August 2023 Archives


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Censorship Has Never Been Worse at Guantánamo Bay

"What they try to do is ensure that what is going on here does not impact the contemporary conscience of the American public," said former Naval Criminal Investigative Service counterterrorism special agent Mark Fallon. "Because if it does, there may be greater calls for accountability against those that tortured in our name. And the longer that you can keep that from occurring, the safer, not just [for] the torturers but [for] the torture advocates, the torture lobby. Those who believe that torture should be used as an instrument of national policy are in jeopardy. Their legacies are in jeopardy."


A large hole is seen in the side of a warship, as a smaller boat passes by with sailors aboard.

The military judge in the U.S.S. Cole bombing case on Friday threw out confessions the Saudi defendant Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri had made to federal agents at Guantánamo Bay after years of secret imprisonment by the C.I.A., declaring the statements the product of torture, reports Carol Rosenberg.

"Exclusion of such evidence is not without societal costs," wrote judge Col. Lanny Aco. "However, permitting the admission of evidence obtained by or derived from torture by the same government that seeks to prosecute and execute the accused may have even greater societal costs."

"For the first time in the checkered 21-year history of the prison at Guantanamo Bay, the United States recently allowed a United Nations special rapporteur to visit the detention center and meet with detainees," notes Senator Dick Durbin. "In [Fionnuala Ní Aoláin's] report, released in late June, she emphasized the significance of this decision by the Biden administration.

"Following her visit to Guantanamo, the special rapporteur found that the legacy of torture and arbitrary detention combined with the current structural conditions at Guantanamo constitute 'cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment' and 'may also meet the legal threshold for torture.'

"These findings should be a wakeup call for the Biden administration," posits Durbin. Failure to release men who have been cleared and securing due process for those charged would perpetuate inherited injustices and make them Biden's own. 

Art is among the few existing testaments to life inside the Guantanamo Bay facility, which opened a few months after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks to hold foreign suspects in America's war on terror. 

In May, 20 of Rabbani's paintings were shown at a gallery in the Pakistani city of Karachi. U.S. authorities didn't allow some works depicting torture and suffering to be taken from Guantanamo, but other artists re-created them from descriptions written by Rabbani's lawyer.Photo by Insiya Syed

"You can imagine why they wouldn't let these pictures out," said Rabbani's lawyer, Clive Stafford Smith. "It's not an issue of national security, but of national embarrassment."

The revelations of widespread torture of detainees at the illegal US naval base in Guantanamo, Cuba, rattled the American conscience during the Bush Jr. administration, reminds Mansa Musa. Two decades later, detainments at Guantanamo continue, but the public has largely moved on. Yet for many former detainees of Guantanamo, release from their former prison has just opened a new chapter of horrors. A recent report from Elise Swain of The Intercept reveals that instead of being sent home, many former Guantanamo detainees were deported to a third country such as Kazakhstan, the UAE, and others. Despite being released from Guantanamo, these former detainees continue to experience arbitrary detention under the Kazakh and Emirati governments while being prevented from reuniting with their families. Elise Swain joins Rattling the Bars to explain these new revelations.

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The President's Executioner

Detention and torture in Guantanamo

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