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 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. ( 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:

What happened to the men at Guantanamo?

Debra Sweet | May 21, 2015

“This is not who we are” said Barack Obama about abuses of prisoners at Guantanano during a contentious speech on “national security” May 23, 2013. His speech struggled to respond to the prisoners' hunger strike — involving most of them — which had propelled the U.S. government's torture camp into the news in a way that brought into sharper relief the illegitimate foundation of prolonged detention without charge. Obama seemed to imply that he wanted to close Guantanamo.


All the President's Psychologists

Debra Sweet | May 9, 2015

“If professionals were watching, the government argued, the program must have been safe.”

Credit goes to dissident psychologists for staying on the case for more than 10 years against official professional involvement with the US torture program.


Protesting Chicago's Black Site: Homan Square

Jill McLaughlin | March 1, 2015

Gitmo2Chicago ProtestOn Saturday February 28th about 200 people gathered on the west side of Chicago to protest Chicago's very own black site called Homan Square. Revelations of this site run by the Chicago Police Department came to light with a recent article in the Guardian newspaper. What is revealed is that the Chicago PD has been operating a facility were people are detained for prolong periods of time while being denied access to lawyers and some of have even been tortured. We of Chicago World Can't Wait could not help but make the connections between this facility and Guantanamo Bay Prison.


Day of Action February 25: Stop Whitewashing the Senate Torture Report

North Carolina Stop Torture Now | February 24, 2015

On February 25, North Carolina Stop Torture Now is raising the demand to Stop Whitewashing the Senate Torture Report. Learn more about a day of action organized by North Carolina Stop Torture Now:

Senate Torture Report Names At Least 18 CIA Detainees Transported by Aero Contractors for Torture


New Books on Guantanamo

Debra Sweet | January 21, 2015

Murder at Camp DeltaMurder at Camp Delta: A Staff Sergeant's Pursuit of the Truth at Guantanamo Bay
by Joe Hickman

Joe was a guard at Guantanamo in 2005/06.  He was later haunted by the "suicides" of three hunger-striking prisoners simulateously in 2006, and came to believe they were moved to "Camp No," likely a CIA site on the prison grounds, just before they were killed.  He later worked "conscripting young men and women into the military while harboring doubts about the scruples of some in the armed services," according to an extensive article in Newsweek.


10 Things People Should Know About Guantanamo

Debra Sweet | January 9, 2014

Close the US Torture Camp at Guantanamo NOW!

Take the time to get into discussions about the US prison in Guantanamo with people around you this week. Here are things they may not know.


UN-Recommended Prosecution of Lawyers Who Cleared US Torture Program Good First Step

Sharon Adams | January 6, 2015

The United Nations Committee Against Torture (UN-CAT) just completed its review of the United States and found much of concern. In its "Concluding Observations," the panel called for the investigation and prosecution of "persons in positions of command and those who provided legal cover to torture."


Guantanamo MUST Be Closed Now!

Debra Sweet | January 9, 2014

Speech from the January 9, 2014 event at All Souls Church in NYC

There are two pertinent questions which demand answers if we are to force the U.S. to close the illegal torture camp at Guantánamo, and go on to end indefinite detention by the United States.


Close the US Torture Camp at Guantanamo NOW!

World Can't Wait | January 7, 2015

On January 11, the US torture camp at Guantanamo will have been open 13 years. 127 men are still held, the majority of whom were cleared for release years ago. They suffer not knowing if they will be released, held indefinitely. Some have been on protest hunger strike for years, and are being force-fed by the U.S. military.


John Yoo Meets Torture He Won’t Endorse?

Dennis Loo | December 17, 2014

John Yoo, principal author of the Office of Legal Counsel’s “Torture Memos” that gave the green light to the CIA and other governmental agencies to carry out torture under Bush, has this week surprisingly distanced himself from some of the torture techniques, saying on Fareed Zakaria’s CNN show on December 11, 2014 that if the Senate’s Torture Report accounts are true, that the CIA was acting outside of the Justice Department’s authorization and could be prosecutable for that.


What the Senate Report Reveals... and Covers Up

Alan Goodman | December 15, 2014

Torture to Enforce a World of Horrors

EDITORS NOTE: Alan Goodman digs into the contention over the report at the highest levels of the government and military, challenging the legitimacy of a government that would authorize such practices, and not prosecute, but protect, those responsible.



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.