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News ::
13 Oct 2003
Modified: 14 Oct 2003

By Deirdre Griswold
Via Workers World News Service
Reprinted from the Oct. 16, 2003
issue of Workers World newspaper


By Deirdre Griswold

How many prisoners is the Pentagon holding at Guantanamo? How and why
were they seized? What is their physical condition?

Why have over 30 attempted suicide? Have any died in custody?

Are they being charged with any crime? How long will they be held? What are their names, their ages? What countries and towns do they come from?

What have they told their interrogators? What methods have been used to make them talk?

None of this information is available to the public. All of it is
concealed as "classified" by the Pentagon and U.S. government--which
have invented a legal limbo for these prisoners, calling them "enemy

The last estimate in the press of how many are being held this way was
660 people. Most were captured during the U.S. invasion and war against Afghanistan--a very undeveloped country that has been wracked with wars ever since 1979. That was when the Carter administration decided to organize armed opposition to the new progressive regime there. Then, six months later, the Soviet Union intervened on the side of the secular government.

Washington later incurred the anger of its fundamentalist allies when it dumped them after the Soviet Union had pulled out its troops.

Then came Sept. 11, 2001, and the U.S. government eagerly used the
attacks as a justification to invade Afghanistan. It was the first test case of the aggressive Bush Doctrine and an opportunity for the Pentagon to test out and show off the power of its new weaponry.

Many Afghans and others were captured during this uneven war between a
pre-industrial country and the world's mightiest military power. Those
flown to Guantanamo--a U.S. base imposed on Cuba--have been held for
almost two years in cages, on the other side of the world and in a
climate just the opposite of what they are used to.

When seen in rare photos they are in chains and shackles, sometimes with hoods over their heads, being propped up by soldiers on either side.

Now the Pentagon has arrested three of the translators it used at
Guantanamo. All three are Muslims and are U.S. citizens.

Air Force Senior Airman Ahmad I. Al-Halabi was arrested July 23. He is
charged with attempted espionage and trying to aid the enemy. The
Pentagon claims he tried to pass more than 180 notes from Guantanamo
detainees, as well as a map of the prison and flight paths, to "a
citizen of a foreign government by carrying such notes en route to
Syria, a foreign nation." If convicted in a court-martial, he could get the death penalty.

His lawyers say he is innocent and that his trip to Syria, his country
of birth, was to marry a woman there.

Ahmed Fathy Mehalba, also an interpreter at the camp, was arrested on
Sept. 29. He was charged with giving false statements to federal
authorities. He was taken into custody at Logan International Airport in Boston, where officials say they found him carrying classified material, including compact discs with information about Guantanamo.

The nature of this information is being kept secret. Was it, perhaps,
names of the prisoners so that their loved ones could finally know what had happened to them?

The third arrest was of Capt. James Y. Yee, a Muslim chaplain and Army
West Point graduate. He has not been charged, but is under suspicion of having attempted to bring "classified material" out of the base. Yee was arrested at the naval air station in Jacksonville, Fla., on Sept. 10.

The commercial media are reporting all this as though the only possible issue here is espionage, a threat to U.S. "national security," the "war on terror."

Not one has even mentioned the possibility that these translators may
have been moved by the deplorable conditions of their Muslim brothers,
may have been revolted by the chain-link curtain of silence meant to
isolate them from their families and compatriots, and may have wanted to let at least their relatives, and perhaps the rest of the world, know what is going on there.

True, this is only speculation. Maybe nothing happened. Maybe these men have been totally set up in order to scare off any attempts from
whatever quarter to reveal what is happening behind the barbed wire of
Camp Delta.

But if they were carrying messages from the prisoners, or lists of their names, it is likely that these U.S. career officers couldn't stand being a part of this vicious repression any more and acted out of sympathy and compassion for their fellow human beings.

Since everything about the prison at Guantanamo has been kept secret and "classified," even information about who the prisoners are and what has happened to them is also "classified." If there are court-martials, will the military present for open scrutiny the presumed evidence against the translators--or will that, too, be a military secret?

At the end of August, lawyers from 10 countries sent an open letter to
the United States calling for civilian trials for the translators. There is no way they can receive a fair trial in a military court under these circumstances.

- END -

(Copyright Workers World Service: Everyone is permitted to copy and
distribute verbatim copies of this document, but changing it is not
allowed. For more information contact Workers World, 55 W. 17 St., NY,
NY 10011; via e-mail: ww (at) Subscribe wwnews-
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Those poor detainees (english)
14 Oct 2003
My heart bleeds for those detainees. There is no mercy for traitors in the military, I hope they put their execution on pay per view and donate the funds to victims of 9-11