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giovedì 8 novembre 2012


Guantánamo Bay Naval Base (Cuba) qui

Hiromi Yasui for The New York Times
Updated: Oct. 17, 2012
The United States Naval Station at Guantánamo Bay in Cuba dates from 1903, when the American government leased the 45-square-mile site as a coaling station in the wake of the Spanish-American War. Since the United States broke off relations with Cuba after Fidel Castro’s rise to power, the base has operated as an obscure anomaly, one foreign power’s self-enclosed outpost in a hostile land.
In the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, and after the American invasion of Afghanistan, prisoners suspected of being al Qaeda members or supporters were transported to Guantánamo. In 2002, President George W. Bush made it the central prison for suspects considered unlawful enemy combatants in the newly christened “war on terror.”
The Bush administration’s efforts to try prisoners at the base before military tribunals was blocked by a series of Supreme Court rulings responding to challenges brought by prisoners. Harsh interrogation tactics — including sleep deprivation, shackling in stress positions and prolonged exposure to cold temperatures — drew global condemnation.
Of the 779 people who have been detained at the United States military prison at Guantánamo, 600 have been transferred to other countries and 169 remain, according to analysis by The New York Times and NPR. In addition, eight detainees died while in custody.
Military intelligence officials, in assessments of detainees written between February 2002 and January 2009, evaluated their histories and provided glimpses of the tensions between captors and captives. What began as a jury-rigged experiment after the 2001 terrorist attacks now seems like an enduring American institution, and files leaked to the anti-secrecy organization WikiLeaks and made available to The New York Times show why, by laying bare the patchwork and contradictory evidence that in many cases would never have stood up in criminal court or a military tribunal.
In April 2012, two Chinese Muslim detainees held for years without trial were released in El Salvador. It was the first prisoner transfer out of Guantánamo in more than a year. The detainees had been ordered freed by a federal judge in 2008 on the ground that, although captured in Afghanistan, they were not enemy combatants who were waging war against the United States. Both spent more than a decade in American custody.
In October 2012, a federal appeals court threw out the terrorism conviction of Salim Hamdan, a former detainee at Guantánamo who was released in 2008. Mr. Hamdan, a Yemeni, was Osama bin Laden’s driver and bodyguard. In 2008, Mr. Hamdan was convicted by a military jury of providing material support to terrorism. Mr. Hamdan’s case led to a landmark 2006 Supreme Court ruling striking down the Bush administration’s first version of military commissions.
In the 2012 ruling, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit held that the charge against Mr. Hamdan — providing material support for terrorism — was not a recognized international war crime at the time of his actions. The Military Commissions Act of 2006, which Congress enacted after Mr. Hamdan’s Supreme Court victory, listed that charge as a war crime but did not apply it retroactively, the court ruled.
9/11 Military Tribunal Resumes
The Sept. 11 war-crimes case before a military commission at Guantánamo Bay resumed relatively smoothly on Oct. 15, 2012, as five accused conspirators in the attacks were calm and cooperative at the start of a pretrial hearing. The atmosphere in the session contrasted sharply with a chaotic arraignment hearing in May.
Two of the defendants, Mustafa al Hawsawi and Ramzi bin al Shibh, spoke through translators directly with the judge, Army Col. James L. Pohl. In May, all of the defendants had refused to acknowledge the judge when he asked them if they understood the charges and accepted the lawyers assigned to them, significantly delaying the arraignment.
The military installed small speakers that quietly broadcast a simultaneous Arabic translation near the seats of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the self-described mastermind of the attacks, and the four other defendants. In May, the five men had refused to wear their headphones, forcing translators to repeat every utterance in Arabic over courtroom loudspeakers, further slowing the proceedings.
The other two defendants are Walid bin Attash and Ali Abd al Aziz Ali.
Closing Guantánamo: Attempts and Failure
On Jan. 22, 2009, two days after his inauguration, President Obama signed executive orders effectively ending the Central Intelligence Agency‘s secret interrogation program, directing the closing of the detention camp within a year and setting up a sweeping, high-level review of the best way to hold and question terrorist suspects in the future. The move put a halt to the Bush administration’s military commissions system for prosecuting detainees.
Almost immediately, Mr. Obama’s plan to close the prison became bogged down in a myriad of difficulties. Republicans criticized the move consistently, saying it would lead to the release of dangerous prisoners.
President Obama in March 2011 reversed his two-year-old order halting new military charges against detainees at Guantánamo, permitting military trials to resume with revamped procedures and implicitly admitting the failure of his pledge to close the prison camp.
Mr. Obama said that he remained committed to closing Guantánamo someday and to charging some terrorism suspects in civilian criminal courts. But Congress blocked the transfer of prisoners from Guantánamo to the United States for trial, frustrating the administration’s plan to hold civilian trials for Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the self-professed chief plotter of the Sept. 11 attacks, and others accused of terrorism.
A Troubled System
Guantánamo has attained such symbolic value that Mr. Obama is unlikely to acknowledge the ending of his goal of closing it and Republicans are unlikely to end their attacks — even as his administration has adopted more of the Bush administration’s approach.
In November 2009, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. announced that five detainees would face a military commission and five others — including Khalid Shaikh Mohammed — would be prosecuted in federal court in New York City. But the city officials, who had at first welcomed the prospect, fought the plan, saying it was too costly and the risks too high. The Obama administration later shelved it. The administration also halted transfers to Yemen in the wake of the attempted bombing of an airplane bound for Detroit in December 2009 — a plot believed to have been developed by an affiliate of Al Qaeda based in Yemen.
When the White House acknowledged that it would miss Mr. Obama’s initial January 2010 deadline for shutting the prison, it also declared that the detainees would eventually be moved to an empty maximum-security center in Thomson, Ill., 150 miles west of Chicago. Impediments to that plan mounted in Congress, and the administration did little to overcome them.
The politics of closing the prison soured following the attempted bombings on a plane on Dec. 25, 2009, and in Times Square in May 2010, as well as Republican criticism that imprisoning detainees in the United States would endanger Americans. When Mr. Obama took office a slight majority supported closing it. By a March 2010 poll, 60 percent wanted it to stay open.
In May 2012, the House turned back an unusual coalition of liberals and conservatives and voted to uphold the indefinite detention of terrorism suspects apprehended on United States soil. The measure would thwart the Obama administration’s efforts to close Guantánamo.
Obama Administration Reverses Course
In March 2011, President Obama cleared the way for trials in Guantánamo, reversing his two-year-old order halting military charges against detainees there, and allowing military trials to resume.
For detainees who will not get trials, Mr. Obama set out new rules in an executive order requiring a review of their status within a year and every three years after that to determine whether they remain a threat, should be scheduled for a military trial or should be released. The order also requires compliance with the Geneva Conventions and the international treaty that bans torture and inhumane treatment.
Among detainees who will face a military commission soon is Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, a Saudi accused of planning the bombing of the American destroyer Cole in Yemen in 2000. He was subjected to waterboarding, which could open the way to assertions by the defense that he was tortured, complicating any trial.
Civil liberties advocates, who have long been critical of Guantánamo, expressed disappointment that the military system remained in place more than two years after President Obama took office. Still, some lawyers for detainees said the executive order might speed the release of men imprisoned for years without trial, either after a review, a trial or a plea agreement.
The new procedures for military commissions guarantee detainees access to a legal representative and to a broader range of classified information, which the detainee’s representative can use to argue his client’s case before the review board.
The administration also said it would ask for Senate approval to sign on to an additional protocol of the Geneva Conventions governing humane treatment and fair trials for prisoners held in wartime.
What the Documents Show
Hundreds of classified assessments of detainees at Guantánamo were obtained by The New York Times. The unredacted assessments give the fullest public picture to date of the prisoners held there over the past nine years. They show that the United States has imprisoned hundreds of men for years without trial based on a difficult and strikingly subjective evaluation of who they were, what they had done in the past and what they might do in the future. The 704 assessment documents use the word “possibly” 387 times, “unknown” 188 times and “deceptive” 85 times.
Viewed with judges’ rulings on legal challenges by detainees, the documents reveal that the analysts sometimes ignored serious flaws in the evidence — for example, that the information came from other detainees whose mental illness made them unreliable. Some assessments quote witnesses who say they saw a detainee at a camp run by Al Qaeda but omit the witnesses’ record of falsehood or misidentification. They include detainees’ admissions without acknowledging other government documents that show the statements were later withdrawn, often attributed to abusive treatment or torture.
The secret documents reveal that most of the 169 remaining prisoners have been rated as a “high risk” of posing a threat to the United States and its allies if released without adequate rehabilitation and supervision. But they also show that an even larger number of the prisoners who have left Cuba — about a third of the 600 already transferred to other countries — were also designated “high risk” before they were freed or passed to the custody of other governments.
The documents are largely silent about the use of the harsh interrogation tactics at Guantánamo. Several prisoners, though, are portrayed as making up false stories about being subjected to abuse.
The government’s basic allegations against many detainees have long been public, and have often been challenged by prisoners and their lawyers. But the dossiers, prepared under the Bush administration, provide a deeper look at the frightening, if flawed, intelligence that has persuaded the Obama administration, too, that the prison cannot readily be closed.

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