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Guantanamo Suicides
considered
'Acts of War'

Sydney Morning Herald (Australia) 11jun2006

 

Colleen Graffy (see bio below),  a top US official described the suicides of three detainees at the US base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as a "good PR move to draw attention," and that the deaths were part of a strategy and "a tactic to further the jihadi cause", but taking their own lives was unnecessary. BBC interview at bottom.

Colleen Graffy, a top US official described the suicides of three detainees at the US base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as a "good PR move to draw attention," and that the deaths were part of a strategy and "a tactic to further the jihadi cause", but taking their own lives was unnecessary.

Mindfully.org note: By her reasoning, we're not killing them fast enough, so they are killing themselves in order to get attention. Colleen Gaffy's statements are yet another sickening display illustrating the callousness of the US government and how incredibly out of touch they are with the rest of the world. 

Three Guantanamo Bay detainees hanged themselves using nooses made of sheets and clothes, the commander of the detention centre said, in the first reported deaths among hundreds of men held at the base.

The suicides, which military officials said were coordinated, triggered further condemnation of the isolated detention centre, which holds some 460 men, including Australian David Hicks, on suspicion of links to al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

Only 10 have been charged with crimes and there has been growing international pressure on the US to close the prison.

Two men from Saudi Arabia and one from Yemen were found dead shortly after midnight today in separate cells, said the Miami-based US Southern Command, which has jurisdiction over the prison. Attempts were made to revive them, but they failed.

"They hung themselves with fabricated nooses made out of clothes and bed sheets," base commander Navy Rear Adm. Harry Harris told reporters in a conference call from the US base in southeastern Cuba.

"They have no regard for human life," he said. "Neither ours nor their own. I believe this was not an act of desperation but an act of asymmetric warfare against us."

Military officials said the men, whose names were not released, had been held in Guantanamo Bay for about four years. All three detainees had engaged in a hunger strike to protest their indefinite incarceration and had been force-fed before quitting their protest, base commander Navy Rear Admiral Harry Harris said in a conference call from Guantanamo Bay.

One of the detainees was a mid- or high-level al-Qaeda operative, while another had been captured in Afghanistan and participated in a riot at a prison there, Harris said. The third belonged to a splinter group, he added. Detainees have not been allowed to know about classified evidence of allegations against them and thus are unable to respond.

"They're determined, intelligent, committed elements and they continue to do everything they can ... to become martyrs in the jihad," said General John Craddock, commander of the Miami-based US Southern Command, which has jurisdiction over the prison.

All three left suicide notes, Craddock said in the conference call. He refused to describe the contents.

Pentagon officials said the three men were in Camp 1, the highest-security area at Guantanamo, and that none of them had tried to commit suicide before. To help prevent more suicides, guards will now give bed sheets to detainees only when they go to bed and remove them after they wake up in the morning, Harris said.

The Naval Criminal Investigative Service was investigating the deaths. Guantanamo Bay has become a sore subject between President George Bush and US allies who otherwise are staunch supporters of his policies.

A UN panel said May 19 that holding detainees indefinitely at Guantanamo violated the world's ban on torture and the detention centre should be closed.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen and British Prime Minister Tony Blair, among leaders, have recently have urged the United States to close the prison.

Bush, who was spending the weekend at Camp David, expressed "serious concern" over the suicides and directed his administration to reach out diplomatically while it investigates, White House press secretary Tony Snow said this evening.

Guantanamo officials have reported 41 unsuccessful suicide attempts by 25 detainees since the US began taking prisoners to the base in January 2002. Defence lawyers contend the number of suicide attempts is higher.

The inmates "have this incredible level of despair that they will never get justice", said Barbara Olshansky of the New York-based Centre for Constitutional Rights, which represents about 300 detainees.

Of the three who died, she said: "Now they're gone. And they died without ever having seen a court."

James Yee, a former US Army chaplain at Guantanamo Bay who was arrested in a 2003 espionage probe and later cleared, attributed the suicides to desperation.

"It was only a matter of time," Yee said in a phone interview from Olympia, Washington.

Mark Denbeaux, a law professor at Seton Hall University in New Jersey who represents two Tunisians at Guantanamo, said he believes others there are candidates for suicide.

Denbeaux said one of his clients, Mohammed Abdul Rahman, appeared to be depressed and hardly spoke during a June 1 visit. Rahman was on a hunger strike at the time and was force-fed soon after, Denbeaux added.

"He told us he would rather die than stay in Guantanamo," the lawyer said. "He doesn't believe he will ever get out of Guantanamo alive."

AP

source: http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2006/06/11/1149964396421.html?page=fullpage#contentSwap1 11jun2006


Guantanamo Suicides a 'PR move'

BBC News 11jun2006

 

A top US official has described the suicides of three detainees at the US base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as a "good PR move to draw attention".

Colleen Graffy told the BBC the deaths were part of a strategy and "a tactic to further the jihadi cause", but taking their own lives was unnecessary.

But lawyers say the men who hanged themselves had been driven by despair.

A military investigation into the deaths is under way, amid growing calls for the centre to be moved or closed.

Speaking to the BBC's Newshour programme, Ms Graffy, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy, said the three men did not value their lives nor the lives of those around them.

Detainees had access to lawyers, received mail and had the ability to write to families, so had other means of making protests, she said, and it was hard to see why the men had not protested about their situation.

The men, two Saudis and a Yemeni, were found unresponsive and not breathing by guards on Saturday morning, said officials.

They were in separate cells in Camp One, the highest security section of the prison.

Despair

There have been dozens of suicide attempts since the camp was set up four years ago - but none successful until now.

Ken Roth, head of Human Rights Watch in New York, told the BBC the men had probably been driven by despair.

"These people are despairing because they are being held lawlessly," he said.

"There's no end in sight. They're not being brought before any independent judges. They're not being charged and convicted for any crime."

That view was supported by British Muslim Moazzam Begg who spent three years in Guantanamo. He said of the camp's inmates: "They're in a worse situation than convicted criminals and it's an act of desperation."

But earlier, the camp commander, Rear Adm Harris said he did not believe the men had killed themselves out of despair.

"They are smart. They are creative, they are committed," he said.

"They have no regard for life, either ours or their own. I believe this was not an act of desperation, but an act of asymmetrical warfare waged against us."

Calls for closure

US officials are facing growing international calls for the camp to be closed down.

"If it's perfectly legal and there's nothing going wrong there - well, why don't they have it in America and then the American court system can supervise it?" UK Constitutional Affairs Minister Harriet Harman told the BBC on Sunday.

But Ms Graffy said closing down Guantanamo was a "complicated process" which needed to consider what would happen to detainees if the centre was shut down.

On Friday, Mr Bush said he would "like to end Guantanamo", adding he believed the inmates "ought to be tried in courts here in the United States".

source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/5069230.stm 11jun2006


Suicides Renews Criticism of Guantanamo

ANDREW SELSKY / AP 11jun2006

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — A "stench of despair" hangs over the Guantanamo Bay prison where three detainees committed suicide this weekend, a defense lawyer who recently visited the U.S. jail in Cuba said as calls increased Sunday to close the facility.

No other detainees had tried to commit suicide since U.S. military guards found two Saudis and one Yemeni prisoner hanging by nooses made from sheets and clothing early Saturday, Army Lt. Col. Lora Tucker told The Associated Press on Sunday.

While U.S. officials argue the suicides were political acts aimed at hurting American standing in the world, human rights activists and former detainees say prisoners are desperate after years in captivity and view suicide as the only way out even though Islam forbids it.

A European official urged that the widely criticized prison be closed, and two senior U.S. senators expressed concern that most of the prisoners have not been charged with any crimes. A Saudi Arabian human rights group called for an outside investigation of the deaths.

U.S. military guards were trying to prevent more suicides, such as removing sheets from cells when detainees are not sleeping. But rights groups and defense lawyers said they feared the suicides - the first detainee deaths at Guantanamo Bay - were just the beginning.

"A stench of despair hangs over Guantanamo. Everyone is shutting down and quitting," said Mark Denbeaux, a law professor at Seton Hall University in New Jersey who along with his son, Joshua, represents two Tunisians at Guantanamo.

He said he was frightened by the depression he saw in one of the men when he visited the jail on June 2. The client, Mohammed Abdul Rahman, "is trying to kill himself" by participating in a hunger strike, Denbeaux said.

"He is normally a gentle, quiet, shy person," Denbeaux said late Saturday. "He sat there in a subdued state that was almost inert. He was colossally depressed."

Denbeaux said he had intended to cheer Rahman up by showing him a newspaper article quoting President Bush as saying he wanted to close the jail. But the lawyer said guards confiscated the article because detainees are barred from seeing news of current events.

"We wanted to say, 'We have some hope for you,'" Denbeaux said. "They wouldn't let us give him some hope."

That afternoon, Rahman was force-fed, the lawyer said. Force feeding involves strapping a hunger striker into a "restraint chair" and feeding him through a tube inserted into the nose.

About 460 people, some of them in custody for 4 1/2 years, are being held at the Guantanamo camp on suspicion of links to al-Qaida and the Taliban. Many claim they are innocent or were low-level Taliban members who never intended to harm the United States.

International demands to close the prison grew.

Danish Prime Minister Fogh Rasmussen, who supported Bush in the Iraq war, said the detention center's procedures violate "the very principle of the rule of law" and weaken the fight against terrorism.

Swedish Foreign Minister Jan Eliasson said the deaths underlined the need to close the camp and bring detainees to trial or free them. Eliasson said the 25-nation European Union believes the facility should be closed.

Only 10 detainees have been charged with crimes and face military tribunals ordered by Bush. A hearing scheduled this week for one was suspended after the suicides. Authorities were considering suspending all this month's hearings pending a Supreme Court on whether Bush overstepped his authority in setting up the tribunals.

Gen. John Craddock, commander of the U.S. Southern Command, said the suicides were part of Islamic militants' holy war against the United States and its allies.

"They're determined, intelligent, committed elements and they continue to do everything they can ... to become martyrs in the jihad," Craddock told reporters Saturday.

A British citizen released from Guantanamo disputed that view.

"Killing yourself is not something that is looked at lightly in Islam, but if you're told day after day by the Americans that you're never going to go home or you're put into isolation, these acts are committed simply out of desperation and loss of hope," said Shafiq Rasul, 29, who waged a hunger strike while a prisoner in Guantanamo.

"This was not done as an act of martyrdom, warfare or anything else."

The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee said he would like to see the detainees' cases judged more quickly.

"Where we have evidence they ought to be tried, and if convicted they ought to be sentenced," Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., said on CNN's "Late Edition."

He said that without charges, many of the prisoners are "just out there in limbo, and that creates a very difficult situation."

Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, backed President Bush's comments Friday that the Guantanamo camp holds some very dangerous terrorists, but said on CNN that more needs to be done to figure out which detainees aren't a threat.

"There has to be a good procedure that balances the need to keep these people off the street with the need to find out who in fact is a terrorist," he said.

Saudi Arabia's government identified the two dead Saudi detainees on Sunday as Mani bin Shaman bin Turki al Habradi and Yasser Talal Abdullah Yahya al Zahrani. The identity of the Yemeni was still not known.

The suicides hit a sore point with Saudis, who are angry that more than 130 of their countrymen are at Guantanamo. Saudi Arabia's semiofficial human rights organization demanded an independent investigation, questioning whether torture drove the men to suicide.

"There are no independent monitors at the detention camp so it is easy to pin the crime on the prisoners, considering it is possible they were tortured," said Mufleh al-Qahtani, the group's deputy director.

The number of Guantanamo hunger strikers stood at eight Sunday, with five of them being force fed, Lt. Cmdr. Robert Durand, spokesman for the detention center, told AP. The number of hunger strikers this year peaked at 89 in May.

Until now, Guantanamo officials have said there have been 41 suicide attempts by 25 detainees and no deaths since the U.S. began taking prisoners to the base in January 2002. Defense lawyers contend the number of suicide attempts is higher.

Associated Press writers Paisley Dodds in London and Abdullah al-Shihri in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, contributed to this report.

source: http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/national/1102AP_Guantanamo_Suicides.html 11jun2006


* Biography of Colleen P. Graffy

Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs
Washington, DC

Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy

Colleen Graffy assumed her duties as Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs in September 2005. In this capacity, Ms. Graffy oversees public diplomacy and public affairs programs for the Bureau and coordinates efforts with Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Karen Hughes. Prior to her current position, she was the Academic Director and Associate Professor of Law at the London Law Program for Pepperdine University School of Law.

Originally from Santa Barbara, California, Ms. Graffy earned her B.A. from Pepperdine University and her M.A. from Boston University. She then served as co-director of Pepperdine’s Year-in-Europe program in Heidelberg, Germany.

Ms. Graffy completed the Diploma in Law in London. After attending the Inns of Court School of Law, she was called to the Bar of England and Wales as a Barrister of the Middle Temple. As academic director of the London Program, she was in charge of the London Moot and Clinical Program and taught International Public Law, International Environmental Law, International Law, and the Use of Force and Legal Ethics. Altogether, she has resided nearly 20 years in London, where she was often invited by the media to communicate the U.S. point of view on international issues.

Ms. Graffy is a member of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, The Royal Institute of International Affairs, The British Institute of International and Comparative Law, The Pilgrims, and The British American Project and was Chairman of the Society of English and American Lawyers. She is a Bencher at the Middle Temple.

Deputy Assistant Secretary Graffy has written on legal issues in the United States and Britain and is a frequent commentator for radio and television on transatlantic political, legal, and cultural issues.

Released by the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, September 2005

source: http://www.state.gov/p/eur/rls/or/57713.htm 12jun2006


Colleen P. Graffy Director of London Program and Associate Professor of Law B.A., Pepperdine University, 1979 M.A., Boston University, 1982 Diploma in Law, City of London University and Inns of Court School of Law, 1991 LL.M. (merit), King's College, University of London, 1996

Although originally hailing from Santa Barbara, California, Professor Graffy made London her home after completing a B.A. from Pepperdine University, M.A. from Boston University, and holding a position as co-director of Pepperdine's Year-in-Europe program in Heidelberg, Germany.

Professor Graffy completed the Diploma in Law in London. After attending the Inns of Court School of Law, she was called to the Bar of England and Wales as a Barrister of the Middle Temple. As academic director of the London Program, she is in charge of the London Moot and Clinical Program; and teaches International Public Law, International Environmental Law, and International Criminal Law.

She is a member of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, The Royal Institute of International Affairs, The British Institute of International and Comparative Law, The Piligrims, The British American Project and is Vice- Chairman of the Society of English and American Lawyers. Professor Graffy has written on legal issues in the United States and Britain, and is a frequent commentator for radio and television on Anglo-American political, legal, and cultural issues.

Email Professor Graffy at Colleen.Graffy@pepperdine.edu 

source: http://law.pepperdine.edu/academics/faculty/graffy.html 12jun2006

 


MORE. . .

London Calling:
Professor Colleen Graffy
Gets a SEAL of Approval 

JOVIE BACLAYON / Public Relations Dept. / Pepperdine University Press Release 11jun2006

 

Colleen Graffy, academic director of Pepperdine’s London Law Program, has become the new chairwoman of the Society of English and American Lawyers (SEAL), an organization designed to promote friendship, co-operation and understanding among English and American lawyers.

Graffy, a California native who moved to London after completing her undergraduate studies at Pepperdine and her masters at Boston University, has the honor of being the organization’s first female chair. Founded in 1981, SEAL's members include solicitors, barristers, U.S. attorneys, judges, academics, in-house lawyers and other professionals interested in the laws of the United Kingdom and the United States.

“Colleen Graffy is an excellent example of the ultimate professional — extremely bright, highly articulate, an effective spokesperson, an impressive networker who meets people exceptionally well and who is motivated by her well-studied and strongly held values,” says Ron Phillips, Pepperdine’s Vice Chancellor and School of Law Dean Emeritus.

Graffy also has the distinction of being the first academic to take over the position, and hopes to develop the educational side of SEAL. “Because most lawyers require continuing legal education, I have focused my chairmanship on developing SEAL into a CLE/CPD provider,” says Graffy who completed her Diploma in Law in London. In America, lawyers are required to have Continuing Legal Education, or CLE, credits; In London, it is referred to as Continuing Professional Development, or CPD. “The good news is that members can now justify leaving their offices to attend events and garner the required CPD/CLE credits as well as enjoy the camaraderie of fellow lawyers.”

She hopes to organize events that compare American and English practices, and also have the opportunity to showcase members of Pepperdine’s School of Law faculty when they come to London as visiting professors to the program.

The London Law Program was established in 1981 and allows second and third year law students to study in England for either a six-week summer session or a fall semester. As academic director of the London Program, Graffy oversees the London Moot and Clinical Program, and teaches International Public Law, International Environmental Law and International Criminal Law.

“What I love about the London Law Program is exploring with students, many who have never been outside of the United States, the role of the United States as viewed from outside of the United States,” she says. “International law is alive and relevant and important and our textbook readings are continually enhanced with the current events around us.”

Overseas, Graffy is frequently quoted in leading print and broadcast media sources which keeps her, and the Pepperdine name, in front of the public. “My political background as former chairman of Republicans Abroad for the United Kingdom and my legal background in public international law has resulted in a significant amount of media work as there is intense interest in U.S. foreign policy,” says Graffy. She adds that she finds it intellectually challenging and stimulating to get complex points across in a five-minute interview. “Probably the most difficult is Al Jazeera (Iraqi) television because I have to work with two interpreters — one translating from Arabic into English and the other translating my English into Arabic. When the conversation gets heated, as it usually does, it is hard to keep track of who is saying what as it is the same voice for three or four different individuals!”

Graffy’s expertise is also recognized by her numerous speaking engagements at prestigious institutions, including Oxford and Lund University in Sweden. She will travel to Dublin in June to speak before the Judiciary Bars of England and Wales, Ireland, Scotland and Northern Ireland on the rule of law in times of adversity.

source: http://www.pepperdine.edu/pr/publications/graffy.htm 11jun2006


Colleen Graffy,
US State Department Interviewed on BBC

Guantanamo Bay 

ANDREW MARR / BBC 12 March 2006

 

ANDREW MARR: Now the Guantanamo detention centre's back in the news as reports today that the American government is considering closing down the controversial detention centre, more than half the people there have never taken hostile action against the United States according to the Pentagon.

No-one has faced a proper trial, British prisoners now released say they were tortured. International figures such as Kofi Annan and Desmond Tutu have been unequivocal in their criticism of the facility and our own Archbishop of Canterbury has been pretty outspoken too.

ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY: Any message given that any state can just override some of these basic habeas corpus type provisions is going to be very welcomed tyrants elsewhere in the world, now and in the future.

ANDREW MARR: Tony Blair has called Guantanamo an anomaly, one of his most senior ministers Peter Hain has gone on record to criticise the camp, to indicate that the government thinks it should be shut down.

PETER HAIN: This is not the way to treat suspects and detainees in Guantanamo Bay. We've always said that, consistently, and that remains our position.

ANDREW MARR: And one former Britain detainee at Guantanamo, Moazzem Begg, claims that what he suffered in the camp was inhumane and degrading.

MOAZZEM BEGG: The time in isolation spent away from people, away from anybody except for interrogators and except for soldiers was very, very difficult. And it was a type of mental torture that was very difficult to fight off.

ANDREW MARR: So the pressure's building. To discuss it all I'm joined now by one of the newest members of the Bush Administration, no stranger to London, the US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Colleen Graffy. Welcome, thank you for coming in.

COLLEEN GRAFFY: Thank you.

ANDREW MARR: Looking at all this coverage, friends of the United States, on the same side as the United States, would say that Guantanamo Bay has been one of the biggest PR disasters America has ever suffered. And it should really be closed down as quickly as possible.

COLLEEN GRAFFY: That's absolutely correct. It is a big dilemma for the United States. And one of the largest concerns is based upon the treatment of the detainees. And that's one of the reasons why I went to Guantanamo last week, particularly after the UN report which I thought was a little irresponsible considering they didn't even go down to Guantanamo, nor would they accept a briefing from Washington DC. And I know people will say, well she won't give a good view will she.

But journalists from The Telegraph also went there and wrote a story saying conditions had changed and just recently the OFCE, the Organisation for Security and Co-operation and Europe, went there, came back and said this is, as prison goes, this is better than any prison in Belgium and she saw no reason for it to be closed down immediately and pointed to the humane treatment of the detainees. Now one of the key things that I was looking for when I went there was the interrogation. And what I saw, and we were able to watch by video interrogations taking place.

What I saw was a focus and an emphasis on building a relationship. The head of the interrogation, a woman who said she's been there for over two years, they have to submit a plan before they do an interrogation, and if they even raise their voice it's considered a failure. Because it's all about, and we saw a woman interrogator with the detainees sitting chatting with one another, who's drinking a Coca Cola, building a relationship. And...

ANDREW MARR: I can well understand that after all the criticism and so on, things have changed, and particularly when visitors come it looks all right, but there have been so many stories of torture, abuse, so many people have died in custody over these years, that they can't all be making it up, they're all saying the same thing.

They're telling very vivid stories, we've had it dramatised and we've had it explained to us on television by pretty credible witnesses - the Red Cross as well as the United Nations.

COLLEEN GRAFFY: Can I just...

ANDREW MARR: Can I just...

COLLEEN GRAFFY: ...sorry.

ANDREW MARR: ... the real point is, however, that by America's own figures, 55% of the people there have never offered any kind of threat to the United States or attempted any act against the United States. They should not be there.

COLLEEN GRAFFY: Yep. Going to one of your points where it would be changed for visitors. I would just say that is not even possible. If you could see the way can walk around the camp - you can sit down in the cafeteria with anyone, there's someone from the Red Cross, there's the doctors, there's prison guards, you can walk up to anyone and sit down and talk with them. So it would be ...

ANDREW MARR: But the UN, why it wanted to come in a long time ago and weren't allowed in?

COLLEEN GRAFFY: Well they were invited to go down and they refused to go down. And they wrote a report based on nothing more than the views from the lawyers of the detainees.

ANDREW MARR: But that was because they couldn't talk to prisoners on their own, but they said that's not fair.

COLLEEN GRAFFY: Yes. So why not go down, meet with the doctors, with the guards, with the interrogators, and still put in the report but we would have liked to have spoken with the detainees. But frankly what would we have learned from that? If the detainee said we're being tortured, you'd say well there's OK there's the Al Queda manual, chapter 18 that the British police discovered in Manchester saying if you're detained claim you were tortured. Or if they're not told they're tortured then they'll say well you detainees were specially chosen.

ANDREW MARR: ... most of them Pakistani farmers, they're not Al Qaeda - but nobody knows they're not.

COLLEEN GRAFFY: Well, I would beg to differ with that. We actually went into an evidence room where we saw the individuals they have lockers, holding the evidence of the detainees, and it shows multiple passports, multiple mobile phones, and just stacks of evidence of what they were up to.

And in fact we just have, another thing people don't understand, and you mentioned about people dying. No one has died at Guantanamo, no one. And there were all, a maximum of, well over 10,000 people who were picked up on the battle field. From those less than 800 were brought to Guantanamo, that's less than 490 now.

ANDREW MARR: ...of which 55% have never been a threat to America according to the Pentagon... I mean, that's extraordinary...

COLLEEN GRAFFY: ..I don't know that I agree with that because they are individuals...

ANDREW MARR: These are official figures that came out through the National Law Journal...OK. When it comes to the question of the stacks of evidence and the case against them, everyone around the world says, well put them on trial. I mean they've been there for years.

COLLEEN GRAFFY: I'm glad you brought that up because people do not know that they do have habeas rights and in fact prisoners of war are not entitled to habeas rights - the detainees are. They have a combatant status review tribunal which is automatically reviewed.

ANDREW MARR: No special lawyer?

COLLEEN GRAFFY: Yes, they have, over 360 of them have their, or 370 have their...

ANDREW MARR: Military lawyers were given to them.

COLLEEN GRAFFY: No, no they have their own civilian lawyers. All civilian lawyers that are brought in from ...

ANDREW MARR: What are the client? Are the trials about to start then?

COLLEEN GRAFFY: They have the combatant status review tribunal, it's automatically reviewed. It can be reviewed, sorry, referred to the civil courts in Washington DC, the District Court of Appeal.

ANDREW MARR: Sounds great, but, there have been no trials. After all this time, if there was evidence you could put them on trial and say to the world, this is the evidence we've got, we're doing it openly, judge us, as a proper democratic country.

COLLEEN GRAFFY: Military commission trials are starting now but aside from that you're confusing domestic peacetime criminal law with the laws of war, and this is what's so difficult to get across.

Did you bring Argentinean soldiers to the Old Bailey to be prosecuted? No, because you were holding them under the laws of war. That's another aspect that's so hard to get across.

ANDREW MARR: These people were not lifted and treated under the ordinary rules of war as laid down by the Geneva Convention. And on the other hand, they are not treated as ordinary citizens facing a civil trial. They are in the middle, they are in a very strange position. And they have not been taken to trial.

The point I put to you is that around the world this has become an enormous source of anger. Al Qaeda themselves we know have lots of pictures of Guantanamo in the videos they distribute right around the Islamic world. These are dragon's teeth that you are sowing everywhere to produce the next generation of terrorists.

COLLEEN GRAFFY: I know the dilemma is that these are individuals that want to go out and kill us. If you look at the Guantanamo detainee who's been released in Moscow who was just arrested for trying to blow up a pipeline. You look at the detainee, and these are detainees that we thought were finally convinced that they didn't want to back and fight.

One was released, killed a judge in Afghanistan. Another released killed a Chinese engineer in Pakistan. And then one, just two days ago, who was arrested in Moscow for attempting to blow up an oil pipeline. So there is a dilemma, you're right, in that it doesn't fall neatly under criminal law.

Nor does it fall under the Geneva Conventions because in Geneva Conventions you have countries fighting, and here you have non-state actors who are not trying to engage in any sort of resolution, for example, with domestic terrorists who are looking for rights or land. Here you have individuals that want to kill you for the sake of you being a Westerner.

ANDREW MARR: So where does this end, I mean you've got your most loyal friends and allies, people like Tony Blair, visibly worried about it, talking about, this is an anomaly. For most respected people all saying this has got to stop. When is it going to stop?

COLLEEN GRAFFY: The two things that you need to do is to ensure your friends around the world that they're being treated humanely and that's a hard message to get across. So I just encourage people to look at the facts, for example they don't all wear orange jumpsuits, only 40 of the hardcore Jihadists, the rest who are trying to be co-operative are wearing white jumpsuits, living communally, sharing meals together, they have full access to recreation, volleyball, basketball, backgammon, sports facilities.

The other thing that we need to assure our colleagues and allies about is that they have right of access to the courts, and now there's that, not only the combatant status review tribunal, but also yearly, annually, like a parole board, to ascertain whether these individuals can be released because they don't want to go out and fight. And as you see, we get wrong about 10% of the time.

ANDREW MARR: No promise about this ever closing. Open-ended, the stories today about the British government and the American government starting to talk about how to send people back and close the camp/

COLLEEN GRAFFY: There's continuous discussion about that. Part of the problem is if you return nationals to their country of origin sometimes that will violate the convention against torture because the same problem Britain had with holding foreign terrorists at Belmarsh - you were unable to return them. Well hopefully over the years we'll find a way to either release them to their country of origin or that they declare that they no longer want to kill us.

ANDREW MARR: All right - thank you very much indeed for joining us this morning.

INTERVIEW ENDS

source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/sunday_am/4798886.stm 12jun2006

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