Posted tagged ‘Guantanamo Bay’

Hikers Fattal, Bauer Detail Iran’s “Ridiculous Lies”

September 26, 2011

This weekend, freed Americans Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer recounted their two years in “a world of lies and false hope” behind the walls of an Iranian prison.

During their press conference, Fattal and Bauer stated that they were held in complete isolation in Tehran’s Evin prison and allowed a total of 15 minutes of phone calls with their families throughout their captivity.

Fattal also said they had to wage a number of hunger strikes in order to even receive letters from their families.

So glad to hear that they are home and appear to be in pretty good shape all things considered!

From CNN:

Wearing green shirts and big smiles, Bauer and Fattal landed at John F. Kennedy International Airport four days after their release by Iranian authorities. In a news conference following their arrival, they described long days held in isolation, the hours punctuated by the screams of other inmates, and their “total sham” of a trial.

“Releasing us is a good gesture, and no positive step should go unnoticed,” Fattal told reporters Sunday afternoon. “We applaud the Iranian authorities for finally making the right decision regarding our case. But we want to be clear that they do not deserve undue credit for ending what they had no right and no justification to start in the first place.”

Fattal, Bauer and Bauer’s now-fiancee, Sarah Shourd, were arrested after straying across the unmarked border between Iraqi Kurdistan and Iran in July 2009. Shourd was released in 2010, but Bauer and Fattal were freed only Wednesday, after 781 days in captivity and a trial for espionage that Bauer said was based on “ridiculous lies.”

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Al Qaeda Leaders Waterboarded 266 Times

April 20, 2009

According to newly released documents, CIA interrogators used waterboarding at least 266 times on two top al Qaeda suspects.

From CNN:

The controversial technique that simulates drowning — and which President Obama calls torture — was used at least 83 times in August 2002 on suspected al Qaeda leader Abu Zubaydah, according to the memo.

Interrogators also waterboarded Khalid Sheikh Mohammed 183 times in March 2003. Mohammed is believed to be the mastermind behind the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States.

Obama released the memo Thursday, saying that “exceptional circumstances surround these memos and require their release.”

The memo, dated May 30, 2005, was from then-Deputy Assistant Attorney General Steven G. Bradbury to John Rizzo, who was acting general counsel for the CIA.

It paints a different picture from the one described by former CIA officer John Kiriakou. In a December 2007 interview with CNN, Kiriakou said Zubaydah had been waterboarded for “about 30 seconds, 35 seconds” and agreed to cooperate with interrogators the following day.

Barack Obama to Close Guantanamo Bay

January 21, 2009

The new Obama administration is circulating a draft executive order that would call for the closing the detention center at Guantanamo Bay within the next year.

From the Associated Press:

The draft order also would declare a halt to all trials currently under way at the facility, where roughly 800 detainees in the war on terror are held.

The Associated Press obtained a copy of the draft order.

It is not known when President Barack Obama intends to issue it.

The Bush administration created the detention facility after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Barack Obama to Close Guantanamo Bay Prison?

November 12, 2008

It seems that this will be a priority for the Obama Administration. Barack Obama plans to launch a review of the classified files of the approximately 250 detainees at Guantanamo Bay immediately after taking office, as part of an intensive effort to close the U.S. prison in Cuba, according to people who advised the campaign on detainee issues.

From the Washington Post:

Announcing the closure of the controversial detention facility would be among the most potent signals the incoming administration could send of its sharp break with the Bush era, according to the advisers, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to speak for the president-elect. They believe the move would create a global wave of diplomatic and popular goodwill that could accelerate the transfer of some detainees to other countries.

But the advisers, as well as outside national security and legal experts, said the new administration will face a thicket of legal, diplomatic, political and logistical challenges to closing the prison and prosecuting the most serious offenders in the United States — an effort that could take many months or longer. Among the thorniest issues will be how to build effective cases without using evidence obtained by torture, an issue that attorneys for the detainees will almost certainly seek to exploit.

Remembering September 11

September 11, 2008

This post is from September 11, 2008…but the words still hold true today on the 10th Anniversary of 9/11.

I remember a perfectly clear Ventura, California morning. I was on my way to my job at Hertz when I heard the news break on the radio. A bomb had gone off at the World Trade Center in New York. 15 minutes later, that report became an airliner which had crashed into the building. By the time I walked in the front door, crowds had huddled around the television set and we watched as the second plane crashed into the building. This was obviously no accident.

I remember watching the television all day. I don’t believe that we rented a single car that day. When the towers fell, many in the Paradise Chevrolet waiting room cried. It was unbelievable.  We knew at that time that thousands, if not tens of thousands, had to still be in the buildings when they crumbled. The unity that I saw that night on the streets of Northridge, California, though, was something that I had never seen, and not seen since. Hundreds holding candles, praying for the victims. There was a unity which we need in our country today, which has disappeared since the days and weeks following 9/11. If we could bring this back, we would be a far stronger country. Let us never forget the victims of September 11, 2001.

From the New York Times:

Weeks later, when the smoke had cleared and the dust settled, there, out the living room window, was the View, that most coveted of New York City apartment amenities, shattered forever.

All across the city, for days, months, maybe years after 9/11, it hurt to look out the window.

In Sunset Park, Brooklyn, Marissa Gonzalez, a corporate recruiter and writer, could not adjust. She had designed her whole fourth-floor apartment on 40th Street around the postcard-worthy outline of the Lower Manhattan skyline rising above the slope of Green-Wood Cemetery and the flats of northwest Brooklyn beyond.

“Looking out those windows was a ritual for me,” she said. “They were part of my sanctuary, my place of inspiration. It was impossible for me to go there and not tie into the day and the days after and the pain and the grief.”

A few months after 9/11, she moved out.

The question of how New Yorkers view their view may seem abstract, trivial, remote, compared with the pain of thousands upon thousands who lost loved ones, friends or colleagues when the World Trade Center towers fell. But for a broad swath of New Yorkers for whom the two towers were primarily the crowning jewel of a cherished vista, the amputated skyline was a daily reminder of loss. The way they have reached accommodation, or not, with the transformed view provides yet another window into the city’s infinitely long process of recovery.

Conversations with dozens of New Yorkers this week, when the end-of-summer light is just so and passing planes induce a wince, found them poised somewhere between Never Forget and Enough Already. Some confessed to occasional pangs of survivor guilt when they catch themselves enjoying the cityscape, diminished but still quite impressive, that gleams in their windows and draws them to park benches.

From the Associated Press:

Relatives of victims killed at the World Trade Center are observing a moment of silence to mark the seventh anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

The silence marks the exact time — 8:46 — when the first hijacked plane struck the trade center. Other moments of silence were planned for the times when the second plane hit and when the towers fell.

Other ceremonies are being held throughout the day, including one at the Pentagon, where a new memorial will be dedicated. Services will also be held in Shanksville, Pa., where one of the hijacked planes crashed.

Later Thursday, Barack Obama and John McCain are due at ground zero to pay silent respects.

From the Los Angeles Times:

Today marks year seven in a “war on terror” not of our making, and possibly not in our power to end. In scale and deadliness, the attacks of 9/11 were comparable to Pearl Harbor, so it’s little wonder that they were interpreted as an act of war. But by taking on a movement rather than a government, the United States has confronted unprecedented legal and procedural challenges that continue to haunt it — and will do so long after a new president takes power, particularly if the current occupant of the Oval Office has his way.In recent months, the Bush administration has been reaffirming its wartime powers by inserting language in legislation, rewriting intelligence procedures and changing regulations. For example, the New York Times reports that the administration added a provision to a proposal for hearing legal appeals from detainees at Guantanamo Bay that asks Congress to “acknowledge again and explicitly” that the U.S. is at war with Al Qaeda, the Taliban and related movements.

Associated Press

Credit: Associated Press

Bush doesn’t need such declarations in order to continue the war in Afghanistan; that was authorized by Congress on Sept. 14, 2001. Rather, he seems to be trying to solidify the legal justification for some of his administration’s most questionable policies, such as holding detainees indefinitely at Guantanamo Bay or carrying out wiretapping operations on Americans without a court order. The goal, apparently, is to make such policies permanent, or at least give his successor the option of continuing them.

From CNN International:

Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld returned to the Pentagon on Thursday to help dedicate a memorial to victims of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks there and elsewhere.

“Today we renew our vows to never forget how this long struggle began and to never forget those who fell first,” said Rumsfeld, who despite his high office helped carry the wounded from the burning building seven years ago.

“We will never forget the way this huge building shook. We will not forget our colleagues and friends who were taken from us and their families. And we will not forget what that deadly attack has meant for our nation.”

President Bush followed Rumsfeld at the lectern.

“On a day when buildings fell, heroes rose,” Bush said. “… One of the worst days in America’s history saw some of the bravest acts in America’s history.”

From CNN:

Seven years after devastating terrorist attacks brought death to New York’s World Trade Centers, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field, the first permanent, on-site memorial is being dedicated Thursday at the Pentagon.

Official memorials at the other two sites are still years away.

In New York, construction has begun on a complex that will include a memorial with a tree-shaded plaza and reflecting pools, and an underground museum with an entry pavilion.

It’s part of a bigger project, including new office towers and a transportation hub, whose target date has been repeatedly delayed.

The goal is to open the memorial to the public by the 10th anniversary of the attacks, in 2011, and the museum by the year after.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg stressed the importance of those dates and called progress “frustratingly slow” in an opinion piece published Wednesday in the Wall Street Journal.

“The memorial must be completed by the 10th anniversary,” Bloomberg wrote. “No more excuses, no more delays.”