It has been ten years since WikiLeaks began publishing the “Guantanamo Files,” documenting the detention and torture of prisoners by the United States government at its prison on Cuba’s occupied east coast. But the architects and administrators of the Guantanamo Bay torture camp today walk free. Instead, the journalists, whistleblowers, and publishers have been sent to prison. Assange has now spent over a thousand days in solitary confinement at Belmarsh as the UK courts debate his extradition to face a 175-year prison sentence in the United States. The Belmarsh Tribunal — which sits today for its third session — turns the tables on the Assange extradition case. On the twentieth anniversary of Guantanamo Bay’s opening, the Progressive International is bringing witnesses from around the world to give testimony to the crimes of the war on terror when no court of law will hear them.
War on Terror
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.
It began more than two decades ago. On September 20, 2001, President George W. Bush declared a “war on terror” and told a joint session of Congress (and the American people) that “the course of this conflict is not known, yet its outcome is certain.” If he meant a 20-year slide to defeat in Afghanistan, a proliferation of militant groups across the Greater Middle East and Africa, and a never-ending, world-spanning war that, at a minimum, has killed about 300 times the number of people murdered in America on 9/11, then give him credit. He was absolutely right. Days earlier, Congress had authorized Bush “to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determine[d] planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001 or harbored such organizations or persons.”
Family members of people disappeared and executed by police and paramilitary units in Kenya say the U.S. government is funding and fueling these abuses, and are demanding answers. Acting on their behalf, Mombasa-based Muslims for Human Rights (MUHURI) and its U.S. partners, the NYU School of Law’s Global Justice Clinic and the Center for Constitutional Rights, today filed Freedom of Information (FOIA) requests focusing on grave violations committed by Kenyan units “set up, equipped, trained, funded, and/or guided” by the U.S. government. The request comes after press investigations revealed that the U.S. government has close ties to a secretive Kenyan paramilitary team implicated in human rights abuses.
Twenty years since the September 11, 2001 attacks, the human and financial cost of the United States’ failed “War on Terror” is plain to see: as one headline put it, “20 years, $6 trillion, 900,000 lives.” The estimates of lives lost and trillions spent vary throughout media sources, but even the most conservative estimates speak for themselves. Yet, while the Pentagon billed America’s latest imperial endeavors as an imperative series of operations aimed at protecting U.S. national security, there is a simpler, far more cynical and obscene motivation behind these forever wars, according to the Washington editor of Harper’s Magazine, Andrew Cockburn: money. On this week’s installment of “Scheer Intelligence,” Cockburn joins host Robert Scheer to discuss his most recent book, “Spoils of War: Power, Profit and the American War Machine,” released by Verso Books on September 21.
“This is a different kind of war, which we will wage aggressively and methodically to disrupt and destroy terrorist activity,” President George W. Bush announced a little more than two weeks after the 9/11 attacks. “Some victories will be won outside of public view, in tragedies avoided and threats eliminated. Other victories will be clear to all.” This year will mark the 20th anniversary of the war on terror, including America’s undeclared conflict in Afghanistan. After that war’s original moniker, Operation Infinite Justice, was nixed for offending Muslim sensibilities, the Pentagon rebranded it Operation Enduring Freedom.
Less than a year after the United States and the U.S.-backed Organization of American States (OAS) supported a violent military coup to overthrow the government of Bolivia, the Bolivian people have reelected the Movement for Socialism (MAS) and restored it to power. In the long history of U.S.-backed “regime changes” in countries around the world, rarely have a people and a country so firmly and democratically repudiated U.S. efforts to dictate how they will be governed. Post-coup interim president Jeanine Añez has reportedly requested 350 U.S. visas for herself and others who may face prosecution in Bolivia for their roles in the coup.
The ongoing U.S. "war on terror" has forcibly displaced as many as 59 million people from just eight countries in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia since 2001, according to a new report published Tuesday by Brown University's Costs of War Project. "U.S. involvement in these countries has been horrifically catastrophic, horrifically damaging in ways that I don't think that most people in the United States have grappled with or reckoned with in even the slightest terms." —David Vine, American University Titled "Creating Refugees: Displacement Caused by the United States' Post-9/11 Wars" (pdf), the new report conservatively estimates that at least 37 million people have "fled their homes in the eight most violent wars the U.S. military has launched or participated in since 2001."
On the morning of May 15, Dr. Rafil Dhafir was released to home confinement from the Allenwood federal prison in central Pennsylvania. The Iraqi-American physician who has worked internationally with Doctors Without Borders has been in federal prison since the day of his arrest more than 17 years ago in 2003, on the eve of the second U.S. invasion of Iraq. He was not due to be paroled from his 22-year sentence until November, 2021. Dhafir will now complete that term at his home near Syracuse, New York. A combination of factors described in the Bureau of Prisons (BoP) COVID-19 management plan added up to Rafil Dhafir’s eligibility for release now. Many of his supporters wrote to the warden following the March 26 memo from Attorney General William Barr to the Director of the BoP that outlined the plan.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Nearly two decades after New York’s Twin Towers fell on 9/11, the estimated cost of America’s counterterrorism efforts stands at $6.4 trillion. That’s according to a Nov. 13 report released by the Costs of War project based at the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs at Brown University. According to the report, since late 2001, the United States has appropriated and is obligated to spend $6.4 trillion on counterterrorism efforts through the end of 2020.
As we mourn the victims of the terrorist atrocity in New Zealand -- where at least 50 Muslim worshippers were mowed down by a white supremacist partially "inspired" by Donald Trump -- many are looking for answers to the inevitable questions of why and how. To answer those questions, and explore how we might prevent such terrorist acts, it may be helpful to recognize that what happened at Christchurch -- mass murder produced as the logical result of a long-running political epoch that is almost singularly defined by the dehumanization and demonization of Muslims, Arabs, and anyone perceived as such -- happens every day.