Redeeming Guantanamo: Two Scientists Propose New Mission For The Infamous Detention Center

—by Natasha Geiling Think Progress

Credit: AP Photo / Brennan Linsleyl, File

ince he was a presidential candidate, President Obama has called for the closing of the Guantanamo Bay detention center in Cuba. Now, two academics have a unique idea for what the land could be used for if the center were to close: a marine research facility and international peace park.

In a piece published in the most recent issue of Science Magazine, the two scientists — Joe Roman, a conservation biologist at the University of Vermont, and James Kraska, a law professor at the U.S. Naval War College — argue that turning the detention center into a research facility would benefit the U.S., Cuba, and the local environment around Guantanamo. Because the land has been cut off from the rest of Cuba for so long, Roman told ClimateWire that it would be an ideal location to study various natural and ecological features of the area, including Cuba’s coral reefs and mangrove wetlands.

“It has a diversity of habitats that have been protected in part because the area is cut off from the rest of Cuba,” Roman said. “A majority of the land and waters are unoccupied, so therefore it has been great for a lot of the wildlife in the area.”

The land that the Guantanmo Bay detention center currently occupies is actually land that has been rented to the United States by the Cuban government for more than a century, though since the 1960s the Cuban government has treated the U.S. presence on the land as illegal. If the detention center is closed, some parties, like the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, have called for the land to be returned to Cuba.

But Roman and Kraska argue that since the United States has already said that it will not return the land to Cuba, the two countries should pursue a third option. The two argue that a marine research facility, jointly operated by both the United States and Cuba, would be a compromise that would give Cuban scientists financial support and access to facilities, while allowing the United States a chance to retain its presence in the area. The research station would “unite Cuba and the United States in joint management, rather than serve as a wedge between them, while helping meet the challenges of climate change, mass extinction, and declining coral reefs,” they write inScience Magazine.

The two note that the area provides habitat for a handful of creatures that are rare throughout the island, like the Cuban iguana or the West Indian manatee. The area also provides critical nesting grounds for the endangered green turtle and the critically endangered hawksbill turtle. There are also tropical dry forests on the base that are relatively rare throughout the rest of the island.

Roman and Kraska also argue that turning the area into a marine research station, and working to preserve its ecological systems, could be an important counterbalance to the influx of activity that is expected to come to the island as the United States begins to normalize its economic ties with the region. Thanks in part to previous sanctions, Cuba has seen lower rates of development in some areas, reducing the amount of industrial and agricultural damage to its ecosystems. The country itself has also taken an aggressive stance on conservation and climate change, something that Roman and Kraska say has “put it at the center of Caribbean conservation efforts.”

“For the next generation, the name Guantánamo could become associated with redemption and efforts to preserve and repair international relations and the planet,” the two write.

Even if President Obama were to get his wish and see the detention center closed — an unlikely outcome — the plan to convert the center into a research facility would likely face a skeptical Congress.

“That’s the dumbest thing I ever heard,” Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) told ClimateWire when asked his thoughts about turning the detention center into a research facility. “Why would we talk about a marine lab when we’re trying to save American lives?”

There are currently 91 detainees at Guantanamo Bay, 35 of whom have been cleared for transfer. The State Department expects to repatriate those detainees cleared for transfer by the summer, according to the Guardian.


This material [the article above] was created by the Center for American Progress Action Fund. It was created for the Progress Report, the daily e-mail publication of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Click here to subscribe. ‘Like’ CAP Action on Facebook and ‘follow’ us on Twitter

Advertisements

NOT Good Enough for the Fearful?

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson explains the Syrian refugee screening process

In the days since the terrorist attack in Paris, there has been a huge debate in the United States over Syrian refugees. While the U.S. has committed to taking 10,000 people fleeing the Syrian civil war, some have argued that there is no way to ensure that terrorists won’t enter the country posing as refugees. The Obama administration has responded by saying that the vetting process is extremely rigorous.

So, putting aside emotional rhetoric about this issue, what exactly is that process?

According to Secretary Jeh Johnson, more than 23,000 potential refugees have been referred to the U.S. and that only 2,000 have made it past the screening. But according to the GOP fearmongers, our process isn’t good enough for them.  Is that because 2,000 worthy souls actually made it through the process?

Head more …. HERE

Victims File Suit Against CIA Torture Architects for ‘Systemic Brutality’

Psychologists James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, who thus far escaped accountability, face charges of ‘cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment; non-consensual human experimentation; and war crimes.’

— by Lauren McCauley, staff writer

Suleiman Abdullah Salim, who survived the CIA’s brutal torture regime, was released after five years of being held without charge. (Photo via ACLU)

The two psychologists credited with creating the brutal, post-9/11 Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) torture regime are being sued by three victims of their program on charges that include “human experimentation” and “war crimes.”

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on Tuesday filed the suit against CIA contractors James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, on behalf of torture survivors Suleiman Abdullah Salim and Mohamed Ahmed Ben Soud, as well as the family of Gul Rahman, who died of hypothermia in his cell as result of the torture he endured.

The suit, which is the first to rely on the findings of the Senate Intelligence Committee report on CIA torture, charges Mitchell and Jessen under the Alien Tort Statute for “their commission of torture, cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment; non-consensual human experimentation; and war crimes,” all of which violate international law.

The pair, both former U.S. military psychologists, earned more than $80 million for “designing, implementing, and personally administering” the program, which employed “a pseudo-scientific theory of countering resistance that justified the use of torture,” that was based on studies in which researchers “taught dogs ‘helplessness’ by subjecting them to uncontrollable pain,” according to the suit.

“These psychologists devised and supervised an experiment to degrade human beings and break their bodies and minds,” said Dror Ladin, a staff attorney with the ACLU National Security Project. “It was cruel and unethical, and it violated a prohibition against human experimentation that has been in place since World War II.”

In a lengthy report, the ACLU describes each plaintiff’s journey.

After being abducted by CIA and Kenyan agents in Somalia, Suleiman Abdullah, a newly wed fisherman from Tanzania, was subjected to “an incessant barrage of torture techniques,” including being forced to listen to pounding music, doused with ice-cold water, beaten, hung from a metal rod, chained into stress positions “for days at a time,” starved, and sleep deprived. This went on for over a month, and was continually interspersed with “terrifying interrogation sessions in which he was grilled about what he was doing in Somalia and the names of people, all but one of whom he’d never heard of.”

Held for over five years without charge and moved numerous times, Abdullah was eventually sent home to Zanzibar “‘with a document confirming he posed no threat to the United States.” He continues to suffer from flashbacks, physical pain, and has “become a shell of himself.”

Mohamed Ben Soud was captured in April 2003 during a joint U.S.-Pakistani raid on his home in Pakistan, where he and his wife moved after fleeing the Gaddafi regime in Libya. Ben Soud said that Mitchell even “supervised the proceedings” at one of his water torture sessions.

Describing Ben Soud’s ordeal, the ACLU writes:

The course of Mohamed’s torture adhered closely to the “procedures” the CIA laid out in a 2004 memo to the Justice Department. Even before arriving at COBALT, [a CIA prison in Afghanistan] Mohamed was subjected to “conditioning” procedures designed to cause terror and vulnerability. He was rendered to COBALT hooded, handcuffed, and shackled. When he arrived, an American woman told him he was a prisoner of the CIA, that human rights ended on September 11, and that no laws applied in the prison.

Quickly, his torture escalated. For much of the next year, CIA personnel kept Mohamed naked and chained to the wall in one of three painful stress positions designed to keep him awake. He was held in complete isolation in a dungeon-like cell, starved, with no bed, blanket, or light. A bucket served as his toilet. Ear-splitting music pounded constantly. The stench was unbearable. He was kept naked for weeks. He wasn’t permitted to wash for five months.

According to the report, the torture regime designed and implemented by Mitchell and Jessen “ensnared at least 119 men, and killed at least one—a man named Gul Rahman who died in November 2002 of hypothermia after being tortured and left half naked, chained to the wall of a freezing-cold cell.”

Gul’s family has never been formally notified of his death, nor has his body been returned to them for a dignified burial, the ACLU states. Further, no one has been held accountable for his murder. But the report notes, “An unnamed CIA officer who was trained by Jessen and who tortured Rahman up until the day before he was found dead, however, later received a $2,500 bonus for ‘consistently superior work.'”

The ACLU charges that the theories devised by Mitchell and Jessen and employed by the CIA, “had never been scientifically tested because such trials would violate human experimentation bans established after Nazi experiments and atrocities during World War II.” Yet, they were the basis of “some of the worst systematic brutality ever inflicted on detainees in modern American history.”

Despite last year’s release of the Senate Torture Report, the government has prosecuted only a handful of low-level soldiers and one CIA contractor for prisoner abuse. Meanwhile, the architects of the CIA’s torture program, which include Mitchell and Jessen, have escaped any form of accountability.

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) issued a statement saying they welcomed the federal lawsuit as “a landmark step toward accountability,” and urged the U.S. Department to follow suit and criminally “investigate and prosecute all those responsible for torture, including health professionals.”

In the wake of the Senate report, the group strongly criticized Mitchell and Jessen for betraying “the most fundamental duty of the healing professions.”

In Tuesday’s statement, Donna McKay, PHR’s executive director, said: “Psychologists have an ethical responsibility to ‘do no harm,’ but Mitchell and Jessen’s actions rank among the worst medical crimes in U.S. history.”


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License by CommonDreams.org

Republican Presidential Candidates Fear-Monger While Experts Support the Iran Deal

— by CAP Action War Room

This afternoon, GOP presidential candidates Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) slammed the Iran nuclear deal at a rally outside the Capitol. Other guests at the rally included former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, and Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty fame. Unsurprisingly, Trump’s comments at the rally were colorful. At one point he said, “When Obama talks about the ‘supreme leader,’ it’s almost like he’s got total admiration for him,” apparently unaware of the fact that Supreme Leader is the official title of Iran’s head of state. Sen. Cruz, for his part, called the deal “ catastrophic” and fear-mongered that “Americans will die, Israelis will die, Europeans will die.”

On the other side of 2016 presidential race and across town, Democratic presidential candidate and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also spoke on the deal today. Clinton gave a more serious policy speech in which she outlined a five-point plan focused on building allies in the region to counter Iran. Clinton is not alone in her support for the deal. In fact, she is joined by many right-leaning experts who understand the importance of the negotiations. Here’s a list of just a few of the many bi-partisan supporters of the plan:

  • Brent Scowcroft, A retired Lieutenant General in the Air Force, National Security Advisor to Presidents Ford and George H.W. Bush, Military Assistant to President Nixon, and Chairman of President G. W. Bush’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board: “Let us be clear: There is no credible alternative were Congress to prevent U.S. participation in the nuclear deal. If we walk away, we walk away alone.”
  • Senator Richard Lugar, Served as Republican chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, and served as a Lieutenant in the United States Navy: “[T]his agreement represents our best chance to stop an Iranian bomb without another war in the Middle East.”
  • Nicholas Burns, A career foreign service officer who served as Undersecretary of Political Affairs under President G. W. Bush and Permanent U.S. Representative to NATO: “Let’s not give up on Obama’s diplomacy. It is still the surest path to where we should want to be with Iran after the deep freeze of the last three decades.”
  • Colin Powell, Former Secretary of State under President G. W. Bush, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for President George H. W. Bush, National Security Advisor to President Reagan and four-star general in the United States Army: “My judgment after balancing those two sets of information is that it’s a pretty good deal.”
  • Paul Volcker, Federal Reserve chairman under President Reagan: “I honestly think this agreement is as good as you are going to get.”
  • Thomas Pickering, A career foreign service officer who served as U.S. Ambassador to Israel under President Reagan, and U.S. Ambassador to U.N. under President George H.W. Bush: “My sense is that this is a good agreement and it has a lot of advantages for the United States and the rest of the P5+1.”
  • Shlomo Ben-Ami, Former Israeli Foreign Minister and Security Minister, Current Vice President of the Toledo International Centre for Peace: “[The deal] creates a solid framework to prevent Iran from producing nuclear weapons for the next 10-15 years – and that is a very positive development.”

The consensus from each of these validators is clear: the Iran nuclear agreement is a good deal. It was reached through strong diplomacy and is the strictest, most intrusive inspection and verification agreement ever negotiated that blocks all of Iran’s pathways to a bomb. To walk away now would be irresponsible and squander important progress.

BOTTOM LINE: The Iran deal is the best option we have to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon now or in the future. It is a crucial first step that will allow the United States and its allies to more strongly oppose any destabilizing behavior in the Middle East. But in order for all the benefits of the deal to be realized, Congress must approve the deal so attention can turn to robust implementation of the agreement.


This material [the article above] was created by the Center for American Progress Action Fund. It was created for the Progress Report, the daily e-mail publication of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Click here to subscribe.

A is for August and Advocacy … in support of the #IranDeal

August is when members of Congress are supposed to be meeting with their constituents to discuss issues before them.  If you get a chance to attend such a meeting, please express your support for the Iran Deal and ask for your Senator’s and Congressman’s support.

As of the date of this post, there are 32 days remaining before Congress must take action on the Iran Deal before them.  Even if you don’t get a chance to attend a meeting, you can always pick up your phone and call their offices:

Senator Harry ReidTwitter
202-224-3542 (DC) / 702-388-5020 (LV) /
775-686-5750 (Reno) / 775-882-7343 (Carson)

Senator Dean HellerTwitter
202-224-6244 (DC) / 702-388-6605 (LV) /
775-686-5770 (Reno) / 775-738-2001 (Elko)

Representative Dina Titus (CD1) … Twitter
202-225-5965 (DC) / 702-220-9823 (LV)

Representative Mark Amodei (CD2) … Twitter
202-225-6155 (DC) / 775-686-5760 (Reno)

Representative Joe Heck (CD3) … Twitter
202-225-3252 (DC) / 702-387-4941 (LV)

Representative Cresent Hardy (CD4) … Twitter
(202) 225-9894 (DC)

The U.S. + Five world powers have reached a deal with Iran to stop its potential path to a nuclear weapon. The deal is supported by over 60 nuclear security experts, more than 100 American ambassadors, 75% of Democrats, and 54% of all Americans.But the architects of the Iraq War are fighting to kill the deal. John Bolton says, 'Preemptive military action is now inescapable' and Bill Kristol says, 'Airstrikes to set back the Iranian nuclear weapons program are preferable to this deal.'Opponents are pressuring Congress by spending over $40 million to put the U.S. on a path to war with Iran. But millions of dollars can't drown out millions of voices.Americans have added more than 700,000 petition signatures and more than 100,000 calls to Congress to defend the deal. Members of Congress have less than 60 days to decide whether or not to veto the deal. Now is the time to flood their offices and town hall meetings.

Visit 60daystostopawar.com to find events near you or to call your member of Congress. Tell them: A vote against the Iran deal is a vote for war.

Resources:

Five Things You Need to Understand: #Iran Deal

— from the White House

The U.S. and our international partners have secured the strongest nuclear arrangement ever negotiated. Thanks to the nuclear deal — formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) — the world can verifiably prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

It’s an historic deal. It’s vital to our national security and that of our allies, like Israel. It’s also very detailed and can seem a bit complicated. So if you’re looking to dive deep into the details, here are five things you should explore to better understand why this deal will ensure Iran’s nuclear program will remain exclusively peaceful moving forward.

Watch This: President Obama’s speech at American University

Fifty-two years ago, President John F. Kennedy delivered a speech at American University on the importance of peace in the nuclear age. This week, President Obama returned there to do the same. He outlined exactly what’s in the Iran deal and what’s at stake should Congress reject it.

260Print This: A packet of everything on the Iran deal

Looking for a deep dive into the specifics of the JCPOA? Want to know what security officials, nuclear scientists, and other experts have to say about it?

Peruse this packet of information on the details of the Iran deal online, or print it and take it with you.

Share This: A few FAQs on the Iran deal

Click here for FAQs on the Iran dealAs the President has said, there’s a lot of misinformation and falsehoods out there about what exactly is in the deal and how it will work.

Check out WhiteHouse.gov/Iran-Deal to get the answers you’re looking for — and a lot more on how this deal blocks all of Iran’s pathways to a bomb.

Read This: The enhanced text of the Iran deal

Read the full text of the Iran dealYou can read all 159 pages of the Iran deal with comments from the people who negotiated it and who will implement it.

Find it on Medium — then share it with everyone who wants to dig into the specifics of the way the deal provides unprecedented transparency to monitor Iran’s nuclear fuel cycle, the robust verification regime, and more.

Follow This on Twitter: @TheIranDeal

Want updates on the Iran deal in realtime?

Follow @TheIranDeal for live fact-checks, news updates, and exclusive insights on the significance of this historic deal — along with the next steps we need to take to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon and avoid another conflict in the Middle East.

Follow @TheIranDeal on Twitter

As Congress moves through its 60-day review period of the deal, stay tuned for more updates on this important diplomatic achievement.

And Just Exactly HOW Retroactive Would That Be?

govt01d.fwToday, the House voted on immigration. But it wasn’t on an effort to reform our broken system, or on the bipartisan bill the Senate passed more than 500 days ago.  Nope. Instead, House leaders held a vote t​hat would make our broken immigration system worse, not better. ​

Unproductive doesn’t begin to describe it. It’s all part of the Republican House’s pattern of payback politics — lawsuits,​ talks​ of impeachment​ and shutting down the government​, all because the President took common-sense action in the face of congressional gridlock ​to make our nation and families stronger.

The bill they voted on? That would be HR5759.  Roll Call Vote 550:

BILL TITLE: To establish a rule of construction clarifying the limitations on executive authority to provide certain forms of immigration relief

No provision of the Constitution, the Immigration and Nationality Act (of 1965), or other federal law shall be interpreted or applied to authorize the executive branch of the government to exempt, by executive order, regulation, or any other means, categories of persons unlawfully present in the United States from removal under the immigration laws.

Declares any action by the executive branch with the purpose of circumventing the objectives of this statute null and void and without legal effect.

Makes this Act EFFECTIVE RETROACTIVELY, applying to any such exemption made AT ANY TIME. (emphasis added)

The vote was 219-197 with 3 Democrats (Barrow, McIntyre and Peterson) voting FOR passage, and only 7 Republicans (Coffman, Denham, Diaz-Belart, Gohmert, Ros-Lehtinen, Stutzman and Valadio) voting against it. And yes of course, our illustrious representative from Nevada Congressional District 2, Mr. Mark Amodei was thrilled to cast his AYE vote as a “symbolic message” that, “that black guy in the oval office has no business doing what every President since ‘Ike’ has done via ‘executive action’.”

ImmigrationEOs

So, they want to retroactively nullify executive action of the President. Really? Did they bother to read the bill they just passed?  What are they nullifying? Actions just this President? Or, for curiosity’s sake, is their intent to nullify immigration-related actions taken by each and every President since 1956?  It does after all say, that it applies RETROACTIVELY, to ANY such exemption made at ANY time.

Talk about hypocrisy.  Apparently, if it’s intent is to apply ONLY to actions by President Obama, it’s okay for them to be ambiguous in bill that they themselves choose to pass, but how dare those heathenish Democrats pass a bill the Republicans claim is ambiguous as to healthcare subsidies! That just cannot be and they’ll make sure it can’t be, by wasting taxpayer money to take >50 votes to kill it, by suing the President for not implementing on a timely bases that same bill they’re trying to kill, and by goading their benefactor buddies into pursuing nullification of various provisions of that bill through all levels of the judiciary up to and including, the Supreme Corporate (oops, I mean Supreme Court).

The outright blatant hypocrisy of their ambiguous actions is immoral, unethical and UNchristian.

 

The President Just Announced This —

Our immigration system has been broken for decades. And every day we wait to act, millions of undocumented immigrants are living in the shadows: Those who want to pay taxes and play by the same rules as everyone else have no way to live right by the law. That is why President Obama is using his executive authority to address as much of the problem as he can, and why he’ll continue to work with Congress to pass comprehensive reform.

ImmigrationPlan

Related Articles: 

Republican Revisionist Propaganda, oops, I Mean History

According to Republican leadership, “No other president in history has used Executive powers to change immigration policy.” Really? NO other President in history?  Do they own a history book? Can they read?  Senator Barbara Boxer can, and she put out this tidy little list this morning on Twitter:

ImmigrationEOs

A President may not be able to provide a “pathway to citizenship” via Executive action, but under the authority granted by our Constitution to the President, he/she can certainly prioritize where INS should focus its efforts. Instead of breaking up working, nurturing families to deport the parents and then relegating their American-born citizen children to foster care at taxpayer expense for years, it makes much more sense to focus on rooting out criminal elements and deporting them to their countries of origin.

Speaker Boehner has had two solid years to come up with something of his own, and he’s had a bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform bill (S744) that was passed in the senate on 6/27/2013.  Speaker Boehner alone, has been the one blocking a vote in the US House on this bill, which many claim, has more than the requisite 218 Representatives willing to stand up and vote “AYE” for passage.