tv Breaking the Set RT September 2, 2014 6:00pm-6:30pm EDT
a pleasure to have you with us here today. what's going on you guys i'm abby martin and this is a break in the set so a couple weeks ago i had the great privilege of traveling to guantanamo bay prison in cuba to investigate the continuing plight of the hundred forty nine indefinite detainees still there because most of the world has forgotten about these men reporters are needed on the ground and get known now more than ever however in order to understand what's happening in the tories prison today first you have to understand get those history who these men actually are and what they went through
so don't go anywhere because it's time to break the set. the government says it wants to close the secretary of defense and defense department are committed to the president's goal of closing guantanamo bay if the public knew what actually happened with there are a lot of issues that are being handled by rove join us as we seek answers to those issues and much more this is abby martin breaking the steps kuantan i'm a big. few realize how expensive it is to keep get more running the joint task force detention center that opened in two thousand and two cost taxpayers one hundred forty million dollars a year that breaks down to eight hundred thousand dollars per detainee but the detention center was never meant to be permanent so how did we get to the point where cuba is hosting what amnesty international has deemed the gulag of our time to answer that question you have to go all the way back to eighteen ninety eight.
around tanana bay cuba a tropical paradise for a tweet with crystal clear waters white sand beaches lush greenery and. landscapes . what better place to build a mini america complete with mcdonald's starbucks subway a gift shop and torture so how exactly did the u.s. and a posting one of the most to ferry its secretive prisons in a country it's been enemies with since the war well few realize that guantanamo bay consists of more than just the infamous detention facility in fact the history of this base goes all the way back to june tenth eighteen ninety eight during the height of the spanish-american war u.s. forces seized control on tunnel bay from spain and soon signed a lease with newly independent cuba establishing guantanamo as a military base over the course of the next half century u.s.
militarism in cuba was solidified with presidents from after yar to truman making personal trips there to show their commitment to the strategic outpost all the while the u.s. backed cuban dictator for hansie about tista was enjoying a mutually beneficial relationship collaborating with an american multinational corporations but everything changed in one nine hundred fifty nine during the cuban revolution when a young girl of fighters named fidel castro successfully ousted. and created the socialist state of course with the cold war in full swing and communism manufactured as america's number one threat the new socialist government demanded that kuantan a moby returned to cuba however the us refused citing that both parties had to agree to rescind on the lease in america simply did not instead a buffer zone is created littered with cacti and explosives now the fence right
here is the only point of entry into mainland cuba which closed january first one hundred fifty nine now the closest point there are three hundred meters between perimeter fences and unfortunately the beautiful landscape is still covered and the land mines. but it's not just land mines separating these territories to the cuban government the base represents a perpetual occupation by a hostile force which is why it stopped accepting us rent checks for the land and nine hundred fifty nine in april nine hundred sixty one president kennedy launched the infamous they had pigs operation a botched cia sponsored paramilitary mission that unsuccessfully attempted to overthrow castro fast forward thirty years to one thousand nine hundred one when cuban exiles and haitian refugees started being held in deplorable conditions in fact nine hundred ninety three a u.s. district court judge even ordered the camp be closed because the refugees weren't afforded constitutional rights yet that order fell on deaf ears see just four
months after nine eleven in january two thousand and two the first round of prisoners arrived to get mown who were simply swept up in a dragnet in afghanistan setting the stage for years of systematic torture and abuse and then nearly every aspect of the facility has been ahead in the hand a veil of secrecy and journalists have since been granted limited access to certain sites on the base probably the most iconic part of gone tunnel base camp x.-ray the facility behind me now this is an open air prison that helped a seventy detainees at a time in a scorching heat like animals in cages now ironically the only facility on site with air conditioning was for the military dogs but baking in open air cages was nothing compared to the treatment these men would endure once transferred and locked away in prisons when no one could see. breaking from guantanamo bay cuba.
clandestine interrogations international rendition secret torture. it all began in the wake of nine eleven when the bush administration frantically scrambled to redefine international law which institutionalized one of the worst crimes that a government could ever commit torture. we also have to work through a sort of the dark side if you will spend time in the shadows intelligence world a lot of what needs to be done here will have to be done quietly without any discussion and sources and methods that are available to our intelligence agencies if we're going to be successful so in order to legally justify these dark sources and methods the government was given carte blanche authority for military force with the passing of the authorization for use of military force legislation that gave the cia a green light to capture detain and even kill any known al qaeda members or more
broadly anyone believed to be associated with terrorism and within just a day of its passing the cia had already laid out its plans for overseas black sites where waterboarding was employed hundreds if not thousands of times against people never charged with a crime only weeks later white house legal advisor john yoo codified the legal framework for brutal tactics that have been banned for decades and guantanamo bay became the experimental front for the u.s. as secret torture program or seven hundred seventy nine men and boys were detained many of them harshly interrogated prisoners endured physical abuse like frequent beatings as punishment for minor offenses such as keeping too many salt packets in their cells they were also forced into intense stress positions and shackled are required to stand for eighteen to twenty four hours at a time off and urinating and death are kidding themselves it's
a tactic that former secretary of defense donald rumsfeld personally encouraged in two thousand and two same quote i stand for eight to ten hours a day so why is standing limited to four but standing for long periods of time pales and compare. and to what else prisoners allege took place namely rape according to washington post the f.b.i. was told by release detainees that they were quote raped and sexually violated after guards took them not isolated sections of the prison they said an algerian man was forced to watch a video supposedly showing two detainees dressed in orange one sodomized the other and was told that would happen to him if he didn't cooperate other forms of physical abuse included dogs on detainees which is a particularly hostile tactic for muslims but seizing on the cultural sensitivities of the islamic faith was really relentlessly exploited by officials according to a document obtained by the a.p. a former army sergeant says he witnessed a female officer reaching her pans to reveal what appeared to be menstrual blood
and then proceeded to smear it on to one of the detainees faces this would be discussed in an offensive for anyone but especially for those whose religion prohibits physical contact with women who aren't family guards also prevented prayer desecrated the koran and restricted the detainees access to the religious text. or other forms of torture frequently used to weaken the prisoners included sensory manipulation such as the case of often i'll do it right he mohammad who lived under blinding fluorescent lights twenty four seven for three years other detainees were kept in either ice cold or boiling hot cells furthermore according to go on al-jazeera prisoners were strapped to chairs and forced to listen to excruciating the loud music including sesame street and skinny puppy for hours and sometimes days on end or perhaps nothing takes a bigger psychological toll than being left in
a small cell in solitary confinement with little to no human contact for years on end one person or bag who was put in solitary for simply writing to have a nice day on a cop it was released from get now without charges in two thousand. in the five writes quote think about the smallest room in your house go inside there for just half an hour don't open the door and then think imagine being here for years on end that would give you a taste of what it's like detainees were also drugged incessantly which one army official like in a pharmacological waterboarding considering these abysmal conditions it's no wonder that there's been multiple suicide attempts at the prison and in two thousand and six three prisoners were found dead in their cells the dia de maintains that they committed suicide by suffocation all three of the men were found hanging with their hands tied gagged with cloths and masked one of them had their neck organs removed . perhaps the most absurd part of having put these men through such nightmarish
conditions is that no actionable intelligence was gleaned from the tactics in fact officials were so desperate to validate their criminal activities that they even staged interrogations for visiting members of congress in the press in two thousand and four according to a former army translator. and ten years later that the torture program officially over the president callously admitting that we tortured some folks this administration is look forward not backward approach to accountability for the torturers has marred everything that america allegedly stands for. in the wake of nine eleven seven hundred seventy nine men whose ages range from thirteen and ninety around up across the middle east and north africa and brought to guantanamo bay prison without charges or trial the first twenty arrived on the
orange jumpsuits in diapers heads covered with hoods wearing headphones booming deafening white noise their mouths gagged and eyes shielded with goggles and while the act of hurting individuals and mass and nine and due process would normally be aboard it was all justified by the bush administration which claimed that these men were the worst of the worst church to watch occupied afghanistan. now occupied so want to. the ones that are left khalid sheikh mohammad observation and so forth these are the worst of the worst the are the folks given the chance would walk in here today and blow themselves up and take as many americans as they could with. this what they believe actually a two thousand and five report by seton hall university law school found that only five percent of the detainees were captured by the us with a five percent of them handed over to american forces from pakistanis in afghans in
exchange for five thousand dollars bally's moreover lawrence wilkerson a former chief of staff for colin powell made a sworn declaration in two thousand and ten that top members of the government knowingly lied about these men being dangerous he said that the deliberate choice to send detainees to guantanamo was an attempt to place them outside the jurisdiction of the u.s. legal system indeed having this prison outside of u.s. soil made it easier for the government to argue that the prisoners of war and title to protections under the geneva convention and us constitution and as of this broadcast one hundred forty nine men in the initial seven hundred seventy nine remain prisoners at guantanamo but the remaining six hundred thirty having already been released without charges or something transferred to prisons in other countries only six of the hundred forty nine men are on trial five alleged coconspirators of the nine eleven attacks and one alleged mastermind of the u.s.s.
cole bombing so who are the remaining men colonel lieutenant kevin beaucoup you want to achieve defense lawyers for the nine eleven military commissions explains. when we come down for these hearings these hearings that are connected to nine eleven i think that the american public gets the misimpression that the vast majority of people here at guantanamo are being held on charges in connection with nine eleven the reality is that's not true the father. of men that are being held are the five men that are being charged with having any connection to nine eleven all of the remaining men here are being held because they were captured in that area during the time when former president bush decided that if you were captured we were simply going to conclude that you were an unlawful enemy combatant you were not going to be entitled to any of the protections under the geneva convention to which they should have been entitled and the next kuantan i'm obey and these men
say here the vast majority of them not even represented by my counsel. without really any opportunity to demonstrate their innocence and no opportunity to leave. has the remaining one hundred forty three men not charged with terrorism or picked up for reasons ranging from being members of the taliban which was the legitimate government of afghanistan at the time or were simply unlucky enough to be at the wrong place at the wrong time seventy eight of the remaining prisoners have already been deemed innocent and cleared for release but the vast majority of them are being held because they're from yemen a country deemed too hostile to take back its own citizens which also defies logic considering how to you many prisoners were just repatriated from bad room prison which many have deemed the get of afghanistan of those not yet approved for release forty six remain and total legal limbo designated too dangerous to transfer yet somehow there is insufficient evidence to try them so as the nine eleven military
commissions drag on with the world under the impression that even alleged terrorists get a fair trial it don't forget there's another one hundred forty three men who may never ever have that luxury. coming up my interview with a top army official about the practice of force feeding at get no stay tuned. and watch well as submit a. list isn't the media handed ocracy going to issues that actually that he was doesn't do too much for ad revenue by the culture giant teeth on a seventy six year old american the studio how much fallout do you think is going to create this. do you think this is what's triggering a return to so long stick but it's also the largest debtor nation to breaking the
set is mostly about turning the status quo but when i give you all of those points and looking toward the. american dreams the next they were just trying to survive this time for americans and lawmakers are more sure to wake up and start talking about the real causes a problem. do you. think. since the first detainees were brought to get there's been one avenue available to protest the conditions of their detainment hunger strikes in two thousand and thirteen a mass hunger strike involving up to one hundred six prisoners again why had spread media attention followed by a geisha and that at least forty five of the men were being force fed keep in mind that refusing to eat is enough to label and mate as non-compliant meaning that they
are prohibited from interacting with other inmates but even at the height of the protests the government denied it was a mass strike despite the fact that officials purchased three hundred thousand dollars worth of nutritional supplements used to force feed the men according to jason leopold a vice supplements like this one which came directly from one of the camps furthermore the government tried to downplay the strike by rebranding the act of refusing to eat as a quote long term non-religious fast and by december of two thousand and thirteen the defense department stopped issuing a daily briefing on the amount of prisoners striking but that doesn't mean the protests have stopped recently in an unprecedented move a military nursery fused to engage in the practice of force feeding according to cal rosenberg of the miami herald the nurse is quoted as saying i refuse to participate in this criminal act taking this into consideration i spoke with tom
greste back a navy captain and the director of public affairs for the j t yes i first asked him exactly how many detainees are still participating in the strike. we don't. reveal the specific numbers. about hunger strike or those. being in turn and turly fad because it doesn't provide an accurate portrayal of the overall health of the detainee population why change the name from hunger strike to long term non-religious fast the word hunger strike again does not accurately portray what their motivation is and so it was determined quite some time ago to call it non religious fasting really because it seems to me like they're striking their indefinite detention especially those deemed innocent and cleared by police the word strike is is subjective what what are what is it there are striking we are
providing them with three very nutritious meals a day as well as recreation and we are dedicated to the safe humane legal and transparent care of all of the detainees so any of those detainees that are in our care we we. are dedicated to their. safe well i would imagine they're striking their neck in a detention if i were in prison indefinitely i'd probably be striking to be conjecture on my part and speculate on their motivation it seems like a pretty clear motivation who made that decision to change the terminology that would be at a higher level be united states southern command well you just mentioned why there was the holding of the daily briefing on the amount don't you think that any amount especially those who've been striking for over five years and have been force fed five thousand times deserve to have their story told and have the media know that
they're still on strike that would be speculation on my part and specific to their motivations and you are welcome to try to speak with the defense attorneys for the specific detainees if you'd like can explain exactly how the detainees are force fed it's all supervised highly supervised by medical professionals and. it's all done in a very clinical environment but they are provided. an opportunity for ensure. a liquid nutritional supplement and a nasal gastric tube is placed on their their nose down. their throat and into their stomach and what lubrication is used it's lubricated by a. water soluble lubricant and how many times a day are they forced that i don't have that for you all that's determined by the
medical professionals to ensure that the detainees maintain a acceptable way clearly those being held without charges already cleared for release deemed innocent and being held indefinitely feel their only recourse is to hunger strike i mean what other forms of resistance are available to these detainees resist is somewhat subjective but yes absolutely. they have legal. means and they write letters to their lawyers to discuss their. their opinions and was the navy nurse the first member of personnel to resist and foreseen the practice the specific case you're talking about is being handled internally and at this time i'm not able to discuss it any further well can you speak to whether or not he or she is still employed here. i'm sorry i can't all the u.n. human rights office has called force feeding torture captain do you worry about the
allegations of continuing torture given the stigma of torture i want on i'm obey i'm aware of the report which you're referring all of the internally fed procedures that we are following are widely accepted in the states and what the bureau of prisons uses well actually multiple detainees including a modest son have alleged that force feeding procedures extremely painful that they sit in what's called a torture chair for two hours at a time strapped in where they're given the laxatives where they deficit themselves and sit in their own filth where the tubes are actually too big for their nostrils and they're reinserted multiple times a day why can't this process be done more humanely regrettably i'm not able to respond to a detainee's accusations of turley procedure but i can say with one hundred percent confidence we are complying with all of the guidance and. developed and that we do with
a tremendous amount of care and safety so why can't the tapes of these procedures be released to the public but unfortunately that issues in litigation in washington and i'm not. able to discuss that is actually the first detainee to take the force feeding case to a u.s. district judge who's actually going to hear the case that has jurisdiction over the j.a.t.'s do you have any comment on where that case stands. i'd like to talk about the detainees in the communal setting and camp six who choose not to be internally fat and who choose to live a compliant detainee in the detainee population the detainees who choose to go in truly to be internally fat live in single cell living conditions so that that's their choice as a relates to for so extractions. in reality many of them are not forcibly
extracted they they go willingly. and and compliantly to the internally fed sessions you keep talking about the compliant the complaint i mean you have to understand that these people are being held without charges potentially indefinitely pending the end of the war on terror i mean you have to understand why they are striking and resisting wouldn't you if you were trapped in a cell and definitely we are. we are charged with in order to carry out safe humane legal and transparent care of the detainees here. and that would really be a policy question that you're asking. get mown lisa had jars sociology professor at u.c.s.b. said that the military's efforts to diminish and rebrand the practice of force feeding isn't changing the reality on the ground. across you know modern history
prisoners use their bodies as a means of protest because it's the only power they have in the power to refuse to eat i mean it's you know it was common with the ira prisoners held in british custody and palestinians have you know in israeli custody have these hunger striking so prisoners here are have used hunger strike as a means of protesting you know barriers things. one common reason first some of the biggest hunger strikes was the a legit mishandling of korans by guards but other issues are you know seventy some prisoners here have been cleared for release and they remain in custody putting fifty four yemenis and so for people who have been cleared it should be home by now but are still here hunger striking has been a means of trying to protest that they referred now to hunger striking as non religious fasting you know it's use them as a ship and they refer to force feeding which is you know had
a boric lee contradictory to the tokyo convention in terms of getting medical professionals involved in that but it is they call that troll feeding rather than force feeding but you know this idea of you from is ation is common i mean it's often times when governments will euphemized things in order to make something that is illegal or deeply problematic appear better but so torture to be common you for visitation for torture is you know enhanced interrogation techniques you know rather than torture in fact the new york times only acknowledged greed to begin calling torture torture last week. hunger strikes at guantanamo bay continue to this day and force feeding remains official prison policy the military has gone through great lengths to minimize the plight of these men hunger strikes might just be their last chance to be heard. thanks for watching today and tomorrow