(Crossposted from The Free Speech Zone)
The statement drew wide notice. The Bush administration’s military commission system was often criticized because detainees were required to be represented by military defense lawyers appointed by the Pentagon and assigned to a special office of military defense lawyers for Guantánamo. Some detainees have refused to work with the lawyers, saying they are uniformed representatives of their enemies.
The filing showed that the Obama administration had not made a substantial change in the restriction.
It said that a detainee would be permitted a lawyer “of the accused’s own choosing.” But it added that the requested lawyer must be assigned to the Pentagon’s office of military defense lawyers for Guantánamo.
Maj. David J. R. Frakt of the Air Force, another defense lawyer for a Guantánamo detainee who is facing charges, said that change indicated that several of the Obama administration’s alterations to the Bush administration’s system were what he called “minor cosmetic changes.”
Get your hip waders on, I wanna open the shit valves….
As the Obama administration continues to fight the release of some 2,000 photos that graphically document U.S. military abuse of prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan, an ongoing Spanish investigation is adding harrowing details to the ever-emerging portrait of the torture inside and outside Guantánamo. Among them: “blows to [the] testicles;” “detention underground in total darkness for three weeks with deprivation of food and sleep;” being “inoculated … through injection with ‘a disease for dog cysts;'” the smearing of feces on prisoners; and waterboarding. The torture, according to the Spanish investigation, all occurred “under the authority of American military personnel” and was sometimes conducted in the presence of medical professionals.
More significantly, however, the investigation could for the first time place an intense focus on a notorious, but seldom discussed, thug squad deployed by the U.S. military to retaliate with excessive violence to the slightest resistance by prisoners at Guantánamo.
The force is officially known as the the Immediate Reaction Force or Emergency Reaction Force, but inside the walls of Guantánamo, it is known to the prisoners as the Extreme Repression Force. Despite President Barack Obama’s publicized pledge to close the prison camp and end torture — and analysis from human rights lawyers who call these forces’ actions illegal — IRFs remain very much active at Guantánamo.
Jeremy Scahill also appeared on “Democracy Now!” to discuss what is STILL going on, under the Obama Administration, inside Guantanamo Bay:
JEREMY SCAHILL: When the Bush administration established the US prison camp at Guantanamo, of course, we know well that they set up a system where detainees were going to be systematically tortured. And, of course, Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats were briefed on this program, despite what they’re saying right now.
And while much of the focus has been on the tactical use of torture at Guantanamo, almost no attention had been paid to a parallel force that was torturing prisoners in a variety of ways, including waterboarding them, and that is this riot squad of sorts that you referred to called the Immediate Reaction Force. The prisoners and their lawyers at Guantanamo call it the “Extreme Repression Force.”
The basic function of these IRF teams is the same as a cell extraction team assembled in cases where a prisoner is defiant to leave his cell or considered dangerous.
Here’s some footage to give you a good idea of what this looks like:
However, in the case of the IRF team, they were called in for the slightest hint that a prisoner would resist interrogation or refuse to cooperate with officials inside. The teams, instead of extracting the inmate, would instead just beat the living shit out of the inmate instead of following any type of protocol. They would face the camera that had to be used to document it away from where the act was going on and write near identical sworn statements about how the situation went:
In the Standard Operating Procedures that General Miller issued in 2003, he said that all of the IRF teams, when they would go in to restrain a prisoner, that they had to videotape the operation and that all of the members on a team, immediately following an incident where they had to restrain a prisoner, had to give sworn statements. Well, the fact is that we know that at least 500 hours of video were filmed. The ACLU tried a few years ago to get those videos, and they failed to do so. The government resisted it.
But Brandon Neely, who is an Army specialist that was on one of the first IRF teams-and I talk about his story in here-says that his experience with IRF teams is that either the video camera wouldn’t have any tape in it, wouldn’t be turned on, or it would be pointed in a direction that was nowhere near what was actually happening.
And I went through hundreds of pages of incident reports, where these military police officers, as part of the IRF teams, gave their sworn statements. They were so robotic in their uniformity. They all had the exact same phrases to describe operations that went off without a hitch, detainees were never hurt, procedures were followed. Case closed. End of the day, a few handwritten sentences, almost uniformly identical in each instance.
This is happening under Obama. Right now, like, TODAY! Yet he stays silent and blocks efforts of the very groups that supported this candidate believing that this kind of behavior, this torture would stop under him. He refuses to prosecute anyone so the Spanish Judge Garzon has taken the lead in investigating these matters:
Michael Ratner, author of the book, The Trial of Donald Rumsfeld and president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, said, “The torture conspirators are in deep trouble. Even if the U.S. fails in its obligation to criminally investigate, Spain will. The conspirators can run, but they can’t hide. It is conceivable that arrest warrants have already been issued or will be soon. Indictments will almost surely follow. The torture team’s travel options are narrowing.”
Why? Because Spain has a strong case involving their own citizens who were detained under these programs:
A total of five Spanish citizens or residents were held by the US at Guantanamo. Testimony of four of those men is cited by the Spanish investigators. In addition to Deghayes, the men are: Hamed Abderraman Ahmed, Lahcen Ikassrien and Jamiel Abdulatif Al Banna.
All of the victims cited in the Spanish investigation were moved to various locations where they were allegedly tortured before ultimately being transferred to Guantanamo where the torture continued and intensified. The torture, according to the Spanish investigation, “all” occurred “under the authority of American military personnel” and was sometimes conducted in the presence of medical professionals.
The Spanish writ does not name specific defendants or suspects in its investigation, but rather seeks to investigate the role of those who planned, coordinated and implemented the torture of its citizens and residents. “This systematic plan may point to the existence of a coordinated action for the commission of a multiplicity of torture crimes… a plan that would seem to approximate an official level and that, therefore, would give rise to criminal liability for the various schemes of committing, ordering, designing, and authorizing this systematic plan of torture.” On April 29, Garzon gave the green light to the investigation citing Spain’s Universal Jurisdiction law.
There is little or nothing Obama can do about this. He can’t refuse any type of verdict that might come out of this without pissing off the entire world and, more importantly to him, his liberal base that got him into office:
President Obama’s centrist, pragmatic policy inclination has potentially begun to alienate one-time liberal supporters. Under the headline “Some On Left Souring On Obama,” The Politico reports that “barely four months into his presidency, Obama is confronting growing dissatisfaction among members of his liberal base, who feel spurned by a series of his early decisions on issues ranging from guns to torture to immigration to gay rights.” On its website yesterday, The Hill reported that “some of the people who voted” for Obama “are seeing change,” but “unfortunately for them, it’s not the kind of change they can believe in. It’s Washington changing Obama and not the other way around, they say.”
The Wall Street Journal cites “Obama’s decision to maintain Bush-era military commissions” as “the latest in a series of compromises and delays that allies on the left see as a disappointing shift away from campaign pledges.” The Journal adds that “on everything from national security to climate change to immigration, liberal groups are saying the president’s recent actions contradict his soothing ability to convince them that he will move dramatically on their issues.” On CBS’s Face The Nation, the ACLU’s Anthony Romero said, “The tribunals themselves are under the jurisdiction of the Department of Defense. That’s a mistake. That’s the same Department of Defense that authorized, enabled, and allowed torture to occur. It lacks the credibility to undertake that effort. ”
The Washington Times also reports “Obama already has disappointed many liberal supporters with shifting stances on national-security issues. In just the past week, he reversed himself by declining to release photos of detainee abuse and also said he would continue to use military tribunals to try Guantanamo detainees, a practice for which he had criticized the Bush administration.”
The reason being that the issue of torture is something you can’t turn into a political issue of a “Democrat and Republican” type debate because torture is flat out fucking not allowed by any means!
Something of such a “no-brainer” legal issue being brushed away by a man who knows the law is clear on this matter raises a red flag right away. What I believe is the issue is that this goes straight to the top across party lines. Obama is the new guy who is confronted by the old Corporate “do-nothing” Democrats who are turning to him now and saying “We knew and did nothing to stop it. The public will demand something be done to me for staying silent during this.” So they’re probably telling him to remain quiet and telling him to try and skirt the issue.
And what are politicians all about if not just themselves?
On the issue of going forward with prosecutions, some have argued that a formal investigation would be like “pouring the issue of torture into a black hole”:
What we continue to need, in sum, are unwavering spotlights, even more civic education, and, most importantly, an irrefutable and cohesive factual narrative – comprised of direct and circumstantial evidence – that links the highest-level officials and advisers of the Bush administration, ineluctably, to specific instances and victims of torture. What we will surely have, however, if a special prosecutor is named, will be precisely the opposite: The initiation of a federal grand jury investigation right now would be roughly the equivalent of ceremoniously dumping the entire issue of torture into a black hole. There will be nothing to see and we will be listening intently to radio silence, trying to make sense of intermittent static in the form of the occasional unreliable leak. For years. There may never be any charges and we will almost certainly never have the unimpeachable historical narrative that we need.
I agree with the highlighted text and I guess will do my part to try and bring this up as much as possible. Dig for new “leaks” of this issue to closely follow and gather up the evidence in my own mind for the purpose of educating myself on the matter. I have to say though that Obama needs to make some sort of “Truth and Reconciliation” type of committee to call to task all those involved in creating this obviously “systemic and coordinated” policy among military officers, officials, and the Bush Administration. Which Democrats knew what when? Which Republicans? Which officials?
To politicize this issue the way Obama does caused something in my brain to just fucking snap. I honestly lost it when he said he wanted to “look toward the future rather then probe the crimes of the past”. That’s straight up, Grade A, bullshit. Nevermind the failed logic of every crime that is ever brought to court in the history of a legal system has been technically “done in the past”, but the deaths and tortures of prisoners in U.S. custody are things that need to be addressed. To have a country pushed into a debate by Dick Cheney on Fox News about how torture got us “great information” sets a dangerous tone of honestly having this debate over whether torture is “ok” as long as it gets us good information.
No, it’s not ok, in fact it is quite possibly the most illegal thing I can think of.
If there is such an argument about this I believe the testimony of a former FBI Interrogator can set the record straight:
ALI SOUFAN: The interrogator uses a combination of interpersonal, cognitive and emotional strategies to extract the information needed. If done correctly, this approach works quickly and effectively, because it outsmarts the detainee using a method that he is not trained nor able to resist. The Army Field Manual is not about being soft. It’s about outwitting, outsmarting and manipulating the detainee.
The approach is in sharp contrast of the enhanced interrogation method that instead tries to subjugate the detainee into submission through humiliation and cruelty. A major problem is it-it is ineffective. Al-Qaeda are trained to resist torture, as we see from the recently released DOJ memos on interrogation. The contractors had to keep requesting authorization to use harsher and harsher methods.
In the case of Abu Zubaydah, that continued for several months, right ’til waterboarding was introduced. And waterboarding itself had to be used eighty-three times, an indication that Abu Zubaydah had already called his interrogators’ bluff. In contrast, when we interrogated him using intelligent interrogation methods, within the first hour we gained important actionable intelligence.
This amateurish technique is harmful to our long-term strategy and interests. It plays into the enemy’s handbook and recreates a form of the so-called Chinese wall between the CIA and the FBI. It also taints sources, risks outcomes, ignores the endgame, and diminishes our moral high ground.
My interest in speaking about this issue is not to advocate the prosecution of anyone. Examining a past we cannot change is only worthwhile when it helps guide us towards claiming a future, a better future that is yet within our reach. For the last seven years, it has not been easy objecting to these methods when they had powerful backers.
That is the most coherent and intelligent assessment of the situation I ever heard.
While Obama remains “on the fence” about looking into this matter, Judge Garzon is going full throttle into this seeing how it falls under concrete juristiction since this was done to citizens of Spain. Obama is trying to duck the issue and that pisses off a base that thought he would be different. I hadn’t such high hopes, but rather saw myself functioning better in an Obama environment then a McCain one so I pulled the lever for him.
Being that this will be out of his control with the Spanish courts weighing in he has one more step on thin ice:
Barely four months into his presidency, Obama is confronting growing dissatisfaction among members of his liberal base, who feel spurned by a series of his early decisions on issues ranging from guns to torture to immigration to gay rights.
The list got longer last week as Obama reversed his earlier decision to release photos of detainees abused in U.S. military custody and announced plans to try some terror suspects before military commissions – though on the campaign trail he railed against earlier versions of the tribunals.
A few, like MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, have even hurled the left’s ultimate epithet – suggesting that Obama’s turning into George W. Bush.
The building anger comes at a critical moment – just as Obama’s about to announce his choice for the Supreme Court. Fulfill their dreams of a “liberal Scalia,” a firebrand from the left, and much would be forgiven.
But if Obama opts instead for a decidedly centrist nominee aimed at winning a large number of Republican votes in the Senate, the growing concern could develop into something more politically dangerous.
Allow me to say “FUCK THE REPUBLICANS!”
Nobody cares and they don’t matter anymore so that won’t be a valid excuse. If I can’t make Obama prosecute those responsible for detaining without trial and torture, I at least wanna stop him from appointing someone to the bench that will allow it to happen to U.S. Citizens.
I don’t want to be subject to that bullshit again.