Canadian metal rockers protest against Pentagon abuse of their music as torture


This music video is called Harsh Stone White – Skinny Puppy.

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Metal band Skinny Puppy send US government invoice after finding out their music was ‘used as torture device in Guantanamo Bay’

Christopher Hooton

Friday 31 January 2014

The US Army’s use of Metallica’s oeuvre as a tool in its interrogations in Iraq is well documented, but it opted for something a little more esoteric in Guantanamo Bay, according to one Canadian industrial metal band.

“We heard through a reliable grapevine that our music was being used in Guantanamo Bay prison camps to musically stun or torture people,” founder cEvin Key told the Phoenix New Times. “We heard that our music was used on at least four occasions.”

While Metallica politely asked the US military to stop using their music for the sleep deprivation of detainees, Skinny Puppy took it one step further.

“So we thought it would be a good idea to make an invoice to the US government for musical services,” Key added. “Thus the concept of the [band's new] record title, Weapons.”

Despite the band’s aggressive sound, they said they had never envisioned their music being used in such a way.

Asked how he felt about their songs allegedly being used in the detention camp, Key replied: “Not too good. We never supported those types of scenarios. … Because we make unsettling music, we can see it being used in a weird way. But it doesn’t sit right with us.”

See also here.

This Band Billed the Pentagon $660,000 For Using its Music to Torture GITMO Prisoners: here.

SILENCERS LEAD TO PENTAGON SECRETS “The mysterious workings of a Pentagon office that oversees clandestine operations are unraveling in federal court, where a criminal investigation has exposed a secret weapons program entwined with allegations of a sweetheart contract, fake badges and trails of destroyed evidence.” [Story, Image via WaPo]

CIA torture in Lithuania scandal


This video is called Revealing CIA‘s political secrets in Europe(2010).

From the Baltic Times:

Lithuanian prosecutor accused in Guantanamo Bay case

Jan 29, 2014

From wire reports, VILNIUS

Vilnius Regional Court has ruled that prosecutor unfoundedly refused to launch a pre-trial investigation into allegations that Mustafa al-Hawsawi was illegally transferred to and secretly detained and tortured in secret CIA detention centre in Lithuania in 2004-2006, says Human Rights Monitoring Institute (HRMI) in a statement.

In September last year HRMI and REDRESS submitted a complaint against prosecutors calling for an investigation into the allegations. The request was refused, and the NGOs appealed to Vilnius Circuit Court, which upheld the prosecutor’s decision.

The higher instance court, however, overruled the judgement and found that prosecutors hastily refused to open an inquiry. The court believed that before making a categorical conclusion that there was no crime committed, the prosecutor should have tried to question al-Hawsawi, currently kept in detention in Guantanamo, and send requests to US institutions.

“This judgement is of great significance on national as well as international level,” said HRMI’s representative Meta Adutaviciute. “It is a huge step forward in protecting human rights [in] Lithuania.”

Al-Hawsawi has not been able to bring a complaint himself, or provide any information to any organisation to bring a complaint on his behalf, because of strict classification rules in place in the United States. The complaint was therefore based on information obtained from public sources.

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Financial Times confuses Bahraini minister with 9/11 suspect


This video is called CNN – Bahrain security forces torture doctors, medics and patients.

By Sydney Smith:

Financial Times Mistakes Bahrain Foreign Minister in Photo as Accused 9/11 ‘Plotter’

December 26, 2013 05:00 AM EST

Whoops! The Financial Times wrongly used a photo of Bahrain‘s foreign minister, Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed al Khalifa, with a report on accused 9/11 terrorist Khaled Sheikh Mohammed, the Huffington Post reported.

The Financial Times‘ Dec. 21/22 story was titled “Guantanamo inmates face two divergent paths after 12 years” and included a photo of the foreign minister captioned as “among five detainees on trial.”  The caption of the photo called him the accused terrorist.

The Financial Times has published a correction and apology to the foreign minister, “Apology to His Excellency Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed al Khalifa.”

This reminds me of the FBI in the USA confusing photos of Osama bin Laden with Spanish Leftist politician Gaspar Llamazares. There are differences between these two cases, though.

The Financial Times is an unarmed newspaper business. So, the Financial Times‘ misidentification was not a danger for Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed al Khalifa in a big way. While the FBI is an armed organization; some of its members have a “licence to kill”. The FBI did put Gaspar Llamazares’ life in danger.

Though the FBI misidentified Gaspar Llamazares in January 2010, today, almost four years later, they have still not apologized for that as far is I know. Maybe they did not like Gaspar Llamazares’ criticism of George W Bush’s Iraq war? While, on the other hand, the Financial Times apologized immediately and profusely to Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed al Khalifa.

There is still a third difference. Gaspar Llamazares was and is completely innocent of any terrorism. While hundreds of thousands of Bahrainis will consider Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed al Khalifa, as a member of the royal dynasty and of the Bahraini government, engaged in bloody repression of the Bahraini pro-democracy movement, to be a “state terrorist”, roughly in the same league as al-Qaeda.

South Korean consumer products aren’t hard to find in Bahrain, one of the fastest-growing markets in the Persian Gulf for conglomerate Samsung Electronics. But more than two years into anti-government protests in the Gulf state, it is South Korean tear gas – rather than smartphones or flat-screen TVs – that is attracting international scrutiny for its role in an unfinished chapter of the Arab Spring: here.

Close Guantanamo, United States generals say


This music video says about itself:

PJ HarveyShaker Aamer

3 Aug 2013

PJ Harvey has released a song to highlight the ongoing detention of the last British resident held inside the US prison at Guantánamo Bay.

The track, called Shaker Aamer was recorded by the Mercury prizewinning songwriter to help maintain pressure to have the 46-year-old, whose family live in south London, released back to Britain.

Aamer has been detained in Guantánamo for more than 11 years, despite being cleared for release in 2007, and remains imprisoned without charge or trial. He has a British wife and his four children — the youngest of whom he has never met — were all born in Britain. They live in Tooting, south London.

The British government has stated repeatedly that it wants him back in the UK and last week, under escalating international pressure, the US announced it is to restart transfers from the prison. Concerns remain, however, that Aamer might be forcibly sent to Saudi Arabia and imprisoned there instead of being reunited with his family in the UK.

Shaker Aamer

No water for three days.
I cannot sleep, or stay awake.

Four months hunger strike.
Am I dead, or am I alive?

With metal tubes we are force fed.
I honestly wish I was dead.

Strapped in the restraining chair.
Shaker Aamer, your friend.

In camp 5, eleven years.
Never Charged. Six years cleared.

They took awat my one note pad,
and the refused to give it back.

I can’t think straight, I write, then stop.
Your friend, Shaker Aamer. Lost.

The guards just do what they’re told,
the doctors just do what they’re told.

Like an old car I’m rusting away.
Your friend, Shaker, Guantanamo Bay.

Don’t forget.

© 2013 Hothead Music Ltd.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Dozens of ex-military chiefs blast Guantanamo ‘betrayal’

Wednesday 20th November 2013

Retired US generals and admirals call for closure of the US concentration camp at Guantanamo Bay

A stellar assortment of retired US generals and admirals nailed their colours to the mast on Tuesday for the closure of the US concentration camp at Guantanamo Bay.

Nearly 40 retired flag officers signed a letter to US Senator John McCain denouncing the camp.

Sen McCain read out the impassioned plea during a debate on the Senate’s annual defence policy Bill.

An amendment proposed by Sen McCain would have enabled the Obama administration to try suspects in the US or release them overseas.

But it fell eight shy of the 60-vote threshold for passage.

A Republican amendment that would have made it even harder for President Obama to move prisoners was also defeated, illustrating the complete disarray the issue has caused in the Senate.

The generals and admirals, however, were in no such doubt when they wrote that “Guantanamo is a betrayal of American values.

The prison is a symbol of torture and justice delayed.

“More than a decade after it opened, Guantanamo remains a recruiting poster for terrorists.

“The Senate National Defence Authorisation Act… would provide a meaningful step towards responsibly closing Guantanamo.

“It authorises the transfer of detainees… for purposes of resettlement or repatriation and it permits transfers to the US for purposes of prosecution, incarceration and medical treatment.

“We support these provisions and oppose efforts to impose more stringent restrictions on the transfer of detainees out of Guantanamo.”

The CIA trained Gitmo detainees as double agents at a secret facility named after a Beatles song: here.

In a logical extension of the brutal practice of force-feeding Guantanamo prisoners, their American jailers are denying the detainees any means of making their protest known to the public: here.

This weekend marked another shameful anniversary in the history of Guantanamo Bay and the ongoing incarceration without trial of British detainee Shaker Aamer: here.

Barack Obama pledged five years ago that he would close the illegal torture camp on Cuban soil, but Guantanamo exists to this day: here.

Major Obama Supporters Call for Action to Close Guantánamo as Promised: here.

As lawyers today present a motion to the US Federal Court demanding Shaker Aamer’s immediate release, he has given an exclusive interview to ITV News in which he condemns the site as a US ‘gulag’ and says that he believes he will be released this year: here.

Guantanamo Bay inmate diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. Human rights activists urged the release of Guantanamo detainee Shaker Aamer yesterday as fears grow for his health: here.

CAMPAIGNERS demanded yesterday the release of videos showing Britain’s last Guantanamo Bay inmate [Shaker Aamer] being forcibly dragged from his prison cell up to eight times a day by guards: here.

Guantanamo concentration camp detainee Ghaleb Nassar al-Bihani appeared in front of a new US government review board on Tuesday after being held for 12 years without charge: here.

Guantanamo Bay detainees are to be allowed to contest unlawful conditions of their imprisonment: here.

The military trial of five men accused of murder for the attacks on 9/11 has been halted after it was revealed that the FBI had turned a member of the defense team into an informant: here.

A WASHINGTON judge has ordered the US military to stop force-feeding hunger striking prisoner Abu Wa’el Dhiab at its Guantanamo Bay concentration camp: here.

A judge has ordered the US government to produce 34 videotapes of hunger-striking Guantanamo Bay concentration camp inmate Abu Wa’el Dhiab: here.

Guantanamo Bay prisoner Abu Wa’el Dhiab is in deteriorating health and needs urgent independent medical examination, a lawyer for prisoners’ rights group Reprieve said yesterday: here.

Through court order, it has been revealed that the US military has been keeping videotapes of the force-feeding of inmates at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp. On Wednesday, a civilian federal judge allowed videos taken of one prisoner, which also documents the prisoner being forced into the feeding chamber, to be viewed by his defense lawyer: here.

Witness Against Torture Calls on Obama and Congress to Redouble Efforts to Close Guantánamo: here.

Singer Esperanza Spalding against Guantánamo torture prison


This music video is the song We Are America by Esperanza Spalding from the USA.

From Andy Worthington’s blog:

Award-Winning Soul Singer Esperanza Spalding Calls for Closure of Guantánamo in New Song, “We Are America”

19.11.13

In the long and ignoble history of the “war on terror” prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, those who have fought to secure its closure have generally labored without the kind of celebrity endorsement that tends to secure mass appeal for political causes. This year, however, celebrities began to take notice when the majority of the 164 prisoners still held embarked on a hunger strike to draw the world’s attention to their ongoing plight, and to remind people that over half of them — 84 men in total — had been cleared for release by an inter-agency task force that President Obama established shortly after taking office In January 2009.

The fact that these men were still held — and that justice appeared to have gone AWOL in the cases of the majority other prisoners still held — encouraged the best-selling novelist John Grisham to write an op-ed about Guantánamo for the New York Times on August (which I wrote about here), focusing on the case of Nabil Hadjarab, an Algerian national, who, Grisham discovered, had been prevented from reading his books. Nabil was freed soon after, although sadly the decision by the British singer-songwriter P.J. Harvey to record a song about Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison, did not lead to his release, although nearly 100,000 people have listened to the song.

The latest celebrity to call for the closure of Guantánamo is Esperanza Spalding, a singer, songwriter and bassist who won a Grammy for Best New Artist in 2011. Her song, “We Are America,” with its accompanying video that features cameos by Stevie Wonder, Harry Belafonte and Janelle Monáe, is posted below, and is excellent — a soulful call for justice that ought to be rallying cry for all Americans who believe in the law, and who ought to be appalled that men are being held indefinitely without charge or trial at Guantánamo.

This is the chorus of “We Are America”:

I am America
And my America
It don’t stand for this
We are America
In our America
We take a stand for this

In addition, noticeable amongst the lyrics is Esperanza’s call, “Let them out,” which refers to the 84 prisoners cleared for release but still held, and her call for “justice for the men who should be free.” Also featured in the video are quotes from significant figures — including President Obama and Sen. John McCain, speaking about the need for Guantánamo to be closed.

I do hope you have time to watch the video, and that you will share it as widely as possible.

The video is accompanied by the following message, urging US listeners to tell their Senators to support the version of the National Defense Authorization Act that the Senate is voting on this week, which will help President Obama to close Guantánamo, and which I wrote about in detail here:

Take a stand. Call the US Capitol Switchboard (1-202-224-3121) to connect you to your two US Senators and your Congressional Representative. Tell them:

  • I am your constituent and I want you to support closing Guantánamo.
  • Indefinite detention and unfair trials are illegal, un-American and unnecessary.

Below I’m posting an op-ed that Esperanza Spalding wrote for the Los Angeles Times, and also an interview conducted for Amnesty International by Josefina Salomon.

I was also pleased to note that the Wall Street Journal covered the story, in which Esperanza said (by phone from Spain, where she was on tour), “I don’t have any prison experience, but it’s really hard to fathom being imprisoned in a place against your will and not to be charged with anything, not to have the ability to defend yourself, and to be there indefinitely. It’s hard to wrap your mind around it.”

She also said, “My wish is that the information in the video will pique people’s interest enough to go, ‘Hmm, I didn’t know all that,’” and, as the Wall Street Journal put it, “prompt them to learn more.”

I was also interested in the response to the song from the authorities at Guantánamo, as reported in the Miami Herald. Although Defense Department spokesman Lt. Col. Todd Breasseale called it “an evocative performance,” he added, “the artists involved in this particular song and video leave out this crucially important piece of information: Until Congress changes the law regarding the transfer requirements for detainees held at Guantánamo Bay, the department will continue to humanely safeguard those in its charge there.”

Whilst it was predictable that “humane” treatment of the prisoners was stressed — despite medical professionals agreeing that force-feeding is abusive and unacceptable — it was interesting that Lt. Col. Breasseale specifically blamed Congress for the fact that Guantánamo is still open, even though the blame also lies with President Obama, who has largely lacked the political will to challenge lawmakers, or to use a veto in the existing legislation to bypass them completely. However, it was also interesting to see that Lt. Col. Breasseale also followed the White House line about why the prison’s continued existence is unacceptable, when he said, “To be completely clear: We agree with the President. The facility is wildly expensive, it lessens cooperation with our allies, and keeping it open is outside of America’s best interests as it serves as a continued recruiting tool for extremists.”

Below is Esperanza Spalding’s op-ed and the interview:

Music to shine a light on Guantánamo Bay

By Esperanza Spalding, Los Angeles Times, November 18, 2013

I finally read all of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter From Birmingham Jail” this spring while I was on tour for my album “Radio Music Society.” At about the same time, the hunger strike at Guantánamo Bay detention center hit the headlines. Soon, scores of men were being force-fed. The more I learned about what was going on at Guantánamo, the more I realized that the truths King expressed in his famous letter were back in our faces: “Justice too long delayed is justice denied.”

I vowed to do something. When I got home, I called my representative and senators and expressed my support for a just closure of Guantánamo. Then I called my friends and asked them to do the same. But that wasn’t enough: 84 men cleared for release by our national security agencies years ago were still sitting at Guantánamo. I left to go back on tour, but the burning question remained: What else can I do?

At a “Radio Music Society” band dinner, we talked about Guantánamo and realized we shared a deep concern about the issues it raises. Those talks inspired a song, and then a music video — “We Are America” — that we hope will mobilize support for closing the facility. As the project crystallized, I reached out to more friends — some who happen to be quite well known — and they agreed to support our effort by making cameo appearances in the video.

Throughout the process, and after consulting with the American Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty International, Human Rights First and Human Rights Watch, our resolve kept growing. We believe that the blatant injustice of detention without charge at Guantánamo violates not just U.S. human rights obligations but also our basic values and principles.

Of the 779 men who have been held at the facility since it was opened in 2002, only seven have ever been convicted of any charges in military tribunals. Two of those convictions have been overturned on appeal. Another six men are on trial now, and the government says it will only prosecute seven more. That means that of the 164 men being held (many of whom have been there for almost 12 years), about 150 are being held without charges, and they will never be charged.

King’s Birmingham letter emphasizes that concern for justice and equality is not enough to remedy the systematic violation of human rights: “[I am] compelled to carry the gospel of freedom far beyond my own home town…,” he wrote. “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

With the release of “We Are America,” we hope to shine a light for our fellow Americans on these nitty-gritty facts:

The Obama administration has the ability to transfer the 84 detainees who have already been cleared for release out of Guantánamo, and other detainees could soon be cleared by newly established review boards. However, current law needlessly places obstacles in the way of accomplishing that.

Now, the Senate has begun to change that. Provisions in the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act passed out of the Senate Arms Services Committee will break down some of these obstacles and give the president more flexibility to make transfers out of the detention facility. The full Senate will begin debate on the act, and those provisions, in the coming days.

Specifically, Sections 1031 to 1034 of the Senate’s version of the National Defense Authorization Act would permit the transfer of “detainees who have been ordered released by a competent U.S. court” and “would permit transfers for the purpose of detention and trial.” Since 9/11, federal courts have prosecuted hundreds of terrorism cases, and those convicted are currently serving long sentences in high-security federal prisons.

If the Senate and the House of Representatives agree to the Guantánamo provisions in the defense act, the few prisoners in the detention center who face charges could be prosecuted where it makes the most sense, in federal courts.

Radio Music Society (and friends) made “We Are America” because we believe that, while not all of us are called to the front lines like Martin Luther King Jr., we can all support our elected officials in doing the right thing.

Why did Esperanza Spalding record a song about Guantánamo?

By Josefina Salomon, Amnesty International, November 18, 2013

Q: What motivated you to start this whole project to begin with, what was the spark?

Esperanza Spalding: It was the first time I heard about the hunger strike. I was touring in Europe and I was appalled and embarrassed about what was happening. I remember I started researching online to see what I could do about it and I saw that I could download this action pack. With that you had some important info to use to call your representative. And I did, I did call my representative and Senators. In fact, I got a letter back from one Senator who basically said that she was not going to proactively deal with it but that they would ‘keep my comments in mind’, or something like that.  But I really wanted to do more. And my band actually came to me first and said they wanted to do something too.

Q: And why do you think this particular issue is important to you — I mean there are a lot of causes you could latch on to — why this one?

Esperanza Spalding: Well, I guess from seeing my mom stick her neck out for other people many times over the years. She is someone who can’t stand injustice anytime. I think her example has affected me, but I’m usually not as brave as her to speak up. At some point in our lives, we’ve all been a silent witness to someone getting screwed over and it can be really confusing and scary to stand up for them. Particularly when they may be part of an unpopular or stigmatized group. I guess in this particular case, I was thinking of the man who has been picked up in his country or a country he was visiting, minding his own business, thrown into this detention center where he is degraded and humiliated; his holy book, his holy text that he sees as sacred, is desecrated, is disrespected; he doesn’t even have access to a fair opportunity to defend his own innocence. I see that and I think: “Oh my god!” He needs a champion.

Q: And what exactly do you mean by champion — what kind of champion are you talking about?

Esperanza Spalding: Well, I know that he has a champion in his lawyer. He has a champion in his family. He has a champion in the human rights community, in these organizations who are working tirelessly for his freedom. But I think he needs a public champion. They need a public champion that helps make it clear that, it’s not about him as an individual, it’s about him as a representative of humanity. That you, him and I have equal rights on this planet. That we’re entitled to those rights just by being a member of our collective humanity and that while I may not identify with or relate to or agree with someone — I could even hate someone — that person is still equally entitled to their own God-given, whoever-given, whatever force-given rights. Intrinsic basic human rights which the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, that my country ratified, protects.

So, in manifesting that belief, somebody’s got to be a public champion for these men. And I always thought that if I ever got well known in music, that I would want to use my “celebrity” to be a champion for people. So with this particular issue, I noticed the lack of a public champion, a well-known figure anyway. For example, when you think environmental degradation, you think of Leonardo DiCaprio or Matt Damon who have been very vocal about it. Or when you think of child malnutrition or poverty, you may think of Angelina Jolie. But when you think about the human rights violations happening at Guantánamo , you think of people in orange jumpsuits tying themselves to the fence in DC — they are the most public figures connected to Guantánamo . And I thought that’s not fair. So I thought if … if my star is bright enough, I can be their champion for this — I want to be that.

Q: And you mentioned your mother just a bit ago — what about her or your background do you think has had an impact on your motivations with this project?

Esperanza Spalding: I remember in elementary school, there was this little bratty, annoying and destructive little boy in my class that the teacher had a hard time with because he was such a pain in the butt! He was acting out and really just behaving terribly. He didn’t do homework, and would never behave. I remember distinctly my mom seeing past all of that and one day noticing he was squinting in the direction of the teacher. My mother asked him if he could see the chalkboard. I don’t know how she had the insight to do that. He didn’t really answer. She just had a feeling, so she convinced the school nurse to give him an eye exam, and it turned out he was nearly blind. This kid was nearly blind. And he was in a home situation where his parents didn’t really care that he was nearly blind, and so she, my mother, became his surrogate advocate at school. She made sure this kid got glasses. Not that it changed his behavior immediately because there were much deeper issues happening. But, what she was championing for was his ability to participate in education.

Q: So she recognized that there might be something else behind what was going on there?

Esperanza Spalding: Right! And she was his champion even though it wasn’t her “duty” — she just proactively did it. That was not out of character for her, but once I could grasp that he was suffering, on some level, I felt embarrassed because I had always joined in with the general dislike of this kid. Then, there goes my mom patiently talking to him, the only one who thought of taking this kid to get his eyes checked. That really had an impact on me — on my mind. And now I think, “Wow, go Mom … that was great!” you know? So, something in that experience is related to my concern for this issue. We have to see past all of the stereotypes, all the negativity, the stigma, the culture of resistance and fear, and go straight to the basic intrinsic rights of all people and fight for that. So that it’s not for any individual person, it’s about the basic human rights of all people.

The Guantanamo FilesAndy Worthington is a freelance investigative journalist, activist, author, photographer and film-maker. He is the co-founder of the “Close Guantánamo” campaign, and the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. He is also the co-director (with Polly Nash) of the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (available on DVD here – or here for the US).

To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to Andy’s RSS feed — and he can also be found on Facebook (and here), Twitter, Flickr and YouTube. Also see the four-part definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, and “The Complete Guantánamo Files,” an ongoing, 70-part, million-word series drawing on files released by WikiLeaks in April 2011. Also see the definitive Guantánamo habeas list and the chronological list of all Andy’s articles.

Please also consider joining the “Close Guantánamo” campaign, and, if you appreciate Andy’s work, feel free to make a donation.