Still, the Grim Farce that is Guantanamo
by Debra Sweet Guantanamo attorney Ramzi Kassem, in his op-ed in Saturday's New York Times, A View from Gitmo, said, “Guantánamo remains at its core a lawless place.” The torture camp was set in Cuba in 2002 to avoid U.S. and international law, but mostly to provide a place where the Bush regime could make it known, “here, we can do anything we choose to you.”
Obama's administration now has no legitimate basis on which to continue holding most of the remaining prisoners for more than 10 years with no charges. Debating whether the President or Congress is responsible for this outrage misses the point that, regardless of what laws are produced, the whole enterprise is fundamentally illegitimate.
The release of 5 prisoners the government says are “Taliban commanders” has brought Gitmo back in the news, mostly so McCain and Cruz can rant on and lie that the men remaining there are “the worst of the worst.” We should do all we can to get out two important stories that make clear the crimes carried out against the prisoners:
The government hid information on the 2006 “suicides” of three Guantanamo prisoners.
New Report: NCIS Hid Medical Evidence About Guantanamo SuicidesJeff Kaye pulls together new information on the immediate aftermath of when and how three prisoners died, building on Scott Horton's Harper's story from last month, and a new investigatory report published last month by The Center for Policy and Research (CPR) at Seton Hall University School of Law.
Government authorities contend the three prisoners died in an act of simultaneous suicide by hanging, an act JTF Guantanamo Commander Harry Harris described only one day after the deaths as “asymmetrical warfare.” It is this version of what happened that has been accepted by a wide section of the press. Horton’s article surmises that the prisoners may have died at Guantanamo’s “Camp No,” also known as “Penny Lane,” thought to be a special CIA black site at Guantanamo used to coerce prisoners, including through torture, to turn informants for the U.S. government.
Kaye says that the Senior Medical Officer (SMO) at Guantanamo, who was never interviewed later by investigators, “attended at least two of three high-profile 'suicides' at Guantanamo nearly eight years ago concluded at the time that, contrary to the conclusions of a later government investigation, the detainees did not die by hanging but by 'likely asphyxiation' from 'obstruction' of the airway."
In Effect, Appeals Court Rules Torture & Abuse Is All ‘Foreseeable’ Part of Job at Guantanamo Bay
Four former prisoners tried to sue Donald Rumsfeld and others at the Defense Department for abuse at Guantanamo. The DC Circuit Court of Appeals, which almost never finds in favor of a prisoner for any reason, ruled against the suit, saying, “The treatment of the detainees in this case appears to be standard for all those similarly situated.”
True, and outrageous. Kevin Gosztola writes:
Yuksel Celikgogus, Ibrahim Sen, Nuri Mert, Zakirjan Hasam and Abu Muhammad were subjected to “prolonged solitary confinement, sleep deprivation, exposure to temperature extremes, light and sound manipulation, beatings, threats of transfer to a foreign country for torture, sexual harassment, forced nudity, exploitation of individual phobias, forced stress positions, the removal of ‘comfort items,’ including religious items, deprivation of medical treatment or the provision of medical treatment on the condition of cooperation with interrogators and prolonged ‘short-shackling’ with wrists and ankles bound together and to the floor.”
It's our responsibility to do all we can to force the Obama administration, and whoever follows it, not only to close down the prison, but end indefinite detention.