May 26, 2008

US Secret Prisons

The US prison in Guantanamo Bay represents the tip of the iceberg, according to Attorney Clive Stafford Smith*, who calls it a "diversionary tactic". From what is our attention being diverted?

On September 6, 2006, george bush admitted that the US is holding people around the world in secret prisons. When I heard him speak, he seemed to use the past tense, inferring that the prisoners were being moved from the network of secret prisons to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. But bush's press statements are apparently part of the diversionary tactic.

According to Smith, Guantanamo prisons currently hold about 270 people. However, the US is holding about 27,000 people in secret prisons around the world. Below are some of the places Smith mentioned during an interview on DemocracyNow.

Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan: Featured in "Taxi to the Darkside," where at least one innocent prisoner was beaten, until he died of a blood clot, by US personnel, Bagram currently holds an estimated 630 people, some held for five years, most held without charge. the US military is planning to build a new forty-acre prison complex in Afghanistan near Kabul. The $60 million dollar site is intended to replace the makeshift prison at Bagram.

Prisons in Iraq: According to Smith, "the US is bringing people into Iraq from elsewhere to hold them there, simply because that keeps... the media and ... lawyers, away from the prisoners so they can’t get any sort of legal rights." "... the US is taking an estimated forty to sixty, on average, prisoners a day around the world [to Iraq]."

Camp Lemonier in Djibouti: In the Republic of Djibouti, a country in the Horn of Africa, "there’s a huge camp, Camp Lemonier, where a lot of people are being held," according to Smith.

Diego Garcia: "contrary to the past analysis of the British government, in the Indian Ocean has been used, in my belief, to hold people."

Prison Ships: "we’ve identified thirty-two prison ships, sort of prison hulks you used to read about in Victorian England, which have been converted to hold prisoners, and we’ve got pictures of them in Lisbon Harbor [Portugal], for example."

Proxy Prisons: "there’s a bunch of proxy prisons—Morocco, Egypt and Jordan." Keep these prisons in mind the next time you hear about "secret evidence" being used against prisoners. Smith comments on this:

one of my clients, Benyam Mohammed, it’s all they have got on him, is evidence that they extracted from him after taking him to Morocco and torturing him with a razor blade to his genitals.

* Attorney Clive Smith represents about 30 people held by the US government in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Some, like Sami Al-Haj, the Al Jazeera cameraman, who was held for six years, have been released.


Clive Stafford Smith: US Holding 27,000 in Secret Overseas Prisons; Transporting Prisoners to Iraqi Jails to Avoid Media & Legal Scrutiny, May 19, 2008.



libhom said...

The only people keeping the "secret" about these prisons are in the corporate media. Pravda had nothing on MSNBC/CNN/New York Times/Faux News.

GDAEman said...

Pathetic, eh? I like to use the term "elite media," because the corporate media personalities have themselves become elite celebrities and cater to their own elite class.