Torture was on the front pages of both the New York Times and the Washington Post today. The New York Times reports that Military Commissions trials at Guantanamo can deny defendants the right to know the identities of the witnesses against them:
Defense lawyers preparing for the war crimes trial of a 21-year-old Guantánamo detainee have been ordered by a military judge not to tell their client — or anyone else — the identity of witnesses against him, newly released documents show.
Of course, mounting a real defense will be impossible. But, as the defendants have already been convicted by the Bush administration, the trials are a mere formality:
Mr. Khadr’s military defense lawyer, Lt. Cmdr. William C. Kuebler of the Navy, said that while he has been given a list of prosecution witnesses, the judge’s decision requires him to keep secrets from his client and that he would ask Colonel Brownback to revoke the order. He said it treated Mr. Khadr as if he had already been convicted and deprived him of a trial at which the public could assess the evidence against him.
“Instead of a presumption of innocence and of a public trial,” Commander Kuebler said, “we start with a presumption of guilt and of a secret trial.”
Every day we get further confirmation, if any more was needed, of the lawless void at the heart of US detention centers. Torture may, according to some reports, no longer be the practice at Guantanamo. But the place is a monument to arbitrary authority stamping on the face of human rights.Unfortunately, the entire world suffers when the strongest nation becomes a lawless bully, accepting no limits on its arbitrary power.
The American Psychological Association pretends to be ignorant of these abuses. They issue occasional bland statements expressing concern about detention without trial and other abuses. Meanwhile, they turn a blind eye to the possibility, indeed the likelihood, that the psychologist-interrogators they claim are keeping interrogations “safe, legal, ethical, and effective” may be helping generate the secret “evidence” to be used in these kangaroo courts. If it wasn’t clear years ago, anyone aiding the Guantanamo system by participating in interrogations there is complicit in the massive human rights abuses at the heart of these facilities. Interrogators have no control over the use of the “information” they generate. Even the most humane “rapport-based” interrogations are generating information that can be abused by those in command. Alas, the APA prefers access to the powerful (“ability to influence policy”) to taking an ethical stance. It is time for rank and file psychologists, APA members or not, to rescue the reputation of our profession, complicit as it is in many of the most heinous human rights abuses of the Bush era.
December 1st, 2007
The Washington Post reports that the CIA has been using the headquarters of the General Intelligence Department in Jordan as a facility to hold detainees and get some of them tortured.
Since 2000, at the CIA’s behest, at least 12 non-Jordanian terrorism suspects have been detained and interrogated here, according to documents and former prisoners, human rights advocates, defense lawyers and former U.S. officials.
In most of the cases, the spy center served as a covert way station for CIA prisoners captured in other countries. It was a place where they could be hidden after being arrested and kept for a few days or several months before being moved on to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, or CIA prisons elsewhere in the world….
The General Intelligence Department, or GID, is perhaps the CIA’s most trusted partner in the Arab world. The Jordanian agency has received money, training and equipment from the CIA for decades and even has a public English-language Web site. The relationship has deepened in recent years, with U.S. officials praising their Jordanian counterparts for the depth of their knowledge regarding al-Qaeda and other radical Islamic networks.
In the aftermath of Sept. 11, however, the GID was attractive for another reason, according to former U.S. counterterrorism officials and Jordanian human rights advocates. Its interrogators had a reputation for persuading tight-lipped suspects to talk, even if that meant using abusive tactics that could violate U.S. or international law.
“I was kidnapped, not knowing anything of my fate, with continuous torture and interrogation for the whole of two years,” Al-Haj Abdu Ali Sharqawi, a Guantanamo prisoner from Yemen, recounted in a written account of his experiences in Jordanian custody. “When I told them the truth, I was tortured and beaten.”
Sharqawi was captured in Karachi, Pakistan, in February 2002 in a joint Pakistani-U.S. operation. Although the Guantanamo Bay prison had just opened, the CIA flew him instead to Amman, where he was imprisoned for 19 months, according to his account and flight records. He was later taken to another CIA-run secret prison, his statement says, before he was finally moved to Guantanamo in February 2004.
The CIA maintains its Amman facility as a torture center:
Samieh Khreis, an Amman lawyer who has represented former Guantanamo inmates from Jordan, said testimony by former prisoners and others in Jordan reinforced a long-held suspicion that the CIA ran a satellite operation inside headquarters of the General Intelligence Department.
“Of course they had a jail here, a secret jail — of course, no question,” he said. “If they were to put me in that GID building over there, in my mind, it might as well be an American jail.”
Some of those taken there are never heard from again:
Jamil Qasim Saeed Mohammed, a Yemeni microbiology student, was captured in a U.S.-Pakistani operation in Karachi a few weeks after 9/11 on suspicion of helping to finance al-Qaeda operations. Witnesses reported seeing masked men take him aboard a Gulfstream V jet at the Karachi airport Oct. 24, 2001.
Records show that the plane was chartered by a CIA front company and that it flew directly to Amman. Mohammed has not been seen since. Amnesty International said it has asked the Jordanian government for information on his whereabouts but has not received an answer.
December 1st, 2007