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the latest on Guantanamo, really, and the many reasons why it hasn't closed.
10 years in existence
Guantanamo is a prison with a very small number of genuine terrorism suspects and much more people who travelled to Afghanistan who were not terrorists.
People were handed in for $5000 rewards offered by the US govt.
People handed in foreigners or business rivals.
In 2006 a lawsuit forced the Pentagon to release the names of the prisoners and 6000 pages of documents.
Far from being caught on the battlefield, about 90% were handed over for reward or "sold" to the army. There was no screening.
Initially, they held 1200 and three quarters were sent home.
It's a disastrous way to win hearts and minds-- why so many Iraqis and Afghans are alienated.
it's actually a very disturbing new element in warfare-- rounding up civilians, detaining them wrongly.
Guantanamo is such a dark icon of what Bush was up to.
Same process applies in Bagram prison-- people swept up and retained for over a year.
There is nothing in Bagram that touches the US legal system in any way.
Bagram prisoners don't even have the habeus corpus rights that Guantanamo prisoners have.
Some 18 months after prisoners were seized, they had to make a statement before they even heard what allegations were against them.
There is not necessarily any basis for people being seized...
Some of the men, held 9 years, the US government doesn't know why it is holding them or who they really are.
Bush Admin was looking for actionable intelligence rather than info to be used to build a case against them. They were not doing this in a hands off law enforcement manner. They were introducing interrogation techniques-- torture. The US has not reported this enough-- Supreme court gave them habeus corpus rights to ask why they are being held. What judges have seen and studied in their attempt to make their decisions has not been reported. They've discovered that the info that the government is relying on to build cases is reports from prisoner themselves or other prisoners-- very unreliable, because the prisoners are unreliable or the torture used to get the information made the information unreliable. Government keeps throwing their testimony up hoping to make it stick.
Makes Andy wonder why AG Holder is not asking what is going on with the Habeus corpus cases. have to conclude he did not want to or was told not to order a shake-up in the division of the justice department dealing with the habeus corpus (HC). They are doing exactly what theyw ere doing when President Bush was in power-- every HC petition must be challenged. No thinking in place that we should examine what we're doing.
174 in Guantanamo now
habeus corpus petitions and whole legal system on other hand.
Spent all of 2009 reviewing cases.
90 approved for transfer (means cleared for release but legalistic) 58 are from Yemen Last Xmas, a Yemeni recruit caused a backlash and Obama issued a moratorium on releasing any Yemenis.
33 should be put forward for some kind of trial
48 should be held indefinitely without trial-- they are dangerous but evidence against can't be used against them in a court of law.
Task was running in parallel existence with the habeus corpus.
Michael Ratner, Joseph Margules, others worked at standing up for people who, society as a whole didn't want anything to do with. The lawyers were treated horribly.
Task force established by Obama has come up with its own answers for prisoners.
Eric holder is not sufficiently independent from the president to put his foot down and say you don't tell me what to do....
The administration as a whole has failed-- could they not cross reference... the DOJ is still fighting HCs for people the task force has said it wants to "transfer."
If you keep on something horrible long enough, people lose interest, sadly.
Around the world, when the most unprincipled, hysterical politicians and pundits call for sending to Guantanamo and be waterboarded, people think that they are worse than their own politicians.... it's laughable. The fear message sold in the us is ludicrous.
Is US Guantanamo policy affecting other countries' policies.
This is something to Obama's credit, that he did not create, that he doesn't know how to end it. It's different in Bagram, where the ghost of Donald Rumsfeld has not yet been eliminated and the Geveva conventions re-introduced.
UK, Canada and Australia have adopted policies. Use of torture evidence
Every country appears to be trying to step back to a more reasonable position... but....
Bush admin went to the most abusive regimes in the world and decided to learn from them-- established human rights abusing regimes, primarily in Africa, Uzbekistan.
The US which is supposed to stand for a beacon of righteousness, by becoming a torturing regime, obviously sent a green light out to other regimes that they could get away with more, and if they labeled things as terrorism they could get away with more too. Political issues involving dissent have been re-packaged as terrorism. That's still working under Obama, as well as under Bush.
What to do now?
Let the 58 Yemenis cleared for transfer go.
Congress passed legislation where prisoners from Guantanamo cannot be released to. Includes Afghanistan and Yemen.
The 90 cleared for transfer should be released.
That leaves 84. They have been banned by congress from coming to the US from being tried.
It is not for congress to say that the president can't do it. Will the president issue a signing statement that he can proceed? He needs to do it.
Right wingers are so hooked on the war on terror that they do not want to treat these prisoners as criminals.
These trials need to go ahead.
The closure we need is to have Khalid Sheik Mohammed put on trial.
Then the 48 men who are supposed to be held indefinitely without charge or trial-- that's simply unacceptable. it will enshrine what will be perceived as US policy. This is the task force deciding unilaterally, in secret, that these 48 men don't have habeus corpus. This is executive interference in the legal process.
The DOJ should not be objecting to every Habeus Corpus process.
Some of the men have lost their HC petitions. They're detained under the policy of the use of military force-- as enemy combatants. The ones who lost their HC petitions were, for the most part, soldiers. What are we talking about here. These guys are not terrorists. They are soldiers. They should have been held as prisoners of war, but that involves this whole legal structure in which we have decided there is this new category of human being.
When everything started getting rocky for Obama in 2009, he just retreated...
Essentially too many people in the establishment are happy with this category.
Goal of trip-- reduce population of Guantanamo to 80 or less.
it's essential what people would do when he came in.
Only two bases for holding people-- either criminal suspect or criminal of war-- we need to do away with this new category of human being-- enemy combatants." As far as I'm aware, it's only right wingers who delight in holding people as enemy combatants.
How can people help? Raise awareness of these 90 prisoners. The government wants to release them. Why are they still there? Let them go. This is collective punishment, guilt by nationality.
The other thing that people need to press for is to not be taken in by people who want military commission trials at Guantanamo. Terrorists are criminals and they should be brought to the US for trials. Successful terrorist trials have been taking place for the past 15 years-- hundreds have been tried successfully. But a different set of "glasses" are being used for Guantanamo prisoners.
I encourage people to educate themselves about the HC process and push for allowing it to proceed.
read The Looming Tower, by Lawrence Wright.
Guantanamo; current, future, what to do?
Assange has been working with five major newspapers around the world and those newspapers are determining . US has a long history of not prosecuing media-- wisely.
Ten Thoughts About Julian Assange and WikiLeaks
Ardent right-wingers (and Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein) have looked idiotic in their hysterical condemnations of the leaks. Sen. Joe Lieberman suggested that the New York Times and other news organisations, as well as WikiLeaks, should be investigated under the Espionage Act.
shows desperation of state department to find new homes for the detainees. Pretty tawdry, reading through offers of bribes that were taking place.
On war on terrorism-- new and surprising was pressure on Germany under Bush and under Obama, on Spain, to prevent investigation of torture.
Wikileaks has gone quite quiet recently. Wondering about cables regarding Poland and UK.
Without real concerted action this year, Guantanamo is going to stay open
Future of freedom foundation.
My conclusion : If you want America to be special, Mr. President, and to demonstrate that you have "core ideals that we observe even when it's hard," then refining indefinite detention without charge or trial through an executive order, refusing to release 58 cleared prisoners to Yemen because of a moratorium you issued nearly a year ago, and refusing to stand up to critics who oppose federal court trials for men suspected of terrorist activities is not the way to do it. I know you face harsh opposition, but in the end you're the commander-in-chief, and when, on taking office, you repudiated President Bush's dangerous assertions of unfettered executive power, and stated that you would rely, instead, on Congressional approval, it didn't mean that you had to step back from exerting your power when it was politically inconvenient, or that you would only issue an executive order when it came to endorsing one of the vilest of your predecessor's many vile innovations -- the false and unjustifiable imprisonment without charge or trial of men mischaracterized, nine years ago, as "the worst of the worst," when, all along, they were, if not competely innocent men, seized by mistake, then terror suspects or soldiers.
Only three viable paths remain open to you, Mr. President: put the prisoners on trial, release them, or recategorize those found by the courts to have been soldiers as prisoners of war.
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