Posts Tagged ‘guantanamo’

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US Military to seize, burn Guantánamo Bay detainees’ art 

 

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British ISIS suicide bomber was ex-Gitmo detainee who won £1mn compensation

Al-Britani is thought to be Jamal Udeen Al-Harith, born Ronald Fiddler, a former Guantanamo detainee from Manchester who was released from the US prison camp in 2004, after being captured in Pakistan in 2002.

He was reportedly paid £1 million by the UK government to keep quiet about British complicity in torture and abuse.

 

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Trump: Americans could be tried in Guantánamo

 

This should disqualify Trump from the race immediately. He has no concept of the Constitution or the rule of law in this nation. The President is supposed to defend the Constitution, but this ass clown doesn’t give a fuck.

 

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Military lawyer resigns in protest of ‘show trial’ of accused 9-11 mastermind

“The U.S. government is trying to call this a fair trial, while stacking the deck so much against the defense and the accused that it can hardly be called a fair trial in any system in the world,” he said, accusing the government of staging a”show trial.”

Already, at the time when he made his discovery, Oceania was no longer at war with Eurasia, and it must have been to the agents of Eastasia that the three dead men had betrayed their country. Since then there had been other changes–two, three, he could not remember how many. Very likely the confessions had been rewritten and rewritten until the original facts and dates no longer had the smallest significance. The past not only changed, but changed continuously. What most afflicted him with the sense of nightmare was that he had never clearly understood why the huge imposture was undertaken. The immediate advantages of falsifying the past were obvious, but the ultimate motive was mysterious.
-1984

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UN Blast of U.S. Human Rights Record Goes Mostly Unnoticed

 

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The US gulag at Guantanamo Bay Cuba is now waiting for a large portion of its illegally-detained prisoners to kill themselves.

Guantanamo’s military defense lawyers cite My Lai massacre in plea to Hagel 

Military lawyers for former CIA captives held at Guantánamo are appealing to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel to intervene in what they describe as deteriorating conditions and leadership failures on a scale similar to the Vietnam War’s My Lai Massacre. Hagel is a Vietnam combat veteran. The military lawyers call death among the detainees “imminent … whether by suicide, starvation, organ failure or associated complications. (source)”

The detained prisoners have arrived at Guantanamo through questionable means, such as through bribes to warlords (themselves much more powerful terrorists than the taxi drivers and sheepherders they sold to bounty hunters), in order to produce bodies, sold to the US like slaves.   Others arrived as prisoners of the war in Afghanistan whose only so-called “crimes” were defending their homeland against an illegal US/NATO invasion, under the Nuremberg statutes.  Prisoners of war are entitled to legal protections, while Guantanamo “detainees” and “enemy combatants” (a fictional term created for this purpose) are denied all rights, and live at the whim of the office of the President.

This mass suicide option fits seamlessly in with Obama’s drone murder response to the roster of US “enemies” around the world.  Prison and laws are less convenient than the outright killing or “disposal” of alleged enemies as they appear.

[See full coverage at: Zero Dark Thirty Scandal Files]

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The Assassination Bureau: the CIA and Zero Dark Thirty

by Jennifer A Epps

The cover of the Feb. 4 issue of Time features Kathryn Bigelow, the director of Zero Dark Thirty, and dubs her new film ‘the year’s most controversial movie’ in its headline. The article inside makes an even bigger claim, calling Zero Dark Thirty “the most politically divisive motion picture in memory.” Though Bigelow has made a point in interviews to condemn torture as “reprehensible”, her depiction of torture in the Oscar-nominated dramatic thriller about the hunt for Osama bin Laden has created a firestorm, and could create some frissons at the 85th Academy Awards telecast later this month.

I’ve written a separate article on how Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal portray CIA torture of terror suspects in the movie, and this huge issue deserves the attention it’s getting. But it’s far from the only reason to be concerned about the content of Zero Dark Thirty.

In interviews about ZD30, Bigelow has taken to citing Oscar-winning political classics of past decades to suggest that this is the heavyweight context in which her film should be seen, films such as: All the President’s Men, In the Heat of the Night, and, though they are thematic opposites when it comes to the Vietnam War, both Apocalypse Now and The Deer Hunter. She has also included in the list the guerrilla warfare docudrama The Battle of Algiers (itself nominated for three Oscars), perhaps because of the scenes of torture, or perhaps because it is obvious that when Marxist director Gillo Pontecorvo shows the brutal repression of the Arab independence movement by French forces, “depiction is not endorsement,” as Bigelow says of her own movie.

But I think a more useful comparison with which to view Zero Dark Thirty is not the high-minded auteur-driven films of that rebellious age, but a commercial, inconsequential, big studio, romcom-adventure from 1969, called The Assassination Bureau.

Though the movie is just an excuse for Oliver Reed, with intrepid girl-reporter Diana Rigg at his side, to dash around foiling assassins with smirking British aplomb, The Assassination Bureau also happens to be about a secret mercenary firm of international hit men. The refined businessmen on its board of directors have happily influenced world events for decades by murdering dictators and other political figures. If it weren’t for the explicit commissions from clients, the private sector status, and the lack of government endorsement, they could remind one of the CIA.

The tone of the comedy is set minutes into the film when the bureau’s board, led by Reed himself, meets in an imposing star chamber. Ivan (Reed) directs their attention to large paintings of historic assassinations adorning their round boardroom: “Look around you at the great deeds recorded on the walls, gentlemen. Each one of them performed in the course of bettering the world, purging it of evil, striking down tyranny. In those days we were all ruled by my father’s basic principle that our bureau would never kill anyone without a sound moral reason.” A board member instantly responds: “He was a saintly man.” Ivan’s only qualm is that they might have begun to stray from “the high moral principles” of their founding — “the torch we once held so high.”

It’s tongue-in-cheek, this proud talk about ethical murder; the poised board members talking rationally in their elegantly appointed star chamber accept murder as completely civilized, and take their right to commit it as a given. (Intriguingly, the film was derived from an unfinished novel by socialist author Jack London, in turn developed from an early 20th-century story by anti-fascist novelist Sinclair Lewis.) But in Zero Dark Thirty, we get very similar scenes, and this time they’re not comedic. Though the CIA operatives in ZD30 don’t bring up ethics at all, they do sit around a conference table discussing, in a very professional and business-like way, whether they’re ready to green-light murder, or whether they should wait until they’re 100% certain they’ve got the correct target. Their authority to go around the world assassinating people is never up for debate.

ZD30 is a far more serious and ambitious film than The Assassination Bureau, but the broad characters in the ‘69 fantasy are (briefly, at least) more honest. When their ethics are questioned, they retort: “Everyone from some point of view deserves death,” and “It’s always possible to find a moral principle for killing someone.” By contrast, the CIA’s philosophy of killing is not on the table in ZD30: the agents certainly engage in analysis, but it’s not any moral or legal justification for their actions that they consider. They only analyze intelligence: photos, videos, interrogations, clues. Meanwhile, the movie’s momentum is very powerful, with everything building toward Act 3 and the climactic raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound. It is easy to get sucked into this suspenseful forward drive. This risks obscuring the realities behind the system and policies depicted.

Remote-controlled Execution

ZD30 hits theaters at a time when the drone industry is booming, when more and more of the U.S. strategy in the (still underway) ‘War on Terror’ is about using unmanned drones to take out pre-targeted individuals from control rooms on the other side of the globe.

The U.S. multiplied the number of drones in their arsenal 100-fold in the decade after 9/11. In occupied Iraq and Afghanistan, these strikes have been conducted by the Pentagon; in Yemen, Pakistan, and Somalia, where we are not technically at war, they are handled by the CIA. And the next gambit in the ever-expanding drone playbook is Mali; the U.S. has apparently already arranged to base drones in Niger to be flown over its North African neighbor.

Now, ZD30 doesn’t make drone warfare an overt part of its subject, but the ‘targeted killing’ program – the belief in ethical murder — is very much a part of the CIA culture which ZD30’s filmmakers embraced, or at least got into bed with, and the central event of the movie is a pre-planned assassination.

The film does show protests in Islamabad leading to the ouster of the CIA’s Pakistan station-chief, but Bigelow lingers over the station-chief’s defeat, and lead actress Jessica Chastain’s words of comfort to him – accusing the ISI, Pakistan’s intelligence service, of letting him down. The direct relationship between the drone strikes and animosity toward the U.S. is not made clear.

ZD30 also runs news footage on the 2010 Times Square bombing incident that was staged by a naturalized U.S. citizen of Pakistani origin. Though in real life the bomber referred to the missile strikes on Pakistan as part of his incitement, the movie bypasses that explanation. Instead, NYC Mayor Bloomberg reads the man’s mind, sloganeering on a TV in the background of a shot that it was ‘our freedoms’ which motivated the terrorist plot.

Much later in the film, after CIA agent Maya (Chastain) has discovered bin Laden’s hideout in Abbottabad, Pakistan and struggled mightily to get an attack on it launched, she declares to a Navy SEAL that she’d really prefer to just drop a bomb on the compound. She has a proud, defiant air at the time that she says it: she scoffs at her supervisors’ concern that ‘UBL’ might not really be there. Since she turns out to have been right about UBL’s location, viewers are given little reason to distrust other people like her, people who prefer to drop bombs and skip all the pesky red tape.

Maya’s attitude is not really much different from that of maverick-warrior types from many mass-appeal movies  — like Rambo, The Dark Knight and 300 – in which the man or woman of action is held back by small-minded bureaucrats or worse. (A kind of detective, Maya is also akin to on-screen sleuthers who obsessively follow their hunches, like the heroes of Chinatown, Dirty Harry and Zodiac.) The usual result is that the audience roots for the maverick. Indeed if they didn’t, they’d be rooting against the very resolution of the story itself.

Bigelow and her screenwriter Boal have repeatedly sworn that they were scrupulous about not judging the methods of the professionals they were documenting. But the trouble with Bigelow and Boal’s pretence of detachment is that Maya’s obsession is the only game in town; again, if the audience were to detach from it, they’d have to go home. There’s more backstory in an Antonioni film. Bigelow and Boal’s previous drama, the Oscar-winner The Hurt Locker, felt like a character study despite an intense, action-heavy main storyline. But ZD30 does not delve deeply into Maya’s psyche, and her reactions to events are fleeting and inscrutable. Thus, by default if not by design, the movie lends itself to the well-worn grooves of commercial movie-making, and encourages the audience to side with Maya and her agenda. This is further strengthened by the fact that there are only two other alternatives in this film: a) timid supervisors who just want to delay action, and b) terrorists. Whistleblowers, diplomats, lawyers, human rights observers, and non-terrorist Muslims or Arabs are basically invisible. (When Muslims or Arabs are shown, they are often alien and mysterious – one may admire the beauty of a shot in which chador-clad figures suddenly surround a man in a formal garden, producing rifles from their dark drapery, but Bigelow really ought to know better than to perpetrate the same kind of tired images of exoticism that Edward Said condemned 45 years ago.)

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Rigged Trials at Gitmo

 

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In The Nation Magazine — fake terrorism trials at Guantanamo.  Like nearly everything else about this bogus “war” on terrorism (by the greatest sponsor of terrorism in the world, the USG), the gulag trials at Guantanamo Bay are being rigged.

“…Pentagon general counsel William Haynes–the man who now oversees the tribunal process for the Defense Department…

“I said to [Haynes] that if we come up short and there are some acquittals in our cases, it will at least validate the process,” Davis continued. “At which point, [Haynes’s] eyes got wide and he said, ‘Wait a minute, we can’t have acquittals. If we’ve been holding these guys for so long, how can we explain letting them get off? We can’t have acquittals. We’ve got to have convictions.‘”

 

Anyone who’s studied the 9/11 cover-up should know that Khalid Sheikh Muhammad was repeatedly tortured to give the alleged account later printed as truth in the 9/11 Commission Report.  Now the government, probably using CIA torturers like those lionized in Zero Dark Thirty, is censoring the trial’s video feed.  Even the judge has made an issue of it and is investigating who is censoring out any and all information concerning KSM.  Apparently, as soon as the government’s Big Torture-Produced Lie is challenged in the courtroom, it will be censored from the American people.  No surprises there, as this has been the modus operandi since forever.

Isn’t this sort of false reality, torture/murder state, gulag system what we were against when the Soviets did it?

Wasn’t that why they were bad?

 

Another tick on Obama’s death count.  Short film by Laura Poitras follows the tragic return home to Yemen of a Guantánamo Bay prison detainee, Adnan Latif.

Death of a Prisoner

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Learning to Love Torture, Zero Dark Thirty-Style
Seven Easy, Onscreen Steps to Making U.S. Torture and Detention Policies Once Again Palatable

By Karen J. Greenberg

On January 11th, 11 years to the day after the Bush administration opened its notorious prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Zero Dark Thirty, Kathryn Bigelow’s deeply flawed movie about the hunt for Osama bin Laden, opens nationwide. The filmmakers and distributors are evidently ignorant of the significance of the date — a perfect indication of the carelessness and thoughtlessness of the film, which will unfortunately substitute for actual history in the minds of many Americans.

The sad fact is that Zero Dark Thirty could have been written by the tight circle of national security advisors who counseled President George W. Bush to create the post-9/11 policies that led to Guantanamo, the global network of borrowed “black sites” that added up to an offshore universe of injustice, and the grim torture practices — euphemistically known as “enhanced interrogation techniques” — that went with them. It’s also a film that those in the Obama administration who have championed non-accountability for such shameful policies could and (evidently did) get behind. It might as well be called Back to the Future, Part IV, for the film, like the country it speaks to, seems stuck forever in that time warp moment of revenge and hubris that swept the country just after 9/11.

As its core, Bigelow’s film makes the bald-faced assertion that torture did help the United States track down the perpetrator of 9/11. Zero Dark Thirty — for anyone who doesn’t know by now — is the story of Maya (Jessica Chastain), a young CIA agent who believes that information from a detainee named Ammar will lead to bin Laden. After weeks, maybe months of torture, he does indeed provide a key bit of information that leads to another piece of information that leads… well, you get the idea. Eventually, the name of bin Laden’s courier is revealed. From the first mention of his name, Maya dedicates herself to finding him, and he finally leads the CIA to the compound where bin Laden is hiding. Of course, you know how it all ends.

However compelling the heroine’s determination to find bin Laden may be, the fact is that Bigelow has bought in, hook, line, and sinker, to the ethos of the Bush administration and its apologists. It’s as if she had followed an old government memo and decided to offer in fictional form step-by-step instructions for the creation, implementation, and selling of Bush-era torture and detention policies.

Here, then, are the seven steps that bring back the Bush administration and should help Americans learn how to love torture, Bigelow-style.

First, Rouse Fear. From its opening scene, Zero Dark Thirty equates our post-9/11 fears with the need for torture. The movie begins in darkness with the actual heartbreaking cries and screams for help of people trapped inside the towers of the World Trade Center: “I’m going to die, aren’t I?… It’s so hot. I’m burning up…” a female voice cries out. As those voices fade, the black screen yields to a full view of Ammar being roughed up by men in black ski masks and then strung up, arms wide apart.

The sounds of torture replace the desperate pleas of the victims. “Is he ever getting out?” Maya asks. “Never,” her close CIA associate Dan (Jason Clarke) answers. These are meant to be words of reassurance in response to the horrors of 9/11. Bigelow’s first step, then, is to echo former Vice-President Dick Cheney’s mantra from that now-distant moment in which he claimed the nation needed to go to “the dark side.” That was part of his impassioned demand that, given the immense threat posed by al-Qaeda, going beyond the law was the only way to seek retribution and security.

Bigelow also follows Cheney’s lead into a world of fear. The Bush administration understood that, for their global dreams, including a future invasion of Iraq, to become reality, fear was their best ally. From Terre Haute to El Paso, Portland, Oregon, to Portland, Maine, Americans were to be regularly reminded that they were deeply and eternally endangered by terrorists.

Bigelow similarly keeps the fear monitor bleeping whenever she can. Interspersed with the narrative of the bin Laden chase, she provides often blood-filled footage from terrorist attacks around the globe in the decade after 9/11: the 2004 bombings of oil installations in Khobar, Saudi Arabia, that killed 22; the 2005 suicide bombings in London that killed 56; the 2008 Marriott Hotel bombing in Islamabad that killed 54 people; and the thwarted Times Square bombing of May, 2010. We are in constant jeopardy, she wants us to remember, and uses Maya to remind us of this throughout.

Second, Undermine the Law. Torture is illegal under both American and international law. It was only pronounced “legal” in a series of secret memorandums produced by the Bush Justice Department and approved at the highest levels of the administration. (Top officials, including Cheney and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, evidently even had torture techniques demonstrated for them in the White House before green-lighting them.) Maintaining that there was no way Americans could be kept safe via purely legal methods, they asked for and were given secret legal authority to make torture the go-to option in their Global War on Terror. Yet Bigelow never even nods toward this striking rethinking of the law. She assumes the legality of the acts she portrays up close and personal, only hedging her bets toward the movie’s end when she indicates in passing that the legal system was a potential impediment to getting bin Laden. “Who the hell am I supposed to ask [for confirmation about the courier], some guy at Gitmo who’s all lawyered up?” asks Obama’s national security advisor in the filmic run-up to the raid.

Just as new policies were put in place to legalize torture, so the detention of terror suspects without charges or trials (including people who, we now know, were treated horrifically despite being innocent of anything) became a foundational act of the administration. Specifically, government lawyers were employed to create particularly tortured (if you’ll excuse the word) legal documents exempting detainees from the Geneva Conventions, thus enabling their interrogation under conditions that blatantly violated domestic and international laws.

Zero Dark Thirty accepts without hesitation or question the importance of this unconstitutional detention policy as crucial to the torture program. From the very first days of the war on terror, the U.S. government rounded up individuals globally and began to question them brutally. Whether they actually had information to reveal, whether the government had any concrete evidence against them, they held hundreds — in the end, thousands — of detainees in U.S. custody at secret CIA black sites worldwide, in the prisons of allied states known for their own torture policies, at Bagram Detention Center in Afghanistan, and of course at Guantanamo, which was the crown jewel of the Bush administration’s offshore detention system.

Dan and Maya themselves not only travel to secret black sites to obtain valuable information from detainees, but to the cages and interrogation booths at Bagram where men in those now-familiar orange jumpsuits are shown awaiting a nightmare experience. Bigelow’s film repeatedly suggests that it was crucially important for national security to keep a pool of potential information sources — those detainees — available just in case they might one day turn out to have information.

Third, Indulge in the Horror: Torture is displayed onscreen in what can only be called pornographic detail for nearly the film’s first hour. In this way, Zero Dark Thirty eerily mimics the obsessive, essentially fetishistic approach of Bush’s top officials to the subject. Cheney, former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Cheney’s former Chief of Staff David Addington, and John Yoo from the Office of Legal Counsel, among others, plunged into the minutiae of “enhanced interrogation” tactics, micro-managing just what levels of abuse should and should not apply, would and would not constitute torture after 9/11.

In black site after black site, on victim after victim, the movie shows acts of torture in exquisite detail, Bigelow’s camera seeming to relish its gruesomeness: waterboarding, stress positions, beatings, sleep deprivation resulting in memory loss and severe disorientation, sexual humiliation, containment in a small box, and more. Whenever she gets the chance, Bigelow seems to take the opportunity to suggest that this mangling of human flesh and immersion in brutality on the part of Americans is at least understandable and probably worthwhile. The film’s almost subliminal message on the subject of torture should remind us of the way in which a form of sadism-as-patriotic-duty filtered down to the troops on the ground, as evidenced by the now infamous 2004 photos from Abu Ghraib of smiling American soldiers offering thumbs-up responses to their ability to humiliate and hurt captives in dog collars.

Fourth, Dehumanize the Victims. Like the national security establishment that promoted torture policies, Bigelow dehumanizes her victims. Despite repeated beatings, humiliations, and aggressive torture techniques of various sorts, Ammar never becomes even a faintly sympathetic character to anyone in the film. As a result, there is never anyone for the audience to identify with who becomes emotionally distraught over the abuses. Dehumanization was a necessary tool in promoting torture; now, it is a necessary tool in promoting Zero Dark Thirty, which desensitizes its audience in ways that should be frightening to us and make us wonder who exactly we have become in the years since 9/11.

Fifth, Never Doubt That Torture Works. Given all this, it’s a small step to touting the effectiveness of torture in eliciting the truth. “In the end, everybody breaks, bro’: it’s biology,” Dan says to his victim. He also repeats over and over, “If you lie to me, I hurt you” — meaning, “If I hurt you, you won’t lie to me.” Maya concurs, telling Ammar, bruised, bloodied, and begging for her help, that he can stop his pain by telling the truth.

How many times does the American public need to be told that torture did not yield the results the government promised? How many times does it need to be said that waterboarding Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of 9/11, 183 times obviously didn’t work? How many times does it need to be pointed out that torture can — and did — produce misleading or false information, notably in the torture of Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, the Libyan who ran an al-Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan and who confessed under torture that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq?

Sixth, Hold No One Accountable. The Obama administration made the determination that holding Bush administration figures, CIA officials, or the actual torturers responsible for what they did in a court of law was far more trouble than it might ever be worth. Instead, the president chose to move on and officially never look back. Bigelow takes advantage of this passivity to suggest to her audience that the only downside of torture is the fear of accountability. As he prepares to leave Pakistan, Dan tells Maya, “You gotta be real careful with the detainees now. Politics are changing and you don’t want to be the last one holding the dog collar when the oversight committee comes…”

The sad truth is that Zero Dark Thirty could not have been produced in its present form if any of the officials who created and implemented U.S. torture policy had been held accountable for what happened, or any genuine sunshine had been thrown upon it. With scant public debate and no public record of accountability, Bigelow feels free to leave out even a scintilla of criticism of that torture program. Her film is thus one more example of the fact that without accountability, the pernicious narrative continues, possibly gaining traction as it does.

Seventh, Employ the Media. While the Bush administration had the Fox television series 24 as a weekly reminder that torture keeps us safe, the current administration, bent on its no-accountability policy, has Bigelow’s film on its side. It’s the perfect piece of propaganda, with all the appeal that naked brutality, fear, and revenge can bring.

Hollywood and most of its critics have embraced the film. It has already been named among the best films of the year, and is considered a shoe-in for Oscar nominations. Hollywood, that one-time bastion of liberalism, has provided the final piece in the perfect blueprint for the whitewashing of torture policy. If that isn’t a happily-ever-after ending, what is?

Karen J. Greenberg, a TomDispatch regular, is the Director of the Center on National Security at Fordham Law School. She is the author of The Least Worst Place: Guantanamo’s First 100 Days and the co-editor of The Torture Papers: The Road to Abu Ghraib.

Copyright 2013 Karen J. Greenberg (used with permission)

 

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This is a very powerful trailer.