Monday, November 07, 2005

Secret detention facilities= the horror of the gulag

When Iwas a kid I was brought up to believe that we did open war crimes trials, not committed war crimes. This stuff is reprehensible, and if laws were broken, the perpetrators should be brought to justice, regardless of their status.

Three Yemeni nationals who were arrested in late 2003 say they were transferred to U.S. custody and kept isolated in at least four secret detention facilities that Amnesty International officials believe could be part of a covert CIA prison system...

During their separate incarcerations, the detainees were never visited by the International Committee of the Red Cross, never had access to lawyers, were unable to correspond with their families and had no contact with the outside world, the report said. Their families believed they were dead or were told that they had gone to Iraq to fight the United States.

The accounts, taken in independent interviews by Amnesty International researchers over the past few months, appear to be consistent with reports of a network of secret CIA detention facilities, according to the report. The detainees could not determine where they were because they were hooded during the flights, but because of the travel time they assumed they were in Europe or the Middle East, according to Amnesty International...

Salah Ali and Muhammad Bashmilah, who were living in Indonesia, were arrested in August and October 2003, respectively; Ali in Jakarta and Bashmilah in Amman, Jordan. They were taken to a Jordanian prison and tortured -- badly beaten and chained in uncomfortable positions -- by Jordanian authorities before being transferred to U.S. custody, according to Amnesty International. Both men had traveled to Afghanistan in 2000 to learn about jihad, but neither man fought against the United States, according to FitzGerald.

Ali said he was stripped and beaten with sticks by a ring of masked soldiers. "They tried to force me to walk like an animal, on my hands and feet, and I refused," Ali told Amnesty, "so they stretched me out on the floor and walked on me and put their shoes in my mouth."...

Such "incommunicado" detentions are against international standards but are consistent with recent reports of how the CIA operated its detention network.

Manfred Nowak, the U.N. rapporteur on torture, said in an interview last week that secret facilities are a particularly important issue because there is no outside oversight and no ability to know which detainees are in custody or where they are held. He condemned the practice.

"Incommunicado detention forms inhumane treatment in and of itself," Nowak said.

The evidence is emerging - from innocently detained people (after why else would they be let go?)- that this stuff happened. That - unsaid in this article- is even more damning.

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