Andy Worthington


Silence on War Crimes as the US Election Campaign Ends

By Andy Worthington

Last week, Bill Kovach, former Washington Bureau Chief of the New York Times and the founding chairman of the Committee of Concerned Journalists, blasted the US media for its failure to ask tough questions of both presidential candidates regarding their opinions of the Bush administration's unprecedented adherence to the controversial "unitary executive theory" of government.


The theory, which became prominent in the Reagan administration, but has peppered US history, contends that, when he wishes, the president is entitled to act unilaterally, without interference from Congress or the judiciary. This is in direct contravention of the separation of powers on which the United States was founded, and critics have long contended that it is nothing less than an attempt by the executive to seize the dictatorial powers that the Constitution was designed to prevent.

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Guilt by Torture

by Andy Worthington

 The case of Binyam Mohamed just gets weirder and weirder.  For the last six months, the British resident and Guantánamo prisoner, who was seized in Pakistan in April 2002, has been engaged in a transatlantic struggle to secure evidence relating to his "extraordinary rendition" and torture, by or on behalf of the CIA, which involved his disappearance from July 2002 until his arrival at the US prison at Bagram airbase in Afghanistan in May 2004. Since September 2004, Mohamed has been held at Guantánamo, and in conversation with his lawyers has explained that he was sent to Morocco, where he was tortured for 18 months, and then spent another four months in the CIA's "Dark Prison" near Kabul.

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The Ten Lies of Dick Cheney (Part One)

By Andy Worthington

 

On December 11, the Senate Armed Services Committee issued a compelling report into the torture and abuse of prisoners in US custody (PDF), based on a detailed analysis of how Chinese torture techniques, which are used in US military schools to train personnel to resist interrogation if captured, were reverse engineered and applied to prisoners captured in the “War on Terror.”
 
The techniques, taught as part of the SERE programs (Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape) include sleep deprivation, the prolonged use of stress positions, forced nudity, hooding, exposure to extreme temperatures, subjecting prisoners to loud music and flashing lights, “treating them like animals,” and, in some cases, the ancient torture technique known as waterboarding, a form of controlled drowning that the torturers of the Spanish Inquisition called “tortura del agua.”
 

 

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The Ten Lies of Dick Cheney (Part Two)

 

By Andy Worthington
 
 
In Part One of this article, Andy Worthington, author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison, examined Dick Cheney’s recent interview with ABC News, in which the Vice President presented a detailed defense of the administration’s national security policies, throwing down a very public gauntlet to critics of torture, Guantánamo, illegal wiretapping and the invasion of Iraq. Part One focused on Cheney’s lies regarding the use of torture and the implementation of warrantless wiretapping, and this second part examines his lies regarding Guantánamo and the invasion of Iraq.
 
5. On the prisoners in Guantánamo
 
When Jonathan Karl mentioned that President Bush had said that he wanted to close Guantánamo two years ago, and asked, “Why has that not happened?” Cheney said, “It’s very hard to do. Guantánamo has been the repository, if you will, of hundreds of terrorists, or suspected terrorists, that we’ve captured since 9/11. They — many of them, hundreds, have been released back to their home countries. What we have left is the hardcore. Their cases are reviewed on an annual basis to see whether or not they’re still a threat, whether or not they’re still intelligence value in terms of continuing to hold them. But — and we’re down now to some 200 being held at Guantánamo — that includes the core group, the really high-value targets like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.
 

 

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Obama’s “Humane” Guantánamo Is A Bitter Joke

 

By Andy Worthington
 
The “War on Terror” prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, where the majority of the remaining 241 prisoners have been held for seven years without charge or trial, “complies with the humanitarian requirements of the Geneva Conventions,” according to a government official who spoke to the New York Times after reading an 85-page report prepared for President Obama by Adm. Patrick M. Walsh, the vice chief of naval operations.
 
The report was commissioned by the President, on his second day in office, as part of an Executive Order dealing with the closure of Guantánamo. In it, he directed defense secretary Robert Gates to ensure that the Guantánamo prisoners were being held in conditions that comply with the Geneva Conventions regarding the humane treatment of prisoners, adding, “Such review shall be completed within 30 days and any necessary corrections implemented immediately thereafter.”
 
According to the government official, the report’s only recommendations for improving conditions at Guantánamo are “to increase social contact among the 16 prisoners described by the Bush administration as ‘high-value detainees,’” who are held in seclusion in Camp 7, and to allow more communal recreation time for prisoners in Camps 5 and 6.

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Who Is Binyam Mohamed?

By Andy Worthington
 
As British resident Binyam Mohamed stepped off a plane at RAF Northolt on Monday February 23, six years and ten months since he was first abducted by the Pakistani authorities at Karachi airport, it was impossible not to sympathize with the words written in a statement made by the tall, thin, slightly-stooped 30-year old, and delivered by his lawyers at a press conference.
 
“I hope you will understand that after everything I have been through I am neither physically nor mentally capable of facing the media on the moment of my arrival back to Britain,” the statement read. “Please forgive me if I make a simple statement through my lawyer. I hope to be able to do better in days to come, when I am on the road to recovery.”
 
For the last three and half years, since Binyam Mohamed’s lawyers (at Reprieve, the legal action charity) first released his harrowing account of his torture in Morocco at the hands of the CIA’s proxy torturers, the British resident’s story has, understandably, had few bright episodes. As Clive Stafford Smith, Reprieve’s director, explained in his book Eight O’Clock Ferry to the Windward Side (known in the UK as Bad Men), during the three days in Guantánamo that Binyam related the story of his horrendous ordeal — for 18 months in Morocco, and then for another five months at the CIA’s own “Dark Prison” near Kabul, until he finally made false confessions that he was involved with al-Qaeda and had planned to detonate a radioactive “dirty bomb” in New York — he explained, “I’m sorry I have no emotion when talking about the past, ’cause I have closed. You have to figure out the emotion part — I’m kind of dead in the head.”

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Ending The Cruel Isolation Of Ali al-Marri, The Last US “Enemy Combatant”

By Andy Worthington

Last Thursday, US resident Ali al-Marri, the last “enemy combatant” on the US mainland, was indicted by a federal grand jury in Peoria, Illinois, for providing material support for terrorism, bringing to an end the Qatari national’s disturbing imprisonment for five years and eight months without charge or trial in a state of solitary confinement that is unprecedented in the “War on Terror.”
 
Al-Marri — whose story I reported at length here — arrived in the US on September 10, 2001 to pursue post-graduate studies in Peoria, and was initially seized by the FBI in December 2001, based on suspicions that he was involved in credit card fraud. In June 2003, just before he was due to stand trial, he was declared an “enemy combatant” by President Bush, and was moved to the US Naval Consolidated Brig in Charleston, South Carolina, where he has been held ever since. He spent the first 16 months without access to anyone outside the US military or the intelligence services, and his isolation has been so severe that, as his lawyers have explained, he is suffering from “severe damage to his mental and emotional well-being, including hypersensitivity to external stimuli, manic behavior, difficulty concentrating and thinking, obsessional thinking, difficulties with impulse control, difficulty sleeping, difficulty keeping track of time, and agitation.”

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Guantánamo: The Definitive Prisoner List

 World Can’t Wait received this message from Andy Worthington:

Andy Worthington, London-based journalist and author of "The Guantánamo Files" (Pluto Press), has released the first definitive list of the 779 prisoners held in the US prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

The list, which is the result of three years’ research and writing about Guantánamo, provides details of the 533 prisoners who have been released, and includes, for the first time ever, accurate dates for their release. It also provides details of the 241 prisoners who are still held, including the 59 prisoners who have been cleared for release. Although some stories are still unknown, the stories of nearly 700 prisoners are referenced either by links to Andy’s extensive archive of articles about Guantánamo, or to the chapters in "The Guantánamo Files"
where they can be found.

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“Rendition on an Industrial Scale”

The following is excerpted from an interview of Andy Worthington, author of “The Guantanamo Files,” by journalist Elizabeth Ferrari.
 
Elizabeth Ferrari: I have described the transfer of prisoners from Afghanistan to Guantánamo as a “rendition flight” – one that anyone who knew what to look for could recognize. Is that right, in your opinion? My memory is that the conditions of the prisoners was broadcast all over the American media and that we were shown these people, shackled and hooded, led into the prison.
 
Andy Worthington: You’re correct to describe the transfer of prisoners from Afghanistan to Guantánamo as a “rendition flight” — or, to be more accurate, many dozens of rendition flights. I generally describe it as rendition on an industrial scale. What’s interesting is that the US military was entitled to establish a prisoner of war camp outside Afghanistan, but, of course, Guantánamo was no such thing, and instead was — and is — an experiment in holding prisoners beyond the law, neither as prisoners of war nor as criminal suspects, who would be expected to face a trial in a federal court, but as “enemy combatants” without rights; essentially, subjects in an illegal and unconstitutional experiment in detention and interrogation.

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Seven Years of Torture: Binyam Mohamed Tells His Story

By Andy Worthington
 
In his first interview since his release from Guantánamo, British resident and torture victim Binyam Mohamed has reinforced all the horrendous claims made about his treatment since he was first seized in Pakistan in April 2002 — in particular, his torture in Pakistani custody (supervised by US agents), and his torture in Morocco and at the CIA’s “Dark Prison” in Kabul — in a wide-ranging discussion with David Rose for the Mail on Sunday.
 
Most worryingly for the British government, he has also revealed more of the British role in his interrogations by the Americans’ proxy torturers in Morocco than has previously been publicly available, which will only add to the pressure on the government to explain its role in actively gathering intelligence obtained through torture, rather than hiding behind blanket statements that “We never condone or authorize the use of torture.”
 
In the wake of his lawyers’ long struggle to secure the facts about Binyam’s case, this is a claim that looks increasingly evasive and untenable, especially in light of more recent revelations that the British intelligence services regularly feed questions to Pakistani interrogators, in the cases of British suspects seized in Pakistan, even though they are aware that the Pakistani authorities use torture, and also with reference to comments made last week by Craig Murray, the former British ambassador to Uzbekistan.

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Forgotten in Guantánamo: British resident Shaker Aamer

We Demand to be Treated Like Human Beings
 
By Andy Worthington
 
For three and a half years, since an account was first made public detailing the suffering of Binyam Mohamed, a British resident and a victim of “extraordinary rendition” and particularly brutal torture, he was one of the better-publicized prisoners held in the US prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.
 
There have, in that time, been other compelling stories, of prisoners, who, like Binyam, eventually secured their release from the notorious prison that was initially designed to hold them outside the law for the rest of their lives. They include other British residents: Bisher al-Rawi and Jamil El-Banna, for example, who were seized by the CIA on a business trip to the Gambia, after disturbing intervention by the British intelligence services, and Omar Deghayes, seized from a villa in Lahore with his wife and six-month old son, whose supporters in Brighton mounted an extraordinary campaign for his release. Others include two particular Sudanese prisoners: Adel Hassan Hamad, a hospital administrator whose lawyers and supporters mounted an impressive campaign that included a website and a YouTube video, and Sami al-Haj, a cameraman for al-Jazeera, who became a cause célèbre in the Middle East.
 
Unlike these prisoners, the stories of the majority of the other 278 men released in the last three and a half years are largely unknown, and the same is true of most of the 241 men who are still held, with the exception of a number of cleared prisoners (principally the Uighurs, Muslims from China’s oppressed Xinjiang province), and a number of other prisoners — including two former juveniles, Omar Khadr and Mohamed Jawad, and five men accused of involvement in the 9/11 attacks — who were put forward for trial by Military Commission.

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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.