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Obama's GITMO Myth
Obama's Non-closing of GITMO and US Government Irony
By Glenn Greenwald

This "Congress-prevented-Obama" claim has now taken on zombie status - it will
never die no matter how clearly and often it is debunked - but it's still worth
emphasizing the reality.

Monday, Jul 23, 2012 06:10 AM CDT (Please note the date of this article - 07/23/2012 - AE)
The Obama GITMO myth

New vindictive restrictions on detainees highlights the falsity of Obama defenders regarding closing the camp
By Glenn Greenwald

Topics: National security, Guantanamo, Barack Obama, Terrorism, Human Rights, Politics News

Most of the 168 detainees at Guantanamo have been imprisoned by the U.S. Government for close to a decade without charges and with no end in sight to their captivity. Some now die at Guantanamo, thousands of miles away from their homes and families, without ever having had the chance to contest accusations of guilt. During the Bush years, the plight of these detainees was a major source of political controversy, but under Obama, it is now almost entirely forgotten. On those rare occasions when it is raised, Obama defenders invoke a blatant myth to shield the President from blame: he wanted and tried so very hard to end all of this, but Congress would not let him. Especially now that we're in an Election Year, and in light of very recent developments, it's long overdue to document clearly how misleading that excuse is.

Last week, the Obama administration imposed new arbitrary rules for Guantanamo detainees who have lost their first habeas corpus challenge. Those new rules eliminate the right of lawyers to visit their clients at the detention facility; the old rules establishing that right were in place since 2004, and were bolstered by the Supreme Court's 2008 Boumediene ruling that detainees were entitled to a "meaningful" opportunity to contest the legality of their detention. The DOJ recently informed a lawyer for a Yemeni detainee, Yasein Khasem Mohammad Esmail, that he would be barred from visiting his client unless he agreed to a new regime of restrictive rules, including acknowledging that such visits are within the sole discretion of the camp's military commander. Moreover, as SCOTUSblog's Lyle Denniston explains:

Besides putting control over legal contacts entirely under a military commander's control, the "memorandum of understanding" does not allow attorneys to share with other detainee lawyers what they learn, and does not appear to allow them to use any such information to help prepare their own client for a system of periodic review at Guantanamo of whether continued detention is justified, and may even forbid the use of such information to help prepare a defense to formal terrorism criminal charges against their client.

The New York Times Editorial Page today denounced these new rules as "spiteful," cited it as "the Obama administration's latest overuse of executive authority," and said "the administration looks as if it is imperiously punishing detainees for their temerity in bringing legal challenges to their detention and losing." Detainee lawyers are refusing to submit to these new rules and are asking a federal court to rule that they violate the detainees' right to legal counsel.

But every time the issue of ongoing injustices at Guantanamo is raised, one hears the same apologia from the President's defenders: the President wanted and tried to end all of this, but Congress including even liberals such as Russ Feingold and Bernie Sanders overwhelming voted to deny him the funds to close Guantanamo. While those claims, standing alone, are true, they omit crucial facts and thus paint a wildly misleading picture about what Obama actually did and did not seek to do.

What made Guantanamo controversial was not its physical location: that it was located in the Caribbean Sea rather than on American soil (that's especially true since the Supreme Court ruled in 2004 that U.S. courts have jurisdiction over the camp). What made Guantanamo such a travesty and what still makes it such is that it is a system of indefinite detention whereby human beings are put in cages for years and years without ever being charged with a crime. President Obama's so-called "plan to close Guantanamo" even if it had been approved in full by Congress did not seek to end that core injustice. It sought to do the opposite: Obama's plan would have continued the system of indefinite detention, but simply re-located it from Guantanamo Bay onto American soil.

Long before, and fully independent of, anything Congress did, President Obama made clear that he was going to preserve the indefinite detention system at Guantanamo even once he closed the camp. President Obama fully embraced indefinite detention the defining injustice of Guantanamo as his own policy.

In February, 2009, the Obama DOJ told an appellate court it was embracing the Bush DOJ's theory that Bagram detainees have no legal rights whatsoever, an announcement that shocked the judges on the panel hearing the case. In May, 2009, President Obama delivered a speech at the National Archives in front of the U.S. Constitution and, as his plan for closing Guantanamo, proposed a system of preventative "prolonged detention" without trial inside the U.S.; The New York Times in an article headlined "President's Detention Plan Tests American Legal Tradition" said Obama's plan "would be a departure from the way this country sees itself, as a place where people in the grip of the government either face criminal charges or walk free." In January, 2010, the Obama administration announced it would continue to imprison several dozen Guantanamo detainees without any charges or trials of any kind, including even a military commission, on the ground that they were "too difficult to prosecute but too dangerous to release." That was all Obama's doing, completely independent of anything Congress did.

When the President finally unveiled his plan for "closing Guantanamo," it became clear that it wasn't a plan to "close" the camp as much as it was a plan simply to re-locate it import it onto American soil, at a newly purchased federal prison in Thompson, Illinois. William Lynn, Obama's Deputy Defense Secretary, sent a letter to inquiring Senators that expressly stated that the Obama administration intended to continue indefinitely to imprison some of the detainees with no charges of any kind. The plan was classic Obama: a pretty, feel-good, empty symbolic gesture (get rid of the symbolic face of Bush War on Terror excesses) while preserving the core abuses (the powers of indefinite detention ), even strengthening and expanding those abuses by bringing them into the U.S.

Recall that the ACLU immediately condemned what it called the President's plan to create "GITMO North." About the President's so-called "plan to close Guantanamo," Executive Director Anthony Romero said:

The creation of a "Gitmo North" in Illinois is hardly a meaningful step forward. Shutting down Guantánamo will be nothing more than a symbolic gesture if we continue its lawless policies onshore.

Alarmingly, all indications are that the administration plans to continue its predecessor's policy of indefinite detention without charge or trial for some detainees, with only a change of location. Such a policy is completely at odds with our democratic commitment to due process and human rights whether it's occurring in Cuba or in Illinois.

In fact, while the Obama administration inherited the Guantánamo debacle, this current move is its own affirmative adoption of those policies. It is unimaginable that the Obama administration is using the same justification as the Bush administration used to undercut centuries of legal jurisprudence and the principle of innocent until proven guilty and the right to confront one's accusers. . . . .The Obama administration's announcement today contradicts everything the president has said about the need for America to return to leading with its values.

In fact, Obama's "close GITMO" plan if it had been adopted by Congress would have done something worse than merely continue the camp's defining injustice of indefinite detention. It would likely have expanded those powers by importing them into the U.S. The day after President Obama's speech proposing a system of "prolonged detention" on U.S. soil, the ACLU's Ben Wizner told me in an interview:

It may to serve to enshrine into law the very departures from the law that the Bush administration led us on, and that we all criticized so much. And I'll elaborate on that. But that's really my initial reaction to it; that what President Obama was talking about yesterday is making permanent some of the worst features of the Guantanamo regime. He may be shutting down the prison on that camp, but what's worse is he may be importing some of those legal principles into our own legal system, where they'll do great harm for a long time.

So even if Congress had fully supported and funded Obama's plan to "close Guantanamo," the core injustices that made the camp such a travesty would remain. In fact, they'd not only remain, but would be in full force within the U.S. That's what makes the prime excuse offered for Obama he tried to end all of this but couldn't so misleading. He only wanted to change the locale of these injustices, but sought fully to preserve them.

Indeed, as part of that excuse, one frequently hears that even liberal civil liberties stalwarts in the Senate such as Russ Feingold and Bernie Sanders voted to deny funding for the closing of Guantanamo: as though it is they who are to blame for these enduring travesties, rather than Obama. But this, too, is misleading in the extreme.

The reason these Democratic Senators voted to deny funds for closing Guantanamo is not because they lacked the courage to close Guantanamo. It's because they did not want to fund a plan to close the camp without knowing exactly what Obama planned to do with the detainees there because people like Feingold and Sanders did not want to fund the importation of a system of indefinite detention onto U.S. soil. Here's what actually happened when the Senate, including most Democrats, refused to fund the closing of Guantanamo:

[White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs] added Obama has not yet decided where some of the detainees will be sent. A presidential commission is studying the issue. . . .

Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, chairman of the Appropriations Committee, favors closing Guantanamo, and the legislation his panel originally sent to the floor provided money for that purpose once the administration submitted a plan for the shutdown.

In changing course and seeking to delete the funds, he said, "The fact that the administration has not offered a workable plan at this point made that decision rather easy."

Can that be any clearer? They would have voted to fund the closing of Guantanamo, but only once they knew what Obama's plan was for the detainees there. Feingold whose vote against funding the closing of Guantanamo is invariably cited by Obama defenders wrote a letter to the President specifically to object to any plan to import the system of indefinite detention onto U.S. soil:

My primary concern, however, relates to your reference to the possibility of indefinite detention without trial for certain detainees. While I appreciate your good faith desire to at least enact a statutory basis for such a regime, any system that permits the government to indefinitely detain individuals without charge or without a meaningful opportunity to have accusations against them adjudicated by an impartial arbiter violates basic American values and is likely unconstitutional.

While I recognize that your administration inherited detainees who, because of torture, other forms of coercive interrogations, or other problems related to their detention or the evidence against them, pose considerable challenges to prosecution, holding them indefinitely without trial is inconsistent with the respect for the rule of law that the rest of your speech so eloquently invoked. Indeed, such detention is a hallmark of abusive systems that we have historically criticized around the world. It is hard to imagine that our country would regard as acceptable a system in another country where an individual other than a prisoner of war is held indefinitely without charge or trial.

Once a system of indefinite detention without trial is established, the temptation to use it in the future would be powerful. And, while your administration may resist such a temptation, future administrations may not. There is a real risk, then, of establishing policies and legal precedents that rather than ridding our country of the burden of the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, merely set the stage for future Guantanamos, whether on our shores or elsewhere, with disastrous consequences for our national security.

Worse, those policies and legal precedents would be effectively enshrined as acceptable in our system of justice, having been established not by one, largely discredited administration, but by successive administrations of both parties with greatly contrasting positions on legal and constitutional issues.

Feingold was not going to vote for a plan to close Guantanamo if it meant that its core injustice indefinite detention was going simply to be re-located onto American soil, where it would be entrenched rather than dismantled. That, as all of this evidence makes clear, is why so many Democratic Senators voted to deny funding for the closing of Guantanamo: not because they favored the continuation of indefinite detention, but precisely because they did not want to fund its continuation on American soil, as Obama clearly intended.

Now, here we are, almost four years after the vow to close Guantanamo was enshrined in an Executive Order, and the rights of detainees including the basic right to legal counsel are being constricted further, in plainly vindictive ways. Conditions at Guantanamo are undoubtedly better than they were in 2003, and some of the deficiencies in military commissions (for the few who appear before them) have been redressed. But the real stain of Guantanamo keeping people locked up in cages for years with no charges endures. And contrary to the blatant myth propagated by Obama defenders, that has happened not because Obama tried but failed to eliminate it, but precisely because he embraced it as his own policy from the start.

Obama Admin Shutters Office Working to Close Guantánamo

An internal document has revealed the Obama administration is shuttering the office of the special envoy in charge of closing Guantánamo. Special Envoy Daniel Fried is being reassigned and will not be replaced, according to a report in The New York Times. President Obama vowed four years ago to close Guantánamo, but the latest move indicates he is continuing to table that promise.
"Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
"Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn
"If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and never will" - Frederick Douglass

It must be morning by now where you are. I always thought you stayed up as long as I did, but I figure you are 5 or 6 (7?) hours ahead of me.

Anyway, I was going to post a more recent article on GITMO, but the Salon article of July, 2012, had material on the reasons for why Democratic senators did not vote in favor of funding the shutdown of the prison. They were concerned that the detainees would be brought on to US soil and that would introduce the GITMO legal system ot permanent detention into our civilian laws, possibly.

I think they should release the detainees and send them home or wherever they want to go, and then close GITMO, never to be used again. GITMO was a George W. Bush invention, and his wars have ended, or have almost all ended - Iraq and Afghanistan. If we need to house prisoners of war, we should follow international rules that would apply, instead of the inhumane caging of people, torture techniques, and permanent detention without a trial. Why not stop being engaged in any wars? Maybe with the new Secretary of State and the new Secretary of Defense, this could be a possibility. I understand that Chuck H. would like a moratorium or cessation of making and using nuclear weapons.

[Image: steven_hsieh_100.jpg] Steven Hsieh

This Band Billed the Pentagon $666,000 for Using Its Music to Torture GITMO Prisoners

Steven Hsieh on February 5, 2014 - 3:55 PM ET

[Image: gitmo_ap_img.jpg]

A Guantánamo detainee walks past a cell block at Camp 4 detention facility, Nov. 18, 2008. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

Members of a Canadian band sent a six-figure invoice to the US military after learning their music was allegedly used to torture prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, CTV news reports.
Skinny Puppy, an industrial rock band from Vancouver, wants $666,000 in royalties for the use of their music "as an actual weapon against somebody." Keyboardist Cevin Key says the band learned its songs were played at Guantánamo from a former prison guard, who happens to be a fan.
"I am not only against the fact they're using our music to inflict damage on somebody else but they are doing it without anybody's permission," said keyboardist Cevin Key in an interview with CTV.
Key added that Skinny Puppy is considering a lawsuit against the Department of Defense for using its music illegally.
US military commanders approved the use of music as an "enhanced interrogation technique" in 2003 at Guantánamo and secret prisons in Afghanistan and Iraq. An Associated Press report says interrogators blared music for days at a time "to create fear, disorient…and prolong capture shock."
Former British prisoner Ruhal Ahmed, detained without trial at Guantánamo Bay for more than two years, says he suffered extensive music torture at the hands of the US military. Interrogators reportedly shackled his hands to his feet and his feet to the ground, forcing his body into a squat, while music blared for days. Describing that experience to Der Spiegel, he said:
You can't concentrate on anything. Before that, when I was beaten, I could use my imagination to forget the pain. But the music makes you completely disoriented. It takes over your brain. You lose control and start to hallucinate. You're pushed to a threshold, and you realize that insanity is lurking on the other side. And once you cross that line, there's no going back. I saw that threshold several times.
Skinny Puppy joins a long list of artists who have objected to the use of their music for torture. Bands such as Rage Against the Machine and Nine Inch Nails, along with artists David Gray and Sesame Street composer Christopher Cerf, have all spoken out against music torture.
CORRECTION: Skinny Puppy reportedly sent a bill for $666,000 to the US military. An earlier version of this post said a different amount.
"Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
"Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn
"If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and never will" - Frederick Douglass
Good for them. Most artists of any genre would be appalled that their work was used this way. Love how they used the numbers that are the sign of the Beast to invoice the Beast. ::laughingdog::
"The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it." Karl Marx

"He would, wouldn't he?" Mandy Rice-Davies. When asked in court whether she knew that Lord Astor had denied having sex with her.

“I think it would be a good idea” Ghandi, when asked about Western Civilisation.
Magda Hassan Wrote:Good for them. Most artists of any genre would be appalled that their work was used this way. Love how they used the numbers that are the sign of the Beast to invoice the Beast. ::laughingdog::

If it comes to trial, will be an interesting one....may have to blast the Judge and Jury with the music at the volume it was played in Gitmo! Obama is doing a 'great job' of closing the place......
"Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
"Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn
"If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and never will" - Frederick Douglass
[Image: 2015-01-06-gtmo.jpg]

This Sunday, January 11, marks the 13th anniversary of indefinite detention without charge or trial at Guantánamo. For so many there, including CCR's Yemeni clients Ghaleb Al-Bihani, Mohammed Al Hamiri, Tariq Ba Odah, and Fahd Ghazy, this anniversary marks yet another year of uncertainty. Despite having been cleared for release, they have spent more than a third of their lives trapped in the prison, hoping for the day that they can return home to their families or begin a life in a new country.
The recent increase in transfers offers a glimmer of hope that President Obama is re-committed to closing the prison, but our work is far from over. Together we must build on this critical moment. Take the actions below and join CCR and activists all over the country in demanding that President Obama do the right thing and finally bring an end to indefinite detention by releasing all those who are cleared and who will never be chargedand close Guantánamo.
"There is no guilt and no innocence here at Guantánamo. Those ideas are empty. That's just a game that is played. But there is always right and wrong. That can never change," wrote Fahd in November.
Share "Waiting for Fahd," CCR's short documentary that sheds light on the human toll of indefinite detention. Read and share Fahd Ghazy's powerful personal appeal, which has also been translated into a number of other languages. Remember to use the #FreeFahd hashtag on Twitter and Facebook.
Join CCR and allies Witness Against Torture, Amnesty International USA, and others for the January 11 Day of Action: A Promise Still to Keep, which will take place in front of the White House in Washington DC.
Print and display a "Close Guantánamo" poster, and change your Facebook profile this week to this "Close Guantánamo" image.
Learn more by visiting our page.
If you're in New York City, check out these exciting events over the next week:
"Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
"Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn
"If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and never will" - Frederick Douglass

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