Category Archives: Extradition/Prisons

Neocons, War Criminals and White Nationalists: Trump’s Incoming Advisers and Cabinet

Juan Gonzalez speaks to Jeremy Scahill, investigative journalist and co-founder of The Intercept, who examines the “team of rivals” Trump is considering for key appointments to his Cabinet, noting all of them have “ended up in direct conflict with President Obama over key issues that Trump and Pence have sort of touted.” (Democracy Now!)

U.S. Navy Appoints New Commander for Trump’s Gitmo

Jason Ditz reports for Antiwar:

In this June 27, 2006 file photo, reviewed by a U.S. Department of Defense official, U.S. military guards walk within Camp Delta military-run prison, at the Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base, Cuba. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, File)Some eight years into President Obama’s pledge to close the detention center at Guantanamo Bay by the end of 2009, the Navy has appointed Rear Admiral Edward Cashman in charge of the prison. He will be the ninth commander appointed by Obama since the “closure” was announced.

Cashman will be in charge of the facility as of early next year, making him the first commander under President-elect Donald Trump. This means he may well be overseeing the expansion of the facility, as during the campaign Trump talked up the idea of expanding the site and “filling it up.”

Though President Obama largely abandoned his promise to close the facility almost immediately after taking office, he did shrink the number of detainees there. Pentagon officials have warned the detention center is in increasingly dire condition, and have talked about building new facilities on the site.

There is little clarity on who Trump intends to put into Gitmo when he comes into office, nor is it clear what the reaction of Congress will be. While Congress has heavily resisted closing Guantanamo Bay, it’s not at all certain that they’re on board for a major increase in its size and profile.

READ MORE…

Thanks, Obama: Commander-In-Chief Donald Trump Will Have Terrifying Powers

Alex Emmons writes for The Intercept:

Image result for trump obamaWhen Donald Trump becomes commander in chief in January, he will take on presidential powers that have never been more expansive and unchecked.

He’ll control an unaccountable drone program, and the prison at Guantanamo Bay. His FBI, including a network of 15,000 paid informants, already has a record of spying on mosques and activists, and his NSA’s surveillance empire is ubiquitous and governed by arcane rules, most of which remain secret. He will inherit bombing campaigns in seven Muslim countries, the de facto ability to declare war unilaterally, and a massive nuclear arsenal — much of which is on hair-trigger alert.

Caught off guard by Hillary Clinton’s election defeat, Democrats who defended these powers under President Obama may suddenly be having second thoughts as the White House gets handed over to a man they described — with good reason — as “unhinged,” and “dangerously unfit.”

READ MORE…

Obama Has Handed a Surveillance State and War Machine to a Maniac

Trevor Timm writes for The Guardian:

Image result for trump surveillance dronesIn a little over two months, Donald Trump – after his shocking victory last night – will control a vast, unaccountable national security and military apparatus unparalleled in world history. The nightmare that civil libertarians have warned of for years has now tragically come true: instead of dismantling the surveillance state and war machine, the Obama administration and Democrats institutionalised it – and it will soon be in the hands of a maniac.

It will go down in history as perhaps President Obama’s most catastrophic mistake.

The Obama administration could have prosecuted torturers and war criminals in the Bush administration and sent an unmistakable message to the world: torture is illegal and unconscionable. Instead the president said they would “look forward, not backward”, basically turning a clear felony into a policy dispute. Trump has bragged that he will bring back torture – waterboarding and “much worse”. He has talked about killing the innocent family members of terrorists, openly telling the world he will commit war crimes.

Now that Trump will take the reins of our various Middle East wars in January, who’s going to stop him from following through on his heinous proposals?

READ MORE…

CIA Knew it Had the Wrong Man, but Kept Him Anyway

Matthew Schofield reports for McClatchy:

German of Lebanese descent Khaleed al Masri reads German newspapers covering his arrest by the CIA in Stuttgart, Germany, on Dec. 6, 2005.By January of 2004, when German citizen Khaleed al Masri arrived at the Central Intelligence Agency’s secret prison in Afghanistan, agency officials were pretty sure he wasn’t a terrorist. They also knew he didn’t know any terrorists, or much about anything in the world of international terror.

In short, they suspected they’d nabbed the wrong man.

Still, the agency continued to imprison and interrogate him, according to a recently released internal CIA report on Masri’s arrest. The report claims that Masri suffered no physical abuse during his wrongful imprisonment, though it acknowledges that for months he was kept in a “small cell with some clothing, bedding and a bucket for his waste.” Masri says he was tortured, specifically that a medical examination against his will constituted sodomy.

The embarrassing, and horrifying, case of Masri is hardly new. It has been known for a decade as a colossal example of CIA error in the agency’s pursuit of terrorists during the administration of President George W. Bush.

But the recently released internal report makes it clear that the CIA’s failures in the Masri case were even more outrageous than previous accounts have suggested.

READ MORE…

Guantánamo Is Planning For Prison After Obama

Carol Rosenberg reports for the Miami Herald:

U.S. military inside the Detention Center Zone permitted reporters to photograph a ‘No Photography’ sign on May 24, 2016 at a mostly deserted portion of Camp Delta in this photo that was approved for release by the U.S. military at the U.S. Navy base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.Military leaders are thinking about whether they will need to put a wheelchair lift into their showcase communal prison three or four years from now, widen some cell doors, add ramps for geriatric captives.

Not one of the 80 prisoners is now in a wheelchair and most are in their 30s or 40s. The oldest is 68. But briefings by senior military officials here made clear that they are starting to actively think about operating an offshore Pentagon detention center long after President Barack Obama leaves office.

“At some point if detention operations continue here we will have to address, ‘Are the doors in the cells wide enough to move wheelchairs in and out? Are there ramps to reach the medical facilities?’ ” said Rear Adm. Peter Clarke, the detention center commander. “And we’ve just started looking at that. So I can’t tell you we are ready or not. But it’s something we can plan for.”

Obama wants the prison emptied, and a Pentagon plan proposes moving 30 to 40 captives to military detention in the United States and releasing the rest to other countries. But Congress has outlawed any transfers to U.S. soil, and some members are proposing legislation to prevent transfers altogether, to anywhere, prompting speculation that the only way Obama does it is through an Executive Order that opponents of closure warn would be illegal.

READ MORE…

Remembering Michael Ratner (1943–2016)

Michael Ratner’s activism and human rights work dated back to the 1960s. He was a student at Columbia Law School during the 1968 student strike. He joined the Center for Constitutional Rights in 1971. His first case centered on a lawsuit filed on behalf of prisoners killed and injured in the Attica prison uprising in upstate New York. Ratner was deeply involved in Latin America and the Caribbean, challenging U.S. policy in Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Puerto Rico and elsewhere. In 1981, he brought the first challenge under the War Powers Resolution to the use of troops in El Salvador, as well as a suit against U.S. officials on behalf of Nicaraguans raped, murdered and tortured by U.S.-backed contras. In 1991, he led the center’s challenge to the authority of President George H.W. Bush to go to war against Iraq without congressional consent. A decade later, he would become a leading critic of the George W. Bush administration, filing lawsuits related to Guantánamo, torture, domestic surveillance and the 2003 invasion of Iraq. He also helped launch the group Palestine Legal to defend the rights of protesters in the U.S. calling for Palestinian human rights. (Democracy Now!)

Michael Ratner, 1943–2016

David Cole writes for The Nation:

Michael RatnerSeveral years ago, I asked the civil-rights lawyer Michael Ratner, who died Wednesday at age 72, whether he thought he had any chance of prevailing when, with the Center for Constitutional Rights, he sued George W. Bush in early 2002 on behalf of some of the first Guantánamo detainees. “None whatsoever,” he replied. “We filed 100 percent on principle.” The law was against him; the Supreme Court had ruled in World War II that prisoners of war could not challenge their detention in US courts. And the politics were even worse; the World Trade Center cleanup was still ongoing, the detainees had been declared “the worst of the worst,” and, as alleged foreign terrorists, the detainees elicited little sympathy from Americans. But to Ratner, challenging the president was the right thing to do, and that was enough.

Ratner made a career of suing the powerful. He sued Ronald Reagan for funding the contras in Nicaragua and invading Grenada, George H.W. Bush for invading Iraq without congressional authorization, Bill Clinton for warehousing Haitian refugees with HIV at Guantánamo Bay, and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld for torture. He sued an Indonesian general, a Guatemalan defense minister, and a Haitian dictator, among others, for human-rights abuses. He sued the FBI for spying on Central American activists and the Pentagon for restricting press coverage of the Gulf War. The pattern was set early: His very first federal lawsuit was styled Attica Brothers v. Rockefeller, and sought to compel New York to prosecute state police responsible for killing prisoners at Attica State Prison after riots broke out there in 1971.

READ MORE…

Will Obama’s Guantánamo Plan Close the Prison or Just Relocate It? Interview with Baher Azmy and Ken Gude

Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez talk to Baher Azmy, legal director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, and Ken Gude, a senior fellow with the National Security Team at the Center for American Progress, about President Obama’s plan to close Guantánamo Bay military prison. (Democracy Now!)

Pentagon Releases Photos of Detainee Abuse in Iraq and Afghanistan

Cora Currier reports for The Intercept:

detainee-photos-3The Pentagon today released 198 photos related to its investigations into abuse of detainees by U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The photos are mainly close-up shots of arms, feet, heads, hands, or joints, sometimes showing bruises or scabs. Faces are redacted with black bars. It’s not always clear where each of the photos was taken, but they come from internal military investigations and have dates ranging from 2003 to 2006. Sometimes the marks on the prisoners’ skin are labeled with tape measuring the size of the wound, or a coin or pen for comparison.

These photos appear to be the most innocuous of the more than 2,000 images that the government has fought for years to keep secret. Lawyers for the government have long maintained that the photos, if released, could cause grievous harm to national security because they could be used for propaganda by groups like al Qaeda and the Islamic State. The legal case has stretched on for more than a decade, since 2004, when the American Civil Liberties Union firstsued to obtain photos beyond the notorious images that had been leaked from the prison at Abu Ghraib.

It has been reported that some of the 2,000 imagesshow soldiers posing with dead bodies, kicking and punching detainees or posing them stripped naked next to female guards. The 198 photos that were released today do not show any of this.

READ MORE…

Brutal Repression in Egypt Exceeds Conditions Under Mubarak: Interview with Noha Radwan

Sharmini Peries talks to Noha Radwan, an associate professor of Arabic and Comparative Literature at UC Davis. Radwan discusses the conditions facing political prisoners, where as many as seventy people are crammed into 15×15 spaces, while calling on the international community for assistance. (The Real News)

Campaign to Close Guantánamo During Obama’s Last Year in Office: Interview with Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters and Andy Worthington

On the day that marked seven years since President Obama signed an executive order calling for the closure of Guantánamo Bay within one year, Juan Gonzalez and Amy Goodman spoke to Roger Waters, co-founder of Pink Floyd, and Andy Worthington, a British activist and investigative journalist who co-founded the “Countdown to Close Guantánamo” campaign. (Democracy Now!)

America’s Incarcerated Population, Largest in World, Grew Even More in 2014

Zaid Jilani reports for The Intercept:

The federal government’s Bureau of Justice Statistics has released new numbers detailing how America’s incarcerated population — already the world’s largest — grew even bigger in 2014.

The bureau’s researchers report that the number of individuals incarcerated grew by 1,900 people over the course of last year — “reversing a five-year decline since 2008.”

It’s not all bad news, though. The researchers also report that there was a decrease in overall adults supervised by correctional systems — meaning included in community supervision or parole. In 2014, there were “about 52,200 fewer offenders than at year-end 2013.”

Their report found that just seven jurisdictions “accounted for almost half of the U.S. correctional population at year-end 2014,” with Texas topping the list with 699,300 offenders. Overall, “about one in 36 adults in the United States was under some form of correctional supervision at year-end 2014.”

READ MORE…

“Groundbreaking” Exposé Shows Pentagon Thwarting Obama’s Bid to Transfer Guantanamo Prisoners: Interview with Charles Levinson and Omar Farah

Juan Gonzalez and Amy Goodman talk to Charles Levinson, the Reuters reporter who broke the story about the Pentagon’s efforts to thwart Obama’s attempts to transfer Guantanamo prisoners, and Omar Farah, the lawyer for a Yemeni prisoner who was cleared for release five years ago but remains behind bars due to Pentagon interference. (Democracy Now!)

The Defense Bill That Obama Just Signed Will Make It Harder to Shut Guantanamo

Jason Leopold reports for VICE News:

President Barack Obama signed a bipartisan defense authorization bill into law late Wednesday that contains a provision that will hinder his goal of shuttering the Guantanamo Bay detention facility before he leaves office.

The $607 billion legislation, which sets defense policies for the next fiscal year and authorizes military spending, specifically prohibits the administration from using any funds to transfer the remaining 107 Guantanamo detainees to the US for detention or prosecution or to “construct or modify any facility in the United States, its territories, or possessions to house any Guantanamo detainee.”

But in a signing statement attached to the bill, known as the National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, Obama said certain restrictions pertaining to Guantanamo might be unconstitutional and infringe on his executive authority. (A signing statement is an official pronouncement issued by a president explaining how he interprets legislation. Obama has issued several signing statements related to Guantanamo restrictions in other annual defense spending bills he signed into law.)

READ MORE…

Last British Prisoner Released From Guantanamo: Interview with Shayana Kadidal

Sharmini Peries talks to Shayana Kadidal, senior attorney with the Centre for Constitutional Rights. Kadidal discusses how Shaker Aamer was cleared for release in 2007, but US military officials held him all these years because he was a charismatic leader and negotiator. (The Real News)

Andy Worthington on Shaker Aamer finally being released from Guantanamo

From the Scott Horton Show:

Andy Worthington, author of The Guantanamo Files, discusses British resident Shaker Aamer’s reunion with his family in the UK after his long-delayed release from Guantanamo, and how he survived being locked away for 14 years without charge or trial, often in solitary confinement.

LISTEN TO THE INTERVIEW…

How Obama Continued Bush’s National Security State After Campaigning Against It: Interview with Charlie Savage

Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez talk to Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times correspondent Charlie Savage about his new book, Power Wars: Inside Obama’s Post-9/11 Presidency, which tells the story of the Obama administration’s counterterrorism legacy. You can watch Part Two of this interview here(Democracy Now!)

Homan Square: How Chicago police ‘disappeared’ 7,000 people

Spencer Ackerman reports for The Guardian:

Police “disappeared” more than 7,000 people at an off-the-books interrogation warehouse in Chicago, nearly twice as many detentions as previously disclosed, the Guardian can now reveal.

From August 2004 to June 2015, nearly 6,000 of those held at the facility were black, which represents more than twice the proportion of the city’s population. But only 68 of those held were allowed access to attorneys or a public notice of their whereabouts, internal police records show.

The new disclosures, the result of an ongoing Guardian transparency lawsuit and investigation, provide the most detailed, full-scale portrait yet of the truth about Homan Square, a secretive facility that Chicago police have described as little more than a low-level narcotics crime outpost where the mayor has said police “follow all the rules”.

READ MORE…

The Empire Files: Enter the World’s Biggest Prison

The American Empire holds more prisoners than any other country on earth, both in total numbers and per capita. In this episode of The Empire Files, Abby Martin explores the dark reality of the U.S. prison system: the conditions, who is held in them, and the roots of mass incarceration. (The Empire Files)

Never Forget That 9/11 Justifies…

Never Forget

Democrats Continue to Delude Themselves About Obama’s Failed Guantánamo Vow

Glenn Greenwald writes for The Intercept:

[…] In the seventh year of Obama’s presidency, Guantánamo notoriously remains open, leaving one of his central vows unfulfilled. That, in turn, means that Democratic partisans have to scrounge around for excuses to justify this failure, to cast blame on someone other than the president, lest his legacy be besmirched. They long ago settled on the claim that blame (as always) lies not with Obama but with Congressional Republicans, who imposed a series of legal restrictions that impeded the camp’s closing.

As I’ve documented many times over the last several years, that excuse, while true as far as it goes, does not remotely prove that Obama sought to fulfill his pledge. That’s because Obama’s plans never included an end to what he himself constantly described as the camp’s defining evil: indefinite detention. To the contrary, he explicitly demanded the right to continue to imprison Guantánamo detainees without charges or trial –– exactly what made Guantánamo so evil in the first place — based on the hideous new phrase “cannot be tried but too dangerous to release.” Obama simply wanted to indefinitely imprison them somewhere else.

In other words, Obama never sought to close Guantánamo in any meaningful sense but rather wanted to relocate it to a less symbolically upsetting location, with its defining injustice fully intact and, worse, institutionalized domestically. In that regard, his Guantánamo shell game was vintage Obama: He wanted to make a pretty, self-flattering symbolic gesture to get credit for “change” (I have closed Guantánamo) while not merely continuing but actually strengthening the abusive power that made it so odious in the first place.

READ MORE…

U.S. military cancels hearing for September 11 suspects

Reuters reports:

The U.S. military has canceled a pretrial hearing for suspects in the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, a military spokesman said on Sunday, in another setback for the government in its efforts to try the five men being held at Guantanamo.

A defense department spokesman said the hearing, originally scheduled for Aug. 24 to Sept. 4, was canceled by the military judge.

“The judge cited issues that remain unresolved with regard to a claimed defense counsel conflict of interest,” said Commander Gary Ross.

News of the cancellation was first reported by ABC News.

READ MORE…

Interview with James G. Connell III, the Attorney Representing Aamar al-Baluchi

James G. Connell III is an attorney at the U.S Defence Department. He represents Aamar al-Baluchi, a man who stands accused of financing 9/11. The CIA-backed movie Zero Dark Thirty based a character on al-Baluchi. In this interview with Going Underground, Mr. Connell explains how Hollywood producers and directors work with the CIA, and why the U.S considers itself to be exempt from many human rights treaties. (Going Underground)

Defense secretary “not confident” Guantanamo will be closed under Obama

Kristina Wong reports for The Hill:

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter cast doubt Tuesday on whether the Guantanamo Bay detention facility can be closed before President Obama leaves office.

“I’m not confident, but I am hopeful,” Carter said in an exclusive interview with CBS News.

The closure of the U.S. military prison in Cuba was a campaign promise Obama made in 2008, but Congress has imposed restrictions on detainee releases through annual defense policy bills.

Carter said earlier this month he was working on a proposal to send to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), chairman of the Armed Services Committee.

McCain has said he is willing to work with the administration to close the facility if the administration submits a plan that can be approved by Congress.’

READ MORE…

The United States Considers Itself a Human Rights Champion. The World Begs to Differ.

Jamil Dakwar writes for the American Civil Liberties Union:

UN Building; Photo Source: Jamil DakwarStarting Monday, the United States’ human rights record will be subject to international scrutiny by the U.N. Human Rights Council. It may just be the perfect catalyst for the Obama administration to make good on past and present wrongs that should never be associated with a liberal democracy predicated on respect for human rights.

The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is part of a regular examination of the human rights records of all 193 U.N. member countries and will be the second review of its kind for the U.S. since 2010.  The review comes at a critical time when the U.S. human rights record has been criticized for falling short of meeting international human rights standards. From racially biased policing and excessive use of force by law enforcement to the expansion of migrant family detention and from the lack of accountability for the CIA torture program to the use of armed drones abroad, the U.S. has a lot to answer for.’

READ MORE…

Why the Tsarnaev conviction is another black eye for Gitmo

Marcy Wheeler writes for Salon:

America's glaring double standard on terror: Why the Tsarnaev conviction is another black eye for Gitmo[…] The trial will now move into a sentencing phase where the jury decides whether Tsarnaev should be executed for his role in the biggest terrorist attack on U.S. soil since 9/11.

Now just imagine a similar process, had a jury called out Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s guilt in the murder of each of 2,976 people on Sept. 11, 2001.

“Anna Williams Allison; David Lawrence Angell; Lynn Edwards Angell,” the indictment filed against KSM and four others in New York in 2009 started its list of the 2,976 people KSM murdered. “Olga Kristin Gould White,” the long list ended. “Guilty,” a jury would surely have found KSM and his co-conspirators, of the mass murder he has always admitted. Guilty, 2,976 times, plus the larger conspiracy to attack the U.S.

Of course, that never happened. Under pressure from Congress and New York politicians, the administration gave up its efforts to try the 9/11 attackers in civilian court in 2011, moving their trial back to the military commissions at Guantánamo Bay just over four years ago.

And in those four years, the trial against the perpetrators of that massive attack, committed more than 13 years ago, has gone nowhere.’

READ MORE…

Obama: I Should’ve Closed Gitmo on Day One

Jason Ditz reports for Antiwar:

[…] Obama announced his intention to close the facility within a year, a non-controversial position at the time. Within a few months, however, Congressional hawks started opposing the move. Obama admitted the “path of least resistance was to just keep it open.

This admission is in stark contrast to what the White House has been saying all along, that the president had been working hard to close the facility and still intended to get it done.’

READ MORE…

American police brutality, exported from Chicago to Guantánamo

Spencer Ackerman reports for The Guardian:

Police brutality updatedWhen the Chicago detective Richard Zuley arrived at Guantánamo Bay late in 2002, US military commanders touted him as the hero they had been looking for.

Here was a Navy reserve lieutenant who had spent the last 25 years as a distinguished detective on the mean streets of Chicago, closing case after case – often due to his knack for getting confessions.

But while Zuley’s brutal interrogation techniques – prolonged shackling, family threats, demands on suspects to implicate themselves and others – would get supercharged at Guantánamo for the war on terrorism, a Guardian investigation has uncovered that Zuley used similar tactics for years, behind closed police-station doors, on Chicago’s poor and non-white citizens. Multiple people in prison in Illinois insist they have been wrongly convicted on the basis of coerced confessions extracted by Zuley and his colleagues.’

READ MORE…

‘Guantanamo of the East’: Ukraine Locks Up Refugees at EU’s Behest

Maximilian Popp reports for Spiegel:

Most asylum seekers trying to make their way to Europe take the dangerous route...‘[…] The European Union has provided Ukraine with €30 million ($34 million) in funding, which Kiev is using to build and renovate migrant detention centers, along with other facilities where they are housed temporarily. The International Organization for Migration received several million euros to support Ukrainian authorities in such areas as the internment of undocumented migrants. Brussels is apparently hoping that the system will reduce the number of asylum seekers in Europe — without attracting too much attention.

In 2010, the human rights organization Human Rights Watch criticized the EU for investing millions to divert flows of refugees from Europe toward Ukraine, while neglecting to take sufficient steps to ensure the humane treatment of refugees in Ukraine.

The refugee crisis along the eastern edge of Europe could now escalate in the course of the Ukraine conflict. The government in Kiev has its hands full caring for almost a million internally displaced persons fleeing the fighting between government troops and rebels in eastern Ukraine. It is hardly capable of providing for asylum-seekers from the Middle East and African countries, as well, warns Ilya Todorovich, the UNHCR representative in Ukraine.’

READ MORE…