U.S. Won’t Return Guantanamo To Improve Cuban Ties

The Obama administration on Wednesday ruled out handing over the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, rejecting a central demand of Cuban President Raul Castro for restoring normal relations between the two countries.

Roberta Jacobson, the top U.S. diplomat for Latin America, also said the U.S. would continue transmitting radio and television broadcasts into Cuba that are opposed by Castro’s government.  Washington believes that the broadcasts and Guantanamo are not likely to stand in the way of U.S. and Cuban embassies being re-established after a half-century interruption.

However, Raul Castro laid out last week his long-term objectives for the rapprochement, according to the AP.

They do include the U.S. returning the Guantanamo base and prison, lifting the embargo and compensating his country for damages. The U.S. established the naval base in 1903; Cuba’s communist government has sought its return since coming to power in 1959.

The U.S. is hoping to clinch an agreement with Cuba on embassies in the coming months.

An Associated Press-GfK poll found broad support in the United States for warmer ties with Cuba.

Forty-five percent of those surveyed supported full diplomatic relations between the Cold War foes, with only 15 percent opposing. Sixty percent backed the end of the U.S. economic embargo of Cuba, with 35 percent for its continuation.

But the views expressed at Wednesday’s government hearing were different than those in the poll.  Senior Republicans and Democrats took turns excoriating President Barack Obama for negotiating in secret a December spy swap that also included promises from him and Castro to turn a new page in the U.S.-Cuban relationship.

Strange: New Republican Chair Of Senate Intelligence Committee Wants Torture Report Returned

In a bizarre attempt to rewrite history, the new chairman of the Intelligence Committee, Richard Burr, wrote to President Obama with an odd request: He wants the Dianne Feinstein Senate Intelligence Committee torture report back.

“Mr. Burr sent a letter last week to the White House saying that his Democratic predecessor, Senator Dianne Feinstein, should never have transmitted the entire 6,700-page report to numerous departments and agencies within the executive branch — and requested that all copies of the report be ‘returned immediately,’ according to people who have seen the letter.

“The Intelligence Committee publicly released only the report’s executive summary. But Congress has since changed hands, and the committee is now controlled by Republican lawmakers like Mr. Burr who have long opposed the committee’s detention investigation, which they said was a partisan effort to discredit the C.I.A. and the Bush administration.

It is a bizarre episode in which the right-wing senator is attempting to rewrite history by asking for the torture reports back to supposedly “bury” them.

New York Times:

“Mr. Burr’s unusual letter to Mr. Obama might have been written with an eye toward future Freedom of Information Act lawsuits.

“Congress is not subject to such requests, and any success he has in getting the Obama administration to return all copies of the Senate report to the Intelligence Committee could hinder attempts to someday have the report declassified and released publicly.

The Times stated, “A spokeswoman for Mr. Burr did not return a request seeking comment on the letter. A White House spokesman declined to comment on how the Obama administration planned to respond.”

According to the New York Times, the director of the Federation of American Scientists project on government secrecy, Steven Aftergood, said he could recall no analogous case of the Senate’s trying to get the executive branch to return a document.

Vice: Faked Suicides (In Other Words: Murders) Taking Place At Guantanamo

Vice

What really happened at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility on the night of June 9, 2006?

According to the official report, three detainees hung themselves in their cells that night.

But according to Vice News, Army Staff Sergeant Joseph Hickman, who was on guard that night at Camp Delta, says it would have been impossible for the three to have committed suicide.

More on Joseph Hickman:

http://harpers.org/archive/2010/03/the-guantanamo-suicides/

President Barack Obama Vows To ‘Do Everything I Can’ To Close Guantanamo

President Barack Obama said in a CNN TV interview set for broadcast on Sunday that he will do “everything I can” to close the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, after four Afghan detainees held there were sent home.

“I’m going to be doing everything I can to close it,” Obama said on CNN’s “State of the Union with Candy Crowley,” program, which was taped on Friday.

The president promised to shut the internationally condemned prison when he took office nearly six years ago, saying it was damaging America’s image around the world.

He has been unable to do so, according to the publication DNA India, partly because of obstacles posed by the US Congress.

“It is something that continues to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world, the fact that these folks are being held,” he said.

“It is contrary to our values and it is wildly expensive. We’re spending millions for each individual there. And we have drawn down the population there significantly,” he added.

In the latest step in the gradual push to close the prison, four Afghans held for over a decade at Guantanamo were sent home, the Pentagon said on Saturday.

More:

http://www.dnaindia.com/world/report-us-president-barack-obama-vows-to-do-everything-i-can-to-close-guantanamo-2045917

Cheney Wrong On Meet The Press

On NBC’s “Meet The Press,” Dick Cheney denied to host Chuck Todd that Japanese soidiers had been prosecuted for waterboarding after World War II.  As the Washington Post shows, Cheney got it wrong.

Chuck Todd: “When you say waterboarding is not torture then why did we prosecute Japanese soldiers?”

Former vice president Richard B. Cheney: “Not for waterboarding. They did an awful lot of other stuff.  To draw some kind of moral equivalent between waterboarding judged by our Justice Department not to be torture and what the Japanese did with the Bataan Death March, with slaughter of thousands of Americans, with the rape of Nanking and all of the other crimes they committed, that’s an outrage. It’s a really cheap shot, Chuck, to even try to draw a parallel between the Japanese who were prosecuted for war crimes after World War II and what we did with waterboarding three individuals — all of whom are guilty and participated in the 9/11 attacks.

Cheney dismissed the question as “a cheap shot” and not worthy of comparison.

What did the Washington Post find?  According to the Washington Post:

At the International Military Tribunal for the Far East (IMTFE), which lasted from April 29, 1946 to Nov. 12, 1948,  there were indeed Japanese war criminals who were tried and ultimately executed for some of the events mentioned by Cheney.

The Post continues:

“The judgment of the IMTFE included a description of the type of torture known as ‘the water treatment,’ in which ‘the victim was bound or otherwise secured in a prone position; and water was forced through his mouth and nostrils into his lungs and stomach until he lost consciousness,’ according to ‘Drop by Drop:  Forgetting the History of Water Torture in U.S. Courts,’ a 2007 article in the Columbia Journal of Transnational Law, by Judge Evan Wallach. (The article is generally behind a paywall, but a plain type version can be found on the Internet.)”

“…as Wallach makes clear, Japanese soldiers other than the Class A war criminals were also prosecuted for mistreatment of American prisoners—and water torture ‘loomed large in the evidence presented against them.’

“For instance, at the Yokohama Class B and C War Crimes Trials in 1947,Yukio Asano, an interpreter, faced a charge of violating ‘the laws and customs of war…” through various acts of water torture.

Asanao was sentenced to 15 years confinement at hard labor.

First Lt. Seitara Hata, Sgt. Major Takeo Kita and Sgt. Hideji Nakamura faced similar charges.

One American victim, Cpt. William Arno Bluehe, described what happened to him:

“After beating me for a while they would lash me to a stretcher, then prop me up against a table with my head down. They would then pour about two gallons of water from a pitcher into my nose and mouth until I lost consciousness. When I revived they would repeat the beatings and ‘water cure’ . . . . The tortures and beatings continued for about six hours.”

Another soldier, Thomas B. Armitage, provided this testimony about his experience:

“[We] were strapped to stretchers and warm water poured down our nostrils until we were about ready to pass out. [The Japanese] strapped him to a stretcher and elevated his feet and then poured on his face so that it was almost impossible for him to get his breath. [The victim] was then taken into the corridor, strapped to a stretcher, which was tilted so that his head was toward the floor and feet resting on a nearby sink.Water was then poured down his nose and mouth for about twenty minutes. Then I was taken into the hallway of the barracks. Both of the Japanese still insisting I was guilty and urging me to confess.”

Hata received 25 years of hard labor, Nakamura 20 years and Kita 15 years. (More information on waterboarding charges in these trials can be found in an academic article by Wolfgang Form of the University of Marburg.)

Remember, host Chuck Todd asked Cheney, “…why did we prosecute Japanese soldiers?”  

Cheney answered:  “Not for waterboarding,” which was clearly untrue.

Russell Brand Speaks With Former Guantanamo Prisoner

 

Wikipedia states: “Moazzam Begg is a British Pakistani citizen who was held in extrajudicial detention by the U.S. government in the Bagram Theater Internment Facility and the Guantanamo Bay detainment camp, in Cuba, for nearly three years after being arrested in Pakistan in February 2002.

“Arrested by Pakistani police at his home, he was transferred to the custody of US Army officers, who took him first to their detention center at Bagram, Afghanistan.

“Begg has said he spent time at two Islamic training camps in Afghanistan, supported militant Muslim fighters, bought a rifle and a handgun, and was acquainted with persons linked to terrorism, but he denies (other) U.S. allegations.

“Begg says that when he was incarcerated at Bagram, he was abused, which the Pentagon denies. He has claimed that he witnessed two detainees being beaten to death while detained at Bagram. After an investigation, in 2005 United States officials concluded the detainees were murdered by American soldiers.

Wikipedia: “President George W. Bush had Begg released without charge on 25 January 2005. The Pentagon, CIA, and FBI had objected, concerned that Begg could be a dangerous terrorist.  Begg and other British citizens who had been detained at Guantánamo sued the British government for complicity in their alleged abuse and torture while in the custody of the United States.”

Here Russell Brand speaks with Moazzam Begg about his capture and detainment.

Talk Show Host Defends Torture: ‘No 9/11, No Rectal Rehydration’

Talk show host Bryan Fischer defends torture, saying “No 9/11, no Gitmo.  No 9/11, no rectal rehydration.”

Video by Right Wing Watch.

Guantanamo Prisoners Who Were Locked Up For More Than A Dozen Years Enjoy Freedom In Uruguay – No One Dies

Out and about: Ajuri, front, and Faraj, back, both Syrians, walk through a residential part of MontevideoFour of the six men released this week more than a decade incarcerated in Guantanamo Bay took their first walk in freedom on Friday in Uruguay, stopping to buy a bit of cheese and bread on a stroll through Montevideo, the capital. No one died.

According to the U.K. Daily Mail, the men – four Syrians, a Tunisian and a Palestinian – are staying at a house in a middle class neighborhood as guests of a major labor union, which has been asked to help by President Jose Mujica.

The union’s executive secretary, Gabriel Melgareo, said Friday that four of them managed to avoid journalists and went on a 6-mile walk along the Rio de la Plata river on Thursday.

The men have been accepted as refugees by Uruguay.

“They were enchanted by the blue sky of Montevideo, the tranquility of the city, the ability to walk through the streets in absolute calm,” Melgareo said.

Bakery worker Laura Larrobla said of the men who stopped by to purchase cheese, yogurt and bread, “They looked good, although they only talked through an interpreter,” she said.

More:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2872022/Ex-Guantanamo-prisoners-stroll-streets-Uruguay.html#ixzz3LpTZUDh1

RT Guantanamo History (Part II)

Gitmo costs $147 million a year to operate.  Is it worth the money?

Only 5 detainees at Gitmo are being charged with crimes related to 9/11.

On certain topics – such as the problems in Ukraine – RT (Russia Today) seems to give a biased opinion to suit its needs.   In Ukraine, Russia Today tends to defend the Russian viewpoint.

However, on other topics where the U.S. must play defense – such as Guantanamo – they will be diligent in their reporting.  In these cases, perhaps they are more diligent than many U.S. media outlets.

Abby Martin Breaks the Set on Gitmo ‘transparency’, review board red tape, military commissions sham, Zero Dark Thirty Lies, and closing Guantanamo for good.

RT video.