In 2010, WikiLeaks revealed through its release of the Iraq War Logs and its partnership with organizations like the Bureau of Investigative Journalism “303 allegations of [detainee] abuse by coalition forces were reported in the military files after 2004.” Then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who just published an op-ed in the Washington Post condemning WikiLeaks while at the same time using the information they have released to prop up his own views on US policy in the “war on terror,” pledged to “make changes as needed” to ensure that Abu Ghraib didn’t happen again.
The Iraq War Logs proved changes had not been made. And now, with this new report out from The Investigative Fund at The Nation Institute and PBS’s Need to Know there is further confirmation that perpetrators of atrocities continue to go unpunished, those who allow for systemic abuse to continue have not been held accountable, and nothing has really changed since the Abu Ghraib scandal.
Between January 11, 2002 and April 23, 2011 (one day before the latest Wikileaks release of the Guantanamo files) there were already about 15 million search entries, 5 million images, 25,000 videos, 6 thousand news items, 900 related books
and around 80 releated movies - including an American stoner styled 'comedy' pictured to your right - about the Guantanamo bay detention and torture camp.
While new information has been published in Wikileaks' latest release of the Guantanamo files, a plethora of evidence about Guantanamo's child detainees, its specious justification and illegality were already available in the public domain. That includes a Senate Armed Services Committee report that stated that detainees were murdered in US custody.
As Jason Leopold said in my interview with him last week, "Murdered. I am talking about murder. I mean, this report talks about how the torture program was based on the US military's resistance to interrogation survival training technique...So, yes, you are absolutely right there are a number of documents and a number of reports that are out there. The problem is that people, and that includes some journalists, frankly don't take the time to read it."
The image above of 'Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo' is not a comedy. It's a horror show. And, Guantanamo Bay is only the beginning of the entertainment superpower's 'theater of cruelty', coming to a town near you.
The institutions of society and of government - in other words, the organs of power, their structure, and their relationship to one another - the press, the legislature, the executive, and the judicial - no longer function in a manner that ensures their intended counter balance to tyranny. As a result our nation's civic, civil, and military power has been usurped by the highest bidder, some of them even foreign, and our democratic republic is drowning in a sea of Blackwater.
Andy Worthington is a journalist, blogger, and author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison. He is also co-director of a new documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo”.
Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi's testimony, which was obtained under torture and coercion, and later recanted, was cited by the George W. Bush Administration in the months preceding the 2003 invasion of Iraq as evidence of a connection between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda.
The head of the Washington office of Human Rights Watch stated al-Libi was "Exhibit A" in hearings on the relationship between pre-Iraq War false intelligence and torture. Confirmation of al-Libi's location came two weeks prior to his death.
Most recently, Worthington partnered with WikiLeaks on its latest release of thousands of pages of documents regarding the cases of 758 out of 779 Guantanamo detainees dating between 2002 and 2008. The documents consist of memoranda from JTF-GTMO, the Joint Task Force at Guantánamo Bay, to US Southern Command in Miami, Florida.
I wanted to talk to you a little bit about a couple things that you had mentioned when you were talking with Amy Goodwin on Democracy Now. One of the things you talked about was that ‘guidelines’ needed to be set up for filtering or discriminating the content that was found in the documents. Could you tell me a little bit about what that would be like in terms of application?
Well, you know, to be honest...a certain amount of hard work is required and some of that has already been done… I am glad to know…by some of the journalists who’ve been writing about it already...who have worked out that a lot of this supposed ‘body of evidence’ consists of allegations that have been made by a small number of prisoners… who have made repeated allegations against large numbers of their fellow prisoners, which have been called into doubt.
Now, you know, the doubts about this information are not necessarily mentioned, in fact, they are rarely mentioned in these military documents.
As an investigative journalist he has written extensively on the Guantanamo Bay detention and torture camp, Enron, and the Military. The list goes on.
In February 2011, Leopold interview Australian David Hicks, a former Guantanamo detainee. It was Hicks' first interview about the torture and abuse he endured at Guantanamo, and his struggle with the injustice of US ex-judicial processes.
Leopold and his colleague, Jeffrey Kaye, have also investigated medical experiments at Guantanamo and psychological techniques used to design Bush's torture program.
His work has been published in The Los Angeles Times, The Nation, Salon, The Wall Street Journal, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Financial Times, Alternet, Z Magazine, Earth Island Journal, Homeland Security Today, and numerous other national and international publications.
Leopold was the recipient of the Project Censored award two times for his investigative work on Halliburton and Enron. He was awarded the Thomas Jefferson award by The Military Religious Freedom Foundation for a series of stories on the rise of Christian fundamentalism in the U.S. Military.
You can find him on twitter at @JasonLeopold.
What is particularly unique about the documents from the latest Wikileaks’ release?
This is our second interview in a series of interviews with former Guantanamo Bay detention camp guards and detainees.
Several current and former U.S. soldiers have expressed interest in speaking publicly about their experience at Guantanamo: including a CIA psychologist, interrogators, guards, and medical personnel. They are disgusted with what they witnessed or took part in at Guantanamo, but declined my request for an interview, because they fear opening themselves up to prosecution by the US government, which required them to sign a Non Disclosure Agreement.
I was also told that many are afraid of being prosecuted for war crimes, since low level soldiers are often the ones who shoulder the brunt of punishment and backlash; whereas higher ranking officials seem to escape scrutiny completely.
Terry Holdbrooks is a former guard at the Guantanamo Bay detention camps. He was stationed at GTMO in 2003 and 2004. During his time there, he converted to Islam. He is now a vocal critic of the camp. You can find him on twitter @BrotherMustafa
Update: An edited version of the podcast is now posted along with a complete transcript of the interview with Ethan McCord.
April 5th will mark one year since WikiLeaks first released the "Collateral Murder" video, which showed a 2007 Apache helicopter attack in Iraq. To mark the anniversary, the show's guest the show's guest was Ethan McCord, an Iraq War veteran and one of the US soldiers on the ground in Baghdad in 2007 who can be seen in the video helping to rescue children wounded in the attack.
In the aftermath of the attack, McCord's superiors ordered him to stop saving the wounded. He was deeply bothered by the fact that he was the only one interested in saving lives.
McCord recently appeared in a Panorama documentary. He talked about the shooters in the video being protected and not charged with war crimes, highlighted how the US had covered up the truth of the attack prior to WikiLeaks’ release of the video and juxtaposed that dark reality with the fact that former Pfc. Bradley Manning, alleged to have leaked the video (along with other material) to WikiLeaks, is being held in solitary confinement and abused and humiliated in prison. And, McCord said after the attack he could no longer justify being a US soldier in Iraq.
McCord has recently been going to schools to tell his story and talk to students about what it is really like to be in the military. He thinks he might have found his calling: talking to kids.