The US Department of Justice Inspector General’s report was released this week and reveals that the FBI opened a “war crimes” file on the administration citing the numerous instances of abuse and torture witnessed by FBI agents at Guantanamo.

The report makes it absolutely clear that torture was ordered and planned in detail at the highest levels of the government—including the White House, the National Security Council, the Pentagon and the Justice Department. Attempts to stop it on legal or pragmatic grounds by individuals within the government were systematically suppressed, and evidence of this criminal activity covered up.

Pages and pages of the report give testimony from hundreds of FBI agents present during incidents of abuse and torture.

Consider the account of the interrogation of Mohamedou Ould Slahi, a Mauritanian national who was arrested by his own government, turned over to US forces and brought to Guantánamo in 2002:

“He was left alone in a cold room known as ‘the freezer,’ where guards would prevent him from sleeping by putting ice or cold water on him…

“He was subjected to sleep deprivation for a period of 70 days by means of prolonged interrogations, strobe lights, threatening music, forced intake of water, and forced standing.

In addition, four agents reported the kicking and beating to death of two detainees in Afghanistan who had been subjected to prolonged shackling in a standing position.

The episodes of torture detailed in this report are the tip of the iceberg.

They do not include the treatment of Murat Kurnaz, a Turkish citizen born in Germany, who was arrested during a trip to Pakistan in the fall of 2001 and was handed over to US officials for a $3,000 bounty. First taken to the US base in Kandahar, Afghanistan, he was then transferred to Guantánamo. While by 2002 the US authorities concluded that Kurnaz had nothing to do with terrorism, he was imprisoned until the middle of 2006 and released only because of pressure from the German government.

I know there is a debate on whether or not this abuse and torture is warranted. Quite frankly, I don’t believe there should be a debate at all. You can’t justify by claiming these are “bad people” who would do the same to us. That argument has no weight to it what so ever. The hypocrisy of that argument is so blatant.

These are human beings were talking about. Not animals. No matter what they did or did not do, it doesn’t give anyone the right to treat them this way. The United States is supposed to be a pillar of freedom and a fighter for human rights. How does it look to the rest of the world if we are no better than the dictators we justify wars for in order to remove them from power.

Aside from the fact of whether its right or wrong to torture detainees, has anyone thought about the possibility that some of these people aren’t even guilty of anything? Some of them are captured for being at the wrong place at the wrong time (just like those thrown in the Pier 57 holding center who just happened to be in the vicinity of mass protestings during the RNC convention). Some of them are turned in whether they did anything wrong or not by their neighbors so they can collect the reward money (Don’t like your neighbor? Give him to the US to be tortured relentlessly and get some cash for it). This was the case with Murat Kurnaz.

The episodes of torture detailed in this report are the tip of the iceberg.They do not include the treatment of Murat Kurnaz, a Turkish citizen born in Germany, who was arrested during a trip to Pakistan in the fall of 2001 and was handed over to US officials for a $3,000 bounty. First taken to the US base in Kandahar, Afghanistan, he was then transferred to Guantánamo. While by 2002 the US authorities concluded that Kurnaz had nothing to do with terrorism, he was imprisoned until the middle of 2006 and released only because of pressure from the German government.

Barred from entry to the US, he testified via video link to a sparsely attended hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Committee this week.

“I did nothing wrong and I was treated like a monster,” he said. He told how he was subjected to electric shocks, being suspended by his wrists for hours and subjected to the ‘water treatment,’ in which his head was stuck into a bucket of water and he was punched in the stomach, forcing him to inhale the liquid. (The Justice Department Inspector General’s report, it bears noting, affirmed that this last form of torture did not constitute “waterboarding,” but did represent “an effort to intimidate the detainees and increase their feelings of helplessness.”)

“I know others have died from this kind of treatment,” said Kurnaz. “I suffered from sleep deprivation, solitary confinement, religious and sexual humiliations. I was beaten multiple times.”

“There was no law in Guantánamo,” Kurnaz concluded. “I didn’t think this could happen in the 21st century…. I could never have imagined that this place was created by the United States.

When the pictures showing the torture and abuse of detainees at Abu Graib surfaced, they were dismissed as being the example of a few bad apples and, in fact, that is how most people will defend those pictures. The pictures were all but forgotten yet the issue keeps arising again and again only for the White House to deny them over and over again, several years later.

That seems to be their favorite tactic when faced with harsh criticism and accusations–deny, deny, deny. They tout it as “preposterous” or “unfounded” and everyone takes them at their word. Every time new accusations arise they either deny it all together or make personal attacks against the person asking the questions. They never directly take on the issue at hand. They won’t turn over records (every single issue is an issue of national security), they disregard court orders and the congress refuses time and time again to force the administration to have any responsibility for their actions. This is most likely because they themselves are accomplices to these atrocities.

We live in an era where the government no longer believes it works for us. They have become so exclusionary and elitist that the will of the “little people” doesn’t matter at all to them anymore.

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In my previous post I described the suspicious activities of our government that seem to point to them preparing to detain thousands if not hundreds of thousands of American citizens at the presidents behest should a “national emergency” be declared by Mr. Bush.

It is not beyond my comprehension that some people might think this is preposterous so I thought it pertinent to give a gleaming example of how they would not hesitate to do so. The story I am about to tell you happened about 4 years ago at the Republican National Convention and had received very little, if any, attention by the mainstream media. Almost two thousands American citizens were held without charge at at Pier 57 which is described as a three-story, block-long pier that had been converted to a holding pen for at least 24 hours with barely any food or water. Some of them were released early due to a court order instructing the police to release those not accused of a serious crime and give them a desk appearance ticket, very few of them were. Some described the conditions they had to endure during their stay to which the Mayor of New York at the time explained, “It’s not like it’s supposed to be club med”.

During the convention there were mass protest by varying organizations. At some point the New York police decided to start rounding up as my people as they could. They gave no warning to passers by to vacate the premises which they had cordoned off. There was no apparent reason as to why they decided to start arresting people. The marches and demonstrations did not escalate to violence. Several by-standers who weren’t even part of the protests were handcuffed and thrown in the holding center without being read their rights and without being allowed a phone call to let their loved ones know where they were.

One person managed to smuggle in a cell phone and they called Democracy Now!. The phone was passed around as several of those being detained told of the horrible conditions they were in. Some had already been there for 12 hours with no blanket and only a glass of water and a sandwich for nourishment. They had to sit on the concrete floor covered in dirt and oil. One detainee told of how there were several chemical warning signs instructing the use of face masks and goggles and some people were starting to break out into itchy rashes. Some seemed to be developing chemical burns. Those who were either hurt during the round up or were developing some sort of chemical reaction were denied medical attention for hours on end.

Here are pieces of the transcript from that phone call. You can read the entire thing here.

EMILY: My name is Emily. I was arrested yesterday off of Union Square East, on East 15th Street in between Union Square East and Irvine. [sic] I was on the sidewalk, and I was never told that I would be arrested. I was just on the sidewalk. And no one ever read me my rights. They just took us all away. They trapped us and put us all into buses. We’ve been in jail for over 13 hours right now. In our first nine hours, the only food we received was an apple. In our first four hours here we weren’t allowed to go to the bathroom or get water. So none of us were read our rights; we haven’t been able to talk to any lawyers. A lot of people here that were arrested without even protesting, they were—just happened to be on the sidewalk where everyone was on that block—was arrested. And there are chemical warning signs all over this place that we’re being held. A lot of people are forming rashes on their skin from the floor—from whatever it is that is on it. And I’m going to pass this on to someone else who has another story.

VOICE SHOUTING IN THE BACKGROUND: I need medical attention!

ALTHEA: My name is Althea and I was—am a New York City public school teacher. I was out on Union Square on 16th Street between Irving and Union Square just walking, trying to enjoy the day, and I got swept up in a demonstration. I wasn’t a part of the demonstration and I was arrested. I was arrested about 8:00 p.m., handcuffed and we’ve been sitting in the Chelsea piers in very crowded conditions. Right now some people are experiencing toxic reaction to the environment, itching in their skin, and we’re very crowded. We have been given water and a sandwich, but they have not been giving us any information, and we’ve just been sitting here really penned in.

MIKE BURKE: Have you been able to communicate to any of your family or friends about your situation?

ALTHEA: No, I haven’t. I have been asking my arresting officer when can I make a phone call? And no one knows where I am. Basically I feel like I’ve been ‘disappeared.’ Nobody knows in my family that I have been arrested. And I was out by myself shopping; so, you know, there’s no one to—they haven’t allowed me to contact anyone.

VEEPA MAJAMUTAR: Hi. This is Veepa Majamutar. I’m calling also from the arresting facility. Basically I was just a stand-by and I was walking on the sidewalk and there was a march going on. They cordoned off the whole street and just arrested all of us. When I tried to explain that I was just walking by—I had a receipt from a store that I had bought something from on that street. They did not pay any attention. And here we are sitting in this almost a human-rights abuse conditions. So many of us are cold. We are freezing. Some of us need medical attention; but nobody’s telling us what to do. Nobody’s listening to us. Nobody’s giving us any timeline, any idea of when we might get out. They’ve always been saying ‘Next two hours. Two hours.’ It’s been more than 12 hours now.

MIKE BURKE: Could you describe what you were doing just before you were arrested?

VEEPA MAJAMUTAR: What was I doing?

MIKE BURKE: Yes.

VEEPA MAJAMUTAR: Basically I was just—I was walking on the sidewalk. I didn’t even know that there were police and the march was going on. And all of a sudden the street basically just gets cordoned off and we cannot move. So before I was arrested I was just standing still because that’s all we could really do. And then they just started putting handcuffs on people. They didn’t tell us, please leave otherwise we’ll arrest you. They gave us no warning. They gave us no chance to leave. They just basically closed off the street, put handcuffs, and took us. They did not listen to anybody. They did not listen to even pure reason. They just put us off. We thought we would basically get out in a couple of hours if we had done nothing. But here we are 12 hours later and, basically, almost ridicule us. They ridicule us if we start to complain. And the condition here are atrocious. You have to see them to believe it. It’s dirty. It’s smelly. It’s filthy. We don’t have a blanket. We don’t have something to sit on. We are sitting on the floor. There’s dirt on the floor. There’s oil on the floor. There’s chemicals around us. It’s smelling bad. I could go on and on. It’s atrocious.

MIKE BURKE: Could you describe what kind of room you are in? It sounds like there are many, many people in the same room.

VEEPA MAJAMUTAR: We are like a hundred—a hundred people in a very small room. It’s surrounded by fence and we are like—it’s almost like rats in a hole. I mean, there’s nothing, there is just a floor which is very dirty, which is a lot of oil and all dust in it, I mean, all our clothes are dirty our hands are ditty. We had to eat an apple with our extremely dirty hands because we have no tissue paper, nothing to clean our hands with. We are just basically packed. Nobody can sit down. They don’t even give us a plastic bag to sit on. They don’t even give anything to lie down on. We just have to lie on the hard floor, basically. And there is not enough space for everybody to lie down because we have to sit so close together. It’s cramped. And we were freezing before and people were actually coughing, they were getting cold and nobody paid any attention, nobody gave them even a blanket nobody gave them even a plastic bag to cover themselves with.

In discussing the virtual media blackout on the story, the REAL story we were told by Juan Gonzalas (contained in the transcript from Democracy Now!):

One Daily News reporter told me the story yesterday that on Tuesday, he attended a protest at the Hummer dealership on 11th avenue on the west side. 15 reporters showed up, 40 police, and only one protester showed up at this rally. One young woman who was by herself picketing in front of the Hummer dealership. The police supervisor approached her and said, “you are blocking traffic”. I am giving you a warning or you are going to be arrested. She was stunned, the reporters were stunned because she was the only protester in front of the dealership. She said what do you mean? I am not blocking anybody’s traffic. The police supervisor said “that’s it. You had your time. Cuff her.” And they carted her away. And the reporter wrote a story which didn’t make our paper and in fact, I think there was only a mention in Newsday of it. So there’s a problem here in terms of this preemptive-strike policy by the police department and also in terms of how the media are covering it.

Even when the judge ordered the release of several hundred protesters who had been detained for anywhere between 36 and 66 hours the New York City Police department failed to comply with the order and were fined $1,000 for each protester not release as reported, amazingly, by CBS News.

A judge ordered the immediate release of nearly 500 protesters Thursday – just hours before President Bush’s speech at the Republican National Convention – and then fined the city for refusing to comply with his order.

State Supreme Court Justice John Cataldo fined the city $1,000 for every protester held past a 5 p.m. deadline that he had set for their release. It was unclear how many detainees were still in custody, but Cataldo had ordered the release of 470 people.

“These people have already been the victims of a process,” state Supreme Court Justice John Cataldo told the city’s top lawyer. “I can no longer accept your statement that you are trying to comply.”

The detainees had been in custody for anywhere from 36 to 66 hours. The decision was immediately hailed by attorneys for the demonstrators.

While I can understand the extreme inconvenience these mass protests may have caused and that some arrests were warranted, I cannot, by any imagination, understand the exorbitant lack of discretion given when arresting people. It seemed that anybody they came across they arrested. I’m sure not everyone was acting peacefully, but that doesn’t excuse arresting everyone because of the actions of some.

Then to throw them all in horrendous conditions like wild dogs and refused medical treatment, phone calls, and adequate food and water is deplorable.

No doubt that almost all of these people that were held have been put on “the list” of Americans deemed to be enemies of the state whether or not they were there to protest. These people will undoubtedly be rounded up again should a “national emergency” arise.

Some disturbing facts:

  1. In 2006, a $38 million dollar project landed on Bush’s desk to preserve the Japanese detainment camps used during WWII.
  2. In January of this year, a Halliburton subsidiary was awarded a $385 million contract to build detention centers.
  3. Bids are being accepted to build internment camps
  4. President Bush has signed executive orders that give him sweeping powers in time of “national crisis” which would effectively enact Martial Law.
  5. Due to Bush’s illegal surveillance program there is a database of American citizens who may be incarcerated during a time of national emergency.

You may think this seems outlandish. It’s not. We did it once before, we’ll do it again.

During WWII hundreds of thousands of men, women, and yes, even children were unlawfully detained in these camps. These people did nothing wrong but come to America to seek a better life. Some of them had been here all their lives. We held them against their will.

In 2006 President Bush enacted a law giving a $38 million grant to preserve the camps “as reminders of how the United States turned on some of its citizens in a time of fear.” Sounds awfully apologetic right?

Not so much when you consider the fact that plans are and have been underway to build EVEN MORE of these camps. Hailliburton just won a contract to build “temporary immigration detention centers”. Supposedly, the main purpose of these centers is to detain immigrants in case of an unexpected mass immigration. But, just as the article states in just few words that probably no one paid attention to, they could be used for other programs too.

KBR would build the centers for the Homeland Security Department for an unexpected influx of immigrants, to house people in the event of a natural disaster or for new programs that require additional detention space, company executives said.

That gives me the creeps. Especially when you consider the fact that President Bush signed an executive order giving him complete power without checks and balances during a time in which he and ONLY he can declare a national emergency. He could give himself the power to seize absolute control of the US government .

President George W. Bush has signed executive orders giving him sole authority to impose martial law, suspend habeas corpus and ignore the Posse Comitatus Act that prohibits deployment of U.S. troops on American streets. This would give him absolute dictatorial power over the government with no checks and balances.

Bush discussed imposing martial law on American streets in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks by activating “national security initiatives” put in place by Ronald Reagan during the 1980s.

Under this order the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is to be in charge of implementing the executive orders that will suspend the constitution, implement martial law, establish internment camps (like the ones that are being preserved and built), and turn the United States Government over to the president. We’ve already seen what the president will do with limited powers, imagine what he could do with complete control.

There is already a database of American citizens who have been essentially deemed “enemies of the state”. As one article reports, James Comey, John Ashcrofts second in command during Bush’s first term, gave testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee that he had become very uneasy about the administrations domestic surveillance programs.

Much of his testimony centered on an operation so clandestine he wasn’t allowed to name it or even describe what it did. He did say, however, that he and Ashcroft had discussed the program in March 2004, trying to decide whether it was legal under federal statutes. Shortly before the certification deadline, Ashcroft fell ill with pancreatitis, making Comey acting attorney general, and Comey opted not to certify the program. When he communicated his decision to the White House, Bush’s men told him, in so many words, to take his concerns and stuff them in an undisclosed location.

Comey refused to knuckle under, and the dispute came to a head on the cold night of March 10, 2004, hours before the program’s authorization was to expire. At the time, Ashcroft was in intensive care at George Washington Hospital following emergency surgery. Apparently, at the behest of President Bush himself, the White House tried, in Comey’s words, “to take advantage of a very sick man,” sending Chief of Staff Andrew Card and then–White House counsel Alberto Gonzales on a mission to Ashcroft’s sickroom to persuade the heavily doped attorney general to override his deputy. Apprised of their mission, Comey, accompanied by a full security detail, jumped in his car, raced through the streets of the capital, lights blazing, and “literally ran” up the hospital stairs to beat them there.

Minutes later, Gonzales and Card arrived with an envelope filled with the requisite forms. Ashcroft, even in his stupor, did not fall for their heavy-handed ploy. “I’m not the attorney general,” Ashcroft told Bush’s men. “There”—he pointed weakly to Comey—”is the attorney general.” Gonzales and Card were furious, departing without even acknowledging Comey’s presence in the room. The following day, the classified domestic spying program that Comey found so disturbing went forward at the demand of the White House—“without a signature from the Department of Justice attesting as to its legality,” he testified.

So we have yet another instance of Bush trampling all over the constitution in order to illegally spy on American citizens. One government official also testified before the Senate Judiciary Committe saying:

“There exists a database of Americans, who, often for the slightest and most trivial reason, are considered unfriendly, and who, in a time of panic, might be incarcerated. The database can identify and locate perceived ‘enemies of the state’ almost instantaneously.”

Now you can see what these “other programs” might be. Bush believes it’s okay to spy on Americans. He believes anyone against the war is an enemy of the state and, if the circumstances are just right, he will declare a state of national emergency that needs no approval from any other branch of government, and any of these people that are already in this compiled database will be rounded up and whisked away into detention centers either built by Halliburton or an internment camp that was specifically preserved for such an incident. You will have no right to an attorney, no habeus corpus, and no one will know where you are.

Arguably, Bush only has a few months left in the White House so the possiblity of him putting any of this into play is minimal. That is, until you realize what “continuity of government” is. I will go over this in another article.

If you still think this all hogwash, stayed tuned for another installment reflecting on the unlawful detainment of thousands of protesters at the 2004 Republican National Convention.