Saturday, September 19, 2009

BAGRAM - Renditions/Secret Prisons/Legal Black Holes

BAGRAM courtesy of Andy Worthington's Website

OVERVIEW BY EXCERPTS (with focus on rendition): ...a close inspection of the officials’ statement reveals that the proposed plans actually do very little to tackle the Bush administration’s wayward innovations regarding the detention of prisoners in wartime, and, moreover, the officials also provided the shocking news that PRISONERS ARE CURRENTLY BEING RENDERED TO BAGRAM FROM OTHER COUNTRIES...

(REASONS FOR APPARENT 'CHANGE') Detainees cannot even speak for themselves; they are only permitted to submit a written statement. But in submitting that statement, detainees do not know what evidence the United States relies upon to justify an “enemy combatant” designation — so they lack a meaningful opportunity to rebut that evidence. [The government’s] far-reaching and ever-changing definition of enemy combatant, coupled with the uncertain evidentiary standards, further undercut the reliability of the UECRB review. And, unlike the CSRT process [which was followed by annual review boards], Bagram detainees receive no review beyond the UECRB itself.

In what appears to be a direct response to Judge Bates’ damning criticisms...
Under the new rules, each detainee will be assigned a US military official, not a lawyer, to represent his interests and examine evidence against him. In proceedings before a board composed of military officers, detainees will have the right to call witnesses and present evidence when it is “reasonably available,” the official said. The boards will determine whether detainees should be held by the United States, turned over to Afghan authorities or released.

While this checks all the (Judge Bates) boxes... it hardly constitutes progress, as these plans essentially replicate the CSRTs at Guantánamo, which, lest we forget, were condemned as a sham process by Lt. Col. Stephen Abraham...

HIDDEN INFO: ...hidden away towards the end of the Times report, in which it was noted that the officials also explained that “the importance of Bagram as a holding site for terrorism suspects captured outside Afghanistan and Iraq has risen under the Obama administration, which barred the Central Intelligence Agency from using its secret prisons for long-term detention.”

WHT HAPPENED TO CIA'S SECRET PRISONS & PRACTICES - WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHY, WHERE & IN WHAT MANNER? This, to put it bluntly, is terrifying, as it seems to confirm, in one short sentence, that, although the CIA’s secret prisons have been closed down, as ordered by President Obama, A SHADOWY “RENDITION” PROJECT is still taking place, with an UNKNOWN NUMBER of prisoners being transferred to Bagram instead...and where are the GENEVA CONVENTIONS?

(END excerpts)

SEE ARTICLE IN FULL: Obama Brings Guantánamo And RENDITION To Bagram (And NOT The Geneva Conventions) By Andy Worthington 14.9.09 on the website of the Future of Freedom Foundation (as “Obama Brings Guantánamo To Bagram”)here Also find out much more at Andy Worthington's faithful site here

And here is another analysis with reference to these new/old dymanics: Published on Sunday, August 23, 2009 by The Guardian/UK: Secret Prisons and Sovereignty Legal black holes such as Bagram are the physical manifestation of the 'state of exception' beloved of leaders throughout history by Bernard Keenan here

On the Huffington Post, stop the spin wrote:

Hasn’t anybody considered the possibility that if both Bush and Obama adopt similar strategies for handling these terrorists, there’s a chance that they’re acting in the best interest of our citizens?

For very good reasons, they see intelligence reports, including direct intelligence, that the general population is not aware of. Isn’t it even remotely possible that the Bush strategy, now closely followed by the Obama strategy, is indeed the correct strategy for the U.S.?

...on September 16th, 2009 at 11:22 pm

Andy Worthington says...

And arcticredriver stepped in to prevent me from having to reply myself:

Nope, like Andy I have read most of the documents about the captives that the DoD was forced to make public. What is on the public record demonstrates the same utter failure of competency and training that Stephen Abraham documented in his affidavit.

Is there any reason to believe that the utter and very dangerous incompetence apparent in the documents made public is any different from the competence we would see in the documents made public? Nope. Many judges, including conservative judges, appointed by Bush 41 or Bush 43, who had a chance to review both the classified and unclassified evidence, have denounced it as tissue thin.

“Stop the spin”, you call the Guantanamo captives “terrorists”. Make no mistake, by conflating the vast majority of the captives, who were either innocent bystanders, or simply Taliban foot-soldiers, with no ties to terrorism, with the couple of dozen captives who had a tie to terrorism you help make the public less safe.

The efforts to learn information of value from the captives has been a complete disaster. One of the most important reasons that it was a failure was the highly unprofessional total lack of any sanity checking. Most Guantanamo captives ended up there because they were sold for a bounty. The USA had no files on most of them. And, for some of them, every single allegation was based on their own “confession”, coerced through extended interrogation methods, or based on what would be laughable mistranslations — if the consequences weren’t so serious, or based on denunciations from other captives, often when they were subjected to extended interrogation methods.

Another important reason for the total failure of the Guantanamo intelligence failure is that, it was filtered by the same political spin-doctors who spread the big lies about Saddam’s vast arsenal of WMD. One of the first dossiers I read was that of Fouad Al Rabia. He was obviously an innocent bystander. I was shocked when the DoD published a brief press release about how successful the Guantanamo intelligence effort was that highlighted him as one of the successes. I remain shocked [and Al Rabia remains in Guantanamo -- Andy]. He acknowledged meeting Osama bin Laden, but at a public event. Not every rich man who met Osama bin Laden gave him money, just as not every rich man who met Jim Jones helped him set up Jonestown.

...on September 16th, 2009 at 11:26 pm

Andy Worthington says...arcticredriver continued:

As a further demonstration of the dangerous incompetence with which the Guantanamo intelligence effort was run, just go and compare the allegations some captives faced during their 2004 Combatant Status Review Tribunals with the allegations they faced during their 2005, 2006 and 2007 annual review board hearings.

You will see that most captives faced three times as many allegations during their first annual review board as they did in the Combatant Status Review Tribunal. What this shows is the arbitrariness of what was classified and declassified. The new allegations faced in 2005 generally weren’t */new/*. They were just allegations that had been withheld from the captives in 2004 — when they really counted.

179 captives’ CSR Tribunals decision memos were published in September 2007. I think with just one exception, those memos all said the Tribunal’s decision was based on */classified/* evidence. Then when their annual reviews were convened six months or a year later those previously classified allegation were made public. And some captives easily refuted them. But the annual review boards lacked the authority to overturn the “enemy combatant” status.

What the public record shows is that many captives, during their combatant status review tribunals, offered what sounded like iron-clad alibis. Apologists for the Bush policies assert we should discount everything the captives say that reflects poorly on the USA, because al Qaeda trained operatives to lie.

But when a captive offers what sounds like an iron-clad alibi, one that could be confirmed or refuted with trivial effort, it is extremely irresponsible to not bother to check it out.

Consider captive 950, Abdullah Khan. He was rounded up following a denunciation from an Afghan informant. So were several other men he had dinner with the previous night. The bounty hunters made some highly far-fetched claims about who he was, which incompetent American intelligence officials accepted without question. One claim was that he was Khirullah Khairkhwa, governor of Herat. In addition he was in charge of all the Taliban’s airfields.

When he ended up in Guantanamo, a few months later, he learned that the Taliban governor had been captured in 2001, a year and a half earlier, and was currently held in Guantanamo himself.

He testified that during every interrogation he was told his interrogators knew he was lying about his identity, and every time he pleaded with them to check the prison roster to see he was telling the truth.

I am still shocked that, for a year and a half, no one took two minutes to check the roster.

...on September 16th, 2009 at 11:28 pm

Drasties - Dutch on the World - World on the Dutch says...

[...] orange jumpsuits and locked in cages for years on a Cuban island has become our national symbol. Just yesterday, the Obama administration demanded that a court rule it has the power to abduct people anywhere in [...]

...on September 16th, 2009 at 11:32 pm

Andy Worthington says...

I’d like to thank arcticredriver for the ever valuable comments. My only correction — or addition — would be to say that many of the new allegations added between the CSRTs and the ARBs were in fact new, but were not necessarily of any worth, as they had generally been obtained through the “confessions” of other prisoners, including some notorious liars, and others with mental health problems.

And for anyone interested in Fouad al-Rabia’s story, I deal with it at length in “The Guantanamo Files,” and a version of the story is available here:

...on September 16th, 2009 at 11:34 pm

America says it is good and true and the globe laughs | Antony Loewenstein says... jumpsuits and locked in cages for years on a Cuban island has become our national symbol. Just yesterday, the Obama administration demanded that a court rule it has the power to abduct people anywhere...

...on September 18th, 2009 at 5:15 am

Andy Worthington says..And see the following for an update on Fouad al-Rabia’s story, as a judge grants his habeas petition: here

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