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 Department Tells Court that Force-Feeding Guantánamo Hunger Strikers is “Maintaining the Status Quo”

by Andy Worthington | July 5, 2013

“The status quo is that these men are being held indefinitely without any sort of trial, even though they were cleared for release years ago.”

What a disgrace the Justice Department lawyers dealing with Guantánamo are. On Wednesday, Andrew Warden, Timothy Walthall and Daniel Barish of the Civil Division’s Federal Programs Branch argued in federal court in Washington D.C. against a motion submitted on behalf of four of the prisoners involved in the prison-wide hunger strike that is nearing its sixth month, asking Judge Rosemary Collyer to order the government to stop force-feeding prisoners engaged in the hunger strike, and also to stop administering medication without the prisoners’ consent.

Read more...

Shaker Aamer and Other Prisoners Ask US Court to Stop the Force-Feeding and Forced Medication at Guantánamo

by Andy Worthington | July 1, 2013

Lawyers at the London-based legal action charity Reprieve, and co-counsel Jon B. Eisenberg, an attorney in Oakland, California filed a motion with the District Court in Washington D.C. on Sunday evening, on behalf of four prisoners in Guantánamo, including Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison. The motion was submitted in response to the authorities’ force-feeding and forced medication of hunger strikers engaged in a prison-wide hunger strike that will enter its sixth month on Saturday.

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“I Wish I Was Dead,” Shaker Aamer Says from Guantánamo, as David Cameron Writes to His Daughter

by Andy Worthington | June 24, 2013

In a desperate message from Guantánamo, Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison, told one of his lawyers by phone, “The administration is getting ever more angry and doing everything they can to break our hunger strike. Honestly, I wish I was dead.”

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Guantanamo Bay: A Medical Ethics–free Zone?

by George J. Annas, J.D., M.P.H., Sondra S. Crosby, M.D., and Leonard H. Glantz, J.D. | June 12, 2013

American physicians have not widely criticized medical policies at the Guantanamo Bay detainment camp that violate medical ethics. We believe they should. Actions violating medical ethics, taken on behalf of the government, devalue medical ethics for all physicians. The ongoing hunger strike at Guantanamo by as many as 100 of the 166 remaining prisoners presents a stark challenge to the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) to resist the temptation to use military physicians to “break” the strike through force-feeding.

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Don’t Forget the Hunger Strike at Guantánamo

by Andy Worthington | June 4, 2013

Monitoring the hunger strike — and pointing out that President Obama must keep his promises — are both hugely important, especially as the media, and people in general, may well lose interest after President Obama’s speech, and believe that, because he has made promises, those promises will inevitably come true.

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Bradley Manning & Guantanamo: Resistance More Relevant than Ever

by Debra Sweet | June 4, 2013

Saturday, we gathered at Ft. Meade for the largest support action for Bradley Manning during the three+ years of his imprisonment before trial.  I saw MANY subscribers to the World Can’t Wait e-newsletter list, donors to the recent New York Times “Close Guantanamo” ad, activists from years of opposition to U.S. wars, and younger people who have come forward mainly because they are inspired by the integrity and honesty of Bradley Manning.

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S. Brian Willson’s Latest Guantanamo Fast Solidarity Statement - June 4th, 2013

by Brian Willson | June 4, 2013

My Personal Fast

I have been on a 300-calorie-a-day indefinite hunger strike since Sunday evening, May 12. As of today, having completed 23 days of fasting, I have lost nearly 21 pounds. My participation in this strike was prompted by the decision of 130-140 prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (where 166 total prisoners have been held, without charge or chance for trial, for as long as 10+ years) to embark on a hunger strike to protest their continued long captivity and tortured treatment.

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Learn More about the Guantanamo Detainees

World Can't Wait | May 23, 2013

In a statement released by Reprieve, the British human rights organization, Guantanamo hunger strikers directly addressed Obama, saying,

Under his existing powers, Obama could order an authorisation to be signed immediately that would allow prisoners cleared for release to be transferred out of the prison at once. Another detainee, Nabil Hadjarab - who has been cleared for release since 2007 - takes issue with the President's previous claims that Congress prevents him from taking action: “You say that Congress gives you no power? Are you not the President? In the end, the last word is yours,” he says.

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New Guantanamo policy: Genital “pat down”

by Jason Leopold | May 15, 2013

Guantanamo Bay, Cuba – A new policy has been implemented at Guantanamo that calls for prisoners to submit to a “pat down” of their genitals and buttocks when they leave the detention camps to meet with their lawyers, an official here confirmed Tuesday.

Navy Captain. Robert Durand, a Guantanamo spokesman, told Al Jazeera the new procedures were introduced about two weeks ago in an effort to stave off the alleged flow of “contraband” into the detention camps. It’s one of several new strict protocols that went into effect at the detention facility since February.

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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.