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Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Rumours of secret detainees including on U.S. warships

Today the AFP will report on a UN investigations into rumours that the United States is secretly detaining prisoners in various locations around the world, and notably aboard ships. On 8 July 2005, an article in the Vermont Guardian will claim that one of these ships called "Camp Justice" is located in Diego Garcia, an atoll in the Indian Ocean.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Italy arrests CIA agents for extraordinary renditions

Today it will be reported that the arrest of 13 CIA agents was ordered by an Italian judge in response to the kidnapping of Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr, known as Abu Omar, on a Milan street on 17 February 2003. Nasr was renditioned to Egypt where it is alleged that he was tortured.

Quotes from the article follow

Nasr was seized by two people as he was walking from his home toward a mosque and bundled into a white van. He was taken to Aviano, a joint U.S.-Italian base north of Venice, and flown to a U.S. air base in Ramstein, Germany, before being taken to Cairo.

... A year later, in April-May 2004, Nasr phoned his wife and another unidentified Egyptian citizen and told them he had been subjected to violent treatment by interrogators in Egypt, the statement said.

Italian newspapers have reported that Nasr, 42, said in the wiretapped calls that he was tortured with electric shocks.

... Nasr was tortured after refusing to work in Italy as an informer. According to the testimony, he was hanged upside down and subjected to extreme temperatures and loud noise that damaged his hearing ...

The article implies that the Italian authorities were already tracking Nasr when the U.S. kidnapped him. In addition to orders for the arrests of the CIA agents, Judge Chiara Nobile also issued a separate arrest warrant for Nasr on terrorism charges.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Poll: Americans approve of GTMO detainee treatment

Today, the results from a Rasmussen Poll on American public opinion concerning GTMO will be released. When asked about their opinion of the treatment of detainees at GTMO, 34% agreed with the statement that the treatment was "about right", and 36% agreed with the statement that the treatment was "better than they deserve".

Pass this on to your friends

I rarely make "announcements", so I hope that you will take this seriously.For those of you who have friends (particularly male friends) of Middle Eastern descent who live in America, you may want to warn them about this: FBI trawls libraries for terrorist readers.
according to a report, the FBI and other US law enforcement agencies involved in counter-terrorism have made more than 200 requests for information about borrowers from libraries since September 11.

A list of people who had borrowed a book about Osama bin Laden was among the information to have been demanded since the introduction of the patriot act, the legislation that has enhanced the government's powers to investigate alleged terrorist activity after the attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon.

You can direct them to this blog if they don't take you seriously. I know that by doing this I'm doing exactly what the torturers want me to, but if you had read the things I have, you'd be spreading fear too.

By the way, this isn't about surrender, it's about staying safe. There's nothing to stop us from being creative here. You could offer to get their forbidden reading material for them. If you aren't a member of a high torture-risk ethnicity and religion, you may like to put a bit of noise into the library data. As far as I know, there's no way they can track cash purchases of books. We can do what people have always done in these circumstances -- lie low, and take every possible opportunity to subvert the system, and enjoy doing so.

Monday, June 20, 2005

A Time exclusive

Today, Time Magazine will run an "exclusive" called Inside the Interrogation of Detainee 063. It will be sold with the tag-line "The First Documented View of how GITMO really works", and will describe in banal detail the very mild (in a relative sense, c.f. this or this or this or this) interrogation of the "20th hijacker". A reprint is here.

Limbaugh "Club Gitmo", insurgency-sympathising website notices

This month, Rush Limbaugh's Club Gitmo "satire" and merchandise (pictured below) will stir controversy. Today, a website sympathetic to the Iraqi insurgency, Urkuknet, will publish an article on it. Meanwhile the merchandise will be popular with Limbaugh fans, with many sending in photographs of themselves wearing the shirts and hats.

Limbaugh listeners send in photographs of themselves wearing "Club Gitmo" merchandise.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Incident: American contractor abused by Marines in Iraq

According to a report released today by AP (archived at Corpwatch), on the 28 May, ex US Marine and military contractor Peter Ginter got a 72 hour taste of detainee treatment at the hands of US Marines.

The Marines detained contractors after they allegedly fired from trucks and SUVs on Iraqi civilian cars and U.S. forces in Fallujah, 40 miles west of Baghdad. They were released June 1, and no charges have been filed.

During his detention, Ginter alleges that the following occurred:

  • A guard slammed him into the ground
  • He was kicked in the right ankle
  • His rosary beads and wooden cross (on a necklace) were taken from him
  • His testicles were squeezed to the point at which "I started getting really sick"
  • His head was bounced on the ground
  • We was threatened with a dog

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Detainment of Arabs and Turkmen by Kurdish political parties

Today the Washington Post will report upon a confidential State Department cable addressed to the White House, Pentagon and U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. The cable will describe how a spate of "extra-judicial detentions" were part of a "concerted and widespread initiative" by Kurdish political parties "to exercise authority in Kirkuk in an increasingly provocative manner."

The abductions and detentions are being carried out by Asayesh, the Kurdish intelligence agency, the Kurdish-led Emergency Services Unit, a 500-member anti-terrorism squad within the Kirkuk police force.

The campaign surged after the Jan. 30 elections consolidated the two main Kurdish parties' control over the Kirkuk provincial government. The two parties are the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan and the Kurdistan Democratic Party.

The U.S. military said it had logged 180 cases; Arab and Turkmen politicians put the number at more than 600 and said many families feared retribution for coming forward.

According to former detainee Abu Abdullah Jabbouri, detainees were mistreated and beaten. He describes how some were forced to wear a 130-pound metal jacket and were beaten when they collapsed, he recalled. Jabbouri said that upon his release he met a fellow prisoner who displayed scars from wounds sustained when he was whipped with a wire cable, sometimes heated over a fire.

The cable notes that the abductions have "greatly exacerbated tensions along purely ethnic lines" and endangered U.S. credibility. "Turkmen in Kirkuk tell us they perceive a U.S. tolerance for the practice while Arabs in Kirkuk believe Coalition Forces are directly responsible."

The Washington Post report quotes several U.S. officials denying complicity in the campaign. It quotes 116th Brigade Combat Team commander Brig. Gen. Alan Gayhart as saying "I can tell you that the coalition forces absolutely do not condone it."

It also quotes Maj. Darren Blagburn, intelligence officer for the 116th Brigade Combat Team in Kirkuk, stating that he was "pretty sure" the practice had ended, thanks to their intervention. "We put a stop to it," Blagburn said.

The U.S. military acknowledged picking up detainees in joint raids with the Kurdish-led police and handing them over.

The State Department cable notes that "Coalition PR efforts to counter the story have been ineffective."

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Senator Durbin 'gulag' furore

Today, in the context of discussion of the closure of GTMO, Senator Dick Durbin will criticise the treatment that detainees at GTMO. A full text of his speech may be found here or here. The controversial part of his speech is reproduced below.
When you read some of the graphic descriptions of what has occurred here -- I almost hesitate to put them in the record, and yet they have to be added to this debate. Let me read to you what one FBI agent saw. And I quote from his report:
On a couple of occasions, I entered interview rooms to find a detainee chained hand and foot in a fetal position to the floor, with no chair, food or water. Most times they urinated or defecated on themselves, and had been left there for 18-24 hours or more. On one occasion, the air conditioning had been turned down so far and the temperature was so cold in the room, that the barefooted detainee was shaking with cold....On another occasion, the [air conditioner] had been turned off, making the temperature in the unventilated room well over 100 degrees. The detainee was almost unconscious on the floor, with a pile of hair next to him. He had apparently been literally pulling his hair out throughout the night. On another occasion, not only was the temperature unbearably hot, but extremely loud rap music was being played in the room, and had been since the day before, with the detainee chained hand and foot in the fetal position on the tile floor.
If I read this to you and did not tell you that it was an FBI agent describing what Americans had done to prisoners in their control, you would most certainly believe this must have been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime -- Pol Pot or others -- that had no concern for human beings. Sadly, that is not the case. This was the action of Americans in the treatment of their prisoners.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator's time has expired.

Mr DURBIN. Mr. President. I ask unanimous consent for 3 additional minutes

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

Mr DURBIN. It is not too late. I hope we will learn from history. I hope we will change course. The President could declare the United States will not, under any circumstances, subject any detainee to torture, or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment ...

Republicans and the Bush Administration, interpreting his statement as an equivocation between GTMO and Nazis, etc., will strongly condemn his speech.
To compare treatment by guards at Guantanamo Bay to "concentration camps and Pol Pot's regime is simply reprehensible," White House spokesman Scott McClellan said. "I just think those remarks are reprehensible and they are a real disservice to our men and women in uniform. Our men and women in uniform go out of their way to treat detainees humanely, and they go out of their way to uphold the values and the laws we hold so dear to our country.

"When you talk about the gulags and the concentration camps and Pol Pot's regime, millions of people, innocent people were killed by those regimes," he said.

On 17 June 2005, Durbin will release a statement addressing the charge that he had disrespected US soldiers
I have learned from my statement that historical parallels can be misused and misunderstood. I sincerely regret if what I said caused anyone to misunderstand my true feelings: our soldiers around the world and their families at home deserve our respect, admiration and total support.
On 21 June Dick Durbin will make a further statement of regret addressing his mention of past repressive regimes
Mr. President, I have come to understand that was a very poor choice of words. I tried to make this very clear last Friday that I understood to those analogies to the Nazis, Soviets and others were poorly chosen. I issued a release which I thought made my intentions and my inner-most feeling as clear as I possibly could.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Death chamber planned for Guantanamo Bay

Today the BBC will report on plans described General Miller, camp commander, to build a permanent prison and execution chamber for convicted detainees.

This comes 10 days after the Associated Press obtained thousands of pages of tribunal transcripts through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit. In these transcripts, many detainees claim abuse and torture, and claim that they fabricated stories to make the abuses stop. "At that point, with all my suffering", one detainee said, "if he had asked me if I was Osama bin Laden, I would have said yes." Other allegations include having been sold to US forces for thousands of dollar rewards.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

10,000 Iraqi prisoners

Today it will be reported that there are approximately 10,000 prisoners in Iraq held without due process in apparent violation of international law. Of those, 6000 will be reported as being held by Coalition forces. This information will come from UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, quoting the Iraqi Justice Ministry.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Poll: GTMO isolated incidents

Beginning today, The Pew Research Center will conduct a survey about public perceptions of the Iraq occupation and GTMO.

In response to reports of prisoner mistreatment at Guantanamo Bay, 54% of Americans will say that they are isolated incidents, compared with 34%, who will say that they represent a wider pattern of abuse. A breakdown is below.

Reports of prisoner mistreatment in Guantanamo
Isolated Wider Neither
incidents pattern DK
% % %
Total 54 34 12
Men 56 34 10
Women 52 34 14
18-29 43 46 11
30-49 55 36 09
50-64 59 28 13
65+ 56 25 19
Black 35 52 13
White 57 31 12
Hispanic 44 45 11
Republican 76 14 10
Democrat 43 45 12
Independent 45 44 11