Will innocent Guantanamo prisoner be free at last?


This music video about the Guantanamo Bay camp is the song We Are America by Esperanza Spalding from the USA.

By Peter Lazenby in Britain:

Shaker Aamer could be weeks from freedom

Thursday 28th May 2015

Last Briton in Guantanamo gets scent of home

THE last British prisoner in the notorious Guantanamo Bay prison camp could be released within weeks, it was revealed yesterday.

Shaker Aamer, whose wife and four children live in Battersea in London, has been unlawfully held in the United States’ camp in Cuba for 14 years after being arrested in Afghanistan in 2001.

His release was authorised by US authorities seven years ago, but he has remained in Guantanamo.

A cross-party delegation of MPs including Jeremy Corbyn and David Davis travelled to Washington on Monday to lobby President Barack Obama to finally release him.

In a BBC interview, Mr Aamer’s solicitor Clive Stafford Smith said that US government officials have told him Mr Aamer is going to be released in June.

However, a Reprieve spokeswoman told the Star that Mr Stafford Smith “did caveat what he said quite heavily — there have been positive noises and we are optimistic, but there’s no confirmation or timeline or anything like that.”

Mr Obama pledged to close the camp, which still holds 57 prisoners, in his 2008 presidential campaign.

Mr Aamer has never been charged with any offence or stood trial. He has suffered ill health through his detention and treatment at the hands of his US military captors, and has never met his last-born child.

When he was arrested in 2001, US authorities alleged he had led a unit of Taliban fighters and met former al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.

But Mr Aamer has maintained throughout his imprisonment that he was in Afghanistan with his family doing charity work.

Mr Stafford Smith praised campaigners around the world, and particularly in Britain, for their actions demanding the release of Mr Aamer.

Earlier this month, as reported in the Morning Star, one volunteer spent 14 hours locked in a cage in Trafalgar Square — one hour for each year of Mr Aamer’s incarceration.

Mr Stafford Smith said: “So many people have done so many great things to help him and I think that’s had a great impact.”

German police torture of refugees


This video from Germany says about itself:

Refugees in hunger strike for freedom in Germany

7 June 2014

Yassir, since 10 days in hunger strike in a refugee protest in a camp in Hannover. Days ago three other Sudanese refugees from the camp joined him in solidarity for their demands.

Yassir start his hunger strike at 28 May, a day after German police attacked the camp without any reason.

They decided to continue their hunger strike until their demands are realized, including freedom to move.

By Verena Nees in Germany:

German police officer accused of torturing refugees

21 May 2015

The pictures inevitably recall the most disturbing images from Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib. But this time they come from the German city of Hannover.

A police officer has been accused of abuse in Hannover, allegedly having tortured refugees in holding cells. According to research by regional broadcaster NDR, there were at least two cases of abuse. They allegedly took place at the holding cells of the federal police at Hannover’s main train station in 2014.

The victim, a 29-year-old refugee from Afghanistan, had no passport when he was checked in March 2014 and was therefore taken into custody at the train station. His treatment was described in a message written by the officer to police colleagues using the Whatsapp messaging service: “[I] have put him away. An Afghan. With a travel ban. Stuck my finger in his nose. And poked. Was funny. And dragged by the bound feet through the cell. That was nice. Squealed like a pig. That was a present from Allah.”

The second case involved a 19-year-old Moroccan from Tangiers. He was detained by the federal police in Hannover, according to NDR, because he was travelling in a train without a ticket. The officers allegedly found marijuana in his socks.

The Moroccan teen also ended up in the Hannover holding cells where he was humiliated by the police, held on the floor and forced to eat rancid pork.

The evidence of this was provided by the accused officer who presented a mobile phone picture. It shows a man lying on the floor in an unnatural position, the hands secured by handcuffs and the face distorted in pain. It appears as though the man was held down by two policemen, as the tips of their boots can be seen in the picture.

In the text message cited by NDR, it states, “This is a Moroccan, I turned him white. XY [the immediate superior] said that he heard him upstairs, and that he had squealed like a pig. Then the bastard ate the rest of the rotten pork from the fridge like an animal from the floor.”

A colleague described the incident: “He got the rancid pork from the fridge. It was the leftovers of our breakfast at the weekend. The food was green, so obviously off. As he got it, he said he wanted to do something good, because he was a friend of humanity. His tone made clear that he meant this ironically. And then we were asked to leave the room. I assume that he actually gave him the ground pork.”

The Hannover state prosecutor is investigating initial suspicion of bodily harm by a police officer on duty and the breach of the arms law, after two unnamed individuals filed complaints against the officer. They were not associated with the victim and are likely fellow police officers. The accusers in any case are well-informed, and knew about the messages.

During a search of the service quarters of the accused officer, as well as his private home on Friday, an illegal weapon was found, according to senior state prosecutor Klinge. As the two complainants asserted, the man held his service weapon to the temple of a colleague in 2013 and demanded that he perform sexual acts. Five other officers allegedly witnessed the incident. There had been a number of other occasions in the police department when weapons were turned on colleagues, an insider told NDR.

The facts revealed thus far have produced horror across the country. Holger Nitz, from the Lower Saxony association of criminal defence lawyers stated in an NDR report on Monday that the incidents bordered on torture and recalled “grim associations” and he was “reminded of “very grim times.”

The refugee organisation ProAsyl declared that the incidents displayed a horrifying degree of racism and inhumanity. ProAsyl director Günter Burkhardt called for criminal prosecutions, including the prosecution of those who potentially knew about the incidents. “The scandal within the scandal is the inactivity of those in police uniforms who knew what was happening,” said Burkhardt.

By contrast, officials from the police trade union (GdP) and politicians from the Social Democrats (SPD) and Christian Democratic Union (CDU) described the scandal as a one-off event. …

In reality, the torture practiced by the federal police in Hannover is only the high point of a growing number of incidents in which police have abused refugees.

The abuse of refugees at a centre in North Rhein-Westphalia was made public last autumn. The residents were systematically humiliated and tortured by employees of a private security firm. In this case also, representatives of all the political parties sought to present it as an exceptional case. It was claimed that problem was the private security services, within which individual criminals had developed. While the police investigated the security firm Burbach, it was revealed that the police had previously known about the abuses taking place at the facility.

The mistreatment of refugees now extends to the police themselves. The sadism of the police officer and his possible accomplices is shocking. Even more horrifying is his open sharing of his acts with his colleagues over Whatsapp and in text messages. Obviously the perpetrator believed that many of his colleagues would approve of such torture practices against refugees.

These anti-social attitudes are being encouraged by a political climate of agitation against refugees and hostility towards Muslims promoted by the German government and the European Union. The suspension of rescue missions in the Mediterranean Sea last year resulted in the horrifying deaths of around 2,000 refugees within a few days. Now they are responding by proceeding with military operations to stem the flow of refugees.

At the same time, the abuses are a warning sign of changes within the state apparatus. In 2002, the use of the threat of torture to extract a confession in the kidnapping of a banker’s son provoked a month-long public debate about the legitimacy of torture, which was promoted by many. The WSWS warned at the time of a step in the direction of a police state. Ultimately, a series of court rulings, the last in 2012, confirmed the ban on torture and issued a symbolic fine to the state of Hesse which employed the officers.

The current incidents involving the federal police in Hannover, based on what is already known, make clear that in spite of an official ban, torture has established itself as a routine part of police activity behind the backs of the population. While refugees fleeing from the wars in the Middle East and North Africa are the immediate target for torture, such practices are aimed ultimately at the working class and will be deployed to suppress social opposition to militarism, war and the growing assault on social rights.

German police brutality scandal: Officers in Hanover accused of racism. A rights organization has accused German federal police of “an appalling level of racism and contempt for human beings.” Prosecutors are looking into the torture of migrants by officers in Hanover: here.

Bin Laden’s death, in Hollywood pro-torture film and reality


This video says about itself:

Zero Dark Thirty: Glorifying torture in bed with the CIA

16 dec. 2012

Writer Glenn Greenwald argues that Zero Dark Thirty, the film about the capture and killing of Osama bin Laden, which is already a front-runner to win the 2013 Best Film Oscar, is politically and morally reprehensible and a glorification of torture. Hollywood and the film’s director Kathryn Bigelow have climbed into bed with the CIA and produced pernicious propaganda for the view that the USA is always on the side of “good”, whatever our enemies do is always because they are “evil”, and anyone who is a Muslim is a “terrorist suspect”.

By David Walsh in the USA:

Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal’s Zero Dark Thirty

CIA-embedded Hollywood liars and their lies

15 May 2015

Zero Dark Thirty, written by Mark Boal and directed by Kathryn Bigelow, was a detestable work for many reasons. The film, released in December 2012 to much critical acclaim, was promoted as the true story of the decade-long hunt for Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, assassinated by the US military in Pakistan in May 2011.

Now we know, thanks to Seymour Hersh and his article in the London Review of Books, that, along with everything else, the Bigelow-Boal film was a pack of lies from beginning to end. About the only plot element of Zero Dark Thirty that remains unrefuted is that the CIA did indeed operate illegal “black sites” and horribly torture people.

As our original review noted, the film’s central figure, CIA agent Maya, is shown “conducting a single-minded pursuit of clues leading to the whereabouts of bin Laden, while bravely battling resistance from the entire male-dominated leadership of the CIA until she finally prevails.

“According to this improbable version of events, the junior female analyst single-handedly brought about the May 1, 2011 raid on the compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan that ended in the assassination of bin Laden and the shooting of several other defenseless men, women and children.”

“Improbable” seems to be the key word here.

Hersh points out in his lengthy piece that bin Laden was not living secretly at the time of his killing in a well-guarded hideout, as depicted in the film, but “had been a prisoner of the ISI [Pakistani intelligence service] at the Abbottabad compound since 2006.” He further explains “that the CIA did not learn of bin Laden’s whereabouts by tracking his couriers, as the White House has claimed since May 2011 [seconded by Zero Dark Thirty], but from a former senior Pakistani intelligence officer [a “walk-in”!] who betrayed the secret in return for much of the $25 million reward offered by the US.”

So there was no intense debate at CIA headquarters as to whether bin Laden was actually living at the location in question, an important sequence in Bigelow’s film. In the face of rather wishy-washy superiors, Maya boldly insists it is a “100 percent” certainty that the house’s mysterious resident is indeed the al Qaeda leader. In actual fact, Pakistani officials had acknowledged to their American counterparts he was there in Abbottabad (“less than two miles from the Pakistan Military Academy,” and “another mile or so away” from “a Pakistani army combat battalion headquarters,” observes Hersh) and even handed over a DNA sample to prove the point.

Nor was there a deadly shoot-out at the compound. The Pakistani military and intelligence deliberately stood down and let the US Navy Seal team do its dirty work. “An ISI liaison officer flying with the Seals guided them into the darkened house and up a staircase to bin Laden’s quarters,” writes Hersh. Bin Laden was unguarded and unarmed, living on the third floor of the “shabby” house “in a cell with bars on the window and barbed wire on the roof.”

Nor did any CIA official identify the body after the murder, as Maya is shown doing in Bigelow’s film, because two members of the Seal team obliterated bin Laden, an elderly, seriously ailing man. Hersh writes that “some members of the Seal team had bragged to colleagues and others that they had torn bin Laden’s body to pieces with rifle fire. The remains, including his head, which had only a few bullet holes in it, were thrown into a body bag and, during the helicopter flight back to Jalalabad, some body parts were tossed out over the Hindu Kush mountains—or so the Seals claimed.”

So much for the events that Bigelow absurdly claimed only “come along once or twice in a millennium”! So much for what Zero Dark Thirty’s director praised as “the brave work of those professionals in the military and intelligence communities”!

Bigelow and Boal hardly made a secret of the fact that they enjoyed intimate and unprecedented cooperation from the CIA and the Obama administration in the development of the project. Emails and transcripts released in May 2012 revealed that the previous July Bigelow and Boal had met with Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence Michael Vickers and other Defense Department officials. Boal had earlier held discussions with top administration officials, including Obama’s Chief Counterterrorism Advisor John O. Brennan and Deputy National Security Advisor Denis McDonough.

One of the released emails, from a CIA spokesperson, explained that the agency and other US government entities “have been engaging with the film’s screenwriter, Mark Boal. … Both Mark and Kathryn have told us how impressed they are with the Agency’s work in the UBL [Usama bin Laden] operation and how eager they are to bring that to the screen.”

The CIA and the administration gave the green light to the film, vetted or had changes made in its script and gloated about its usefulness as propaganda.

One of the principal lines of defense of the filmmakers and their apologists against critics was that Zero Dark Thirty did not render a judgment, was apolitical and simply presented the unadorned facts.

Boal evidently chose to believe (and pass on) every bit of information provided to him by the CIA, not exactly an organization known for its scrupulous adherence to the truth.

In an email sent May 10, 2011, Boal informs George Little of the CIA’s Office of Public Affairs that he and Bigelow “are making a film about the extraordinary effort to capture or kill Usama Bin Laden. Given the historical nature of the subject matter, we intend to make accuracy and authenticity hallmarks of the production, for we believe that this is one of those rare instances where truth really is more interesting than fiction.”

One doesn’t know whether to laugh or …

In another remarkable email from June 13, 2011, Defense Department Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs Douglas Wilson wrote Under Secretary of Defense Vickers that “At the direction of Director [Leon] Panetta, CIA is cooperating fully [with the filmmakers] … For the intelligence case, they [Boal and Bigelow] are basically using the WH[White House]-approved talking points we used the night of the operation.”

And, as it turns out, those talking points were a series of fabrications.

In a February 2013 radio interview, Boal asserted: “Of course we tried to be as honest as we could. Who would go into a movie like this knowing there’s going to be the scrutiny there is, knowing the importance, knowing the deep underlying fissures in our political system on the policy issues and try to play fast and loose? You’d have to be out of your mind to do that.” Was Boal out of his mind then? Or had he simply bought into the “war on terror” so deeply that he was incapable of identifying lies when they were told him?

It is almost farcical. This is Boal, in the same radio interview, on the details of the hunt for bin Laden, now exposed as part of a White House-CIA cover story:

“I think that what led to Osama Bin Laden’s death is the work of thousands of people over the course of 10 years. We depict some of them. There were many different places that the information came from. Some of it came from the detainee program. A lot of it came out of good old-fashioned sleuthing, detective work, some of it came out of electronic surveillance. There’s a whole host of methods, but at the end of the day what the movie is really about that there’s a cerebral cortex involved here.”

Boal here admits somewhat grudgingly—after all, he is a liberal-minded man!—that only “some” of the information came from “the detainee program,” i.e., torture. And, as a result of Boal’s including this claim in the film, Zero Dark Thirty became part of the argument in certain circles for the effectiveness of “enhanced interrogation.” But, in any case, it was all made up! Interrogations and torture had nothing to do with bin Laden’s being located.

Hersh writes: “That US intelligence had learned of bin Laden’s whereabouts from information acquired by waterboarding and other forms of torture,” a complete invention, was “pushed by [John] Brennan and [CIA director] Leon Panetta.” A bunch of retired CIA officers had been called in, according to one of Hersh’s sources, “‘to help with the cover story. So the old-timers come in and say why not admit that we got some of the information about bin Laden from enhanced interrogation?’ At the time, there was still talk in Washington about the possible prosecution of CIA agents who had conducted torture.”

It is difficult to express in words the contempt one feels for individuals like Bigelow and Boal.

They were both “leftists” of a sort once upon a time. In the 1970s Bigelow (born 1951) was a radical opponent of the Vietnam War, a figure on the artistic “avant-garde scene” and a student of postmodernism at Columbia University. One of her earliest film projects was a critique of US counterinsurgency methods and the use of death squads.

According to Jordan Michael Smith in the Nation, Boal (born 1973), a graduate of Oberlin College, “began writing for The Village Voice in 1998, documenting concerns about the burgeoning US surveillance infrastructure. … Boal was also freelancing for Mother Jones. In a terrific 1999 cover story, he investigated a garment factory in Kentucky that qualified as a sweatshop because of its below-sustenance wages, dangerous working conditions and intimidation against union organizers.”

Both have evolved, along with many other former middle class protesters and dissidents, into enthusiastic defenders of the state and its brutal operations, at home and abroad.

“You gotta be kidding me.” – Seymour Hersh on the timing of the new Bin Laden documents: here.

Bahrain human rights violations news update


This video about Bahrain says about itself:

Dr. Rula Al-Saffar: “Jaw Prison holds over 3000 detainees”

18 February 2014

Dr. Rula Al-Saffar also presented some powerful statistics and case studies, focusing more specifically on the conditions of political prisoners. She retold the stories of Talib Ali, a 15 year old with a 50 year conviction sentence, and Dr. Ali-Ekri, the only specialized paediatrics surgeon in Bahrain who is facing a 5 year sentence simply for treating patients of the uprising. Of the largest prison in Bahrain — Jaw prison — she described how the maximization of the prison’s 1600 people capacity is being overlooked to the extent where the prison now holds over 3000 detainees, with up to 12 inmates having to share cells built for 3-4 people.

Four Years of UK Rights Assistance to Bahrain for What Result? Only More Torture: here.

Former Inmates at Bahrain’s Jaw Prison Describe Being Tortured and Teargassed: here.

How To Sound Like a Washington Expert on Bahrain: here.