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11 Years of Infamy -- US Actions at Guantanamo Prison

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There are 166 out of 779 still imprisoned, including 87 cleared for release, but still held at Guantanamo

January 11, 2013, marked the 11th year that the infamous Guantanamo prison has been in operation by the United States. It is also 11 years that Hamid Karzai has the leader of Afghanistan. On January 11, President Karzai met with Barak Obama, the second US president who has presided over the war in Afghanistan. We don't know if President Karzai mentioned the 18 Afghans who remain in Guantanamo out of the 220 who were imprisoned.

But, no doubt there were discussions about the messy turnover of prisons in Afghanistan from US control to Afghan control, in which the US still refuses to hand over some prisoners. In 2012, 570 detainees were released after acquittal in Afghan courts with an additional 485 in the process of being released after a bilateral board of Afghans and Americans determined that there was not enough evidence to prosecute them. On the day prior to President Karzai's departure for Washington, another 80 prisoners were released.

It was 11 years ago, in late January, 2002, when I was on a helicopter that flew then interim-president Karzai from Kabul to Bagram Air Base for him to board a military aircraft for a flight to Washington, DC to meet with President Bush for the first time and for Karzai to be seated next to Laura Bush in the US Capitol gallery for President Bush's 2002 State of the Union message. At the time, I was in the US diplomatic corps and was on the small team that had reopened the US Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan in mid-December, 2001.

Eleven years ago, on January 10 or January 11, another military plane had flown from Bagram Air Base. It was a secret flight known to only a few very senior US officials (I was not one of them) and CIA and military personnel needed to carry out the flight. The plane carried 20 passengers, all strapped down on the icy floor of the plane, hands and feet cuffed, wearing blacked out eye goggles to they couldn't see and wearing diapers so their captors would not have to take them to the toilet in the long 22-hour flight from Afghanistan to Cuba. These were the first of what ended up being 779 prisoners, many of whom the United States government bought in a bounty program ($5,000 to $25,000 for al Qaeda members and $1 million for Osama bin Ladin) who were flown from sites all over the world to be locked up and tortured in a new prison constructed on the US Naval Base at Guantanamo, Cuba.

Eleven years later, here are the statistics that make Guantanamo a word of infamy (with apologies to those who live in the city of Guantanamo, Cuba). Statistics are from Reprieve, a UK human rights group, and Human Rights First...

779 persons have been imprisoned in Guantanamo since January 11, 2002.

166 prisoners are still detained in Guantanamo.

603 prisoners have been released.

1 Guantanamo prisoner has been convicted by US federal courts (Ahmed Ghalilani).

9 have died in Guantanamo, 6 allegedly by suicide and 3 of "natural causes." (3 from Afghanistan, 3 from Saudi Arabia and 3 from Yemen).

Only 6 of the 779 prisoners have been put before a military commission.

4 prisoners eventually agreed to plea bargains.

1 prisoner has been convicted in a military commission.

1 prisoner is still at trial.

87 prisoners of the 166 (one-half) have been "cleared for transfer" by senior officials six US government agencies, but have not been released.

90 of the 166 are from Yemen, 18 from Afghanistan, 8 from Saudi Arabia, 7 from Algeria, 6 from Pakistan, 5 from Tunisia, 4 from China, 4 from Libya, 3 the Palestinian Territories, 3 from Syria, 2 from Mauritania, 2 from Uzbekistan, 2 from Malaysia, 2 from Sudan, 2 from Kuwait and one each from Kenya, Indonesia, Russia, Morocco, Somalia, Bosnia, Iraq and Tajikistan.

30 of those cleared for release are from Yemen and are being held until "conditions in the country improve," which means with US drone strikes in Yemen increasing, they will not be released for a long time, much less the other 60 from Yemen.

Only 16 prisoners are considered "high value" (3 from Pakistan, 2 from Afghanistan, 2 Saudi Arabia, 2 Yemen, 2 Malaysia, 1 Indonesia, 1 Somalia, 1 Palestinian Territories, 1 Iraq, 1 Libya).

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Ann Wright is a 29 year US Army/Army Reserves veteran who retired as a Colonel and a former US diplomat who resigned in March, 2003 in opposition to the war on Iraq. She served in Nicaragua, Grenada, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Sierra Leone, Micronesia and Mongolia. In December, 2001 (more...)
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Ex-Guantanamo Guard on torture http://www.youtu... by Deborah Dills on Sunday, Jan 13, 2013 at 4:01:06 PM
Issue Murder Indictment of George W BushOn the cha... by Lance Ciepiela on Monday, Jan 14, 2013 at 8:41:53 PM
and it can be done as soon as you can get enough p... by Doc McCoy on Tuesday, Jan 15, 2013 at 4:45:39 AM
It's the "not in my backyard syndrome". Funny how... by Laura Roberts on Tuesday, Jan 15, 2013 at 8:52:11 AM
Laura.I suspect that the irony will be lost. ... by Doc McCoy on Tuesday, Jan 15, 2013 at 9:22:32 AM