In a busy last month before Barack Obama’s stunning victory (in spite of competition from a collapsing economy and the election campaign itself), these are the Top 20 Articles based on site traffic in October, covering the most important stories relating to Guantánamo during this period. As usual, this analysis does not take into account the large numbers of readers who found the articles on other sites on which they were published: primarily, the Future of Freedom Foundation, for whom I have recently started writing, Antiwar.com, the Huffington Post, CounterPunch and AlterNet, and also Cageprisoners and others who regularly cross-post my articles. It also does not include visitor stats for my book The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (available from Amazon here), or the first six of 12 additional online chapters of The Guantánamo Files, available via the column on the left. Note: Figures in brackets indicate the positions last month.
1 (1): Six in Guantánamo Charged with 9/11 Murders: Why Now, and What About the Torture? (February 2008)
A fixture at the top of the chart, this article followed the announcement that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and five others had been put forward for trial by Military Commission at Guantánamo, and seems to be a magnet for 9/11 conspiracy theorists. For those interested in the truth about the “War on Terror,” the article provides background information about the six men (later reduced to five — see here) and still-relevant doubts about how the US administration proposes to hide the uncomfortable truth that they were all tortured. For links to other articles chronicling my detailed coverage of the Commissions, see the links at the bottom of this article (and all other posts relating to the Military Commissions), and for the latest on the 9/11 trials, see 18, below.
2 (-): Dick Cheney Shreds Secret Documents (September 2008)
A bit of fun drawn from Philip Toledano’s new online installation, America: The Gift Shop, featuring clever takes on the “War on Terror” imagined as merchandise, this was largely picked up through a picture link on the last page of the news aggregator Cursor, which closed down through lack of funding last month, and is sorely missed. For a more heavyweight take on Dick Cheney’s role, see 7, below.
3 (-): The Dark Heart of the Guantánamo Trials (October 2008)
A major review of the corrupt command structure of the Military Commissions, this article was inspired by the resignation of Lt. Col. Darrel Vandeveld, the prosecutor for Mohamed Jawad (see 15, below), and the “reassignment” of Brig. Gen. Thomas Hartmann, the Commissions’ supposedly impartial legal adviser, after three judges disqualified him from taking part in trials because of his blatant pro-prosecution bias. I was particularly interested in the command chain that led from Hartmann (in many ways the scapegoat) to his boss, Susan Crawford, a close friend of Dick Cheney and his chief of staff David Addington, via the Pentagon to — surprise! — Cheney and Addington, the prime architects of the trials, directly presiding over a process that is supposed to fair. For follow-up articles, see 6, below, and here.
4 (2): Sami al-Haj: the banned torture pictures of a journalist in Guantánamo (April 2008)
This article provided a detailed overview of the experiences of al-Jazeera journalist Sami al-Haj, and was published just before he was released from Guantánamo. It features five powerful drawings by British artist Lewis Peake (based on censored drawings by Sami), which were commissioned by Sami’s lawyers. An archive of articles about Sami is here.
5 (-): From Guantánamo to the United States: The Story of the Wrongly Imprisoned Uighurs (October 2008)
The tragic story of the Uighurs (or Uyghurs) in Guantánamo, oppressed Muslims from China’s Xinjiang province, who were cleared of being “enemy combatants” after a momentous court decision in June. In October, District Court Judge Urbina ordered their release into the United States, as it was unconstitutional to hold them, but the granting of their long-cherished freedom was then put on hold after a cynical and hypocritical government appeal. For updates on the story, see 17, below, and here and here.
6 (-) New Evidence of Systemic Bias in Guantánamo Trials (October 2008)
The follow-up to 3, above, this article looked in further detail at the roles played by Brig. Gen. Hartmann and Susan Crawford, following correspondence with Maj. David Frakt, the military defense lawyer for Mohamed Jawad (and Ali Hamza al-Bahlul, convicted in a show trial the day before the US elections).
7 (-): Dick Cheney: More Horrors from the “Vice President for Torture” (June 2007)
A detailed analysis of Dick Cheney’s role as the actual Commander-in-Chief of the Bush administration, this article followed the publication of a ground-breaking Washington Post series on Cheney by Barton Gellman and Jo Becker.
8 (8): The trials of Omar Khadr, Guantánamo’s “child soldier” (November 2007)
A detailed account of Omar’s story, from his capture to pre-trial hearings in his Military Commission, including psychological analysis, legal challenges to the Commissions, the shame of putting forward a child for a “war crimes” trial, and the disgraceful suppression of evidence. An archive of articles about Omar, including the latest news about the postponement of his trial, is here.
9 (-): Seized in Pakistan, Two 50 Year Olds Are Released From Guantánamo (October 2008)
As part of my ongoing mission to chronicle the stories of all the prisoners released from Guantánamo (a mission which rarely engages the mainstream media), this article tells the stories of Mustafa Ibrahim al-Hassan, from Sudan, and the Algerian prisoner Mammar Ameur. An archive of articles about the release of prisoners is here.
10 (6): Torture allegations dog Guantánamo trials (March 2008)
Part of my ongoing, and uniquely detailed series of articles describing the faltering progress of the trials by Military Commission at Guantánamo, this article examined the problems facing the US administration in its attempts to conceal evidence of torture, and focused in particular on misguided attempts to prosecute two juveniles: Omar Khadr and Mohamed Jawad.
11 (-): US Justice Department Drops “dirty bomb plot” allegation against Binyam Mohamed (October 2008)
Another partial victory in the long struggle for justice of British resident and torture victim Binyam Mohamed. Since May, Binyam has been involved in a transatlantic tussle over the disclosure of potentially exculpatory evidence in his case, and this article followed the announcement that a long-discredited allegation that Binyam, along with US citizen Jose Padilla, was involved in a plot to blow up a US city using a radioactive “dirty bomb,” had been dropped by the Justice Department.
12 (-): High Court shocked by US obstruction in Guantánamo torture case (October 2008)
Following on from the article above, this linked to a Guardian article I had written, in which I looked at the UK High Court’s latest ruling on Binyam’s quest for evidence of his rendition and torture. Further articles looked at how Binyam’s trial (and those of four others) were then dropped by the Defense Department, because of fears that Lt. Col. Vandeveld, the prosecutor in all the cases, had further evidence of prosecutorial wrongdoing, and the British Home Secretary’s extraordinary announcement that she had asked the Attorney General to investigate possible “criminal wrongdoing” by MI5 and the CIA in Binyam’s case. A detailed archive of articles about Binyam is here.
13 (10): A critical overview of Salim Hamdan’s Guantánamo trial and the dubious verdict (August 2008)
A comprehensive account of the first full Military Commission trial at Guantánamo — of Salim Hamdan, one of Osama bin Laden’s drivers. The article highlighted many of the problems that have plagued the Commissions since their conception in November 2001, and my views on the sentence — and its significance — are available here.
14 (14): Book review: Road From Ar Ramadi: The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Camilo Mejía (January 2008)
The story of the first deserter from the Iraq war, Camilo Mejía, capturing the camaraderie of the soldiers, the deranged incompetence of many of their leaders, and the encounters with brutality, including his own, that led him to desert. A few other articles about Iraq are here.
15 (20): The Afghan teenager put forward for trial by Military Commission at Guantánamo (October 2007)
The article that introduced Mohamed Jawad, the Afghan who was a teenager when seized, after he was put forward for trial by Military Commission last October, looking in detail at his testimony in Guantánamo.
16 (5): In a Legal Otherworld, 9/11 Defendants Cry Torture at Guantánamo (June 2008)
Following 1, above, and preceding 18, below, this article looked at the arraignment of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his co-defendants in June, and, in particular, at Mohammed’s sly mentions of his torture by US forces.
17 (-): Guantánamo Uyhgurs Resettlement Prospects Skewered by Justice Department Lies (October 2008)
The story of how the Justice Department slandered the innocent Uyghurs in Guantánamo to prevent their release into the United States (see 5, above).
18 (-): Is Khalid Sheikh Mohammed Running the 9/11 Trials? (September 2008)
The update on the pre-trial hearings of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his four alleged 9/11 co-conspirators, in which another facet of the Commissions’ extraordinary ineptitude was highlighted when Mohammed was allowed to use his right to self-representation as a platform to mock the judge and toy with the administration.
19 (-): Newly released Guantánamo manual confirms use of banned techniques (October 2008)
An article analyzing the importance of the disclosure of a short but previously classified Standard Operating Manual approving the use of techniques at Guantánamo adapted from counter-interrogation techniques taught by the US military at its SERE schools (Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape).
20 (11): Waterboarding: two questions for Michael Hayden about three “high-value” detainees now in Guantánamo (February 2008)
A rebuke to Michael Hayden, the CIA’s director, after he admitted that three “high-value detainees” in Guantánamo had been waterboarded in secret prisons by the CIA. As the torture debate rolls on, this was the moment — astonishingly — that torture by the United States was openly admitted, and still no one has been called to account.
Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK). To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed, and also see my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, published in March 2009.
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