A new movie, ‘The Mauritanian’, has put the controversial prison back in the spotlight by highlighting the inhumane and unlawful treatment meted out to the inmates of Gitmo. Will it spur Joe Biden to finally do the right thing?
After a while, some things that at first seemed shocking and disturbing somehow become normalised and melt into the background. Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp is a prime example.
Apart from military geeks, hardly anyone has paid attention recently to the controversial prison at the US Naval Base in Cuba, itself a bizarre hangover dating back to the Spanish-American War of 1898. Even after the 1959 revolution that saw the communist Fidel Castro seize power, and a deeply hostile America cut diplomatic relations and sought to overthrow him, Washington has still been shelling out a yearly lease of around $4,000 for the indefinite use of 45 square miles of Cuban territory.
It was nearly 20 years ago that a prison was created there, following the ‘War on Terror’ that draft dodger George W. Bush initiated post the 9/11 attack. Officially, it was intended to house those accused of war crimes, but in practice it held anyone Washington could even tenuously connect to Osama bin Laden and 9/11.
Now a new film, ‘The Mauritanian’, starring Shailene Woodley, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Jodie Foster, has put it back in the news. It tells the story of Mohamedou Ould Salah, who had loose connections to Al-Qaeda and was held for 14 years without trial or charge at Gitmo between 2002 and 2016.
He released his book whilst still a prisoner there, but the jail’s rules were so arcane that he was banned from receiving a copy, despite it being on sale globally.
Scores of detainees have complained of abuse, torture, being kept in cages and there have been multiple suicides. America has denied inmates the rights granted by the Geneva Convention, an international law that defines humanitarian protections for prisoners of war.
In all, 775 people have been held there, comprising 50 different nationalities. Currently, 40 prisoners remain, with the most high profile being Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, reportedly the “architect of 9/11.”
Guantanamo is the most expensive prison in the world, with each detainee costing $13 million a year to detain – in all, it’s thought the US has spent more than $7 billion on the facility.
When Obama swept into the White House in 2009, within a few days he signed Executive Order 13492, ordering its closure. It stated the process would be carried out within a year, but the world is still waiting.
Obama did manage to reduce the numbers, reducing 240 detainees down to 41 by the time he left office.
One of the stumbling blocks to his plan was that America’s gung-ho attitude in snatching suspects, herding them onto planes and renditioning them without recourse to the law, didn’t work in reverse. They couldn’t just bundle those deemed innocent or whom they had no case against onto a flight. Questions abounded like – where do you send them and who wants them?
The naivety of Obama was that he didn’t understand America had tainted all of these individuals, forever. Just by being held in Guantanamo Bay, their reputations were shattered and, in many cases, there were no charges or convictions or evidence to validate the original accusations against them or their continued detention.
The special envoy for Guantanamo’s closure, Lee Wolosky, said in 2017: “The fact that they have been labeled in a political discourse as the worst of the worst, which some of them are, but some of them aren’t. And the ones we’re moving out are not, but they’re lumped in there.”
In a typically shady move, Switzerland even accepted detainees in 2011 in a quid pro quo to limit a tax probe against Swiss bank UBS.
The Gitmo pass-the-parcel continued on to Donald Trump.
He said on the campaign trail he would load it up with “bad dudes” and, once elected, reversed Obama’s order, but soon he was complaining about the cost. In 2019, Trump said: “It costs a fortune to operate, and I think it’s crazy.”
His administration stopped five prisoners leaving by cancelling deals made during the Obama era, although he did allow one other to go. That left the current 40, who were largely forgotten about as Trump focused on domestic matters.
Now Joe Biden gets a crack at this never-ending puzzle. He has ordered a “robust” review of the jail, which is surely a move to stall for time – for what can possibly not be understood about the place by now?
Asked if the plan was to then finally close it, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki commented: “That certainly is our goal and our intention.”
With vague commitments like that, and Biden likely to be a one-term president beset with a litany of issues such as a pandemic, climate change, a struggling economy, and deep social divisions – serious action seems unlikely.
Guantanamo’s captives look like they’ll still be there come 2025.
It’s an utterly shameful practice that has gone on far too long. By now, the lives that these 40 individuals previously had no longer exist. Any relationships or employment they had are long gone.
And for what?
Nothing has been achieved by Guantanamo apart from the disgusting maltreatment of human beings who have not been allowed due process or been found guilty of anything. Even if some are guilty of involvement of terrorism, by torturing and abusing them, any moral high ground is long gone.
The Mauritanian contains such scenes and reaffirms the point that the War on Terror has destroyed more lives than the incidents that provoked it.
It appears that America is going to keep kicking the can down the road until all 40 of the remaining prisoners die off, one by one.
What it should do instead is admit these people are its responsibility, as they captured them and took them to Guantanamo.
So it should either charge the inmates with the crimes it claims they’re responsible for, and give them fair trials, or release them. And if their former countries of origin won’t grant them safe passage, America will have to give them US passports and take them in. They should then be allowed to build a new life and forget about the hell hole they’ve been held in.
Those who face trial should do so in a normal American court as US citizens, and, if convicted, be put in a regular prison like any other convict with rights to parole.
America has to recognise that, for nearly 20 years, it has handled this process unlawfully and cruelly. Biden has the chance to do the right thing for the remaining 40 prisoners.
It won’t absolve the US of its horrendous misdemeanours, but it would be a step in the right direction.
I'm confused! The daily massacres and murders of Social Leaders is not in #Colombia and where the police have taken out the eyes of more than 400 young people is not in #Chile and those who maintain Apartheid against #Palestina is not #Israel?, Then #US what it does is protect fascist governments
Oh god, what a lack of ethics!!
Anger has been spilling on Twitter over photos that purportedly show Texas Senator Ted Cruz boarding a plane to Cancun, Mexico. People criticized him for “fleeing” when his state has been badly hit with extreme cold.
Several photos that have been circulating on social media since Wednesday appear to show Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and his family arriving at the airport and then boarding a flight – allegedly heading to Cancun, Mexico.
The images have been widely shared, with people massively lashing out at the senator for leaving his state when its residents are desperately suffering from cold weather.
A severe winter storm left almost two million people without power in Texas and caused water supply shortages. Some people questioned why Cruz should be able to head to Cancun – supposedly for a vacation as it’s 26 degrees Celsius (78 Fahrenheit) there – while their relatives are deprived of basic needs, have to light fireplaces to heat their houses or queue for food for hours.
The senator was slammed for being too privileged and accused of hypocrisy, as Cruz himself last month took to Twitter to lash out at “rich, out-of-touch Dems.”
Still, some called for others to wait and see whether it is confirmed that the man in the pictures is indeed Cruz. Other people said there was no need to punch the politician so harshly, as he wouldn’t be able to do a lot to help struggling Texans.
The admiral Charles Richard, who heads the US Strategic Command — which is responsible for nuclear deterrence — is calling on the nation’s military and civilian leaders to seek new ways to face threats by Russia and China, including the “real possibility” of nuclear conflict.
Russian Ambassador to the US Anatoly Antonov stated that he doesn’t believe that any sane American general is really considering a full-scale nuclear military conflict with Moscow.
“I believe that such an idea visits the heads of some politicians who are not well”, Antonov added.
The Russian envoy said international accords like the New START treaty help prevent certain politicians in the US from pushing the world over the edge of a nuclear confrontation. He further commented on the recently reached extension to the last remaining nuclear arms reduction treaty between the two countries, saying that it would not affect the number of monitoring inspections mandated under the New START.
Antonov went on to say that Russia and the US will continue to work on arms control issues, noting that the job will be “extremely difficult and complicated”. According to him, the talks on the matter will touch not only existing issues, but also emerging ones, such as cutting-edge weapons systems. The envoy named the US missile defence systems in Europe, short and medium range missiles, global strike capabilities, hypersonic weapons, and future space armaments as matters that are likely to be on the agenda of future talks.
One of the issues concerns the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, from which Washington withdrew in 2019 under the pretext of alleged Russian violations. Moscow denied the claims that it had violated the accord, which banned missiles capable of travelling distances between 500 and 5,500 kilometres, and pointed to the fact that the Kremlin had for a long time also had questions about the US adherence to it.
At the same time, the two countries managed to find common ground on the New START accord, the extension of which came into effect on 3 February. The treaty, signed back in 2010, was extended for five more years without changes after coming extremely close to expiring. The talks with the previous US administration in 2020 stalled over Washington’s attempts to alter the agreement’s provisions and include China in it. The administration of Joe Biden, who was inaugurated on 20 January, managed to conclude negotiations mere days before the New START’s expiration.
Canada has designated the group ‘Proud Boys’ as a terrorist entity, following a parliamentary resolution blaming the “white supremacist” group of organizing the January 6 riot at the US Capitol.
‘Proud Boys’ were among the thirteen groups designated on Wednesday by Public Safety Minister Bill Blair, under the category of “ideologically motivated violent extremism.”
No matter their ideological motivation, these groups are “all hateful, intolerant… and dangerous,” Blair said.
The Proud Boys were listed alongside Atomwaffen Division, The Base, the “Russian Imperial Movement,” five Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) affiliates, three Al-Qaeda affiliates, and Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, an Islamist group operating in Indian-controlled Kashmir.
Blair insisted the designations were not a result of a political process, but one based on “evidence, intelligence and the law.”
The listing will help the Canadian authorities prosecute members of the designated group or anyone helping them, freeze their financial assets, as well as remove “hateful” online postings, Blair said.
The Canadian parliament voted unanimously last week to urge the terrorist designation of the Proud Boys, accusing it of “domestic terrorism” in relation to the January 6 unrest at the US Capitol.
The motion was introduced by NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, whose party launched a petition as early as January 7, denouncing the Proud Boys as a “right-wing extremist group that promotes white supremacist views.”
Founded by Canadian media personality Gavin McInnes – who has since disavowed the group – the Proud Boys are currently led by Enrique Tarrio, who has repeatedly denied any connection to white supremacy and insisted the organization is neither “fascist” nor a “hate group.”
Just like many Trump supporters, US liberal intellectuals exist in a fantasy world in which a leading purveyor of “international terrorism” – the US government – is perceived as a fundamentally benign force, Noam Chomsky told RT.
“Just as you can’t get the Republican mobs to admit that the election was lost, you can’t get liberal American intellectuals to recognize that the United States is a leading terrorist state,” Chomsky told RT’s Chris Hedges.
The facts are that for almost the entirety of its history as a sovereign state, the US has waged a war of aggression against somebody, Chomsky said. The so-called ‘War on Terror’, which Ronald Reagan made the focus of his foreign policy, was Washington dealing with “resistance to US terrorism in Central America and also in South Africa.”
Nelson Mandela was considered terrorist by the US until 2008, long after the apartheid regime was dismantled. The US clandestine war on Nicaragua was ruled by the International Court of Justice a breach of international law.
“What the Reagan administration was doing was the peak of terrorism by our own definitions,” Chomsky said. “But the New York Times ran an editorial saying we can dismiss the judgement of the court because it’s a hostile forum. Why is it a hostile forum? Because it condemned the US.”
Another victim of the US is Cuba, which endured a decades-long blockade and a sustained US campaign to undermine its government and cause an uprising. In the US, those actions are perceived as the CIA hatching silly plots to take away Fidel Castro’s beard. “It was not that, it was a serious terrorist war that almost led to the destruction of the world” with the Cuban missile crisis, Chomsky pointed out.
The failure of liberal intellectuals to see US policies for what they are is not something buried in the history books or limited to what is happening in foreign lands. The January 6 riot at the Capitol, for example, was not some “crazed mob” of Trump supporters coming “out of nowhere” and being defeated to prove the glory of American democracy.
“There are really serious ills – bipartisan, incidentally, although the Republicans have gone off the spectrum – but those are not being discussed,” he said.
And this failure is doing real harm to millions of Americans. The ideas of Bernie Sanders, a politician who would easily be considered right-center in a country like Germany, were painted as too radical for the US during the presidential campaign.
“What he is calling for – universal healthcare, free higher education – is just taken for granted by conservative parties in Europe,” Chomsky said. “This is such an insult against the American people to say, you are so backward and reactionary that you can’t have what Mexico has, what France has, what Brazil has.”
BEIJING, Nov. 1 (Xinhua) — The U.S. government recently rejected a Russian proposal to extend the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty for at least one year without conditions. A U.S. representative to the United Nations also leveled baseless accusations against China’s arms control policy.
However, it is hegemony-minded Washington that poses the gravest threat to global strategic security and stability.
Historically, the U.S. defense policy has been infamously known for thriving on the idea that the United States must have an enemy and if there is none, the best thing is to create one.
As said once by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter in 2019, the United States is “the most warlike nation in the history of the world” because it has only enjoyed 16 years of peace in its 240-odd-year history.
This is because of America’s tendency to force other nations to “adopt our American principles,” the Newsweek then quoted Carter as saying.
Today, as the world’s leading military power, the United States is indulged with various “threat theories” and “war theories,” blatantly defining China and Russia as strategic competitors, hyping up external threats, and stirring up confrontation among major countries.
Obsessed with military build-up, the United States ranks first in military expenditure in the world. It spent more than 700 billion U.S. dollars on military in 2019, nearly 40 percent of the world’s total, and more than the next 10 countries combined. Even so, the Pentagon continues to increase its military spending, with its 2020 defense budget at a record 738 billion dollars.
In order to maintain its hegemony, the United States is not satisfied with simply leading others in military prowess. Instead, Washington seeks to overwhelm other nations militarily.
In recent years, the Pentagon has even started relaunching its star wars program by creating the Space Force and speeding up weapon tests and military drills in outer space. These acts pose serious threats to outer space security and grossly contradict the principle of the peaceful use of outer space.
Washington has also withdrawn from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and the landmark 2015 Iran nuclear deal, and impeded biological arms control by single-handedly blocking the relaunch of negotiations for a protocol that includes a verification regime to strengthen the Biological Weapons Convention.
All these U.S. tactics and political maneuvering have exposed its pure pragmatism on bilateral and multilateral arms control treaties and regimes, making Washington a stumbling block for global cause of arms control.
Washington is also breaking strategic balance by deploying missile defense systems in the Asia-Pacific and Central and Eastern Europe, and is planning to deploy land-based medium range missiles in the Asia-Pacific and Europe.
As said recently by Ambassador Geng Shuang, deputy permanent representative of the People’s Republic of China to the United Nations, the U.S. purpose is to enhance military presence and seek absolute dominance.
Peaceful development and win-win cooperation have for long become the consensus of the international community. As the strongest military power in the world, the United States shoulders more obligation of safeguarding global peace and must act responsibly in arms control and disarmament.
By Ministry of Foreign AffairsPublished: Jan 21, 2021 01:07 AM
Over the past few years, some anti-China politicians in the United States, out of their selfish political interests and prejudice and hatred against China and showing no regard for the interests of the Chinese and American people, have planned, promoted and executed a series of crazy moves which have gravely interfered in China’s internal affairs, undermined China’s interests, offended the Chinese people, and seriously disrupted China-U.S. relations. The Chinese government is firmly resolved to defend China’s national sovereignty, security and development interests. China has decided to sanction 28 persons who have seriously violated China’s sovereignty and who have been mainly responsible for such U.S. moves on China-related issues. They include Michael R. Pompeo, Peter K. Navarro, Robert C. O’Brien, David R. Stilwell, Matthew Pottinger, Alex M. Azar II, Keith J. Krach, and Kelly D. K. Craft of the Trump administration as well as John R. Bolton and Stephen K. Bannon. These individuals and their immediate family members are prohibited from entering the mainland, Hong Kong and Macao of China. They and companies and institutions associated with them are also restricted from doing business with China.