the bush administration has got to be stopped. at this point, we’ve moved far beyond funny, ridiculous, ironic, and even tragic… the bush administration has got to be stopped!
they’re going to release about a third of the detainees in gitmo, because they pose no threat to the united states.
these are the people bush & co. said were “the worst of the worst” terrorists… even though only 10 have ever been charged with a crime.
The Guantanamo prison detainees pose no threat, an official says. Most of those still in custody have no charges pending against them.
By Carol J. Williams
April 25, 2006
GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL STATION, Cuba — The Pentagon plans to release nearly a third of those held at the prison for terrorism suspects here because they pose no threat to U.S. security, an official of the war crimes tribunal said Monday.
Charges are pending against about two dozen of the remaining prisoners, the chief prosecutor said. But he left unclear why the rest face neither imminent freedom nor a day in court after as many as four years in custody.
Only 10 of the roughly 490 alleged “enemy combatants” currently detained at the facility have been charged; none has been charged with a capital offense.
That leaves the majority of the U.S. government’s prisoners from the war on terrorism in limbo and its war crimes tribunal exposed to allegations by international human rights advocates that it is illegitimate and abusive.
The decision to release 141 detainees — the largest group to be reclassified and moved off the island — follows a yearlong review of their cases in which interrogators also determined that they could provide no further intelligence. It was unclear when or where the detainees would be released.
About 250 detainees have been released since the prison camps were established in 2002.
Longtime critics of the Guantanamo facility said the announcement of the planned release marked a milestone in the four years the base had held suspected terrorists.
The prison has been dogged by allegations of torture and has brought choruses of international condemnation, including calls from a United Nations panel and the European Parliament to shut it down.
The detainees determined by last year’s Administrative Review Boards to pose no threat to U.S. national security are “no longer enemy combatants,” explained Lt. Cmdr. Chito Peppler of the Pentagon office in charge of reviewing detainee status.
He contended that the men’s detention had been justified. Battlefield commanders in Afghanistan and Pakistan had determined when the men were arrested that they were a threat to U.S. forces in the region, he said.
“Every detainee who came to the Combatant Status Review Tribunals went though multiple reviews” before their arrival at Guantanamo, Peppler said.
Although Peppler said the majority would be leaving the island “in the near future,” he noted that some detainees who had been cleared might remain until an appropriate release site could be found. The government decided, for example, that minority Muslim Uighurs from China should not be handed over to their governments because they could face persecution, torture or execution.
Tom Malinowski, Washington advocacy director of Human Rights Watch, said the full significance of freeing the detainees could not be assessed until their fates were clear. Because of pressure from their governments, most European nationals have been released or transferred.
Many of the remaining detainees are from Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia, Malinowski said.
Afghanistan has a process for granting amnesty to low-level Taliban members and prosecuting senior leaders of the old regime, making it an appropriate place to release the prisoners, he said.
“If they have committed crimes, we support their prosecution,” Malinowski said. “If their crime was that they were Taliban, then they should be sent back to Afghanistan.” Officials in Guantanamo would not release any information about the nationalities of the men cleared for release.
Pentagon officials have said previously that most of the men being held here were likely to be freed.
The former chief of interrogations, Steve Rodriguez, said in January 2005 that the majority held no further intelligence value.
Officials in Washington indicated last week that a group of about 120 Saudi prisoners could be released to their government.
A defense lawyer for one Saudi suspect said the government in Riyadh was doing little to expedite repatriation of its nationals.
“I believe the Saudi government could do much more like the British government has done” to take its citizens home, said Lt. Col. Bryan Boyles, whose client, Jabran Said bin Al-Qahtani, was to make his first appearance before the tribunal today.
The Army defense lawyer said Riyadh was being “unhelpful” by refusing to get involved.
He noted that the British government’s activism had resulted in the transfer and release of all British suspects who had passed through the prison network created by President Bush after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Malinowksi of Human Rights Watch said transferring detainees into Saudi custody was troublesome.
“Saudi Arabia is not a struggling democracy,” he said. “Anyone sent to a Saudi prison … is in a worse place than Guantanamo.”
Announcement of the pending releases coincided with a considerable drop in the number of detainees likely to be charged, suggesting that the U.S. government either lacks the evidence to convict more or — as defense lawyers and human rights monitors contend — feels little pressure to accord the terror suspects a speedy trial or due process.
Air Force Col. Morris Davis, the chief prosecutor, said earlier this month that the government was actively pursuing charges against about 70 additional prisoners.
But in a meeting with journalists on Monday, he said charges would be forthcoming on “about two dozen” other jailed suspects, including some who would face the death penalty.
Davis was responding to media questions as to why so few of the detainees — all described by defense attorneys as “small fry” — have been formally charged as the fifth anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks approaches.
“We’re working on about two dozen additional cases,” Davis said.
“I anticipate some of these will certainly present the possibility of death penalty cases.”
The man steering the government’s cases against war-crimes suspects insisted that some big fish had been ensnared in the U.S. counter-terrorism net.
“I think it’s pretty significant when you’re specifically training to build bombs to kill coalition forces,” he said of three men who will appear before the tribunal this week on charges of having plotted to build remote-controlled explosive devices at an alleged Al Qaeda safe house in Faisalabad, Pakistan.
Davis conceded, though, that “they’re certainly not Osama bin Laden, if you look at that as the top of the pyramid.”
Boyles, Al-Qahtani’s lawyer, expressed bafflement at the government’s proceedings.
“I can’t for the life of me figure out how they picked the people they’ve picked,” he said. “If these are the worst of the worst, as the secretary of Defense alleges, then someone other than Osama bin Laden’s chauffeur would be here.”
He was referring to Salim Ahmed Hamdan, a Yemen native whose challenge of the Guantanamo tribunal’s legality is pending before the U.S. Supreme Court and is expected to be decided in late June.
The high court could take one of three paths, Davis noted: uphold the whole process, order modifications or deem the entire Guantanamo tribunal illegitimate.
but don’t let the fact that they’re releasing some of them lull you into thinking that they don’t torture prisoners at gitmo…
G.I. Attacked During Training
Nov. 3, 2004
(CBS) Pictures from Abu Ghraib prison tell a story that has shocked the world.
There are no pictures of what happened in the prison camp at Guantanamo last year. But Correspondent Bob Simon has a shocking story — and it’s not about what Americans did to foreign detainees. It’s about what Americans did to a fellow American soldier, Sean Baker. Sean Baker has seizures an average of four times a week. 60 Minutes Wednesday went to see him a few weeks ago in a New York hospital.
Baker, a National Guardsman, was working last year as a military policeman in the Guantanamo Bay prison when other MPs injured him during a training drill. It was a drill during which Baker was only obeying orders.
“I was assaulted by these individuals,” says Baker. “Pure and simple.”
It’s all the more bizarre because Baker was considered a model soldier and he had served as an MP in Saudi Arabia during the First Gulf War.
Then, minutes after the attack on the Pentagon on Sept. 11, Baker made a phone call from the auto repair shop in Lexington, Ky., where he was working. “I had to get back in the military right then,” recalls Baker. “I had to go back then. I had to do something.”
And he did. At 35, married and with a child, Baker volunteered to join the 438th Military Police Company in Murray, Ky., because it was about to be deployed overseas.
Ron England was Baker’s first sergeant. “He seemed to like being a soldier,” says England. “He loved being a soldier. He was always more than willing to give his part and somebody else’s, or to pitch in for somebody else.”
In November 2002, Baker’s unit was sent to Guantanamo Bay, home to what the Pentagon called the most vicious terrorists in the world. Spc. Baker’s job was to escort prisoners and walk the causeways of the prison block.
He was the new guy on the block, and he says he got special treatment from the detainees: “They wanna try the new guy. See how much they can push you. You know? How much water they can throw on you. How much urine they can throw on you. How much feces they can dump on you.”
His unit was on duty at 2 a.m. on Jan. 24, 2003, when his squad leader got a message. “‘Someone needs to go for training,'” says Baker. “And I looked around the room. I couldn’t believe that everyone had not stood up, and said, ‘I’ll go.’ But I said, ‘Right here, Sarg.'”
Baker was always the first to volunteer. This time, it was to go to the block where the most dangerous detainees were kept in isolated cells. There, Baker was met by Second Lt. Shaw Locke of the 303rd Military Police Company from Michigan. Locke, who was in charge of an IRF (Immediate Reaction Force) team, briefed Baker about the training drill he was planning.
“‘We’re going to put you in a cell and extract you, have their IRF team come in and extract you. And what I’d like you to do is go ahead and strip your uniform off and put on this orange suit,'” says Baker, who was ordered to wear an orange jumpsuit, just like the ones worn by the detainees at Guantanamo.
“I’d never questioned an order before. But, at first I said, my only remark was, ‘Sir?’ Just in the form of a question. And he said, ‘You’ll be fine,’” recalls Baker. “I said, ‘Well, you know what’s gonna happen when they come in there on me?’ And he said, ‘Trust me, Spc. Baker. You will be fine.’”
Drills to practice extracting uncooperative prisoners took place every day, with a U.S. soldier playing the role of a detainee, but not in an orange jumpsuit, and not at full force.
“You always train at 70 percent. Never 100 percent,” says Michael Riley, who was Baker’s platoon sergeant. “Seventy percent means you want to practice and be proficient, but not get anybody hurt.”
Baker says his orders that night were to get under a bunk on a steel floor in a dark cell, and wait: “I said, ‘Sir, you’re going to tell that IRF team that I’m a U.S. soldier?’ He said, ‘Yes, you’ll be fine, Spc. Baker. Trust me.'”
But in fact, Locke later acknowledged in a sworn statement that he did not indicate “whether the scenario was a drill or not a drill to the IRF team.” Locke did, however, tell the team the detainee had not responded to pepper spray.
“They wanted to make training a little more realistic,” says Baker. “Put this orange suit on.”
Locke gave Baker a code word – red – to shout out in case of trouble. From under the bunk, Baker heard the extraction team coming down the causeway. In sworn statements, however, four members of the team said they thought they were going after a real detainee.
“My face was down. And of course, they’re pushing it down against the steel floor, you know, my right temple, pushing it down against the floor,” recalls Baker. “And someone’s holding me by the throat, using a pressure point on me and holding my throat. And I used the word, ‘red.’ At that point I, you know, I became afraid.”
Apparently, no one heard the code word ‘red’ because Baker says he continued to be manhandled, especially by an MP named Scott Sinclair who was holding onto his head.
“And when I said the word ‘Red,’ he forced my head down against the steel floor and was sort of just grinding it into the floor. The individual then, when I picked up my head and said, ‘Red,’ slammed my head down against the floor,” says Baker. “I was so afraid, I groaned out, ‘I’m a U.S. soldier.’ And when I said that, he slammed my head again, one more time against the floor. And I groaned out one more time, I said, ‘I’m a U.S. soldier.’ And I heard them say, ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa,’ you know, like he wanted to, he was telling the other guy to stop.”
Bloodied and disoriented, Baker somehow made it back to his unit, and his first thought was to get hold of the videotape. “I said, ‘Go get the tape,'” recalls Baker. “‘They’ve got a tape. Go get the tape.’ My squad leader went to get the tape.”
Every extraction drill at Guantanamo was routinely videotaped, and the tape of this drill would show what happened. But Baker says his squad leader came back and said, “There is no tape.”
“That was the only time that I heard that a tape had gone missing,” says Riley, Baker’s platoon sergeant.
“Of all the tapes, this was probably the most important one that we should have kept,” adds England.
Baker started having a seizure that morning and was whisked to the Naval Hospital at Guantanamo. “[He looked like] he’d had the crap beat out of him. He had a concussion. I mean, it was textbook,” says Riley. “[His face} was blank. You know, a dead stare, like he was seeing you, but really looking through you.”
Baker was airlifted to the Portsmouth Naval Medical Center in Virginia, where doctors determined he had suffered an injury to the right side of his brain. He was released after four days, and Baker says he requested to go back to Cuba.
“I wanted to go back and perform my duties,” says Baker. “I wanted to be back with my unit.”
Baker got back to Guantanamo, and hoped no one would notice he was having seizures, but they got to the point where he says he couldn’t hide them: “I was shaking and convulsing around people.”
Some days, he says, he was having 10 to 12 seizures per day.
What does he think would have happened if he had been a real detainee? “I think they would have busted him up,” says Baker. “I’ve seen detainees come outta there with blood on ’em. …If there wasn’t someone to say, ‘I’m a U.S. soldier,’ if you were speaking Arabic or Pashto or Urdu or some other language in the camp, we may never know what would have happened to that individual.”
Baker was finally taken off Guantanamo and sent to the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, where he was put in a psychiatric ward. His diagnosis: traumatic brain injury. After 47 days, he was ordered to report to a medical hold unit at Fort Dix, N.J. But the seizures continued.
“He was shaking all over his whole body. It just looked like he was — you ever seen ‘The Exorcist?’ That’s what it looked like. It was pretty freaky,” says Spc. Sean Bateman, who saw Baker. “He had plenty [of seizures]. I can’t count them all is pretty much what I’m saying. He had some so often, it was pretty much expected.”
But back at Guantanamo, a promised investigation into what happened to Baker wasn’t getting anywhere.
“There was what was called a commander’s inquiry. It doesn’t really tell me anything,” says England. “And after that it more or less seemed like, least said the best said. That was my opinion of it.”
Riley says he and England approached Capt. Judith Brown, the commander of the Kentucky National Guard at Guantanamo, and asked her what was going on with that investigation. What did the captain say? “I’ll paraphrase. It’s something like, it’s being looked into, but we really don’t wanna get anybody in trouble,” says Riley.
Nobody got into trouble because the Army didn’t conduct a serious investigation into what happened to Spc. Baker — not for 17 months. Only then, and only after word of Baker’s beating got leaked to the media, did the Pentagon launch a criminal investigation into how he got so badly hurt that January morning in Guantanamo.
The criminal investigation is still going on. 60 Minutes Wednesday wanted to talk to someone at the Pentagon about the Baker case, but was told no one would talk about it.
Despite repeated calls, Capt. Judith Brown refused to speak to 60 Minutes Wednesday. Crews tried to interview Shaw Locke, the man in charge that night, and Scott Sinclair, the man Baker accused of bashing his head, but they wouldn’t meet with 60 Minutes Wednesday either. Sinclair did write in a sworn statement after the incident that Baker was resisting and that Sinclair merely placed his head back on the floor of the cell.
Meanwhile, Baker was stuck in bureaucratic limbo at Fort Dix for 10 months, long after Locke, Sinclair and the 303rd returned home to Michigan to a celebration in September 2003.
Baker was left to fight the Pentagon for a disability check, and he says it took four months to get his first check. Meantime, he says drew unemployment insurance, about half of what he was accustomed to making, to get by.
“These are our American veterans,” says England. “Sean Baker was one that wasn’t taken care of. In my own personal opinion, Sean Baker wasn’t taken care of.”
When Baker got home to Kentucky, he didn’t complain. But he needed help just to get his disability check. Attorney Bruce Simpson agreed to help Baker, pro bono. But Baker is unable to sue because of a 1950 Supreme Court ruling that bars members of the military from suing the government.
“He’ll not get a dime from what happened to him through the court system because the doors to the federal courthouse as to Sean Baker are closed,” says Simpson, who adds that no one has paid a price for what happened to Baker that night. “He’s been destined to a life of walking in a minefield of unexploded seizures. He doesn’t know when they’re gonna come. And he doesn’t know when they are gonna bring him to his knees.”
“It’s as if they just went on living their lives, as if they’ve done nothing. Nothing wrong,” adds Baker, who now takes nine medications a day, can’t get a job, has put on 50 pounds and has constant nightmares.
At the end of September, Baker went to Columbia University Medical Center in New York to consult with Dr. Carl Bazil, a seizure specialist, and one of the top neurologists in the country.
While undergoing testing, Baker suffered a seizure in front of Bazil, who believes Baker has intractable epilepsy – which means his seizures are difficult to control.
Is it an injury Baker could have received as a result of having his head repeatedly knocked against a steel floor? “Oh, absolutely. That is the kind of injury that would be severe enough to result in epilepsy,” says Bazil, who believes that with better treatment, Baker’s condition could improve. “If he doesn’t get better treatment, that will probably continue indefinitely.”
“So, if you got your health back, I take it, after your experience with the Army, you’d never serve again,” Simon asks Baker.
“I’d be in,” says Baker. “Till the day I die.”
and if that wasn’t enough, the neocons have stooped to making sexual slurs and death threats to a 15-year-old peace activist who has had the temerity to make an animation that implies that
the animation can be seen here.
Animation Producer Gets Ugly Slurs
By Matthew Rothschild
April 24, 2006
Ava Lowery is a fifteen-year-old who lives in Alabama. She calls herself a peace activist, and for the past year, she’s been producing her own short animations on her website, peacetakescourage.com. All in all, she’s made about seventy of them, she says, and most of them oppose Bush and his Iraq War.
“I was just so mad about it,” she explains. “And the media are not showing the real images of the war, so I did a lot research and started my own website.”
She submitted one of her latest creations, “WWJD,” to the monthly “contagious” contest that huffingtonpost.com is running. (It’s an open contest that ranks the number of viewers for each submission.)
“WWJD” (“What Would Jesus Do”) is a powerful animation that features a soundtrack of a child singing “Jesus loves me, this I know” while one picture after another of a wounded, bloody, or screaming Iraqi child fills the screen.
“The object of the animation,” says Lowery, is “to get the following point across: Jesus loves Iraqis, too.”
Lowery ends the video with quotations from Beatitudes, including, “Blessed are they who mourn” and “Blessed are the meek” and “Blessed are the merciful” and “Blessed are the peacemakers.”
She says she’s received a lot of positive feedback in short messages back to her site. And she understands that the fact that “people are on the web, and they just let loose.” But she was unprepared for the viciousness of the negative feedback—especially the ugly sexual slurs similar to those that Cindy Sheehan has faced. (If you can’t stand foul language, stop reading now.)
“It’s people like you who need to fucking die and get raped while your corpse rots in the sun,” said one e-mail Lowery shared with me. “Fuck you, I would jack off on your parents if I could. If you don’t like the team, get out of the park. That means take ur small dick and get the fuck off of my homeland you faggot chocolate gulper.”
“You are a TRAITOR to your country and should be executed for treason,” another one said. “All you do is bitch about the US. If you hate it so much, why don’t you GET THE FUCK OUT.”
“Why don’t you go masterbate [sic] to a pic of Sheehan and fuck off,” said a third.
“Are you a muslem [sic] terrorist?” asked another.
She says there was a threat against her that was circulating “on the conservative underground.” And she says she received one e-mail from someone who said, “Contact me ASAP. It concerns a danger to your life.”
When her mom called the number, the person who answered denied any knowledge of the threat, Lowery says.
She adds: “I was really weirded out by it.”
and finally, to top it all off,
Jagger wins suite war against Dubya
Asian News International
London, April 24, 2006
It was the battle of the hotel room for George W Bush and Rolling Stone frontman Mick Jagger, when the singer refused to give up his suite to the US President.
Jagger hired the luxury Royal Suite at the five-star Imperial Hotel in Vienna, Austria, which is rated to be among the top 100 hotel rooms in the world, where the Stones are due to perform in June.
In doing so, he beat Bush’s aides to the punch, when they tried to book it to tie in with a summit meeting.
A source said that Jagger, an out-spoken Bush critic, had refused to budge from the 3,600 a night suite when the US President’s aides came calling.
“White House officials had wanted to reserve the suite and all the other rooms on the first floor. But Mick and the Stones had already booked every one of them. Bush’s people seemed to be under the impression that they would just hand over the suites but there was no way Mick was going to do that,” The Sun quoted the source, as saying.
And, it was Bush throwing in the towel first, for the hotel confirmed that he would no longer be staying there.