Washington Post & Associated Press & Prensa Latina & MSNBC News Services & Trinity Mirror Southern – 2007-01-21 09:46:41
Carter Urges Closing Of Guantanamo Prison
ATLANTA (June 8, 2005) — Former president Jimmy Carter called Tuesday for the United States to close its detention camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to demonstrate its commitment to human rights.
“The US continues to suffer terrible embarrassment and a blow to our reputation . . . because of reports concerning abuses of prisoners in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo,” Carter said after a two-day human rights conference at his Atlanta center.
The reports have surfaced despite President Bush’s “bold reminder that America is determined to promote freedom and democracy around the world,” he said.
About 540 detainees are being held at Guantanamo Bay. Some have been there more than three years without being charged with a crime. Most were captured on the battlefields of Afghanistan in 2001 and 2002 and were sent to the prison in hope of extracting intelligence about the al Qaeda terrorist network.
Carter said the United States needs to make sure that no detainees are held incommunicado and that all are told the charges against them.
Despite his criticism, Carter said Amnesty International should not have called the prison “the gulag of our time” in a report last month. He said the alleged abuse at Guantanamo Bay could never compare with the forced labor camps operated by the former Soviet Union.
© 2005 The Washington Post Company
Carter: Guantanamo Detentions Disgraceful
WASHINGTON, DC (July 2005) — Former President Carter said Saturday the detention of terror suspects at the Guantanamo Bay Naval base was an embarrassment and had given extremists an excuse to attack the United States.
Carter also criticized the US-led war in Iraq as “unnecessary and unjust.”
“I think what’s going on in Guantanamo Bay and other places is a disgrace to the USA.,” he told a news conference at the Baptist World Alliance’s centenary conference in Birmingham, England. “I wouldn’t say it’s the cause of terrorism, but it has given impetus and excuses to potential terrorists to lash out at our country and justify their despicable acts.”
Carter said, however, that terrorist acts could not be justified, and that while Guantanamo “may be an aggravating factor … it’s not the basis of terrorism.”
Critics of President Bush’s administration have long accused the US government of unjustly detaining terror suspects at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base on the southeastern tip of Cuba. Hundreds of men have been held indefinitely at the prison, without charge or access to lawyers.
“What has happened at Guantanamo Bay … does not represent the will of the American people,” Carter said Saturday. “I’m embarrassed about it, I think its wrong. I think it does give terrorists an unwarranted excuse to use the despicable means to hurt innocent people.”
Earlier this month, Carter called for the Guantanamo prison to be shut down, saying reports of abuses there were an embarassment to the United States. He also said that the United States needs to make sure no detainees are held incommunicado and that all are told the charges against them.
Carter, who won the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize, has been an outspoken critic of the Iraq war.
“I thought then, and I think now, that the invasion of Iraq was unnecessary and unjust. And I think the premises on which it was launched were false,” he said Saturday.
The Baptist World Alliance, comprising more than 200 Baptist unions around the world, was formed in London in 1905. The headquarters of the alliance, which meets in a different location every five years, moved to the United States in 1947.
An estimated 12,700 delegates gathered in the city of Birmingham in central England for the conference. Carter, a Sunday school teacher in his hometown of Plains, Ga., was due to lead a Bible study lesson during the conference.
He praised British police and intelligence services for the swift arrests in connection with the July 21 failed bombing attempts on London’s transit system.
“I’m very proud to be in a nation that stands so stalwart against terrorism with us,” he said. “The people of my country have united our hearts and sympathy for the tragedy that you have suffered from terrorism.”
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Guantanamo Victim Torture Tales
HAVANA (January 10, 2007) A young British man of Pakistani origin, Asif Iqbal, shared memories of the horrors suffered while a US prisoner in Guantanamo, in the Cuban southeastern region illegally occupied by the United States.
In a meeting with the national and international press in the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP) in this capital he explained that he was given no reason for being jailed there for more than two and a half years.
“I was brutally tortured for three months while they showed me videos with Osama bin Laden and claimed I was present at that meeting,” he explained.
He recalls being in isolation and subjected to loud sounds and extreme temperatures of heat and cold and saying it would continue until he “confessed” being present in that meeting with the Al-Qaeda chief.
“However, three of us were lucky because the British government explained we were in Britain at the time,” Iqbal added.
Asif Iqbal was born and educated in England. He was 20 when he was captured and the United States paid five thousand dollars for him.
Shortly after being released Iqbal managed to talk with family members of those who are still in prison and since has traveled the world demanding freedom for them and the closing of that jail.
Shut Down Guantanamo? US Eyes Options
Rumsfeld Joins Bush in Talking about Alternatives
MSNBC News Services
BRUSSELS, Belgium (June 9, 2005) — Are Guantanamo Bay’s days numbered as a US military prison camp? Comments from both President Bush and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld seemed to point in that direction, with Rumsfeld noting Thursday that he’d rather have detainees imprisoned by their home countries.
Rumsfeld spoke a day after saying he was unaware of anyone in the Bush administration discussing closing the base in Cuba. Hours later, President Bush refused to rule out shutting the facility, saying his administration was exploring alternatives for detaining the prisoners.
“We’re exploring all alternatives as to how best to do the main objective, which is to protect America,” Bush said on Fox News Channel when asked whether it should be shut down. “What we don’t want to do is let somebody out that comes back and harms us.”
Human rights groups and former detainees say prisoners at Guantanamo have been mistreated. The Pentagon said last week that some US personnel there mishandled prisoners’ copies of the Quran, the Muslim holy book.
Waiting for Iraq, Afghanistan
US officials are waiting until Iraqi and Afghan authorities have the ability to deal with dangerous prisoners before handing over detainees from those nations, Rumsfeld said Thursday at a news conference during a NATO defense ministers’ meeting in Brussels, Belgium.
“Our desire is not to have these people. … Our goal is to have them in the hands of the countries of origin, for the most part,” Rumsfeld said.
The defense secretary said interrogators had gained valuable information from Guantanamo prisoners that had saved lives by helping authorities thwart attacks.
The prison holds about 540 men accused of terrorism, most of them alleged members of al-Qaida or the former Taliban regime in Afghanistan that supported Osama bin Laden’s terror network. Some have been there more than three years without being charged with any crime.
Top Democrat Wants It Closed
Nancy Pelosi of California, the Democratic leader of the House of Representatives, added her voice to the criticism by supporting those calling for the closure of the detention camp, including former President Jimmy Carter and Sen. Joseph Biden, the senior Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
“I think that we need a fresh start, … a clean slate for America in the Muslim world,” Pelosi told reporters.
Carter echoed that view earlier this week. “To demonstrate clearly our nation’s historic commitment to protect human rights, our government needs to close down Guantanamo and the two dozen secret detention facilities run by the United States as soon as practicable,” the Democrat said.
Biden, for his part, declared Guantanamo “the greatest propaganda tool that exists for the recruiting of terrorists around the world.”
Amnesty International has called the facility “the gulag of our time,” a criticism that was dismissed by both Bush and Rumsfeld.
Last week’s Pentagon disclosure of mishandling of the Quran followed a report in Newsweek, later retracted, that US investigators had confirmed that a guard had deliberately flushed a prisoner’s Quran in a toilet. The White House blamed that report for violent protests in Muslim nations.
© 2007 MSNBC InteractiveThe Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.
Action Urged to Close Guantanamo;
Britain to Seek Alternatives
Trinity Mirror Southern
BERKSHIRE (Jan 21 2007) — The Government has been urged to work with the US on alternatives to Guantanamo Bay so the controversial camp for terror suspects can be shut down as soon as possible.
MPs who have visited the base said its detainees had to be dealt with transparently, but acknowledged many continue to pose a threat to countries including the UK.
The Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee said states had a right to defend themselves and a new strategy for dealing with the suspects is needed before it can close.
“Those detained at Guantanamo must be dealt with transparently and in full conformity with all applicable national and international law,” the MPs’ report concluded.
“But we recognise too … that many of those detained present a real threat to public safety and that all states are under an obligation to protect their citizens and those of other countries from that threat.
“At present, that obligation is being discharged by the United States alone, in ways that have attracted strong criticism, but we conclude that the international community as a whole needs to shoulder its responsibility in finding a longer-term solution.”
The report follows a visit to Guantanamo in September by seven MPs on the committee.
It said the US could undermine the Geneva Conventions through its unilateral interpretation of international law in order to detain those held at the base, but it also said the conventions now lack clarity and are out of date.
Eight British residents are believed to be detained at Guantanamo. Although the men are not British citizens, supporters say the Government should intervene to have them returned to the UK and to their families.
However, the committee said: “We conclude that the Government is right to stick to its established policy of not accepting consular responsibility for non-British nationals.”
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