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:

Leni Riefenstahl Award Presented to Kathryn Bigelow

From the Committee for Sanitizing Crimes Against Humanity in FIlm

ON FEBRUARY 2, 2013, the Committee for Sanitizing Crimes Against Humanity in Film announced the winner of the Leni Riefenstahl Award: director Kathryn Bigelow for her film Zero Dark Thirty, and her body of work and role in impacting public opinion.

The award is inspired by the role and work of the German film director and actress Leni Riefenstahl, whose film Triumph of the Will celebrated and legitimized the 1934 Nazi Party congress in Nuremberg.

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The Farcical Dance at Guantanamo - Nothing Resembling Justice

by Andy Worthington February 8, 2013

Last week at Guantánamo, a farcical dance played out, as it does every six months or so. Representatives of the US mainstream media — and other reporters from around the world — flew to the US naval base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, to witness the latest round of the seemingly interminable pre-trial hearings in the cases of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other men accused of masterminding, or otherwise facilitating the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 on New York and Washington D.C.

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Globalizing Torture: CIA Secret Detention and Extraordinary Rendition

Globalizing Torture ReportDownload the original report published by Open Society Foundations which was covered in the NY Times article of February 4, 2013 revealing 54 countries participated in the CIA rendition program since 9/11.

 

University of Missouri Students Protest Possible Hiring of Guantanamo Torturer

by Beatriz Costa-Lima

About 30 students and Columbia residents marched from the Islamic Center of Central Missouri to Hill Hall on Friday to protest the possible hiring of retired military psychologist Dr. Larry C. James in connection to controversial and allegedly abusive interrogation methods at U.S. detention centers.

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Actor David Clennon Calls Out Zero Dark Thirty

“... A film that makes heroes of Americans who commit the crime of torture.”

via Revolution Newspaper

In response to the pre-Oscar hype surrounding the film Zero Dark Thirty, actor David Clennon issued this statement:

“I’m a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The Motion Picture Academy clearly warns its members not to disclose their votes for Academy Awards. Nevertheless, I firmly believe that the film Zero Dark Thirty promotes the acceptance of the crime of torture, as a legitimate weapon in America’s so-called War on Terror.

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From Guantánamo, An Innocent Man Pleads for Release

by Andy Worthington

We at "Close Guantanamo"  have long despaired that the power of black propaganda is such that the Bush administration's claim that Guantánamo held "the worst of the worst" has had a disturbing and enduring power. The reality, as those who have studied Guantánamo know, is that this is an empty claim, not backed up by evidence.

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Guantanamo: The Sound of a Closed Door Slamming

by Katie Taylor

The US’ practice of holding people without charge or trial indefinitely has just become more definite. A problem which Obama promised to sort out as his first act as President has just become more intractable. The State Department office responsible for shuttering Guantánamo has just itself been shuttered.

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Michael Moore’s Repellent Defense of “Zero Dark Thirty

by Dave Clennon

Wishful Thinking About Murdering CIA Thugs

Wow!

Michael Moore sure can make up a lot of dialogue for scenes he thinks happened off screen, in “Zero Dark Thirty.”

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The Death of a Guantanamo Prisoner

by Laura Poitras

When President Obama pledged to close the Guantánamo Bay prison on his first day in office as president in 2009, I believed the country had shifted direction. I was wrong. Four years later, President Obama has not only institutionalized Guantánamo and all the horrors it symbolizes, but he has initiated new extrajudicial programs, like the president’s secret kill list.

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Protest Torture & Zero Dark Thirty

"Zero never acknowledges that torture is immoral and criminal. It does portray torture as getting results."

-David Clennon

Click here to download flyer to take to your local movie theater in protest.

Click here for series of posters of Guantanamo prisoners cleared for release yet still unjustly held.

Here are some of the articles and opinion pieces outlining why people of conscience must take a stand against the justification and use of torture:

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Guantanamo Remembered by Detainees

Cageprisoners webcastA panel discussion with former detainees, organized by British organization Cageprisoners and webcast live on January 10, 2013:

On 11 January 2002, the first of nearly 800 prisoners was sent to the US military prison camp at Guantanamo Bay. Images of these men shackled, wearing orange boiler suits, goggled and masked shocked the world. Eleven years on, 166 prisoners remain in captivity - all without due process. Join us in remembering their stories and continuing the quest for justice against the world’s most notorious prison system.

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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.