Life at Guantanamo: “I look alive, but actually I’m dead”

Solitary confinement at Guantanamo Bay: “I look alive, but actually I’m dead…”

The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) released two reports on the conditions and treatment of prisoners at Guantánamo Bay. One report highlights numerous instances of threats and abuse of prisoners at Guantánamo by interrogators from brutal human rights abusing regimes who are given full access by the U.S. The second report demonstrates the deteriorating mental health of the overwhelming majority of Guantánamo prisoners relegated to solitary confinement at the prison.


[In] Solitary Confinement at Guantánamo Bay, CCR details the deteriorating mental health of the approximately 70 percent of Guantánamo’s prisoners who are currently in solitary confinement – virtually all without charge or trial. Three of Guantánamo’s camps – Camps 5, 6, and Echo – house detainees in extreme conditions of solitary confinement, which the government speaks about as “single-occupancy cells” providing greater “privacy.”

CCR Executive Director Vincent Warren
said, “The government is not keeping these men in a Holiday Inn-type room—in reality, they live in brutal isolation with no chance of seeing the light of day, much less a fair trial.”

According to the report released today, one prisoner in Camp 6 recounted to his lawyer, “I’ve started talking to the ceiling. I know it’s crazy, but I can’t stand it anymore.” Another Camp 6 prisoner with deteriorating mental health, stated, “I look alive, but actually I’m dead.”

The Center for Constitutional Rights reports on House of Representative subcommittee hearings on the torture of Canadian citizen Maher Arar:

Two House of Representatives Subcommittees will be hearing testimony from the Department of Homeland Security’s Inspector General on the rendition of Maher Arar, the Canadian citizen sent by the United States to be tortured in Syria more than five years ago. The hearing will focus on the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) report on the processes used to send Mr. Arar to Syria, which the office has so far refused to release to the public – instead, in March of this year, it released an unclassified one-page summary with no new information. Some portion of the Report is now supposed to be released at the conclusion of tomorrow’s hearing. According to an article in Harper’s magazine, the release of the Report has been delayed by the efforts of senior government officials because it exposes “serious misconduct.” The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), which represents Maher in a case against high-level U.S. officials calls again for the release of the entire unredacted OIG report. “More than five years have passed since our government sent Maher to Syria to be tortured, and almost two years since the Canadian government issued its 1,200-page report on the role of Canadian officials in what was done to Maher,” said CCR Senior Attorney Maria LaHood. “It is high time the Inspector General reveal his full findings on the actions of U.S. government officials so they may begin to be held accountable.”

Democracy Now! reported that in October 2002, Arar was detained at JFK airport while on a stopover in New York. He was then jailed and secretly deported to Syria. He was held for almost a year without charge in an underground cell not much larger than a grave. Charges were never filed against him. In a 2006 interview he told Democracy Now!:

Well, you know, they [the Americans] sent me to a country where it is common knowledge that they torture detainees. I was—I spent there a year, ten months of which I was placed in an underground cell. Of course, this is not to mention the beatings, the physical beatings I endured at the beginning when I arrived in Syria. But I can tell you that the psychological torture that I endured during this ten-month period in the underground cell is really beyond human imagination. It is beyond human imagination.

Making it Matter:

Actions continue for June’s National Religious Campaign Against Torture. Check out these inspiring Atlanta actions:

Druid Hills United Methodist Church and the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Atlanta will fly banners in their sanctuaries in June decrying the U.S. use of torture.

“Each banner highlights [the fact that] we still have a policy of torture,” said Suzanne O’Hatrick, who is helping coordinate the national campaign.

Churches in all 50 states and Puerto Rico are participating, and the sponsors expect many more to sign on, she said.

David Gushee, a professor of Christian ethics at Mercer University, has been a leading religious voice against the use of torture and is organizing a conference on the topic Sept. 11-12 in Atlanta.

“Disturbingly, that debate [over torturing prisoners in the war on terror] remains unresolved, with significant percentages of the American people approving torture, and American law and policy continuing to reflect our national inability to renounce it,” Gushee wrote.

And the Episcopal News Service reports that:

More than 275 congregations of a wide variety of faiths in all 50 United States and the District of Columbia will display an anti-torture banner on the exterior of their buildings during June, which religious and human-rights organizations have designated as Torture Awareness Month.

Make it Matter. Check out the campaign website here, tell the presidential candidates to oppose torture and sign the statement against torture.


June 8, 2008 Posted by | Torture News | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

White House Tortured

No surprise here: ABC News reported that,

The discussions in the White House were top secret and sources say, involve some of the President’s most senior and influential advisors, principals of the National Security Council. In dozens of private talks and meetings, sources said that a handful of top advisors discussed specific high-value al Qaeda prisoners and exactly how those prisoners would be interrogated. Whether, for example, they would be slapped, pushed, deprived of sleep or subjected to simulated drowning, called waterboarding. The discussion about the “enhanced interrogation techniques” were so detailed, sources said, the interrogations were almost choreographed, down to the number of times the CIA could use a specific tactic. Former CIA director George Tenet, in an interview last year with ABC News told Charles Gibson.

And the Associated Press reported on 08/10/08 that:

Bush administration officials from Vice President Dick Cheney on down signed off on using harsh interrogation techniques against suspected terrorists after asking the Justice Department to endorse their legality, The Associated Press has learned.

The officials also took care to insulate President Bush from a series of meetings where CIA interrogation methods, including waterboarding, which simulates drowning, were discussed and ultimately approved…

The meetings were held in the White House Situation Room in the years immediately following the Sept. 11 attacks. Attending the sessions were then-Bush aides Attorney General John Ashcroft, Secretary of State Colin Powell, CIA Director George Tenet and national security adviser Condoleezza Rice.

Reactions, coverage and commentary:


If you recall, Ashcroft was the one who resisted, from his hospital bed, a White House effort to strong arm him into signing off on actions that he deemed unConstitutional. When you have John Ashcroft as a conscientious objector, you know that Cheney Inc. has crossed the line into uber illegal activity

Brains and Eggs:

There’s no blaring headline in the Washington Post online about this story. Nothing even very significant that I can find from the source, ABC News, on their website. There is a story there, however about how “absolutely appalling” Dick Cheney thinks Rev. Wright’s comments were.

deadlineUSA (The Guardian)

But will this get any traction? Will people at the top of the Bush administration including Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell, George Tenet, and John Ashcroft be held responsible? I doubt it. It would appear Barack Obama’s bowling prowess or lack thereof garners more attention in the mainstream media.

Salon.com (Glenn Greenwald):

In the past two weeks, the following events transpired. A Department of Justice memo, authored by John Yoo, was released which authorized torture and presidential lawbreaking. It was revealed that the Bush administration declared the Fourth Amendment of the Bill of Rights to be inapplicable to “domestic military operations” within the U.S. The U.S. Attorney General appears to have fabricated a key event leading to the 9/11 attacks and made patently false statements about surveillance laws and related lawsuits. Barack Obama went bowling in Pennsylvania and had a low score.

Here are the number of times, according to NEXIS, that various topics have been mentioned in the media over the past thirty days:

“Yoo and torture” – 102

“Mukasey and 9/11” — 73

“Yoo and Fourth Amendment” — 16

“Obama and bowling” — 1,043

“Obama and Wright” — More than 3,000 (too many to be counted)

“Obama and patriotism” – 1,607

“Clinton and Lewinsky” — 1,079

Center for Constitutional Rights:

American torturers must not go unpunished.

The Center for Constitutional Rights has, since 2006, been pursuing high-level Bush administration officials in national courts across Europe for their program of torture and coercive interrogations…

CCR represents men who were tortured while held in U.S. custody… Mohammed al Qahtani, who has been at Guantanamo since 2002, was subjected to a brutal interrogation program – specifically authorized by Donald Rumsfeld – that included 20-hour interrogations, physical abuse, sexual abuse, and severe sleep deprivation, among other tactics. The government is seeking the death penalty against al Qahtani based on evidence that was likely obtained through torture.

And check out the excellent coverage found in these outlets:

Daily Mail (UK)

Crooks and Liars


Left in the West


Make it matter. Contact your representatives and demand they investigate these war crimes.

And speaking of making it matter… The National Lawyers Guild is calling on Berkeley to dismiss John Yoo, “whose torture memos led to commission of war crimes.” Help out their effort by contacting Yoo’s dean and asking why they have a war criminal on staff.

April 13, 2008 Posted by | Media Criticism, Torture News, Yoo Torture Memo | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment