Close Guantanamo Never... or Expand It?

Debra Sweet | August 16, 2016

Trump's plan:

Asked about Guantánamo in the past, Trump has said he would like to “load it up with bad dudes.” He wouldn’t specify to the Herald whether as president he would again allow terrorism suspects captured abroad to be transferred to the detention center.

“I want to make sure that if we have radical Islamic terrorists, we have a very safe place to keep them,” he said. President Barack Obama, he added, is “allowing people to get out that are terrible people.”

“Would you try to get the military commissions — the trial court there — to try U.S. citizens?” a reporter asked.  “Well, I know that they want to try them in our regular court systems, and I don’t like that at all. I don’t like that at all,” he said. “I would say they could be tried there, that would be fine.”

Clinton's plan:

I'll save you the trouble. She likes Obama's plan to "close" it. But she's not talking about it in the campaign.

gitmo elist

Late on Monday August 15, the Pentagon announced that 15 Guantanamo prisoners were transferred to the U.A.E.  These include six who have been cleared for release since 2010, and others the government had said were "too dangerous" to ever charge or release as recently as earlier this year. 

None of this cancels the main dynamic which will forever characterize Guantanamo: torture and the decade plus U.S. effort to carry it out while attempting to cover it, by holding people without charges.

Muhammed Rahim al-Afghani, a "High-Value Detainee" and a "Free" Person

Mr. Rahim must be one of the most interesting prisoners still in Guantanamo. He's represented by our friend Carlos Warner, a federal defender in Cleveland who represents many prisoners. Carlos and Mr. Rahim's brother spoke to Rolling Stone late last year:

Warner hopes to convince the government the only thing "high value" about Rahim is that he bore witness to his own torture. In the meantime, Rahim writes Warner brief, often one-paragraph notes, some of which resemble haiku, on topics ranging from LeBron James to Donald Trump to Caitlyn Jenner (who he suggested use spray tan on her legs). In one note from 2013, he said he reads Rolling Stone. Not long ago, he sent Warner a brief letter, quoting Camus: "The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence becomes an act of rebellion." He then wrote, "I AM HERE."

Andy Worthington wrote Monday that Mr. Rahim, the last person into Guantanamo, has come before a Periodic Review Board, where his continued detention will be determined. 67% of the prisoners who have been reviewed have been cleared for release, as Andy says, "ought to be embarrassing for the Obama administration, whose task force had concluded that they were 'too dangerous to release' or that they should be prosecuted." Andy writes:

Warner also described his client as a “funny guy” with “many ideas on a wide range of issues,” as Al-Jazeera described it. He added that the letters “give insight into the type of person Rahim is and should cause people to ‘look at his case and ask why is he being held.’”

Rahim is not only a joker. In another letter he wrote, “I am not high value. They call me high value because the CIA tortured me. How do we undo this injustice. Give me a trial. Let me be free.” He has never been charged, which suggests, as I mentioned above, that the US authorities do not have much of a case against him, and there are no records of him having undergone a Combatant Status Review Tribunal, which is required if prisoners are to face trials by military commission. A military lawyer was initially appointed to his case, but subsequently retired and was not replaced. In a letter, Rahim requested a military lawyer, asking, “I thought the military commissions wanted justice? How can I get justice without a military lawyer?”

He is also mentioned in the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on the CIA’s torture program, for which the executive summary was made publicly available in December 2014. According to the report, “During sleep deprivation sessions, Rahim was usually shackled in a standing position, wearing a diaper and a pair of shorts … Rahim’s diet was almost entirely limited to water and liquid Ensure meal.” He was also subjected to sleep deprivation. Nevertheless, as the report also states, “the CIA’s detention and interrogation of Mohammad Rahim resulted in no disseminated intelligence report.”

Reflecting on his torture, he wrote in another letter, “How do I get out of here? I am innocent and I was tortured. Hung from the ceiling until I was dead.” He said that “animals were treated better” and “doctors and psychiatrist got rich off my blood,” although he also wrote, as Jenifer Fenton put it, that “he prays for them now.”

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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.