BBC, Vanity Fair, etc., 5/9/2004
Two previous Red Cross warnings - one on Iraq and one on Guantanamo - have
appeared in newspapers.
The December 13, 2003 article appeared in the BBC News and document eight
Iraq prisoners who had been badly injured
The February 2004 articles appeared in Vanity Fair and on ABC New
(Australia). They ominously revealed utterly appalling conditions and
severely injured inmates at Guantanamo. The Red Cross spoke about
conditions at Guantanamo because they were getting little response to
their concerns from the U.S. Government
Here are the previous articles:
DECEMBER 13, 2004:
Arabs 'badly injured' in custody
Three Arabs arrested by US-led forces in Iraq have suffered serious
injuries while in detention, the International Committee of the Red Cross
The three were among a group of eight Arab prisoners who have now been
freed. They have been flown to the Jordanian capital Amman.
The three may be permanently disabled, a Red Cross spokesman in Amman
One of them had had his leg amputated at the knee while in custody. It is
not yet clear how the injuries occurred.
The eight men - five Jordanians, two Lebanese and one Syrian - arrived at
a small civilian airport in Amman, from where the latter three flew on to
their home countries.
They had been flown out of Iraq aboard an ICRC plane after being released
from a detention facility in Umm Qasr in the south of the country.
Most Iraqi prisoners captured in the early stages of the war have already
been released from the camp.
But the US military said last month that it was still holding over 300
non-Iraqi suspects in the country, mainly Syrians and Iranians.
There were also 37 Jordanian prisoners, including the five now released.
Jordanian media said the release followed extensive contacts between
Jordanian and US-led coalition authorities.
President Bush has blamed much of the post-war violence in Iraq on what he
calls foreign terrorists.
FEBRUARY 6, 2004:
NOTE: The Red Cross usually will not speak on prisoner conditions so it
can maintain access and influence with governments holding prisoners. In
this case the Red Cross found the U.S. Government "had not addressed its
concerns" and has gone public.
Next to the hospital reception area is a well-equipped physiotherapy unit
with only one patient: a man who hung himself inside his cell last
January. By the time the guards cut him down he was in a coma, with
irreversible brain damage. He regained consciousness three and a half
months later but will never walk again.
In the camp's acute ward, a young man lies chained to his bed, being fed
protein-and-vitamin mush through a stomach tube inserted via a nostril.
"He's refused to eat 148 consecutive meals," says Dr. Louis Louk, a naval
surgeon from Florida. "In my opinion, he's a spoiled brat, like a small
child who stomps his feet when he doesn't get his way." Why is he
shackled? "I don't want any of my guys to be assaulted or hurt," he says.
By the end of September 2003, the official number of suicide attempts by
inmates was 32, but the rate has declined recently — not because the
detainees have stopped trying to hang themselves but because their
attempts have been reclassified. Gitmo has apparently spawned numerou
cases of a rare condition: "manipulative self-injurious behavior," or
S.I.B. That, says chief surgeon Captain Stephen Edmondson, means "the
individual's state of mind is such that they did not sincerely want to end
their own life." Instead, they supposedly thought they could get better
treatment, perhaps even obtain release. In the last six months, there have
been 40 such incidents.
At the same time, attempts at suicide and self-harm fit into a broader
pattern. Chief surgeon Edmondson says that the most common ailment among
the Gitmo prisoners is depression. More than a fifth of Camp Delta'
inmates are taking Prozac or other antidepressants.
Multiple sources have confirmed that. while some real terrorists may be
at Gitmo, none of al-Qaeda's known leadership has ever been held there.
Abu Zubaydah and Khalid Shaikh Mohammed were initially interrogated at a
secret location under American control in Thailand. The "really
experienced guys," the counterterrorism-interrogation specialists, have
been deployed there, as well as in Pakistan, in Jordan, and on what one
source calls "floating interrogation cells" in the Indian Ocean. "Some
good stuff has come out of Gitmo," says another official, "but it doesn't
seem much in relation to the various costs of keeping 600-plus detainees."
Yet since 2002, when these claims were made, 64 of these "viciou
killers" have been released, all after many months' detention. John
Sifton, a researcher for Human Rights Watch, has traced and interviewed
some of them in Afghanistan. They are all, he says, "the most extreme
cases of mistaken identity, simply the wrong guys: a farmer, a taxi driver
and all his passengers — people with absolutely no connection with the
Taliban or terrorism." Several were victims of bounty hunters, who were
paid in dollars after abducting "terrorists" and denouncing them to the
U.S. military. "There's another group who were arrested after getting into
land disputes," he says.
n fact, the conventions do allow prisoners to be classed as unlawful
combatants, rather than as regular E.P.W.'s — if they aren't wearing a
uniform or insignia, for example, or don't follow a recognized system of
command. But they add that whenever there is doubt whether a prisoner
deserves "unlawful" status, he has a right to a judicial hearing.
None of the 660 Gitmo detainees has ever had such a hearing. I ask
Lieutenant Colonel William Lietzau, one of Rumsfeld's main legal adviser
on Guantnamo, how America justifies this position. Lietzau replies that
President Bush has determined that any member of al-Qaeda or the Taliban
would be an unlawful combatant, and there simply is "no doubt" that the
Gitmo detainees were members of one or the other organization.
How can he be so sure? After all, numerous detainees, their families, and
attorneys are contesting that exact point, to say nothing of the 64 so far
released. "There are extensive classified procedures," Lietzau says. But
he admits, "This is unilateral, as you would put it — a U.S. call."
It also represents the quiet, and until now little-noticed, burial of a
U.S. Central Command regulation issued on February 7, 1995. Entitled
"Captured Persons: Determination of Eligibility for Enemy Prisoner of War
Status," the regulation, if followed, would completely reverse what
happens to prisoners at Guantnamo Bay. Instead of allowing America merely
to declare a captive "unlawful" and deny him a hearing, the regulation
states, "A person who has committed a belligerent act . . . shall be
treated as an EPW until such time as his status has been determined by a
Tribunal." The prisoner must have an interpreter "who shall be competent
in English and Arabic (or other language understood by the Detainee)."
The tribunal should be chaired by a military lawyer — known as a "judge
advocate" — trained to act in courts-martial, and witnesses must testify
under oath. The detainee has the right to be present, to cross-examine
witnesses, and to look at documents. Unless the evidence shows he does not
deserve it, the prisoner must be given full E.PW. status.
Guantanamo creating mental health problems: Red Cro
The International Committee of the Red Cross has made an
uncharacteristically frank attack on the United States Government for its
ongoing detention of suspected terrorists at Guantanamo Bay.
Two Australians, David Hicks and Mamdouh Habib, are among the 600 people
being held at the facility.
Red Cross officials have just returned from an access visit to the US
military facility, and say most prisoners are worried about the
open-endedness of their detention and their lack of legal representation.
The Red Cross says it is creating major mental health problems.
It is unusual for the Red Cross to air such criticisms publicly, but says
it has chosen to do so in this case because the US Government has not
addressed its concerns.
White House spokesman Scott McClellan says the conditions at Guantanamo
Bay are acceptable because of the detainees' backgrounds.
"These individuals are terrorists, or supporters of terrorism and we are
at war on terrorism," he said.
The White House says detainees at Guantanamo Bay are being treated in
accordance with the principles of the Geneva Convention.