"WORST OF THE WORST" SET FREE BY THE THOUSANDS, FEW CHARGED WITH ANY CRIMES AT ALL
A thoroughly detailed and comprehensive story on where the US now stands in regards to its global prison network, its Abu Ghraibs in Afghanistan, Bush's push for new powers to torture detainees and the scope of world outrage at how torture has become a familiar weapon in the new war.
From the SeattlePI.com (excerpts) :
In the few short years since the first shackled Afghan shuffled off to Guantanamo, the U.S. military has created a global network of overseas prisons, its islands of high security keeping 14,000 detainees beyond the reach of established law.The CIA's 50 Year Old 'Project Pain' - Cracking The Secrets Of Self-Inflicted Torture
Disclosures of torture and long-term arbitrary detentions have won rebuke from leading voices including the U.N. secretary-general and the U.S. Supreme Court. But the bitterest words come from inside the system, the size of several major U.S. penitentiaries.
"It was hard to believe I'd get out," Baghdad shopkeeper Amjad Qassim al-Aliyawi told The Associated Press after his release - without charge - last month. "I lived with the Americans for one year and eight months as if I was living in hell."
Captured on battlefields, pulled from beds at midnight, grabbed off streets as suspected insurgents, tens of thousands now have passed through U.S. detention, the vast majority in Iraq.
Many say they were caught up in U.S. military sweeps, often interrogated around the clock, then released months or years later without apology, compensation or any word on why they were taken.
Seventy to 90 percent of the Iraq detentions in 2003 were "mistakes," U.S. officers once told the international Red Cross.
Every U.S. detainee in Iraq "is detained because he poses a security threat to the government of Iraq, the people of Iraq or coalition forces," said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Keir-Kevin Curry, a spokesman for U.S.-led military detainee operations in Iraq.
Reports of extreme physical and mental abuse, symbolized by the notorious Abu Ghraib prison photos of 2004, have abated as the Pentagon has rejected torture-like treatment of the inmates. Most recently, on Sept. 6, the Pentagon issued a new interrogation manual banning forced nakedness, hooding, stress positions and other abusive techniques.
The same day, President Bush said the CIA's secret outposts in the prison network had been emptied, and 14 terror suspects from them sent to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to face trial in military tribunals.
The U.S. Supreme Court has struck down the tribunal system, however, and the White House and Congress are now wrestling over the legal structure of such trials.
Human rights groups count dozens of detainee deaths for which no one has been punished or that were never explained.
The secret prisons - unknown in number and location - remain available for future detainees.
...thousands of people still languish in a limbo, deprived of one of common law's oldest rights, habeas corpus, the right to know why you are imprisoned.
"If you, God forbid, are an innocent Afghan who gets sold down the river by some warlord rival, you can end up at Bagram and you have absolutely no way of clearing your name," said John Sifton of Human Rights Watch in New York. "You can't have a lawyer present evidence, or do anything organized to get yourself out of there."
The U.S. government has contended it can hold detainees until the "war on terror" ends - as it determines.
The Navy is planning long-term at Guantanamo. This fall it expects to open a new, $30-million maximum-security wing at its prison complex there, a concrete-and-steel structure replacing more temporary camps.
Ex-detainee Mouayad Yasin Hassan, 31, seized in April 2004 as a suspected Sunni Muslim insurgent, said he wasn't allowed to obtain a lawyer or contact his family during 13 months at Abu Ghraib and Bucca, where he was interrogated incessantly.
When he asked why he was in prison, he said, the answer was, "We keep you for security reasons."
Guantanamo received its first prisoners from Afghanistan - chained, wearing blacked-out goggles - in January 2002. A total of 770 detainees were sent there. Its population today of Afghans, Arabs and others, stands at 455.
Described as the most dangerous of America's "war on terror" prisoners, only 10 of the Guantanamo inmates have been charged with crimes.
Charges are expected against 14 other al-Qaida suspects flown in to Guantanamo from secret prisons on Sept. 4.
Plans for their trials are on hold, however, because of a Supreme Court ruling in June against the Bush administration's plan for military tribunals.
In his Sept. 6 speech, Bush acknowledged for the first time the existence of the CIA's secret prisons, believed established at military bases or safehouses in such places as Egypt, Indonesia and eastern Europe.