January 5, 2012
The Raw Story
By Stephen C. Webster
“The NDAA is the scariest thing to happen to this country in a long time. Now wonder why they’ve been setting up FEMA camps.” –KTRN
The U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba will not be closing any time soon thanks to President Barack Obama’s approval of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), a constitutional attorney who’s represented terrorism suspects told Raw Story this week in an exclusive interview.
Even though President Barack Obama made closing Guantanamo one of his core campaign promises in the lead-up to the presidential election in 2008, that promise now appears to be “nearly impossible” to fulfill thanks to provisions in the new laws, Baher Azmy, legal director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, explained.
As an attorney, Azmy represented Murat Kurnaz, a German who was detained by Pakistani authorities and sold to the U.S. for a bounty. Kurnaz, who even the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) thought was innocent, ended up in Guantanamo at age 19 as a suspected terrorist, and he stayed there for five years without ever facing a criminal charge. Azmy also wrote briefings for the Supreme Court in Boumediene v. Bush, a case which challenged the right of the U.S. military to exclusively detain terrorism suspects.
“It has no real geographical limitation, it has no temporal limitation,” he said, summarizing key provisions in the NDAA. “It basically puts into law, into permanent law, the ability to indefinitely detain, outside of a constitutional justice system, individuals the president picks up anywhere in the world that the president thinks might have some connection to terrorism. The United States Congress, with the support of the president, has now put into law the possibility of indefinite detention, where the entire world, including the United States, is a battlefield.”
But more than just giving the presidency more power to imprison terror suspects, the NDAA also strikes at Obama’s promise to close Guantanamo by limiting the executive’s authority to transfer prisoners.
“[There are] really dangerous provisions here that would make it nearly impossible to close Guantanamo,” Azmy explained. “Congress has forbidden from transfering or releasing any detainees from Guantanamo to their home countries or third countries willing to take them as refugees unless the Defense Department can meet this exceedingly onerous certification requirement. Basically, before anyone can be released, the Defense Department has to certify that the individual will not engage in any hostile acts when they are returned — something that the Defense Department cannot certify, which is why the FBI and [Defense Secretary] Leon Panetta vigorously opposed these provisions.
January 3, 2012
By Ray McGovern
Ambiguous but alarming new wording, which is tucked into the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and was just passed by the Senate, is reminiscent of the “extraordinary measures” introduced by the Nazis after they took power in 1933.
And the relative lack of reaction so far calls to mind the oddly calm indifference with which most Germans watched the erosion of the rights that had been guaranteed by their own Constitution. As one German writer observed, “With sheepish submissiveness we watched it unfold, as if from a box at the theater.”
The writer was Sebastian Haffner (real name Raimond Pretzel), a young German lawyer worried at what he saw in 1933 in Berlin, but helpless to stop it since, as he put it, the German people “collectively and limply collapsed, yielded and capitulated.”
“The result of this millionfold nervous breakdown,” wrote Haffner at the time, “is the unified nation, ready for anything, that is today the nightmare of the rest of the world.” Not a happy analogy.
The Senate bill, in effect, revokes an 1878 law known as the Posse Comitatus Act, which banned the Army from domestic law enforcement after the military had been used —and often abused — in that role during Reconstruction. Ever since then, that law has been taken very seriously — until now. Military officers have had their careers brought to an abrupt halt by involving federal military assets in purely civilian criminal matters.
But that was before 9/11 and the mantra, “9/11 changed everything.” In this case of the Senate-passed NDAA – more than a decade after the terror attacks and even as U.S. intelligence agencies say al-Qaeda is on the brink of defeat – Congress continues to carve away constitutional and legal protections in the name of fighting “terrorism.”
December 19, 2011
By Adam Serwer
“Wouldn’t it be great if the government spent $800,000 on you every year?” –KTRN
The Miami Herald’s Carol Rosenberg, returning to Gitmo for the arraignment of alleged USS Cole bomber Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, reports how much the island prison is costing American taxpayers these days.
“The Pentagon detention center that started out in January 2002 as a collection of crude open-air cells guarded by Marines in a muddy tent city is today arguably the most expensive prison on earth, costing taxpayers $800,000 annually for each of the 171 captives by Obama administration reckoning.
That’s more than 30 times the cost of keeping a captive on U.S. soil.”
Just to put that in perspective, while each Gitmo detainee costs close to a million dollars per person annually, inmates in federal prisons cost about $25,000 per person. Even in our supposed age of austerity, with Republicans demanding cuts to Social Security, Medicaid, and turning Medicare into a voucher plan, there’s always money to waste on an elaborate island prison for thirty times the cost it would take to lock people up here.
April 25th, 2011
The Raw Story
By: Kase Wickman
A massive leak of more than 700 military documents, attributed to infamous transparency group WikiLeaks, was released Sunday night. Much of the new information deals with detainees held in Guantanamo Bay, records that begin immediately after the September 11 terrorist attacks and range to 2009, including documents relating to 172 prisoners still held at the controversial detention facility.
Here are seven shocking revelations about Guantanamo Bay and the practices there.
One hundred twenty-seven “high risk” prisoners remain at Guantanamo Bay, but almost as many “high risk” prisoners have been released to other countries or freed, despite being described as “likely to pose a threat.” Of the 600 detainees known to have been transferred out of the prison since 2002, 160 fell under the “high risk” categorization, according to NPR. At least two dozen transferred “high risk” prisoners have been linked to terrorist activity since their Gitmo exit, including two Saudis who became leaders of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
“There’s a group there that we all agree never gets let out, and then there’s the rest,” Rep. Mike Conaway (R-TX) said of Guantanamo detainees at a recent congressional hearing. “As you close on that number of folks who should not ever be let go, then you run the risk of letting somebody go who shouldn’t be.”
Officials aren’t sure what they’re doing. In 704 leaked documents assessing detainees, the word “possibly” appears 387 times, “unknown” 188 times and “deceptive” 85 times. Two conflicting committees from the Department of Defense worked at the facility and clashed frequently over how to classify prisoners’ threat levels and the quality of information they shared.
While some “high risk” prisoners have returned to terrorism, still others have become U.S. allies. A former Gitmo detainee whose files identify him as “a probable member of al-Qaeda,” Abu Sufian Ibrahim Ahmed Hamuda bin Qumu, is now a key figure on the rebel side of the Libyan revolution, a leader of a rebel brigade in the northern part of the country. When Qumu was captured in Pakistan shortly after 9/11, he was considered an enemy of the United States. Now, he and the U.S. have a goal in common: unseat Gaddafi.
Instead of getting closer to catching Osama bin Laden, the documents show that the focus has broadened from catching key al-Qaeda operatives, noting information about other foreign operations. One captive was sent to Gitmo so officials could glean any information he had on the Bahraini court, and another was interrogated about any knowledge he had of Uzbekistan’s secret service.
Officials took note of every possible piece of evidence, in hopes of building mosaics of information — even evidence as trivial as origami art. McClatchy reports:
Guards plucked off ships at sea to walk the cellblocks note who has hoarded food as contraband, who makes noise during the Star Spangled Banner, who sings creepy songs like “La, La, La, La Taliban” and who is re-enacting the 9/11 attacks with origami art.
Officials noted that information from some unstable prisoners may be faulty or untrue, but used it anyway. Yasim Mohammed Basardah, a detainee who gave information about 60 other prisoners, was noted as being unreliable, and his file stressed that information he shared should be independently verified. However, he was also given a “high” intelligence value, and his threat level was lowered from high to medium in exchange for his cooperation. He was resettled in Europe in 2010. According to the documents, eight prisoners have revealed information about 235 others.
Suspects were nabbed and shipped to Gitmo because they wore cheap watches. A specific model of watch — a Casio style released in the 1980s — was suspected to be used as a timer by al-Qaeda operatives. People in Afghanistan were seized and sent to the detention facility because they were wearing the watches, but most have been quietly released because of a lack of evidence.
Today, Kevin abolishes all rumors and gives you the truth behind inflation, the TSA and the government. Plus, Dr. Bob Marshall gives you the facts behind the dangers of Magnesium Stearate & Stearic Acid!
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