg was another of the now released English speaking prisoners.  Their stories are beyond my worst nightmares.  And my tax money pays for this.

It is hard to find the most atrocious, the most heart breaking of these stories.  They just go on and on.  One I heard that is perhaps closest to being the worst is that of Shaker Ammer pictured below with two of his children before capture.

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Like all the persons interviewed for this film, Ammer speaks fluent English.  Worthington and the lawyers indicate that the English speakers were subject to the worst abuse; just because they had a voice they were more threatening and needed more putting down as a result by their US torturers.  Further, Ammer knew something about his rights and was willing to stand up for his own and those of his fellows.  He was a "troublemaker."

shaker ammer.jpg  Ammer, in orange, much thinner and more intense after torture and abuse in US custody.

Part of the story about the "suicides" told to Horton by the guards was that four people were removed to a secret site at Guantanamo, presumably for "interrogation" probably for torture.  The other three are dead, lies about those deaths abound and parts of the bodies have never been recovered.  Ammer is now held in complete solitary confinement and silence.  He does not have contact even with guards.  He has been silenced.

Worthington reported that there have been negotiations between the UK and the US about him, attempts apparently to have him freed, but he stays in that hell.  Horton and Worthington speculate that the US will not risk his release and his telling what he knows about that night and those deaths.

If I, who know this, were to fail to do everything I can to stop US torture and aggression, I would be complicit with it.  I must continue to do what I can to stop these atrocities.  They show vividly that any claim to justice, to democracy, to freedom, to liberty that the foul US government makes are illegitimate.  Horton said that the only remedy is to hold all those responsible accountable, to indict and try them: Cheney, Bush, Rumsfeld, Rice, Wolfowitz, as well as the six lawyers who wrote opinions to support the torture plans of the regime: Alberto Gonzales, John Yoo, Jay Bybee, William J. Haynes II, David Addington, Douglas J. Feith.

Horton cited the trials (supported by the US in another era)  of the Nazi lawyers who did things like what the six Bush regime lawyers did as ample precedent for trying the six.  A Spanish court with international jurisdiction is currently preparing to do just that.  It is to be hoped that trials of the other US war criminals will follow.  Until then, we are all implicated. The Wikileaks exposure of US pressure on Spanish courts not to try US war criminals has, fortunately, caused the Spaniards to be incensed.  There is outrage that Spanish officials had caved in to US pressure.  This bodes well for trials there.

I for one am committed to stopping these crimes of my country.  On Tuesday, I will be joining others from the World Can't Wait to forward via this blog, facebook, twitter and other means real time updates of the protest in Washington in front of the White House and the march with 174 people in orange jumpsuits to the Justice (sic) Department.

Please join in this protest in whatever way you can.

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This page contains a single entry published on January 12, 2011 2:19 AM.

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