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:

Justice Detained, Justice Denied: Indefinite Detention and Torture Continue as Law of the Land

Jill McLaughlin | August 16, 2015

After years of struggle to learn, expose and stop what the American Psychological Association did to support U.S. torture and detention policies, we celebrate a recent victory for people of conscience who have long spoken out and forced revelations of 14 years of sordid, and criminally complicit, history.  Last week, the APA voted to ban psychologists from participating in the interrogation and torturing of detainees at Guantanamo, on vessels in international waters, and in black sites.

Read more...

Democrats Continue To Delude Themselves About Obama's Failed Guantánamo Vow

Glenn Greenwald | August 12th, 2015

As everyone knows, “closing Guantánamo” was a centerpiece of the 2008 Obama campaign. In the Senate and then in the presidential campaign, Obama repeatedly and eloquently railed against the core, defining evil of Guantánamo: indefinite detention. On the Senate floor, Obama passionately intoned in 2006: “As a parent, I can also imagine the terror I would feel if one of my family members were rounded up in the middle of the night and sent to Guantánamo without even getting one chance to ask why they were being held and being able to prove their innocence.” During the 2008 campaign, he repeatedly denounced “the Bush Administration’s attempt to create a legal black hole at Guantánamo.”

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In Light of the Report on American Psychological Association Support for CIA Torture

Debra Sweet | July 19th, 2015

Recommended reading on WarCriminalsWatch.org about the recently completed investigation by attorney David Hoffman into allegations that the APA colluded with the Pentagon, the CIA, and the White House in supporting the Bush Regime's abusive detention and interrogation program:

Write to the Guantánamo Prisoners

Andy Worthington | July 7th 2015
 
guantanamo-prisoners

Every six months, I ask people to write to the prisoners in Guantánamo, to let them — and the US authorities — know that they have not been forgotten.

The letter-writing campaign was started five years ago by two Facebook friends, Shahrina J. Ahmed and Mahfuja Bint Ammu, and it has been repeated every six months. Their latest campaign coincided with the start of Ramadan, on June 12, and I’m following up in the hope that, as Ramadan continues, you too can send a letter to some or all of the men to let them know they’ve not been forgotten.

 

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UK Celebrities & Politicians Publish Open Letter Calling for Shaker Aamer's Release from Guantanamo

Debra Sweet | July 6, 2015

we-stand-with-shaker-launch-parliamentThere is a substantial outcry coming from the UK because the Obama administration — despite promises to close down Guantanamo, and let those designated for release leave — still refuses to release Shaker Aamer.  He's been cleared for release since 2008.  So during the whole presidency of Nobel Peace Prize winner Barack Obama, his life, his family and supporters wishes, have meant nothing at all.

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What Kind of A Country Tortures People?

stang-june26-torture-protestStephanie Tang | June 26, 2015

Today, as Dr. Maran has so clearly explained, together with people in many other countries, we’re standing up in shared commitment and conscience to say No, Absolutely No, to the illegal and immoral practice of torture, and that the world demands that it stop.

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What happened to the men at Guantanamo?

Debra Sweet | May 21, 2015

“This is not who we are” said Barack Obama about abuses of prisoners at Guantanano during a contentious speech on “national security” May 23, 2013. His speech struggled to respond to the prisoners' hunger strike — involving most of them — which had propelled the U.S. government's torture camp into the news in a way that brought into sharper relief the illegitimate foundation of prolonged detention without charge. Obama seemed to imply that he wanted to close Guantanamo.

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All the President's Psychologists

Debra Sweet | May 9, 2015

“If professionals were watching, the government argued, the program must have been safe.”

Credit goes to dissident psychologists for staying on the case for more than 10 years against official professional involvement with the US torture program.

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Protesting Chicago's Black Site: Homan Square

Jill McLaughlin | March 1, 2015

Gitmo2Chicago ProtestOn Saturday February 28th about 200 people gathered on the west side of Chicago to protest Chicago's very own black site called Homan Square. Revelations of this site run by the Chicago Police Department came to light with a recent article in the Guardian newspaper. What is revealed is that the Chicago PD has been operating a facility were people are detained for prolong periods of time while being denied access to lawyers and some of have even been tortured. We of Chicago World Can't Wait could not help but make the connections between this facility and Guantanamo Bay Prison.

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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.