Comment: Guantánamo, year eleven



In the eleventh year of Guantanamo Bay military jail existing, the closure plans seem far away and it looks like Gitmo will never, ever be closed.

Americans got used to this endless crusade: the War on Terror. This term was first used on September 20, 2001 which means this war lasts longer than both World Wars together. Guantanamo_captive_being_moved_at_night_in_camp_x-ray

Now, over a decade after hooded, shackled prisoners were „unloaded“ from miliatary airplanes and brought to their outdoor cells in Cuba´s tropical sun, the „Bushmen“ try to defend the approval of harsh methods in the global war on terror.

That prison is a world-class operation.” D. Rumsfeld, 2011

says the man that approved aggressive interrogation methods including the use of dogs and stress positions in Gitmo.


Guantanamo is good prison where the inmates have good medical care, where their nutrition needs are respected, the detainees do sports, use media, pray. Not all what is told about Guantanamo is true.“ Dick Cheney, 2011

…says the man that one time called waterboarding a „no-brainer“.

First director treated detainees too good

After some months, Rick Baccus, Guantanamo´s first commander, was fired as he treated detainees to good. General major Miller suceeded him, introduced a system of little gifts (such as McDonald´s meals) for those who cooperated and punishment (no fresh clothing, taking away mattresses) for those who did not.


Miller also was the person to introduce new tactics to gahter intelligence from detainees such as the use of dogs (to intimidate prisoners) and solitary confinement. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld (until 2006) aproved harsh methods in December 2002 (use of dogs, 20-hour-interrogation, forced nudity, forced shaving, isolation, stress positions) and in April 2003 (changing temperatures, using unpleasant smells, reversing sleep times from night to day, isolation). FBI agents witnessed the system of tough interrogations at Gitmo, reporting barking dogs in questioning booths and detainees being chained to the floor for more than 24 hours, urinating and defecating on themselves, exposed to extreme temperatures and loud music. They told of prisoners gagged with duct tape and sleep deprivation.


The case of Mohammed al-Qathani, the alledged „20th hyjacker of 9/11“, illustrates standard procedures: during his interrogations, he was stripped nude, forced to urinate on him, intimidated with a dog. Water was thrown at him and he was kept in a light-flooded isolation cell for log time, causing him psychological pain such as hallucinations. He was interrogated at night, deprived of sleep with loud noises and 24-hour-lighting in his cell. He was kept in dark cells. He was denied practising his religion freely and humiliated by nudity, forced shaving and female personnel. HE was forced to wear a towel „like a burka“, forced to look at pornographic pictures. Qathani´s female family members were sexually insulted. One time, he had a leash put around his neck,he was forced to perform dog tricks. He was restrained into painful poisitions with handcuffs and held in rooms with cold temperatures, causing him hypothermia. He is suffering from post-traumatic stress and he cannot remember things as a result of methods used. One time, he was subjected to a „fake-rendition“: he was blindfolded and drugged, brought into an airplane and told he would be brought to Middle East. After hours in the air, the plane landen in Gitmo. But instead of bringing him back to the normal cells, but to another special part of the prison. There, he was harshly treated to make him believe he was in Egypt.

All of these techniques caused him excessive weight lost, psychological trauma, hallucination, sensivity of cold temperatures and other health problems.

The broken promise

However, Obama promised to close Guantanamo within one year after his inaguration in January 2009. It is january 2013 now, so he is three years too late. In 2009, there were reports of beatings and the excessive use of pepper spray. Obama promised to release new Abu Ghraib photos. It would be shocking to see them, as witnesses say they are even worse than the first pictures, but it would be a symbol of transparency and show the open-minded way the US deals with a dark chapter in it´s history. But then, Barack Obama decided not to publish them, and he has not persecuted a single person. The fact that a young man was kidnapped and abused, prbably by US forces, in Somalia, and is now at a NY court, shows that the actual administration has not clearly stopped Bush era methods. And do never forget that the senate report on CIA torture program is kept secret.

Obama´s drone program is not more than systemic extrajudicial killings that often even kills innocent people. The fact that he allowed more drone atacks than president Bush shows us that the president does not want to torture, but to kill.

Then there is Afghanistan, where suspects are kidnapped by US forces, subjected to rough treatment, and locked away.

So, president Obama should end indefinite detention under inhumane conditions, shut down Guantanamo, end censorship & classification of information, end drone attacks, end military comissions and finally persecute torturers.

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