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Guantánamo leaks lift lid on world's most controversial prison

 
 
Reply Mon 25 Apr, 2011 08:10 am
More than 700 leaked secret files on the Guantánamo detainees lay bare the inner workings of America's controversial prison camp in Cuba.

The US military dossiers, obtained by the New York Times and the Guardian, reveal how, alongside the so-called "worst of the worst", many prisoners were flown to the Guantánamo cages and held captive for years on the flimsiest grounds, or on the basis of lurid confessions extracted by maltreatment.

The 759 Guantánamo files, classified "secret", cover almost every inmate since the camp was opened in 2002. More than two years after President Obama ordered the closure of the prison, 172 are still held there.

The files depict a system often focused less on containing dangerous terrorists or enemy fighters, than on extracting intelligence. Among inmates who proved harmless were an 89-year-old Afghan villager, suffering from senile dementia, and a 14-year-old boy who had been an innocent kidnap victim.

The old man was transported to Cuba to interrogate him about "suspicious phone numbers" found in his compound. The 14-year-old was shipped out merely because of "his possible knowledge of Taliban...local leaders"

The documents also reveal:

• US authorities listed the main Pakistani intelligence service, the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI), as a terrorist organisation alongside groups such as al-Qaida, Hamas, Hezbollah and Iranian intelligence.

Interrogators were told to regard links to any of these as an indication of terrorist or insurgent activity.

• Almost 100 of the inmates who passed through Guantánamo are listed by their captors as having had depressive or psychotic illnesses. Many went on hunger strike or attempted suicide.

• A number of British nationals and residents were held for years even though US authorities knew they were not Taliban or al-Qaida members. One Briton, Jamal al-Harith, was rendered to Guantánamo simply because he had been held in a Taliban prison and was thought to have knowledge of their interrogation techniques. The US military tried to hang on to another Briton, Binyam Mohamed, even after charges had been dropped and evidence emerged he had been tortured.

• US authorities relied heavily on information obtained from a small number of detainees under torture. They continued to maintain this testimony was reliable even after admitting that the prisoners who provided it had been mistreated.

The files also show that a large number of the detainees who have left Guantanamo were designated "high risk" by the camp authorities before their release or transfer to other countries.

The leaked files include guidance for US interrogators on how to decide whether to hold or release detainees, and how to spot al-Qaida cover stories. One warns interrogators: "Travel to Afghanistan for any reason after the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 is likely a total fabrication with the true intentions being to support Usama Bin Laden through direct hostilities against the US forces."

Another 17-page file, titled "GTMO matrix of threat indicators for enemy combatants", advises interrogators to look out for signs of terrorist activity ranging from links to a number of mosques around the world, including two in London, to ownership of a particular model of Casio watch.

"The Casio was known to be given to the students at al-Qaida bombmaking training courses in Afghanistan," it states.

The inclusion of association with the ISI as a "threat indicator" in this document is likely to pour fuel on the flames of Washington's already strained relationship with its key regional ally.A number of the detainee files also contain references, apparently based on intelligence reporting, to the ISI supporting, co-ordinating and protecting insurgents fighting coalition forces in Afghanistan, or even assisting al-Qaida.

Obama's inability to shut Guantánamo has been one of the White House's most internationally embarrassing policy failures. The files offer an insight into why the administration has been unable to transfer many of the 172 existing prisoners from the island prison where they remain outside the protection of the US courts or the prisoner-of-war provisions of the Geneva conventions.

The range of those still held captive includes detainees who have been admittedly tortured so badly they can never be successfully tried, informers who must be protected from reprisals, and a group of Chinese Muslims from the Uighur minority who have nowhere to go.

One of those officially admitted to have been so maltreated that it amounted to torture is prisoner No 63, Maad al-Qahtani. He was captured more than nine years ago, fleeing from the site of Osama bin Laden's last stand in the mountain caves of Tora Bora in 2001. The report says Qahtani, allegedly one of the "Dirty 30" who were Bin Laden's bodyguards, must not be released: "HIGH risk, as he is likely to pose a threat to the US, its interests and allies." The report's military authors admit his admissions were obtained by what they call "harsh interrogation techniques in the early stages of detention". But otherwise the files make little mention of the widely-condemned techniques that were employed to obtain "intelligence" and "confessions" from detainees such as waterboarding, sleep deprivation and prolonged exposure to cold and loud music.

The files also detail how many innocents or marginal figures swept up by the Guantánamo dragnet because US forces thought they might be of some intelligence value.

One man was transferred to the facility "because he was a mullah, who led prayers at Manu mosque in Kandahar province, Afghanistan … which placed him in a position to have special knowledge of the Taliban". US authorities eventually released him after more than a year's captivity, deciding he had no intelligence value.

Another prisoner was shipped to the base "because of his general knowledge of activities in the areas of Khowst and Kabul based as a result of his frequent travels through the region as a taxi driver".

The files also reveal that an al-Jazeera journalist was held at Guantánamo for six years, partly in order to be interrogated about the Arabic news network.

His dossier states that one of the reasons was "to provide information on … the al-Jazeera news network's training programme, telecommunications equipment, and newsgathering operations in Chechnya, Kosovo and Afghanistan, including the network's acquisition of a video of UBL [Osama bin Laden] and a subsequent interview with UBL".

The Guantánamo files are among hundreds of thousands of documents US soldier Bradley Manning is accused of having turned over to the WikiLeaks website more than a year ago.

The documents were obtained by the New York Times and shared with the Guardian and National Public Radio, which is publishing extracts, having redacted information which might identify informants.

A Pentagon spokesperson said: "Naturally we would prefer that no legitimately classified information be released into the public domain, as by definition it can be expected to cause damage to US national security. The situation with the Guantánamo detention facility is exceptionally complex and releasing any records will further complicate ongoing actions."

source

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revelette
 
  1  
Reply Mon 25 Apr, 2011 08:23 am
Another good source:

The Guantanamo Files

Quote:
In its latest release of classified US documents, WikiLeaks is shining the light of truth on a notorious icon of the Bush administration's "War on Terror" -- the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, which opened on January 11, 2002, and remains open under President Obama, despite his promise to close the much-criticized facility within a year of taking office.

In thousands of pages of documents dating from 2002 to 2008 and never seen before by members of the public or the media, the cases of the majority of the prisoners held at Guantánamo -- 758 out of 779 in total -- are described in detail in memoranda from JTF-GTMO, the Joint Task Force at Guantánamo Bay, to US Southern Command in Miami, Florida.

These memoranda, which contain JTF-GTMO's recommendations about whether the prisoners in question should continue to be held, or should be released (transferred to their home governments, or to other governments) contain a wealth of important and previously undisclosed information, including health assessments, for example, and, in the cases of the majority of the 171 prisoners who are still held, photos (mostly for the first time ever).

They also include information on the first 201 prisoners released from the prison, between 2002 and 2004, which, unlike information on the rest of the prisoners (summaries of evidence and tribunal transcripts, released as the result of a lawsuit filed by media groups in 2006), has never been made public before. Most of these documents reveal accounts of incompetence familiar to those who have studied Guantánamo closely, with innocent men detained by mistake (or because the US was offering substantial bounties to its allies for al-Qaeda or Taliban suspects), and numerous insignificant Taliban conscripts from Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Beyond these previously unknown cases, the documents also reveal stories of the 397 other prisoners released from September 2004 to the present day, and of the seven men who have died at the prison.

The memos are signed by the commander of Guantánamo at the time, and describe whether the prisoners in question are regarded as low, medium or high risk. Although they were obviously not conclusive in and of themselves, as final decisions about the disposition of prisoners were taken at a higher level, they represent not only the opinions of JTF-GTMO, but also the Criminal Investigation Task Force, created by the Department of Defense to conduct interrogations in the "War on Terror," and the BSCTs, the behavioral science teams consisting of psychologists who had a major say in the "exploitation" of prisoners in interrogation.

Crucially, the files also contain detailed explanations of the supposed intelligence used to justify the prisoners' detention. For many readers, these will be the most fascinating sections of the documents, as they seem to offer an extraordinary insight into the workings of US intelligence, but although many of the documents appear to promise proof of prisoners' association with al-Qaeda or other terrorist organizations, extreme caution is required.

The documents draw on the testimony of witnesses -- in most cases, the prisoners' fellow prisoners -- whose words are unreliable, either because they were subjected to torture or other forms of coercion (sometimes not in Guantánamo, but in secret prisons run by the CIA), or because they provided false statements to secure better treatment in Guantánamo.

Regular appearances throughout these documents by witnesses whose words should be regarded as untrustworthy include the following "high-value detainees" or "ghost prisoners". Please note that "ISN" and the numbers in brackets following the prisoners' names refer to the short "Internment Serial Numbers" by which the prisoners are or were identified in US custody:

Abu Zubaydah (ISN 10016), the supposed "high-value detainee" seized in Pakistan in March 2002, who spent four and a half years in secret CIA prisons, including facilities in Thailand and Poland. Subjected to waterboarding, a form of controlled drowning, on 83 occasions in CIA custody August 2002, Abu Zubaydah was moved to Guantánamo with 13 other "high-value detainees" in September 2006.

Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi (ISN 212), the emir of a military training camp for which Abu Zubaydah was the gatekeeper, who, despite having his camp closed by the Taliban in 2000, because he refused to allow it to be taken over by al-Qaeda, is described in these documents as Osama bin Laden's military commander in Tora Bora. Soon after his capture in December 2001, al-Libi was rendered by the CIA to Egypt, where, under torture, he falsely confessed that al-Qaeda operatives had been meeting with Saddam Hussein to discuss obtaining chemical and biological weapons. Al-Libi recanted this particular lie, but it was nevertheless used by the Bush administration to justify the invasion of Iraq in March 2003. Al-Libi was never sent to Guantánamo, although at some point, probably in 2006, the CIA sent him back to Libya, where he was imprisoned, and where he died, allegedly by committing suicide, in May 2009.


(more at the source)

I don't think Obama realized the complex difficulty involved when he promised to close down Guantanamo, but still the whole thing is so awful that I am ashamed of it for my country. I hope and pray that those harsh techniques (so called) are not in practice anymore.
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dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Mon 25 Apr, 2011 08:33 am
@revelette,
What a surprise, she said bitterly.
revelette
 
  1  
Reply Mon 25 Apr, 2011 02:26 pm
@dlowan,
Quote:
What a surprise, she said bitterly


Not sure what you mean.

Actually I didn't really consider all the complicated issues which could arise with attempting to close Guantanamo.

Quote:
The range of those still held captive includes detainees who have been admittedly tortured so badly they can never be successfully tried, informers who must be protected from reprisals, and a group of Chinese Muslims from the Uighur minority who have nowhere to go.


I just simply (maybe simplistically) thought, they could be tried, found guilty or not guilty and given some sort of sentence if found guilty or set free if not found guilty.
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