President Barack Obama approved Monday the resumption of military trials for detainees at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, ending a two-year ban. It was the latest acknowledgement that the detention facility Obama had vowed to shut down within a year of taking office will remain open for some time to come. But even while announcing a resumption of military commission trials, Obama reaffirmed his support for trying terror suspects in U.S. federal courts - something that's met vehement resistance on Capitol Hill. "I strongly believe that the American system of justice is a key part of our arsenal in the war against al-Qaida and its affiliates, and we will continue to draw on all aspects of our justice system - including Article III courts - to ensure that our security and our values are strengthened," the president said in a statement.
Tag Archives | Guantanamo Bay
Rachel Slajda writes at TPMMuckraker:
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The Obama administration has loudly opposed a provision of the omnibus spending bill, passed last week by the House, that would ban the transfer of Guantanamo Bay detainees to U.S. soil, even for trial.
“This provision goes well beyond existing law and would unwisely restrict the ability of the Executive branch to prosecute alleged terrorists in Federal courts or military commissions in the United States,” Attorney General Eric Holder wrote in a letter to Senate leadership, calling the provision “dangerous” and asking that it be stripped before the Senate votes on the bill this week.
“We strongly oppose this provision. Congress should not limit the tools available to the executive branch in bringing terrorists to justice and advancing our national security interests,” White House spokesman Reid Cherlin said just before the bill passed.
So you would think, then, that this was perhaps a provision snuck into the must-pass government funding bill by Republicans intent on derailing Holder’s plan to try self-proclaimed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in civilian criminal court.
With half the world chasing after him, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange tries to save himself by threatening to unlock an encrypted “doomsday file” of documents if detained. As reported by the New York Post (with readership seeming to favor Assange’s assassination):
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WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has circulated across the internet an encrypted “poison pill” cache of uncensored documents suspected to include files on BP and Guantanamo Bay. One of the files identified this weekend by The (London) Sunday Times — called the “insurance” file — has been downloaded from the WikiLeaks website by tens of thousands of supporters, from America to Australia.
Assange warns that any government that tries to curtail his activities risks triggering a new deluge of state and commercial secrets.
The military papers on Guantanamo Bay, yet to be published, believed to have been supplied by Bradley Manning, who was arrested in May. Other documents that Assange is confirmed to possess include an aerial video of a US airstrike in Afghanistan that killed civilians, BP files and Bank of America documents.
Truthout claims that the military forced prisoners in Guantanamo Bay to take dangerously large doses of a controversial anti-malarial drug, as a form of “pharmaceutical waterboarding.” Was this a medical error? Being overcautious in regards to a potential malaria outbreak? Or the use of drugs as a tool for torture?
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The US military administered the drug despite Pentagon knowledge that mefloquine caused severe neuropsychiatric side effects, including suicidal thoughts, hallucinations and anxiety. The drug was used on the prisoners whether they had malaria or not.
The revelation, which has not been previously reported, was buried in documents publicly released by the Defense Department (DoD) two years ago as part of the government’s investigation into the June 2006 deaths of three Guantanamo detainees.
Army Staff Sgt. Joe Hickman, who was stationed at Guantanamo at the time of the suicides in 2006, and has presented evidence that demonstrates the three detainees could not have died by hanging themselves, noticed in the detainees’ medical files that they were given mefloquine.
From the Irish Times:
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US President Barack Obama’s attempts to reach out to Muslims have been an “utter failure” given his broken promises on several issues including closing Guantánamo Bay detention facility, former inmate Moazzam Begg has said.
Begg, a British national who spent two years in Guantánamo before being released in 2005, fears the detention centre may become permanent.
“People who were released from Guantánamo after Obama came to power told me that conditions had improved slightly but nobody there was under the illusion that [it] was going to close,” Begg said during a visit to Dublin.
“It is like a town now and every thing around it has continued to expand. It seems that this is a permanent facility and they intend to keep it as such.”
Begg, whose organisation, Cageprisoners, recently expanded its work to include the highlighting of extra-judicial killings, particularly the use of drone strikes, argued little had changed despite Obama’s promises.
No, not during the Bush administration. ProPublica reports:
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When Judge Henry Kennedy Jr. ordered the release of a Guantánamo Bay detainee last spring, the case appeared to be a routine setback for an Obama administration that has lost a string of such cases.
But there turns out to be nothing ordinary about the habeas case brought by Uthman Abdul Rahim Mohammed Uthman , a Yemeni held without charges for nearly eight years. Uthman, accused by two U.S. administrations of being an al-Qaida fighter and bodyguard for Osama bin Laden, is among 48 detainees the Obama administration has deemed too dangerous to release but “not feasible for prosecution.”
A day after his March 16 order was filed on the court’s electronic docket, Kennedy’s opinion vanished. Weeks later, a new ruling appeared in its place. While it reached the same conclusion, eight pages of material had been removed, including key passages in which Kennedy dismantled the government’s case against Uthman.
“You know here I was basically just putting innocent people in cages.”
The BBC has the story a bizarre reunion between a former Guantanamo Bay guard, Brandon Neely of Texas, and two of his former prisoners, Shafiq Rasul and Ruhal Ahmed of England, who were held there for two years.
Against all odds, Neely and Ahmed had become friends chatting through the bars Guantanamo, cracking jokes and discussing Eminem and Dr. Dre. Several years later:
“I was pretty new to Facebook and decided to type in their names to see if their profiles popped up and I came across Shafiq’s Facebook page,” says Mr Neely.
To Mr Neely’s astonishment he received a reply and the pair began an exchange of e-mails. BBC asked if both sides would be prepared to meet in person…
Did you know there’s a McDonald’s In Guantanamo Bay? It’s true. They’re currently hiring for the position of assistant manager. Notice how the listing avoids referring to Guantanamo by name, instead calling it “the United States Naval base in Cuba.” Apparently, no special security clearance is need for the job, just a desire to “Enjoy the perks.”