The Guardian has obtained a mass of files relating to detainees at America’s infamous Guantánamo Bay:
Guantánamo leaks lift lid on world’s most controversial prison
• Innocent people interrogated for years on slimmest pretexts
• Children, elderly and mentally ill among those wrongfully held
• 172 prisoners remain, some with no prospect of trial or release
More than 700 leaked secret files on the Guantánamo detainees lay bare the inner workings of America’s controversial prison camp in Cuba.
The US military dossiers, obtained by the New York Times and the Guardian, reveal how, alongside the so-called “worst of the worst”, many prisoners were flown to the Guantánamo cages and held captive for years on the flimsiest grounds, or on the basis of lurid confessions extracted by maltreatment. …
The files depict a system often focused less on containing dangerous terrorists or enemy fighters, than on extracting intelligence. Among inmates who proved harmless were an 89-year-old Afghan villager, suffering from senile dementia, and a 14-year-old boy who had been an innocent kidnap victim. …
Obama’s inability to shut Guantánamo has been one of the White House’s most internationally embarrassing policy failures. The files offer an insight into why the administration has been unable to transfer many of the 172 existing prisoners from the island prison where they remain outside the protection of the US courts or the prisoner-of-war provisions of the Geneva conventions.
See the Guardian’s overview of coverage for many other topics, such as how “US agencies fought internal war” over the treatment of prisoners, and “Britain joined renditions despite knowing of torture”. The New York Times blog The Lede is tracking reaction to the release of the files.
Local reaction has been quick to point out the New Zealand connection. Russell Brown at Hard News:
More Secrets and Lies
As the latest round of Wikileaks disclosures, the Guantanamo Files, courses through the global media (more of which below) we should not shrink from confronting a story about our own small part of the same, grim map: Jon Stephenson’s ‘Eyes Wide Shut’, in the latest Metro magazine. …
The thrust of the story is that New Zealand’s political and military leaders have consistently sought to play down – to the extent of covering it up – evidence that our own SAS troops in Afghanistan have breached New Zealand’s obligations under the Geneva Conventions by handing over prisoners to US and Afghani forces in the knowledge that they would likely be mistreated and even tortured. …
There is a good deal more in the story, and I would urge you to get hold of a copy. It offers evidence that Phil Goff, probably Mark Burton, the present Defence minister Wayne Mapp and Prime Minister John Key have actively lied to the public. (Helen Clark, who did authorise a diplomatic cable noting the importance of “international humanitarian law and human rights law” in the light of a damning Human Rights Watch report on US abuses in Afghanistan, might also be looking to her laurels). Disturbingly, it further offers evidence that our next Governor General, former NZDF chief Jerry Mataparae, has also lied.
As usual I/S at No Right Turn doesn’t pull any punches:
Key covers up torture
… Now Prime Minister John Key – who has publicly led that campaign of comfortable lies – has ruled out any inquiry. Despite the evidence presented of both torture and lies about torture, he sees nothing of concern. We don’t need to know what our army is doing in our name in Afghanistan, and we certainly don’t need to know whether our politicians have been systematically lying to us about it. We should all just trust him.
Sorry, but I don’t. We’ve been presented with strong evidence that our politicians have been lying to us. John Key is one of the politicians who has done so. We can not simply accept his word that everything is OK. Particularly on something as serious as this.
In criminal cases, we use an independent body – a judge or a jury – to weigh the evidence. That is what we should be doing here. By refusing to allow such an investigation, Key has moved from potentially being the victim of the army’s lies, to actively covering up collusion in torture. And that makes him a co-conspirator. He should be judged accordingly.
Nobody comes out of this shit storm looking good.