FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Bush’s Bitter Legacy

As we pause to remember the 3,000 people who died in the dreadful attacks of September 11 2001, it is also important to remember that, in terms of the Bush administration’s response, the bitter legacy of that day remains a deep stain on America’s moral standing.

In order to pursue a “war” against a group of terrorist criminals, the administration flouted the US Constitution and the bill of rights, dismissed the Geneva conventions, endorsed imprisonment without charge or trial, created a system of show trials for terror suspects out of thin air, granted themselves the right to spy on American citizens with impunity, and invaded a sovereign country without justification.

Although it is reassuring that both presidential candidates have pledged to close Guantánamo, and Barack Obama has signalled that he will act to withdraw US forces from Iraq, neither Obama nor John McCain has yet spelled out in detail how Guantánamo will be closed.

In addition, there has been no talk of what lies behind the notorious offshore prison in Cuba: a network of unaccountable prisons in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the hundreds of other prisoners, subjected to “extraordinary rendition”, who are languishing in jails in third countries or in secret facilities run by or overseen by the CIA.

Decisive leadership is now required to correct these mistakes, and to revive the United States as a country founded on the rule of law.

Some of this can be accomplished with a few pieces of crucial legislation – upholding the absolute ban on torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, prohibiting the use of “extraordinary rendition”, holding prisoners seized in wartime in accordance with the Geneva conventions, and bringing criminals to justice within the US court system.

Other problems, however, require painstaking attention to the details, as my colleagues at Reprieve, the legal action charity, understand only too well. Reprieve’s lawyers represent 31 of the 263 prisoners still held in Guantánamo. One of these men, British resident Binyam Mohamed, is facing a trial by military commission at Guantánamo (a system condemned by Lord Steyn as a “kangaroo court”).

Mohamed is a victim of rendition and torture, and his lawyers are currently attempting, through the high court, to persuade the British government to release potentially exculpatory evidence in its possession relating to his case. Their reasons are simple: without this information, they will be unable to prepare an adequate defence, as a steady flow of information relating to the trials has demonstrated that they are designed to secure convictions, and to prevent all mention of torture. Until this system is closed down, and the trials transferred to the mainland, Guantánamo will remain as a beacon of injustice.

Nine of Reprieve’s other clients have been cleared for release from Guantánamo, after multiple review boards, because the authorities have concluded that they do not pose a threat to the US, but they remain in Guantánamo either because of treaties preventing the return of foreign nationals to countries where they face the risk of torture, or, in other cases, because they are, literally, stateless.

Examples include: several Italian residents (pdf) of Tunisian origin, whose return to Tunisia would be a human rights disaster; two Saudi residents, born in Saudi Arabia but spurned by the government because their parents are from Chad and Palestine; and Ahmed Belbacha, an Algerian who has launched a court appeal to prevent his repatriation, because of legitimate fears about his safety. Although Belbacha lived in the UK and had applied for asylum, he was not technically a resident when he took a holiday in Pakistan in 2001 that led to his kidnapping and transportation to Guantánamo.

Until these cases are resolved, and new homes found for these men, Guantánamo will remain open as an affront to US justice, and a corrosive reminder of the grave errors – the lack of screening, the presumption of guilt, and the bounty payments for “al-Qaida and Taliban suspects” – that led to the prison being filled with innocent men and Taliban foot soldiers who had no knowledge of al-Qaida or the 9/11 attacks.

ANDY WORTHINGTON is a British historian, and the author of ‘The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison’ (published by Pluto Press). Visit his website at: www.andyworthington.co.uk He can be reached at: andy@andyworthington.co.uk

 

Your Ad Here
 

 

 

 

More articles by:

ANDY WORTHINGTON is a British journalist, the author of ‘The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison’ (published by Pluto Press), and the co-director (with Polly Nash) of the new Guantánamo documentary, ‘Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo.’ Visit his website at: www.andyworthington.co.uk He can be reached at: andy@andyworthington.co.uk        WORDS THAT STICK ?  

January 16, 2019
Patrick Bond
Jim Yong Kim’s Mixed Messages to the World Bank and the World
John Grant
Joe Biden, Crime Fighter from Hell
Alvaro Huerta
Brief History Notes on Mexican Immigration to the U.S.
Kenneth Surin
A Great Speaker of the UK’s House of Commons
Elizabeth Henderson
Why Sustainable Agriculture Should Support a Green New Deal
Binoy Kampmark
Trump, Bolton and the Syrian Confusion
Jeff Mackler
Trump’s Syria Exit Tweet Provokes Washington Panic
Barbara Nimri Aziz
How Long Can Nepal Blame Others for Its Woes?
Cesar Chelala
Violence Against Women: A Pandemic No Longer Hidden
Kim C. Domenico
To Make a Vineyard of the Curse: Fate, Fatalism and Freedom
Dave Lindorff
Criminalizing BDS Trashes Free Speech & Association
Thomas Knapp
Now More Than Ever, It’s Clear the FBI Must Go
Binoy Kampmark
Dances of Disinformation: The Partisan Politics of the Integrity Initiative
Edward Curtin
A Gentrified Little Town Goes to Pot
January 15, 2019
Patrick Cockburn
Refugees Are in the English Channel Because of Western Interventions in the Middle East
Howard Lisnoff
The Faux Political System by the Numbers
Lawrence Davidson
Amos Oz and the Real Israel
John W. Whitehead
Beware the Emergency State
John Laforge
Loudmouths against Nuclear Lawlessness
Myles Hoenig
Labor in the Age of Trump
Jeff Cohen
Mainstream Media Bias on 2020 Democratic Race Already in High Gear
Dean Baker
Will Paying for Kidneys Reduce the Transplant Wait List?
George Ochenski
Trump’s Wall and the Montana Senate’s Theater of the Absurd
Binoy Kampmark
Dances of Disinformation: the Partisan Politics of the Integrity Initiative
Glenn Sacks
On the Picket Lines: Los Angeles Teachers Go On Strike for First Time in 30 Years
Jonah Raskin
Love in a Cold War Climate
Andrew Stewart
The Green New Deal Must be Centered on African American and Indigenous Workers to Differentiate Itself From the Democratic Party
January 14, 2019
Kenn Orphan
The Tears of Justin Trudeau
Julia Stein
California Needs a 10-Year Green New Deal
Dean Baker
Declining Birth Rates: Is the US in Danger of Running Out of People?
Robert Fisk
The US Media has Lost One of Its Sanest Voices on Military Matters
Vijay Prashad
5.5 Million Women Build Their Wall
Nicky Reid
Lessons From Rojava
Ted Rall
Here is the Progressive Agenda
Robert Koehler
A Green Future is One Without War
Gary Leupp
The Chickens Come Home to Roost….in Northern Syria
Glenn Sacks
LA Teachers’ Strike: “The Country Is Watching”
Sam Gordon
Who Are Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionists?
Weekend Edition
January 11, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Richard Moser
Neoliberalism: Free Market Fundamentalism or Corporate Power?
Paul Street
Bordering on Fascism: Scholars Reflect on Dangerous Times
Joseph Majerle III – Matthew Stevenson
Who or What Brought Down Dag Hammarskjöld?
Jeffrey St. Clair - Joshua Frank
How Tre Arrow Became America’s Most Wanted Environmental “Terrorist”
Andrew Levine
Dealbreakers: The Democrats, Trump and His Wall
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Que Syria, Syria
Dave Lindorff
A Potentially Tectonic Event Shakes up the Mumia Abu-Jamal Case
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail