Afghan dies in Guantánamo torture camp

This video from the USA is called 60 Minutes: Obama Reiterates Promise To Close Guantanamo Bay, End Torture.

From the Miami Herald in the USA:

Thursday, 02.03.11

Afghan who collapsed in shower, died was to be held indefinitely


A 48-year-old ex-Taliban commander dropped dead of an apparent heart attack after exercising on an elliptical machine inside Guantánamo‘s most populous prison camp, the military said Thursday.

The dead man, Awal Gul, had been in U.S. custody since Christmas 2001 and at the prison camps in southeast Cuba for more than eight years. He was designated by the Obama administration as one of 48 “indefinite detainees,” meaning the U.S. would neither repatriate him nor put him on trial. …

Gul is the seventh war-on-terror detainee to die during the nine years the Pentagon has confined some 800 men and boys to the prisons at Guantánamo.

The New York based Center for Constitutional Rights, which has represented detainess in lawsuits seeking their release, reacted angrily to the death, blaming President Barack Obama for a policy that allows their continued detention there without charges.

“Awal Gul’s death illustrates too well what Guantánamo has become — a prison where Muslim men are held indefinitely until they die because the president lacks political courage to release or charge them in any forum,” the group said in a statement.

Gul had never been charged with a crime during his more-than-eight-year detention as a suspected base commander for the Taliban. American officials said they suspected him of being a base commander for the Taliban. His lawyer, Matthew Dodge, said both sides argued Gul’s “habeas corpus” petition before U.S. District Judge Rosemary Colyer in Washington D.C. in March, but she has not yet ruled on whether his detention was lawful.

In spite of what Colyer might have ruled, his client might not have been released. Dodge said that an Obama administration task force had designated his client as an “indefinite detainee,” despite documents that, Dodge said, proved Gul had quit the Taliban a year before the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

“He resigned because he was disgusted by the Taliban’s growing penchant for corruption and abuse,” said Dodge, an Atlanta-based federal public defender who helped him sue for his return to Afghanistan in the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. …

FBI reports included in his federal unlawful detention suit described Gul as a former Taliban commander who told a San Diego-based FBI agent in June 2008 that he was “tired from war and thirsty for peace.”

It also said he was a father to 18, 11 of them daughters. …

In a transcript of a 2004 military hearing, acknowledged that he had indeed trained on Stinger missiles, one reason for his detention. But he said that he had trained in the 80s, when the United States supplied the missiles to Afghan forces resisting the Soviet invasion. …

A Guantánamo defense lawyer, Pardiss Kebriaei, said soon after the death was disclosed that she was concerned that the military would not conduct a “timely and meaningful investigation of this man’s death.”

“There hasn’t been for any of the other six who’ve died at Guantánamo,” said Kebriaei, a staff attorney at the New York Center for Constitutional Rights.

After three captives were reportedly found hanging simultaneously in the same cellblock in June 2006, she added, “the NCIS took two years to release the findings of its investigation, and only after being compelled” through Freedom of Information Act litigation.

Human rights campaigners demanded the release of Guantanamo Bay detainee Shaker Aamer today as they prepared to mark the ninth anniversary of the incarceration without trial of the British national: here. News Feed: Afghan police “have drug culture”: here.

January death toll in Afghanistan was 100 civilians, 80 police: Deutsche Presse Agentur: here.

USA: John Kerry Breaks With Obama On Afghanistan, Calls For Fewer U.S. Troops On The Ground: here.

Americans: If You’re Going to Cut, Cut Military Spending, Not Safety Nets: here.

Jeffrey Kaye and Jason Leopold, Truthout: “The Defense Department has claimed it took the unprecedented step of forcing all ‘war on terror’ detainees sent to Guantanamo in 2002 to take a high dosage of a controversial anti-malarial drug known to have severe side effects because the government was concerned the disease could be reintroduced into Cuba by detainees arriving from malaria-endemic countries Afghanistan and Pakistan. But hundreds of contractors who were hired by Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root (KBR), the oil services firm formerly headed by Dick Cheney, from malaria-endemic countries such as the Philippines and India and tasked with building Guantanamo’s Camp Delta facility in early 2002 did not receive the same type of medical treatment, calling into question the Pentagon’s rationale of mass presumptive treatment of detainees with the drug mefloquine, a Truthout investigation has found”: here.

President Barack Obama on Monday announced the lifting of a 25-month stay on new military trials at the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba prison camp, effectively repudiating his post-inauguration pledge to close the infamous facility: here. And here.

Washington – The Bush administration was so intent on keeping Guantanamo detainees off U.S. soil and away from U.S. courts that it secretly tried to negotiate deals with Latin American countries to provide “life-saving” medical procedures rather than fly ill terrorist suspects to the U.S. for treatment, a recently released State Department cable shows: here.

10 thoughts on “Afghan dies in Guantánamo torture camp

  1. Canada’s hired guns in Afghanistan slammed in U.S. report

    The Canadian Press

    Date: Sunday Feb. 6, 2011 12:52 PM ET

    OTTAWA — Canada spent more than $41 million on hired guns in Afghanistan over four years, much of it going to security companies slammed by the U.S. Senate for having warlords on the payroll.

    Both the Defence and Foreign Affairs departments have employed 11 security contractors in Kabul and Kandahar since 2006, but have kept quiet about the details.

    Now documents tabled in Parliament at the request of the New Democrats provide the first comprehensive picture of the use of private contractors, which have been accused of adding to the chaos in Afghanistan.

    The records show Foreign Affairs paid nearly $8 million to ArmorGroup Securities Ltd., recently cited in a U.S. Senate investigation as relying on Afghan warlords who in 2007 were engaged in “murder, kidnapping, bribery and anti-Coalition activities.”

    The company, which has since been taken over by G4S Risk Management, provided security around the Canadian embassy in Kabul and guarded diplomats.

    Tundra SCA stands on guard for the Defence Department outside Canadian military forward operating bases and has collected more than $5.3 million.

    The U.S. Senate report included Tundra on a list of companies that poach staff from Afghan security forces — something that has long angered President Hamid Karzai, who last year moved to eject all private security from the country.

    More than $438,000 of the Afghan-owned, Canadian-run company’s expenses remain secret, for operational security reasons. But Tundra’s website, unlike other contractors, promotes its intelligence “gathering and analyzing” abilities.

    A Kandahar warlord, with links to former governor Gul Agha Sherzai, earned $2.5 million since 2008 providing security outside of the provincial reconstruction base.

    Col. Haji Toorjan employed a 40-man militia. But there are questions about how much was spent for his service because the documents tabled in the House of Commons are not consistent with access-to-information records and published reports that show he was on the payroll in 2007.

    More than $3.4 million went to Washington, D.C.-based Blue Hackle to guard the governor of Kandahar and train his security detail. Canada started paying that expense in 2008, after Karzai replaced the notorious Asadullah Khalid, who was accused of human-rights abuses and had his own private militia known as Brigade 888.

    All of the contracting happened even though the federal government has no overall policy or legislation to govern the use of hired guns — unlike other countries, notably the United States, which has imposed strict accountability guidelines on its contractors.

    Even with those rules, the American system was found lacking by U.S. senators, who heard complaints from NATO that there was “little awareness of money flow” and that some of the contracts were “enriching powerbrokers, undercutting counterinsurgency efforts and delegitimizing the Afghan government.”

    The Canadian International Development Agency, which delivers aid projects in Afghanistan, said it does not employ security companies, but agencies that it hires to deliver programs do.

    One of those contractors, SNC Lavalin, hired the Watan Group to guard one of Ottawa’s signature development projects, the Dahla dam. The company, owned by relatives of Karzai, was recently blacklisted by the U.S. military.

    A spokesman for the Defence Department declined comment on Friday.

    The NDP’s foreign-affairs critic said it’s appalling Ottawa had no mechanism to govern hired guns and charged that what the country tried to accomplish in terms of rule of law in Kandahar has suffered.

    “It undermines our credibility,” said Paul Dewar. “Afghans are not stupid. They see these people. They see what they’re doing and they know who is paying them.”

    Opposition parties have throughout the war mounted attacks on the use of contractors, but never had a complete picture from which to draw conclusions. Even with the release of figures and contract names, Dewar said there are still many important questions left unanswered.

    “We’ve spent tens of millions of dollars on what I would consider to be some very dubious characters, to do what?” he said. “Foreign Affairs, in particular, needs to be held to account. I’m blown away by what I’m seeing here.”

    Dewar questioned why contractors were needed in the first place. But a defence expert, who has written extensively on the use of hired guns in war zones, said they are fact of life in the age of all-volunteer armies.

    The contractors, usually ex-soldiers, are most often used in a defensive manner, taking up guard duties that free combat troops, said researcher Dave Perry in Ottawa.

    He also cautioned that moral outrage over unsavoury alliances with local warlords should be tempered.

    In conflict zones “I think it would be hard to find somebody who could provide credible security force that did not have something in their past that somebody could point to and say that they’ve done something inappropriate,” said Perry.

    What is needed, he said, are concrete guidelines.

    There are an estimated 40,000 armed security contractors operating in Afghanistan. Karzai ordered them out of the country last fall, but concern about how aid and development groups would protect themselves forced him to back down.

    Instead, the Afghan government has demanded that firms register with the government and begin paying taxes.


  2. Australia says Afghans may not be safe on return to own country

    Myanmar News.Net

    Sunday 6th February, 2011

    The ABC has reported Afghanistan has told Australia’s government it cannot guarantee the safety of Afghan deported from Australia.

    The Afghan ministry of refugees and repatriation has said it cannot be responsible for any failed asylum seeker.

    The ministry said no-one could be held responsible for the security situation in Afghanistan.

    MP’s in Afghanistan have already warned Australia should think twice about deporting unsuccessful asylum seekers.

    ABC reporter, Sally Sara, speaking to Afghan parliamentarian, Haji Mohammad Mohaqiq, was told asylum seekers would be in danger if they were returned, especially to Taliban held areas.

    He said: “Without doubt, they will face disaster in their life.”

    Mr Mohaqiq said it would be right for the Afghan government to block any attempt by Australia to deport failed asylum seekers for humanitarian reasons.

    The Australian Federal Government has indicated it will start deporting failed asylum seekers to Afghanistan later in the year.


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