Sunday, February 22, 2009

Released from Guantanamo, Binyam Mohamed Is Tortured to the End

Andy Worthington first reported that Binyam Mohamed, a key figure in legal battles around the U.S. government's attempts to use state secrets privilege to spike legal cases against the torture apparatus of rendition and prisons, will leave Guantanamo and return to the UK "early next week" (that is, this coming week). Now the Washington Post is now reporting that Binyam's attorney, Clive Stafford Smith, is "confident" his client will be released on Monday (2/23).)

But the most amazing part of the story, from the UK Guardian, and caught by Glenn Greenwald in his column Sunday, concerns the ongoing abuse of detainee Mohamed, even unto the final days of his release from Guantanamo and planned return to the UK.

Quoting from the Guardian via Greenwald's column, so I can preserve his bold emphases:
Mohamed will arrive back tomorrow in the UK, where he was a British resident between 1984 and 2002. During medical examinations last week, doctors discovered injuries and ailments resulting from apparently brutal treatment in detention.

Mohamed was found to be suffering from bruising, organ damage, stomach complaints, malnutrition, sores to feet and hands, severe damage to ligaments as well as profound emotional and psychological problems which have been exacerbated by the refusal of Guantánamo's guards to give him counselling.

Mohamed's British lawyer, Clive Stafford Smith, said his client had been beaten "dozens" of times inside the notorious US camp in Cuba with the most recent abuse occurring during recent weeks. He said: "He has a list of physical ailments that cover two sheets of A4 paper. What Binyam has been through should have been left behind in the middle ages."

[U.S. Army] Lieutenant colonel Yvonne Bradley, Mohamed's US military attorney, added: "He has been severely beaten. Sometimes I don't like to think about it because my country is behind all this." . . .
Greenwald also makes the obvious comparison to the story released late last week, wherein Obama's Pentagon review of conditions at Guantanamo found all to be well, with prisoners treated humanely as required by the Geneva Conventions. I can hardly wait to see the part of the report where the force-feeding of hunger strikers is explained, or even the fact that over 1/5th of the facility's inmates are on hunger strike.

The Pentagon has lied all the way on the torture issue, and continues to lie. I criticized the make-up of the various committees assigned by President Obama to investigate Guantanamo and interrogation techniques as being . As I wrote last month after Obama's executive orders were released:
Obama's changes are in general positive. But they do not go far enough, and the status of what exactly will be changed, as in the case of future adjudication of the Guantanamo prisoners, or how "terror suspects" will be handled in the months or years to come, await the conclusion of review task forces. The latter are headed by the main administration bureaucracy at State, Defense, and the intelligence agencies, and coordinated by the Attorney General. Their trustworthiness is yet to be determined, and in some cases these people are already known and not very untrustworthy, given their support of the Iraq War, or over-identification with intelligence and covert operations.
Let's look briefly at Admiral Patrick Walsh, who Obama's Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates (left over from the Bush Administration), picked to head the Pentagon investigatory team. (Talk about "who will watch the watchers"! Bush's Secretary of Defense gets to pick the man who will investigate Guantanamo. You couldn't ask for such brutal irony.)

Admiral Walsh is a true believer in the endless war against radical Islam or fundamentalist terrorism, hence, he may not look kindly upon dismantling the gulag assembled for the purpose. Here's Walsh in 2006 in Dallas for a meeting of the Rotary Club:
In an exclusive television interview with CBS 11, Admiral Walsh cautioned an impatient American public that a long fight against Islamic extremists lies ahead. "I think we really need to understand the adversary that we are up against here and I think part of the impatience is not understanding fully the commitment that the enemy has to destroy not just us, it's our culture....

"What we are talking about today is an ideology that thrives on murder, intimidation, and fear. It puts innocent people at risk particularly those in open societies. What we are talking about are people who worship death itself."
I'm getting pretty tired now of the free ride President Obama seems to be getting on the Guantanamo and related torture issues. Of course, that's not true of everybody, as the references in the essay attest. But for the most part, I don't believe the majority of Americans are yet fully aware of how problematic many of Obama's decisions have been on this issue thus far. A whitewash of conditions at Guantanamo. Threatening allies regarding release of classified information on torture. A determination to keep some form of illegal rendition. Reliance on an army manual for interrogations that still allows many abusive procedures. The torture beatings of an inmate prior to release.

The latest "shock" to human rights activists came when the administration ruled it would deny hundreds of U.S.-held prisoners at Bagram Airbase outside Kabul any constitutional appeal or rights. Bagram holds many of the same kinds of prisoners as Guantanamo, but is not on leased territory 90 miles from America, and the detainees are easily out of sight of U.S. news crews or popular notice.

The time is coming close when the Obama administration will have passed beyond the point of no return, and will become irretrievably associated with many of the worst aspects of the Bush torture regime. That time is not yet, and the administration may yet have other plans up their sleeves, as many Democratic supporters avow. But the torture beating of Binyam Mohamed, in full light of the world's press, and knowing this would have to come out, demonstrates the blatant hubris and contempt of the people running this country, especially its military prisons.

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