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Guantanamo: Torture of British Inmates

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  • nytr@olm.blythe-systems.com
    Via NY Transfer News Collective * All the News that Doesn t Fit sent by Sanjoy Mahajan (activ-l) For the unfortunates in Guantanamo, inmates (as in
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 2, 2005
      Via NY Transfer News Collective * All the News that Doesn't Fit

      sent by Sanjoy Mahajan (activ-l)


      For the unfortunates in Guantanamo, 'inmates' (as in 'concentration camp
      ...') is a more accurate term than 'prisoner'. Prisoners are supposed
      to confined after a procedure at least slightly resembling a legal
      process, rather than after being kidnapped from one country by invaders
      from a second country and taken to a torture camp in a piece of a third
      country stolen by the second country.

      Compared with the 100,000 Iraqis we have killed in this war, and the
      hundreds of thousands we killed with sanctions, Guantanamo is small
      change (which is why it is reported more than the wholesale killing is).
      But, as Neal Ascherson warned, people should watch how governments treat
      refugees for that is how they would treat us if they thought that they
      could get away with it. If Americans stay sheep willing to sacrifice
      liberty for (bogus) security, Guantanamo will come to the Vater-, I mean
      Homeland. -Sanjoy

      `A society of sheep must in time beget a government of wolves.'
      - Bertrand de Jouvenal

      The Observer - Jan 2, 2005
      http://observer.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,6903,1382033,00.html

      David Rose on the allegation that a British detainee was suspended by
      his wrists as punishment for reciting the Koran while in US military
      custody

      Guantanamo Briton 'in handcuff torture'

      by David Rose

      A British detainee at Guantanamo Bay has told his lawyer he was
      tortured using the 'strappado', a technique common in Latin American
      dictatorships in which a prisoner is left suspended from a bar with
      handcuffs until they cut deeply into his wrists.

      The reason, the prisoner says, was that he was caught reciting the
      Koran at a time when talking was banned.

      He says he has also been repeatedly shaved against his will. In one
      such incident, a guard told him: 'This is the part that really gets to
      you Muslims, isn't it?'

      The strappado allegation was one among many made about treatment at
      both Guantanamo and the US base at Bagram in Afghanistan made to the
      British lawyer Clive Stafford Smith when he visited his clients
      Moazzam Begg and Richard Belmar at the Cuban prison six weeks ago,
      having tried for the previous 14 months to obtain the necessary
      security clearance.

      But it is clear the disturbing claim is only the tip of the iceberg.
      Under the rules the United States military has imposed for defence
      lawyers who visit Guantanamo, Stafford Smith has not been allowed to
      keep his notes of meetings with prisoners, and will not be able to
      read them again until they have been examined and de-classified by a
      government censor.

      He cannot disclose in public anything the men have told him until it
      too has been been de-classified, on pain of likely imprisonment in the
      US.

      Stafford Smith has drawn up a 30-page report on the tortures which
      Begg and Belmar say they have endured, and sent it as an annexe with a
      letter to the Prime Minister which Downing Street received shortly
      before Christmas. For the time being - possibly forever - the report
      cannot be published, because the Americans claim that the torture
      allegations amount to descriptions of classified interrogation
      methods.

      However, Stafford Smith's letter to Tony Blair - which has been
      declassified - says that on his visit to the Guantanamo prisoners, he
      heard 'credible and consistent evidence that both men have been
      savagely tortured at the hands of the United States' with Begg having
      suffered not only physical but 'sexual abuse' which has had 'mental
      health consequences'.

      Thousands of documents obtained last month under the US Freedom of
      Information Act by the American Civil Liberties Union support the
      claims of torture at Guantanamo, which has apparently continued long
      after the publication last April of photographs of detainees being
      abused at the US-run Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. They include memos and
      emails to superiors by FBI and Defense Intelligence Agency officers,
      who say they were appalled by the methods being used by the young
      military interrogators at Guantanamo.

      According to the memos, the abuse was 'systematic', with frequent
      beatings, chokings, and sleep deprivation for days on end. Religious
      humiliation was also routine, with one agent reporting a case in which
      a prisoner was wrapped in an Israeli flag.

      'On a couple of occasions I entered interview rooms to find a detainee
      chained hand and foot in a foetal position to the floor, with no
      chair, food or water,' an anonymous FBI agent wrote on 2 August. 'Most
      times they had urinated or defecated on themselves, and had been left
      there for 18 to 24 hours or more.'

      Reports of identical treatment were first published by The Observer
      last March, in interviews with three British detainees who had been
      released - Shafiq Rasul, Asif Iqbal and Rhuhel Ahmed. They were then
      strenuously denied by the Pentagon. But according to another FBI memo
      dated 10 May, when an agent asked Guantanamo's former commander, Major
      General Geoffrey Miller, about techniques the FBI regarded as illegal,
      he was told that the interrogators 'had their marching orders from the
      Sec[retary] Def[ense]', Donald Rumsfeld. General Miller told the US
      Congress under oath that although Rumsfeld had authorised the use of
      dogs to intimidate prisoners at Guantanamo, this had never happened.
      According to the memos, this was inaccurate.

      Stafford Smith asks Blair in his letter 'to approach the plight of my
      clients with renewed vigour'. Asked by The Observer whether he planned
      to do this last week, a Downing Street spokesman declined to comment.

      In a second letter, to the Foreign Office minister Baroness Symons,
      Stafford Smith suggests that Britain's complicity in abusive
      techniques at both Guantanamo and Afghanistan, where Begg and Belmar
      were held before being taken to Cuba, is wider than previously
      thought.

      Begg and Belmar, he writes, were both questioned by an MI5 officer who
      gave his name as 'Andrew', while they were being abused by Americans
      both in Afghanistan and Guantanamo. According to the letter, 'he was
      the one who told Mr Begg that the more Mr Begg (falsely) said he was
      guilty of something, the quicker he would get home. Andrew was also
      the one who said that he would not comply with both of my clients'
      requests for consular notification, as well as Mr Begg's requests to
      learn whether his pregnant wife, Sally, and their three children were
      safe in Pakistan.' Stafford Smith is asking for Andrew's full name and
      access to him, to assist his client's defence.

      Having fled Afghanistan where he had been trying to set up a school
      before the war against the Taliban began in October 2001, Begg was
      abducted by American agents from the house the family was renting in
      Islamabad.

      Belmar was captured after attending a religious school for a few weeks
      before the 11 September terrorist attacks. An FBI source who
      personally questioned him before he was sent to Guantanamo has told
      The Observer he recommended his immediate release because he had 'no
      involvement' with terrorism, but was overruled by MI5.

      Stafford Smith says in his letter to Baroness Symons that Begg made a
      false written confession after being tortured in February 2003, when
      two agents who had abused him at Bagram - where Begg witnessed the
      deaths of two prisoners officially classed as homicide - came to
      Guantanamo. But neither he nor Stafford Smith have been allowed to see
      this statement, which apparently forms the main grounds for his
      continued incarceration. Stafford Smith asks the Foreign Office for
      help in obtaining a copy, and asks: 'What kind of civilised legal
      system does not allow the suspect to see his own statements? How can
      the prisoner's statement be said to be classified information when, if
      it were true, the prisoner would already know it?'

      Last night the Foreign Office said 'we are trying to do our utmost'
      for the four British detainees while 'we take every allegation of
      torture seriously'. The request for information about the MI5 man
      would be considered.

      Azmatt Begg, Moazzam's father, said he had given up hope the British
      government would intervene in a meaningful way to help his son. 'They
      are not protecting their own citizens, but merely falling in with
      whatever the Americans want to do.'

      (c) Guardian Newspapers Limited 2005

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