Guantanamo torture victim speaks

This video is about the Malvern Hills in England as inspiration for the composer Edward Elgar.

From Berrows Journal in England:

Dreams of Malvern Hills helped Guantanamo inmate survive

3:10pm Monday 11th May 2009

By Sue Vickers

A FORMER Guantanamo Bay inmate said that the thought of walking the Worcestershire countryside had helped him cope during his imprisonment.

Moazzam Begg told an audience in Malvern that visiting the Malvern Hills with his family was something he wanted to do when he was finally released.

Moazzam Begg was speaking at a talk at Malvern Baptist Church organised by the Malvern branch of Amnesty International.

Mr Begg talked about his experiences as a prisoner of the Americans and of the problem of confessions extracted under torture, their unreliability and the problems such unreliable and untrue confessions create.

Under torture people will say anything, it is that simple,” he said.

“Nothing said under torture can be relied upon.” We previously reported in your Worcester News how Mr Begg was arrested by the CIA in 2002 and imprisoned without charge for more than three years.

Mr Begg spoke of the complicity of the British security services in what he likened to official kidnapping, as well as the suffering of other prisoners, including a 14-year-old boy, and the ill-treatment and total lack of any human rights.

In Cuba, he told the audience in Malvern, the iguana is a protected species and has more rights than the human inmates of the American prison.

But he also spoke about the “very ordinary” American soldiers, men just doing a job, with whom he had many discussions. Mr Begg has written about his experiences in a book, Enemy Combatant, and recommended the Oscar-winning film Taxi To The Dark Side – a film that tells the story of another wrongly imprisoned victim like himself.

This video series is the film Taxi To The Dark Side.

Mr Begg also praised the work of Amnesty International which championed the cases of prisoners at Guantanamo.

The Malvern branch of Amnesty meet regularly on the first Thursday of every month at 7.30pm at Abbey Road Baptist Church and anyone who wants to get involved is welcome.

Impunity for CIA Torturers : The Debate Intensifies: here.

Lawsuit Takes Aim at CIA’s “Covert” Attacks on Transparency. Jason Leopold, Truthout: “Last September, the CIA quietly changed its long-standing policy for how it would process certain records requests by implementing a new fee structure that will essentially discourage the public from trying to get the agency to declassify secret government documents because the costs are too high, open-government advocates have charged”: here.

United States interrogators killed nearly four dozen detainees during or after their interrogations, according a report published by a human rights researcher based on a Human Rights First report and followup investigations: here.

Yes, we did execute Japanese soldiers for waterboarding American POWs: here.

Obama prepares to resume military commissions of Guantánamo Bay prisoners: here.

In a criminal complaint filed January 23 [2012], the Obama administration’s Justice Department charged John Kiriakou, a former Central Intelligence Agency operative, with disclosing classified information to journalists about the waterboarding of Abu Zubayda: here.

RIGHTS-US: Lawmakers Try to Block New Abuse Photos: here.

Enhanced Interrogation Techniques: Little Evidence That Harsh Treatment Used By CIA Produced Any Counter-Terrorism Breakthroughs: here.

23 thoughts on “Guantanamo torture victim speaks

  1. Administrator on May 13, 2009 at 11:31 pm said:

    From the Los Angeles Times

    In an about-face, White House opposes release of alleged prisoner abuse photos
    The Obama administration had earlier agreed to make controversial images from Iraq and Afghanistan public but now says their publication could put U.S. troops in danger.

    By Michael Muskal
    3:45 PM CDT, May 13, 2009

    The Obama administration changed direction today, announcing that it would oppose the release of photographs showing the alleged abuse of prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    The administration this month had agreed to release dozens of the photographs but reversed course after top military officials said they were concerned that the photos could put U.S. troops in jeopardy, particularly in Afghanistan.

    The president said publication of the photos would serve no purpose and could endanger U.S. troops. The photos are not “sensational,” Obama said.

    “Let me be clear,” Obama said before boarding a helicopter en route to his speech at the Arizona State University commencement tonight at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Ariz. “I am concerned about how the release would impact on the safety of our troops.”

    Related links

    Memos shed light on CIA use of sleep deprivation
    Eric Holder criticizes tactics in terrorism fight
    Red Cross report called U.S. practices ‘torture’
    Charges unlikely over interrogation memos
    Obama gives nuanced defense of his stance on torture
    Graphic Content: Abuse Inside Abu Ghraib Graphic Content: Abuse Inside Abu Ghraib Photos
    Poll: Release the detainee abuse photos?

    Should President Obama release the photos showing alleged abuse of detainees by U.S. personnel?
    Yes, release all the photos. We need to know the full extent of detainee abuse under the Bush administration. Yes, but with caveats. The administration should be careful about which photos it releases. No. Obama is correct: Releasing the photos would put our troops in Afghanistan and Iraq in more danger.
    o View current results

    Obama said he has made it clear to military leaders and across the chain of command that “the abuse of detainees in our custody is prohibited and will not be tolerated. I have repeated that since I have been in office,” he said.

    “Any abuse of detainees is unacceptable. It is against our values. It endangers our security. It will not be tolerated,” Obama said.

    The reversal was criticized by the American Civil Liberties Union.

    “The decision to not release the photographs makes a mockery of President Obama’s promise of transparency and accountability,” ACLU attorney Amrit Singh said. “It is essential that these photographs be released so that the public can examine for itself the full scale and scope of prisoner abuse that was conducted in its name.”

    The photos pose a politically difficult situation for Obama, coming as the president’s more liberal supporters are seeking further investigation of how the Bush administration interrogated detainees in Afghanistan and Iraq. Former Vice President Dick Cheney has been pushing back in recent television interviews, accusing the Obama administration of having compromised U.S. security by releasing the “torture memos,” relating to how prisoners were questioned.

    The pictures in dispute show the alleged abuse of detainees at various locations. Pictures of abuse at the U.S.-run Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq already have been made public.

    Citing the Freedom of Information Act, the ACLU successfully sued for the release of the photos. After the rulings, the Justice Department agreed that further appeal would probably fail.

    But today, Gibbs said the Obama administration would pursue a different argument in any appeal. Obama believes that the national security implications of a release have not been fully presented, Gibbs said.

    Military leaders, including Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates and commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan, opposed the release, fearing growing anger in the Muslim world.


  2. Administrator on May 14, 2009 at 9:55 am said:

    Ex-FBI agent criticises terrorism tactics

    Last updated 08:01 14/05/2009

    Waterboarding and other harsh interrogation methods used during the Bush administration on terrorism suspects produced unreliable evidence and were ineffective, a former FBI agent told Congress.

    Ali Soufan made the charge before a Senate Judiciary panel in the first congressional hearing since the release last month of Justice Department memos that authorized tactics such as waterboarding, sleep and food deprivation and forced nudity.

    “These techniques. . . are ineffective, slow and unreliable and as a result harmful to our efforts to defeat al Qaeda,” said Soufan, who noted that he obtained valuable intelligence from al Qaeda suspects without using harsh methods.

    He said he objected to the practices of CIA interrogators.

    “I could not stand by quietly while our country’s safety was endangered and our moral standing damaged,” he said.

    The hearing occurred amid increasing calls by human rights groups for more investigation and perhaps even criminal prosecutions of Bush administration officials for the techniques denounced by critics as illegal torture.

    Soufan also interrogated prisoners at Guantanamo and was a key prosecution witness last year during the only two trials completed in the special tribunals at the US Navy base in Cuba. His testimony helped convict Osama bin Laden’s driver, Salim Hamdan, and al Qaeda videographer Ali Hamza al Bahlul.

    Soufan, born in Lebanon, was one of a handful of native Arabic speakers at the FBI before the Sept 11 attacks and was one of the bureau’s top experts on al Qaeda.

    During the hearing, a Democratic senator said former Vice President Dick Cheney had been misleading the American people by saying the harsh interrogation methods had produced valuable intelligence.

    “Nothing I have seen, including the two documents to which. . . Cheney has repeatedly referred, indicates that the torture techniques authorized by the last administration were necessary or that they were the best way to get information out of detainees,” Senator Russ Feingold said.

    President Barack Obama also has questioned Cheney’s description of the information contained in the classified documents. In one of his first acts as president, Obama ordered more humane treatment for terrorism suspects.

    But Obama objected on Wednesday to the release of dozens of photographs showing the abuse of terrorism suspects, fearing the pictures could trigger a backlash against US troops and impede efforts to fight militants in Afghanistan and Iraq.

    The Obama administration had said last month it would comply with a court order to release the pictures by May 28.

    Feingold, a member of both the judiciary and intelligence committees, said the interrogation programme was illegal and undermined national security, adding that he supported a proposal for an independent commission to investigate.

    Former State Department counsellor Philip Zelikow told the hearing he wrote a memo early in 2006 challenging the Justice Department view that the interrogation tactics complied with anti-torture laws.

    Zelikow, who had been a top aide to then Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, said he later heard his memo was not considered appropriate for further discussion and that copies of it should be collected and destroyed.

    “The US government adopted an unprecedented programme of coolly calculated dehumanizing abuse and physical torment to extract information. This was a mistake, perhaps a disastrous one,” Zelikow said.

    “It was a collective failure in which a number of officials and members of Congress and staffers of both parties played a part,” Zelikow said.

    – Reuters


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