Tag Archives: guantanamo

BBC Airing Guantánamo Guard/Detainee Reunion

Posted by: Audiegrl

“He would say, ‘you ever listen to Eminem or Dr Dre’ and… I thought how could it be somebody is here who’s doing the same stuff that I do when I’m back home”~~Former Guard Brandon Neely

Brandon Neely, center, was a Guantánamo Bay guard, and Ruhal Ahmed, left, and Shafiq Rasul were prisoners.

Brandon Neely, center, was a Guantánamo Bay guard, and Ruhal Ahmed, left, and Shafiq Rasul were prisoners.

Why would a former Guantanamo Bay prison guard track down two of his former captives – two British men – and agree to fly to London to meet them?

BBC News/Gavin Lee~~”You look different without a cap.”

You look different without the jump suits.”

With those words, an extraordinary reunion gets under way.

The journey of reconciliation began almost a year ago in Huntsville, Texas. Mr Neely, 29, had left the US military in 2005 to become a police officer and was still struggling to come to terms with his time as a guard at Guantanamo.

He felt anger at a number of incidents of abuse he says he witnessed, and guilt over one in particular.

Highly controversial since it opened in 2002, Guantanamo prison was set up by President George Bush in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks to house suspected “terrorists“. But it has been heavily divisive and President Barack Obama has said it has “damaged [America’s] national security interests and become a tremendous recruiting tool for al Qaeda“.

Mr Neely recalls only the good publicity in the US media.

The news would always try to make Guantanamo into this great place,” he says, “like ‘they [prisoners] were treated so great’. No it wasn’t. You know here I was basically just putting innocent people in cages.”

The prisoners arriving on planes, in goggles and jump suits, from Afghanistan were termed by then US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld as the “worst of the worst“. But after getting to know some of the English-speaking detainees, Mr Neely started to have doubts all of them were fanatical terrorists.

Mr Neely was 22 when he worked at the camp and left after six months to serve in Iraq. But after quitting the military his doubts about Guantanamo began to crystallize. This led to a spontaneous decision last year to reach out to his former prisoners on Facebook.

Released in 2004, after being held for two years, Mr Rasul and Mr Ahmed and another friend from Tipton had been captured in Afghanistan on suspicion of links to the Taliban. The three said they were beaten by US troops although this was disputed by the US government at the time.

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But what were the pair doing in Afghanistan in 2001?

They explain that, being in their late teens and early twenties at the time, they had made a naive, spontaneous decision to travel for free with an aid convoy weeks before a friend’s wedding, due to take place in Pakistan.

Mr Ahmed admits they had a secret agenda for entering Afghanistan, but it wasn’t to join al-Qaeda.

Aid work was like probably 5% of it. Our main reason was just to go and sightsee really and smoke some dope“.

Does their former prison guard believe them? Yes, says Mr Neely, who says he thinks it was a case of “wrong place, wrong time“.

Both sides are beginning to bond, yet towards the end, Mr Neely has a confession of his own. It threatens to destroy the mood of reconciliation.

He is deeply ashamed of an incident in which he “slammed” an elderly prisoner’s head against the floor.

Mr Neely recalls that he thought he had been under attack because the man kept trying to rise to his feet. But weeks later he discovered the prisoner thought he was being placed on his knees to be executed and believed he was fighting for his life.

Mr Ahmed is speechless, then evidently conflicted as he wrestles in his mind with whether or not he can forgive. Eventually, he says he can.

But should Mr Neely be prosecuted for his actions? Mr Ahmed pauses again.

He’s realized what he did was wrong and he’s living with it and suffering with it and as long as that he knows what he did was wrong. That’s the main thing.”

Afterwards, each say they had genuinely found some sort of closure from meeting. The sense of relief in all their faces speaks volumes, and they leave the meeting closer to one another.

Their story will be featured on the documentary Guantanamo Reunited on BBC Radio 5 live on Thursday 14 January at 2200 BST.

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NYT-Guantánamo Reunion, by Way of BBC

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Just the Facts, Ma’am: Civilian Courts Versus Military Tribunals

Where are the Democrats and why aren’t they pushing back?


If you’re like a lot of people — say, Liz Cheney — you’ve been wondering why Barack Obama seems to think the rights of terrorists are more important than the lives of the American people and wants to give them civilian trials and let them get “lawyered up,” in the suddenly voguish phrase, so they can take advantage of sneaky liberal wrinkles in the law inserted in there by sneaky liberal defense lawyers and judges over the years. This is instead of hauling them before military tribunals, the current hot right-wing talking point.

Oh, you’re not one of those people? Okay, then. You might therefore be interested to know the following:
The Bush administration — in which Liz Cheney’s papa held a fairly high position, you might recall — prosecuted, after 9-11, 828 people on terrorism charges in civilian courts. At the time of publication of this excellent report from the Center on Law and Security, NYU School of Law last year, trials were still pending against 235 of those folks. That leaves 593 resolved indictments, of which 523 were convicted of some crime, for a conviction rate of 88%.

With regard to military tribunals, the Bush administration inaugurated 20 such cases. So far just three convictions have been won. The highest-profile is the conviction of Salim Hamdan, Osama bin Laden’s driver. The Hamdan legal saga, rehearsed here, doesn’t exactly suggest that military tribunals provide swifter and surer and tougher justice. In the end, he was convicted all right, but sentenced — not by a bunch of New York City Democrats, but by a military jury! — to five and half years.

Then, the tribunal judge, a US Navy captain, gave Hamdan credit for time served, which was five years. So he served six months after conviction. Today he’s back in — guess where? — Yemen.

So here’s the situation. Bush/Cheney found civilian prosecution a perfectly acceptable path to pursue in 828 cases. They’ve won convictions at an impressive rate in those civilian prosecutions. The most high-profile military prosecution was kind of a disaster.

And yet, Obama is a weakling because Abdulmutallab is being treated the way the Bush administration treated 828 “suspects,” to use a word the right has declared reveals a girly-mannish mindset. Amazing. And again: where are the Democrats and why aren’t they pushing back on this?

source:

JAG: GOP Criticism Of Obama On Underwear Bomber Way Off-Base

“There is a similar mischaracterization over what can be done in terms of interrogating the detainee, claim Cullen and others. Republican critics of the president insist that Obama forfeited effective interrogation measures by declining to go the route of a military commission. But there are limitations to what even military interrogators could do with Abdulmutallab.”

If Republican critics of President Obama are to be believed, the administration made one of the biggest blunders in national security history when it placed the accused underwear bomber in the criminal justice system as opposed to the military alternative.

It’s simply not true, say legal experts, including officials who formerly served in the military tribunal system.

James Cullen, a retired brigadier general who served as a JAG officer, tells the Huffington Post that there are narrow differences between the legal and interrogation proceedings Abdulmutallab was subjected to and those which would have happened in a military commission.

Read More: Huffington Post

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Filed under Al-Qaeda, Conservative, Courts, Crime, Law, Military, Republicans, Terrorism

Conservative Trio Supports Transferring Gitmo Detainees To Illinois

posted by GeoT

**Update**

In a joint statement prepared by the Constitution Project, David Keene, founder of American Conservative Union, Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, and former representative and presidential candidate Bob Barr say moving suspected terrorists to the Thomson, Illinois prison facility, “makes good sense.” Taxpayers, they note, have already invested $145 million in the facility, which has been “little used.” And the surrounding community, they add, could benefit from increased employment once the prison becomes filled.

“The scaremongering about these issues should stop,” they add, noting that there is “absolutely no reason to fear that prisoners will escape or be released into their communities.”

source: Huffington_Post_Logo

**Update**

CHICAGO — Gov. Pat Quinn and U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin on Sunday tried to build support and counter criticism of a proposal to sell a prison in rural northwestern Illinois to the federal government to house Guantanamo Bay detainees and other inmates.

Both Quinn and Durbin said the possibility of selling the prison to the federal government was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to help create about 3,000 jobs, both at the prison and directly in surrounding communities in an area where unemployment has topped 10 percent.

source:

CHICAGO – The Obama administration may buy a near-empty prison in rural northwestern Illinois to house detainees from Guantanamo Bay along with federal inmates, a White House official said Saturday.

Thomson Correctional Center

The maximum-security Thomson Correctional Facility, about 150 miles west of Chicago, was one of several evaluated by the Federal Bureau of Prisons, and emerged as a leading option to house the detainees, the official told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because a decision has not been made.

President Barack Obama wants detainees from the controversial military-run detention center in Cuba to be transferred to U.S. soil so they can be prosecuted for their suspected crimes.

It is unclear how many Guantanamo detainees — alleged terrorism suspects, many held without charges since the beginning of the war in Afghanistan — might be transferred to Illinois or when. Obama initially planned to close the Guantanamo Bay prison by Jan. 22, but the administration is no longer expected to meet that deadline.

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has been hinting at a possible new use for Thomson, and he issued a statement saying he would hold a news conference Sunday to outline those plans.

Source:

More information:

Although nothing has been finalized as yet and the administration is still considering its options. However, if the government decides to shift the detainees of the Guantanamo Bay in this maximum security prison then the federal bureau would have to purchase the prison and then later lease a part of the facility to the Department of Defense so that few inmates from Guantanamo can be kept there.On Monday, officials are scheduled to visit the correctional center to inspect its conditions so that a final decision can be taken soon. At the same time, it has also been emphasized by the government, that ultimately the decision would be undertaken depending on how people in the remote town react to the relocation of the inmates.

However, the fact that administration is planning to shift the detainees has been welcomed by the residents of Thomson, as it is likely that the new venture would create a large amount of job opportunities in the small town and in turn would significantly contribute to improving the economic situation of the town. The prison in Thomson was built in the year 2001 but large part of the prison was not operational due to financial constraints.

souce: Thaindian_News_Logo

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Filed under 9/11, Al-Qaeda, Chicago, IL, FBI, Homeland Security, Illinois, Terrorism, Uncategorized