Torture and Detention

Frequently Asked Questions (scroll down for article archives and further resources)

"If anyone acts like they don't know their government is torturing people on a widespread and systematic scale, they are choosing NOT to know. We have to continue to lead people to act against this -- going out to people, into classes, to institutions, and on worldcantwait.org. Too many people have learned to accept this, there is not nearly enough opposition to the revelations about these top level torture meetings -- but this is something that can change quickly if a beginning core acts with moral clarity..." -Debra Sweet, Director of World Can't Wait

Indefinite Detention and Torture Under ObamaDownload this flier

Torture + Silence = Complicity!

Act Now to Stop Torture!

Has Obama put an end to torture, rendition, and indefinite detention? Facts you need to know:

1. Obama admits Bush officials tortured, but refuses to prosecute them.

Cheney has bragged about authorizing water boarding of detainees. In January 2009, Obama told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, that he believed water boarding was torture. Torture is a violation of Geneva Conventions. The Obama administration is, therefore, not only morally, but legally, required to prosecute Bush Regime officials for torture.

2. Under Obama, the U.S. is still holding detainees without charges or trial.

During the campaign Obama declared habeas corpus to be “the foundation of Anglo-American law.”Habeas corpus is your right to challenge your detention. It is a 900-year- old right. Without habeas corpus there are no restraints on a government’s powers to detain and punish.

Contrary to his rhetoric, the Obama administration is continuing the Bush Regime’s policies of denying prisoners habeas corpus rights and has even adopted the same arguments made by Bush. In February 2009, the Obama administration declared in Federal Court that it would not grant habeas corpus rights to detainees in U.S. custody in Bagram, Afghanistan.

In March 2009 Obama’s Justice Department claimed that Guantanamo prisoners who were detained before June 2008 had no habeas corpus rights. On May 21, 2010 the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled in favor of the Obama administration, holding that three prisoners who are being held by the U. S. at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan cannot challenge their detention in U.S. courts.

3. Don’t be fooled just because Obama isn’t using the term “enemy combatant”

The Obama administration will no longer use the term “enemy combatant,” but it’s a change in name only: in the same court filing in which it made this announcement, Obama’s Justice Department made clear that it would continue to detain prisoners at Guantanamo without charge. As the NY Times put it:

[T]he [Obama] Justice Department argued that the president has the authority to detain terrorism suspects there without criminal charges, much as the Bush administration had asserted. It provided a broad definition of those who can be held, which was not significantly different from the one used by the Bush administration.

Meanwhile, Obama’s executive orders do not ban indefinite detention. In addition, at his confirmation hearing, Obama’s Attorney General Eric Holder said: “There are possibly many other people who are not going to be able to be tried but who nevertheless are dangerous to this country… We’re going to have to try to figure out what we do with them.” Holder suggested prisoners could be detained for the length of their war of terror which, as we know, has no set end point.

4. Guantanamo is still open. The prison at Bagram is growing and torture is being committed.

According to Reuters, abuse of prisoners worsened shortly after the election of Obama:

Abuses began to pick up in December 2008 after Obama was elected, human rights lawyer Ahmed Ghappour told Reuters. He cited beatings, the dislocation of limbs, spraying of pepper spray into closed cells, applying pepper spray to toilet paper and over-forcefeeding detainees who are on hunger strike.”

Earlier this year Scott Horton reported in Harper’s Magazine on three murders of detainees in 2006 at Guantanamo that the military tried to cover up as suicides. More is coming out about torture at Bagram Detention Center in Afghanistan. Recently Andy Worthington reported on the detention and torture of three teenagers in his article, “Torture and the ‘Black’Prison,” or What Obama is Doing at Bagram (Part One).”

On June 7, 2010 Chris Floyd of Empire Burlesque wrote that under the Bush Regime medical personnel experimented on detainees to prove that the techniques used did not constitute torture. The chilling history of Nazi medical experimentation on those in concentration camps lurks in this revelation. (http://chris-floyd.com/articles/1-latest-news/1976- echoes-of-mengele-medical-experiments-torture-and- continuity-in-the-american-gulag.html)

This is a violation of Geneva Conventions and there is evidence that these experiments are going on under Obama.

5. Obama is continuing rendition.

During his confirmation hearing, new CIA director Leon Panetta made it clear the Obama administration will continue rendition. Rendition is the practice of kidnapping somebody in one country and shipping them to another country for detention. Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), said “Rendition is a violation of sovereignty. It’s a kidnapping. It’s force and violence…Once you open the door to rendition, you’re opening the door, essentially, to a lawless world.”

Obama supporters have attempted to draw the distinction between this practice and “extraordinary rendition,” defined as the practice of transferring somebody to another country knowing that they will be tortured. During his confirmation hearing, Leon Panetta said that under the Bush administration, “There were efforts by the CIA to seek and to receive assurances that those individuals would not be mistreated.” So Panetta is embracing the practices of the Bush Regime by continuing rendition!

Panetta then added, “I will seek the same kind of assurances that those individuals will not be mistreated.” (emphasis added)

Articles on Torture and Detention:

“Torture is for Torture, the System is for the System”: Shaker Aamer’s Letters from Guantánamo

by Andy Worthington | May 14, 2013

“I have been deprived of everything but my life. So that’s the only decision I have left: to live or to die.”

The quote in the title of this article is from 1984 (aka Nineteen Eighty-Four), George Orwell’s dystopian masterpiece, published in June 1949, which Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in Guantánamo, described as being “probably the book I’ve read more than any other but the Holy Koran” in a recent letter to his family from Guantánamo.

Read more...

Death is Preferable to Life at Obama’s Guantanamo

by Marjorie Cohn | May 12, 2013

More than 100 of the 166 detainees at Guantanamo are starving themselves to death. Twenty-three of them are being force-fed. “They strap you to a chair, tie up your wrists, your legs, your forehead and tightly around the waist,” Fayiz Al-Kandari told his lawyer, Lt. Col. Barry Wingard. Al-Kandari, a Kuwaiti held at Guantanamo for 11 years, has never been charged with a crime.

Read more...

Statements from Signers of the Close Guantanamo Ad

The following statements were made by signatories to the Close Guantanamo ad which will be placed in The New York Times.

M. Cherif Bassiouni, Emeritus Professor of Law, DePaul University College of Law:

Like you and many others, I have given a great deal of thought to what can be done to encourage the Obama Administration to release from Gitmo as many persons as possible within the framework of existing legislation and to ultimately close it. This concern has only been heightened by the hunger strike in which a reported 130 men held at Guantanamo are engaged in.

Read more...

An Urgent Note About the Global Days of Action to Shut Down Guantanamo May 17th–May 19th

by Jill McLaughlin | May 12, 2013

Join in protests around the world marking 100 Days of the Guantanamo Hunger Strike

As the 100th day of the Guantanamo Hunger Strike approaches it is important that there be a strong visible presence in the streets during the May 17th–May19th Global Days of Action to Shut Down Guantanamo. In London and other places like Ontario there have already been plans made. Here in the U.S., Chicago, Staten Island, and Boston have already listed their events. Plans for New York, San Francisco and other places are soon to come.

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Holder, Hunger Strike: BOTH Sides of Torture to be at Law School Graduation

from the SF Bay Area Chapter of World Can't Wait | May 10, 2013

Dean Edley at protest against John Yoo and tortureThis Saturday, Boalt Hall (where John Yoo teaches) will graduate the Class of 2013.
Attorney General ERIC HOLDER will be there to speak.
So will the Guantánamo prisoners (on Hunger Strike Day 94) ...

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Guantánamo: The Hunger Strike and the Hellhole of Made-in-America Torture

From Revolution | May 6, 2013

"I've been on a hunger strike since February 10 and have lost well over 30 pounds. I will not eat until they restore my dignity.

"I've been detained at Guantánamo for 11 years and three months. I have never been charged with any crime. I have never received a trial.

Read more...

Tear Gas and Shotguns – Guantanamo Detainee Gives First Inside Account of Raid

From Reprieve | May 2, 2013

“...the guards came in with guns…they used shot guns and three people were injured…used guns with small bullets”

Younous Chekkouri, a detainee who has been cleared for release but remains held in Guantanamo, has given the first inside account of the raid carried out by prison authorities on Saturday 13 April.

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A Warning from Guantánamo – Four Prisoners Are Close to Death, and the Authorities Don’t Care

by Andy Worthington | April 26, 2013

I have just received a brief message from a credible source inside Guantánamo, about the situation in the prison today, which I wanted to make available because it exposes how four prisoners are close to death, as a result of the prison-wide hunger strike that is on its 80th day, and yet the guard force are behaving with brutality and indifference.

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“It is Indisputable that the United States Engaged in Torture”: So When Do the Prosecutions Begin?

by Andy Worthington | April 24, 2013

“It is indisputable that the United States engaged in the practise of torture.” These powerful words are from “The Report of the Constitution Project’s Task Force on Detainee Treatment,” a 600-page report involving a detailed analysis of the treatment of prisoners following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The project took two years to complete, and its conclusions are difficult to dismiss, as the eleven-member panel constitutes a cross-section of the US establishment.

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Prison hunger strike holds at just over half Guantánamo's prisoners

A prison spokesman says 84 of the 166 captives had missed enough meals or become malnourished enough to meet the detention-center definition of a hunger strike.

by Carol Rosenberg | April 21, 2013

The U.S. military counted more than half the war-on-terror captives at the U.S. Navy base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, as hunger strikers Monday, with 10 percent of all detainees being force fed.

Read more...

About

World Can't Wait mobilizes people living in the United States to stand up and stop war on the world, repression and torture carried out by the US government. We take action, regardless of which political party holds power, to expose the crimes of our government, from war crimes to systematic mass incarceration, and to put humanity and the planet first.