Saturday, May 22, 2010

Dedicated Civil Rights Lawyer Discusses Guantanamo

Credit for this photo goes to War Crimes Times (see link below for another interview online with Mr. Frank Goldsmith)

NOTE: More and more many rights groups such as ACLU, The Center for Constitutional Rights, No More Gitmos, Bill of Rights Defense Committee, WNC Stop Torture Now are calling for a return to the rule of law. There has not been a clear shift from or end to arresting minus rights, kidnapping, rendition and intimidating treatment (if not torture in Afghanistan) of US detainees/prisoners. Again, the time has come to bring remember the experience and dedication of Attorney Frank Goldsmith:

Civil rights attorney discusses Guantanamo Bay issues
Many prisoners not linked with al-Qaida, none convicted of a crime
By Chris Fish / Staff Writer

Published: Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Shawn Hiatt / Staff Photographer

Guantanamo Bay only links 8 percent of its detainees with al-Qaida, and holds no convicted criminals, according to government records.

“Only 8 percent have been shown to be al-Qaida fighters. These figures are from the government’s own records. None of this is classified,” said Frank Goldsmith, a civil rights attorney and representative of one of the detainees at Guantanamo Bay.

Goldsmith spoke to crowd of roughly 50 people at UNC Asheville last week.

“Fifty-five percent were shown by government records not to have committed any hostile act against the United States. The law says to be detained, you have to have committed a hostile act. Of these numbers of detainees at the prison, none have been convicted of a crime. Again, these are government records.”

Guantanamo Bay is a U.S. detainment facility located in Cuba.

Since Oct. 7, 2001, when the United States invaded Afghanistan, 775 detainees were brought to Guantanamo. Of these, approximately 420 were released without charge. In January 2009, approximately 245 detainees remained. This number further decreased to 215 by last November, according to government statistics.

UNC Asheville students said statistics about the prison clarified the issue, and showed them how the United States treats international laws. The numbers made them feel more aware of how the government views itself in relation to the rest of the world.

“It really does help put things into perspective, being able to see numbers,” said Dylan Duffey, a UNCA student. “And seeing how you have politicians who are saying they are going to fix the problems and everything, and getting to see numbers that show how transfers have dropped since Obama has taken office is good.”

While President Obama continues to send detainees to the prison, he has not sent nearly as many as the Bush administration did.

Many consider Guantanamo Bay a place where the worst of the worst terrorists are kept, according to Goldsmith. However, he said the prison is holding non-violent individuals without evidence.

“One of the early releases was described as being a shriveled old African man who was partially deaf. Another was a 90-year-old who walked around with a cane and would say, ‘No more questions,’ and would then stare out of the window. That is all the information you would get out of him,” Goldsmith said. “There were boys between the ages of 13 to 15 years old who were sold to the Americans, and were kicked and beaten by U.S. soldiers.”

Torture, according to the United Nations Against Torture, is an act that causes mental or physical pain to gain information, or inflicting punishment for a committed act or punishment based on discrimination.

The Army Field Manual, a set of rules established for war, prohibits the use of torture toward prisoners captured in battle.

Despite this, torture has been an issue with the prison.

The Bush administration was scrutinized for the use of torture to gain information. According to Goldsmith, guards have been known to pepper spray prisoners while they are sleeping, and commit other violent and humiliating acts toward them. The Bush administration wrote a loophole that created definitions of torture in order to protect itself.

“By signing these international conventions, we obligated ourselves to enact just such legislation,” Goldsmith said. “Even though the field manual says it could not be unpleasant, they say what they were doing is not considered torture because the original objective was not to do so.”

According to Goldsmith, the Bush administration said inflicting pain to get information is necessary for public safety.

“They say if you want to get information from people, and you know that pain and suffering are going to be a by-product to get what you need, than that is OK,” he said. “Your specific intent is not to inflict torture. Your specific intent is to get information from the detainee. What’s tortured is their reason.”

The administration also said what they were doing was not torture because the pain they inflicted on the prisoners was not severe enough to constitute long-lasting damage, according to Goldsmith.

“They said for it to be torture, they had to inflict pain that is difficult to endure. It’s torture only if it is pain that can accompany organ failure, the impairment of bodily functions or death,” he said. “Mental pain has to result in significant psychological harm lasting for months or even years. If it does not match those standards, according to the administration, then it is not torture.”

James Price, a UNCA student, said thinking of the prisoners as people, not terrorists, puts the whole Guantanamo prison system into a new perspective.

“To politicians, these are not people but are terrorists,” he said. “Just because a guy speaks passionately does not mean he is a terrorist by default. He is a person just like you and me, and just because they live in Afghanistan does not mean he does not deserve the same rights as we do.”


For another interview online with Attorney Frank Goldsmith) plz go here

1 comment:

Connie L. Nash said...

Attorney Frank Goldsmith is without doubt one of the major top heroes in the USA and the world today. His courage, investment of time and self for others and MUCH more is beyond imaging. His humility and expert professionalism puts many lawyers to shame. His concern for and deep humanity toward the most powerless among us is a constant inspiration.

Thank You from all that wants peace and goodwill within me, Attorney Frank, for the steller mentoring you do by your example.

I am most humbly grateful to be serving with you on the board of ACLU.