[Ppnews] Silenced for Speaking the Truth about Guantanamo

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Tue May 18 10:56:19 EDT 2010

Silenced for Speaking the Truth about Guantanamo

By <http://www.zcommunications.org/zspace/robertfisk>Robert Fisk

Source: The Independent/UK
Tuesday, May 18, 2010

I began my column last week with the words "We know all about 
Guantanamo". I was wrong. Courtesy of the Toronto press - until a few 
days ago, when half of them were censored out of the drumhead courts 
martial that pass for "justice" in this execrable place - I have been 
learning a lot more. Because the case involves a Canadian citizen - 
and because the Canadian government is doing sod-all for its 
passport-carrying prisoner - it hasn't been getting a lot of 
publicity on this side of the Atlantic. It should.

Omar Khadr was 15 when he allegedly - the word "'allegedly" is going 
to have to be used for ever, since this is not a fair trial - shot 
and killed a US Special Forces soldier in eastern Afghanistan in July 
2002. Last week, a former US serviceman called Damien Corsetti, 
nicknamed "The Monster" at the Bagram jailhouse where torture and 
murder were widespread, agreed via a video link to the Guantanamo 
"court" that Khadr was trussed up in a cage "in one of the worst 
places on earth". "We could do basically anything to scare the 
prisoners," Corsetti announced.

Beating was forbidden, "The Monster" acknowledged, but prisoners 
could be threatened with "nightmarish scenarios" like rendition to 
Egypt or Israel where, according to Canada's Globe and Mail, "they 
would disappear". Which tells you a lot about Israel. Or what the 
Americans think of Israel. Quite a lot about Egypt, too, come to think of it.

I should add that Mr Khadr, who is now 23, was gravely wounded when 
he was brought to Bagram. As Mr Corsetti said, "He was a 15-year old 
kid with three holes in his body, a bunch of shrapnel in his face." 
The lads at Bagram - the guards and interrogators, that is - dubbed 
him "Buckshot Bob". Clever, huh?

Mr Corsetti, I should also add, was kind to Mr Khadr. He was earlier 
acquitted of charges of detainee abuse - not involving Khadr - and 
now says he is a disabled veteran being treated for "post-traumatic 
stress disorder". In other words, quite a find for Khadr's defence 
lawyers. Not for the Canadian government, however, which asked the 
Obama administration to suppress the fact that in 2003 and 2004, 
Khadr had given information to officials of the Ottawa department of 
foreign affairs and to agents of the Canadian Security and 
Intelligence Service (CSIS, for those who care).

The Canadian Supreme Court (for which I care a lot, because it 
appears to be fair) has already ruled that the conditions of Khadr's 
imprisonment at Guantanamo when interrogated by CSIS "constituted a 
clear violation of Canada's international human rights obligations".

Another American interrogator at Bagram, a sergeant, it turned out at 
the Guantanamo hearings, had questioned Khadr about his role in the 
Taliban. This interrogator, named Joshua Claus, was later convicted 
of detainee abuse - though not against Khadr. Claus also pleaded 
guilty to assaulting an innocent Afghan taxi driver named Dilawar who 
died in custody at Bagram.

We know Claus's identity because he gave press interviews to, among 
others, The Toronto Star, in 2008, when he claimed that his former 
employers were "trying to imply I'm beating or torturing everybody I 
ever talked to". Claus said, "Omar was pretty much my first big case. 
With Omar, I spent a lot of time trying to understand who he was and 
what I could say to him or do for him, whether it be to bring him 
extra food or get a letter out to his family." There was a lot more 
stuff at these hearings, admission of a "fear up" and "fear down" 
technique, for example - "fear up" apparently involved the threat of 
rape "by four big black guys".

In other words, another horrible, obscene story from Guantanamo. But 
wait. We can't have this kind of publicity show in the Canadian 
press, can we? Not least when Khadr's own government will do nothing 
for him. So get this. The Pentagon has announced that more than half 
of the Canadian press - including The Globe and Mail and the Star - 
will no longer be able to report the Guantanamo "proceedings" because 
they named Mr Claus as one of the interrogators - even though Mr 
Claus had himself given interviews to the press two years ago. But he 
wasn't named at Guantanamo. Get it?

Information already in the public domain is no longer in the public 
domain when it isn't mentioned at a drumhead trial in Cuba. (Yes, 
let's just remember that Guantanamo is actually in bloody Cuba!) The 
Pentagon didn't even call the reporters concerned - they used email, 
of course, because there might have been an argument, mightn't there?

Fairness in court? Not that we are going to find out. Khadr's father 
was an al-Qa'ida official. His life was almost certainly saved by US 
medics - there are some good guys in these wars - but he was most 
definitely tortured; and Canada (here I quote the Globe and Mail's 
excellent editorial) "in a sneaky and illegal fashion, participated 
in the abuse. It turned the fruits of its own interrogations of Mr 
Khadr to the prosecution, at a time when the military commissions had 
no explicit bar against evidence obtained coercively".

Too bad we won't have to hear much more about this trial, not in 
Canada, at least. The Star and The Globe and Mail have since made no 
reference to Claus's identity. Not surprising, I suppose. But 
remember, you read it here.

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