Amnesty International:
"Supreme Court must end lawlessness in Guantánamo Bay". No less than the rule of law is at stake in the Guantánamo appeal before the US Supreme Court. The US administration is offering a vision of a world in which arbitrary unchallengeable detentions, potentially for life, become acceptable. The Supreme Court must reject this vision and begin the process of extracting the Guantánamo detainees from the legal black hole into which they have been thrown in the name of national security


The following texts are copied from BBC's 'Panorama':

Officer's Wife, Guantanamo Bay

You just go about your life and you honestly do not think that we have the detainees over here. You don't worry about it. The school system here is great. The teachers are really good with the children. It's just like a normal community except we don't leave it. (laughs)

UN War Crimes Tribunals, 1994-96

Certainly the democratic world regards it now as a great injustice and I've no doubt that history will judge it to be that. I do indeed believe that a future American president will have to apologise for Guantanamo Bay.


Credits, Click here

VIVIAN WHITE: The call to prayer at Guantanamo Bay. Over 600 men are being held here by the USA as part of its war against terror. We've been to investigate Guantanamo justice. They're not considered prisoners.


Sgt KEEFER: No sir.


WHITE: What's being kept for nearly a year and a half?


Sgt KEEFER: Detained personnel sir.


WHITE: In Afghanistan we've tracked down Guantanamo detainees who've been released.


SAYED ABASSIN: I spent 13 months in jail. The law was dead. There were no human rights.


WHITE: But a politician and lawyer close to President Bush says detention at Guantanamo is both necessary and just.


SENATOR CORNYN: I'm satisfied that the 660 at Guantanamo Bay are among the baddest of the bad, and I believe that the President is well within his power under our constitution, as well as international law, to do what we are doing.


WHITE: Now the Americans want to conduct military trials on Guantanamo, and two British detainees are top of the list, their families unable to affect events.


AZMAT BEGG: What is happening to the human rights in this world? Is there nobody can hear the truth?


WHITE: Tonight, judgements on Guantanamo justice from a judge of international repute and from the Red Cross.


CHRISTOPHE GIROD: The US authorities have put the detainees in Guantanamo beyond the law which certainly mean that Guantanamo is a legal black hole.


RICHARD GOLDSTONE: I do indeed believe that a future American President will have to apologise for



WHITE: We examine the process of Guantanamo justice and we ask is it justified by 9/11 or is America

defying the law to defeat terror? Our journey to Guantanamo in Puerto Rico where we were summoned at

dawn to the US Naval Base there. US military is allowing some media access to Guantanamo but it's far

from open access. Guantanamo remains a very secret place.



There are things that you can and can't do; video that you can and can't shoot. Whatever interviews you do,

they have to be set up through the taskforce public affairs first. You can't just come up to someone and start

talking to them and interview them. No impromptu interviews, things like that.


WHITE: Guantanamo Bay is a US enclave at the South Eastern end of the island of Cuba, and the only way

in and out of this remote place is on a flight arranged by the US military. After 9/11 and the attack on the

twin towers a military order was issued by the President to create a new system for dealing with suspected

terrorists. In January 2002 the prison camp was established on Guantanamo. The territory is held on an

indefinite lease from Cuba. The Castro government regards it as an illegal occupation. Camp X-ray, the

first prison, consisted of wire cages. Now, in Camp Delta, most men are in cages that are enclosed. Over

600 men are kept on Guantanamo; many have been there over a year. We were taken to meet their military




After the events of 9/11 sir, I feel it is my duty and every American's duty, to make the world a safer place.

And if I can do just a minimal part down here to help that and extract justice on those that did cause the

attacks, then so be it, I'll do it for however it long it takes.



I work the blocks to safeguard the detainees from anything physically, mentally that could hurt them.


WHITE: And what do you think about the men whom you guard?


SLAUGHTER: I really don't have a comment on that sir.


WHITE: Well you see them day in, day out. It's your job day in, day out and it's a pretty extraordinary job,

and it is a job that you think… is it a job you're glad to be doing, and if so why?


SLAUGHTER: Yes, I'm very glad to do this in the fact that it keeps our nation safe and the other nations

safe around the world from any harm.


WHITE: The official Guantanamo motto is 'honour bound to defend freedom'. Questions about pride in

the mission were permitted by our military escorts but some straightforward questions about exactly what

happened to the men they were guarding were ruled out of order.


When the interrogators come along, how long do they take men away for and how often does that happen?


SLAUGHTER: Well it depends on how long….


OFFICER: (interrupting question) That's not… that's not… anything to do with interrogations we can't



WHITE: (to female soldier) Is your task here just to look after them day to day or is there a gradual

process of interrogation and getting information out? Tell me, what's your task?


OFFICER: (again interrupting question) We really can't get into interrogation issues. It's just not

something that we discuss.


WHITE: But however unwilling they were to discuss it, the prime purpose of Guantanamo Bay gradually

became more and more plain. This was neither a normal prisoner of war camp, nor by any means an

ordinary prison. It was a place to hold people and to interrogate them without a time limit.


Sgt KEEFER: These people are not considered prisoners, nor are they treated like prisoners as what we

would treat a military prisoner as.


WHITE: They're not considered prisoners?


St KEEFER: No sir.


WHITE: What's being kept for nearly a year and a half?


Sgt KEEFER: Detained personnel sir.


WHITE: That's categorically different from being a prisoner, is it?


Sgt KEEFER: Yes sir.


WHITE: Is that better than being a prisoner?


Sgt KEEFER: Yes sir, as far as their treatment sir, yes sir, I would say it is. A prisoner is someone found

guilty of a crime and being sentenced. These people here are no more than merely detained and we're

extracting information.


WHITE: Merely detained and extracting information.


Sgt KEEFER: Yes sir.


WHITE: Extracting information for a year and a half!?


Sgt KEEFER: Sir, that's not my job. I'm not one of the investigators.


WHITE: Away from the prison camp was another Guantanamo - pure, recreated middle America.



Officer's Wife, Guantanamo Bay

You just go about your life and you honestly do not think that we have the detainees over here. You don't

worry about it. The school system here is great. The teachers are really good with the children. It's just

like a normal community except we don't leave it. (laughs)


WHITE: The detainees can't leave Guantanamo either, but there'd be no question of asking them what they

thought of their incarceration. We were eventually taken to the boundary of the prison, Camp Delta.



We don't allow the media to interview the detainees… never allowed that.


WHITE: Why not?


Lt MOSS: Well that's first of all part of our policy and the Geneva Convention does state that you're not to

put certain individuals on display to the media. It's not something we'd want.


WHITE: We were allowed into the prison camp but we weren't allowed to film. Only sound recording, a

word picture, was permitted in this secret place.


I'm walking now along a line of cells which are 8' by 8' metal grids. We're deep inside Camp Delta. I can

now see a group of men dressed in white, in T-shirts. These are detainees. They were just a few feet away

the other side of the wire and one of them then spoke to all of us in English.


DETAINEE: Are you journalists… or whatever? Can we talk to you?


WHITE: We're from BBC television.


MILITARY ESCORT: Need to keep moving. Need to keep moving.


WHITE: We're from BBC TV.


DETAINEE: Thank you very much. After a long time we're looking you here.


WHITE: Sorry?


ESCORT: You need to keep back.


DETAINEE: After a long time we're looking you here. It's amazing for us, strange. We should…


ESCORT: If you don't move you're going to have to leave.


DETAINEE: .. saw you before but we're looking now and it's….


ESCORT: Bring 'em back. Let's go. The tour is over. Keep 'em walking.


WHITE: That contact with one detainee was too much for our hosts. We were excluded from seeing

anymore of the prison camp. But that evening they took us to the movies. The show starts with a trailer.

The troops are reinvigorated with the spirit of enduring freedom &endash; the War in Afghanistan.



Enduring Freedom

"The Opening Chapter"

I do solemnly swear…

To support and defend the constitution of the United States….

Against all enemies, foreign and domestic…

So help me God…

So help me God….


SOLDIER: I was once told by a commanding officer: "It's not a question of if we go to combat, it's a

question of when".


WHITE: We had more questions to ask about detention in Guantanamo but we took our cue from the

movie. They wouldn't all be answered here.



Defeating the Taliban is what we went in there to do. We helped Afghanistan just the fact that we've hit a

regime that was so oppressive and now they may have more freedom.


WHITE: To find out more about what does happen inside Guantanamo we went to Afghanistan. The first

theatre in America's war on terror after 9/11. We wanted to talk to some of the small proportion of men

who'd been detained in there and then released by the Americans, and they're chiefly from Afghanistan. We

travelled in with local guards on the Khyber Pass from Pakistan westwards over the border towards Kabul,

the Afghan capital. So we were in Kabul on July 19th when we learnt that a group of 16 Afghani men who'd

been imprisoned in Guantanamo had been flown back and were about to be set free. We were going to get

first hand witness of life inside Guantanamo. This was their first moment of freedom. All these men had

been captured as part of the so-called war on terror, but they hadn't been held as prisoners of war. Fighting

in a war isn't a crime under international law. These men had been placed by the Americans into an entirely

new category &endash; enemy combatants &endash; people suspected of being involved with terrorism to be held and

interrogated until the United States no longer judged them to pose a threat. But they were never charged

with any crime. In total 68 men have been released from detention in Guantanamo. None of them had any

idea until the last moment how long they'd be kept there.


That night a group of these newly released men agreed to talk to us, and one of them recognised me from

our visit to Guantanamo. He'd been among the detainees we'd briefly seen when one of them had called out

to us as he told our translator.



(translated) I have seen this man. He came to Cuba. He was on the other side of the netting. He had a

tape recorder with him. The American guards pushed him.. pushed this poor man. He stumbled. He was

not seen after that.



(translated) We were in prison only because we are Moslems.



(translated) Is this what they call human rights?


MONSERA: (translated) They said: "Go, you were prisoners of war". Were we given the rights of

prisoners of war? Prisoners of war.. prisoners of war!


Mohammed akhbar

(translated) Why did they take me to Cuba. My young wife was left with no one to look after her. Who

was to feed everyone? Who was to give clothes for God's sake to my children? They're very young… very

young (sobbing).



Former Chief Prosecutor

UN War Crimes Tribunals

I just don't believe people should be treated in that way.


WHITE: But these are suspected terrorists.


GOLDSTONE: Even suspected terrorists shouldn't be treated in a manner which is unlawful.


WHITE: Unlawful? And that's, to you, the word that describes the Guantanamo process?


GOLDSTONE: Absolutely.


WHITE: US Senator John Cornyn recently visited Guantanamo Bay. He says his government has the right

to defend itself by preventative detention there.


26th September 2002

[Film footage of Corbyn and Bush]


A close political ally of President Bush, he was a judge and attorney general in his home state of Texas.



Republican, Texas

Well I'm afraid the war on terror has created a need for us as a matter of our self-preservation and national

security to protect ourselves against terrorist attacks and to prevent them before they occur, not just to try

people for criminal conduct after they've succeeded in killing thousands of people perhaps.


WHITE: But the Red Cross who have access to prisoners at Guantanamo are also now publicly critical of

this novel legal process of indefinite preventative detention.



International Committee of the Red Cross

The point is that the US authorities have put the internees in Guantanamo beyond the law. That means that

after more than 18 months of captivity for some of them, the internees have no idea about their fate, and no

means of recourse through any legal mechanism.


WHITE: Back in Afghanistan we set off over roads that had been ground away by years and years of war to

track down other men who'd been released earlier from Guantanamo. We headed south from Kabul and

over the mountain pass towards the town of Khost, near the Pakistan border. We'd heard about a young

man who'd been released in March after a long campaign had been fought on his behalf. He'd been wrongly

arrested and detained for over a year. The man we wanted to meet had been a taxi driver. His name is

Sayed Abassin. He'd been arrested by Afghanis and then handed over to the Americans. He tried to show

them the papers that proved he was a taxi driver and protested that he hadn't been fighting.



I spent 13 months in jail. My life is ruined. I experienced all the bitterness of life. Why? For which

crime? I'd heard that in America or Europe when they arrest someone, they have proof. I saw none of that.

I was just driving. Arrested and taken to prison. My hands were tied behind my back. they put a sack over

my head and took me away in a helicopter.


WHITE: A passenger in his taxi was arrested too, Alif Khan, a businessman.


ALIF KHAN: When I came back, they'd taken my sign down. I put the sign back on and I put my name on

it as well. I told my shopkeepers that I'm your landlord, you pay me the rent.


WHITE: While Alif Khan was inside Guantanamo, branded as an Al-Qaeda suspect, his business rivals

grabbed his assets, including these shops, from him. Since his release he's fought to get his property back.


KHAN: (translated) Who rented you the shop? Alif Khan rented you the shop.


WHITE: Alif Khan says both he and Sayed Abassin were handed in to the Americans in return for bounty

payments of several thousand dollars each.



I told them that in Afghanistan there are many personal disputes. They handed me to you because of some

personal feud. I am not Taliban, not a terrorist, not Al-Qaeda. People handed me over because someone

wanted to gain influence &endash; dollars or because of a personal dispute.


WHITE: But Alif Khan was transported from Afghanistan to Guantanamo. This is his testimony.


KHAN: They put cuffs and tape on my hands, taped my eyes and taped my ears. They gagged me. They

put chains on my legs and chains around my belly. They injected me. I was unconscious. I don't know

how they transported me. When I arrived in Cuba and they took me off the plane they gave another

injection and I came back to consciousness. I did not know how long the plane was flying for. It might

have been one day or two days. They put me onto a bed on wheels. I could sense what was going on. They

tied me up. They took me off the plane into a vehicle. We go to a big prison and there were cages there.

They built it like a zoo.


WHITE: Sayed Abassin had been an admirer of western culture. He'd been beaten up by the Taliban for

playing music in his taxi.


ABASSIN: If the Taliban had seen this, do you know how long I'd have been in prison?


WHITE: Goodness me, well!


ABASSIN: This Titanic.


WHITE: Oh it's Titanic. This is it.




WHITE: And you have the poster.


ABASSIN: (laughs)


WHITE: You have the poster in your car.


ABASSIN: I like Titanic. Very good film, Titanic.


WHITE: And in Guantanamo Abassin kept on asking for western justice.


ABASSIN: I was frightened. It's still with me. But I wasn't scared of law. I asked them many times for

international law, American law or Afghan law. If there is any kind of court I am ready to face it. If you

have any evidence on me, and I am proved guilty, then that's fine. If anyone had listened… if they had been

listening to me, I wouldn't have been in prison for 13 months.


WHITE: The Americans, Abassin, say that these special procedures have been necessary because America

and the world are threatened by terrorists.


ABASSIN: I spent 13 months in jail. Was I a terrorist? Does America have any evidence that I was a

terrorist or I killed anyone in Afghanistan? Does anyone have any evidence that I had links with the



WHITE: At Guantanamo they were taken for repeated interrogations without any access to a lawyer.


KHAN: When I was taken for interrogation I told them that I am innocent. I am not a Talib or a fighter and

that I wasn't Al-Qaeda or a terrorist. I said this to the American guard. Why did you bring me here to

Cuba? If you bring innocent people here then you may as well bring all the innocent people from

Afghanistan here. You did not come to bring security or for Al-Qaeda. You came for us poor innocent



At Guantanamo, Camp X-Ray was replaced by a new prison, Camp Delta, at the end of April 2002.


WHITE: At Guantanamo the Americans stressed to us their treatment of detainees was humane. The

detainees' physical description of Guantanamo agreed exactly with the Americans. But the detainees said

their conditions of imprisonment were inhumane.


US Department of Defence Video

[Film footage]


Camp X-Ray

[Film footage: clips of detainees]


KHAN: Each container housed 48 cages. Everyone was in a cage individually. Every cage had a tap, a

toilet and water for washing. There was room to sit but not enough to pray. We were praying with

difficulty. My joints were damaged. The light was very bright there as well. They were switched on all the

time. Because of that our eyes were damaged and from constantly having to look through the netting.

There were other blocks and we were not allowed to speak to the people on the other blocks. If we talked

to them, they would draw the curtains and they would take or bedding and blankets and they wouldn't give

them back for three days. We would just have our towels to sit on.



While I was there, I had problems with my knees. I was told by the military doctor to do exercises, and

when I started doing them a guard came and locked me up in a container for five days. I hadn't done it by

my own choice, I was told to do it by the doctor.


WHITE: The US military at Guantanamo stressed that they do everything possible for the health and

welfare of detainees held now in Camp Delta. The Americans say there are rewards for good behaviour and

withdrawal of privileges for what they term 'non-compliance'. Lights are kept on for 24 hours a day but

they say this is for the safety of detainees and guards, and detainees are given eye shades if there's a medical




Commander, Camp Delta

Yes, I am proud of the job that the soldiers, sailors, marine and coastguardsmen and airmen are doing

within Camp Delta.


WHITE: Why? Why are you proud of the job you're doing?


MCQUEEN: Because we are detaining enemy combatants that have shown acts of violence and that are a

threat to the US population and world population.


WHITE: But the detainees haven't been charged with any crime, let alone found guilty. Guantanamo's

critics say that's unjust, and some of the guards recognise that.



They think we're wrong because we're holding them here, because we haven't charged them with anything.

I think we are justified because if we can keep some terrorists here, if they are terrorists, out of the planning

stages and execution stages, then we're saving millions of people around the world.


WHITE: I asked an army chaplain, responsible for the guards spiritual welfare, if he thought that detaining

men without trial, and without them seeing their families was fair?



Army Chaplain

I occupied a lot of my time concerning myself with the fairness or the justness of what is taking place, I

wouldn't be able to focus on my primary mission, and so that's where my focus is, and that's where it



WHITE: You can't seriously be telling me that you have to overlook questions of the justness and the

fairness of the whole operation here in going about your specific task, I can't believe you mean that.


HEAVNER: Well, again, that's where my focus is. As to my personal viewpoint or personal opinion, that's

a matter for me and my conscience and my relationship with my God.


WHITE: If the prim duty of governments is to protect their citizens, why isn't America justified in

undertaking a process of unusual detention without trial, and prolonged interrogation to seek the answers

and to defend itself and to defend other countries?



Former Chief Prosecutor

UN War Crimes Tribunals

Well I don't believe that that prolonged interrogation and detention without trial can be justified any more

than torture can be justified. I think that in democracies there are certain measures that are simply ruled out,

and which aren't very effective incidentally. You know, one hasn't seen any great results coming out of

Guantanamo Bay.


WHITE: But Senator Cornyn says: "Richard Goldstone wouldn't know as this is highly classified

information." On his visit to Guantanamo, the former lawyer and ally of President Bush was allowed to

observe interrogation through a one way mirror.



Republican, Texas

There is no rubber hose, there is no coercion, there's no threats. It is basically.. it's based on a series of

rewards going from a solitary cell, on a cell block…


US Department of Defence Photo


…to a group facility where maybe as many 10 might live with more freedom. To me the best success, and

we can't solely attribute it to that, but it's the fact that in America at least, we have not experienced another

September 11th in the last two years.


WHITE: But the questions about the Guantanamo system of justice start thousands of miles away, in

Afghanistan itself. Many of the men sent to Guantanamo are held initially by the Americans at Bagram

Airbase, 35 miles north of Kabul. We were told by men of their severe treatment here. Bagram is the

command centre of Operation Enduring Freedom, the war in Afghanistan. American troops are still in

Action here. But elsewhere on the base, there's another secretive facility, for holding and interrogating

newly captured men.



Coalition Joint Task Force, Afghanistan

We provide relatively, barring any operational constraints or restrictions at specific time, free access to the

ICRC, to the International Red Cross, we provide that access.


WHITE: You said you provide relatively free access to the Red Cross….


DAVIS: There are times when… when….


WHITE: What does relatively free access mean?


DAVIS: Well basically it's free access except for when we perhaps may be engaged in something that's

operational and we can't afford to have someone interfere with operations. But I mean that's… I mean we're

talking a very small portion of the time.



International Committee of the Red Cross

We do have access to Bagram Detention Centre. However, only to detainees a few weeks after their arrival,

which means that during this few weeks some people might be released and we would never know of them

having been held in Bagram, and they would never have seen an ICRC delegate, or they might be

transferred to some other unknown places and we would not know of them, and that's the problem, and

that's what we're negotiating with the US.


WHITE: This was all that we were shown of the Bagram detention centre. The place the detainees

described, a hanger with cages inside, didn't seem like the building we were allowed to film. Detainees told

us that Bagram was a much worse place than Guantanamo itself.



I spent 45 days in Bagram. They interrogated 2-3 times every day. The chains were on me all the time.

They would put a hood on my face and tape my eyes. Then they would take me for interrogation that will

last 2 hours



There were all sorts of problems because talking was not allowed. There were interrogations, soldiers were

shouting &endash; "No talking". The lights were on 24 hours a day. Big, big bulbs.


KHAN: They weren't letting us sleep, night or day. They were banging the walls with sticks, making lots of

noise. The lights they were using meant we could not see.


WHITE: Is it the case that when you're trying to get more information out of people you consider here to be

intelligence suspects, Colonel Davis, that you keep bright lights on all the time?


DAVIS: I really couldn't tell you whether or not they keep the lights on all the time, part of the time,

whether or not they get 20 glasses of water or 10 glasses of water. Whether or not they walk around for 5

minutes or 10 minutes.


WHITE: Why not?


DAVIS: Once again, for operational security reasons.


KHAN: The Americans would make me kneel like this, with hands like this (above head). We were made

to kneel like this for one hour. One of them was standing in front of me, the other was pointing the

Kalashnikov.. the gun he had with him. We were made to kneel for 2-3 hours. If we moved our face to the

side they would make us stay for a further 2 hours. If we moved just slightly it would increase to 3 hours.

We would become unconscious. You see, you see this, my knees was very badly bruised.


WHITE: There have been other reports as well of stress and duress techniques being used on detainees by

the Americans at Bagram Airbase.


I've been told by a man who was deemed to be innocent by the Americans, who was deemed to pose no

threat after he'd been released by Guantanamo having been through here at Bagram, that when he was here

at Bagram he was held for hours on end with his arms raised, shackled. Is that what goes on here?



Coalition Joint Task Force, Afghanistan

I don't know the specific case you're referencing but I think you would have to agree, America, and for the

most part the other countries involved in this coalition, don't have a reputation for treating individuals in an

inhumane way. It's not part of our culture.


WHITE: How would you describe these sorts of techniques, what would you describe them as?



UN War Crimes Tribunals, 1994-96

Well I would describe those techniques as forms of torture.


WHITE: Not as psychological torture or stress and duress? To you that's torture plain and simple.


GOLDSTONE: Well it's a form of torture. Stress and duress of that degree would be a contravention.. I'm

using torture in its technical legal sense under the Torture Convention.


WHITE: Two men have died mysteriously within their first few days of being in US custody at Bagram.

Their death, certified by an American military pathologist not as natural accidental but as homicide. We

went to the village of Deerak, a day's drive from Kabul, to meet the family of one of these men called

Dilawar. He was taken to Bagram in December. He only survived a few days. He was 22. He worked as a

farmer and also drove a taxi, and he was arrested after a rocket attack on a big American base nearby. Our

visit to Dilawar's family house attracted a crowd of sympathetic relations and neighbours.



God bless you. We are content that it's Allah's will our son was murdered. He was innocent. He was

completely innocent. We pray to Allah, the all seeing Allah, for he was innocent.


WHITE: Dilawar has left a widow and a young child. The family had just one small photograph of him.


And this is Dilawar.


Besides that, they had the detailed death certificate which they'd been given when Dilawar's body was

returned to them. They'd never properly understood what this document meant. They hadn't known how

Dilawar had died.


It says that Dilawar died by blunt force injuries, in other words that he was hit by something blunt, blunt

force injuries. It was homicide. He was killed.


The certificate said Dilawar had a pre-existing heart condition but the family knew nothing of this. He died

within his first few days of being brought to Bagram. That meant that the Red Cross never had any access

to him during his detention in American custody.




My nephew has gone now. God may accept his martyrdom. They shouldn't harm other Moslems the same

way. They should watch out for Al-Qaeda and terrorists. They shouldn't arrest ordinary people. They

should not oppress if they have come to help Afghanistan. If they do, then no one will like the Americans.


WHITE: It's a fact, isn't it Colonel Davis, that two men have died in US custody here at Bagram with the

cause of death having been determined by an American pathologist as being homicide?


DAVIS: That's true.


WHITE: What comment would you like to make on that?



Coalition Joint Task Force, Afghanistan

That's true, and that probably bears evidence of the very point I'm trying to make. I think we have a history

of providing for full disclosure. America and its coalition partners aren't known for holding information.

We tend to share the good, the bad and the ugly, and we've fessed up, if you will, to a few mishaps we've

had here since we've engaged in the war on terrorism.


WHITE: The US authorities have been conducting a criminal investigation into the deaths at Bagram for

over 6 months without any outcome so far.



What should we think? My brother is already dead. If they hold hundreds of investigations he will not

come back to life for us. What good are their investigations?


WHITE: And some detainees in Guantanamo were neither captured on the battlefield, nor even arrested

inside Afghanistan at all. For them the process of Guantanamo justice and the questions that it raises begin

even earlier. These men were taken from other countries into US custody with little respect for legal

processes. Moazzam Begg is a British detainee prospectively facing trial at Guantanamo by a military

commission for suspected terrorism. He was held for over a year at Bagram first. The only contact with his

family, letters organised by the Red Cross, some censored by the authorities.


"I'm writing this message late at night which is usually when I can't sleep because of thinking and worrying

all the time. It's nearing a complete year since I've been in custody, and I believe there's been a gross

violation of my human rights."





I normally see him when I go to sleep. I talk to him. I touch him, I feel him. But I don't know really when

I'm going to see him particularly when I'm going to see him.




WHITE: Moazzam Begg was living with his family in Islamabad in Pakistan when he was arrested, not in

Afghanistan. American power and the process of Guantanamo justice has a long reach. Moazzam Begg's

family understand that the men who took him were from the Pakistani Security Services and Americans

acting together.




That night he was playing with the kids and he was very happy and I told him that I was going to go to sleep

because I was very tired and I've just found out that I'm pregnant with the fourth child, and the next thing I

was woken up with a policewoman and guards with Kalashnikov. They didn't explain nothing. They put

me in a room with my kids. They searched the house from top to bottom, took what they wanted, came and

asked me a few questions and then walked away. I asked them: "When is he going to come back?" They

said: "In two days."


WHITE: But that night, in January 2002 was the last that she saw of her husband. Moazzam Begg

managed to make one brief phone call to his father.


AZMAT BEGG: He said that: "Daddy, I'm arrested and I'm being taken to some unknown destination. I

was arrested by two Pakistan man and two Americans. And I'm being taken, and my wife and my children

are there in Islamabad."


WHITE: Moazzam Begg had been taken from his house and disappeared. So an attempt was made to

secure his basic legal rights. Lawyers in Islamabad brought an action for so-called habeas corpus, so

Moazzam Begg would have to appear in court in person. But his lawyers failed. The Pakistani authorities

denied all knowledge of Moazzam Begg. Meanwhile, he was taken into US custody in Afghanistan.



Solicitor, Pakistan

It was totally illegal. It was a blatant violation of law.. a gross violation of law and the constitution. You

see, constitution guarantees us the sanctity of house, constitution guarantees us that anybody who is to be

arrested or has been arrested.. you see for alleging any offence, he has to be produced before the court

within a period of 24 hours.




WHITE: And what happened in Islamabad wasn't unique. We've established that the illegal removal of

suspects into American custody in Guantanamo has happened across three continents. We travelled to the

Gambia in West Africa. Two men from Britain on a visit here never returned. They were taken to Bagram

too, and from there to Guantanamo Bay. The two men taken from the Gambia were Jamil Al-Banna and

Bisher Al-Rawi, both UK long-term residents.


Jamil Bisher, his brother and a friend had set off from Britain last year to establish a peanut processing

business in the Gambia. They were arrested at the airport in the capital of Banjul.



We were all arrested, including me, which was a total surprise. I never thought it would happen, not in



WHITE: It was the Gambians who arrested them, but the four were then interrogated by Americans about

suspected links to terrorism. Wahab Al Rawi, formerly an Iraqi, now a British citizen, at first insisted they

had no right to question him.


WAHAB AL RAWI: Every time the American tried to interview me in the first couple of days I refused to

say anything, I refused to cooperate with him. I wanted to see the High Commission, I wanted a lawyer,

and every time he would say: "No". At one time he said: "Well the British authorities know that you are

being arrested. It is them who have asked us to arrest you."


WHITE: Their interrogation by the Americans continued. No one had any access to a lawyer. For Wahab

Al Rawi it lasted 27 days. The four men were taken to a succession of secret locations in the Gambia.

Wahab Al Rawi says the questioning included implied threats.


WAHAB AL RAWI: They would suggest that if they weren't there to protect us, that we would have been

beaten for example, or sexually assaulted for example. It was a suggestion. It wasn't meant as a direct

threat but it is.. sounded like a threat.


WHITE: Wahab Al Rawi was released and allowed to leave the Gambia, but two men were kept behind in

American custody, and once again I found there'd been an attempt to bring habeas corpus proceedings so as

to get the two men produced in court and released. And again, the best efforts of a noted local lawyer, this

man, Borry Touray, failed because his clients were flown out of the country by the Americans to Bagram




Solicitor, Gambia

What happened really amounted to kidnapping because.. I say this because the only justification, the only

circumstances under which the Americans would have taken these people out of the country was by a legal

process, and under our law, under international law, they could not have done that. And the fact that they

decided to do it extrajudicially… or extrajudiciously, it means that what they did amounted to kidnapping.


WHITE: The same thing has happened in Europe. The United States has taken men to Guantanamo,

ignoring local legal processes. After the war in former Yugoslavia the US led the way in building a

democratic Bosnia Herzegovina as part of the Dayton Peace Accord a special new court, the Human Rights

Chamber was founded with national and international judges. And yet last year, the United States ignored

the court that it helped to create to the alarm of its senior judge.



President, Human Rights Chamber


It's clear that the world is not safe anymore because of the behaviour of the United States. When the United

States feel that they do not have to comply with laws in any country of the world, because of the fight

against terrorism, it shows that everything can happen everywhere.


January 2002


WHITE: In Sarajevo in January last year the Americans ignored protesters and the court. Six men who'd

been accused of plotting to blow up the American and British embassies were to be released from jail for

lack of evidence. There had been a rumour they might instead be handed to the Americans and taken out of

the country. The Bosnian Human Rights Chamber issued an injunction forbidding this. It was ignored.

The men were driven straight into American custody and then flown to Guantanamo.


PICARD: The American Embassy in Sarajevo was well aware that the Human Rights Chamber issued a

decision prohibiting Bosnia Herzegovina to expel the applicant by force. So I believe that the American

Embassy, when they accepted to take into custody the applicant, were aware that they could not do that, and

they were aware that they could not take them to Guantanamo because it was contrary to the order of the

Human Rights Chamber.


WHITE: On Guantanamo itself, they fly the flag, but Guantanamo justice has been shown to be beyond the

reach even of America's courts. Last year lawyers in Washington brought a test case on behalf of a group of

detainees. But the US government argued that as Guantanamo was held on a lease from the Cubans, it

wasn't sovereign US territory, so American courts had no jurisdiction there. The government won the case.

It was an American lawyer's turn to be astonished.



Detainees' Lawyer, Washington

The fact is that these people are held by American troops in an area that's totally under US control, that the

United States itself has said for all practical purposes is American territory. To say that the United States

could avoid jurisdiction in those circumstances is really like Alice in Wonderland. It just makes no sense.


WHITE: Guantanamo, to its critics, is a legal black hole and some men detained and interrogated

indefinitely in the camp with no family visits have apparently been unable to withstand the strain. The

American authorities say there have been 32 suicide attempts on Guantanamo.


You saw detainees try to hurt themselves, you saw this?



Oh yes, two men next to me went crazy. They were trying to kill themselves. All their stuff was taken

from the cell except for their underclothes and a shirt so they couldn't try to strangle themselves again.

There were also others who went mad.


WHITE: Why are so many men here apparently under stress?



Commander, Camp Delta

I am not aware that so many men here are under stress. Again, we provide a 24 hour medical coverage for

all the detainees here and any physical or mental problems are all being addressed by professional medical

staff here at the camp.



International Committee of the Red Cross

Imagine now you're behind bars, not knowing what your fate is, for how long you're there, not knowing

even if you are going to be given due legal process. You can't start counting the days and nothing… the

like. So therefore it put the detainees under huge stress and huge psychological pressure. And we've been

witnessing I Guantanamo a deterioration as a result of the psychological health of the inmates because they

have no idea about their fate.


WHITE: Among the detainees on Guantanamo are three children, one of them 13 years old. They are kept

here in a separate camp called Camp Iguana. Their detention has been especially controversial. They've

been recommended for release. But some of the adult detainees face a military trial, a final chapter in the

process of Guantanamo justice is being prepared for them, not ordinary courts but specially constituted

military commissions. Two British detainees are among the first six to be designated for this process. Mr

Begg learned the news from a message left overnight no his answer phone.


[Voice on Answer Phone]

Hello, Mr Begg, it's the Foreign Office. I just have some news about the Americans having designated

some people for the military commission and your son is one of them. I'll speak to you later. I'll try calling

you later.


WHITE: Mr Begg was besieged and questions were immediately asked about the justice of the proposed

Guantanamo military commissions. The British Government has said that negotiations with the Americans,

which are still continuing, have already achieved substantial improvements in the rules for these trials.




I was told by the Foreign Office that: "Don't worry, your son will not be executed." I said: "Why?" and

they said: "We have got feeling". I said: "What feeling you're talking about?" He said: "I've got a strong

feeling." I said: "Could you please write it down your feelings and let me know." They said: "No, no,

no, we can't do that."


17th July 2003


WHITE: The US Government has told Tony Blair that there will be no death penalty for the two UK

detainees, but the rules still say there will be no right of appeal to any other court in America or

internationally. The military commissions have been created by a presidential order. The ultimate appeal in

the Guantanamo process is to the President.


PRESIDENT BUSH: The only thing I know for certain is that these are bad people and we look forward to

working closely with the Blair government to deal with the issue.



Former chief Prosecutor

UN War Crimes Tribunals

The officers who will preside over those courts are all military officers, subject to the command of their

commander in chief, President Bush, and their commander in chief has already stated publicly that the

people being held on Guantanamo are bad people.


WHITE: Does that matter?


GOLDSTONE: It matters a great deal. You know.. if I was one of those accused people I don't believe

that I would think that I was being tried by an independent impartial court.


WHITE: In Washington we went to see one of the military lawyers from the Office of Military

Commissions in the Pentagon which will run the Guantanamo trials.


The President has said at a press conference side by side with Tony Blair, the British Prime Minister, that

what he knows for certain about the people detained at Guantanamo is that they're bad people. Do you, as a

lawyer, share his view?



Office of Military Commissions

Well these were individuals who were detained fighting against the United States, so in that sense he would

consider them. However, when the President decides that someone is eligible for trial by Commission, he's

not saying anything about their guilt. What he's saying is, this person is a member of Al-Qaeda. They've

somehow been involved with terrorism or harboured someone and that it would be appropriate for a

Military Commission to hear a case against them.


WHITE: Moazzam Begg has been detained for over a year and a half.




In one of the letters he says: "I have to make a decision that's going to affect all our lives." My husband is

desperate to come home. I think he's desperate to see his son that he's never set eyes on. He will say

anything to get out of the situation that he's in.




What is happening to the human rights in this world. Is there nobody can hear the truth? Nobody wants to

know what Moazzam Begg is in, for what reason?


WHITE: You hear Moazzam your son calling out to you.


AZMAT BEGG: Yes, I do. I do.


WHITE: And you can't reply to him.


AZMAT BEGG: I cannot do anything. I cannot do anything (sobs).


WHITE: The lawyers responsible for the military commissions say that the concerns about them are

misplaced, and that the trials on Guantanamo, when they happen, will be seen to be fair.


MAJ SMITH: When you do see a commission happen, when you see things that you see in everyday

civilian criminal court, the presumption of innocence, the burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt, an

open trial for the media to cover, when you start seeing all those things, the accused represented by a

defence counsel, I think people will see these as a full and fair process and I think at the end of the day they

will be legitimately recognised and people will say an accused did get his day in court.


AZMAT BEGG: They want to convict him. They have decided they will convict him, otherwise the entire

real issue of the drama which has taken place for the last one and a half year will go down the drain, and Mr

Blair, and Mr Bush, will not let it happen.


WHITE: The critics of the Guantanamo process charge America with creating injustice in the name of the

fight against terrorism.



UN War Crimes Tribunals, 1994-96

Certainly the democratic world regards it now as a great injustice and I've no doubt that history will judge it

to be that. I do indeed believe that a future American president will have to apologise for Guantanamo Bay.



Republican, Texas

Well I don't think a president of the United States needs to apologise for protecting the security of the

American people, and particularly innocent civilians who did not start this conflict but were the victim of a

terrorist attack, and I think the highest duty of a president is to protect the American people.


WHITE: How should a democracy defend itself against terrorists with no respect for law? The risk is that

inside Guantanamo America may have built a system to defend democracy by unlawful means.



Next week we investigate the impact the Pope's conservative teachings on sex have on ordinary people

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