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:

US Torture 'Indisputable'

by Glenn Greenwald | April 18, 2013

It's hardly news that the US instituted and for years maintained a systematic torture regime, but the success of the Obama administration in blocking all judicial proceedings has meant there has been no official decree that this is so. A comprehensive report just issued by a truly bipartisan group of former high-level Washington officials (including military officials) is as close as we are likely to get to such an official proclamation.

Read more...

Hunger Striking at Guantanamo & the Abusive Use of Forced Feeding

by Kevin Gosztola | April 18, 2013

Guantánamo Bay prisoners have been on a hunger strike for over two months. Some of them have, in that period, been subject to forced feeding by medical staff in the prison. But, a new report that examines the United States government’s recent history of torture and abuse of detainees in the global war on terrorism highlights hunger strikes in the prison camps and recommends that forced feeding come to an end because it is abuse.

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Yes, It was Torture. Yes, It Needs to be Prosecuted

By Marcy Wheeler | April 16, 2013

The Constitution Project has released a major report on the government’s torture program. You can download the report here.

The report is important and comprehensive, but not without flaws. It took me a matter of minutes to find a number of errors, repetition of dangerous misinformation, and incomplete reporting. While I may lay out some of these problems at more length after the report has had its big publicity splash, suffice it to say the report tends to preference newspaper reporting over actual primary sources, and at times it appears completely unaware of what primary sources say.*

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Gitmo is Killing Me

By Samir Naji al Hasan Moqbel | April 14, 2013

“I will not eat until they restore my dignity.”

One man here weighs just 77 pounds. Another, 98. Last thing I knew, I weighed 132, but that was a month ago.

I’ve been on a hunger strike since Feb. 10 and have lost well over 30 pounds. I will not eat until they restore my dignity.

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Assault, Lockdown on Guantanamo Hunger Strikers

By David Ferguson | April 13, 2013

U.S. soldiers reportedly raided communal cellblocks at Guantanamo Prison in Cuba and hustled hunger striking inmates at gunpoint into single, maximum security cells on Saturday. According to the Miami Herald, prison authorities conducted the maneuver only hours after International Commitee of the Red Cross personnel left the island and under a complete media blackout.

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Statement of Musa’ab al-Madhwani in support of emergency motion for humanitarian and life-saving relief

1. My name is Musa’ab al-Madhwani.

2. I have been in prison in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba for ten and a half years and I hereby request and authorize my lawyers to report the following circumstances to the court, and to sign this statement on my behalf.

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Déjà vu: Defense Officials Downplay Growing Guantanamo Hunger Strike With Bush-Era Talking Points

by Jason Leopold | April 1, 2013

The hunger strike that government officials say now involves 39 Guantanamo prisoners parallels one that took place in 2006. Both protests stem from the search of prisoners' Korans that Guantanamo officials suspected were used to conceal drugs.

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Guantanamo Detainees Hungering for Justice

by Jay Becker | April 3, 2013

Supporting Guantanamo Hunger Strike in front of Obama's Hyde Park homeDozens of men held indefinitely at the US prison at Guantanamo Bay are on a hunger strike, a non-violent form of resistance to injustice used  famously by Mahatma Ghandi in the fight for Indian independence and Bobby Sands in opposing British rule over Northern Ireland. Now, the United States is the target of a hunger strike by an unknown number of men who have refused food since February 6, 2013, at the US detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in a desperate attempt to win their release.

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From Guantánamo, Shaker Aamer Tells His Lawyer Disturbing Truths About the Hunger Strike

by Andy Worthington | April 2, 2013

“...the guards rush in and assault people without the normal cameras that are used with the FCE team (which, in theory at least, record what is done to the detainee).”

As part of my coverage of the huge, ongoing hunger strike at Guantánamo, I’m delighted to make available the full text of a statement (actually an affidavit) made by Clive Stafford Smith, the director of the London-based legal action charity Reprieve, based on a phone conversation that Clive had on March 29 with Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in Guantánamo, whose story has been a focus of my work for many years.

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Hunger Strike at Guantánamo Bay: "Respect Us or Kill Us"

From Revolution Newspaper | April 1, 2013

Interview with Andy Worthington

For almost two months now, prisoners at the U.S.'s Guantánamo torture center have been on a hunger strike. Lawyers for some of the prisoners reported that the strike began because of "unprecedented searches and a new guard force." In particular, prisoners were angry and anguished at the way the guards handled the prisoners' Korans.

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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.