DNC Protesters: We’re Being Treated Like Prisoners

DENVER — Police in riot gear on Monday turned pepper spray on protesters about a mile from the site of the Democratic National Convention.

The confrontation occurred in the early evening in front of the Denver City and County Building. It’s believed to be the first time police used any kind of force against protesters.

Authorities say police were trying to disperse a crowd of about 300 that had disrupted traffic. Police have led at least two people away as the crowd chanted “Let them go!”

Some of the protesters threw bags containing a colored liquid at police.

Police Lt. Ron Saunier says he did not immediately know whether there had been arrests.

He said, “The situation is still very fluid and active.”

The flare up came on a day in which the turnout for protests was lower than expected. At one point, in fact, local authorities reopened some Denver traffic lanes sooner than planned. About 12 blocks along two busy streets reopened at around noon on Monday (local time), instead of 3 p.m. as planned. Authorities say they could remain open for the duration of the convention if marches can be accommodated safely.

The Joint Information Center, an emergency-response command set up by the city for the convention, cites “low attendance and parade participation” for the change.

Earlier, a small group of protesters marched to the demonstration zone outside the convention, complaining they were being treated like political prisoners.

Members of Recreate 68 Alliance visited the fenced-off zone for the first time on Monday and vowed not to return because they oppose the limits on where they can demonstrate.

Posted in USA

Secret CIA prison on Diego Garcia confirmed

By Andy Worthington

August 2008 — The existence of a secret, CIA-run prison on the island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean has long been a leaky secret in the “War on Terror” and recent revelations in TIME — based on disclosures by a “senior American official” (now retired), who was “a frequent participant in White House Situation Room meetings” after the 9/11 attacks, and who reported that “a CIA counter-terrorism official twice said that a high-value prisoner or prisoners were being interrogated on the island” — will come as no surprise to those who have been studying the story closely.

The news will, however, be an embarrassment to the US government, which has persistently denied claims that it operated a secret “War on Terror” prison on Diego Garcia, and will be a source of even more consternation to the British government, which is more closely bound than its law-shredding transatlantic neighbour to international laws and treaties preventing any kind of involvement whatsoever in kidnapping, “extraordinary rendition” and the practice of torture.

This is not the first time that TIME has exposed the existence of a secret prison on Diego Garcia. In 2003, the magazine broke the story that Hambali, one of 14 “high-value detainees” transferred to Guantánamo in September 2006, was being held there, and in the years since confirmation has also come from other sources. Twice, in 2004 and 2006, Barry McCaffrey, a retired four-star US general, who is now professor of international security studies at the West Point military academy, revealed the prison’s existence. In May 2004, he blithely declared on MSNBC’s Deborah Norville Tonight, “We’re probably holding around 3,000 people, you know, Bagram air field, Diego Garcia, Guantánamo, 16 camps throughout Iraq”, and in December 2006 he spoke out again, saying, in an NPR interview with Robert Siegel, “They’re behind bars … we’ve got them on Diego Garcia, in Bagram air field, in Guantánamo.”

The prison’s existence was also confirmed by Dick Marty, a Swiss senator who produced a detailed report on “extraordinary rendition” for the Council of Europe in June 2007 (PDF) and by Manfred Novak, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Torture, in March 2008. Having spoken to senior CIA officers during his research, Marty told the European Parliament, “We have received concurring confirmations that United States agencies have used Diego Garcia, which is the international legal responsibility of the UK, in the ‘processing’ of high-value detainees”, and Manfred Novak explained to the Observer that “he had received credible evidence from well-placed sources familiar with the situation on the island that detainees were held on Diego Garcia between 2002 and 2003”. The penultimate piece of the jigsaw puzzle came in May, when El Pais broke the story that “ghost prisoner” Mustafa Setmariam Nasar, whose current whereabouts are unknown, was imprisoned on the island in 2005, shortly after his capture in Pakistan — although the English-speaking press failed to notice.

Despite these previous disclosures, TIME’s article by Adam Zagorin is particularly striking because of the high-level nature of the source, and his admission that “the CIA officer surprised attendees by volunteering the information, apparently to demonstrate that the agency was doing its best to obtain valuable intelligence”. In addition, the source noted that “the US may also have kept prisoners on ships within Diego Garcia’s territorial waters, a contention the US has long denied”.

Zagorin also spoke to Richard Clarke (at the time the National Security Council’s Special Advisor to President Bush regarding counter-terrorism), who explained, “In my presence, in the White House, the possibility of using Diego Garcia for detaining high value targets was discussed.” Although Clarke “did not witness a final resolution of the issue”, he added, “Given everything that we know about the administration’s approach to the law on these matters, I find the report that the US did use the island for detention or interrogation entirely credible” and he also pointed out that using the island for interrogations or detentions without British permission “is a violation of UK law, as well as of the bi-lateral agreement governing the island”.

Zagorin’s source did not name the prisoners, but it seems clear that the period he was referring to (“2002 and possibly 2003”) was when three particular “high-value detainees” — Abu Zubaydah, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Ramzi bin al-Shibh — are reported to have been held on the island, and it seems entirely plausible, therefore, that after these three were transferred to another secret CIA facility in Poland, the prison was used not only to hold Hambali, but also to hold the two other “high-value detainees” captured with him — Mohammed bin Lep (aka Lillie) and Mohd Farik bin Amin (aka Zubair). The addition of Mustafa Setmariam Nasar, who, it seems, may have been held into 2006, not only confirms that a secret prison existed, but that it was possibly in use for four years straight.

These damaging revelations seal Diego Garcia’s reputation as a quagmire of injustice. A British sovereign territory — albeit one that was leased to the United States nearly 40 years ago, when the islanders were shamefully discarded by the British government and exiled to face destitution and death by misery in Mauritius — Diego Garcia has long been a source of shame to opponents of modern colonial activity. Until now, however, the only admission that any activities connected with the “War on Terror” had taken place on the island came in February 2008, when, after years of denials on the part of the British government, David Miliband, the foreign secretary, finally conceded that requests for information from his US counterparts had revealed that, in 2002, two rendition flights had refuelled on the island. “In both cases”, Miliband stated with confidence, “a US plane with a single detainee on board refuelled at the US facility in Diego Garcia. The detainees did not leave the plane, and the US Government has assured us that no US detainees have ever been held on Diego Garcia”.

The British government had been provoked to action by critics within the UK, in particular the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Extraordinary Rendition, led by the Tory MP Andrew Tyrie, and the legal action charity Reprieve, which represents 30 prisoners in Guantánamo, but the story appeared to grind to a halt when Michael Hayden, the CIA’s director, stepped forward to deny that Diego Garcia had ever been used as a “War on Terror” prison.

“That is false,” General Hayden said when asked if a secret prison had existed on Diego Garcia, adding, as the New York Times put it, that “neither of the two detainees carried aboard the rendition flights that refuelled at Diego Garcia ‘was ever part of the CIA’s high-value terrorist interrogation program.’” He also explained that one of the detainees “was ultimately transferred to Guantánamo”, while the other “was returned to his home country”, which was identified by US State Department officials as Morocco. “These were rendition operations,” he added, “nothing more”.

In July 2008, however, the story resurfaced once more, as David Miliband reported the results of his latest request for information from his US counterparts. This concerned a list of rendition flights, which, in the opinion of Reprieve and the All-Party Parliamentary Group, may also have passed through British territory, but the foreign secretary was confident that there was no further evidence to be mined, stating, “The United States Government confirmed that, with the exception of two cases related to Diego Garcia in 2002, there have been no other instances in which US intelligence flights landed in the United Kingdom, our Overseas Territories, or the Crown Dependencies, with a detainee on board since 11 September 2001.”

Yet again, the assurances of his US colleagues did nothing to assuage the critics. Reprieve noted that the British government “intentionally failed to ask the right questions of the US, and accepted implausible US assurances at face value” and added, presciently, “This remains a transatlantic cover-up of epic proportions. While the British government seems content to accept whatever nonsense it is fed by its US allies, the sordid truth about Diego Garcia’s central role in the unjust rendition and detention of prisoners in the so-called ‘War on Terror’ cannot be hidden forever.”

Just three days after David Miliband’s last attempt to draw a line under the story, the British Foreign Affairs Select Committee published its latest report on the British Overseas Territories (PDF), and was scathing about Diego Garcia, declaring that “it is deplorable that previous US assurances about rendition flights have turned out to be false. The failure of the United States Administration to tell the truth resulted in the UK Government inadvertently misleading our Select Committee and the House of Commons. We intend to examine further the extent of UK supervision of US activities on Diego Garcia, including all flights and ships serviced from Diego Garcia.”

TIME’s latest revelations, of course, leave the US administration looking like bald-faced liars and the British government looking like myopic dupes. Whether Michael Hayden was also duped is not known, but his strenuous denial, just five months ago, that a secret prison existed, which was staffed by his own employees, will do nothing for the credibility of the US administration, which likes to pretend that it does not torture and has nothing to conceal, but is persistently discovered not only being economical with the truth, but also behaving exactly as though it has guilty secrets to hide.

Whether this scandal will awaken much indignation in the US public remains to be seen, but it is hugely damaging to the British government, which is legally responsible for the activities that take place on its territory, however much it likes to hide behind “assurances” from its leaseholders that they have done nothing wrong.

It scarcely seems possible, but Diego Garcia’s dark history has suddenly grown even darker.

Robin Long, War Resister Deported from Canada, Faces Trial This Week

Alternet

By Sarah Lazare, Posted August 21, 2008.


The first war resister to be deported from Canada since the Vietnam War faces court-martial and three years in jail. Who is next?

Three years ago, Robin Long fled to Canada rather than fight a war in Iraq he deems immoral. Just over a month ago, the Canadian government forcibly returned Long to U.S. military custody, making him the first war resister deported from Canadian soil since the Vietnam War.

Long now faces court-martial and the possibility of three years in prison. Meanwhile, another war resister living in Canada, Jeremy Hinzman, received a deportation notice a few days ago, and other war resisters in Canada wonder if they will be next.

The Canadian government’s actions flaunt its long-standing tradition of providing safe haven for U.S. war resisters and ignore widespread grassroots efforts in that country to protect U.S. soldiers seeking sanctuary.

Long is a part of a growing movement of GI resistance against the Iraq War, and his case has been met with widespread support from friends and allies throughout the United States and Canada.

Who is Robin Long?

Born in Boise, Idaho, Robin Long was raised in a military family, playing with G.I. Joes and dreaming of one day joining the service. Upon enlisting in the Army in June 2003, the recruiter promised that Long would not be sent to Iraq. Long was excited about this chance to serve his country and finally make something with his life, and he headed off for basic training feeling he had made the right decision. “When the United States first attacked Iraq, I was told by my president that it was because of direct ties to al Qaeda and weapons of mass destruction,” Long told Courage to Resist in an interview in January. “At the time, I believed what was being said.”

Over the next few months, Long’s enthusiasm began to wane. His drill sergeant repeatedly referred to Iraqi people as “ragheads” and led the troops in racist cadences. When Long protested, he was punished by senior officers and alienated by his peers. At this point, Long began to suffer a crisis of conscience. “I was hearing on mainstream media that the U.S. was going to Iraq to get the weapons of mass destruction and to liberate the Iraqi people, yet I’m being taught that I’m going to the desert to, excuse the racial slur, ‘kill ragheads.'”

After basic training, Long was transferred to the nondeployable base at Fort Knox. Upon meeting soldiers returning from Iraq, Long was horrified by their stories of violence and brutality. Soldiers bragged about their “first kills” and showed pictures of people they shot or ran over with tanks. “I had a really sick feeling to my stomach when I heard about these things that went on,” he said.

In 2005, Long received orders to go to Iraq. The only soldier to be deployed from his unit, a nondeployable unit, Long received a month’s leave to check out of Fort Knox and report to Fort Carson, Colo. He was scheduled to report to Iraq a few weeks later.

While on leave, Long educated himself about the “behind the scenes” story of the Iraq invasion. He talked to friends about whether to go through with his deployment. By his scheduled departure day, Long had made the decision not to go. He skipped his flight and stayed in a friend’s basement in Boise over the next few months. From there he caught a ride to Canada. “I knew that my conscience couldn’t allow me to go over there (to Iraq),” he said.

Long spent the next three years building a life for himself in Canada. He met a woman, had a child and established contact with other war resisters in Canada. Long applied for refugee status on the grounds that he was being asked to participate in an illegal war and would suffer irreparable harm if he returned to the United States. Not only was his bid rejected, but Canadian authorities responded by mandating that Long report his whereabouts every month. He eventually settled in Nelson, a small town in British Columbia.

Deportation Orders

Robin Long found his new life in Canada to be increasingly precarious.

He was issued a warrant for arrest by the Canadian Border Services Agency on July 4 of this year, on the grounds that he did not adequately report his whereabouts to the authorities, and he was told a few days later that he would be deported to the United States. Long appealed the order, and his supporters rallied throughout the United States and Canada, urging Canadian authorities to let him stay. Despite these efforts, Long was deported on July 15, after the judge ruled that he would not suffer irreparable harm if returned to the United States.

Long now sits in the El Paso County Jail near Colorado Springs, Colo., awaiting a court-martial for desertion “with intent to remain away permanently,” a charge that carries a maximum of three years of confinement, forfeiture of pay and dishonorable discharge. His trial is set for Friday, Aug. 22, and it is expected to move quickly, with his unit command hoping to convict him as rapidly as possible. Despite these grim prospects, Long remains in good spirits, according to Buff Whitman-Bradley, a volunteer with Courage to Resist who regularly corresponds with him. “He feels more strongly now than ever that he is right,” said Whitman-Bradley, “and he is willing to accept the consequences, whatever they might be.”

The first war resister to be deported from Canada since the Vietnam War faces court-martial and three years in jail. Who is next?

Long’s family remains in Canada, and he worries about the separation, which could last a number of years. “I have a son I wouldn’t be able to see. It’s kind of hard to think about that,” he told Courage to Resist.

Grassroots Support for Iraq War Resisters

The government’s policy of deporting U.S. soldiers is unpopular with the Canadian people. Canada is home to an estimated 200 U.S. soldiers who have refused to serve in the Iraq War, and 64 percent of Canadians favor granting them permanent residence, according to a June 27 Angus Reid Strategies poll. The Canadian House of Commons passed a resolution on June 3 calling for a halt to the deportation of U.S. war resisters and allowing them to apply for permanent residency in Canada. The ruling came after months of organizing by grassroots and political supporters of Long and other war resisters.

However, the resolution amounted to nothing more than a recommendation; it was nonbinding, and it did not prevent Canadian authorities from deporting Long — and also moving to deport Hinzman, who was the first U.S. soldier to seek refugee status in Canada. Corey Glass, another war resister living in Canada, is also fighting a deportation order issued last month. Glass won a stay of reprieve while his case moves through the Canadian courts after his supporters held rallies at 14 Canadian consulates throughout the United States.

Critics regard the flurry of deportations and threats as an effort by Canada’s right-wing Harper government to appease the United States. Since his conservative government won election in 2006, Stephen Harper has established a cozy relationship with the U.S. government and shown sympathy to U.S. policy in Iraq.

“Canada is supposedly not participating in the war against Iraq,” said Whitman-Bradley. “Yet, by sending soldiers back, they are supporting the war.”

“The deportation of Robin Long is a gift from Harper to the Bush administration,” said Gerry Condon, a Vietnam War resister and active supporter of the GI movement against the Iraq War. “This is one neo-conservative supporting another.”

The Harper administration’s policies have been devastating to Robin Long. It has been difficult, too, for his friends and allies, who remain determined to support him and other Iraq War resisters. “None of us should have to go to jail for standing up for what we believe in and refusing to fight in an immoral war,” said Ryan Johnson, a friend of Long’s and himself an Iraq War resister living in Canada. “He is the first one of us to be deported to the United States, and that has a lot of significance up here in Canada.”

A Growing Movement Against the War

The high profile of Long’s case is also a sign of the growing significance of the GI movement against the Iraq War. As the war effort becomes increasingly unpopular, more and more soldiers are speaking publicly against the invasion and refusing to serve out their contracts, with high-ranking military officials like Ehren Watada publicly denouncing military atrocities, despite facing harsh penalties for doing so.

Meanwhile, Iraq War veterans are teaming up with war resisters and other civilian and veteran supporters to build the GI movement against the war. Iraq Veterans Against the War, whose membership consists of people who have served in the U.S. military since 9/11, has been active in supporting Long and other war resisters. Several other groups, such as Courage to Resist and the War Resisters Support Campaign (Canada), have risen to support soldiers willing to take a stand. The orders for Long’s deportation were met with protests throughout the United States and Canada.

“Veterans and war resisters are beginning to see that they are in the same boat, that they are brothers and sisters, and it is one struggle,” said Condon. “The fact that people are showing this kind of solidarity with each other is really profound. Resistance within the military is certainly growing.”

Despite the steep punishments he faces, Long says he wouldn’t have it any other way. “Regardless of what hardships I go through, I could have easily put a family or someone else in that country through way more hardship,” he said. “I have no regrets.”

Guantanamo inmate wins right to see secret ‘torture’ evidence

Independent

By Robert Verkaik, Law Editor
Friday, 22 August 2008

Mr Mohamed has been held at Guantanamo Bay,  since 2004. He claims he was tortured in Morocco.

AFP/GETTY

A British resident facing the death penalty at Guantanamo Bay has won his case for the Government to disclose secret evidence that he says supports claims he was tortured into confessing to crimes he did not commit.

Binyam Mohamed, 30, who was arrested in Pakistan six years ago, says the Americans flew him to a prison in Morocco where he was tortured before his transfer to a US detention centre in Afghanistan.

In 2004, he was taken to the US Navy base in Cuba where he is awaiting a trial before a military commission on charges that he conspired with al-Qa’ida leaders to plan terror attacks on civilians.

But yesterday the High Court in London said British authorities still held secret material that might help confirm Mr Mohamed’s whereabouts and the nature of his detention after 2002.

The judges said his allegations of torture were at least “arguable” and that the Security Service, MI5, had information relating to him that was “not only necessary but essential for his defence”.

In the ruling, the judges said the “conduct of the Security Service facilitated interviews by or on behalf of the US when Binyam Mohamed was being detained by the US incommunicado” in 2002 in Pakistan. Working with the Americans after the 9/11 terror attacks, the British authorities sent an officer from MI5 to interview him, the court said. The officer told him he could expect no help from Britain unless he fully co-operated with his US interrogators. Mr Mohamed said the MI5 officer also told him he was going to be rendered to an Arab country where he would be tortured. The US has refused to say what happened to Mr Mohamed between 2002 and 2004.

The court found that without the information held by MI5, Mr Mohamed would be unable to put up a defence to the charges against him at his US military tribunal. His lawyers yesterday described the ruling yesterday as a “a momentous decision”.

Clive Stafford Smith, legal director of human rights group Reprieve, said: “Compelling the British Government to release information that can prove Mr Mohamed’s innocence is one obvious step towards making up for the years of torture that he has suffered. The next step is for the British Government to demand an end to the charade against him in Guantanamo Bay, and return him home to Britain.”

Richard Stein, of the solicitors Leigh Day & Co, who represent Mr Mohamed, said the judgment “reflects the abhorrence of decent society at the methods employed by the US government in the supposed ‘war on terror’. We can only hope the Foreign Secretary will reflect on this judgment and provide direct assistance to Binyam’s defence team.”

In 1994, Mr Mohamed, an Ethiopian by birth, was granted asylum in the UK. He spent seven years in north Kensington, London, working in a mosque as a caretaker, and travelled to Afghanistan in 2000 to confront his drug and personal problems. In 2002, he was arrested in Pakistan while trying to board a flight to Britain.

The court has yet to decide whether the Foreign Secretary is within the law to withhold the information on the ground of national security.

U.S. guards face abuse charges in Iraq

The United States is committed to the worldwide elimination of torture and we are leading this fight by example. – George W. Bush, June 2003.

CBC

Six U.S. navy guards will face courts-martial for allegedly assaulting prisoners and filling a cellblock with pepper spray following a disturbance at the main U.S. prison in Iraq, the military announced Thursday.

The charges arise from a May 14 incident at Camp Bucca, which houses about 18,000 of the 21,000 detainees held by the U.S. in Iraq, according to navy spokeswoman Cmdr. Jane Campbell.

The trouble began when several guards were attacked by detainees, who spit and threw containers of human waste at them, Campbell said.

Two prisoners were allegedly beaten and eight others were locked overnight in a cell that was filled with pepper spray and had the ventilation shut off, she said.

The trials are expected to be held within 30 days.

Seven other sailors received nonjudicial punishment for failing to report the incidents, Campbell said. Two had their charges dismissed, while others were reduced in rank or faced suspended punishment, she added, declining to be more specific.

Nevada inmates protest ban on typewriters

Signonsandiego

RENO, Nev. – Nevada prison officials have confiscated hundreds of portable typewriters from inmates who have used them for decades to tap out legal briefs to appeal their convictions, arguing parts of the machines could be converted into weapons.

The Department of Corrections cited two incidents of violence in recently changing the policy – one when an inmate died and another when a guard was threatened.

Inmates have filed a growing pile of lawsuits protesting the new rule, saying officials are using the security argument as an excuse to try to slow their legal complaints about overcrowded prisons and difficult living conditions.

They also say the increase in violence in the prisons is the result of failed policies that have forced more and more inmates together into smaller spaces. Trying to quell the flow of suits challenging these issues by taking away their writing tools, they say, violates their constitutional rights.

The Nevada attorney general’s office filed a response asking the federal court to make clear the department “has a legal right to declare typewriters unauthorized property,” and that the ban on typewriters does not violate inmate rights.

“Historically, typewriters have been an issue because their parts can be turned into weapons,” said Greg Smith, a former guard and current state corrections spokesman.

“The attacks precipitated more discussion for a ban,” he told the Reno Gazette-Journal.

Gary Piccinini, a senior officer with the department, said in a memo that several parts in particular are deadly. The rubber roller on one type of typewriter has a hollow piece of cylindrical metal inside that’s 14 inches long and “is very heavy and could be used as a club.” The cylindrical piece in the Brother typewriter “can also be made into a stabbing weapon.”

The Canon typewriter has two other metal parts that can be sharpened into a slicing type weapon, he said.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada said typewriters are a critical part of the pro se legal process, in which individuals represent themselves, and efforts should be made to allow their use.

“It’s disappointing that the department of corrections could not have found a middle ground that protected inmate safety while allowing some access to typewriters,” said Lee Rowland, a lawyer with the ACLU’s Reno office. “Inmate restrictions should be linked to actual and demonstrable safety risks, especially when they affect a fundamental right such as access to the court system.”

Nicole Moon, spokeswoman for the attorney general’s office, said the ban was not meant to stop lawsuits.

“The ban on typewriters was implemented for safety and security, and is in no way intended to affect inmate litigation,” she said.

As with many prison systems across the country, Nevada’s correctional facilities are busting at the seams.

Gov. Jim Gibbons used those words to describe the conditions during a tour of a correctional center last year, and Howard Skolnik, director of the Department of Corrections, told reporters: “To say we are in a crisis is not an exaggeration.”

By last May, the state housed 13,113 inmates, 1,196 over capacity, Skolnik said. The influx forced prison officials to house inmates in program rooms, activity centers and even tents. At the Warm Springs Correctional Center last year, four inmates were being squeezed into cells measuring 12 feet by 12 feet.

The prison population is projected to top 21,000 by 2016.

At Ely State Prison, the state’s only maximum-security facility, violent inmates who had been living alone now share their space, resulting in at least one death.

In December 2006, Anthony Beltran was killed, allegedly by cellmate Douglas Scott Potter.

The weapon was “the roller pin from inside the platen of the inmate’s typewriter,” Greg Cox, deputy director of operations for DOC, said in an affidavit. “It is easily accessible and easily concealed.”

That was the first incident that sparked the typewriter ban, the attorney general’s staff said in its response. The second was March 2007, when an inmate tried to stab a guard with a weapon that had been “fashioned from a piece of an inmate typewriter.”

Officials announced the next day that typewriters were prohibited at Ely. The ban was extended to all prisons by May.

Inmate Russell Cohen sought injunctions in at least seven legal actions, saying the ban was unconstitutional. The state responded with its filing in June 2007.

At least 13 actions have been filed in federal court over the typewriter issue, said Alicia Lerud, a deputy attorney general. Three other U.S. cases are pending and at least four cases are in state court over the typewriter ban, she said.

Some inmates at the Ely facility say the attack on Beltran was destined to happen, regardless of the weapon used.

“It is simply irrational to blame the December 2006 attack on a typewriter, when televisions, extension cords and even prison boots have been used and are available in situations similar to the December 2006 incident,” inmates Travers Greene and Paul Browning said in a handwritten motion.

Browing said Potter told him that he had “repeatedly pleaded with prison officials not to place him in the cell with Mr. Beltran and if this happened, there would be trouble.”

Potter also sent prison officials three notes stating his violent intentions.

In the first, Potter said he wanted to be in a single cell: “Whoever you decide I am to live with, so make sure he is big, knows how to fight, and ain’t afraid to die.”

In the second, he wrote, “I give fair warning that whoever you move in I will physically assault savagely.”

Posted in USA

‘Gitmo On The Platte’ Set As Holding Cell For DNC

Infoshop News

DENVER – CBS4 News has learned if mass arrests happen at the Democratic Convention, those taken into custody will be jailed in a warehouse owned by the City of Denver. Investigator Rick Sallinger discovered the location and managed to get inside for a look.The newly created lockup is on the northeast side of Denver.

“This is a secured environment,” Capt. Frank Gale of the Denver Sheriff’s Department told CBS4. “We’re concerned about how that’s going to be utilized by people who will be potentially disruptive.”

In past conventions, mass arrests have taken place.

With Denver’s jails already overflowing, new space had to be created and officers trained.

Each of the fenced areas is about 5 yards by 5 yards and there is a lock on the door. A sign on the wall reads “Warning! Electric stun devices used in this facility.”

CBS4 showed its video to leaders of groups that plan to demonstrate during the convention.

“Very bare bones and very reminiscent of a political prisoner camp or a concentration camp,” said Zoe Williams of Code Pink.

Williams was one of those arrested at the Republican Convention in New York in 2004.

“That’s how you treat cattle,” said Adam Jung of the group Tent State University. “You showed the sign where it said stun gun in use and you just change the word gun for bolt and it’s a meat processing plant.”

Gale would not discuss the facility at this time.

“We want to make sure we got our game plan set,” he said, “We want to make sure the entire procedure is laid out all the personnel know what they are supposed to do.”

The plans were to keep this lockup a secret, at least for now.

The American Civil Liberties Union says it will ask the City of Denver how prisoners will get access to food and water, bathrooms, telephones, plus medical care, and if there will be a place to meet with attorneys.

The protesters have already given this place a name: “Gitmo on the Platte.”

Posted in USA

Amadeu Casellas: 50 days on hunger strike

by

Amadeu Casellas has been on hunger strike for 50 days to demand a solution to his critical situation of imprisonment, already lasting for more than 22 years. He has paid for 22 years for struggling against the state, for bank expropriations carried out in the 70s and 80s to help finance the workers’ struggles of that era

As of August 10, 2008, Amadeu Casellas has been on hunger strike for 50 days to demand a solution to his critical situation of imprisonment, already lasting for more than 22 years. He has paid for 22 years for struggling against the state, for bank expropriations carried out in the 70s and 80s to help finance the workers’ struggles of that era.

Due to the authorities’ continuous refusal to give him a release date and the horrible conditions prisoners in the Quatre Camins prison are subjected to, Amadeu made the decision to go on hunger strike as a way to confront the prison authorities.

After being lied to by the director of the prison during his last hunger strike in April, Amadeu has decided that this hunger strike will be to the ultimate consequences: if the prison authorities don’t grant him an open regime (this is equivalent to day work release, where the prisoner signs out and goes to work during the day, returning to the prison in the evening), or a lessening of his sentence, he will continue the hunger strike.

On August 1 there was a protest at the General Direction of Penitentiary Services, which is responsible for giving day work releases, to show that support for Amadeu is growing. If his demands are not met, the demonstrations will continue. People tried to enter the building to have a face to face dialogue, but the guards lowered the gates. Hours later, a pair of comrades, including his lawyer, was able to enter and speak with Mr. Paco de Vicente, the person in charge of classifications. Mr. Paco de Vicente sated that he would visit Amadeu, who was moved to the prison hospital of Terrasa last Thursday. In the conversation, he stated that he would ratify the “agreements” which he will offer to Amadeu: transfer to another prison (Brians II) and revision of his case. Of course, this is only if Amadeu agrees to give up his hunger strike. In Brians II Amadeu could once again, before another Treatment Junta (similar to a U.S. Parole Board), try to obtain the day work release.

This game by the General Direction of Penitentiary Services is clear to us. They want to go on their vacations tranquilly, so they will try to get Amadeu to give up his hunger strike based on paper (false) promises. But of course we cannot believe these lies, so Amadeu has decided to continue his hunger strike until his demands are met. And we support him.

Amadeu has lost more than 25 kilos (50.7 lbs.) and he is being maintained on glucose in water. His sugar levels are down to 50 mg/l, and he is being given Valium.

The conditions at the penitentiary hospital of Terrassa are shameful. In the first place, none of the comrades who tried to visit him have been able to. The prison authorities say they were authorized to visit him at Quatre Camins, not Terrassa. Only his mother and his lawyer have been able to have 30 minute visits with him.

Additionally, Amadeu can only make phone calls using a Telefónica phone card, which could not be found in the entire town of Terrassa, as they are sold only in tobacco shops, all of which were closed in the afternoon. Telefónica has monopolized prisoners’ phone calls, and each month these phone cards are harder and harder to find near the prisons.

And the medical doctors don’t deserve anything more than an open tomb. They haven’t weighed Amadeu since he arrived three days ago. And if this were not enough, the doctors bring him meals three times a day (to tempt him to eat), but these meals cannot be eaten by someone who has been on hunger strike, as they would be impossible to digest.

Amadeu has commented that four people have come to Terrassa from Quatre Camins with food poisoning, and one had to have his gall bladder removed. The prison authorities treat people like shit; they give them shitty food, and people say: They’re okay; they’re getting three square mails a day.

Although his health is deteriorating, Amadeu has not lost his sense of humor and his morale is high. He asks everyone to pressure the General Direction of Penitentiary Services (DGSP) and the Penal Junta 2 of Manresa.

As an expression of solidarity with Amadeu, we encourage everyone to pressure these two centers with phone calls, faxes, visits, demonstrations, actions–whatever you can do. We must also pressure all representatives of the Spanish state at an international level.

Dirección General de Servicios Penitenciarios
Albert Batlle i Bastardas
c/Aragó, 332. Barcelona, España
Phone: 93.214.01.00
Fax: 93.214.01.56

Juzgado de lo Penal nº 2 de Manresa
Jueza Erika López Gracia
C/Alfons XII, nº 7
Manresa, España
Phone: 93 872 82 77
Fax: 93 872 71 05

Write to Amadeu:

Amadeu Casellas Ramón
Hospital de Terrassa, Mòdul penitenciari
Ctra.
Torrebonica, s/n
C.P. 08227 Terrassa (Bcn)
España

U.S. army deserter to be deported from Canada

CBC News

One of the first U.S. army deserters from Iraq to seek refugee status in Canada has been ordered deported.

Jeremy Hinzman deserted the army in 2004, two years after enlisting. After learning his unit was to be deployed to Iraq, he refused to participate in what he calls an immoral and illegal war.

Hinzman fled to Canada along with his wife and son and sought refugee status.

Outside the Canada Border Services Agency office in Mississauga, Ont., where the order came down Wednesday, Hinzman said he was disappointed but added he still thinks he did the right thing.

“Life goes on and we’ll make the most of it wherever we end up,” he said.

He has been ordered out of the country by Sept. 23.

The Immigration and Refugee Board rejected his claim in 2005 and the Federal Court of Appeal held that he wouldn’t face any serious punishment if returned to the United States.

Hinzman, who lives in Toronto, could face a court martial and five years in prison upon his return to the United States.

Lawyers for Guantanamo inmate sue Canadian PM

Reuters

By David Ljunggren

 

OTTAWA (Reuters) – Lawyers for a young Canadian man imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay filed a lawsuit on Friday against Prime Minister Stephen Harper in a bid to force him to intercede with Washington on the inmate’s behalf.

 

Harper has so far refused to ask the United States to repatriate 21-year-old Omar Khadr, who is due to go on trial in October on charges of killing a U.S. soldier in Afghanistan in July 2002, when he was 15.

 

Critics say Khadr was a child soldier and should be helped rather than punished. Harper, whose right-wing Conservatives won power in January 2006 on a law-and-order platform, says the man is facing serious charges.

 

The suit wants Canada’s Federal Court to order Harper to intervene before the U.S. military trial starts.

 

“We’re doing it to compel Stephen Harper to finally do the right thing and stand up for the rights of a Canadian citizen,” said Lieutenant William Kuebler, Khadr’s U.S. military lawyer.

 

“If a Canadian court directs him to do it I don’t think he can say ‘Get lost’,” Kuebler told Reuters by telephone.

 

Last month, video footage of Canadian agents interrogating Khadr at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in 2003 showed the then teenager weeping and calling for his mother.

 

Kory Teneycke, Harper’s chief spokesman, dismissed the lawsuit as predictable. 

“It’s another attempt by Mr. Khadr’s lawyers to avoid trial on the charges of murder in violation of the laws of the war, attempted murder in violation of the laws of the war, conspiracy, providing material support for terrorism, and spying,” Teneycke said.

 

“Mr. Khadr should face these charges through a judicial process, not a political one, and certainly not through the media,” he told Reuters.

 

Khadr — the only citizen from a western nation still in the jail — has alleged U.S. interrogators repeatedly threatened to rape him.

 

Harper says Ottawa is pressing Washington to ensure Khadr is treated humanely. Documents released last month show U.S. authorities deprived Khadr of sleep ahead of a separate interview with an official from Canada’s Foreign Ministry in 2004 and informed the Canadians what they had done.

 

“The Canadian government knew about, facilitated and indeed helped cover up the torture and abuse of a Canadian citizen and I think that … takes us from a question of policy into a question of legal obligation,” Kuebler said.

 

A statement from Khadr’s lawyers said that under a United Nations protocol designed to help child soldiers, “Omar is entitled to special protections under international law, including opportunities for rehabilitation and social re-integration”.

 

Khadr was taken to Afghanistan by his father Ahmed Said Khadr, an alleged al Qaeda financier and close friend of Osama bin Laden. Khadr senior was killed in a battle with Pakistani forces in 2003.

 

(Reporting by David Ljunggren; editing by Rob Wilson)