GITMO: Just As Bad As We Suspected

The Guardian and the NYTimes have coordinated another release of redacted ‘security papers’ from Wikileaks, this time concerning Guantanamo. From a quick scan, there are no “shocking new revelations”, just confirmation that the DFHs were right… again. Here is the Guardian:

Guantánamo files lift lid on world’s most controversial prison
• Innocent people interrogated for years on slimmest pretexts
• Children, elderly and mentally ill among those wrongfully held
• 172 prisoners remain, some with no prospect of trial or release…
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The 759 Guantánamo files, classified “secret”, cover almost every inmate since the camp was opened in 2002. More than two years after President Obama ordered the closure of the prison, 172 are still held there.
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The files depict a system often focused less on containing dangerous terrorists or enemy fighters, than on extracting intelligence. Among inmates who proved harmless were an 89-year-old Afghan villager, suffering from senile dementia, and a 14-year-old boy who had been an innocent kidnap victim. The old man was transported to Cuba to interrogate him about “suspicious phone numbers” found in his compound. The 14-year-old was shipped out merely because of “his possible knowledge of Taliban…local leaders”.
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US authorities listed the main Pakistani intelligence service, the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI), as a terrorist organisation alongside groups such as al-Qaida, Hamas, Hezbollah and Iranian intelligence. Interrogators were told to regard links to any of these as an indication of terrorist or insurgent activity…
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US authorities relied heavily on information obtained from a small number of detainees under torture. They continued to maintain this testimony was reliable even after admitting that the prisoners who provided it had been mistreated….
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The leaked files include guidance for US interrogators on how to decide whether to hold or release detainees, and how to spot al-Qaida cover stories. One warns interrogators: “Travel to Afghanistan for any reason after the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 is likely a total fabrication with the true intentions being to support Usama Bin Laden through direct hostilities against the US forces.”
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The inclusion of association with the ISI as a “threat indicator” in this document is likely to pour fuel on the flames of Washington’s already strained relationship with its key regional ally. A number of the detainee files also contain references, apparently based on intelligence reporting, to the ISI supporting, co-ordinating and protecting insurgents fighting coalition forces in Afghanistan, or even assisting al-Qaida.
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Obama’s inability to shut Guantánamo has been one of the White House’s most internationally embarrassing policy failures. The files offer an insight into why the administration has been unable to transfer many of the 172 existing prisoners from the island prison where they remain outside the protection of the US courts or the prisoner-of-war provisions of the Geneva conventions.
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The range of those still held captive includes detainees who have been admittedly tortured so badly they can never be successfully tried, informers who must be protected from reprisals, and a group of Chinese Muslims from the Uighur minority who have nowhere to go.

The NYTimes adds, in its best Grey Lady manner:

What began as a jury-rigged experiment after the 2001 terrorist attacks now seems like an enduring American institution, and the leaked files show why, by laying bare the patchwork and contradictory evidence that in many cases would never have stood up in criminal court or a military tribunal. […]
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Obama administration officials condemned the publication of the classified documents, which were obtained by the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks last year but provided to The Times by another source. The officials pointed out that an administration task force set up in January 2009 reviewed the information in the prisoner assessments, and in some cases came to different conclusions. Thus, they said, the documents published by The Times may not represent the government’s current view of detainees at Guantánamo.

Mandatory disclaimer: Bush started it, the Bush Administration and its hand-picked lackeys were responsible for the worst abuses, and Bush holdouts in both the military and the DoJ are undoubtably making the situation worse this very day. Also, the NIMBY whiners in Congress should be ashamed of themselves. But Bush is not the leader standing in today’s harsh spotlight, and the current Administration’s stated policy of “looking forward, not back” would seem to make it unlikely that Dubya will be called upon.

“No worse than our critics expected” is hardly an exculpation for the history books.

Safe prediction: It’s not going to be a happy Monday anywhere in the political spheres.






37 replies
  1. 1
    Yutsano says:

    There is only one way to resolve this. And Obama knows he can’t do it. Release them all. Find a country that will take the remaining 172 and send them there. Then end this ugly chapter in the nation’s history.

  2. 2
    Alex S. says:

    Oh, NYT…. “contradictory evidence”… that’s no longer evidence then, or is it? But past mistakes have to be defended at any price. Also, I like how the Iranian intelligence is declared a terrorist organisation. What would that make the CIA? Well, let’s see what else is in there…

  3. 3
    James E Powell says:

    And I’m proud to be an American
    Where at least I know I’m free

  4. 4

    Not too long recap of highlowlights (w/ links) from AlterNet.

    Whole thing is just effing awful.

  5. 5
    amk says:

    shrub left the dems plenty of poison pills – gitmo, tax-cuts for the rich, Iraq, Afghanistan, wall street swindles, ruined economy.

  6. 6
    Kane says:

    Safe Prediction: The inconvenient truths of Bush torture policy along with the messy facts that select members of congress condoned the policy while other countries willingly particiated in the brutalization of these individuals and that most of their home counties don’t want them returned will all soon be conveniently buried by the media. Instead, the narrative will be that President Obama owns Guantánamo, and that he promised to close camp and didn’t. The reasons and causes that prevented the closure will be lost in the hyperbole.

  7. 7
    gene108 says:

    @amk: What doesn’t surprise me, but should is the fact no one states the obvious: George Bush, Jr. was an AWFUL President.

    The media is hush about pointing out the simple fact that Bush, Jr. sucked and his policies have been terrible for America. They still give a voice to people, who try to justify them, i.e. any and all Republicans still in elected office. The Republicans are just doubling down on what Bush, Jr. started, with regards to tax cuts, deregulation and militarism.

    We had a President, who was as bad as any in U.S. history and yet there’s no public condemnation of him or his policies.

    It’s sad. Very sad.

  8. 8
    Kane says:

    Well, at least President Obama and members of his administration can travel the world freely without fear of being arrested for war crimes. That’s more than what Bush and Cheney and their pals can say.

  9. 9
    Kane says:

    @gene108:
    The media has a fit if President Obama simply reminds people of what he walked into. It’s as if he and the rest of us are supposed to forget how we got here.

  10. 10
    Cerberus says:

    The sad truth that we here in America have never, EVER, wanted to face in any capacity whatsoever is the idea that things that happened in the past don’t just go away and disappear forever.

    We seem to believe like everyone should forget what happened yesterday so we can “get on with things” and put on a bright face.

    This is already stupid enough if we didn’t also note that what happens in the past not only happened, but it happening has direct and unquestionable effects on the present.

    Racist laws in the past affect people’s access to wealth and education in the present. Guantanamo Bay leaves us with the broken remnants of our torture camp and a number of people too scared of the blood on their hands and “looking weak” to do the right thing. Our wars leave us the legacy of those who have every right to hate us and war to punt us out of their countries. And the same liars who create each crisis trade on our unwillingness to look back to fashion themselves ever pristine names for themselves.

    Sure looking back in history and seeing Hiroshima, Trail of Tears, firehoses on civil rights workers, exploitation of chinese on the railroads, and so on might make one want to pretend it all away. Especially for our media who have been complicit in modern tragedy after modern tragedy.

    But denial helps no one, least of all the victims, and we prove that national character we are so obsessed with maintaining when we don’t shirk from the responsibilities of that past and our obligations to those aggrieved.

    Of course, this is all stupid feminine hippie bullshit leeching out our national fluids of USA! USA! USA!11!, so kick that hippie in the teeth and let’s move on. Out of sight, out of mind, looking forward to a city on a hill, everything’s fine now, let’s pass more tax cuts for the rich.

  11. 11
    gene108 says:

    @Kane:

    Also, too the right-wingers in the media work overtime to polish the image of any damn Republican, from supposedly non-wingnut types like George Will to talk radio stalwarts like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity. They make sure Republican shit don’t stink.

    These guys rehabilitated Nixon’s image, so that by the time I was in college, in the early to mid-1990’s, people were talking about Nixon’s trip to China rather than the clusterfuck that was Watergate, which pretty much turned every adult American I came into contact with as a child against Nixon.

    The lack of push back by the media against Republicans, who cried about huge deficits, when ARRA was passed was just the first step in this process. Treating the Tea Party as an independent non-Republican movement was another step to soften us up, so when right-wingers want to trot out Bush, Jr. and talk about how there was never a terrorist attack in America during his Presidency or how he spread Democracy to the Middle East by invading Iraq, we’ll be dulled down and ready to accept the bullshit.

  12. 12
    Keith G says:

    I am liking Bradley Manning more each day. Has any other single person exposed so much of our filth and wrong doing?

  13. 13
    WyldPirate says:

    But Bush is not the leader standing in today’s harsh spotlight, and the current Administration’s stated policy of “looking forward, not back” would seem to make it unlikely that Dubya will be called upon.
    __
    “No worse than our critics expected” is hardly an exculpation for the history books

    Damn skippy.

  14. 14
    aimai says:

    I think whoever upthread referred to “Poison Pills” really hit the nail on the head. I remember watching the episode of the Sopranos where Tony takes over a going concern, maybe a sporting goods store, and quickly loots it from the inside out–forces them to take out loans he has no intention of repaying, ordering goods and then stealing them and selling them out the back of the store and then (IIRC) torching the store for the insurance. Mafia Bust Out its called. I was watching this on DVD at the height of the Bush years and looking around and thinking “ohmygod this is a straight up mafia bust out.”

    But its more than that. Tony and his crew didn’t care what happened after they torched the place. But Bush and his crew with Guantanamo (unwittingly) the declaration that there were some people who were “enemy combatants” but not regular prisoners, and the tax cut “sunset” provision deliberately set out to tie the hands of the next presidents so that the harm they were doing couldn’t be undone.

    aimai

  15. 15
    Keith G says:

    Addendum

    Note the tone set by the Washington Post headline:

    WikiLeaks discloses new details on whereabouts of al-Qaeda leaders on 9/11

    It is quite through the looking glass since the Village must not think about unpleasant things on the day after Easter.

  16. 16
    aimai says:

    Adding (because I’m afraid of the edit button)

    I put Guantanamo and even Iraq under the heading of “unwitting” not because they weren’t terrible, vicious decisions but because I think Cheney and Bush honestly thought the entire situation would be resolved in a few months or years. They never dreamed we’d still be enmeshed in these situations eight years on.

    aimai

  17. 17
    The Sheriff's A Ni- says:

    The legacy of George W. Bush, who can rest assured that not even Buchanan, Grant, and Harding can tough his record of incompetence in the Oval Office.

  18. 18

    @The Sheriff’s A Ni-: I have a weird little soft-spot for Buchanan – I’ve been playing for years with an idea for a novel about him. He was so intelligent, so well travelled and so well intentioned but at the same time so very very wrong. I find him fascinating.

    Bush? A bully in a Stetson.

  19. 19
    amk says:

    As for the gripe about ‘looking forward, not backward’, except for nutroots and fringe left, 99.99% showed zero interest. Anyone thinking that ‘impeach bush’ would have been a grand success – when it would have just been a freak show gleefully led on and cheered by msm – doesn’t live in reality.

  20. 20
    Keith G says:

    @amk:
    <blockquote…when it would have just been a freak show gleefully led on and cheered by msm
    I bet not. The MSM has shown a fair amount of loyalty to Neocons and torturers.

  21. 21
    Keith G says:

    aimie, you were right in not trusting edit as my above post can show.

    What I meant to post (but for some reason could not edit) was:
    @amk:

    when it would have just been a freak show gleefully led on and cheered by msm

    I bet not. The MSM has shown a fair amount of loyalty to Neocons and torturers.

  22. 22
    Bob Loblaw says:

    I will never understand why Guantanamo even became a thing to begin with. Why internationalize it? Why bring them all in one location so close to the US? Why not just set up the facility in Afghanistan?

    It’s the craziest damn thing. At no point was there a single decision made that was well thought out or competently executed.

    Oh, and I wonder (ha) if the Bush and Obama administrations will get any heat for operating a part time alliance with a group they’ve covertly labelled a terrorist organization working against the United States? You’ve got to really be committed to war to keep that mess of contradictions going for over a decade.

  23. 23
    amk says:

    @Keith G: My point exactly. It would have been clinton’s cock suck redux with 100 times amplified noise of internutz thrown in.

  24. 24
    Hermione Granger-Weasley says:

    ahem
    Why the slow release paranoia poison? This is part of Mannings (or whoeveah’s) intial document hand off.

    you know it.
    The System is WAI.
    drip…..drip….drip…..

  25. 25
    Hermione Granger-Weasley says:

    @aimai: /sigh
    Bush was stupid enough to believe that when muslims are democratically empowered to vote they would vote for missionary “westernstyle” democracy.
    He is fucking WEC retard that believed that Gog and Magog were threatening Holy Israel, and Rummie capped his briefingslides with fucking bible quotes.
    Cheney just wanted a wartime economy, and Rove wanted a wartime electorate.
    Those evil old fuckers were exploiting a religious moron.
    Bush would never have been re-elected without being a wartime president.

  26. 26
    Svensker says:

    @James E Powell:

    And I’m proud to be an American
    Where at least I know I’m free

    Exactly! YOU are and those other bastards aren’t! U S A!

  27. 27
    Gretchen says:

    Thanks, @James Powell. Now I’ve got that stupid “proud to be an American” song stuck in my head. I’ll raise you Toby Keith’s “We’ll put a boot in your ass, it’s the AmericanWay”.

  28. 28
    Chris says:

    @Bob Loblaw:

    I will never understand why Guantanamo even became a thing to begin with. Why internationalize it? Why bring them all in one location so close to the US? Why not just set up the facility in Afghanistan?

    Funny enough, we did. It’s called Bagram. Most reports over the last decade have pointed to it being every bit as much of a Klingon penal colony as Gitmo. And then, of course, there’s Abu Ghraib. And other military-run prisons. And all the rendition agreements we have with various Middle Eastern regimes.

    I do want Gitmo closed, but I think the argument you always hear about how important that is for our PR relations is pretty weak, because it fails to take all those other things into consideration. An Afghan or Iraqi citizen is far more likely to know someone who was/is in Bagram or one of the local prisons than in Guantanamo Bay, and he’s far more likely to remember the abuses of Americans on his soil than what’s being done in some prison on the other side of the world. Right here in America, no one’s even talking about those other prisons, let alone the rest of the abuses committed during the occupation.

  29. 29
    Chris says:

    @James E Powell:

    And I’m proud to be an American
    Where at least I know I’m free

    One of the Sadly, No! posters had a pretty good 4th of July post last year that tore into this. The specific part follows here:

    For all the saccharine sentiment behind America’s Redneck National Anthem: it’s essentially a song completely empty of meaning. I mean, the guy’s “proud to be an American” because “at least I know I’m free.” But “free” from what? Soviet-style repression? We’re not alone in being “free” from that. At the same time, we’re notably less free from corporate predation and economic security than the citizens of many of those faggy elitist “socialist” European democracies. Then there’s the line about how he “won’t forget the men who died who gave that right to me.” Well, I haven’t forgotten the brave men of the Revolution, or 1812, or the Civil War, or WWII either, but let’s face it: many more men have died in service to this country’s imperialism than have because of any existential threat we faced. I do not denigrate their service; when they were called to duty, they answered the call – but those making the call have all too often had less-than-pure motives. Pretending otherwise doesn’t make you a better or more patriotic American; it makes you a more dangerous one, more likely to go along with wasting other men’s lives needlessly.

    Full post available here (http://3weirdsisters.com/2010/.....hat-means/).

  30. 30
    burnspbesq says:

    @Keith G:

    I am liking Bradley Manning more each day. Has any other single person exposed so much of our filth and wrong doing?

    Bradley Manning is a criminal, and none of this is news.

  31. 31
    jh says:

    @burnspbesq

    Bradley Manning MAY be guilty of a crime.

    Until there is one of those pesky things we call “trials” takes place, declaring him guilty is a bit premature.

    And this is in fact news to some people.

    Stop being a prick.

  32. 32
    Jason says:

    The range of those still held captive includes detainees who have been admittedly tortured so badly they can never be successfully tried

    Yeah, but they probably want to be terrorists now, so it’s good that they’re all in one place.

  33. 33
    burnspbesq says:

    @jh:

    Which part of Bradley Manning’s admissions are you unfamiliar with? And no, he won’t get a trial. He’ll get a court-martial, at which he will be found guilty, because the evidence of his guilt is overwhelming.

    How can anything about the crimes committed at Guantanamo possibly be news to anyone who has been paying attention for the last eight years?

    Stop being an ignoramus.

  34. 34
    jh says:

    @burnspbesq:

    Manning will have his day in court. Until that day, I’ll take a pass on declaring his guilt or innocence, especially given the tendentious relationship between courts martial, high vis, politically charged detainees and actual justice.

    But that’s just me.

    As for whether it’s news or not, even if you and I have been paying attention, a lot of people have not and the slow drip of revelations about the abuses of people in American custody do have the dual utility of informing less news-engaged citizenry AND (hopefully) providing some leverage for those who would see this era of American overreach and abuse brought to an end.

  35. 35
    Darnell From LA says:

    Please delete this portion of the story;

    The files offer an insight into why the administration has been unable to transfer many of the 172 existing prisoners from the island prison ….

    and

    The range of those still held captive includes detainees who have been admittedly tortured so badly they can never be successfully tried, informers who must be protected from reprisals, and a group of Chinese Muslims from the Uighur minority who have nowhere to go.

    This portion of the story is a factual account of why Obama has his hands tied and therefore is apologist nonsense. We need to insure that we blame Obama, and stating facts that mitigate Obama’s culpability only serve to cost Greenwald valuable page views.

    Thank you.

  36. 36
    Keith G says:

    @burnspbesq:

    Bradley Manning is a criminal, and none of this is news.

    But of course he ertainly will be (once that pesky due process thingy has played out).

    Still, there are those times in our history when good things have come from the breaking of the law.

    Harriet Tubman was a criminal, and none of this is news.

  37. 37
    Grumpy Demo says:

    Should have heard the NPR Pentagon approved version of this story. NPR took credit, didn’t mention The Guardian, and proceeded to fear-monger with spin that 41 (5%) of the prisioners “returned” to terrorism.

    No word how you define “returned”, maybe they didn’t “return” the were “made” terrorist by being innocent, tortured, held for years, that would make be a tad P.O.ed.
    (Sounds like the plot of any Mel Gibson movie to me.)

    “Military Documents Detail Life At Guantanamo” by Dina Temple-Raston, Tom Gjelten and Margot Williams

    http://www.npr.org/2011/04/25/.....guantanamo

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