Global Policy Forum

Torture and Prison Abuse

Guantanamo Bay, Cuba
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The Bush administration's treatment of "enemy combatants" undermines international law and disregards fundamental human rights. Ever since Washington launched its "war on terrorism," lawyers and human rights groups have presented evidence of torture and other ill-treatment of detainees by US authorities in Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, Iraq, and at secret locations. The Pentagon's prisoner interrogation techniques, solitary confinement procedures, and its failure to provide "full and fair" trials at detention centers, violate the Geneva Conventions and basic human rights.

Washington argues that international law does not apply to "enemy combatants" and that detentions in the name of "war on terror" are vital to national security. By ignoring international law, the US not only loses credibility and moral ground on human rights, but such policies also open the door for other countries to follow suit with human rights violations. This section covers US and other countries' ill-treatment of terrorist suspects in Afghanistan, Guantanamo Bay, and secret detention centers.

Legal Documents | Articles | Archived

Legal Documents

Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment 1984

Based on Article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, both of which provide that no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment entered into force in 1987, seeking to make the struggle against torture more effective.

Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War 1949

The acts of torture in the prisons of Abu Ghraib in Iraq and Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, are in breach of the Geneva Convention. Article 3, paragraph 1 of the convention clearly prohibits any form of violence or torture of captured individuals.


2011| 2010 |2009 |2008 | 2007 | 2006 | Archived


Justice at Guantanamo? (November 9, 2011)

There are still over 170 prisoners remaining at Guantanamo Bay detention camp. After nine years of secret confinement, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri is to face charges of orchestrating the attack on the USS Cole in Yemen year 2000 that killed 17 people. However, according to al-Nashiri’s defense team the US government has claimed that it can continue to detain their client regardless of the trial’s verdict. This would clearly demonstrate the continuing contradictions of law and justice at Guantanamo. (Al Jazeera)

Welcome to Boston, Mr. Rumsfeld. You Are Under Arrest. (September 20, 2011)

The Chicago-based 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld is not legally immune for acts of torture against US citizens committed while he was in office. The 7th Circuit ruling is the most recent in a rising number of legal actions from former prisoners and torture victims filed in several courts around the world. Courts in Spain, France, and Germany have received criminal complaints against both Rumsfeld and former officials of the Bush administration. Since Rumsfeld is now stripped of immunity, he can now be tried not only under the principle of Universal Jurisdiction, but also under ordinary common law. (Truthout)


Did the Bush Administration Experiment on Detainees? (June 6, 2010)

A report by Physicians for Human Rights accuses the Bush administration's terrorist interrogation program of human experimentation. According to the report, medical professionals associated with the CIA monitored and gathered data on interrogation methods in order to "enhance future interrogations." This raises a whole new set of legal issues since human experimentation without consent is in clear violation of international law. In particular, experimentation on detainees may constitute a war crime under the Nuremberg Code. Interestingly enough, the US Congress passed The Military Commissions Act in 2006, which weakened the language on illegal biological experiments contained in the predecessor law, suggesting that the administration was aware of such possible future charges. (Mother Jones)

The "Black Jail" (May 21 - 23, 2010)

After continually denying the existence of a secret detention center at Bagram Air Force Base, the Defense Department has finally confirmed the existence of the prison which former prisoners have referred to as the "black jail." Former detaines provide accounts of being held in isolation in cold cells where the lights remain on all day and night. These accounts are consistent with the Defense Department's confirmation that the "black jail" uses interrogation techniques from the Army Field Manual's infamous Appendix M which authorizes torture techniques including "sleep deprivation, sensory deprivation and environmental manipulation". (Counterpunch)

Guantanamo and Habeas Corpus: Consigning Soldiers to Oblivion (May 9, 2010)

The Obama Administration's Interagency Task Force, which reviewed the cases of all prisoners still held at Guantanamo, advised that only 35 of the 779 prisoners should face trial. This conclusion is in direct contradiction to the Bush Administration's consistent claims that Guantanamo prison held the "worst of the worst." Further, in the habeas corpus petitions, district court judges have ruled in 34 out of 47 cases that the US government "failed to demonstrate that the men in question had any meaningful connection to either Al-Qaeda or the Taliban." Despite these "impressive results," there are serious habeas corpus issues stemming from the Bush Administrations application of the Geneva Conventions which are relegating Guantanamo prisoners to oblivion. (Truthout)

George W. Bush 'Knew Guantanamo Prisoners Were Innocent' (April 9, 2010)

Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, a former Chief of Staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell, has revealed that George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld covered up the imprisonment of hundreds of innocent men in Guantánamo Bay. According to Wilkerson, they feared that releasing these prisoners would jeopardize their push for war in Iraq and the broader War on Terror. This is the first time that such allegations have been made by a senior member of the Bush administration. Wilkerson made the accusations in support of a lawsuit filed by a Guantánamo detainee against a list of American officials. (The Times)

More Dark Truths from Guantanamo as Five Innocent Men are Freed (April 1, 2010)

After eight years of imprisonment without charge or trial, five former Guantanamo prisoners have finally been released to begin new lives in Switzerland and Georgia. All five men were cleared on two or three separate occasions, but they could not released until new place of residence had been found, as they feared "torture or ill-treatment" if returned to their homeland. The story is similar for 101 of the 183 prisoners of Guantanamo Bay who have been cleared for release by Obama's taskforce, but at present have no country prepared to grant them residency. (Truthout)

Not Just Guantanamo: US Torturing Muslim Pre-Trial Detainee in New York City (April 3, 2010)

International standards of human rights have banned the practice of extended isolation, considering it a form of torture. The UN has repeatedly condemned the US for its widespread use of extended isolation. Syed Fahad Hashmi, a New Yorker with suspected links to Al Qaeda, has been kept in total pre-trial isolation in New York City for the last three years. Medical testimony states that a person's mental state begins collapsing after just 60 days in isolation. (Common Dreams)

US Investigators Winding Down Inquiry of Destroyed CIA Tapes (March 25, 2010)

In November 2005 Jose A. Rodriguez, the former chief of the CIA's Directorate of Operations, ordered the destruction of 92 tapes which recorded the harsh interrogation of terrorism suspects Abu Zubaida and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri. Assistant US Attorney John H Durhamhas has been examining whether the tapes were destroyed in anticipation of a congressional or federal investigation, which could violate obstruction of justice laws. (Washington Post


Italy Convicts 23 Americans, Most Working for CIA, of Abducting Muslim Cleric (November 5, 2009)

An Italian court has convicted CIA operatives and Italian agents of kidnapping a Muslim cleric, Abu Omar. Abu Omar was snatched from the streets of Milan in 2003, flown from a US air base in Italy to one in Germany, and then sent to Egypt where he was tortured.  This landmark ruling is the first conviction concerning the US practice of rendition, it is a clear and damning verdict on the security policies of Former US President George W Bush. (New York Times)

Detainee abuse continues at Bagram (September 21, 2009)

Shortly after his inauguration, US President Barack Obama stated that the Guantanamo prison would be closed. However his administration has made very little mention of Bagram, the largest military prison outside the US. Bagram is located in Afghanistan near Kabul.  Journalists have never been given access. Abuses are widespread at Bagram, which according to one military prosecutor makes Guantanamo look like a "nice hotel."  (Spiegel Online)

UK: Ethiopian "Assurances" no Guarantee Against Torture (September 17, 2009)

The UN convention against torture forbids states from deporting detained persons if they face a substantial risk of torture in their home countries. However states have been signing memorandums of understanding which circumvent this ban. Through such MoUs, the recipient state - for example Ethiopia- provides assurances that deportees will not be tortured. However in practice these promises mean little, and there is no real guarantee that a deportee will not be tortured upon return.  (Human Rights Watch)

International Tribunal Takes up Rendition, Torture Case (August 31, 2009)

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) has agreed to prosecute the case of a German citizen who was kidnapped in 2003 and sent to a CIA black site prison in Afghanistan as part of the US "rendition" program. Khaled El-Masri was detained for four months and badly abused before the CIA realized it had captured the wrong man. The US government has two months to respond to the kidnapping and torture allegations. (truthout)

Obama's Torture Hangover (August 12, 2009)

President Barack Obama won electioin with promises to restore US adherence to international law.  However, the Obama administration seems unwilling to honor fully the Geneva Conventions.  This article discusses in detail Washington's sad record on torture and the gap that remains in US compliance with international legality.

US Torture: Voices from the Black Sites (March 12, 2009)

Based on a leaked International Committee of the Red Cross report, Mark Danner exposes testimonies from 14 High Value Detainees captured during the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2002. The report indicates that the ill-treatment of the 14 detainees, including "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment" constitutes torture and directly violates the Geneva Convention. In the aftermath of 9/11, President Bush granted the Central Intelligence Agency the authority to manage a hidden global internment network for secret detention and interrogation. It included prisons on military bases around the world, from Thailand and Afghanistan to Morocco, Poland, and Romania. (New York Review of Books)


Supreme Court to Bush: You Are Not Above the Law, Gitmo Detainees Have Right to Habeas Corpus (June 13, 2008)

Since 2001, the Bush administration undermined two major Supreme Court rulings on the rights of Guantanamo inmates. The administration set up a tribunal, a military commission, and denied prisoners habeas corpus, the right to question one's imprisonment. Now, President Bush will find it difficult to bypass the Supreme Court ruling in Boumediene v. Bush, which aims to reestablish habeas corpus as a constitutional right for US citizens and non-citizens. With 270 Guantanamo prisoners not yet charged, justice can finally begin. (AlterNet)

The Green Light (May 2008)

International lawyer Phillipe Sands analyzes which level of the Bush administration authorized the torture of detainees in Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib. The author concludes that the decision to resort to abusive interrogation techniques was made right at the top, with support from senior lawyers who ignored legal and customary precedent to interpret the Geneva Conventions so that they would not apply to detainees. Though the Military Commissions Act immunizes these lawyers from prosecution within the US, the author argues that they can be prosecuted abroad. (Vanity Fair)

Evidence Doctored to Implicate Child Detainee: Lawyer (March 14, 2008)

In 2002, 15-year old Omar Khadr was arrested for allegedly throwing a grenade that killed a US soldier. Now 21, the US government is still detaining Omar at Guantanamo Bay. Preliminary hearings for Khadr's trial before the US military commission began in February 2008 but his official trial will start in May 2008. During one pre-trial hearing, the defense revealed documents that show the US government has manufactured evidence. One report on the incident states that the person responsible for the killing was dead. This would rule out Omar Khadr as a suspect. An almost identical report, with the same date as the first, yet written two months later, stated that the grenade thrower did not die. (Toronto Star)

UK: Ethopian "Assurances" no guarantee against torture (September 17, 2009)

The UN convention against torture forbids states from deporting detained persons if they face a substantial risk of torture in their home countries. However states have been signing memorandums of understanding which circumvent this ban. Through such MoUs, the recipient state - for example Ethopia- provides assurances that deportees will not be tortured. However in practice these promises mean little, and there is no real guarantee that a deportee will not be tortured upon return.  (Human Rights Watch)

International Tribunal Takes up Rendition, Torture Case (August 31, 2009)

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) has agreed to prosecute the case of a German citizen who was kidnapped in 2003 and sent to a CIA black site prison in Afghanistan as part of the US "rendition" program. Khaled El-Masri was detained for four months and badly abused before the CIA realized it had captured the wrong man. The US government has two months to respond to the kidnapping and torture allegations. (truthout)

Pentagon Vetoes Guantanamo Visit by UN Official (January 23, 2008)

The US administration will disallow a leading French human rights jurist and a UN expert on child soldiers from attending the hearing of the first child soldier ever tried for war crimes. In 2002, the US arrested the 15-year old Canadian citizen and sent him to Guantanamo Bay prison, in spite of many protests from human rights groups and child protection organizations. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child guarantees "special protection" for child soldiers, and consider them victims rather than assailants. But the US has never ratified the convention. (Canwest News Service)


Destruction of CIA Tapes Can't Hide Barbaric US Torture Methods (December 13, 2007)

Ray McGovern, a former CIA analyst and co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, discusses the barbarism and ineffectiveness of torture in interrogations. He states that “ from his own experience" no good intelligence comes from abusive practices. McGovern calls for religious community leaders to speak up against torture and inhuman treatment. (AlterNet)

Destruction of CIA Tapes Raises Bipartisan Concerns (December 10, 2007)

Democratic and Republican Senators argue that the CIA's destruction of two interrogation tapes constitutes obstruction of justice. Even some of the administration's most loyal allies express anger that the CIA destroyed the tapes without telling Congress. John McCain, Republican presidential candidate and fierce opponent of torture, said that "it harms the credibility and moral standing of America in the world again." (Los Angeles Times)

Legal Action by Inmates Could Close Guantanamo (December 6, 2007)

Two detainees from the Guantanamo Bay detention camp have their cases tried in the US Supreme Court. The prisoners challenge the US denial of habeas corpus, the right to challenge unlawful detention in a civilian court. The US government claims that US law does not apply in Guantanamo Bay and on the two previous occasions that the Supreme Court ruled on the issue, it sided with the government. (Independent)

America's Gulag Goes Before the Court (November 28, 2007)

It has been more than three years since the US Supreme Court ruled that Guantanamo detainees have the right to a fair trial. Detainees cannot view the government's evidence against them or gather evidence of their own. The US government has in effect ignored the ruling and now the Supreme Court is looking into President George Bush's claim that during wartime a president has the right to override constitutional rights even habeas corpus. (Truthdig)

Nominee's Stand May Avoid Tangle of Torture Cases (November 1, 2007)

Nominee for US attorney general Michael Mukasey has refused to declare water boarding an illegal interrogation method. Human Rights Watch says that instead of protecting US government officials, Mukasey should provide "a straightforward interpretation of the law." If the US attorney general would declare water boarding illegal, he would implicate officials all the way up to President George W. Bush and open up "Pandora's box" of domestic and international lawsuits. (New York Times)

Respected Marine Lawyer Alleges Military Injustices (October 31, 2007)

US Marine Corps lawyer Colby Vokey calls Guantanamo Bay "disgraceful." Vokey says that if any other country were to act this way the US "would likely step in and stop it." Vokey lost his job after speaking out against the prison complex. Although Vokey criticizes the US government, he declines to blame anyone in particular for the system at Guantanamo for fear of being court martialed. (National Public Radio)

Rumsfeld Flees France, Fearing Arrest (October 29, 2007)

Four human rights groups have filed a complaint in France charging former US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld with “ordering and authorizing� torture of detainees at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay. Commentators suggest that Rumsfeld was in France attending a meeting when he allegedly fled to Germany to avoid arrest. According to this AlterNet article, under international law French authorities are obliged to investigate the complaint and will likely pursue Rumsfeld across the border. This comes as a stark reminder to the US that its own war criminals cannot escape accountability for breaches of human rights.

Rumsfeld Charged with Torture in French Court (October 29, 2007)

Leading human rights groups file an indictment against former US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld for authorizing the torture of prisoners in US custody. The charges against Rumsfeld were made in France and based on the Convention against Torture, which is endorsed by both the US and France. The plaintiffs say that there is enough evidence against Rumsfeld to prove the accusations in court. (OneWorld)

From CIA Jails, Inmates Fade Into Obscurity (October 27, 2007)

President George W. Bush announced in 2006 that the CIA had emptied the secret overseas prisons, also known as “black sites.� However, about 30 prisoners have simply disappeared. The Red Cross is “gravely concerned about the fate of the persons previously held in the CIA detention program,� but the CIA will not comment on whether or not they hold any individual in custody. (Washington Post)

Lawyers Take MoD to Court Over Iraqi Mutilation Claims (October 18, 2007)

Lawyers acting for relatives of Iraqi detainees who died while in British custody ask the High Court to order an independent investigation. The Ministry of Defense (MoD) refuses to launch an investigation into the allegations and denies that British soldiers abused Iraqi detainees. Lawyers for the families point to witness statements, death certificates and videos of Iraqis with serious injuries including genital mutilation, gouged-out eyes and bruises consistent with being punched and kicked. They argue that the British government has a duty to investigate claims of deliberate wrongdoing. (Guardian)

Portable Halls of Justice Are Rising in Guantanamo (October 14, 2007)

A judicial complex is under construction in Guantanamo Bay and will house a portable court room and a tent city for 550 court officials, lawyers, security guards and journalists. Some commentators argue the construction of the complex is not consistent with supposed efforts by the Bush administration to close the detention camp. Others argue that it shows the US commitment to try alleged “terror suspects.� (New York Times)

Congress Seeks Secret Memos on Interrogation (October 5, 2007)

The US Justice Department prepared secret memos in 2005 authorizing CIA interrogation techniques such as head slapping and simulated drowning. Human rights groups argue the two memos demonstrate Washington’s willingness to blur definitions of torture to justify practices in Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay. Washington claims the authorized tactics do not breach anti-torture legislation or international law. However, Congress demands access to the documents and is troubled that the memos were created in secret. (Washington Post)

Secret US Endorsement of Severe Interrogations (October 4, 2007)

In 2004 the US Justice Department publicly denounced torture. However, according to this New York Times article, shortly afterwards the US secretly endorsed interrogation techniques equivalent to torture. In the leaked “torture memo,� techniques include “head-slapping, simulated drowning and frigid temperature.� The author of the memo, a Legal Counsel official, said that no tactics were illegal, unless they resulted in pain similar to organ failure or death.

MI5 and MI6 to Be Sued for First Time over Torture (September 12, 2007)

A British man, Tarek Dergoul, who claims that US guards tortured him in Afghanistan and in Guantanamo Bay, has sued the British intelligence agencies. He maintains the agencies gained knowledge about the mistreatment, when they first met him. If Dergoul wins, British agents can no longer interrogate British citizens who are held and tortured abroad. According to court documents Tarek Dergoul told agents that he suffered beatings, sexual humiliation and insults to his religion, but that they took no actions against the US guards. (Guardian)

Get Me Out of Gitmo (July 19, 2007)

This article argues that the US media are “being suckered by the Bush spin� and presenting the cases of Guantanamo prisoners accordingly. The media focus on the rare prisoners who do not want to go back to their home countries where they would risk torture or further imprisonment. The author also claims that the media’s spin implies that innocent detainees cannot leave Guantanamo because foreign governments will not accept them. In reality, Washington refuses to release the prisoners because it will not “admit making mistakes in classifying these men as ‘enemy combatants.’� (In These Times)

Rendition and the Rights of the Individual (June 7, 2006)

Swiss Senator Dick Marty has compiled a report for the Council of Europe about CIA renditions of terrorism suspects and secret prisons. In 2006 the Washington Post revealed the existence of numerous “black sites� in Europe, in which the US has kept prisoners. In his report, Marty states that these illegal procedures “clearly breach every principle of the fundamental right to a fair trial.� (BBC)

Leading Human Rights Groups Name 39 CIA "Disappeared" Detainees (June 7, 2007)

In a briefing paper on “US Responsibility for Enforced Disappearances in the ‘War on Terror,’� three leading human rights organizations reveal information about the CIA’s secretive detention program and the details on 39 “disappeared� prisoners. The paper also reports that the US detained and interrogated relatives of the prisoners, including children. Human rights groups are calling on Washington to disclose the identifications and locations of all detainees and to discontinue its unjust detention and interrogation techniques. (Human Rights Watch)

UN Expert Faults US on Human Rights in Terror Laws (May 26, 2007)

Martin Scheinin, a UN rapporteur on individual rights rights in the context of anti-terrorism campaigns, denounces US use of "enhanced interrogation techniques" on terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay military prison. He argues that these techniques violate international law. Scheinin criticizes the US for bypassing the classifications for combatants that are written into international law and inventing the category “unlawful enemy combatant.� He says that the US uses this label out of convenience and, disregarding the tenets of fair trial, refuses to release these prisoners even after a military commission has found them not guilty. (Reuters)

Leading GOP Candidates Surge to Embrace Torture (May 23, 2007)

At the US Republican presidential candidate debate on May 15th, candidates Mitt Romney and Rudolph Giuliani fervently advocated “enhanced interrogation techniques.� The largely Republican audience and the other candidates, except for Senator John McCain, shared their enthusiasm. The Army’s code of justice and the Geneva Conventions forbid many of the “enhanced� methods, but that did not deter the candidates. They equated dissent with anti-Americanism and avoided the appropriate word, “torture,� at all costs. (truthout)

Court Asked to Limit Lawyers at Guantanamo (April 26, 2007)

This New York Times article reports on a request filed by the US Department of Justice asking a federal court to impose restrictions on lawyers representing prisoners at the US detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The request alleges that allowing the lawyers unfettered access to the facility poses a security risk and has caused unrest among the prisoners. Justice Department officials want to limit the number of visits per lawyer and to have the right to read legal correspondence, but lawyers argue that such measures will make it difficult to effectively represent the prisoners.

US Agents Interrogating Terror Suspects Held In Ethiopian Prisons (April 4, 2007)

US intelligence agencies have been covertly interrogating terrorism suspects detained in Ethiopia, reports the Associated Press. Human rights organizations allege that the detainees were illegally transferred to Addis Ababa from numerous East African countries and are being denied access to the judicial process.

US Foreign Policy Hinders Human Rights Work Around the World (March 6, 2007)

Amnesty International argues that the Bush administration’s foreign policy exacerbates the already dire human rights situation in many countries. The organization criticizes Washington for ignoring the poor human rights records of several of its allies in the interest of “national security.� Additionally, the group argues that the US also violates human rights through its policy of rendition, which has led to the prolonged detention and torture of prisoners.

Ghost Prisoner: Two Years in Secret CIA Detention (February 27, 2007)

Human Rights Watch reports on a number of people who “disappeared� into secret prisons – run by the Central Intelligence Agency – as part of the US “war on terrorism.� The report makes clear that these “secret and arbitrary� detentions constitute “enforced disappearances,� which are illegal under international law. The organization also expresses concern that many of the prisoners who remain unaccounted for might have been transferred to countries where torture is permissible.


The US Has a History of Using Torture (December 4, 2006)

This History News Network article argues that torture has been a relatively standard way for the US military and the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to extract information from suspects. The author details the CIA’s history – from the 1950s – of using and promoting torture techniques to both its own personnel and to foreign militaries and intelligence agencies. The article concludes that the carefully worded 2006 Military Commissions Act will continue to make torture permissible under US law in violation of international prohibitions outlined in the Geneva Conventions and the UN Convention Against Torture.

Dismay Grows Over US Torture School (November 15, 2006)

The US Army’s School of the Americas (SOA), renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation in 2001, trains Latin American soldiers. The SOA has come under constant domestic and foreign criticism for promoting tactics such as coercive interrogation and torture techniques. This article in The Nation argues that many of the leftist governments in Latin America have stopped sending soldiers to the SOA because of their opposition to US interventions, leading to a decline in the SOA influence. Furthermore, massive demonstrations in November 2006 against SOA in both the US and Latin America could potentially push the Democratic US Congress to cut funding to the school, ultimately resulting in a decline of US military influence throughout the region.

Torture Exhibit A (September 22, 2006)

In 2002, the US illegally detained an innocent Canadian citizen at JFK airport and, suspecting that he had connections to terrorist networks, sent him to Syria, where he was subsequently tortured. US media outlets, while publishing the facts of the story, stopped short of asking important questions such as whether or not the government actively tried to verify the alleged terrorist linkages with the Canadian authorities. And more importantly why should the US send “suspects� to countries infamous for torture. The article concludes that without the mass media or the US Congress questioning actions taken by Bush administration such illegal actions will continue. (TomPaine)

Retroactive War Crime Protection Proposed (August 9, 2006)

The Bush administration will propose amendments to the US War Crimes Act that will retroactively protect CIA agents, politicians, and Washington officials from being prosecuted by national courts for torturing detainees. Past illegal acts will become null and void. (Associated Press)

New Maximum-Security Jail to Open at Guantanamo Bay (July 30, 2006)

A 2006 Seton Hall study shows that the US formally accused only eight percent of Guantanamo Bay prisoners of fighting for a terrorist organization and that 86 percent of the 450 detainees were captured through US tendered bounties. Despite these suspect arrests, the Pentagon announced it will further expand the Guantanamo Bay detention center, opening an additional sixth prison in September. (Independent)

Bush Submits New Terror Detainee Bill (July 28, 2006)

The Bush administration has proposed legislation authorizing another Pentagon tribunal system after the US Supreme Court struck down the previous procedures in the 2006 Hamdan V. Rumsfeld case. The draft uses “dangerously broad language,� indicating that the US could detain “terrorist suspects� indefinitely, denying them the right to a fair trial. (Associated Press)

Must US Allow Guantánamo Detainees to Attend Own Trial? (July 24, 2006)

The Bush administration might ignore the US Supreme Court and Geneva Conventions mandate that a terror suspect attend his or her trial. The administration claims that the presence of the defendant would compromise national security. Still, Supreme Court Judge John Paul Stevens said, “the jettisoning of so basic a right cannot be lightly excused.� (Christian Science Monitor)

US Defends Rights Record to United Nations Panel (July 17, 2006)

The UN Human Rights Committee denounced the US human rights record in a two-day hearing. The panel discussed US abuses of detainees in the “war on terror.� Normally the Committee reviews the performance of a signatory of the UN's Convention on Civil and Political Rights every four years. But this proceeding marked the first time in 11 years that the Committee examined the US human rights because Washington submitted its report seven years late. (Reuters)

Pentagon Switch on Geneva Elicits Hope, Scepticism (July 11, 2006)

Washington announced that the US will apply the minimum protections of Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions to all its military prisoners. However, this statement does not affect the countless Central Intelligence Agency detainees held around the world. Despite altered wording in Pentagon manuals and reports of torture, the White House denied that the protections change US policy. Human rights groups and intellectuals view this development as “a PR (public relations) exercise.� (Independent)

At Guantanamo, Dying Is Not Permitted (June 30, 2006)

The US military reportedly force-feeds hunger-striking prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. The US government defends the “harsh methods� saying that “refusing to eat is not a cry for help, but a ploy drawn from the Al-Qaeda playbook.� Over 250 medical professionals signed a letter to halt the practice and an inmate’s lawyer argues that the tubes are “objects of torture.� (Time)

US Guantanamo Tribunals 'Illegal' (June 29, 2006)

The US Supreme Court ruled in a five to three decision that military tribunals for “enemy combatants� contradict US military law and the Geneva Conventions. The court also declared illegal the US initiative to try Osama Bin Laden's ex-driver Salim Ahmed Hamdan. Hamdan was accused of general schemes against the US government but the court ruled that the prosecutor must cite specific illegal acts. The decision does not require the release of Guantanamo Bay prisoners, but Washington will have to try them as civilians or release them for trials in their countries. (BBC)

Psychologists Urge Guantanamo Closure (June 22, 2006)

The Psychologists for Social Responsibility (PsySR) argue that in accordance with the UN report on the “Situation of Detainees in Guantanamo Bay,� member countries must apply human rights during emergency situations and armed conflict. Involving mental health professionals in interrogation techniques is a recipe for abuse of power and medical misbehavior. The article contends that given the secrecy surrounding the prison, the US should close Guantanamo Bay and bring the detainees under the “umbrella� of international law.

Military Blocks Media Access to Guantanamo (June 15, 2006)

After three suicides at the US prison in Guatanamo Bay, the US government has completely restricted access of the press and lawyers. Though the US military censored journalists’ photos and prohibited contact with prisoners, reporters could previously have access to the facility if escorted. Human rights organizations, attorneys and media groups object to these restrictions, arguing that, "now is the time when the media is most needed." (Seattle Post Intelligencer)

"Why Am I in Cuba?" (June 12, 2006)

Mother Jones acquired these unnerving military tribunal transcripts through the 2006 Freedom of Information Act. Though the US touts these documents as proof of the courts' validity, they instead expose mistreatment of detainees and contempt for international law. The tribunal president told prisoners that international law and rights did not apply in such courts, that the tribunals did not require evidence and that the global nature of the "war on terror" gave the US license to act as a global hegemon.

'Killing Themselves Was Unnecessary. But it Certainly Is a Good PR Move' (June 12, 2006)

The Bush administration labeled the suicides of three Guantanamo Bay detainees, a “good PR move� and a “strategy in asymmetrical warfare.� Deeply shocked by the offensiveness of these remarks, lawyers for the detainees and human rights groups, once again called on the US government to close the prison camp. The US maintains that the prisoners’ conditions have improved, but critics argue that the “inhumane and immoral treatment of human beings by the United States� led the prisoners to take their own lives. (Guardian)

Rendition and the Rights of the Individual (June 7, 2006)

Swiss Senator Dick Marty has compiled a report for the Council of Europe about CIA renditions of terrorism suspects and secret prisons. In 2006 the Washington Post revealed the existence of numerous “black sites� in Europe, in which the US keep prisoners. In his report, Marty states that these illegal procedures “clearly breach every principle of the fundamental right to a fair trial.� (BBC)

Army Manual to Skip Geneva Detainee Rule (June 5, 2006)

The US Defense Department will exclude a portion of the Geneva Conventions banning “humiliating and degrading treatment� of detainees from its new Army Field Manual. This continuation of ignoring human rights law will complicate the US ability to defend violations as deviant cases. The provision will apply to “unlawful combatants� and “traditional prisoners of war.� (Los Angeles Times)

War On Terror: European States 'Colluded' with CIA Abductions (June 7, 2006)

The Council of Europe reported that 14 countries colluded with the CIA to transfer US suspected terrorists and create secret detention centers abroad. The report also concludes that seven countries allowed US officials to seize suspects in their territory, a clear human rights violation. Though US Secretary of State, Condoleeza Rice denies the relocation of prisoners for torture the US has not issued a defense for the allegations concerning detention centers and illegal suspect roundup. (Radio Liberty)

The Children of Guantanamo Bay (May 28, 2006)

A London-based legal rights group revealed that over 60 prisoners held in Guantanamo Bay were under 18 when captured. The prison only treated three of these children as minors and tortured many others or held them in solitary confinement. The Bush administration defends these abuses, claiming that “enemy combatants� are not subject to normal rules of war and human rights conventions. (Independent)

Guantnamo Detainees in Limbo Because of Human Rights Concerns (May 27 2006)

US authorities are still holding 150 prisoners at Guantanamo Bay a year after the government absolved them. The Bush administration’s defends their detainment by pointing to human rights violations in the prisoners’ native countries. This is quite ironic as the US stands accused of using torture in the prison and will not grant these prisoners asylum either. (New Standard)

War Provoking Terror, Amnesty Says (May 23, 2006)

Amnesty International Secretary General Irene Kahn asserts that the international war on terror is provoking terrorist attacks rather than decreasing them. Kahn argues that the US government ignores international human rights, stating that “Guantanamo is the symbol of blatant superpower abuse.� A year after Amnesty recommended it, even President George Bush agreed that the US should close Guantanamo Bay, Kahn notes. (Inter Press Service)

Wrongly Detained? Too Bad (May 25, 2006)

The US’s rampant paranoia concerning suspected terrorists may hamper citizens more that it protects them. This Boulder Daily Camera article details Khaled al-Nasri, a falsely imprisoned German citizen’s experiences. The incident was one of many embarrassing “renditions� that the CIA conducts abroad. The US Supreme Court refuses to hear such cases, allowing these injustices to continue.

US Should Close Prison in Cuba, UN Panel Says (May 20, 2006)

The UN Convention Against Torture panel called for the US to shut down Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba after several violent uprisings, suicide attempts, and reports that the Central Intelligence Agency holds suspects at secret prisons abroad to facilitate torture. The offenses contradict the US signed torture convention of 1994. The committee also called for the US to release the names of its “high-value� suspects or make them accessible to the International Committee of the Red Cross. (New York Times)

Now under UN Scrutiny: US Interrogation Tactics (May 8, 2006)

The United Nation’s Committee Against Torture investigates the use of aggressive interrogation tactics by the US. International treaty obligations do not allow the US to use torture. However, human rights groups have reported to the committee that evidence continues to emerge of “widespread torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment of detainees� held by US authorities in Guantánamo, Iraq, Afghanistan and other locations. (Christian Science Monitor)

Attorney General Calls for Guantanamo to Close (May 7, 2006)

Lord Goldsmith, the British Attorney General openly calls on the US government to close down Guantanamo. The UK government's chief legal advisor denounces the detention facility as “unacceptable.� This is one of the first times that a high-ranking public figure in the UK has publicly declared that the camp breaches international laws on human rights. This could cause diplomatic repercussions between Washington and London – which have been staunch allies in the “War on Terrorism.� (Observer)

Amnesty International Report 2006 (April 23, 2006)

These excerpts from the Amnesty International's 2006 report document human rights abuses by the United States during 2005. The report discusses prison abuses in Guantanamo Bay, Iraq, and Afghanistan, the US authorities' outsourcing torture, and US military commissions. The report also discusses the government's imprisonment of US soldiers for refusing to deploy to Iraq.

The 'American Inquisition' (April 17, 2006)

This USA Today article claims that the situation in the US after September 11, 2001 is comparable to that in Spain during the 15th century. Although the Spanish inquisition was far more brutal, the “American Inquisition� uses the same elements such as secret prisons and trials, torture and widespread eavesdropping. These measures create an atmosphere of extreme fear and paranoia among the citizens. The leadership is using this atmosphere to implement policies, previously opposed by the people.

Revealed: The Plight of Prisoners Caught up in US Rendition (April 5, 2006)

A report by Amnesty International provides important new facts about CIA’s systemic “rendition� of prisoners to secret jails. The US is detaining people for periods up to several years without formal allegations and without providing them with information over their exact whereabouts. This practice is illegal by international standards and destroys the personal lives of the detained. (Independent)

By the Numbers (April 2006)

According to a study by Human Rights Watch, Human Rights First, and the NYU School of Law, torture and abuse in Iraq has been more widespread than generally reported. Of the 330 documented cases of torture and abuse by US forces in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, 220 took place in Iraq. Overall, more than 1,000 individual criminal acts of abuse have been recorded, involving 600 US military and CIA officials, and 460 detainees. The US has failed to investigate the full extent of abuse, and only a fraction of the implicated personnel have faced disciplinary action.

A Growing Afghan Prison Rivals Bleak Guantanamo (February 26, 2006)

This New York Times article argues that Washington has quietly expanded its detention facility in Bagram, Afghanistan - where the US indefinitely holds more than 500 terror suspects in primitive conditions. Unlike those at Guantánamo, the detainees have no access to lawyers and no right to hear the allegations against them.

Guantanamo 'Damages Terror Fight' (February 23, 2006)

An influential committee of UK parliamentarians claims that by continuing to run the Guantanamo Bay detention center "outside all legal regimes," the US is hindering "the effective pursuit of the war against terrorism." The Commons foreign affairs committee urged Prime Minister Tony Blair to make UK opposition to the camp "loud and public." The US currently holds about 490 terror suspects at the camp, without allowing them access to trial. (BBC)

Professor McCoy Exposes the History of CIA Interrogation (February 17, 2006)

This interview exposes that the CIA has been "perfecting" its torturing techniques for decades. They mainly use the methods of sensory disorientation and self-inflicted pain. In the detention facilities of Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib, the US added a third component - the attack on cultural sensitivity, particularly Arab male sensitivity to issues of gender and sexual identity. (Democracy Now!)

The Gitmo Disgrace (February 14, 2006)

A study by the National Journal reveals that at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp, the Bush administration holds detainees who have no connection with Al Qaeda members or operations. Subjected to inhuman treatment and torture, detainees compare their indefinite confinement to the conditions at “Salem witchcraft trials.� Holding detainees without due process, US government lawyers try to “find or invent� evidence, according to this Los Angeles Times article.

Report on Detainee Deaths in US Custody in Iraq and Afghanistan (February 22, 2006)

This report by Human Rights First argues that there exists an accountability gap in the way the US handled cases of deaths in custody. Since August 2002, nearly 100 detainees have died while in the hands of US officials. US commanders have played a key role in undermining chances for full accountability, because of investigative and evidentiary failures. Only 12 detainee deaths have resulted in punishment of any kind.

Report on the Situation of Detainees at Guantanamo Bay (February 15, 2006)

The product of an 18-month investigation ordered by the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, this UN report monitors the conditions of detainees at the US prison camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The report focuses on the legal status of the camp, rejecting the argument that the war on terrorism exempts the US from international conventions on torture and civil and political rights. It also argues that Washington's treatment of detainees at Guantanamo violates basic human rights and constitutes torture.

Mild Penalties in Military Abuse Cases (January 25, 2006)

Human rights groups criticize the mild punishment given to US military officers for the torture and murder of detainees in US prison camps. Military officers, arguing that there are no clear rules governing interrogation techniques in detention centers, claim they received orders from high-level US commanders. Arguing that the Geneva Conventions do not apply to terrorist suspects, Washington’s lack of “independent military abuse prosecutions� could lead to more human rights violations. (Los Angeles Times)

US Policy of Abuse Undermines Rights Worldwide (January 18, 2006)

The 16th annual world report by Human Rights Watch argues that Washington’s “use and defense of torture� in the war on terror has seriously damaged global human rights. By defending inhumane interrogation techniques, the Bush administration not only undermines human rights but also produces “counterproductive� results. The report argues these techniques fuel terrorist recruitment and decrease public support for Washington’s counterterrorism efforts.

Amnesty Releases New Gitmo Torture Testimony (January 10, 2006)

Amnesty International has provided new testimonies regarding the inhuman treatment of detainees by US authorities in Guantanamo Bay. Testimonies, released on the fourth anniversary of the first arrivals to the prison camp, include serious allegations of torture and in depth descriptions of ill treatment of detainees. The press release calls on the US Congress to investigate US detention centers, arguing that these actions by authorities do nothing to “defend democracy? worldwide.


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