January 11, 2011 09:00 AM
President Obama, Why Have You Forsaken Your Promise to Close Guantanamo?
Bianca Jagger asks why President Obama has forsaken his promise to restore ‘America’s moral stature in the world,’ on the ninth anniversary of the arrival at Guantánamo of the first prisoners and nearly two years after he pledged to close the prison camp within a year.
When President Obama was elected, he electrified people throughout the world, particularly the human rights community, by using his second day in office to issue executive orders to close the Guantánamo detention center and end torture and secret detention.
The order authorized: “The detention facilities at Guantánamo for individuals covered by this order shall be closed as soon as practicable, and no later than one year from the date of this order”.
During his campaign, in an interview on 60 Minutes in November 2008, he declared: “I have said repeatedly that I intend to close Guantánamo and I will follow through on that …This is part and parcel of an effort to regain America’s moral stature in the world.” After the wilderness years of the Bush presidency, this seemed like the Promised Land. Except, of course, it wasn’t.
What has followed has been an infinitely depressing departure from this promise and what it represented — that the USA would try to repair some of the damage of George Bush’s assault on the international rule of law, and human rights.
First there was the announcement in April 2009 that there were to be no prosecutions for those responsible for torture and secret detention despite declassified memoranda showing there had been a policy allowing the mistreatment of prisoners in CIA and US military custody, a policy approved at the highest governmental legal levels.
Then we had Obama’s troubling National Archive speech on 21 May 2009.
Rights Groups Mark Beginning of a Decade of Wrongful Detentions at Guantánamo and Demand Obama Close Island Prison with Justice: here.
Andy Worthington, Truthout: “Political prisoners? Surely, that can’t be right, can it? Surely, it’s only dictatorships in far-flung corners of the world who hold political prisoners, and not the United States of America? Sadly, no. As the ‘War on Terror’ prison established by President Bush begins its tenth year of operations, and as it begins to be forgotten that President Obama swept into office issuing an executive order promising to close the prison within a year, but failed spectacularly to do so, the bleak truth is that, for a majority of the 173 men held at Guantanamo, their chances of being released, or of receiving anything resembling justice, have receded to such an extent in the last two years that most face indefinite detention without charge or trial and may still be in Guantanamo a year from now, two years from now, or even five, ten or twenty years from now”: here.
Carol Rosenberg, McClatchy Newspapers: “Two years after the newly minted Obama administration moved to undo what had become one of the most controversial legacies of the George W. Bush presidency by ordering the closure of the prison camps at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, a trove of State Department documents made public by the website WikiLeaks is providing new information about why that effort failed. Key among the factors, the cables suggest: Congress’ refusal to allow any of the captives to be brought to the United States”: here.
Around 200 rights activists rallied in front of the White House and blockaded the entrances to the US Department of Justice on Tuesday – the ninth anniversary of the opening of the Guantanamo Bay concentration camp: here.
Andy Worthington, War Is A Crime: “For several years now, one organization in the US government has persistently undermined attempts to have a grown-up debate about the perceived dangerousness of prisoners at Guantanamo, and the need to bear security concerns in mind whilst also trying to empty the prison and to bring to an end this particularly malign icon of the Bush administration’s ill-conceived response to the 9/11 attacks. That organization is the Pentagon, and its habit of issuing announcements regarding the alleged recidivism of prisoners released from Guantanamo – without documentation to back up its claims – has also exposed a startling lack of journalistic integrity in the mainstream media”: here.
Australia: Labor government makes out-of-court settlement with former Guantánamo prisoner over torture allegations: here.
- Prophecy & Utopia – Re: ‘Obama had no balls to close Gitmo’ (disclose.tv)
- Former prosecutor says treatment of Guantanamo detainees puts U.S soldiers at risk (newsobserver.com)
- Guantanamo Secret Censor Frustrates Judge In 9/11 Case (huffingtonpost.com)
- Obama Closes Office Working to Shut Down Gitmo (news.antiwar.com)
- U.S. shutters Guantanamo prisoners’ resettlement office (thehindu.com)
- Office charged with shutting Guantanamo Bay closes (telegraph.co.uk)
- Obama’s envoy for closing Gitmo prison reassigned (modbee.com)
- American Voices: Obama Gives Up On Closing Guantánamo? (theonion.com)
This video from Somalia says about itself:
Since the US-backed Ethiopian (TPLF) invasion and occupation of Somalia – Ethiopian TPLF troops has committed (and still commit) acts of crimes against the Somalia people. Crimes of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity in Somalia especially in Mogadishu in violation of international law. The constant attacks and extensive carpet bombarding on the civilian residential areas of Mogadishu, Somalia by the Ethiopian troops has displaced 1,000,000 people mostly women and children. Somalia people are forced to live on an open ground and under trees in the outskirts of the city without any help. Hospitals are overwhelmed with thousands of injured Somalia people and death is mounting.
At least 140 people were arrested by Kenyan authorities. After weeks in Kenyan custody, 85 detainees were unlawfully transferred to Somalia, and 81 further on to Ethiopia. While in custody in Ethiopia, many of the detainees were questioned by US agents.
Former detainees have alleged that several were tortured or otherwise ill-treated. Two women, who were heavily pregnant when arrested, gave birth behind bars. All were subject to unlawful inter-state transfers as the practice of renditions appears to be spreading.
The Ethiopian authorities have acknowledged detaining only 41 people. Four UK citizens were released in Somalia and returned to the UK. That means that 40 detainees who were unlawfully transferred are missing. In addition, 27 detainees do not appear on any of the passenger lists of unscheduled flights to Somalia. Their whereabouts are also unknown.
There is no further news about Canadian national Bashir Ahmed Makhtal, who is still thought to be detained incommunicado at the police Central Investigation Bureau (known as Maikelawi) in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa. Some or all of the missing detainees may be in secret detention in Ethiopia.
Somalia: Govt’s Benadir Administration Torture Shabelle Journalists
10 January 2011
Mogadishu — Officials of Benadir Administration under the transitional federal government of Somalia on Monday tortured two reporters of Shabelle Media Network, a local radio station based in the Somalis capital Mogadishu.
Abdirazak Adan Koslaye, Shabelle reporter accompanied by the cameraman Adnan Ali, were in their journalism duties to cover a ceremony marking the success of Bendir football team reach in Somalia regional tournament. But, Mohammed Abdullahi Areek, the spokesman of Benadir Administration ordered Shabelle journalist to be out of ceremony.
Abdirizak Koslaye responded to the spokesman saying Shabelle has the same right that other Medias have, however. Mr. Areek tortured Shabelle two journalists.
“Some of Somali government forces were ordered to pull us out with force, and they were told to kill us if we refused the order” Koslaye was quoted by Shabelle Radio as saying.
The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) today releases its annual report on the state of freedom of the press in Somalia in 2010, summarising major press freedom violations and challenges in the southern and central regions of Somalia, Puntland and Somaliland: here.
Somali traders have been arrested and taken into custody by Kenyan border forces, witnesses said on Wednesday: here.
This video from Australia is called Toowoomba Flood 2011.01.10.
Australia: at least eight people, including four children, were killed and more than 70 remain missing, feared dead, after devastating flash floods smashed their way through Toowoomba and nearby towns west of the Queensland capital Brisbane yesterday. The latest fatalities take the flood death toll to 19 since mid-December, when the state was hit by major flooding caused by a La Niña weather pattern: here.
Meteorologists were predicting the wet weather that is currently flooding parts of eastern Australia as far back as July 2010: here.
The economic cost of the Queensland flood disaster is impacting on coal, wheat, sugar, and cotton prices internationally: here.
It’s one of the most amazing images to come out of the Queensland Floods so far – a frog riding the back of a brown snake: here.
More than six months after catastrophic floods first hit Pakistan, millions of people remain without proper shelter and adequate food supplies and at risk of disease. This tragedy is a stunning indictment of the Pakistani bourgeoisie and its international allies, above all Washington: here.
This video from the USA is called 9 year old Christina Taylor Green Born 9 11 2001 Killed 1 8 2011 at Giffords Shooting.
As more information has emerged about the 22-year-old gunman who carried out a massacre Saturday outside a Tucson supermarket, the American media has sought to downplay the clear connection between his attempted assassination of a Democratic member of the House of Representatives and the politics of the ultra-right: here.
Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and other far right-wing demagogues have been quick to defend themselves from the charge of fostering a climate of poisonous political hatred in the United States, in the aftermath of the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Gifford and the killing of Federal Judge John Roll, along with the injuring or killing of 10 other victims: here.
Jewish Groups: ‘We Are Deeply Disturbed’ By Palin’s Use Of Anti-Semitic Term ‘Blood Libel,’ She Should Apologize: here.
Jason Linkins: Hey, everyone. Not to unnerve you, but apparently, days after a madman went on a murdery rampage with a Glock in Arizona, Arizonans are heading to gun stores in droves to purchase the very same weapon used by Jared Lee Loughner. It’s as good an example as anything to demonstrate that there really is no such thing as bad publicity, only an implacable, gnawing cynicism that permeates our existence and sends us, sobbing, into a fetal position: here.
Will Potter, author of Green is the New Red.com, points out that Sarah Palin’s notorious “crosshairs” map, in which the districts of Gabrielle Giffords and other Democratic House members are marked with gun sights, would have qualified her as an “animal-enterprise terrorist” had she been targeting executives of animal-testing laboratories instead of Congressional supporters of the new health-insurance law: here.
Tea Party Billionaire David Koch Denies Climate Change, Shrugs Off His Carbon Pollution: Lee Fang, ThinkProgress: “This week, ThinkProgress conducted an impromptu interview with David Koch – one of the richest men in America, co-owner of the conglomerate Koch Industries, and a top financier of right-wing front groups – after we found him leaving the swearing-in ceremony for Speaker John Boehner (R-OH). In the first part of the interview, Koch said that he ‘admire[s]‘ the Tea Party movement, and that ‘the rank and file are just normal people like us.’ As ThinkProgress has detailed, Koch operatives orchestrated the first anti-Obama Tea Party protests, channeled Tea Party groups into increasing the Koch’s personal wealth, and organized Tea Parties for Republican campaigns and lobbying drives”: here.
Republican quits party leadership post because of Tea Party threats: here.