Submitted by afieryflyingroule.
Depressed and driven to the point of desperation, Nabil joined a hunger strike in February. This was not Gitmo’s first hunger strike, but it has attracted the most attention. As it gained momentum, and as Nabil and his fellow prisoners got sicker, the Obama administration was backed into a corner. The president has taken justified heat as his bold and eloquent campaign promises to close Gitmo have been forgotten. Suddenly, he was faced with the gruesome prospect of prisoners dropping like flies as they starved themselves to death while the world watched. Instead of releasing Nabil and the other prisoners who have been classified as no threat to the United States, the administration decided to prevent suicides by force-feeding the strikers.
Nabil has not been the only “mistake” in our war on terror. Hundreds of other Arabs have been sent to Gitmo, chewed up by the system there, never charged and eventually transferred back to their home countries. (These transfers are carried out as secretly and as quietly as possible.) There have been no apologies, no official statements of regret, no compensation, nothing of the sort. The United States was dead wrong, but no one can admit it.
John Grisham, "After Guananmo, Another Injustice"
posted by BRENDAN KILEY on THU, JUL 11, 2013 at 10:26 AM
By California prison standards, a person isn’t legally considered on a “hunger strike” until he or she has refused nine consecutive meals. We should know soon how many of those 30,000 prisoners who refused meals on Monday—about five times the number of prisoners who participated in a 2011 strike—are still refusing meals as of today.
But last night the New York Times reported that almost everyone who started striking on Monday was still at it yesterday:
LOS ANGELES — Nearly 29,000 inmates in California state prisons refused meals for the third day Wednesday during a protest of prison conditions and rules. The protest extended to two-thirds of the 33 prisons across the state and all 4 private out-of-state facilities where California sends inmates, corrections officials said.
Thousands of prisoners also refused to attend their work assignments for a third day, and state officials were bracing for a long-term strike.
Prisoners have also reported that, unlike during the 2011 strike, they are "willing to die" because prison conditions are so wretched.
California corrections secretary Jeffrey Beard says the strike is counterproductive and that prison officials are already taking steps to meet prisoners’ demands, which were first negotiated and agreed to after the 2011 strike. Prison-rights activists say the CDCR has failed to follow through on its end of the bargain.
But the CDCR isn’t just slow to meet prisoners’ requests—it hasn’t been fast enough for the courts, who’ve demanded that the system reduce overcrowding. A 2011 US Supreme Court finding said the state of California’s prison system led to one “needless” death every eight days. As Justice Sotomayor asked in 2010:"When are you going to avoid the needless deaths that were reported in this record? When are you going to avoid or get around people sitting in their feces for days in a dazed state? When are you going to get to a point where you are going to deliver care that is going to be adequate?"
Not fast enough, apparently—besides the strike it’s also facing a court order to reduce overcrowding by the end of the year and release at least 10,000 prisoners.
To review the prisoners’ five demands as explained by prison-rights activist Ed Mead last weekend:
One, eliminate group punishments. That’s a no-brainer. If I do something wrong, don’t punish everyone on the tier.
Two, abolish the debriefing policy and modify active/inactive gang status criteria. The courts have held there has to be some evidence validating a prisoner’s gang status. Black prisoners have been validated on the basis of having a copy of my newspaper in their cells that mentions George Jackson. That’s been considered evidence. Once you’re validated, the only way out is to parole, debrief, snitch, or die. Debriefing is telling the administration who all the other gang members are. And if you’re not a gang member you have to make up names—it’s a bounty system. Now the prisons have an STG (security threat group) status. If they decide you’re a security threat, they lock you up indefinitely, and that requires no proof whatsoever, and also includes people who were never gang members, people who could be politically active.
Three, comply with recommendations of the US Commission on Safety and Abuse in America’s Prisons circa 2006.
Four, provide adequate food. [This includes having prisoners who serve meals to those in solitary eat from separate pans to prevent food theft.]
Five, provide constructive programs and privileges for SHU [solitary confinement] prisoners including educational activities and recreation. SHU prisoners are supposed to get an hour a day of exercise in a wire dog kennel, but guards make excuses, like they’re too busy to let them out.
Sounds reasonable to me—they’re not even asking for minimum wage for their labor. Stay tuned.
by David Carr
We are being held in solitary confinement, and the state compels us to answer personal questions or be held in isolation indefinitely. They call this bi-weekly interrogation “programming,” where we’re forced to reveal our most personal information to our captors, “the state,” knowing that this information can and will be used against us. They give us “packets” containing personal questions such as, “Describe a specific incident where you completely lost control of yourself and lashed out in anger.” I’ll give an example where this question was used:
Taken hostage: And my captors expect me to do what?
Daniel Lunsford, No. 11360357, a Native American, is housed next door to me in Oregon’s IMU (Intensive Management Unit or supermax, similar to California’s SHU) as I write this. Daniel is fighting an outside case where he was assaulted – punched in the face – by a staff member, Correctional Officer (CO) Harrison, on camera and was forced to defend himself.
His packets are specifically designed around questions about lashing out in anger as previously mentioned. Many are multiple choice answers that give no option for self-defense and leave him exposed for self-incrimination. Yet he is coerced to either answer these questions – risking the real possibility of incriminating himself and picking up more time in prison – or spend the rest of his lengthy sentence in solitary confinement. This tactic the state is using to interrogate is clearly coercion, which is a felony crime.
According to state law, ORS 163.275, coercion is to compel and induce an individual to abstain from engaging in conduct in which the person has a legal right to engage. In this case, Lunsford has the Fifth Amendment right to remain silent. Yet he is coerced to incriminate himself under the threat of the indefinite placement in solitary confinement, which was clearly defined as torture by the United Nations in 2011 and is widely known to cause lasting and irreversible psychological injury.
Just because we are incarcerated, the Oregon Department of Corrections is not authorized to dissolve or obstruct our Fifth Amendment right to remain silent. Yet the state does this under the radar, by implementing an internal rule, No. 055 (IMU), and calling these invasive questions “programming,” thereby receiving public funding to commit the crime of coercion, which is a felony.
Recently I asked Assistant Superintendent of Snake River Corrections Judy Gilmore if it is “true that if I act in best behavior and never receive a single misconduct yet simply choose not to answer these invasive personal questions, will I be kept in solitary confinement forever and for that reason alone?” Her response in writing was, “Yes, it is true.” She then went on to write, “If you refer to Rule No. O55 (IMU), you will see that an inmate must complete assigned programming to be considered for release to general population.”
Oregon joins the fight
Departments of corrections across the country violate the Bill of Rights by skirting the law to accomplish their goals and have had next to no consequences or repercussions. We have ALLOWED them to do this by just accepting the actions they take against us.
Just because we are incarcerated, the Oregon Department of Corrections is not authorized to dissolve or obstruct our Fifth Amendment right to remain silent.
Well, everyone I have spoken with about this is ready to create positive change and we all agree the three core demands are worthy of our sacrifice to create lasting meaningful changes. We have committed to the struggle and are participating in the July 8 hunger strike in surprising numbers.
We have stopped turning in our packets together, in accord, as more and more people join us because they realize that they are not alone. DOC will begin to realize they must reassess their current strategy and consider our Three Core Demands because they ABSOLUTELY depend on us to complete these packets in order to maintain population control in IMU.
The July 8 hunger strike will get us outside support, because our demands are reasonable and this packet strike is the most effective solution to create lasting changes for our brothers and sisters across the state who will be assigned to IMU in the future.
Oregon’s Three Core Demands – not negotiable
A date for release from IMU regardless of participation in or completion of packets, not to excede 90 days beyond the calculated release date if one does complete his packet. Currently we are being held indefinitely per Rule No. 055 (IMU), which states that an inmate must complete assigned “programming” to be “considered” for release to general population.
Reduce the inadvertent placement of individuals in LONG TERM IMU by implementing a rule that calls for a decision by IPC for the placement of an individual in long term IMU (solitary) within 90 days of initial placement in IMU. This will significantly reduce the number of long term assignments because currently they lead us to believe we are working towards our relase to mainline by completing their self-help packets “program” only to find out they were waiting for a bed to become open to place us. Chase the carrot, get the stick.
One phone call within two weeks of attaining Level 3 and one phone call every three months if there are no DRs and inmate remains at Level 3. This phone call must be allowed from a list of three numbers approved and must occur no longer than two weeks before or after said 90 days.
Special provisions – negotiable
Once an inmate reaches Level 3, he/she should be allowed to purchase shoes from commissary.
Photo tickets (for reprints only)
We struggle for change.
Submitted by afieryflyingroule.
When prisoners at Pelican Bay State Prison’s Security Housing Unit declared their Peaceful Protest would resume July 8th 2013, if their demands weren’t met by the CDCR and Governor of California, they also encouraged their fellow prisoners to take up peaceful actions wherever they were, and to include demands of their own. They said to the CDCR and the Governor:
Expect your offices to also soon be receiving separate demands from all other CDCR male and female prisoner representatives from all security levels [1 through 4] on GPs, Ad-Segs, Death Row and from all other CA SHU prisons who will also join us on the July 08, 2013 HS/WS, if their demands are not met by that deadline. Which will be tailored to their own particular institutional needs…–which we fully support.
Prisoners throughout the system have responded by making demands of their own. Review them below!
I just don’t understand how they can keep someone for 3 years after they are cleared for release?!
In all of the mainstream media analysis of WikiLeaks’ recent release of Detainee Assessment Briefs (DABs) from Guantánamo, relating to almost all of the 779 prisoners who have been held at the prison over the last nine years and four months, one group of prisoners has so far been overlooked: the Yemenis.
The most unfortunate group of men in Guantánamo, the Yemenis — 89 in total — make up over half of the 172 prisoners still held. In 2006 and 2007, when the majority of the Saudi prisoners were released, as part of a political settlement between the Bush administration and the Saudi government, which introduced an expensive rehabilitation program to secure the return of its nationals, no such deal took place between the US and President Saleh of Yemen.
Just 23 Yemenis have been released from Guantánamo throughout its history, and those who remain have found themselves used as political pawns. When President Obama established the Guantanamo Review Task Force to examine the cases of all the remaining prisoners in 2009, the Task Force — a collection of sober officials and lawyers from various government departments and the intelligence agencies — recommended that 36 Yemenis should be released immediately, and that 30 others should be held in a new category of imprisonment — “conditional detention” — until the security situation in Yemen was assessed to have improved.
The Task Force also recommended that five others should be put forward for trial, and 26 others held indefinitely without charge or trial.
The designation of this latter group for indefinite detention — as part of a group of 48 prisoners in total — dismayed human rights activists and supporters, in general, of the principle that preventive detention is only authorized if the prisoners in question are enemy prisoners of war, removed from the battlefield until the end of hostilities.
This should not have been a contentious viewpoint, but it was a sign of the paranoia regarding Guantánamo — which was deliberately engendered by the prison’s supporters, and bought into by Obama administration officials — that few voices of dissent were raised when the President attempted to justify holding 48 men indefinitely because they were regarded as too dangerous to release, even though there was insufficient evidence to put them on trial.
In the real world, rather than the permanently spooked world of Guantánamo and terrorism, this would mean that there was no evidence, and that what the government had instead was multiple levels of hearsay and information extracted through torture. And this, indeed, is what has become apparent in the Detainee Assessment Briefsreleased by WikiLeaks, which have demonstrated that much of the government’s supposed evidence — against prisoners who, presumably, include some of these 48 men — was either extracted from “high-value detainees” likeAbu Zubaydah, who were tortured in secret CIA prisons, or from informants within Guantánamo, who were bribed or coerced to tell lies about their fellow prisoners.
The 28 Yemenis “approved for transfer” from Guantánamo, and the poor reasons for their ongoing detention
Beyond these 48 men, however, and the 26 Yemenis included in the total, the Yemenis cleared for release (or “approved for transfer,” in the careful words of the Task Force) have fared no better. Although President Obama released one Yemeni who had won his habeas corpus petition in the fall of 2009, and six others the week before Christmas, the capture, on Christmas Day 2009, of a would-be plane bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a Nigerian who had apparently been recruited in Yemen, caused a sudden backlash against releasing any more Yemenis from Guantánamo, which President Obama accepted without criticism, imposing a moratorium on releasing any Yemenis that is still in place 16 months later. (This moratorium lasted from 2009 to May 2013 when he lifted the ban because of the ongoing hunger strike. So no prisoners who were cleared for release were able to leave during this time.)
Since January 2010, just one Yemeni has been freed — a patently innocent man who also won his habeas corpus petition — while, in general, a terrible injustice has been allowed to prevail. On the one hand, this involves the US government endorsing guilt by nationality, and being content to tar the whole of Yemen as a terrorist nation that cannot be trusted with looking after prisoners released from Guantánamo, and on the other it involves supporters of Guantánamo telling deliberate lies about the Yemenis, by claiming that released Yemenis have “returned to the battlefield” in significant numbers, when only two examples have been reported — one who was subsequently killed in an airstrike, and another who surrendered to the Yemeni authorities.
In fact, the majority of the alleged recidivists in the Gulf — around a dozen ex-prisoners — are Saudis, released by President Bush against the advice of his own intelligence agencies, who identified them as a threat. These men passed through the rehabilitation program but then some of them crossed the border into Yemen to join Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, a small terrorist cell inspired by Osama bin Laden’s example.
As a result of President Obama’s moratorium, the remaining 28 men cleared for immediate release by the Task Force but still held have been consigned to a fate that, in effect, is no different from the 48 men held indefinitely without charge or trial. The identities of these men have not been publicly announced, and it has not been possible to identify all of them, but 19 cleared Yemenis who are still held are identified in the WikiLeaks documents.
Officials said that detainees would have their cases dealt with on an individual basis, raising the prospect of a few prisoners being freed from Guantánamo one-by-one in the next few weeks rather than any wholesale transfer.
In a statement, the government of Yemen welcomed the move and pledged to “ensure the safe return of its detainees and … their gradual rehabilitation and integration back into society”.
Obama said that he would appoint a senior envoy at the State Department and the Defense Department whose sole responsibility would be to examine ways of transferring detainees to other countries. He had also asked Pentagon officials to come up with another site where military tribunals could take place to prosecute alleged terrorists.
Finally, he said that those detainees who had yet to be charged in those tribunals could be dealt with by the US civilian justice system – as several recent high-profile terrorism cases have been. “Where appropriate, we will bring terrorists to justice in our courts and military justice system. And we will insist that judicial review be available for every detainee,” he said.
*It’s also important to note that this moratorium on releasing innocent prisoners (???) was only lifted in an attempt to appease the majority of the prisoners at Guantanamo who were (& 106 still are) on a hunger strike & not because Obama has decided to keep his first term promise of closing the prison.