As someone who is passionate about the need to shut down the prison at Guantanamo Naval Base, (which must be done as a first step in RETURNING this bay to it’s rightful owners, the Cuban people), I am just sickened to see this mess in Congress, as Mitch McConnell gloats over the fact that they have included a prohibition on the transfer of inmates from there to the USA, or to anywhere at all, even to foreign countries, included this into the Defense Authorization Bill. He boasts that it is veto-proof, since they have enough votes to over-ride.
The following is from The Guardian:http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/nov/10/senate-defense-budget-bill-bans-transfer-guantanamo-bay-prisoners-to-us
Barack Obama’s efforts to fulfil his promise of closing the Guantánamo Bay detention centre before he leaves office were dealt a significant blow on Tuesday as the Senate passed legislation preventing the administration from relocating prisoners to the United States.
The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which has the primary purpose of setting the US Defense Department budget, passed the Senate by an overwhelming majority of 91-3 in a faster-than-usual passage through Congress, designed in part to frustrate White House plans to announce a new Guantánamo closure strategy.Barack Obama’s efforts to fulfil his promise of closing the Guantánamo Bay detention centre before he leaves office were dealt a significant blow on Tuesday as the Senate passed legislation preventing the administration from relocating prisoners to the United States.
The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which has the primary purpose of setting the US Defense Department budget, passed the Senate by an overwhelming majority of 91-3 in a faster-than-usual passage through Congress, designed in part to frustrate White House plans to announce a new Guantánamo closure strategy.
The evil bastards of the Congress that have thrown up this roadblock, at exactly the same time that the President finally was giving them his plan to close down Guantanamo, what is their reasoning? Do they believe that our maximum-security prisons stateside are incapable of holding these inmates? They’re up in arms, saying that their citizens will be endangered in such a case.
This from RT News:
On Thursday, the $607 billion National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) sailed through with 370-58 vote.
The White House criticized the decision, saying it did not make “fiscal or national security sense” to continue operating the prison, located in Cuba, which costs $400 million a year to run. Barack Obama promised to close the detention center in his election campaign before winning his first term in 2008. Since then, he has repeatedly stated that it serves as a recruitment tool for Islamist extremists, and a stain on America’s legal reputation.
Fifty-three of its inmates have been cleared of any charges, while the others face legal cases that have stalled, regardless of their degree of guilt.
On Thursday, 28 retired officers sent an open letter to Obama, encouraging him to persist with his efforts to close down Guantanamo.
“Our [mainland] prisons house hundreds of convicted terrorists. None has ever escaped,” the letter reads.
This from The Guardian:
One of the places reportedly being considered to house the inmates is Colorado, which Republican senator Cory Gardner is not too happy about. His objection is not the clear unconstitutional nature of holding prisoners indefinitely without charges, but the absurd notion that it is somehow dangerous to bring alleged terrorists into prisons in the United States, where dozens of convicted terrorists have resided for decades without incident.
As he told the Guardian last week: “I will not sit idly by while the president uses political promises to imperil the people of Colorado by moving enemy combatants from Cuba, Guantánamo Bay, to my state of Colorado.”
Republicans apparently still cling to the wholly imagined, cartoonish version of Guantánamo detainees. They believe that, if they’re held in a supermax prison inside the United States, they will somehow gain X-Men-level superhuman powers on a par with Magneto and will be able to escape facilities that no one has ever escaped from before and wreak havoc on local communities. (Civilian trials for alleged terrorists, which are far more effective than the badly broken military commission system at getting convictions, are also opposed by Republicans for the same reason.)
Ben Carson – somehow still the Republican frontrunner – has a section of his website under “Ben on the issues” called “Keep Guantánamo open” where he explains that “[w]e must keep our detention facility at Gitmo open”, which could just as easily have said: “We must keep the world’s most effective recruiting tools for Isis and al-Qaida open.” (Even former president George W Bush, of all people, has said Gitmo remains “a propaganda tool for our enemies and a distraction for our allies”.) Article by Trevor Timm http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/nov/12/obama-close-guantanamo-without-congress
First, let’s get some interesting facts before you, reader, about these inmates at this “Terrorist prison”.
A report by Seton Hall University shows that the United States only captured 5 percent of its Guantánamo prisoners. They were not “enemy combatants”: Pakistan and the Northern Alliance sold 86 percent of the men to the United States for a bounty, sometimes of up to $5,000. Of the current prisoners, only three were captured by the United States.
Among the data revealed by this Report:
1. Fifty-five percent (55%) of the detainees are not determined to have committed any
hostile acts against the United States or its coalition allies.
2. Only 8% of the detainees were characteri
zed as al Qaeda fighters. Of the remaining
detainees, 40% have no definitive connection with
al Qaeda at all and 18% are have no definitive
affiliation with either al Qaeda or the Taliban.
3. The Government has detained numerous pe
rsons based on mere affiliations with a
large number of groups that in fact, are not on
the Department of Homeland Security terrorist
watchlist. Moreover, the nexus between such a detainee and such organizations varies considerably.
Eight percent are detained because they are deemed
“fighters for;” 30% considered “members of;” a
large majority – 60% — are detained merely because they are “associated with” a group or groups the
Government asserts are terrorist organizations. For
2% of the prisoners their nexus to any terrorist
group is unidentified.
4. Only 5% of the detainees were captu
red by United States forces. 86% of the
detainees were arrested by either Pakistan or the
Northern Alliance and turned over to United States
This 86% of the detainees captured by Pakistan or
the Northern Alliance were handed over to the
United States at a time in which the United States offered large bounties for capture of suspected
5. Finally, the population of persons deemed not to be enemy combatants – mostly
Uighers – are in fact accused of more serious allegations than a great many persons still deemed to
be enemy combatants.
ASHEZ: So if you’re the average American, you must be shocked to realize this. All of the expense, all the torture, the renditions, for all of this time, thirteen years this monstrous prison has been demonstrating to the world how the USA became a traitor to our long-held high ideas about human rights. Rights we have preached to the world about as if from some high, lofty moral ground. Preached to Cuba, as we used their human-rights record to justify our crippling embargo against them, against those from whom the USA illegally hold this territory, this Guantanamo Naval Base. And it has all been for what? To keep hundreds of people, most of whom are probably innocent, locked up? After reading the book made of the diary of Mohammad Ould Slahi, a GITMO inmate, I am personally convinced of his innocence. Actually, he seems like a more upright fellow that most people I know. [Guantanamo Diary]
Shaker Aamer, the British Gitmo detainee, who was recently released, was proved to be almost certainly innocent.
This from The Guardian:
Aamer says he signed a false confession after being tortured. He alleges that while at Bagram he was kept awake for over a week, chained in excruciating positions for hours, deprived of sleep and food, and doused in freezing water in the middle of winter.
Shaker Aamer, UK’s last detainee in Guantánamo Bay, to be freed.
He was first reported to have been cleared for release in 2007, along with three other Britons, after the US authorities admitted they did not have a case against him. Aamer says he signed a false confession after being tortured. He alleges that while at Bagram he was kept awake for over a week, chained in excruciating positions for hours, deprived of sleep and food, and doused in freezing water in the middle of winter.
He was first reported to have been cleared for release in 2007, along with three other Britons, after the US authorities admitted they did not have a case against him.
Okay, so since it surely CAN NOT BE that grown men, Congressmen, actually believe that these prisoners are too dangerous to be held in USA prisons, what is going on here, really? And let me illustrate that these are mostly Republicans, who pride themselves in trying to hold down government spending. This prison is costing a lot to run; 2.3 million per inmate per year, times 112, would be $257,000,000. And higher figures have been used for this by others.
These Republicans understand that it was their President who opened this prison camp. Now, if these prisoners are moved anywhere, it becomes more likely that the truth of their unjust incarceration will be uncovered. We can pretend, now, that GITMO is a rights-free zone, but once stateside, it must be admitted that these inmates have some human rights. Their individual stories will eventually be told.
Think how utterly STUPID this entire escapade will appear, when the truth comes out. In the Republicans’ view, much better to keep them ‘out-of-sight, out-of-mind’. So there you have the mystery of why the Congress is opposing this closing, instead of trying to facilitate the President’s righteous wish to close the torture gulag in Cuba.
Here are the words of the President of the United States, whom the Congress so gleefully and spitefully are opposing.
“History will cast a harsh judgment on this aspect of our fight against terrorism, and those of us who fail to end it. Imagine a future – 10 years from now, or 20 years from now – when the United States of America is still holding people who have been charged with no crime on a piece of land that is not a part of our country … Is that who we are? Is that something that our founders foresaw? Is that the America we want to leave to our children? – ‘Future of fight against terrorism’ speech, 23 May 2013
“And with the Afghan war ending, this needs to be the year Congress lifts the remaining restrictions on detainee transfers and we close the prison at Guantánamo Bay – because we counter terrorism not just through intelligence and military action, but by remaining true to our constitutional ideals, and setting an example for the rest of the world.” – State of the union address, 28 January 2014
Some more enlightening words:
In thousands of pages of documents dating from 2002 to 2008 and never seen before by members of the public or the media, the cases of the majority of the prisoners held at Guantánamo — 765 out of 779 in total — are described in detail in memoranda from JTF-GTMO, the Joint Task Force at Guantánamo Bay, to US Southern Command in Miami, Florida.
These memoranda, known as Detainee Assessment Briefs (DABs), contain JTF-GTMO’s recommendations about whether the prisoners in question should continue to be held, or should be released (transferred to their home governments, or to other governments). They consist of a wealth of important and previously undisclosed information, including health assessments, for example, and, in the cases of the majority of the 172 prisoners who are still held, photos (mostly for the first time ever).
They also include information on the first 201 prisoners released from the prison, between 2002 and 2004, which, unlike information on the rest of the prisoners (summaries of evidence and tribunal transcripts, released as the result of a lawsuit filed by media groups in 2006), has never been made public before. Most of these documents reveal accounts of incompetence familiar to those who have studied Guantánamo closely, with innocent men detained by mistake (or because the US was offering substantial bounties to its allies for al-Qaeda or Taliban suspects), and numerous insignificant Taliban conscripts from Afghanistan and Pakistan.
what the Guantánamo Files reveal, primarily, is that only a few dozen prisoners are genuinely accused of involvement in terrorism.
The rest, these documents reveal on close inspection, were either innocent men and boys, seized by mistake, or Taliban foot soldiers, unconnected to terrorism. Moreover, many of these prisoners were actually sold to US forces, who were offering bounty payments for al-Qaeda and Taliban suspects, by their Afghan and Pakistani allies — a policy that led ex-President Musharraf to state, in his 2006 memoir, In the Line of Fire, that, in return for handing over 369 terror suspects to the US, the Pakistani government “earned bounty payments totalling millions of dollars.”