What do the Guantanamo Files tell us?


by Sunny
25th April, 2011 at 1:51 pm    

This is just a summary:

» 172 prisoners are still held there.
Previous inmates included an 89-year-old Afghan villager, suffering from senile dementia, and a 14-year-old boy who had been an innocent kidnap victim.

One man was transferred to the facility simply because he was a mullah and could have had “special knowledge of the Taliban”. He was released after a year. Another was shipped there because he knew the areas of Khowst and Kabul since he was a taxi driver”.

An al-Jazeera journalist was held six years so he could be interrogated about the Arabic news network.

» US authorities listed the main Pakistani intelligence service, the ISI as a terrorist organisation alongside groups such as al-Qaida, Hamas, Hezbollah and Iranian intelligence [there is going to be a massive fallout from this]

» A number of British nationals and residents were held for years even though US authorities knew they were not Taliban or al-Qaida members. [goodbye Habeas Corpus!]

» Why Obama has found it difficult to close down Gitmo:

The range of those still held captive includes detainees who have been admittedly tortured so badly they can never be successfully tried, informers who must be protected from reprisals, and a group of Chinese Muslims from the Uighur minority who have nowhere to go.

A trial of these prisoners and an expose of their conditions, the US army and Pentagon no doubt pointed out, would severely damage the credibility of the US govt itself.

» How the leaks came about.
The NYT approached NPR and the Guardian with files leaked to them. But WikiLeaks was already working with the Telegraph, Washington Post, McClatchy newspapers, Le Monde, El Pais and Der Spiegel, according to HuffPo. The latter group have now been forced to bring forward publication date.

» While the Guardian has led with how badly the prisoners were treated, the Telegraph focuses on what al-Qaeda were planning.

* A senior Al-Qaeda commander claimed that the terrorist group has hidden a nuclear bomb in Europe which will be detonated if Bin-Laden is ever caught or assassinated. The US authorities uncovered numerous attempts by Al-Qaeda to obtain nuclear materials and fear that terrorists have already bought uranium. Sheikh Mohammed told interrogators that Al-Qaeda would unleash a “nuclear hellstorm”.

* The 20th 9/11 hijacker, who did not ultimately travel to America and take part in the atrocity, has revealed that Al-Qaeda was seeking to recruit ground-staff at Heathrow amid several plots targeting the world’s busiest airport. Terrorists also plotted major chemical and biological attacks against this country.

The Washington Post takes a similar angle.

» Glenn Greenwald says:

WikiLeaks is responsible for more newsworthy scoops over the last year than all media outlets combined: it’s not even a close call. And if Bradley Manning is the leaker, he has done more than any other human being in our lifetime to bring about transparency and shine a light on what military and government power is doing.

That is also spot on.


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  1. BenSix — on 25th April, 2011 at 2:00 pm  

    A trial of these prisoners and an expose of their conditions, the US army and Pentagon no doubt pointed out, would severely damage the credibility of the US govt itself.

    Good.

  2. Sunny — on 25th April, 2011 at 2:01 pm  

    Well, that may be good from your perspective, but I’m not sure a US President would sign up to those aims.

  3. Paul Stott — on 25th April, 2011 at 2:05 pm  

    It also tells us that however wrong their treatment is/was at the hands of the US, we also need to face some hard facts about the Britons who held in Gitmo.

    Namely that quite a few of them are not very nice men at all. Even the Guardian is forced to admit that Shaker Aamer appears to have been captured in the retreat from Tora Borah – not exactly the sort of place you go to for a Club 18-30 holiday.

    And secondly that those who believe every Briton arrested in Af-PAk was there to learn a new language/build a girls school/receive treatment for drug addiction is being more than a tad gullible.

    Would I be right in guessing there are a few nervous people today in Cage Prisoners and Amensty International circles, at the revelations that may be yet to come?

  4. BenSix — on 25th April, 2011 at 2:06 pm  

    Well, that may be good from your perspective, but I’m not sure a US President would sign up to those aims.

    Indeed not. But that’s no excuse for inaction. If that was his motive then far from than distinguishing himself from the Bush administration he’s shown how indistinct the boundary between them often is.

    By the way, reprehensible as the American’s behaviour has been, does anyone find much to disagree with in that assessment of the ISI?

  5. earwicga — on 25th April, 2011 at 2:49 pm  

    Yes Paul Stott, I’m sure nerves are frayed with evidence like this being released:

    He [Abdul Bagi] had been detained because his coat had been the same colour as a man involved in an ambush on US forces. He was still being interrogated 13 months later in an attempt to discover why he had been living at an address in “Quickwood, London MW2“. This confusion seems to have arisen because Martin Mubanga, a British Muslim also held at Guantánamo, had lived in Cricklewood, London NW2. … http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/apr/25/british-guantanamo-detainees-guantanamo-bay?INTCMP=ILCNETTXT3487

    But for every lie that is told, there is a fool that is ready to believe it. Abdul Bagi was the worst of the worst wasn’t he? These days he would be in a black prison in Afghanistan, for wearing the wrong type of coat.

    Andy Worthington’s The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison is full of similar accounts of lives destroyed by the crusaders.

  6. Sunny — on 25th April, 2011 at 4:07 pm  

    Namely that quite a few of them are not very nice men at all.

    Well strike me down with a feather.

    Not sure that justifies locking them up and throwing away the key though? Not sure what your comment is meant to imply.

  7. Paul Stott — on 25th April, 2011 at 6:58 pm  

    Earwicga – As the Americans foreign policy over the past decade shows us, there is no shortage of stupid people in the world. I believe some people even believe Moazzam Begg went to Afghanistan to open a girls school, and that Binyam Mohammed went there to come off drugs!

    Sunny – My point is quite simple. We should be able to condemn the US/UK government over Gitmo, without being blind to the fact that they are some pretty unpleasant characters amongst the Britons who ended up there.

    I’m asking you to walk and chew gum at the same time.

  8. Rumbold — on 25th April, 2011 at 7:14 pm  

    Paul Stott:

    I have no doubt that there are some pretty unpleasant characters among the detained. Last time I checked though, this wasn’t enough to hold someone for years without trial, whilst torturing them.

    All prisoners should be treated in one of two ways:

    - As criminals, which means they should be tried and given appropriate sentences if found guilty.
    - As prisoners of war, which means they could be held indefinitely but would be entitled to a certain standard of treatment and rights.

  9. Paul Stott — on 25th April, 2011 at 8:01 pm  

    Rumbold – I agree entirely.

  10. douglas clark — on 25th April, 2011 at 10:34 pm  

    Paul Stott @ 9,

    I too entirely agree with what Rumbold had to say @ 8.

    Why am I sitting here thinking that the devil is in the detail?

    Perhaps it’s because people that have actually been released from Gitmo, well Moazzam Begg in particular, will have to put up with unsubstantiated smears from people like you for the rest of his days. Like this:

    I believe some people even believe Moazzam Begg went to Afghanistan to open a girls school…

    So, not even release from Gitmo is good enough for you?

  11. Sunny — on 25th April, 2011 at 10:35 pm  

    I’m asking you to walk and chew gum at the same time.

    I don’t think anyone is arguing against that. Is calling for the prison to be shut down and these people being tried in a court of law that big an ask these days?

  12. douglas clark — on 25th April, 2011 at 10:44 pm  

    Sunny @ 11,

    Apparently it is.

  13. earwicga — on 26th April, 2011 at 12:34 am  
  14. damon — on 26th April, 2011 at 1:12 am  

    How many people have been languishing in Syrian prisons all these years? No one ever says anything about them. Or all the people Gaddafi had locked up.
    Guantanimo was bad. This information makes it even more cynical than I thought. Pretty bad. But I have never been a fan of the western liberal attention to this to the degree that it has been.
    And where children in Arab countries would play Guantanamo ”guards and prisoners” like cowboys and indians, when their own societies were even more brutal. Because we made such a big deal about orange jump suits and stuff that normal prisoners wear in the US. They also get chained in transit.

    Two million prisoners in the US prison system is a much bigger issue IMO.

  15. earwicga — on 26th April, 2011 at 1:29 am  

    damon, name me a prisoner in the US prison system that hasn’t been charged or convicted. Name me hundreds of them. Especially the ones who have been tortured in a variety of countries, and subject to rendition.

    And quite a lot has been written about Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi who died in one of Gaddafi’s jails. He was quite an important character in the crusades damon. Did Spiked forget to write about him?

  16. damon — on 26th April, 2011 at 1:37 am  

    Earwicga, it’s just about having a different opinion to you. And the US runs an inhumane prison system IMO.
    People doing long sentences on a three strikes rule etc. It’s the numbers involved. If a thousand have been at Guantanamo – two million in US prisons is two thousand times as many.

  17. earwicga — on 26th April, 2011 at 1:40 am  

    It’s got nothing to do with me or my opinions damon. If you get the facts wrong or pretend to not know them, then it will be pointed out by me or somebody else.

  18. Sunny — on 26th April, 2011 at 3:48 am  

    He was quite an important character in the crusades damon. Did Spiked forget to write about him?

    If he was a climate change denier they’d be on to him in a flash :)

  19. AbuF — on 26th April, 2011 at 4:42 am  

    “the crusaders”?, “the crusades”?

    Eh?

  20. Sarah AB — on 26th April, 2011 at 6:09 am  

    Damon – I’m sure you are right that some over focus on Guantanamo – and I share Paul’s scepticism about Begg too – but I think both positions are compatible with thinking this information is newsworthy and shocking.

  21. cjcjc — on 26th April, 2011 at 7:21 am  

    This too is shocking and, unlike Gitmo itself, something that we might actually be able to do something about:

    “At least 35 terrorists incarcerated at Guantánamo Bay were sent to fight against the West after being indoctrinated by extremist preachers in Britain”

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/wikileaks/8472784/WikiLeaks-Guantanamo-Bay-terrorists-radicalised-in-London-to-attack-Western-targets.html

  22. MaidMarian — on 26th April, 2011 at 8:52 am  

    Rumbold (8) –

    ‘- As criminals, which means they should be tried and given appropriate sentences if found guilty.
    - As prisoners of war, which means they could be held indefinitely but would be entitled to a certain standard of treatment and rights.’

    One thing to add, if you read the front of the Guardian, they at least appear to suggest that the files show Shaker Aamer was not tortured. Given that they are treating these files as holy scripture it is an interesting aside that hasn’t really been picked up on.

    Your comment about criminal/PoW though is interesting in that it is perhaps the ‘hidden’ story here. Again, if the Guardian is to be believed (and I assume it is) the people at Guantanamo were seen as neither. They seem to be people of what could be called intelligence value. It is the casual way that people are treated as nothing other than possible intelligence assets that is most troubling about Guantanamo. As you say Rumbold, it may very well be that (some) of these people are not people I would want living next door, but they criminal/PoW side seemed to be wholly secondary to intelligence.

    But what the Guardian did downplay is the really nasty question here – does torture work? The Guardian did not appear greatly to question the assertions in the files that the euphemistic, ‘harsh interrogation techniques,’ brought up good information. Given that the Guardian has treated torture = no valid information as an article of faith it was interesting to see them not question that aspect of the files.

    The Guardian is to be credited with a good piece of work, but it was interesting to see that parts of the files did not sit easily with the Guardian’s world view.

  23. Paul Stott — on 26th April, 2011 at 9:01 am  

    @ Douglas Clark

    Lets just consider what Begg admits to in his book (And I stress admits to)

    1. Visiting Pakistani and Arab training camps in Afghanistan, four years after the Soviets had left the country (p.50-57)
    2. Visiting a Mujahideen camp in Bosnia (p.66-7)
    3. Attempting to enter Chechnya at the height of the conflict there (p.87)

    Whilst I have heard many comment that he went to Taliban controlled Afghanistan to open a girls school, his own memoirs reveal the school was already open when he left the UK. Instead his motivations seem to have been a mixture of the good things he had heard about Afghanistan from those visiting the Islamic bookshop he ran in Birmingham, the lower cost of living in Kabul, and a weariness of England brought on by the police attention he was receiving.

    Having read some of the literature, including Jihadi memoirs, published by his Maktabah Al Ansar bookshop prior to 9/11, such attention was hardly suprising.

    I am pleased Begg was released from Gitmo, where he should never have been held in the first place. Unlike Douglas Clark though, I am not so gullible about the man himself……

  24. ukliberty — on 26th April, 2011 at 9:21 am  

    damon,

    How many people have been languishing in Syrian prisons all these years? No one ever says anything about them.

    False.

    Because we made such a big deal about orange jump suits and stuff that normal prisoners wear in the US. They also get chained in transit.

    The issue with Gitmo is not “orange jump suits”, it is (1) indefinite detention without trial of (2) people who may not have done anything whatsoever to warrant it (as has now more than evident in some cases) in (3) a place of detention and prisoner categorisation deliberately selected so as to be outside the law (the Supreme Court would later rule Gitmo was under US jurisdiction) theoretically rendering the detainees without any legal remedy or protection enabling (4) inhumane treatment and torture (5) contrary to US domestic law and international law and (6) all this contrary to the professed principles and aims of a country and its presidents that promote worldwide democracy and liberty (iow hypocrisy of perhaps the worst kind).

  25. MaidMarian — on 26th April, 2011 at 9:52 am  

    ukliberty – to be clear, I’m not getting at you.

    Take a look at cjcjc’s link. Now granted, this being the Telegraph, it might be that there are some over-egged issues here. But equally, if we treat these files as a genuine picture (and the Guardian seem willing to do so) don’t you think that they do show up some difficulties with the black and white world view? These files do describe real problems. Democracy and liberty are words that get thrown about an awful lot on talkboards, but if we assume that they do not represent an implicit contract, surely they infer a level of state protection for its own citizens against those who would use democracy and liberty for bad ends?

    This, of course, is not to say that Guantanamo is a good or right way to offer protection. Just to say that the world, at least according to these files, does not operate in 6 easy steps. Or perhaps you think it does – I don’t know.

    These files, to my mind show real difficulties that can’t be reduced to talkbaord platitudes. How exactly do you suggest mitigating the problems of the (overhyped) Londonistan?

  26. AbuF — on 26th April, 2011 at 9:54 am  

    And where children in Arab countries would play Guantanamo ”guards and prisoners” like cowboys and indians

    I should have to call b/s on this one, Damon. I am professionally involved in children’s services in the Arab world and I have never, ever seen such a game played anywhere (and I have been in countries as diverse as Syria and Sudan over the last few years).

  27. damon — on 26th April, 2011 at 10:13 am  

    I agree with Sarah AB, and that ‘this information is newsworthy and shocking.’
    It is indeed. The protests about Guantanamo started though from day one. When this picture so angered western liberals that people dressed up in the same kind of gear and did reenactments of it. And Steve Bell did loads of cartoons from the iconographic imagery.
    http://www.wcpt850.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/guantanamo-prisoners.jpg

    That is harsh, but not entirely brutal. People can recover from a journey like that in hours.
    What was a bit ridiculous was the way that western liberals made so much of the fact that the guys were hooded and chained. And the muslim world’s reaction too. Much worse went on in their own prisons, but the Al-Jazeera watching public wasn’t worrying about that.
    It was the indignity of it that millions felt I think.
    But that was not entirely unhypocritical for people to feel so bad about that.
    That’s what I meant UKliberty about ”no one” being fussed about the state of Arab jails. Apart from when some poor unfortunate was rendered there for torture by the US.

    Bad business all round I say. So what to do with the Gunatanimo prisoners who their own governments refuse to have back? Let them live in Brooklyn and Tottenham?

    Btw. What was the Kandahar prison that all those guys have just escaped from like? Was it a better place or worse than Guantanamo? I never heard any concern about it. Did they receive justice before being incarcerated?

  28. ukliberty — on 26th April, 2011 at 10:24 am  

    damon,

    That’s what I meant UKliberty about ”no one” being fussed about the state of Arab jails.

    But people are ‘fussed’ about Syrian prison conditions, so you’re quite simply wrong.

  29. damon — on 26th April, 2011 at 11:06 am  

    I know you specialise in being extremely precise ukliberty – and so, in what you say, you are correct.
    I was talking about the matter of degrees though.
    To get the emotional reaction to these issues of human rights, it’s much easier if the perpetrators are western or Israeli. When Bianca Jagger speaks with emotion to a large crowd from a stage in Kensington, it’s not going to be what Sudan is doing in Darfur that will have got all those people out on the demonstration.
    I’ve been on a Darfur demonstration in London before, and all the usual people for an anti- war, or anti-Israel demo just weren’t on it. They couldn’t care less I presumed.

  30. ukliberty — on 26th April, 2011 at 11:15 am  

    MaidMarian @25, I was writing a reply but it turned into a lengthy ramble, most of which you undoubtedly already know, so I will say this:

    I agree that this is more complicated an issue than I can adequately cover in a 122 word comment. But really my comment @24 was a counterargument to damon’s laughable-if-it-wasn’t-so-serious characterisation of this merely being about the clothing that prisoners are made to wear. I do not think we live in a black and white world – I am not saying all Gitmo detainees were innocent or that political and military decisions are easy.

    But even with the best of intentions the authorities cannot be trusted to make correct decisions 100% of the time – that is why we have and ought to have independent scrutiny. And that is why I believe the right to challenge the lawfulness of one’s detention (for example), the right to a writ of habeas corpus in English and US law, is a fundamental, must-have right – the right to challenge the authorities before a neutral and informed decision-maker, whether it is a domestic criminal court or military tribunal, to make them justify one’s detention. For ‘a country’ that professes to believe in the rule of law and liberty, to attempt to place people beyond such legal protection is extraordinary.

    With this, sadly, comes a risk that we may suffer because people take advantage of our system. But we seem to ignore the risk inherent in an alternative system – the risk of being imprisoned because the authorities can do as they wish, perhaps.

    These files, to my mind show real difficulties that can’t be reduced to talkbaord platitudes. How exactly do you suggest mitigating the problems of the (overhyped) Londonistan?

    Try people suspected of committing crimes and if they are found guilty imprison them if that is a proportionate response. If they are doing things that aren’t crimes but we think ought to be crimes then change the law.

    Oh it’s turned into a lengthy comment again – apologies!

  31. Kismet Hardy — on 26th April, 2011 at 11:23 am  

    The news that guantanamo bay may genuinely be imprisoning some bona fide bad men comes as a delight. Praise the lord for justice.

    Fuck that shit. No innocent man should ever be barred without trial. Bullshit excuses about how you have to cast the net wide to catch the big fish is wank and anyone who justifies it is a wanker

  32. Sarah AB — on 26th April, 2011 at 11:58 am  

    @uk liberty

    “Try people suspected of committing crimes and if they are found guilty imprison them if that is a proportionate response. If they are doing things that aren’t crimes but we think ought to be crimes then change the law.”

    Sometimes though it’s more a matter of not cosying up to people and assuming that they represent, and can speak for, an entire community.

  33. ukliberty — on 26th April, 2011 at 12:03 pm  

    Sarah AB @32, I agree.

  34. TORY — on 26th April, 2011 at 12:30 pm  

    Lefties of this type amuse me.

    They are tougher on the EDL than Al-Qaeda and ‘nuclear hellstorm’

  35. earwicga — on 26th April, 2011 at 2:43 pm  

    @ 21 – yes, the Telegraph report is shocking. A shocking example of journalism. What next? An account straight from the Red Fairy Book? Don’t even begin to pretend you believe that shit being spouted as fact in the Telegraph cjcjc.

  36. earwicga — on 26th April, 2011 at 2:47 pm  

    Actually cjcjc, don’t even bother replying. I get more sense out of 9 year olds than I see on these boards. Y’all show just how exactly how it has been possible to get rid of habeas corpus.

  37. douglas clark — on 26th April, 2011 at 3:17 pm  

    Dear Mr Stott @ 23.,

    You say:

    @ Douglas Clark

    Lets just consider what Begg admits to in his book (And I stress admits to)

    1. Visiting Pakistani and Arab training camps in Afghanistan, four years after the Soviets had left the country (p.50-57)
    2. Visiting a Mujahideen camp in Bosnia (p.66-7)
    3. Attempting to enter Chechnya at the height of the conflict there (p.87)

    Whilst I have heard many comment that he went to Taliban controlled Afghanistan to open a girls school, his own memoirs reveal the school was already open when he left the UK. Instead his motivations seem to have been a mixture of the good things he had heard about Afghanistan from those visiting the Islamic bookshop he ran in Birmingham, the lower cost of living in Kabul, and a weariness of England brought on by the police attention he was receiving.

    Having read some of the literature, including Jihadi memoirs, published by his Maktabah Al Ansar bookshop prior to 9/11, such attention was hardly suprising.

    I am pleased Begg was released from Gitmo, where he should never have been held in the first place. Unlike Douglas Clark though, I am not so gullible about the man himself……

    You ain’t got nothing.

    If you think you have a case against him put it up in front of a Judge and a Jury. All you have, which is what I accused you of, is innuendo and assumptions. It is frankly ridiculous that you are allowed to get away with that.

    The idea that he didn’t go with the flow is a given. Last time I looked it wasn’t a crime.

  38. Sarah AB — on 26th April, 2011 at 3:32 pm  

    earwicga – what is the precise problem with the article in itself? I can see that it reflects the paper’s downplaying of the issues addressed in Sunny’s post, and I am quite willing to accept that there may be more substntial problems with it – but you haven’t demonstrated these. So at present I don’t see why both that Telegraph piece and this post can’t just be two valid comments – not even contradictory ones, just different – on the same complex material.

  39. cjcjc — on 26th April, 2011 at 3:37 pm  

    Indeed, Sarah. They aren’t contradictory.

    We can work ourselves up into a self-righteous frenzy about Gitmo, maybe we should, but it is not in our government’s power to do very much about it.

    We can, perhaps, do something about “Londonistan”.

  40. nobodys hero — on 26th April, 2011 at 6:08 pm  

    its tells us the edl have a point. Working class areas are a hotbed for islam fanaticism and bigotry. islam extremism is the egg , edl shere punjab tamil gangs the chickens

  41. damon — on 26th April, 2011 at 7:30 pm  

    I should have to call b/s on this one, Damon. I am professionally involved in children’s services in the Arab world and I have never, ever seen such a game played anywhere (and I have been in countries as diverse as Syria and Sudan over the last few years).

    That was something I read in a newpaper article sometime I remember. It might have been Palestinian children. They are pretty tough and could well play such games.
    They do play ”war” don’t they?

    But anyway. I have said that it is quite scandalous to have incarcerated people who were known to be innocent, and to have tortured, but ukliberty, the outcry started the day the first pictures were shown of the kneeling prisoners in the orange jumpsuits.
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/1777313.stm

    The criticism grew after it emerged that the prisoners had been handcuffed, blindfolded and shackled; had had their beards shaved; were being forced to live in open-sided wire cells; and, in some cases, were sedated on the flight from Afghanistan.

    That’s what shocked people so much on day one I think.
    I don’t think stories of torture had come out by january 2002.

  42. Boyo — on 26th April, 2011 at 7:46 pm  

    “Y’all show just how exactly how it has been possible to get rid of habeas corpus.”

    Oops. This is the court of public opinion, shurely?!

  43. Boyo — on 26th April, 2011 at 7:51 pm  

    Indeed, re the Telegraph, Earwicga’s so one-sided she’s almost two dimensional. Speaking of habeas corpus, she is probably the very last person I would want on a jury if that’s how she regards evidence (sorry, “shit”).

  44. ukliberty — on 26th April, 2011 at 10:26 pm  

    damon,

    I have said that it is quite scandalous to have incarcerated people who were known to be innocent, and to have tortured, but ukliberty, the outcry started the day the first pictures were shown of the kneeling prisoners in the orange jumpsuits.
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/1777313.stm

    The criticism grew after it emerged that the prisoners had been handcuffed, blindfolded and shackled; had had their beards shaved; were being forced to live in open-sided wire cells; and, in some cases, were sedated on the flight from Afghanistan.

    That’s what shocked people so much on day one I think.

    Where are jumpsuits or indeed any clothing mentioned in that article?

    Yes, what shocked some was the treatment of the prisoners – hoods, shaving the beards, forced into those wire cells, not what they were forced to wear (except the hoods). But that is not what you said earlier.

    I don’t think stories of torture had come out by january 2002.

    IIRC, you are correct that stories of torture had not come out by January 2002… Perhaps because there would have been too little time to torture the detainees and leak this information given the first flight there was on 10 January 2002, 13 days prior to the date on the BBC article you linked to (above).

    Prior to that BBC article, a number of journalists expressed concern about the way prisoners were treated (e.g. shaving the beard, open wire cells) and the point that they were being detained outside the law.

    Here is a Time article with excerpts from other media – again no mention of jumpsuits or other clothing, except hoods.

    (AIUI, what the orange jumpsuits were to protesters was a visually striking means of drawing attention to the issue, not because the prisoners were being made to wear orange jumpsuits – I would be surprised if anyone gave a fcuk about that in itself, I certainly don’t.)

  45. ukliberty — on 26th April, 2011 at 10:30 pm  

    Incidentally, returning to the OP, I wonder if the 14 year old boy interrogators reduced to tears day after day and the senile old man were among those who Joint Chief of Staff, General Richard Myers was referring to when he said, “These are people that would gnaw through hydraulic lines in the back of a C-17 to bring it down. So these are very, very dangerous people.”

  46. damon — on 26th April, 2011 at 11:52 pm  

    Steve Bell cartoon in today’s Guardian.
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cartoon/2011/apr/27/steve-bell-guantanamo-files

    He’s had a thing for the boiler suits since day one.
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/cartoons/stevebell/0,,1797429,00.html

    As did these people. In London:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2007/jan/11/guantanamo.usa

    And in Washington.
    http://www.foxnews.com/images/336375/0_61_011308_guantanamo_protest.jpg

    Al-Qaeda knew its propaganda value too. And that’s why they put their western victims in them before beheading them.

    I still think that holding people they knew were innocent is completely immoral though.

  47. Sunny — on 27th April, 2011 at 2:03 am  

    We can work ourselves up into a self-righteous frenzy about Gitmo, maybe we should, but it is not in our government’s power to do very much about it.

    We can, perhaps, do something about “Londonistan”

    Heh. There are people who still believe in ‘Londonistan’? Heh. You might get a better reaction on Mad Mel’s blog cjcjc?

    Also, why is it some of you folks can’t chew gum and walk at the same time? Why is the British govt unable to influence the existence of Gitmo at all?

  48. AbuF — on 27th April, 2011 at 6:41 am  

    Why do some people hereabouts refer to the West’s interventions (for right or wrong) as “Crusades” and the participants as “Crusaders”?

    Why is the British govt unable to influence the existence of Gitmo at all?

    Do you also find it telling that HMG cannot influence the price of salt herrings in Narvik too?

  49. cjcjc — on 27th April, 2011 at 7:20 am  

    Sunny, you must be the only person left who doesn’t believe in it.

    Kim Howells was on R4 this morning talking about it.

  50. ukliberty — on 27th April, 2011 at 7:52 am  

    Yes damon, the prisoners wore orange jumpsuits… how interesting…

  51. ukliberty — on 27th April, 2011 at 7:59 am  

    Sunny,

    Why is the British govt unable to influence the existence of Gitmo at all?

    (note cjcjc said, “it is not in our government’s power to do very much about it“.)

    Because we have relatively little influence over US policies compared to US politicians? Jesus, even the President finds it difficult.

  52. Boyo — on 27th April, 2011 at 8:06 am  

    @38 I think Sarah AB’s plaintive comment is apposite. Yes there were terrorists, yes there were 14 year olds.

    Damon, Sunny is quite right to have previously remarked that one cannot compare eggs with prawns (alright, my metaphor), ie, the West should be held to a higher standard than its opponents, hence the various tortures and degradations are utterly unacceptable.

    I agree that sometimes it may be necessary to use extra-judicial means to defend oneself from people who have, after all, declared war on one – the tragedy of our war on terror is however that its chief prosecutors have struggled to understand it is fundamentally a war of ideas, and one in which Gitmo was worth to the enemy any number of battalions, smart bombs and killer drones.

  53. cjcjc — on 27th April, 2011 at 8:34 am  
  54. damon — on 27th April, 2011 at 8:59 am  

    Yes damon, the prisoners wore orange jumpsuits… how interesting…

    The way that the orange boiler suit became so symbolic is quite interesting in my opinion. Before we ever heard of waterboarding and Binyam Mohamed.

    The Steve Bell cartoon of the kneeling prisoners was from one particular picture that came from the very first days of Guantanamo if I remember rightly.
    The prisoners had just arrived and were still in chains and hoods from their flights.

    From this selection of google images, it’s not always clear which are genuine Guantanamo prisoners and which are protesting about it. All liberals on these protests I’m sure. No plumbers and postmen.
    http://www.google.co.uk/search?um=1&hl=en&rlz=1G1SMSN_ENUK429&biw=1003&bih=403&site=search&tbm=isch&sa=1&q=guantanamo+prisoners

    While I wouldn’t support torture, I’m not that fussed about the British jihadists being held for a couple of years particularly. I’ve seen ‘America’s toughest prisons’ on TV, and if I wasn’t going to be tortured, I think I’d prefer a couple of years in Guantanamo than two years in a gang dominated US prison.

  55. ukliberty — on 27th April, 2011 at 9:31 am  

    damon,

    The way that the orange boiler suit became so symbolic is quite interesting in my opinion. Before we ever heard of waterboarding and Binyam Mohamed.

    You appear to be completely blind to the fact that people expressed concern not about the clothing the prisoners wore (other than the hoods) but the means of delivery to Guantanamo and the law (or lack of it) under which they were being detained.

    ISTM the orange jumpsuits worn by protesters were not worn because anyone was particularly concerned about people being forced to wear orange jumpsuits. Why on earth would they be? They were concerned however about prisoners being detained in small wire cages and hypothetically outside the law.

    Orange jumpsuits are incidental but visually striking.

    While I wouldn’t support torture, I’m not that fussed about the British jihadists being held for a couple of years particularly. I’ve seen ‘America’s toughest prisons’ on TV, and if I wasn’t going to be tortured, I think I’d prefer a couple of years in Guantanamo than two years in a gang dominated US prison.

    Well yes, it’s all relative isn’t it? I would rather spend two years in Guantanamo than in federal pound-your-ass prison, and perhaps rather two years in federal pound-your-ass-prison than in a Syrian daily-beatings-kickings-and-lashings-and-putting-to-the-rack prison… not quite sure what your point is.

  56. damon — on 27th April, 2011 at 11:22 pm  

    Regarding that new thread titled ‘Why don’t people pay more attention to what shifts views?’ – about polarisation and changing people’s views, this Guantanamo story is a perfect example of it.
    On here and other left blogs it would be seen as normal to be appalled by the whole Gitmo thing from start to finish …. and then, if I asked some of the people I work with, they would have little sympathy for the prisoners.

    If I really made the effort to talk about some particulary harsh cases, like the renditions for torture, or these people they knew were innocent, or picked up and sold into captivity just for money, you could just about get some agreement that perhaps some of their treatment was too harsh – but the main view would still be ”screw the terrorists”.

    And I understand why people have that view. It’s because of the kind of people they are and what they read and don’t read. They don’t read Huffington Post and Liberal Conspiracy. And they don’t really care about people locked up in Belmarsh or Guantanamo.
    If I said that I had donned an orange boiler suit, got hooded and chained outside the US embassy protesting with Amnesty, they would just laugh and mock. It’s not something they would ever do in a million years, and I think it’s a class issue too.

    If they were to hear that Cage Prisoners had an article defending Afghans living in England who have gone to Afghanistan after working as mini cab drivers in London, just for a few months to fight NATO and then come back and resume their lives in Britain – there’s no way that they would just shrug at that and say the Afghans have a right to ‘defend’ their country, and then come back to the UK.

    On here and LC some people would still defend Moazzam Begg and his group, but if I tried to do so in the canteen at work it wouldn’t go down well at all.
    I’d get marked out as a weirdo for sure.

    It’s just a political and cultural fault line I think. And a class one too often.

    By British liberal standards, Barack Obama is not so far fron G W Bush I guess. Guantanamo, Bradley Manning, harsh prison system, the death penalty.

  57. Kismet Hardy — on 28th April, 2011 at 12:32 am  

    “Guantanamo, Bradley Manning, harsh prison system, the death penalty”

    I read that as Bernard Manning. So here’s a joke. Circa 2002 when Bernard Manning was alive and kicking, to make this less ridiculous, like

    A guy dressed in orange walks in to a pub.

    Barman goes: ‘what’s your name foreigner?’

    The guy says: ‘Omar Khadr’

    Barman says: ‘I can’t serve you you filthy little brown toerag.’

    ‘Why not?’ asks Omar Khadr

    Says the barman: ‘You’re 16.’

  58. ukliberty — on 28th April, 2011 at 8:20 am  

    Kismet, new keyboard please.

  59. Matt — on 28th April, 2011 at 8:29 pm  

    I have a great idea. Lets turn loose all the POW’s from Gitmo and airdrop them into the UK ?

  60. qqwer — on 3rd May, 2011 at 11:00 am  

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