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Category Archives: Human Rights

Guantanamo lawyers’ letter urges Obama to declassify CIA torture program details


Camp Justice, GTMO (Photo Credit: mine)

Camp Justice, GTMO (Photo Credit: mine)

All 5 defense lawyers in 9/11 case have sent a letter to President Barack Obama urging the executive branch to declassify information relating to the CIA’s rendition, detention and interrogation (RDI) program as it applies to the accused. Under this program, people suspected of terrorist ties were snatched by the U.S. government and sent to CIA “black sites” — secret prisons — or third-party countries to be interrogated and tortured. The defendants in question — Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Ramzi bin al-Shibh, Walid bin Attash, Ammar al-Baluchi, and Mustafa al-Hawsawi  — were all sent to CIA black sites before being transferred to Guantanamo in 2006. They are accused of plotting the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, which killed nearly 3,000 people.

U.S. Navy Commander Walter Ruiz, defense counsel to Mr. al-Baluchi and one of the signatories, commented on the letter, “Today uniformed officers and our civilian colleagues join in asking our president president to uphold our obligations under the convention against torture, and remove improper classification restrictions which are preventing the pursuit of truth and meaningful justice,” according to a press release.

The press release also states: “Evidence of war crimes must not be classified. For decades now, the United States, by Executive Order, has banned the use of classification rules to conceal violations of law. President Reagan signed the Convention Against Torture in 1988, and the United States Senate ratified the Convention in 1994. As such, according to the U.S. Constitution, it is part of United States law.”

The five men are being tried in a military commission at the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. There is a protective order that places severe restrictions on lawyers from disclosing details of how their clients were treated by CIA black sites to the accused and to outside press or human rights organizations. In essence, it conceals many details of torture and undermines the ability of the lawyers to provide adequate defense.

A copy of the letter is linked below.

US v KSM et al LETTER TO THE PRESIDENT

 

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Privileged white people are not the only ones concerned about war


Antiwar, anti-drone protest on April 3, 2013 in San Francisco, California. (Photo Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Antiwar, anti-drone protest on April 3, 2013 in San Francisco, California. (Photo Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

One argument that’s prevalent in certain circles is that mostly white people, particularly males, care about drones. This argument has become pretty prominent in the age of Obama. It’s typically made by Obama supporters to shut down critics of his counterterrorism policies, such as drone strikes. It’s an asinine argument that marginalizes nonwhite antiwar voices and provides a multicultural veneer to empire. Read the rest of this entry »

 

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Reporting from Guantanamo (June 10 — June 22)


Guantanamo Camp X-Ray, taken June 15, 2013. Photo Credit: mine

Guantanamo Camp X-Ray, taken June 15, 2013. Photo Credit: mine

From June 10 to June 22, 2013, I was in Guantanamo Bay Naval Station reporting for Truthout. I covered the military commissions of Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, the alleged mastermind of the USS Cole bombing, and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. To make it easy, I decided to create a blog post with all six of my articles. You can also see them in the “Published Works” section of my site. All of my pieces are below:

  • “The Imperialist and Racist Origins of the Guantánamo Penal Colony”, Truthout, June 12, 2013. Read here.
  • “US Cold War Ally in the Docks at Guantanamo for USS Cole Bombing”, Truthout, June 17, 2013. Read here.
  • “Contention and Confusion in Guantanamo Pre-Trial Hearings for Al-Nashiri Military Commissions”, Truthout, June 18, 2013. Read here.
  • “Pretrial Hearings of 5 Suspects in 9/11 Face Challenge of Torture-Obtained Evidence”, Truthout, June 21, 2013. Read here.
  • “Military Commission Pre-Trial Hearings for Alleged 9/11 ‘Plotters’ Focus on Gitmo Conditions”, Truthout, June 28, 2013. Read here.
  • “Guantanamo and Permanent War: The View From Camp X-Ray”, Truthout, July 3, 2013. Read here.

Read the rest of this entry »

 

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Obama’s speech on drones and Gitmo is a repackaging of permanent war


MQ-9 Reaper flies above Creech AFB during a local training mission.  (Photo by Paul Ridgeway; attained from Wikipedia)

MQ-9 Reaper flies above Creech AFB during a local training mission. (Photo by Paul Ridgeway; attained from Wikipedia)

Recently, President Barack Obama gave a speech about his counterterrorism strategy at National Defense University. In it, he justified his targeted killing policy and drone strikes of suspected terrorists around the world. He also announced his plan to finally shut down Guantanamo Bay prison.

The speech is lauded by many as a signal that President Obama wants to end the War on Terror. But the speech was full of clever sophistry and Orwellian doublespeak that made it seem like the perpetual war was ending just as it’s being institutionalized and normalized. In essence, it was a repackaging of America’s targeted killing program and system of permanent war. Read the rest of this entry »

 

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Secret “white paper” justifies assassinating American citizens — entrenching permanent war


Predator drone fires a Hellfire missile (Source: Wikipedia)

Predator drone fires a Hellfire missile (Source: Wikipedia)

On Monday, NBC News reported on a leaked Department of Justice “white paper” summarizing memos that make the Obama administration’s legal case for targeted killing of U.S. citizens suspected of links to al-Qaeda or “associated forces”. In September of 2011, the Obama administration launched a drone strike against alleged al-Qaeda leaders Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan in Yemen, both of whom were U.S. citizens. Neither was charged or convicted of any crime. In fact, Yemen experts raised doubts about how operational al-Awlaki was in al-Qaeda.

Two weeks later, al-Awlaki’s 16-year-old son, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, was killed in another drone strike, even though he was not charged or convicted of any crime. It is very likely that he wasn’t the intended target. In fact, one Obama administration official called the strike that killed Abdulrahman “an outrageous mistake…. They were going after the guy sitting next to him.” Read the rest of this entry »

 

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It’s a new year and Obama’s civil liberties violations continue


Camp X-Ray (Gitmo) detainees, 1/11/2002, Source: Wikipedia

Camp X-Ray (Gitmo) detainees, 1/11/2002, Source: Wikipedia

A few days before the new year rang in, I made three predictions for Turnstyle News about what’s in store for the year 2013. The first was a “drawdown but not a complete end to the war in Afghanistan”, the second was “continuation of drone strikes and targeted killing”, and the third was “indefinite detention of U.S. citizens will remain”. It’s a few days into 2013 but a few recent events show that the dismal state of peace and civil liberties will not cease any time soon.  Read the rest of this entry »

 

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Obama’s first-term record of militarism


Photo Credit (source): No Lies Radio

The long and drawn out 2012 presidential election is finally over and President Barack Obama was reelected. Shortly after he was reelected, Obama launched another drone strike in Yemen — a harbinger of what’s to come in his second term. It is worth going through Obama’s foreign policy during the past four years in order to assess what he’s done and understand what the future holds.

Read the rest of this entry »

 

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