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:

In Guantánamo, ‘national security’ rides roughshod over human rights

Shaker Aamer | January 11, 2014

At best, we are numbers. I worry that when I come home that my children will call for “Daddy”, and I will sit unmoving. I am 239.

The military justifies its actions by claiming to protect the US — but it is also violating the constitution it is meant to uphold

The language that they use here at Guantánamo reflects how they treat us prisoners. Just the other day, they referred to me as a “package” when they moved me from my cell. This is nothing new. I have been a package for 12 years now. I am a package when en route to Camp Echo, the solitary confinement wing. I am a package en route to a legal call. “The package has been picked up … the package has been delivered.”

Read more...

Statement issued by Shaker Aamer on the occasion of the 12th Anniversary of Guantánamo Bay

Shaker Aamer | January 11, 2014

Today is the twelfth anniversary of the establishment of Guantánamo Bay. It has been a blot on the reputation of America, and will remain that until, first, it is closed, and second, lessons are learned from it that can help prevent any repetition in the decades to come.

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Why is Guantanamo Still Open?

Dennis Loo | January 8, 2013

Obama promised during his 2008 campaign for the presidency that if elected:

“We will lead in the observance of human rights, and the rule of law, and civil rights and due process, which is why I will close Guantanamo and I will restore habeas corpus and say no to torture. Because if you elect me, you will have elected a president who has taught the Constitution, who believes in the Constitution, and who will restore and obey the Constitution of the United States of America.”[1]

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The Torture Remains the Same

Shaker Aamer | December 31, 2013

Last night, as I came back from my legal call, I was FCEd in much the same way I always am, as I peacefully refused to cooperate with them again. [Note: To be FCEd means that the Forcible Cell Extraction team of six soldiers forcibly moves the detainee from one place to another.] This time they did not just force me down on the floor of the room. They apparently decided that they had to get me dirty, so they threw me down in the passage way of the Gold Building - the Cold building!

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Penny Lane: What We Learned This Week About Double Agents at Guantánamo

Andy Worthington | November 29, 2013

On Tuesday, out of nowhere, the Associated Press ran a story about a secret prison at Guantánamo that attracted a huge amount of attention from the media around the world — more attention, in fact, than at any time since the prison-wide hunger strike earlier this year, which, surprisingly, managed to retain much of the media’s attention for several months.

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Redact This! An Interactive eBook About Art and Torture

David Schwittek | November 11, 2013

“Art does not have the power to bring about social or political change. But it does have the power to perpetuate the memory of an episode over time… Art serves as a testimony that endures over time, and in the collective memory.”
– Fernando Botero

Hello World Can't Wait Supporters,

Let me first thank you for your unwavering commitment to peace, justice, and speaking truth to power. Your support of World Can't Wait and all it does is invaluable, and you're the inspiration for my most recent project. More on that in a second...

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Lesley Stahl: the Majority of Men at Guantanamo Have Not Committed “Dastardly Deeds”

Jeremy Varon | November 3, 2013

As  a preview to her 60 Minutes Guantanamo segment, Leslie Stahl said to Charlie Rose that she "assumed" the men at Guantanamo were guilty of "dastardly deeds." It is unconscionable for a journalist of her supposed stature to be so painfully ignorant. The vast majority of men at Guantanamo, as has been shown again and again, have absolutely not committed "dastardly deeds."

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Oct 18 Force-Feeding Protest at DC Fed Court

Gitmo force-feeding protestCloseGitmo.net | October 16, 2013

Indefinite Detention & Force-Feeding Are Torture!
Pack the Court – Demand Justice for Gitmo Detainees
US Activist on long-term fast to Undergo “Forced-Feeding” in Solidarity with Guantánamo Prisoners on Hunger Strike

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Obama Adopting Targeted Killing AND Interrogation on U.S. Naval Ships?

Debra Sweet | October 10, 2013

What’s coming out of the Obama administration on its intentions re targeted killing v indefinite detention of suspects is getting more complicated.  Obama, in a stirring defense of empire disguised as something else, told the world two weeks ago at the United Nations:

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More Talk About Closing GTMO, While Prisoners Treated Abysmally

Debra Sweet | October 10, 2013

What’s going on in Guantanamo is still outrageous.  Obama renewed promises to close Guantanamo, although so far, only 3 prisoners have been released since 2010. Last week, a prisoner who the U.S. military has known was mentally ill for over a decade, was released.

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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.