Was Binyam Mohamed brutalized at Guantanamo in the last month?

Credible allegations of mistreatment arise for the same time period that the Obama DOD self-servingly proclaimed Guantanamo to be in compliance with the Geneva Conventions.

Topics: Washington, D.C.,

The Los Angeles Times — February 20, 2009:

The Pentagon has concluded that the military detention center at Guantanamo Bay meets the standards for humane treatment of detainees established in the Geneva Convention accords. . . .

The administration official said the report’s primary conclusions supported the Department of Defense’s long-standing contention that Guantanamo was in compliance with the global convention, including Article 3, which requires the humane treatment of prisoners taken in unconventional armed conflicts, such as the war on terrorism.

“The bottom line is that the report found that Guantanamo is in compliance with the Geneva conventions, which we have maintained for several years. So the report essentially validated our procedures and processes,” the official said.

The Guardian, today:

Revealed: full horror of Gitmo inmate’s beatings

Binyam Mohamed will return to Britain suffering from a huge range of injuries after being beaten by US guards right up to the point of his departure from Guantánamo Bay [on Saturday], according to the first detailed accounts of his treatment inside the camp.

Mohamed will arrive back tomorrow in the UK, where he was a British resident between 1984 and 2002. During medical examinations last week, doctors discovered injuries and ailments resulting from apparently brutal treatment in detention.

Mohamed was found to be suffering from bruising, organ damage, stomach complaints, malnutrition, sores to feet and hands, severe damage to ligaments as well as profound emotional and psychological problems which have been exacerbated by the refusal of Guantánamo’s guards to give him counselling.

Mohamed’s British lawyer, Clive Stafford Smith, said his client had been beaten “dozens” of times inside the notorious US camp in Cuba with the most recent abuse occurring during recent weeks. He said: “He has a list of physical ailments that cover two sheets of A4 paper. What Binyam has been through should have been left behind in the middle ages.”

[U.S. Army] Lieutenant colonel Yvonne Bradley, Mohamed’s US military attorney, added: “He has been severely beaten. Sometimes I don’t like to think about it because my country is behind all this.” . . .



For reasons that human rights groups and detainees’ lawyers immediately pointed out, this self-exonerating Pentagon report, from the start, was suspect in the extreme.  But a sign of how broken our discourse is and how in love with ourselves we continue to be is that, on the question of current Guantanamo conditions, the conclusions of the United States Pentagon released this week were treated not only as credible, but authoritative. If the DOD — which has long overseen Guantanamo and continues to do so — says that everything is great there, well, that’s the end of that.  What else is there to know?

Of all the defining practices and policies of the Bush administration which the Obama administration has already enthusiastically embraced — and they’re piling up so quickly, it’s becoming difficult to keep track — one of the most disturbing is the Obama administration’s press management approach.  The administration is singling out particularly supportive journalists to whom they anonymously leak purely favorable pro-administration spin; giving access to others who are have a history of such sycophantic behavior that they predictably produce profiles so one-sided and glowing that even People Magazine would be embarrassed to publish it; and — worst of all — they are systematically hiding behind anonymity to disseminate their claims in order to evade accountability, the exact opposite of the “transparency” Obama continuously promised (read David Cay Johnston’s superb account of dealing with the Obama White House Press Office to see what a real journalist — as opposed to one desperately jockeying to serve the White House in exchange for favored access status — does when faced with baseless demands from administration officials for anonymity and off-the-record chatter).

These allegations that Binyam Mohamed was brutalized at Guantanamo in the last several weeks — while the Obama DOD was “concluding” that conditions there comported with the Geneva Conventions — are coming from highly credible sources.   The Obama administration has the obligation to make available an official in a position of real authority to speak on the record and attempt to reconcile these seemingly irreconcilable stories.  The pledge to end the brutality and secrecy of the Bush detention regime was one of the centerpieces of Obama’s campaign.  One would think, on their own, they’d be eager to address these allegations in a forthright and candid way.

Glenn Greenwald

Follow Glenn Greenwald on Twitter: @ggreenwald.

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