Sunday, February 08, 2009

Top US lawyer warns of deaths at Guantánamo.

Lieutenant-Colonel Yvonne Bradley, an American military lawyer, will tomorrow go to the Foreign Office in London and demand the disclosure of 42 secret documents which she alleges will prove that her client, Binyam Mohamed, was tortured and that Britain was complicit in his torture.

She will also reveal that Mohamed, a British citizen who is currently on hunger strike, could very well die and the JTF [the Joint Task Force running Guantánamo] are keeping the scale of what is taking place at the Cuban base out of the public eye.

Bradley recently met Mohamed in Camp Delta's sparse visiting room and was shaken by his account of the state of affairs inside the notorious prison.

She said: "At least 50 people are on hunger strike, with 20 on the critical list, according to Binyam. The JTF are not commenting because they do not want the public to know what is going on.

"Binyam has witnessed people being forcibly extracted from their cell. Swat teams in police gear come in and take the person out; if they resist, they are force-fed and then beaten. Binyam has seen this and has not witnessed this before. Guantánamo Bay is in the grip of a mass hunger strike and the numbers are growing; things are worsening.

"It is so bad that there are not enough chairs to strap them down and force-feed them for a two- or three-hour period to digest food through a feeding tube. Because there are not enough chairs the guards are having to force-feed them in shifts. After Binyam saw a nearby inmate being beaten it scared him and he decided he was not going to resist. He thought, 'I don't want to be beat, injured or killed.' Given his health situation, one good blow could be fatal," said Bradley.

"Binyam is continuing to lose weight and he is going to get worse. He has been told he is about to be released, but psychologically and physically he is declining."

David Miliband has already refused to release evidence which could prove whether or not Mohamed was tortured, on the grounds that this could stop the Americans sharing intelligence with Britain, which is a simply astonishing thing to claim regarding our ally in the war on terror.

On Tuesday this week High Court judges Lord Justice Thomas and Mr Justice Lloyd Jones will decide whether or not to reopen this case which Mohamed insists will validate his torture claims.

Astonishingly, the Guardian are reporting that the American security services might actually prefer for Mohamed to die:

Suspicion is also growing that some sections of the US intelligence community would prefer Binyam did die inside Guantánamo. Silenced forever, only the sparse language of his diary would be left to recount his torture claims and interviewees with an MI5 officer, known only as Witness B. Such a scenario would also deny Mohamed the chance to personally sue the US, and possibly British authorities, over his treatment.

But if Mohamed survives to come back to London, his experiences of the past six years promise a harrowing journey through the dark underbelly of the war on terror. For Miliband, the questions concerning Britain's role may have only just begun.

The worst thing about all of this are the lengths that the British government are prepared to go to in order to prevent the truth from coming out here. No-one regards as credible the claim that the US would stop sharing information with us were we to reveal a summary of the evidence in court.

Indeed, as the judges made clear in a stinging rebuke of Miliband's position last week:
"Indeed we did not consider that a democracy governed by the rule of law would expect a court in another democracy to suppress a summary of the evidence contained in reports by its own officials ... relevant to allegations of torture and cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment, politically embarrassing though it might be."
And that is the entire point here. There are no grounds of national security which might be breached and it is simply cheap for Miliband to hide behind that defence, especially as he is using that defence to hide the evidence of possible torture of a British resident. They are trying to avoid political embarrassment born from the extent to which the British government were complicit in Bush's crimes.


Shami Chakrabarti brilliantly takes Geoff Hoon to task over this on Question Time.

Click title for full article.

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