Obama Considers Repatriating Foreign Prisoners from Bagram

Ten years ago, foreign prisoners, seized in other countries, began to arrive in the US prison at Bagram airbase in Afghanistan. Some were held in a secretive part of the prison, and had often passed through other secret facilities in Afghanistan or elsewhere. The majority of these prisoners ended up in Guantánamo, but some were stealthily repatriated at various times. Others, however, continued to be held, beyond the rule of law.

The prison never conformed to the Geneva Conventions, which were, essentially, discarded when the Bush administration decided to hold prisoners in its “war on terror” as “illegal enemy combatants,” and have never been reinstated. Moreover, the prisoners remained beyond the law even when the Supreme Court granted habeas corpus rights to the Guantánamo prisoners in June 2004, and again in June 2008, after Congress had tried to remove these rights in the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 and the Military Commissions Act of 2006 (PDF).

In March 2009, in Washington D.C., District Judge John D. Bates briefly brought this era of secrecy and unaccountability to an end, granting the habeas corpus petitions of three foreign prisoners — Redha al-Najar, a Tunisian seized in Karachi, Pakistan in May 2002; Amin al-Bakri, a Yemeni gemstone dealer seized in Bangkok, Thailand in late 2002; and Fadi al-Maqaleh, a Yemeni seized in 2004. Read the rest of this entry »

Torture “Does Not Work, And Is Wrong”: Former CIA Interrogator Glenn Carle Speaks Out

In the US media, there’s a little bit of a buzz right now about the use of torture by the Bush administration, and much of it is the right sort of buzz — openly involving reminders that torture is a crime, and that, in addition, using torture is worthless if the aim is to produce reliable information. Also mentioned, though not, in general, with the prominence it truly deserves, is the fact that those who authorized the use of torture still walk free, and are allowed to publish books and appear on chat shows, even if their opportunities for foreign travel are severely curtailed, as with George W. Bush, because the world is full of countries in which the appropriate respect is given to the UN Convention Against Torture — to which, of course, the US, under Ronald Reagan, became a signatory.

The buzz about torture has been created because of the publication of a book entitled, The Interrogator: An Education by Glenn L. Carle, a former CIA operative and Arabic speaker who was sent to an undisclosed country, to a “black site” known as Hotel California, to interrogate a suspected senior al-Qaeda operative.

Carle’s book s important for two reasons: firstly, because it is the first example of a US interrogator’s first-hand account of a “black site,” and secondly, and crucially, because Carle refused to engage in the torture techniques that the Bush administration arranged for lawyers in the Justice Department to authorize, preferring instead to interrogate the prisoner using rapport-buiiding methods and psychological insight, and also because he is openly critical of those methods. Read the rest of this entry »

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo and We Stand With Shaker. Also, photo-journalist (The State of London), and singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers).
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