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:

Guantanamo Detainees Hungering for Justice

by Jay Becker | April 3, 2013

Supporting Guantanamo Hunger Strike in front of Obama's Hyde Park homeDozens of men held indefinitely at the US prison at Guantanamo Bay are on a hunger strike, a non-violent form of resistance to injustice used  famously by Mahatma Ghandi in the fight for Indian independence and Bobby Sands in opposing British rule over Northern Ireland. Now, the United States is the target of a hunger strike by an unknown number of men who have refused food since February 6, 2013, at the US detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in a desperate attempt to win their release.

Read more...

From Guantánamo, Shaker Aamer Tells His Lawyer Disturbing Truths About the Hunger Strike

by Andy Worthington | April 2, 2013

“...the guards rush in and assault people without the normal cameras that are used with the FCE team (which, in theory at least, record what is done to the detainee).”

As part of my coverage of the huge, ongoing hunger strike at Guantánamo, I’m delighted to make available the full text of a statement (actually an affidavit) made by Clive Stafford Smith, the director of the London-based legal action charity Reprieve, based on a phone conversation that Clive had on March 29 with Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in Guantánamo, whose story has been a focus of my work for many years.

Read more...

Hunger Strike at Guantánamo Bay: "Respect Us or Kill Us"

From Revolution Newspaper | April 1, 2013

Interview with Andy Worthington

For almost two months now, prisoners at the U.S.'s Guantánamo torture center have been on a hunger strike. Lawyers for some of the prisoners reported that the strike began because of "unprecedented searches and a new guard force." In particular, prisoners were angry and anguished at the way the guards handled the prisoners' Korans.

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“No Indefinite Detention at Guantánamo,” US Claims, Defying Reality

by Andy Worthington | March 23, 2013

We live in surreal times. President Obama, who promised “hope and change,” has, instead, proven to be a worthy successor to George W. Bush as a warmonger and a defender of those in positions of power and authority who authorized the use of torture.

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Hunger Strikers, New Prison for ‘Special’ Detainees & No More Commercial Flights to Guantanamo

by Kevin Gosztola | March 22, 2013

Guantanamo prisoners engaged in a hunger strike that has been ongoing for over a month are losing considerable weight, according to attorneys for the prisoners. The Pentagon also continues to report a number of hunger strikers that does not match reports from attorneys, who have said there are many more prisoners on strike.

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HUNGER STRIKE AT GUANTANAMO: Emergency Response & Call to Action

Witness Against Torture  |  March 20, 2013

Where is the world to save us from torture?
Where is the world to save us from the fire and the darkness?
Where is the world to save the hunger strikers?

— from “Hunger Strike Poem” by
Adnan Latif, 37 - found dead in
Guantanamo on Sept. 12, 2012

Read more...

Huge Hunger Strike at Guantanamo

by Andy Worthington  |  March 9, 2013

When is a hunger strike not a hunger strike? Apparently, when the government says it doesn’t exist.

At Guantánamo, reports first began to emerge on February 23 about a camp-wide hunger strike, of a scale not seen since before Barack Obama became President. On the “Free Fayiz and Fawzi” page on Facebook, run by lawyers for Fayiz al-Kandari and Fawzi al-Odah, the last two Kuwaitis in the prison, the following message appeared: “Information is beginning to come out about a hunger strike, the size of which has not been seen since 2008. Preliminary word is that it’s due to unprecedented searches and a new guard force.”

Read more...

Guantanamo - Worse Under Obama

by Murtaza Hussein March 6, 2013

Under Obama, Guantanamo Gets Worse. Despite running on a campaign promise to close the Guantanamo Bay prison, President Obama has presided over an entrenchment of legal controls and deterioration of conditions at the facility.

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Attorneys Demand Guantánamo Officials Address Hunger Strike at Camp 6

From the Center for Constitutional Rights  |  March 4, 2013

“...the men have felt that their only option to protest peacefully was to go on hunger strike, which has continued for more than three weeks and is now endangering their lives and health.”

The following letter was signed by several lawyers for Guantanamo prisoners, and addressed to the Commander and Staff Judge Advocate of the U.S. Navy's Guantanamo Joint Task Force.

Dear Sirs:

We, the undersigned, represent men imprisoned at Guantánamo Bay and write this letter on behalf of habeas counsel about a matter that appears to be rapidly deteriorating and reaching a potentially critical level.

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America's Injustices: The Tortured, The Rendered, The Disappeared

by Andy Worthington  |  February 25, 2013

Injustices do not become any less unjust the longer they are not addressed, and when it comes to the “war on terror” launched by President Bush following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, those injustices continue to fester, and to poison America’s soul.

One of those injustices is Guantánamo, where 166 men are still imprisoned, even though 86 of them were cleared for release by a task force established by the President four years ago, and another is Bagram in Afghanistan (renamed and rebranded the Parwan Detention Facility), where the Geneva Conventions were torn up by George W. Bush, and have not been reinstated, and where foreign prisoners seized elsewhere and rendered to US custody in Afghanistan remain imprisoned.

 

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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.