Saturday, October 29, 2005

Former chaplain paints grim picture of Guantanamo Bay

KERRY O'BRIEN: Now to a first-hand and rather grim picture of life behind bars for the terrorism suspects [scapegoats and patsies to bolster support for the illegal and degrading resource wars in the Middle East] at the US prison camp at Guantanamo Bay. It's an account from an officer who served there, a former Army Muslim chaplain, Captain James Yee, one of the few people to have regular contact with Australian detainee David Hicks.

In an extraordinary chain of events, Captain Yee himself was charged with spying at Guantanamo and sat in a naval brig, facing the prospect of the death penalty. All the more extraordinary because Captain Yee was later cleared and given an honourable discharge from the Army. Washington correspondent Jill Colgan has this exclusive interview.

JILL COLGAN: Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The maximum security prison where more than 500 prisoners sit awaiting trial. The soldiers assigned here come and go, but for one army captain, this assignment cost him his career, and nearly his life.

JAMES YEE, FORMER US ARMY CHAPLAIN: What was going through my mind is what are - what are these people doing? It was a huge mistake, it was a gross miscarriage of justice.

JILL COLGAN: The US military wants Americans to trust its decisions at Guantanamo, but the case of Chaplain Yee shows the military can and does get it wrong. Chaplain James Yee began his assignment in Guantanamo Bay in November 2002.

JAMES YEE: Not only did I advise the command on any issues regarding religion and how it affected the operation. But I also was inside the cell blocks daily, interacting personally on a personal level with the prisoners.

JILL COLGAN: A third generation American of Chinese descent, James Yee had graduated from the prestigious West Point military academy. His father and two brothers also served in the US military. After converting to Islam, he wanted to combine his military and religious roles as a Muslim chaplain. We met him five months into his tour of duty, put up by the army as an example to the media of its adherence to religious rights for the Muslim prisoners.

How do you reconcile yourself as chaplain with knowing that the detainees here haven't been charged with anything and have not been convicted of anything, but are here in ongoing detention?

JAMES YEE: OK, in terms of reconcile, I don't really have anything to reconcile with, but ...

JILL COLGAN: But it turned out that issue was at the heart of an internal struggle the chaplain was then facing.

JAMES YEE: It wasn't my job to determine guilt or innocence. But I was able to interact with them on a personal level. And as a result, it was very hard for me to find that all 660 of those prisoners who are down there at the time when I was there were in some way connected to September 11.

JILL COLGAN: The Muslim captain found himself increasingly torn between his military duties and his defence of the prisoners' religious rights.

JAMES YEE: What I saw down there is this became a systematic way to abuse the detainees.

JILL COLGAN: He claims one form of abuse involved initial response force teams in riot gear, RIFs, to forcibly extract prisoners for even minor infractions.

JAMES YEE: Some detainees had the privilege of having a styrofoam cup. Sometimes they ended up with two, one for drinking, one for hygiene purposes. The second styrofoam cup was unauthorised by the regulations and therefore technically could be called illegal contraband. Now, illegal contraband meant that you had to spend some time in solitary confinement, the guards would call an (inaudible word) team and the guards would come one after the another, line up in one in front of the prisoner's cell. After the prisoner is doused with pepper spray, the door is quickly unlocked and the these six to eight men rushed into the prisoner's cell, man-handled the prisoner down to the ground as forcibly as possible.

JILL COLGAN: He says mass suicide attempts were organised to protest against guards abusing the Koran.

JAMES YEE: It caused chaos in the blocks, and then again, just as you thought it would be calm, another detainee would try and carry out a suicide.

JILL COLGAN: He spoke often with Australian prisoner David Hicks.

JAMES YEE: But on occasion he would talk about, for example, in his interrogations, that he was offered a prostitute in exchange for giving some type of information, but he felt that that was just an insult to him, it was an insult to him being a Muslim, a practicing Muslim.

JILL COLGAN: James Yee says he was one of the few who saw David Hicks after he was charged and moved into isolation. Hicks, he says, passed his time studying Islamic law.

JAMES YEE: He was just really asking that I request to make more visits to him, because I was really essentially the only one he had contact with, the command only allowed me to go once a week, and in those conditions, it wasn't - they weren't open cells, they were completely closed. He had no access to sunlight.

MAN 1: You need to take a break, too, 'cause you work hard, and I appreciate all the work you do, but ...

JILL COLGAN: But despite feedback praising his work, Chaplain Yee's defence of the prisoners brought him and his Muslim co-workers under scrutiny. When he left Guantanamo to visit his family, he was arrested at a Florida airpor and spent 76 harrowing days in a navy brig in south

JAMES YEE: I was accused of spying, espionage, aiding the enemy and mutiny and sedition, all of these being capital crimes that carried a death penalty.

JILL COLGAN: James Yee's case never got to trial. In an autobiography about his experiences, he explains how the spying charges against him dropped away. But not before his career was ruined and his family ran up hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal bills. For the record, did you undertake any activity that would've undermined US security or aided and abetted any of the detainees?

JAMES YEE: Everything I did was fully within my role as the Muslim chaplain in Guantanamo. I followed to a T the standard operating procedures, the unescorted access that I had to the prisoners was authorised. My conversations with the prisoners was known by all of my supervisors.

JILL COLGAN: Instead of espionage, the Army pursued Captain Yee on charges of adultery and accessing pornography on the Internet. But even these were expunged from his record when he was honourably discharged from the Army. The Pentagon has refused to comment on the allegations in his book.

Why didn't someone say "Stop, there has been a terrible mistake", when it was clear the charges against you were falling away?

JAMES YEE: This is a great question, why did it go so far? I can only speculate, but I think the important point is it did go that far and someone needs to take responsibility for allowing it to go that far.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Jill Colgan with that report.

By Jill Colgan posted 29 October 05


News on David Hicks:
David Hicks will be tried on scapegoat-related charges before a controversial US military rendition on November 18. The 30-year-old Australian citizen, formerly of Adelaide, would be the first Guantanamo prisoner to be tried by a military 'caught' at Guantanamo Bay.

Government must ensure justice for Hicks
The Australian Catholic Social Justice Council is calling on the Australian Government to secure real justice for Australian citizen David Hicks. The call follows a Pentagon announcement of a resumption of military commission hearings at Guantanamo Bay.

For David Hicks
In David's eyes Australia hasn't changed much, a country hidden behind a mask of another foreign nation, freely trading independence, American values, with no real identity, with pseudo autonomy, as long as the strings are attached to another nation's apron, all crystal clear except to dim-witted Australians.

a cowardly disgrace .....
Whilst US lawyers continue their fight to secure the legal and human rights of Australian citizen, David Hicks, his government has quietly reaffirmed its decision to abandon him to his fate.

87 detainees on hunger strike at Guantanamo
A hunger strike at a US detention centre [prison] for terrorism suspects [scapegoats and patsies for resource wars in the Middle East] at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba has entered its second month with 87 prisoners refusing food, a military spokesman says.

Detainees [prisoners] at the American military prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba are on hunger strike against their indefinite detention, according to human rights lawyers.

All Australians deserve a fair trial
David Hicks will not receive a fair trial in Guantanamo Bay . We must demand that Foreign Minister Alexander Downer get David Hicks back here to face an Australian court:

GetUp! Stand Up! Stand Up For Your Rights!
This government is already rattled. But our work has only just begun. This morning Senator Robert Hill announced that the Government plans to roll back the Senate budget estimates process, which plays a crucial role in exposing government bungles and cover-ups.

David Hicks justice betrayed ......
AUSTRALIA/CUBA/USA: A stated belief of the Liberal Party is: "We believe in a just & humane society in which the importance of the family and the rule of law & justice is maintained."

HICKS: Not a Happy Birthday!
AUSTRALIA/CUBA/US :David Hicks, the Australian imprisoned at the US Base of Guantanamo Bay, will be 30 years old this coming Monday August 7, 2005.

Democrats make cowardly retreat on Guantanamo torture
US: Senator Richard Durbin's sniveling apology Tuesday for his remarks on US torture at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp was entirely predictable, another of the "profiles in cowardice" that the Democratic Party serves up on a regular basis.

Over 17,000 people including minors are now imprisoned by the US as a result of the 'War on Terror'. More than 540 men and minors, including David Hicks remmain imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay.

Hicks 'should be an Australian'
Australian David Hicks should have already been returned to Australia instead of being exploited by the US and Australian authorities.

The Canterbury-Bankstown Peace Group & the Justice for Hicks & Habib Campaign welcome the statement by Amnesty International Secretary General Irene Khan, condemning the US Administration for condoning torture and the suppression of 'human rights' in their 'war on terror'.

UN Dialogue among Civilizations
This roundtable is a contribution to the UN Dialogue among Civilizations project that began in September 2000. At the first round table debate on Dialogue among Civilizations, Kofi Annan, Secretary General of the UN stated that, cultural diversity - in his opinion - is not only the basis for the Dialogue among Civilizations, but also the reality that makes dialogue necessary, since the perception of diversity as a threat is the very seed of war. [The role of religion in creating a culture of peace and moving on from a culture of fear.]

Torture not acceptable on anyone: Community!
Australia: A former chairman of the National Crime Authority has spoken out in favour of torture for John HoWARd and the Neo-Cons no doubt, saying it should be used against terrorists and in domestic criminal situations but not against QC's?

Torture can never be justified
I am forwarding the following statement issued by AMCRAN in regards to a paper: "Not Enough (Official) Torture in the World? The Circumstances in which Torture is Morally Justifiable" written by Professor Mirko Bagaric, Head of Deakin Law School & Julie Clarke, Lecturer, Deakin Law School, in which they justify torture.

Torture okay: propaganda paper
Mean in Black John HoWARd and Pastor Peter Costello with Professor Mirko Bagaric, and fellow Deakin lecturer Julie Clarke, torture okay for them. Question?

Association for the Prevention of Torture
What needs to be done now? All States Parties to the UN Convention against Torture should seriously consider ratifying the OPCAT as soon as possible. National Institutions and others promoting the human rights of people deprived of their liberty need to be informed of their potential role as national preventive mechanisms under the OPCAT.

CIA defends terror suspect transfers?
Suspected terrorists [scapegoats for the Coalition of the Killings's resource wars in the Middle East] in US custody have been transferred to third countries for the past 20 years, CIA director Porter Goss told the US Senate armed services committee.

Pentagon chiefs cleared over prisoner abuse?
US: The Pentagon has cleared itself of any high-level responsibility for the abuse of detainees in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay because it was the guard dogs that initiated the torture all along.

It seems the United States of America (The World Watchdog) is dictating and practising double-standards --- a unique law for America and another set of laws for all other countries.

Guantanamo challenge puts off Hicks trial
Australian [scapegoat] suspect David Hicks's 'military trial'?, has been further delayed due to the postponement of a separate legal challenge to the US's legal process for Guantanamo Bay detainees?

Guantanamo guards blinded prisoner: lawyer
UK/CUBA: British permanent resident detained at the US camp for terrorism suspects [scapegoats] in Guantanamo Bay was blinded in one eye following an assault by guards, his lawyer says.

Amnesty slams Govt position on US trial system
Amnesty International has described as "absurd", the Federal Government's continued support for the United States military commission that will try Australian detainee [scapegoat] David Hicks on terrorism allegations.

US judge orders CIA release Guantanamo records
A US federal judge has ordered the CIA to release records regarding the treatment of prisoners detained in Guantanamo Bay and other facilities in the "war on terror" to a civil rights groups.

Hicks lawyer welcomes Guantanamo ruling
Stephen Kenny, the lawyer representing the family of Guantanamo Bay detainee David Hicks, has welcomed a US court ruling that military commissions set up to try detainees at Guantanamo Bay are unconstitutional.

Australia: a presumption of guilt......
KAREN PERCY: Two of Australia's leading barristers have seized on the return of Guantanamo Bay detainee, Mamdouh Habib, to launch an unprecedented attack on the Federal Attorney General, Philip Ruddock.

Aust Community criticises Govt for 'crimes'!
Australia: The Law Council of Australia is warning that the Federal Government must learn from its mistakes over Guantanamo Bay? Now that's a mistake!

Australian Govt Guilty of Crimes: Community
Australia: The community says federal fascists who allowed the torture of its citizenry including Mamdouh Habib may be arrested when the United Nations War Crimes Tribunal address the War Crimes Indictment set out by the community.

US judge dismisses? Guantanamo legal challenge
A US federal judge has dismissed the cases of seven Guantanamo Bay prisoners who sought to challenge the lawfulness of their continued detention?

US 'landlord' slams! Guantanamo 'law violations'
Cuba has demanded that the United States cease its "criminal conduct" in abusing prisoners held at the base it illegally occupies on Cuba's south-eastern tip, saying procedures at Guantanamo violate international law.

Concern over ramifications of Hicks FOI failure
There are claims that a decision by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal will give some countries the opportunity to refuse diplomatic aid to detained Australians.

FBI emails reveal Guantanamo abuse
In memos over a two year period FBI agents said they witnessed the use of torture techniques, which included the use of dogs, prisoners being shackled to the floor in foetal positions for up to 24 hours, left without food and water, left to defecate upon themselves.

Hicks alleges Guantanamo abuse: report
Guantanamo Bay prisoner David Hicks has reportedly claimed that prisoners at the US run prison camp have been beaten while blindfolded and handcuffed, terrorised by attack dogs, and forced to take drugs.

US lawyer wants inquiry into Hicks trial process
The lawyer defending Australian terror suspect [scapegoat for resource wars] David Hicks has called for an inquiry into whether the military commission hearing the case meets legal standards.

Australia Sells Its Citizens Short
Australian citizens, Mamdouth Habib and David Hicks have been illegally incarcerated in the Guantanamo Bay facility established by the US military as part of the War on Terror.

Downer won't press US for 'torture' report?
The Australian Government says it has tried and failed so far to get a copy of a report by the International Red Cross which claims psychological and physical coercion of detainees at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba?

UK minister criticises US over Guantanamo!
UK: Washington's policy on the legal status of detainees at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp in Cuba is unacceptable, a senior British minister said.

FBI emails reveal Guantanamo abuse
In memos over a two year period FBI agents said they witnessed the use of torture techniques, which included the use of dogs, prisoners being shackled to the floor in foetal positions for up to 24 hours, left without food and water, left to defecate upon themselves.

Lawyers hail 'unlawful' ruling in Guantanamo trial
Human rights groups and lawyers for Guantanamo detainees have welcomed a US federal judge's ruling which halted as unlawful the military tribunal trial of a Guantanamo prisoner accused of being Osama bin Laden's bodyguard and driver.

Hicks's lawyers seek panel decision
Lawyers for Australian Guantanamo Bay detainee David Hicks will make another attempt to dismiss charges against their client in a series of motions hearings starting in Cuba today.

Torture, the British way
Great to be British, isn't it? Time was, we were really uptight, but now we can talk about anything - sex, religion, politics. No matter how personal and complex the subject, we'll discuss it with Richard and Judy, or slap our private Polaroids of it on our websites. Which leaves me puzzled about our silence, even shyness, over this whole torture thing.

US secretly moved prisoners out of Iraq for questioning: report
The CIA has secretly transferred detainees out of Iraq for interrogation after asking the US Justice Department to write a memo justifying the practice, which violates the Geneva Conventions.

Pentagon dumps Guantanamo tribunal officers
The Pentagon has dumped three members of a military tribunal that will hear the trials of Guantanamo prisoners, including Australian David Hicks, but kept the presiding officer despite challenges to his impartiality.

Guantanamo detainees win right for private meetings
In a defeat for the US Government, a federal judge has ruled that three prisoners held at the naval base at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba can meet with their attorneys in private. In a defeat.

Lawyers complain about Guantanamo trials
US: Lawyers for 63 detainees at the US detention camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba have complained before a US federal court at the slow pace their cases are being handled by authorities.

Judge orders US to release Guantanamo records
The United States Government must release documents within 30 days relating to the treatment of prisoners held at American overseas detention centres, including Guantanamo Bay and Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison, a US federal judge ordered.

Bush team 'knew of abuse' at Guantanamo
Evidence of prisoner abuse and possible war crimes at Guantanamo Bay reached the highest levels of the Bush administration as early as autumn 2002, but Donald Rumsfeld, the defence secretary, chose to do nothing about it, according to a new investigation.

Hicks, Habib denied a fair go: Amnesty
The secretary-general of Amnesty International has criticised the Federal Government's treatment of the two Australians detained at Guantanamo Bay.

Govt's Hicks concerns an 'election stunt', says Brown
Greens Senator Bob Brown has accused the Federal Government of an election stunt with its questions to the United States authorities about the trial of "Australian Citizen" David Hicks.

Abu Ghraib inquiry slams Aust Government
A US inquiry into the Iraqi prison abuse scandal has been highly critical of Australian, Major George O'Kane, for glossing over early warnings about the treatment of detainees.

Australian Federal Government complicity in war crimes
Complaint to Australian law officers about Australian Federal Government complicity in war crimes.

Hicks family arrives at Kangaroo Caught
Terry Hicks says he feels very emotional about seeing his son for the first time in five years.

Hicks defence team likely to gain more time
The head of the military trials planned for two Australians held at Guantanamo Bay says he believes their defence teams will be given whatever additional time they need to prepare for trial.

Hicks, Habib denied natural justice: Liberal MP
A federal Liberal MP has accused the Government of not doing enough to secure a fair trial for Guantanamo Bay detainees, David Hicks and Mamdouh Habib.

Guantanamo abuse claims prompt new inquiry calls
New claims of abuse at Guantanamo Bay Cuba have prompted fresh calls for an Australian inquiry into the treatment of detainees David Hicks and Mamdouh Habib.

Hicks movie to premiere in Adelaide
A movie about Guantanamo Bay detainee David Hicks, President versus David Hicks, by award winning filmmaker Curtis Levy will be screened in Adelaide tomorrow.

There is no justification for torture
In the weeks since the abuses at Abu Ghraib prison were revealed, evidence continues to seep out of similar mistreatment of prisoners in other US military detention centers in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo Bay.

Guantanamo prisoners may be moved to US soil
The US authorities may move hundreds of prisoners from their controversial Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba to the United States following new Supreme Court rulings, the Los Angeles Times has reported.

Pentagon names tribunal for Hicks trial
The Pentagon has named the officers who will decide the fate of David Hicks and two other Guantanamo prisoners charged by the United States in the first US military tribunals since World War II.

US terror suspects can challenge detention
The US Supreme Court has ruled that US courts have jurisdiction to hear appeals from foreign detainees held as enemy combatants in the US military base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Hicks lawyer praises Guantanamo decision
The lawyer for an Australian man detained at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base has welcomed a US Supreme Court ruling permitting judicial appeals from foreign detainees held as enemy combatants.

Hicks and Habib in the Melting Pot
Australia: The United States has brought three criminal charges against Australian David Hicks, accusing him of conspiracy to commit war crimes, attempted murder and aiding the enemy, the Pentagon has said.

Rumsfeld had approved abuse
US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld authorised hoods, the stripping of prisoners and the use of dogs to terrify inmates at Guantanamo Bay almost two years ago, documents released yesterday revealed.

How much is that doggy in the prison? Woof woof!
Did the Iraqi prisoner's get their rations while they were treated like chums?

Failure to condemn prison abuse risks lives: Kenny
The Prime Minister is morally bankrupt stay "alert and alarmed"

Prisoner's identity concealed to prevent Red Cross access
US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, acting at the request of the CIA, ordered that a suspected Iraqi insurgent leader be detained off the books to conceal his identity from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the Pentagon has confirmed.

US has secret prisons: rights group
The United States is holding terrorism suspects in more than two dozen detention centres worldwide, about half of which operate in total secrecy, according to a new human rights report.

This won't hurt much
For some time now, I've been trying to find out where my son goes after choir practice. He simply refuses to tell me. He says it's no business of mine where he goes after choir practice and it's a free country.