Originally published by Reuters by Jonathan Stempel on 9/2/14
(Reuters) – A federal appeals court on Tuesday said photos of a Saudi national imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay who U.S. officials have said intended to be the “20th hijacker” in the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks should stay classified, in the interest of protecting national security.
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York said the government plausibly showed that releasing images of Mohammed al-Qahtani, who was subject to interrogation techniques that a government official likened to torture, could endanger military personnel, diplomats and workers in Afghanistan and elsewhere.
The Center for Constitutional Rights, which represents al-Qahtani in a federal lawsuit in Washington, D.C. over his treatment, had sought the disclosure of photographs, videos and other audiovisual evidence of his confinement conditions under the federal Freedom of Information Act.
Writing for a three-judge panel, however, Circuit Judge José Cabranes said the release “could logically and plausibly harm national security because these images are uniquely susceptible to use by anti-American extremists as propaganda to incite violence against United States interests domestically and abroad.”
Al-Qahtani has been held since February 2002 at the U.S. prison camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
He had been the target of a “special interrogation plan” that included 20-hour interrogations, sleep deprivation, prolonged exposure to cold temperatures, forced nudity, performance of dog tricks while wearing a dog collar, and sexual humiliation, according to publicly leaked interrogation logs.
Lawrence Lustberg, a lawyer for CCR, in a statement objected… Continue reading
Abu Zubaydah, a man once called al-Qaeda’s “chief of operations” appears to be at the center of an unraveling of the official myth behind al Qaeda. After his capture in early 2002, Zubaydah was the first “detainee” known to be tortured. The information allegedly obtained from his torture played a large part in the creation of the official account of 9/11 and in the justification for the continued use of such torture techniques. Yet in September, 2009, the U.S. government admitted that Zubaydah was never a member or associate of al Qaeda at all. These facts raise an alarming number of questions about the veracity of our knowledge about al Qaeda, and the true identity of the people who are said to be behind the 9/11 attacks.
Unlike other alleged al Qaeda leaders, including Khlaid Sheik Mohammed and Rasmi bin Alshibh, Zubaydah has never been charged with a crime. As these other leading suspects await their continually-postponed military trial, Zubaydah is instead being airbrushed out of history. Why would the U.S. government want us to forget Zubaydah, the first and most important al Qaeda operative captured after 9/11?
The 9/11 Commission called Zubaydah an “Al Qaeda associate,” a “long-time ally of Bin Ladin,” a “Bin Ladin lieutenant,” and an “al Qaeda lieutenant.” The Commission’s claims were somewhat contradictory in that Zubaydah was, in the Commission’s report, represented as both an al Qaeda leader and simply a terrorist colleague who collaborated in the training and recruiting… Continue reading
Statement of September 11th Advocates Regarding Guantánamo Bay Military Tribunals
For Immediate Release
May 4, 2012
It would seem that the U.S. Government found itself in a conundrum when they allowed prisoners, like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM), to be tortured in secret prisons around the world. Once tortured, any confession or testimony from KSM, or others, could not be deemed reliable. Furthermore, the focus of the eventual proceedings would become a trial about the practice of torture, instead of being a trial about alleged terrorist crimes. That would have been untenable for the U.S. Government, which wants to avoid any and all accountability for their own crimes of torture.
In order to bypass potential discussion of torture, the latest Chief Prosecutor for the Military Commissions, Brig. General Mark Martins, found a willing witness in Majid Khan, a fellow GITMO inmate to KSM. Khan himself was not involved in the 9/11 plot. He supposedly got his information from time spent behind bars at GITMO with KSM. Kahn will be allowed to give this hearsay evidence against KSM in return for a reduced sentence. However, Khan’s sentencing won’t take place for four years. It seems the Prosecution is pinning their hopes and dreams on Khan’s upcoming performance. None of this lends credibility to an already suspect system.
Additionally, with campaigning for the upcoming Presidential elections heating up, the timing of this latest attempt at justice for 9/11 is exploitive at best.
Patty Casazza Monica Gabrielle Mindy Kleinberg Lorie Van Auken
9/11… Continue reading
By Ray McGovern
April 6, 2011
The Obama administration’s decision to use a military tribunal rather than a federal criminal court to try alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four others means the real motives behind the 9/11 attacks may remain obscure.
The Likud Lobby and their allied U.S. legislators can chalk up a significant victory for substantially shrinking any opportunity for the accused planners of 9/11 to tell their side of the story.
What? I sense some bristling. “Their side of the story?” Indeed! We’ve been told there is no “their side of the story.”
For years, President George W. Bush got away with offering up the risible explanation that they “hate our freedoms.” The stenographers of the White House press corps may have had to suppress smiles but silently swallowed the “they-hate-us-for-our-freedoms” rationale.
The only journalist I can recall stepping up and asking, in effect, “Come on; now really; it’s important; why do the really hate us” was the indomitable Helen Thomas.
In January 2010, just weeks after the “underpants bomber” tried to down an airliner over Detroit, President Barack Obama asked White House counter-terrorism guru, John Brennan, to field questions from the White House press.
Helen Thomas took the opportunity to ask why the would-be bomber did what he did. The exchange with Brennan is, hopefully, more instructive than it is depressing — highlighting a limited mindset still stuck in bromides.
Thomas: “Why do they want to do us harm? And what is the motivation?… Continue reading
By Dana Milbank
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 8, 2011; A02
It was another important moment in the education of Barack Obama.
He began his presidency with a pledge to close the military prison at Guantánamo Bay within a year. Within months, he realized that was impossible. And now he has essentially formalized George W. Bush’s detention policy.
With Monday’s announcement that the Obama administration will resume military tribunals at Gitmo, conservatives rushed out triumphant I-told-you-sos. Liberal supporters were again feeling betrayed. Administration officials had some ‘splainin’ to do.
And so they assembled some top-notch lawyers from across the executive branch and held a conference call Monday afternoon with reporters. The ground rules required that the officials not be identified, which is appropriate given their Orwellian assignment. They were to argue that Obama’s new detention policy is perfectly consistent with his old detention policy.
Not only had he revoked his pledge to close Gitmo within a year, but he also had contradicted his claim that the policy “can’t be based simply on what I or the executive branch decide alone.” His executive order did exactly what he said must not be done, in a style pioneered by Obama’s immediate predecessor in the Oval Office.
“This detention without trial – what’s different from the Bush administration?” a French reporter from Le Monde asked during the call.
Good question. The answer, from the Anonymous Lawyers, was technical. “We have a much more thorough process here of representation. . . .… Continue reading
May 27, 2010
Text of email from National Whistleblowers Center
A former prosecutor who blew the whistle on the abuse of our Constitution in the Guantánamo Bay military commissions is now in danger of losing his 19-year military career. Lieutenant Colonel Darrel Vandeveld was retaliated against for having the courage to follow orders and speak the truth about the mockery of due process afforded to detainees in Guantánamo Bay.
On June 1, a military promotions board will meet, ironically, not to honor or promote Lt. Col. Vandeveld, a highly decorated member of the U.S. Army Reserve Judge Advocate General Corps who served in Bosnia, Africa, Iraq and Afghanistan, as both a solder in combat and a prosecutor. More than likely, they will smear his name, preventing him from an honorable retirement just 4 months away from 20 years of outstanding service to our nation.
Lt. Col. Vandeveld needs your help to defend his honor, as he has stood up to defend the Constitution.
Lt. Col. Vandeveld resigned from his position at Guantánamo, because he could not ethically or legally prosecute Mohammed Jawad. The Jawad case brought to light many of the problems occurring at Guantánamo, including abusive interrogations, evidence withheld from the defense, judicial incompetence, and confessions coerced through torture. Lt. Col. Vandeveld gave judge-ordered testimony in the Jawad case, and in return for his honesty under… Continue reading
March 31, 2010
From the Huffington Post:
In anticipation of a final announcement as to the trial venue for the 9/11 plotters, September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows is warning the president against “buckling to political pressure,” calling the use of military tribunals the “wrong thing to do.”
In a nearly four-minute long video, Donna Marsh O’Connor — a Peaceful Tomorrows member who lost her pregnant daughter when the Twin Towers collapsed — speaks both to the broad notion that America has a “historic commitment to justice” and, more narrowly, to the horse-trading politics that now surround terrorist trials. Reflecting disappointment with recent signals from the White House, O’Connor calls specifically for the president to reject a reported compromise proposal with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) in which the administration would drop plans for civilian trials in exchange for Republican support for the closure of Gitmo.
“As 9/11 families, we have suffered greatly and waited almost nine years to see justice done with our own eyes,” O’Connor says. “We understand that you face political pressure to back down. We ask that you do not allow fear and prejudice to govern your decision as we are not afraid. We know our country is strong enough to hold on to our values in the face of terrorism.”
The video follows other efforts from Peaceful Tomorrows to advocate for civilian trials for the 9/11 suspects.
February 17, 2010
Contact: press [at] ccrjustice.org
New York — Yesterday evening, the district court in Washington, D.C. ruled against two men who died in Guantánamo in June 2006 and their families in a case seeking to hold federal officials and the United States responsible for the men’s torture, arbitrary detention and ultimate deaths at Guantánamo.
Following a two-year investigation, the military concluded that the men had committed suicide. Recent first-hand accounts by four soldiers stationed at the base at the time of the deaths, however, raise serious questions about the cause and circumstances of the deaths, including the possibility that the men died as the result of torture.
In dismissing the case, the district court ruled that the deceased’s constitutional claims that it was a violation of due process and cruel treatment to detain them for four years without charge while subjecting them to inhumane and degrading conditions of confinement and violent acts of torture and abuse, could not be heard in federal court. The men were held on the basis of an “enemy combatant” finding by a Combatant Status Review Tribunal later found by the Supreme Court itself to be inadequate.
The district court held that the claims were barred by a jurisdiction-stripping provision of the 2006 Military Commissions Act that bars any challenge by a Guantánamo detainee to their treatment, conditions, or any other aspect of their detention, while failing to address the plaintiffs’ arguments about the unconstitutionality of the provision itself. The court also dismissed the deceased’s claims under the Alien Tort Claims Act, following a holding by the D.C.…Continue reading
Four Things You Need to Know About Barack Obama and U.S. Torture & Detention
May 27, 2009
by the writing team at World Can’t Wait.org
1. Barack Obama did NOT end torture.
Many people think that, upon taking office, Barack Obama ended torture. This is just not true. Under Obama, the U.S has continued to torture prisoners at Guantánamo, where more than 200 detainees are still being held without charge or trial.
According to a February 2009 report by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), Guantánamo guards routinely subject detainees to vicious beatings, solitary confinement, sleep deprivation, suffocation, repeated use of tear gas, and the force-feeding of tubes through the nasal passages of hunger strikers. Much of this torture is committed by Guantánamo’s Immediate Reaction Force (IRF) teams, which CCR president Michael Ratner has described as the “black shirts of Guantánamo.”
Quoting from the CCR report: “Detainees are subjected to brutal physical assaults by the Immediate Reaction Force (IRF), a team of military guards comparable to a riot squad, who are trained to respond to alleged ‘disciplinary infractions’ with overwhelming force.” And later in the report: “In Camps 5, 6 and Echo, detainees live in constant fear of physical violence. Frequent attacks by IRF teams heighten this anxiety and reinforce that violence can be inflicted by the guards at any moment for any perceived infraction, or sometimes without provocation or explanation.”
In fact, conditions at Guantánamo have gotten even worse since Obama became president. “Certainly in my experience there have been many, many more reported incidents of abuse since the inauguration,” Ahmed Ghappour, a lawyer representing several Guantánamo detainees, told Reuters in February.1
And, contrary to popular belief and to his own statements, Obama’s executive orders do not ban torture either; they contain several loopholes that allow it to continue. For instance, the order states that interrogation techniques must conform to the Army Field Manual, but Annex M of that manual allows for prolonged solitary confinement and sleep deprivation.The order also established a task force that includes Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and Attorney General Eric Holder that is charged with determining whether to implement techniques that go beyond the Army Field Manual. Finally, the order states that prisoners shall be treated humanely, “whenever such individuals are in the custody or under the effective control of an officer, employee, or other agent of the United States Government or detained within a facility owned, operated, or controlled by a department or agency of the United States.”
This raises the obvious question: What about the many instances when the U.S. hands detainees over to other countries–or to prisons run by its puppet governments in Afghanistan and Iraq?
April 21, 2009
by George Washington
5 hours after the 9/11 attacks, Donald Rumsfeld said “my interest is to hit Saddam”.
And at 2:40 p.m. on September 11th, in a memorandum of discussions between top administration officials, several lines below the statement “judge whether good enough [to] hit S.H. [that is, Saddam Hussein] at same time”, is the statement “Hard to get a good case.” In other words, top officials knew that there wasn’t a good case that Hussein was behind 9/11, but they wanted to use the 9/11 attacks as an excuse to justify war with Iraq anyway.
And yet, the government knew that Al Qaeda and Iraq were not linked. For example, “Ten days after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, President Bush was told in a highly classified briefing that the U.S. intelligence community had no evidence linking the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein to the [9/11] attacks and that there was scant credible evidence that Iraq had any significant collaborative ties with Al Qaeda”.
And a Defense Intelligence Terrorism Summary issued in February 2002 by the United States Defense Intelligence Agency cast significant doubt on the possibility of a Saddam Hussein-al-Qaeda conspiracy.
We urge Attorney General Eric Holder to appoint a non-partisan independent Special Counsel to immediately commence a prosecutorial investigation into the most serious alleged crimes of former President George W. Bush, former Vice President Richard B. Cheney, the attorneys formerly employed by the Department of Justice whose memos sought to justify torture, and other former top officials of the Bush Administration.
UPDATE 2/27/09 6pm: In response to the many email questions we’ve received asking why we have not endorsed this call for a Special Prosecutor: On 2/24, when this statement/petition was posted at AfterDowningStreet.org, 911truth.org immediately signed on as an endorsing organization via the signup at that site. As of now, our name does not appear on that list. Nonetheless, we did submit endorsement. We are not, yet, encouraging 9/11 truth advocates to politely contact David Swanson asking him why he would permanently post a video statement from Willie Rodriguez on the front page of his site, yet continue to ignore/ban the burgeoning 9/11 truth movement from being heard as the powerful voice we are, in calling for truth and accountability. We believe that Mr. Swanson is acting in good faith, all in all, and will post our endorsement with the others on the list shortly.
Our laws, and treaties that under Article VI of our Constitution are the supreme law of the land, require the prosecution of crimes that strong evidence suggests these individuals have committed. Both the former president and the former vice president have confessed to authorizing a torture procedure that is illegal under our law and treaty obligations.…Continue reading
By Bob Woodward
Washington Post Staff Writer
The top Bush administration official in charge of deciding whether to bring Guantánamo Bay detainees to trial has concluded that the U.S. military tortured a Saudi national who allegedly planned to participate in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, interrogating him with techniques that included sustained isolation, sleep deprivation, nudity and prolonged exposure to cold, leaving him in a “life-threatening condition.”
“We tortured [Mohammed al-]Qahtani,” said Susan J. Crawford, in her first interview since being named convening authority of military commissions by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates in February 2007. “His treatment met the legal definition of torture. And that’s why I did not refer the case” for prosecution.
Crawford, a retired judge who served as general counsel for the Army during the Reagan administration and as Pentagon inspector general when Dick Cheney was secretary of defense, is the first senior Bush administration official responsible for reviewing practices at Guantánamo to publicly state that a detainee was tortured.
Crawford, 61, said the combination of the interrogation techniques, their duration and the impact on Qahtani’s health led to her conclusion. “The techniques they used were all authorized, but the manner in which they applied them was overly aggressive and too persistent. . . . You think of torture, you think of some horrendous physical act done to an individual. This was not any one particular act; this was just a combination of things that had a medical impact on him, that hurt his… Continue reading
By Jim Loney
Originally published July 22, 2008
Someone has just brought to my attention a possible interpretation of this statement different than what I had come to, so in the spirit of accurate reporting and non-sensationalism, I am adding this for your consideration. As always, we hope you carefully interpret all information coming to you, no matter what the source, (including ours, of course). My interpretation of these comments was that Stone was simply making the case (the crux of the case) that Hamdan knew the target, therefore Hamdan must have been a party to the attack. I had not considered that Stone may have been (supposedly) quoting Hamdan fully, and that Hamdan may have been the one reported as having said, “If they hadn’t shot it down…,” not Stone. Nonetheless, it seems quite odd that the US prosecution, led by military officers, would have made any reference to Flight 93 having been shot down… [End of update.]
A couple key points here from the Gitmo show trials not really being shown:
1) Defense attorney for bin Laden’s driver, Salim Hamdan, stated: “There will be no evidence that Mr. Hamdan espoused or believed or embraced any form of what you will hear about, radical Islam beliefs, extremist Muslim beliefs.” Where have we heard that before? A little like Atta and friends drinking Dewars scotch, paying for lap dances, partying it up… fundamentalist Muslims who hate Americans’ ‘freedoms’? I think not…… Continue reading
San Luis Obisbo Tribune
Monday, 7 July 2008
Thank you for printing some information about Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, recently. I was wondering if any investigative journalists at The Tribune, or anyone in the media, are ever going to look into some facts about the supposed “mastermind of 9/11?”
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was educated in the United States, received a degree in mechanical engineering from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University in 1986 and speaks fluent English. Professor David E. Klett was Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s teacher.
The CIA released a 26-page interrogation from June 2007 in which their Khalid Sheikh Mohammed has an interpreter and speaks in a bizarre, broken English that no Arab I ever spoke English with in the Persian Gulf ever sounded like. This document has been declassified and is currently online.
The families of the victims of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, have been denied the right to face the accused. No photos or videos have been released since this man’s capture five years ago. Is it possible that the man being held in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, is not a mastermind of anything but is simply a tortured patsy put forward for the history books?
Grover Beach, CA
Link to letter online: www.sanluisobispo.com/182/story/406771.html
By Andrew O. Selsky
May 29, 2008
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Defense lawyers accused the government of rushing the Sept. 11 defendants to trial at Guantánamo to influence the U.S. presidential elections, and asked the military judge to dismiss the case in a court filing obtained Thursday by The Associated Press.
The filing also shows that the former chief prosecutor at Guantánamo, who resigned in October over alleged political interference, was sanctioned by the military on May 23 after testifying for the defense in a Guantánamo hearing.
The former prosecutor, Air Force Col. Morris Davis, wrote that the action will discourage any other military members from providing information about the controversial war-crimes tribunals. The tribunals’ legal adviser, Air Force Brig. Gen. Thomas Hartmann, told the AP Davis was sanctioned because of poor job performance and not because he testified.
Military lawyers for alleged Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four co-defendants revealed that prosecutors are seeking a Sept. 15 trial date — weeks before the Nov. 4 election.
The five men accused of mounting the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks that killed almost 3,000 people are to be arraigned June 5 at the U.S. Navy base in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba — the most high-profile of the military commissions, as the war-crimes proceedings are called.
“It is safe to say that there are senior officials in the military commission process who believe that there would be strategic political value to having these five men sitting in a death chamber… Continue reading
While the US media obsesses on delegates, superdelegates and whether or not Hillary Clinton is using math formulae hallowed by MSNBC, we learn that US interrogators used snakes to torture prisoners (that’s right, PentaPost –torture, not ‘interrogate’ and prisoners, not ‘detainees’) at Guantánamo Bay – while the FBI watched.
By Lori Price
21 May 2008
Today, we learned form NEWS.com.au, an Australian news and information site, that US interrogators – at least on one occasion – used a snake (in addition to military dogs and pornography) on prisoners at Guantánamo Bay. We also discovered that “[Australian detainee Mamdouh] Habib alleged that ‘Mike’ a private-contract interrogator with Lockheed Martin, had hit him during an interrogation.” Further, we discovered that, ”of the more than 450 FBI agents who served at Guantánamo… almost half ‘observed or heard about various rough or aggressive treatment of detainees, primarily by military interrogators’.”
Snakes used in interrogation sessions?! This is Nazi tactics territory, folks – using our dollars and under our name! I don’t care about Democratic superdelegate totals or nomination math formulae. The US media is using the election itself as a distraction for war crimes that are being carried out in our name, every day!
Lest we forget: U.S. Has Detained 2,500 Juveniles as Enemy Combatants 16 May 2008 The United States has imprisoned approximately 2,500 people younger than 18 as illegal enemy combatants in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantánamo Bay since 2002, according to a report filed by the Bush regime with the… Continue reading
By Jane Sutton
Fri Apr 18, 8:40 AM ET
GUANTÃNAMO BAY U.S. NAVAL BASE, Cuba (Reuters) – The U.S. military will televise the Guantánamo trial of accused September 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and five other suspects so relatives of those killed in the attacks can watch on the U.S. mainland.
“We’re going to broadcast in real time to several locations that will be available just to victim families,” Army Col. Lawrence Morris, chief prosecutor for the controversial war crimes court, said at the naval base recently.
In February, military prosecutors charged Mohammed and five other captives with murder and conspiracy and asked that they be executed if convicted of plotting to crash hijacked planes into New York’s World Trade Center and the Pentagon in 2001.
No trial date has been set but they are the first Guantánamo prisoners charged with direct involvement in the attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people.
Morris said several of the victims’ relatives asked to watch the trials at the detention center set up in Guantánamo Bay naval base to try foreign terrorism suspects.
The base sits on a dusty patch of the island of Cuba and does not have many flights, beds or courtroom seats to accommodate spectators.
The trials will be beamed to closed-circuit television viewing sites on military bases at Fort Hamilton in New York, Fort Monmouth in New Jersey, Fort Meade in Maryland and Fort Devens in Massachusetts, Morris said.
The military is borrowing a page from the civilian court sentencing hearing of Zacarias Moussaoui, a flight school student who is the only person convicted in the United States in connection with the September 11 plot.…Continue reading
Extremely important “big picture” insights into the Bush team’s 9/11-enabled world from a fearless senator and a Holocaust victim family member.
by Harvey Wasserman
Columbus Free Press / Ohio
March 7, 2005
The U.S. Senate’s senior Constitutional scholar has correctly equated Bush with Hitler, and the usual attack dogs are howling. But they are wrong, and Americans must now face the harsh realities of an increasingly fascist and totalitarian GOP.
Octogenarian Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia made the equation in the context of Bush’s attack on Senate procedures which might slow or halt his on-going attempt to pack the courts with extreme right-wing fanatics. Byrd said Bush’s moves to destroy time-honored Senate rules parallel Hitler’s ramming fascist legislation through his gutted Reichstag. “Hitler never abandoned the cloak of legality,” said Byrd. “He recognized the enormous psychological value of having the law on his side. Instead, he turned the law inside out and made illegality legal.”
Anti-Defamation League Director Abraham Foxman has played the holocaust card for the Republicans, saying “It is hideous, outrageous and offensive for Senator Byrd to suggest that the Republican Party’s tactics could in any way resemble those of Adolph Hitler and the Nazi Party.
GOP Chair Ken Mehlman has labeled Byrd’s remarked “reprehensible and beyond the pale,” remarks joined by Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum. Santorum is best known for equating sexuality between consenting gays with bestiality between humans and dogs.
But Byrd is one of the few in either house of Congress to… Continue reading