In the twenty-ninth installment of “The Watchdog” podcast, Lowkey speaks to Todd E. Pierce about the global reach of the U.S. empire and its totalitarian ambitions to control the entire planet. Todd is a retired U.S. Army officer and defense attorney whose experiences serving at the front line of empire moved him to become a defender of its victims. Towards the end of his military service, he volunteered to become a defense attorney for three prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. Previously a neoconservative cold warrior, Pierce joined the military at an early age and served in the first Gulf War. Yet after being exposed to the realities of neoconservative doctrine, his faith in the project began to waver.
The Guardian reported last week that a recently-declassified CIA Inspector General’s report from 2008 found that CIA officers at a covert detention site in Afghanistan used a prisoner, Ammar al-Baluch, as a “training prop,” taking turns smashing his head against a plywood wall and leaving him with permanent brain damage. Baluch is currently one of five defendants before a military tribunal at the US military prison at Guantanamo charged with participating in the planning for the September 11 attacks. The case has been stuck in the pre-trial phase for 10 years, in part because much of the information that the government wants to use against the defendants was collected using torture.
Washington, DC – On Tuesday, Jan. 11, twenty-nine national faith groups sent a letter to President Biden and all Members of Congress calling on them “to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and to ensure that all of the people held there are either released, agree to a plea deal, or receive a fair trial in a federal court.” Rev. Ron Stief, Executive Director of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, released the following statement: “For twenty years our country has held people without charge or trial in Guantanamo. Some of the people we still hold there were tortured by the U.S. after they were captured. Others have been cleared to leave Guantanamo yet remain imprisoned there, indefinitely detained without trial.
It is, to be blunt, beyond dispiriting to have to be calling for the closure of the tired and discredited “war on terror” prison at Guantánamo Bay 20 years — 7,306 days — since it first opened. The prison, as I have long explained, is a legal, moral and ethical abomination, and every day that it remains open ought to be a source of shame to anyone with any respect for the law — or, for that matter, with any common decency. In countries that respect the rule of law, the only way to be stripped of your liberty is as a criminal suspect or as a prisoner of war protected by the Geneva Conventions. At Guantánamo, the Bush administration threw away the rulebook, holding men without any rights whatsoever as “enemy combatants”, who could be held indefinitely, with no requirement that they ever face charges, and with no legal mechanism in place to ever ensure their release.
Geneva - On the 20th anniversary of the arrival of the first detainees at Guantanamo Bay detention facility in Cuba, UN experts* condemned the facility as a site of “unparalleled notoriety” and said its continued operation was a stain on the US Government’s commitment to the rule of law. “Twenty years of practising arbitrary detention without trial accompanied by torture or ill treatment is simply unacceptable for any government, particularly a government which has a stated claim to protecting human rights,” said the independent experts, appointed by the Human Rights Council. “As a newly elected Member of the Human Rights Council, the experts again call on the United States to close this facility and close this ugly chapter of unrelenting human rights violations.”
On this week’s episode of “Scheer Intelligence,” Khan’s lawyer J. Wells Dixon, a senior attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights, joins Robert Scheer to discuss the implications of Khan’s testimony, which led the jury to describe his torture–which was unrefuted by the CIA–as “a stain on the moral fiber of America.” “There absolutely needs to be accountability [for CIA torture],” Dixon tells Scheer. “There is no question that [the CIA’s actions] constitute torture and there’s no question that torture is universally prohibited in all circumstances. The only open question is whether anyone will be held to account?”
Seven United States military officers have written a letter urging clemency for Guantanamo Bay detainee Majid Khan, calling his account of torture at so-called CIA black sites a “stain on the moral fiber of America”. The seven officers were part of an eight-member military jury that on Friday issued a sentence of 26 years in prison to Khan for his support of al-Qaeda in the wake of the September 11 attacks. Khan had previously pleaded guilty in 2012 to serving as a courier for the group and helping to plan attacks. The letter from the officers, which was sent to a senior official reviewing the case, was published by the New York Times on Sunday. They were identified only by their juror numbers.
In a recent op-ed for The Hill, Anthony Lake, national security adviser to President Clinton from 1993 to 1997, and our co-founder Tom Wilner, who was counsel of record to Guantánamo detainees in the two Supreme Court cases establishing their right to habeas corpus and in the case establishing their right to legal counsel, made a powerful case for the closure of the prison at Guantánamo Bay, which we’re pleased to be cross-posting below. Yesterday marked the end of the first 100 days of Joe Biden’s presidency, and while we’re aware that the new administration has had a huge workload to deal with after four ruinous years of the Trump presidency, and with the unprecedented challenge of dealing with Covid-19
There are very few freedoms at Guantánamo Bay prison, where I have been held without charge or trial — referred to as Guantánamo ISN 1461 — for over 16 years. The right to starve myself is one of them, but even then, they force-feed me, to spare themselves the embarrassment of my death. Back in Pakistan, before I was kidnapped and tortured and flown halfway around the world in chains, I loved cooking. There is nothing more satisfying than preparing a hot meal for your family and sharing it with them. Here, I am allowed to cook for my fellow prisoners, but only in a microwave, and the guards could take even that away at any time. I never eat the food myself. I have been on hunger strike for seven years in protest at my indefinite detention.
On February 2, more than a hundred non-governmental organizations joined a letter led by the Center for Constitutional Rights and the Center for Victims of Torture, urging President Joe Biden to close the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba and end indefinite military detention. The letter is signed by organizations ranging from those working to end anti-Muslim discrimination and torture to immigrant rights organizations and organizations working broadly on civil rights, civil liberties, and racial justice at the national and local level. It emphasizes the devastating and ongoing consequences of the prison, including the effect of a post-9/11 national security framework on domestic racial justice struggles and efforts to end police violence.
Human rights groups marked a significant "moment of reckoning" on Tuesday for the U.S. torture program used by the CIA following the attacks of September 11, 2001 as the two psychologists who developed the program arrived in Guantanamo Bay to testify under oath. James E. Mitchell and John "Bruce" Jessen are testifying for the first time since 2017 as part of pre-trial proceedings in the trial of five men accused of plotting the September 11 attacks.
Video: Calling For The Closure Of Guantánamo Outside The White House On The 18th Anniversary Of The Opening Of The Prison
Yesterday was the 18th anniversary of the opening of the prison at Guantánamo Bay, and, for the tenth year running, I was in Washington, D.C., calling for its closure. I was there as a representative of Close Guantánamo, an organization I established eight years ago — on the tenth anniversary of the opening of Guantánamo — with the attorney Tom Wilner, and I was delighted to be part of a line-up of speakers that included representatives of numerous other campaigning groups and lawyers’ organizations...
No Escape from Guantánamo: Former Child Prisoner Boycotts Broken Review Process, Calls It “Hopeless”
It’s now nearly ten years since a high-level government review process established by President Obama — the Guantánamo Review Task Force — issued its recommendations about what to do with the prisoners inherited from George W. Bush. The task force recommended that 156 men should be released, that 36 men should be prosecuted, and that 48 others should continue to be held without charge or trial — on the basis that they were regarded as “too dangerous to transfer but not feasible for prosecution” (a self-evidently dubious designation...
If you can, please make a donation to support our work in 2019. If you can become a monthly sustainer, that will be particularly appreciated. Tick the box marked, "Make this a monthly donation," and insert the amount you wish to donate. Anyone who has been following the alleged legal basis for the ongoing imprisonment without charge or trial of prisoners at Guantánamo should be encouraged by a ruling on June 21, 2019 by a three-judge panel — consisting of Judges Patricia A. Millett, Cornelia T. L. Pillard, and Harry T. Edwards — in the D.C. Circuit Court...
Four human rights activists were arrested today and charged with unlawfully demonstrating inside Senate office buildings after sitting-in at the office of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. They were among a group of about twenty-five Witness Against Torture activists who entered the office at 3:00 p.m. Many were clad in orange jumpsuits resembling those worn by prisoners in Guantanamo. They delivered a letter requesting McConnell’s assistance on two matters concerning human rights violations.