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One Detainee, Described As Dangerous, Escaped After A Shootout In Aix-En-Provence : http://newish.info/21977-one-detainee-described-as-dangerous-escaped-after-a-shootout-in-aix-en-provence
“Dear US GOV and ARMED FORCES : You know that torture probe we're having, because of all the torture? Everybody says you're being a dick about it, not allowing the special racconteur from the UN unfettered access to Brad Manning, to whom you've done enough..... Oh, and if you're gonna insist on putting on a show for the necessity of your Wars, pretty please try your best not to directly fire bomb so many innocent women and children. Not cool. Stop fucking embarrassing us. Thanks so much. Love, Kenneth. ”—
Also Anarchy 4 - EVA.
Obama: New Actions on Guantanamo Bay and Detainee Policy
“From the beginning of my Administration, the United States has worked to bring terrorists to justice consistent with our commitment to protect the American people and uphold our values. Today, I am announcing several steps that broaden our ability to bring terrorists to justice, provide oversight for our actions, and ensure the humane treatment of detainees. I strongly believe that the American system of justice is a key part of our arsenal in the war against al Qaeda and its affiliates, and we will continue to draw on all aspects of our justice system – including Article III Courts – to ensure that our security and our values are strengthened. Going forward, all branches of government have a responsibility to come together to forge a strong and durable approach to defend our nation and the values that define who we are as a nation.”
AfghanDocs Day Three
Bonne Fête Nationale!
This wasn’t supposed to be a big update, but…it is.
Yesterday I briefly wrote about Governor Khalid, the one running a private torture facility (or “prison.”) Well, I did a little more digging, and I suspect that information around Khalid may be the most heavily redacted in all the documents. For example, the summary (of redacted info);
(Allegations regarding a private detention facility allegedly maintained by the Governor of Kandahar were discussed)
appeared, by my count, in eight different documents. That’s not including the ones where allegations against him were redacted all together. So, basically we just know that they discussed allegations against him - no specifics.
But there are a few interesting tidbits. One document talks about a phone call from the lead Globe journalist in Afghanistan,
Graeme Smith phoned half an hour ago to convey his concerns that he and/or his staff may be at risk from Governor Asadullah Khalid. Smith has heard reports that [REDACTED] (POA 0148)
Oh, so Canadian journalists are being threatened by the politicians we’re keeping in place? Splendid. Oh, and those same politicians are torturing people while we’re trying to get the human rights situation under control? Wonderful.
The email also goes on to point out that these allegations are not new.
One document, from May 7, 2007, refers to a report on Khalid that explicitly conveyed concerns that he was not just torturing his detainees, but putting their lives in danger.
Keep in mind that he’ll stay in power until he gets forced out in August 15th, 2008. More than a year later.
What’s so surreally sad about this, is that there was still confusion in the Canadian ranks about the very existance of the jail.
Allegations regarding a private detention facility allegedly maintained by the Governor of Kandahar were discussed. proposed enquiries into the existence of the alleged facility, and confirmation and reaction to those enquiries were discussed. (POA 1018)
That’s from May 28, 2007.
Yet earlier in the month, on May 7th, there was a report that reads,
Graeme Smith, Afghanistan correspondent of the Globe and Mail, has told us that, in the course of his recent investigation on detainees, he interviewed a number of detainees who said they were personally tortured by Governor of Kandahar Asadullah Khalid. Smith said that he will wait for a suitable opportunity to publish, but will do so “within a few months.”
2. Smith said that [REDACTED] this issue directly relates to Canada’s engagement in the south and therefore in his view raises serious public-policy issues.
3. As has already been reported, [the number and consistency of allegations of human rights abuses by the Governor was discussed]
4. [It had been reported by multiple sources that the governor maintains a private detention facility. It had been reported that Khalid had admitted to keeping detainees there.]
6. We will have to have a position on the governor soon… (POA 0455)
So we knew. We knew! We knew with some certainty that Khalid was torturing people. By many reports, it was underneath his damn home. There is no evidence here that we looked into it. We didn’t even know if he had any of the detainees we had captured (but, given the way that detainees were moved around, he probably did.)
In fact, in POA 0462, there are paragraphs and paragraphs of redaction information about the governor from both our people and from Canadian UN representative Chris Alexander. While this document doesn’t reveal what Alexander said, CBC found out.
The documents also reveal that Chris Alexander, a top Canadian official working with the United Nations, alleged that Asadullah Khalid had ordered the deaths of five United Nations workers in a bombing.
One internal Canadian document from the spring of 2007 states that “allegations of human rights abuses by the governor are numerous and consistent.
“According to multiple sources, including the U.K. embassy, the private detention centre is located under the governor’s guest house.” [Source]
We knew, in 2007, that he killed UN workers We knew he tortured people in his own house. Three quick questions;
1. Why the fuck didn’t we remove him.
2. Are these documents released this week reflective of genuine ignorance on the part of some in the foreign service (which would be appalling) or have these documents been creatively redacted as a means to cover up political unwillingness to remove the governor? (which would be appalling.)
3. Why the fuck didn’t we remove him.
While the foreign service finally caught on to his game, Khalid had sat down with CTV at the beginning of the month.
Kandahar province’s governor rejects allegations that Canadian-captured prisoners endured abuse at the hands of Afghan police and intelligence officers.
“I know this (did) not happen but still, it is not a joke. We have to investigate, we have to see,” Asadullah Khalid told CTV News on Monday [Source]
These people are laughing at us. Seriously, we are a joke to them.
By October 2007, Richard Colvin came out and pointed out that it was time to take a stance on the governor. Mind you, that opinion is heavily redacted for some reason. The summary reads,
[An assessment of Governor Khalid was reported. Khalid’s leadership abilities, allegations of human rights abuse, allegations of other criminal activity were discussed, along with reports that some had expressed the opinion that the Governor should be replaced.] (POA 0465)
It concludes with (some) of Colvin’s unredacted opinion,
Rather than tackle this (governance issue) Canada has systematically avoided it. It is now generally acknowledged that we need to ‘get serious’ about governance in Kandahar. [REDACTED] [Canada’s position the governor was discussed.]
That says it right there, doesn’t it? Canada’s “position” was to not take one for another year.
You can betcha that directive came straight from Ottawa.
In fact, one document dated January 22, 2008, praises the Governor.
However, after the removal of Governor Shirzai in August 2005, former ghazni Provincial Governor Asadullah Khalid is taking the appropriate steps to eliminate corruption and increase security and infastructure improvements. [REDACTED] is an example of such [REDACTED] (POA 0322)
That last redaction goes on for the rest of the paragraph. Interesting, too, because in the CBC article written upon his removal, it says,
Khalid had been considered a strong leader, but in his three years as governor he faced criticism that he wasn’t effective enough against Taliban insurgents. [Source]
By April of that year, Khalid was still in power. Foreign Affairs minister Maxime Bernier, however, pointed out that it was probably time for him to go. The Prime Minister disagreed.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper publicly upbraided his foreign affairs minister Monday for creating a “misimpression” that the governor of Kandahar should be fired for corruption.
The prime minister’s strong language capped what could prove to be a politically damaging trip to Afghanistan by Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Bernier. Bernier told reporters that a key Canadian partner in Afghanistan — the governor of Kandahar — should be replaced. A short time later, the Foreign Affairs Department in Ottawa issued a statement in Bernier’s name retracting that comment, suggesting that Canada has no right to opine on the internal affairs of a sovereign country.
The discrepancy sparked the opposition to call for Bernier’s firing and Harper’s own characterization of Bernier’s performance.
“As you know, minister Bernier very quickly corrected a misimpression that I think had been left from some earlier comments,” Harper told reporters in Winnipeg. [Source]
That is absurd.
America's 'detainee 001' – the persecution of John Walker Lindh
Frank Lindh, father of ‘American Taliban’ John Walker Lindh, explains why his son is an innocent victim of America’s ‘war on terror’
An excellent article on War on Terror. Must read for everybody.
Labelled by the American government as “Detainee 001” in the “war on terror”, John occupies a prison cell in Terre Haute, Indiana. He has been a prisoner of the American government since 1 December 2001, less than three months after the terror attacks of 9/11.
John is entirely innocent of any involvement in the terror attacks, or any allegiance to terrorism. That is not disputed by the American government. Indeed, all accusations of terrorism against John were dropped by the government in a plea bargain, which in turn was approved by the US district court in which the case was brought.
Read more here
Detainee - Basement Party
Detainee is the project of Minneapolis based electronic composer Taylor Deihl. He has been writing songs for this project for the past 5 years and this is his first official release! This album is a little more on the dark/glitchier side of the spectrum but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth a listen.
Vital Organs was posted on Bandcamp just this morning, and you can download it for free! If ya like what you hear, head on over for the full record.
1. Speed Demon
2. the Great Escape
3. Basement Party
7. California (remix)
from egypt: detained, a behind-the-scenes story
came across this story on ben wedeman’s (cnn cairo correspondent) twitter. feel horrible as i read this knowing what has happened, knowing this will continue to happen as long as their government remains the same. wish i could do something.
AfghanDocs Day Two.
Note: If you want to follow along on the docs, you can download the ‘afdocs’ torrent by clicking the link on your left. If I write “(POA/DFAIT ####)” it’s referencing a document in that package. All italicized font indicates where the original report was redacted and a summary was written in.
“The allegations of abuse and mistreatment should be taken very seriously but should be addressed strategically.” (POA 0267)
That, in my two days of reading these documents, is the most damning thing I’ve come across. And damning it is.
Not because those who wrote it did so maliciously, or were caviler about detainee abuse. No, rather, they were following protocol. And, as best as I can tell, there was no effective recourse for dealing with abuse. There were quite detailed standard operating procedures that dealt with how Canadians were to monitor, track and document the detainees - which they did a relatively good job doing - but as to what they should do once that abuse was found? There were very few instances I came across in these documents where Afghan guards were reprimanded for their behavior. In many cases, detainees were blindfolded during their abuse and were unable to single out certain guards.
No, in this case, the report recommends
In order to maintain confidentiality and prevent retaliation against the detainee that we interviewed today, [the Kandahar Provincial Reconstruction Team] should conduct an additional visit within 2 weeks and conduct interviews with several detainees before we raise the issue.” (POA 0267)
And that would be fine for a minor problem such as ugly wallpaper or a broken door handle, but the “allegations” they’re talking about are also detailed in the report,
He indicated that that [sic] he could not recall the first interrogation in any details as he was allegedly knocked unconcious early on. He alleged that during the second interrogation, 2 individuals held him to the ground with his shawl while the other 2 were beating him with electrical wires and rubber hose. He indicated a spot on the ground in the room we were interviewing in as the place where he was held down. he then pointed to a chair and stated the implements he had been struck with were underneath it. Under the chair, we found a large piece of braided electrical wire as well as a rubber hose. He then showed us a bruise (approx. 4 inches long) on his back that could possibly be the result of a blow. (While we did not ask, after the interview was completed and before we left, the senior official told us that [REDACTED]) (POA 0267)
So his allegations were corroborated and they learned undisclosed information from a (presumably Afghan) senior official.
And, as luck would have it, after writing that last sentence I checked my Twitter feed, only to see that Terry Milewski was writing about the same damn paragraph. Go figure. He points to the same document having been released already, which clarifies much of the redacted part in the last line. It reads,
…[the senior official] told us that the detainee had allegedly fallen on the steps the other day due to his [REDACTED] (doc)
Well, we get the jist of it. The indelible Mr. Milewski sums it up in his clever way,
It’s a staple of every bad prison movie you ever saw. Right after the beating scene comes the coverup scene. Some do-gooder demands to know, how come the prisoner is black and blue?
“Heck,” drawls the warden, “he just fell down the stairs!”
My vision of the events is a little darker. See, to my mind, we’re stuck in early 90’s, post Cold War rebuilding all over again. We send our foreign service into these countries that just came through decades of autocracy where power was largely devolved, just so long as they got the job done. So what you see is a prison regime entirely stuck in 1970 Soviet mentality. One where torture is acceptable, money can’t be spared to keep jails in acceptable conditions and international regulations (and regulators, for that matter) are merely the product of lofty Western ideations about justice and democracy. Those corrupt regimes, however, do not want to lose the influx of development dollars, so they pay lip service while in actuality doing the bare minimum to improve the conditions of the detainees.
But I think there’s a cynicism on the part of the West, where we know that getting in bed with Afghan forces isn’t going to be pretty. There are quite a few instances in these documents where the Canadian officials essentially say; ‘we know they’re not going to do anything about it, we’ll have to find a plan B.’ Unfortunately, that plan B is often to pass it off to another Afghan department or to pawn it off to NATO or the International Red Cross.
As is often the case with military matters such as this, there’s also a worrying amount of neurosis about information getting out to the public. For example, there are pages and pages of (redacted) analysis on Globe and Mail journalist Graeme Smith’s articles. Smith was probably the most influential writers on the detainee file, and while there isn’t much released about the Forces’ reactions to his articles, in one instance they heavily site the NDS (Afghan security forces.) The documents point to several points of information in his stories, including where Smith gave the wrong name for an Kandahar NDS chief. The paper ran a correct not long after the story was released.
(Note: While I’d love to provide a link to the story, it no longer appears to be online.)
But on other stories, there is more of a ‘he-said, she-said’ going on.
In “Detainee Watchdog”…the chief investigator for the AIHRC [Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission] in Kandahar, Amir Mohammed Ansari, is quoted as saying that the NDS does not allow the AIHRC to visit its detention facilities. The senior official denied this and said the AIHRC had always been free to visit. (POA 0147)
The official goes on to say that Red Cross was allowed to visit, so why wouldn’t they allow the Afghan agency?
What follows is more back-and-forth about the nature of relations (or lack thereof) between the NDS and the AIHRC. It turns out the AIHRC never filed a complain about not being allowed into any facilities. It goes on,
[Head of the AIHRC Kandahar office] Engineer Noorzai never requested our [the Canadians] help…Noorzai indicated that her [sic] preferred to try to solve any difficulty through informatal channels first before seeking outside assistance. He further indicated the the challenges faced by the AIHRC were more likely the result of (interpersonal issues) than broader and more serious policy concerns. As a result, it came as a surprise to many of us when his staff went public with the G&M (POA 0147)
Okay, well and good - but this doesn’t address the underlying issue that the AIHRC appears to have problems accessing prisons. Whether they wanted to apply for help or not is irrelevant, and Smith’s points never appear to be refuted. This “senior official” seems to diffuse the criticism by launching far-flung excuses to get the Canadians out of his hair. It seems to work, too.
The most interesting bit about this page is when the “senior official” goes through four cases of alleged torture in Smith’s article.
(The senior official) said that an individual by that name is currently in the custody of the NDS. He claimed that this [REDACTED] has been involved in the planning of 45 suicide attacks. Since evidence against him is overwhelming, even the most zealous of interrogators would never have needed to retort to torture or beatings…(Comment: our records show that three individuals witht hat name have been transferred by the CF to Afghan authorities. The [REDACTED] discussed by the senior official is probably not the one that Graeme Smith interviewed.) (POA 0147)
The next cases break down much the same way. The official flatly denies the torture, but the Canadians have doubts about the authenticity of those claims.
The solution? The Canadians organized a meeting with the AIHRC. Yay!
I’ll have more tomorrow.
Update on Egyptian Detainee Gihan Ibrahim Abdelhamid
In October 2008 I wrote about Gihan Ibrahim Abdelhamid, an Amnesty International prisoner of conscience in Egypt. Below is an e-mail I received giving an update.
From: Augusta, GA, USA Amnesty International Member
Sent: Tuesday, April 19, 2011 11:33 PM
Subject: Our Egyptian Prisoner of Conscience
Please read the response below regarding an inquiry I made to the US Co-Group leader on Egypt. Generally these AI volunteers are experts in a particular area of the world and help the International Secretariat (and local groups) with information related to their area of expertise.
I don’t remember the year that we first started writing on behalf of our Egyptian prisoner of conscience for whom we have never had any word from anyone in authority or from her.
In our next mailing, I think we should write one more letter to her (and perhaps have the reverse side of the letter in Arabic - can you translate for us Ayman?) and then not send any more.
For YEARS neither the International Secretariat nor the Co-Group leader for Egypt has been able to give us any information including whether or not Gihan is still in prison, and even now, there is no way to find out…unless you Ayman might have some ideas.
If so, I have a file with the little information we had on her.
————— Forwarded message —————
From: Geoffrey Mock <email@example.com>
Date: Tue, Apr 19, 2011 at 10:33 PM
Subject: Egypt administrative detainees
Hi. It’s Geoffrey Mock from Amnesty. AI has released today a large new report on Egypt, focusing on administrative detainees. While your prisoner is not specifically mentioned, it does give you some valuable information
The full report is here: http://www.amnestyusa.org/pdf/egypt_time_for_justice.pdf
Here is a key graf:
Government officials repeatedly told Amnesty International during meetings that the total number of administrative detainees was less than 800, although no details were ever provided, such as a list of the names of those detained. National and international human rights organizations, however, estimated the number to have been between 6,000 and 10,000 at most points in recent years. In June last year, shortly after the adoption of the amendments to the Emergency Law, the authorities announced that some 400 detainees had been released. However, many others continued to be held without there being any clear indication of the grounds on which the Interior Ministry had concluded that they were a “danger to public security and order”. Following the fall of President Mubarak and calls from civil society and relatives of detainees, a newly-installed Interior Minister announced on 12 March 2011 that 1,659 administrative detainees had been released since early February.4 However, he did not disclose how many people remained held in administrative detention and for what reasons, maintaining the long-standing official policy of withholding such information about the numbers, identities, places of detention and length of time that such detainees have been locked up without charge or trial and without any effective means of obtaining remedy.
This led the families of those who continued to be detained to stage further protests outside the offices of the Public Prosecutor, the Interior Ministry, the Prime Minister and the Foreign Affairs Ministry, demanding the release of their relatives, especially as many of them had obtained court decisions ordering their release but continued to be held. More administrative detainees were subsequently released, thus reportedly closing the file of long-term recurrent administrative detention.5
Even though administrative detainees were not charged, let alone tried and convicted, they were treated like sentenced prisoners once in jail. Some were tortured or otherwise ill-treated. Some were transferred to remote prisons far from their families, including as punishment. Some were denied adequate medical care.
Following their release, many were repeatedly summoned to appear before officers of the now-dissolved SSI responsible for the district where they live, making it impossible for them to rebuild their lives. After years in detention, many have struggled to find paid work or reintegrate into their communities.
I’m sorry we’re not able to give more information, and again, I leave it up to you as to what your group wants to do. I will say it is unlikely that the AI International Secretariat will ever get official information about Gihan’s situation.
Please let me know if you have any questions