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:

Health Professionals Who Participate in Force-feeding Prisoners on Hunger Strike at Guantanamo Bay Should Lose Professional Licenses, New Study Reveals

World Association for Disaster and Emergency Medicine  | September 30, 2013

New research... concludes that force-feeding prisoners violates medical ethics and amounts to torture.

Physicians and other licensed health professionals are force-feeding hunger strikers held prisoner at the US Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay (GTMO), Cuba. These health professionals are violating the medical ethics they swore to uphold and are complicit in torture, according to the authors of an article published in Prehospital and Disaster Medicine.

Read more...

At Guantanamo, a Microcosm of the Surveillance State

Andy Worthington | October1, 2013

At Guantanamo last week, a pre-trial hearing in the military commission trials of five men allegedly involved in the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, descended into chaos when Air Force Col. Karen Mayberry, the chief defence counsel for the Office of Military Commissions, explained how the Defence Department's computer network was so untrustworthy that 540,000 supposedly confidential emails, between defence lawyers, had been made available to the prosecution, and seven gigabytes of the lawyers' files had disappeared.

Read more...

Torture Opponents Say Ban Dick Cheney from Canada or Arrest and Prosecute Him

War Criminals Watch | October 1, 2013

Torture suspect and former U.S. Vice President Richard (Dick) Cheney is scheduled to speak at the Toronto Global Forum, October 31, 2013, at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. The event is hosted by the International Economic Forum of the Americas.

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Guantanamo detainee Nabil Hadjarab released to Algeria, though other cleared men remain imprisoned

Reprieve | August 29, 2013

Guantanamo detainee and Reprieve client Nabil Hadjarab, who was cleared for release in 2007, was last night released and transferred to Algeria along with a second man.

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The Injustice of Guantanamo: Congratulations to John Grisham for Exposing It

Andy Worthington | August 12, 2013

In the long and horrendous history of the “war on terror” prison at Guantánamo Bay, it has been noticeable that very few celebrities have challenged the myriad injustices of Guantánamo:

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GTMO Clock

GTMO Clock

Holding President Obama to his promise to release the 86 cleared-for-release detainees at Guantánamo Bay.

In a major speech on national security on May 23, 2013, President Obama promised to begin releasing the 86 prisoners still held at Guantánamo Bay who were cleared to leave by his inter-agency task force in January 2010 but are still held. This site keeps track of the number of days since then that these men continue to be held captive, away from their families, and notes how many have been released.

Check in at gtmoclock.com.

Shaker Aamer, by P J Harvey

Reprieve | August 5, 2013

PJ Harvey recorded this song for British resident and Guantanamo detainee Shaker Aamer, based on his letters.

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“Every Single Time it was Torture” – Guantanamo Detainees Appeal to Federal Courts to Stop Force-feeding

Reprieve | August 5, 2013

Lawyers for hunger-striking Guantanamo detainees have today filed an appeal with the Federal Court of Appeal in Washington, DC against their ongoing force-feeding by US authorities.

Previous attempts by detainees to have the courts stop their force-feeding – which has been described as torture by the UN and against medical ethics by the American Medical Association – have been unsuccessful, although federal judges have strongly criticised the practice.

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From Guantánamo, Hunger Striker Abdelhadi Faraj Describes the Agony of Force-Feeding

Andy Worthington | July 18, 2013

“During the Bush years, solutions seemed possible. Under Obama, it seems like there is no will to solve the problem.”

Although I’ve been very busy for the last few months with a steady stream of articles about Guantánamo and the ongoing hunger strike, I haven’t been able to keep track of everything that has been made available. In terms of publicity, this is an improvement on the years before the hunger strike reminded the world’s media about the ongoing existence of the prison, when stories about Guantánamo often slowed to the merest of trickles, and everyone involved in campaigning to close the prison and to represent the men still held there was, I think it is fair to say, becoming despondent and exhausted.

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My Life at Guantanamo

Moath al-Alwi | July 7, 2013

A detainee at the US prison explains that hunger striking is the only way left to cry out for life, freedom and dignity.

A month ago, the guards here at Guantanamo Bay gave me an orange jumpsuit. After years in white and brown, the colours of compliant prisoners, I am very proud to wear my new clothes. The colour orange is Guantanamo’s banner. Anyone who knows the truth about this place knows that orange is its only true colour.

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New Report Exposes Violent Tactics Used to Break Guantanamo Hunger Strike

Reprieve | July 10, 2013

A new report released today by human rights charity Reprieve uses Guantanamo detainees' testimony to expose the violent tactics being used by the Obama administration in an attempt to break the ongoing hunger strike.

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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.