Posts Tagged ‘Guantanamo Bay’

Gitmo Numbers

Posted on February 8, 2013 at 12.08 pm

$800,000: Annual cost to tax-payers of maintaining one prisoner in Guantanamo Bay.

166: The number of prisoners currently in Gitmo.

86: The number of prisoners currently in Gitmo who have been cleared for release but not actually released.

46: Detainees scheduled for indefinite detention without charge or trial.

15: The age of arrest of the youngest Gitmo detainee ever, Omar Khadr, who was “tortured and refused medical attention” because he would not confess.

15: The number of prisoners under the age of 18 who have been kept at Gitmo.

9: The number of inmate deaths at Guantanamo Bay.

6: The number of those deaths suspected to be suicides.

2009: The year Obama was supposed to close Gitmo.

2013: The year he closed the office dedicated to closing Gitmo.

Tortured Inertia

Posted on August 18, 2011 at 4.37 pm

Al Jazeera reports that Human Rights Watch (HRW) has asked President Obama to prosecute his predecessor and many prominent members of the Bush Administration for torture of terror suspects in legal limbo at prisons like Guantanamo Bay.  “Instead of looking at isolated cases, Obama should probe those responsible for setting up the harsh interrogation practices at Guantanamo and the secret rendition programs overseas as America went to war in Afghanistan,” the humanitarian group said in a public statement.

It’s a well-intentioned plan, certainly.  That the American government tortures (even in spite of its own Constitution and legal code) is an established and despicable fact.  The problem is that the torture didn’t stop when Dubya went home to Texas in 2009.  As with so many other issues, Barack Obama has followed in Bush’s footsteps in matter of detainee treatment, secrecy, and rendition.

HRW is correct that we must be consistent in condemning torture when we find at home as well as abroad.  But the organization’s appeal to Obama as a potential ally is…credulous, to put it mildly.

This is a map from 2010, well into the Obama presidency:

Secret prisons are not a thing of the past.  They are not unique to the Bush Administration.  Torture is a bipartisan “necessity.”  Inertia has once again taken over.

Why would Barack Obama go after Bush Administration officials for policies he’s continued?  (Each word in that last sentence is a unique link, by the way.)  This call for justice from HRW is admirable but, unless it’s secretly intended to bring the spotlight to the remarkable lack of policy change we’ve seen on this matter in the past few years, it’s more than a little naive.

Gitmo’s Forgotten Child Prisoners

Posted on June 16, 2011 at 1.17 pm

Mohammed El-Gharani was captured at 14 while simply praying in a mosque in Pakistan, where he had traveled to learn how to repair computers so he could start his own business.  After 20 days of hanging by his wrists in a Pakistani prison, he was sold as supposed terror suspect to the US military and ultimately flown to Gitmo.  Once there, despite his young age and having absolutely no charges levied against him, the treatment was brutal:

He has been hung from his wrists on 30 occasions (an experience he described as worse than in Pakistan, because his feet did not even touch the ground), and has also been subjected to a regime of “enhanced” techniques to prepare him for interrogation — including prolonged sleep deprivation, prolonged isolation and the use of painful stress positions — that clearly constitute torture.

On one occasion, a heavily-armoured riot squad — the Initial Reaction Force (IRF), used to quell even the most minor infringements of the rules — slammed his head into the floor of his cell, breaking one of his teeth, and on another occasion an interrogator stubbed out a cigarette on his arm.

One of at least 22 minors imprisoned in Guantanamo, El-Gharani was ultimately released in 2009 after eight years in jail without so much as a charge.  However, at least three prisoners who were captured as minors remain in custody in Guantanamo Bay.  One of them, Wikileaks revealed, was cleared for release as long ago as 2004.