Monday, July 2, 2007

Recent Report Lists U.S. "Disappeared" Prisoners, Including Children

The barbarity of the U.S. government is profound. A report issued last month by Human Rights Watch, U.S. Responsibility for Enforced Disappearances in the “War on Terror”, includes a new list of those the U.S. government has "disappeared", i.e., kidnapped, and taken to secret U.S. detention centers. The list, compiled by a number of human rights group, such as Amnesty International, Cageprisoners, and the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice at NYU Law School, includes nationals from countries including Egypt, Kenya, Libya, Morocco, Pakistan and Spain. These desaparecidos were seized in countries as far apart as Morocco, Sudan, Iraq, Pakistan, Kenya, and Spain.

The report also includes a section on women and children, the families of the kidnapped or disappeared prisoners, who have also been taken into secret imprisonment. The best known case of wives and children seized involves the family of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. His two young sons, aged seven and nine, were also arrested with Mohammed in September 2002. According to eyewitness reports

...the two were held in an adult detention center for at least four months while US agents questioned the children about their father’s whereabouts....

The human rights groups are calling on the US government to put a permanent end to the CIA’s secret detention and interrogation program, and to disclose the identities, fate, and whereabouts of all detainees currently or previously held at secret facilities operated or overseen by the US government as part of the “war on terror.”

The "forced disappearance" of a person is a "crime against humanity", subject to no statute of limitation, according to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. Of course, the United States, along with Libya, Qatar, China, and Iraq, have refused to ratify the Rome Statute. Other reluctant signators, Israel and Yemen, signed in late 2000.

The arrest and forced detention of children at secret locations must qualify as a war crime or crime against humanity if anything ever did. And -- for those who have followed my coverage of psychologist involvement in U.S. torture and war crimes -- of course, there had to be psychologists involved in this crime as well. True, they are supposedly involved in order to do good, as the handmaidens of war criminals.

According to the UK Telegraph account of the seizure of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed's family:

The boys [ages 7 and 9] have been held by the Pakistani authorities but this weekend they were flown to America where they will be questioned about their father.

Last night CIA interrogators confirmed that the boys were staying at a secret address where they were being encouraged to talk about their father's activities.

"We are handling them with kid gloves. After all, they are only little children," said one official, "but we need to know as much about their father's recent activities as possible. We have child psychologists on hand at all times and they are given the best of care." [Emphasis mine]

I would like to have one of the great ethicists that seem to mushroom over at the American Psychological Association -- perhaps Stephen Behnke, or Melba Vasquez -- explain how ethical it is to be a psychologist at a secret prison, serving the kidnapped children of other kidnapped prisoners, who have no rights, and whose parents are being tortured. Is this what the tortured logic of the APA leadership has come to?

The UK Guardian reported the story when it broke early last month, including this bit on Mohammad's children:

The report also expresses concern over the fate of Yusuf al-Khalid and Abed al-Khalid, the sons of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. They were taken into custody, aged nine and seven, in September 2002, during an attempt to capture their father. A former detainee says that he saw them in March the following year, around the time their father was captured, in a secret prison where the guards tormented them with insects.

While Sheik Mohammad's situation got the most publicity, there were other families -- women and children -- who were also kidnapped and held incommunicado. HRW reported on some of these:

On March 28, 2003, Aafia Siddiqui (see page 21) was reportedly apprehended in Karachi, Pakistan along with her three children (then aged seven years, five years and six months)....

On July 24, 2004, Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, a detainee who the U.S. government has acknowledged was in the U.S. Secret Detention Program and is presently held at Guantánamo Bay, was reportedly apprehended in Gujarat, Pakistan, along with two women (his wife, an Uzbek national and the Pakistani wife of South African national Zubair Ismail) and five children. His apprehension was reportedly a joint Pakistani-U.S. operation, coordinated with CIA and FBI officials.

I almost don't know how to end an article such as this one. If I could, like the last episode of The Sopranos, I'd fade to black for a long time and let this one sink in.

Here's a link to the entire HRW/Center for Constitutional Rights/Amnesty International/Cageprisoners/et al. report (PDF). And here's an Action Link regarding the lawsuit against the government on the secret dentention centers, put up by Center for Constutional Rights.

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