Thursday, March 28, 2013

Why Not Extend Diplomatic Recognition to North Korea?

For many, the question posed in the title of this posting might seem absurd. Are not the North Koreans testing nuclear weapons and missiles? Are they not threatening the U.S. with military action (albeit, only in a defensive way)?

The fact is, it is far past time for the U.S. to officially recognize North Korea. The US has never, since the cessation of major combat hostilities in 1953, extended diplomatic recognition to the DPRK. In fact, U.S. policy has been unremittingly hostile since the Japanese were kicked out of Korea by combined U.S. and Soviet forces, in conjunction with Communist partisans led by Kim Il-Sung.

The U.S. places stringent, damaging economic sanctions on North Korea. Those sanctions have helped cause massive starvation in that country (helped along at times by the policies of the ruling elite). The U.S. keeps tens of thousands of its own soldiers stationed along its southern border, maintaining a permanent sense of threat and mobilization for war that has warped North Korean society and distorted the political process there.

An example of the symbology meant to irritate the North Koreans, the U.S. and Japancalled... for the main U.N. human rights forum to launch an inquiry into allegations of violations including the torture and execution of political prisoners in North Korea.”

I’m as much against torture and the execution of political prisoners as anyone is — and I have a body of work that reflects that — but neither the U.S., who carpet bombed and napalmed their country, nor Japan, a country that held Korea in a totalitarian dictatorship for decades, have any right to preach to the North Koreans. The Japanese government long refused to recognize its war crimes against the Korean people, while both the Japanese and U.S. governments are responsible for the deaths of over a million Koreans during wartime.

The U.S. is preparing for a second Korean War — and even if they are not preparing, their bellicose saber rattling could take both the U.S. and the two Koreas (not to mention China and possibly Russia) farther than anyone may consciously wish to go.

As of the date of posting here, the New York Times reports the U.S. rattled the North Koreans by sending B-2 stealth fighters to fly over South Korea as part of military "exercises." In fact, the NYT article by Choe Sang-Hun mirrors much of what I am saying here:
After suffering from the American carpet-bombing during the 1950-53 Korean War, North Korea remains particularly sensitive about American bombers. It keeps most of its key military installations underground and its war cries typically reach a frenetic pitch when American bombers fly over South Korea during military exercises. The resulting fear and anti-American sentiment is used by the regime to make its people rally behind the North’s “military-first” leadership.
It is many decades now since the U.S. lost over 36,000 military dead in the Korean War. Sixty years later the country of North Korea still exists. Another Korean War would be hugely destructive, and will change the world even more than the Iraq debacle.

Unfortunately, the U.S. has no intention of recognizing North Korea (after over 60 years). The rulers of this country want to finish the Cold War job and wipe out those regimes that do not formally recognize capitalism, that put themselves outside Western imperialist control.

The fall of the Soviet Union, Tito’s Yugoslavian federation, the East Europe puppet Stalinist regimes… this seems to have only whetted the appetite for the second act, which would be the overthrow of the Chinese Communist regime, the forced capitalist reunification of the Korean peninsula, the return of capitalism to the old French Indochinese states, and, of course, the destruction of Castro's Cuba.

It’s an ambitious agenda, and a murderous one. Its accomplishment is unlikely without WWIII, and at a minimum the destruction of Constitutional democracy in the United States, as the latter cannot maintain that level of war for as long as it will take to accomplish their conquest without significantly policing the population, subject to greater exploitation to pay for the country's wars. Already a Harvard study just published describes the costs of the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as costing $3 to $4 trillion.

It has long been known, if forgotten, that the future of humanity rests on solving the problem of nuclear proliferation and stopping nuclear war. It is this, not global warming, that is the most immediate threat to the human race, if not the planet. Nuclear annihilation remains only minutes away, given the right, or that is, a set of immediate but awful circumstances.

The answer, however, does not lie in a global Pax Americana. That way lies dictatorship and destruction, as North Korea, no more than Iraq, Iran, Afghani tribesmen, or millions of people around the world will capitulate and allow themselves to be forever ruled by America.

The fact that not one U.S. politician to my knowledge is calling for serious moves to normalize relations with North Korea is testimony to the stifled state of politics in America, where all discourse that would oppose the policies of the war party are marginalized or frightened or economically driven out of competition.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Human Rights Activists Fast in Solidarity with Gitmo Hunger Strikers

The following press release is from Witness Against Torture:
As Men at Guantanamo Hunger Strike, Human Rights Activists Respond with Fast and Demonstrations

For Immediate Release: March 26, 2013
Witness Against Torture (

Contact: Jeremy Varon, 732-979-3119,; Christopher Knestrick, 216-496-2637,

On Sunday, March 24 human rights activists throughout the United States began a seven day fast and series of actions in solidarity with the men currently on hunger strike at the U.S. prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Dozens of men, according to detainee lawyers, are entering their seventh week of a hunger strike to protest their indefinite detention and a new wave of alleged abuses. The U.S. Navy now reports that three hunger strikers have been hospitalized and that ten are being force fed — a practice condemned by human rights organizations and used in efforts to “break” prior hunger strikes at Guantanamo. Attorneys also report that some hunger strikers have lost consciousness and are experiencing severe drops in body weight.

Already, Witness Against Torture (WAT) has demonstrated in locations large and small —from New York City, to Chicago, to Perrysburg, Ohio. At least 80 people nationwide are participating in the fast, with more joining each day. Activists are also writing letters to the detainees and reaching out to the White House, U.S. Southern Command and the Department of Defense with newly urgent calls that the notorious prison close.

In New York City on Sunday, Witness Against Torture created dramatic images in front of the Times Square military recruiting station, juxtaposing the iconic orange clad, black hooded figures with the advertisements for the Navy and Marines.

“It is tragic,” says New York City WAT organizer Jeremy Varon, “that the men at Guantanamo should have to risk death through hunger to protest the denial of their basic rights. The hunger strike signals the colossal failure of the Obama administration, which promised to close Guantanamo, and of Congress, which has placed enormous barriers to ever shuttering the prison. If the hunger strikers start dying, we know where the blame for their deaths lies.”

In Chicago, protestors gathered on Sunday in front of President Obama's private home, reading the names of all 166 men still held at Guantanamo. Pat Bronte, an attorney for several detainees in Guantanamo, told the protesters how much it means to them to know that Americans are standing with them in their pursuit of justice.

Chicago’s Jerica Arents, a teacher at DePaul University, says, “Participating in the fast serves as a physical reminder to me that there are men languishing in Guantanamo, refusing food because it is the only means they have to protest their indefinite detention.”

“More than four years after President Obama promised to close Guantanamo,” says WAT organizer Frida Berrigan, “the U.S. government is investing tens of millions of new dollars in the prison facility. I can understand why the detained men feel so helpless about ever leaving Guantanamo and being reunited with their families. We have not forgotten them, and continue our struggle to close the prison.”

Actions in New York, Illinois, California, Connecticut, Ohio, and other locations will continue throughout the week and can be viewed at

166 men remain imprisoned at Guantanamo. 86 have been cleared for release. All are subject to indefinite detention and held at a cost to U.S taxpayers of $800,000 per year per man.
It's a very good thing we have groups like Witness to Torture. I admire the way they stand up for what they believe.

The abandonment by Democratic Party liberals of the detainees at Guantanamo, other detainees held by DoD, JSOC, or the CIA at various secret sites around the world (and even at sea!), and the issue of torture and interrogation as a whole, is mind-boggling in its embrace of near-term societal amnesia and politically-motivated forgetting or ignorance.

My thanks to Witness to Torture and their supporters for putting their bodies as well as their beliefs on the line.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

As Hunger Strikes at Guantánamo Continue, Human Rights Groups Testify at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights

Yesterday, the Center for Constitutional Rights, along with representatives from Physicians for Human Rights, the Center for Justice and International Law, and Reprieve, testified at a hearing of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), part of the Organization of American States (OAS). It represented a rare instance where US officials were being held to account for their cruel and inhumane actions at Guantanamo.

According to a press release by CCR, staff attorney Omar Farrah said, "Today’s hearing at the IACHR came at a critical moment in Guantánamo’s troubled history."

He continued, “Our clients report that most of the men at the prison are now in the fifth week of a mass hunger strike to peacefully protest worsening prison conditions, religious provocation, and the crushing reality that after 11 years in indefinite detention, there is no end in sight to their suffering. In light of the humanitarian crisis unfolding at Guantanamo, it is indefensible that the U.S. government failed to answer the Commission’s simple questions about how it plans to close the prison camp.”

According to a March 12 article at, over 100 of the 166 detainees still held at Guantanamo are on a hunger strike. Attorneys for the strikers maintain that Arabic interpreters at the prison are mishandling the prisoners' Korans in a fashion that amounts to desecration. Robert Durand, director of public affairs for the Joint Task Force Guantanamo, told AFP that “No JTF-Guantanamo guard touches any detainee’s Koran at any time.”

Unfortunately for Mr. Durand, and for the detainees and everyone involved, JTF-Guantanamo does not have a very good track record when it comes to reporting the truth.

According to Democracy Now!, who reported on both the hunger strike and the IACHR meeting, Obama administration officials, for instance, still maintain they are not holding anyone in indefinite detention. Michael Williams of the State Department testified at the hearing, "The United States only detains individuals when that detention is lawful and does not intend to hold any individual longer than necessary."

That the Obama administration believes its okay to hold people in isolation, in grievous circumstances, and without ever being charged for years on end and that that is "lawful" or not "any longer than necessary" speaks volumes about how corrupted this government has and its ruling parties have become by the so-called "war on terror."

Here is CCR's report on the hearing:
On March 12, 2013, the Center for Constitutional Rights provided expert testimony at a thematic hearing about the unfolding humanitarian crisis at Guantánamo before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), a body of the Organization of American States (OAS). The hearing took place in response to CCR’s request to the Commission, filed on January 16, 2013 with co-petitioners at the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL), Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), and Reprieve. It marked the first time since President Obama’s re-election that U.S. officials were confronted with questions about Guantánamo and its future in a formal public setting.

The hearing at the IACHR came at a critical moment in Guantánamo’s troubled history. CCR's clients report that most of the men at the prison are now in the fifth week of a mass hunger strike to peacefully protest worsening prison conditions, religious provocation, and the crushing reality that after 11 years in indefinite detention, there is no end in sight to their suffering. In light of the humanitarian crisis unfolding at Guantanamo, CCR thinks that it is indefensible that the U.S. government failed to answer the Commission’s simple questions about how it plans to close the prison camp.

At the IACHR hearing, CCR and other experts testified on issues including the grave psychological impact of indefinite detention, the deaths of men at Guantánamo, the lack of access to fair trials, and illegitimate U.S. policies that restrict the closure of the prison, including the blanket ban on repatriating Yemeni men. They also requested that the Commission:

* reiterate that the United States must close down the detention center at Guantánamo without further delay,

* issue a report on the ongoing human rights violations at Guantánamo that acknowledges the physical and psychological impact of indefinite detention without charge or trial, and

* renew its request to the United States government to allow the Commission to visit the detention center, with full access to the detained men.

To read the full submission the Center for Constitutional Rights and co-petitioners filed for this hearing, see these 6 documents listed below: The "Summary Outline," Appendix 1-3, Supplemental Appendix 1, and the document 11 Years and Counting: Profiles of Men Detained at Guantánamo. Lastly, note that CCR has also filed two separate petitions at the IACHR. One concerns two men who died while in U.S. custody at Guantánamo, about which you can learn more on CCR’s Al-Zahrani v. Rumsfeld case page. The other concerns CCR client Djamel Ameziane, an Algerian man who has been cleared for release and who urgently needs to be resettled to a new and safe home where he can rebuild his life. Learn more on CCR’s Djamel Ameziane’s case page.

Experts who testified at the hearing included:

* Omar Farah, Staff Attorney, Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR)
* Viviana Krsicevic, Executive Director, Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL)
* Kristine Huskey, Director of the Anti-Torture Program, Physicians for Human Rights (PHR)
* Ramzi Kassem, Associate Professor of Law and Director of the Immigrant & Non-Citizen Rights Clinic, CUNY School of Law; attorney for men detained at Guantánamo

“Today’s hearing at the IACHR came at a critical moment in Guantánamo’s troubled history,” said Omar Farah, Staff Attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights. “Our clients report that most of the men at the prison are now in the fifth week of a mass hunger strike to peacefully protest worsening prison conditions, religious provocation, and the crushing reality that after 11 years in indefinite detention, there is no end in sight to their suffering. In light of the humanitarian crisis unfolding at Guantanamo, it is indefensible that the U.S. government failed to answer the Commission’s simple questions about how it plans to close the prison camp.”

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Chief of Iraq Torture Commandos: "The Americans knew about everything I did"

On March 6, the UK Guardian posted a very important story, with accompanying videos, examining in details and with witnesses the extraordinary efforts by US military and civilian personnel to assemble, train, and direct Shi'a commando brigades in Iraq. These police brigades and paramilitary units unleashed a hellish reign of terror, with massive round-ups, torture, and death squad killings.

The Guardian reveals from photos, interviews, and documentary evidence the chief role of former US Special Operations Colonel James Steele, as well as General Petraeus and other US officials in organizing this counterinsurgency-cum-terror campaign.

Steele had been in charge of training Salvadoran army personnel linked to a campaign of extrajudicial killings, disappearances, and torture during the Salvadoran Civil War in the 1980s. Back in those days, Petraeus was an ambitious up-and-comer, reportedly all too willing to learn what Steele, who'd learned counter-terror techniques in Vietnam, had to teach him, even staying in Steele's house.

Steele came to Iraq as a supposed civilian adviser. He carried a lot of authority, however, according to the Guardian investigation. From whence did that authority derive? Was he on special assignment for Rumsfeld (Rummy apparently is the one who sent him to Iraq)? For the National Security Council and/or the Joint Chiefs of Staff? Was he working with the CIA or JSOC's shadowy Intelligence Support Activity (ISA)? Steele, who is described in the Guardian video as someone who is extremely cold, without feeling, is unlikely ever to reveal that himself.

The Guardian also describes how military authorities commanded US soldiers on the scene, witness to such atrocities, not to intervene when present at such crimes. The order was first issued as FRAGO (Fragmentary Order) 242. The film interviews one of these brave soldiers, a military medic, who describes what he saw when the torture commandos were unleashed in Samarra.

Others interviewed for the film include Adnan Thabit, the chief of the Iraqi Special Police Commandos from 2004-06. The Guardian has excerpted his interview for a short video highlighing Thabit explaining, "The Americans knew about everything I did."

The main article, "From El Salvador to Iraq: Washington's man behind brutal police squads," notes that the Guardian tried to contact Steele for a year to get his side of the matter. He did not respond, and that is not surprising. Spooks never talk about what they are doing, and he may wish to note that anything said could be produced in court someday, because he appears to be a major war criminal, the hatchet man for the murderous policies of Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld.

US Connivance in Torture and the Case of Bradley Manning

The Guardian piece fleshes out the case I presented in my own story from August 2011 at FDL's The Dissenter, The Forgotten History of David Petraeus, including using evidence I had linked to the Petraeus-Iraq torture scandal, such as the protests of the Oregon National Guard over the stand-down on torture.

The article relies on the release of Wikileaks Iraq War Logs, which documented US knowledge of torture and the orders to soldiers to ignore it. It also interviews Peter Maass, whose 2005 investigatory report in the New York Times first concentrated on the role of Steele. The Guardian appears to be the first to have highlighted the role of Colonel James Coffman, a Petraeus adviser to Thabit's torture thugs.

The role of Wikileaks here is of piquant significance, as Wikileaks' leader, Julian Assange remains huddled up in the Ecuadoran embassy in London, having claimed political asylum in the wake of persistent demands for his extradition to Sweden on what appear to be shaky sexual offense charges. The Swedish prosecutors have reportedly refused to come and interview Assange in London. The impact of this and other repressive and financial pressures on Wikileaks may have affected their operations in strange ways.

But in even more dire straits is Private Bradley Manning, who has admitted in military court to turning over documents to Wikileaks. Manning revealed his motivation: he was moved to act after he was forced to help cover-up corruption by the Iraq National Police, and participate in round-ups of men who he strongly suspected would be tortured. Indeed, as Kevin Kosztola pointed out in a March 5 article at The Dissenter, Manning had been powerfully affected by this incident in comments he purportedly made to Adrian Lamo in computer chat logs.

Manning was even more direct in his statement to the military court: he decided to leak information because the US military had turned a blind eye to corruption and torture.

As the Guardian article and documentary on Steele show, Manning was certainly correct to fear the consequences of helping turn prisoners over to Iraq authorities. Yet Manning is on trial with life imprisonment hanging over his head, while David Petraeus, James Steele, Donald Rumsfeld and others walk free, able to enjoy the good life of the freedom this country allows those who play by the rules and ignore crimes against humanity, if not engage in them.

Kosztola also reports that Wikileaks has decided to withhold (for now) the documents that would illuminate just what Manning was referring to in the incident with the INP. Apparently they think they are protecting Manning. Under such dire circumstances as Manning faces, I suppose such release should really be up to Manning and/or his attorneys.

US Denial Over Government Use of Torture

The US counterinsurgency campaign in Iraq, including the organization of police commando torture squads and secret prisons, cost over millions, perhaps billions of dollars. The Guardian explains:
In June 2004 Petraeus arrived in Baghdad with the brief to train a new Iraqi police force with an emphasis on counterinsurgency. Steele and serving US colonel James Coffman introduced Petraeus to a small hardened group of police commandos.... [Gen. Thabit] developed a close relationship with the new advisers. "They became my friends. My advisers, James Steele and Colonel Coffman, were all from special forces, so I benefited from their experience... but the main person I used to contact was David Petraeus."

With Steele and Coffman as his point men, Petraeus began pouring money from a multimillion dollar fund into what would become the Special Police Commandos. According to the US Government Accounts Office, they received a share of an $8.2bn (£5.4bn) fund paid for by the US taxpayer. The exact amount they received is classified.

With Petraeus's almost unlimited access to money and weapons, and Steele's field expertise in counterinsurgency the stage was set for the commandos to emerge as a terrifying force. One more element would complete the picture. The US had barred members of the violent Shia militias like the Badr Brigade and the Mahdi Army from joining the security forces, but by the summer of 2004 they had lifted the ban.
The Guardian report should shake up US denial over torture and the role of top US officials, such as former CIA director Petraeus, Obama's choice for the position after Panetta left to be Secretary of Defense. But US news media have largely ignored the story (though the New York Times noted it, relegating the story to a brief blog commentary), even though a report by Philip Bump at The Atlantic Wire called the Guardian story and video "staggering... blockbuster." Yet Bump's March 6 article only has (to date) about 3,600 views.

In a healthy democracy, there would immediate calls for Congressional investigations and hearings. But instead we have silence, as the US state rushes to maintain its right to project organized violence and terror wherever it wishes. A similar cover-up over the Senate Intelligence Committee report on CIA torture is now unfolding, as Marcy Wheeler reports.

The full 51-minute documentary can only for now be viewed at the Guardian site, and I have no way to embed it here. It is essential viewing for anyone who wishes to know the full history of the US invasion and policy in Iraq. Click on the video title here to watch the documentary: James Steele: America's mystery man in Iraq.

Cross-posted at FDL/The Dissenter

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

"A growing feeling here that death is the road out of Guantanamo"

"What would you do if your brother or uncle was kidnapped, sold, and beaten in a prison for 11 years without charge?"

So says the question prominently posted at a Facebook site ("Free Fayiz and Fawzi") dedicated to the two remaining Kuwaiti prisoners at Guantanamo, 36-year-old Fayiz Al-Kandari and 35-year-old Fawzi Al-Odah. Both men have been in Guantanamo for over ten years. Neither of them have ever been charged in any court with any wrongdoing. Both men were doing charitable work in Afghanistan when they were caught up in the chaos after 9/11 and the subsequent U.S. attack there.

Both men are on a hunger strike, reportedly along with many others at Guantanamo. Both have endured harsh interrogation and torture during their years in U.S. custody.

Air Force JAG, Lt. Col. Barry Wingard, military attorney for Fayiz, has been in Guantanamo for the past week or so, and has seen first hand the effects of the hunger strike on his client. Wingard, who understandably is quite concerned for his clients, told The Dissenter al Kandari has lost "substantial weight," over 23 pounds in the last three to four weeks, or since the hunger strike began. He said Fayiz is now down to 120 pounds, and Fawzi weighs 123.

March 4, Kevin Gosztola explained in The Dissenter the details surrounding the current hunger strike at Guantanamo, the biggest in years.

The news of the hunger strike has hit the mainstream media, as exemplified by this report in The Atlantic. According to a story by Carol Rosenberg in the Miami Herald, military authorities state six of 166 prisoners are on hunger strike currently. Five are being force-fed. DoD spokespeople deny any widespread strike.

According to a March 5 article by Reuters, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan Mendez reports "the Obama administration showed no sign of reversing its position and allowing him access to terrorism suspects in long-term detention at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp." In this, the Obama administration follows the policy of its predecessor, George W. Bush.

Meanwhile, Rosenberg in a new story yesterday describes a previously unreported incident of a non-lethal shooting of a detainee last January.

As a March 4 letter from Center for Constitutional Rights and numerous Guantanamo detainee attorneys to Rear Admiral John W. Smith, Jr., Commander, Joint Task Force Guantánamo and Gitmo's Staff Judge Advocate Captain Thomas J. Welsh states, the hunger strike began after prison authorities began confiscating detainees’ personal items, restricting exercise, and "searching the men’s Qur’ans in ways that constitute desecration according to their religious beliefs." The letter also charges "guards have been disrespectful during prayer times."

DoD denies any Qur'ans have been treated disrespectfully, or for that matter, any differently than they have been for years.

"Stress, Fear, and Despair"

Besides the alleged search of Qur'ans by guards, according to one entry at the Facebook page for Al-Kandari and Al-Odah, guards -- whether under orders or not -- were up to other shenanigans as well: "In response to the hunger strike, soldiers opened containers of food so the smell could fill the prison. The prisoners were then asked if they wanted one or two servings of food. The response with a big smile: 'Do you really think the smell of your food is stronger than our religion?'"

The CCR letter noted, "The practices occurring today threaten to turn back the clock to the worst moments of Guantánamo’s history, and return the prison to conditions that caused great suffering to our clients and were condemned by the public at large. If prior experience serves as any guide, the current practices risk dire consequences and will only invite outside scrutiny."

The letter detailed "reports of men coughing up blood, being hospitalized, losing consciousness, becoming weak and fatigued, and being moved to Camp V for observation. Detainees have also expressed feeling increased stress, fear, and despair."

Wingard told The Dissenter, "A larger issue is that there is a growing feeling here that death is the road out of GTMO."

Certainly Wingard is cognizant of the fate of another hunger striking detainee, Adnan Latif, who was found dead in his cell last September. Latif's death was quite mysterious, and the government has ruled it a "suicide" by drug overdose, complicated by pneumonia. However, Latif was "medically cleared" and returned to his cell less than 48 hours before he died. No authority has yet explained how he could have hidden drugs in a facility under constant surveillance and as a prisoner privy to numerous searches.

Wingard continued:
The last releases of any size occurred under the Bush administration. I think the prisoners correctly note that less than 20 will ever get trials. For those without evidence, President Obama in March of 2011 announced many will be indefinitely detained without ever having stepped into a courtroom.

For my Kuwaitis its especially bitter since the Kuwait has demanded the return of its sons, built a rehabilitation center at the behest of the Bush administration, currently hosts 13k US troops in Kuwait and purchases billions in military from the US. Certainly if Kuwait is not getting it two remaining sons Fayiz al Kandari and Fawzi al Ohda, then what country will?
Another pointed entry at the Free Fayiz and Fawzi Facebook page quotes Wingard: "Fayiz and Fawzi are on a hunger strike with other prisoners. I request a Kuwaiti delegation to immediately visit Guantánamo Bay. It is not enough to have secret delegations between two allies."

Another attorney for Fayiz, Adel Abdul Hadi said, "I blame the Government of Kuwait for not taking genuine steps to have the boys released. The unanimous recommendations of the Kuwait parliament ratified in 2012, condemning GTMO and demanding the return of the boys have been ignored by the government."

The "last Egyptian detained" at Guantanamo

The hunger strikers are not the only detainees whose lives are reportedly in danger. Fifty-five year old Tariq al-Sawah, "the last Egyptian detained in the US Guantanamo Bay facility," is in very poor and "deteriorating" health, "morbidly obese."

According to a June 3 story in the Egyptian Independent, Sawah's "military-appointed lawyer, Lieutenant Colonel Sean Gleason, has said three former Guantanamo commanders have provided letters indicating that he 'is not a threat and recommending he should be released'.... Beset with respiratory and heart complications, he is 'at significant risk' of death, according to a doctor. Authorities have refused him appropriate treatment, according to his doctor and lawyers, and continue to withhold his medical records."

In May 2011, another middle-aged obese detainee, Awal Gul, collapsed and died of a heart attack at Guantanamo. Questions have arisen about his death recently, as Jason Leopold at Truthout reports.

One could also ask how it is in such a controlled environment as Guantanamo that a prisoner could become "morbidly obese," having reportedly doubled his weight while imprisoned.

ICRC Rebukes Obama on Detainee Review

Along with Obama's March 2011 announcement of holding detainees indefinitely, the President also issued and executive order regarding a new review process for detainees held at Guantanamo. Obama said, referring to detainees that he indicated "in effect, remain at war with the United States," "We must have a thorough process of periodic review, so that any prolonged detention is carefully evaluated and justified."

But according to an article late last year at the Wall Street Journal, the Obama administration has failed in the past two years to institute any "process of periodic review." Article authors Julian E. Barnes and Evan Perez wrote, “The Obama administration has failed to re-evaluate the threat posed by dozens of prisoners held in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, putting it at increasing odds with political allies who are angry with the president’s lack of action on the US terrorism-detention system.”

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) recently raised the issue of the lack of a review process "senior US officials at recent meetings in the US and in Geneva." According to Barnes and Perez, the ICRC "also has acknowledged its concerns publicly, a rare rebuke from an agency that usually works under strict neutrality and in confidence.”

As Andy Worthington pointed out in an article on February 28, "an unnamed senior official added, 'The detainees likely to be held long-term without trial pose a significant risk, and the threat they pose isn’t likely to have diminished since the initial review by the administration, meaning the delay in beginning the reviews hasn’t been consequential.'"

Worthington commented, "That is particularly disgraceful, because it indicates an acceptance, within the administration, of information that is fundamentally unreliable."

In fact, the Obama administration has shown that it has zero interest in administering justice for detainees at Guantanamo. It has publicly justified the indefinite detention of prisoners on hearsay evidence. It retired its Guantanamo special envoy, Daniel Fried, and then announced it had no intention to replace him. It continues to pursue deeply flawed military commissions trials, the laughing stock of the world, where even the judge in charge doesn't know who is in control of his courtroom, as the sudden suspension of audio feed to the press proved some weeks ago.

Disturbingly, last month, according to a report by Josh Wirtshafter at The Public Record, "Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and two of his co-defendants, had returned to their cells after yesterday’s session to find their attorney-client mail ransacked— and much of it seized."

Detainee's Father: "this is illegal and against human rights"

A few months before the crackdown on prisoners at Guantanamo and the subsequent hunger strike, Fayiz told Al Jazeera what it was like for him at the U.S.-based Cuban prison camp: "I pray, I read the Qur’an, I work out two hours every day, and I socialize with other prisoners. Because of the insignificant medical care in Guantanamo Bay, I cannot afford being ill. I am already plagued with serious medical conditions such as permanent damage in my cervical spine. Therefore, I regularly practice physical exercise to boost my immune system and to prevent the onset of any disease. The International Committee of the Red Cross [ICRC] has done a poor job in effectively helping the prisoners. For example, the ICRC provides each prisoner with a phone call to their parents once every six to eight weeks instead of once every four weeks."

Fawzi’s father, Khalid Al-Odah, is the head of the Kuwaiti Family Committee, an organization formed by relatives of the detainees to advocate for their just treatment under the U.S. judicial system. The elder Al-Odah is a former member of the Kuwaiti Air Force, who trained with American servicemen in the United States and flew missions with them as an ally in the Persian Gulf War of 1991.

Last April, Khalid spoke about his son and Fayiz to Kuwati Times:

"We want the detainees back to be judged here. We fulfilled all the conditions and demands set by the US administration. We prepared the rehabilitation center for them to stay in when they return. We also agreed to apply security measures and observation on them, like the travel ban and other conditions, yet we didn’t notice any positive act from the US government... In fact, during Bush’s regime most detainees were released, but now only a few were released and they were even sent to a third nation and not their home country. Obama only talks much, but he is not practically helpful....

“Our lawyer there is still working on the case, but there is no result yet. The American government won’t allow a fair trial for them, and this is illegal and against human rights. We are also dealing and meeting with different NGOs and international organizations to help us in this injustice. We need support from the public, as the Kuwaiti government is not active."

It's been nearly a year since Fawzi's father spoke out. How long must this man wait to see his son?

Fawsi wrote to his father in 2002, while held by the Americans, "I will be established as innocent soon, and then I will return back to you..."

Meanwhile, Fayiz's attorney posted the following in a February 2013 Facebook entry: "We promised Fayiz we would not forget his brother, [British resident interned without charge at Guantanamo] Shaker Aamer. Fayiz would say, 'Shaker has four children, get him home first.' Then with humor he would add, 'don't think I don't want to go home' with a big smile."

Crossposted at The Dissenter/FDL

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