In a rare uncensored letter from Guantanamo Bay, British detainee Moazzam Begg writes that he was tortured and abused by U.S soldiers during detention and that he witnessed U.S. soldiers murder two detainees in Afghanistan. We speak with president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, Michael Ratner.
The Bush administration is arguing that the president can detain enemy combatants in Guantanamo Bay as long as necessary to protect national security and that they have no constitutional rights to hear charges against them.
Facing a deadline to give a federal judge some answers about 60 of the so-called enemy combatants held at the notorious the U.S. Navy base in Cuba, the government filed a 96-page response detailing the reasons it believes it doesn’t need to explain why they were detained or how long they might be imprisoned. This according to the Washington Post.
More than 550 people have been held at Guantanamo without charge or trial for more than two years now.
Government lawyers wrote the detentions are “an integral and inexorable part of the Commander-in-Chief”s power to defend the nation and vanquish the enemy.”
But the deputy commander of the joint task force that controls Guantanamo thinks otherwise. Brigadier General Martin Lucenti told the Financial Times “Most of [the detainees] weren’t fighting. They were running. Even if somebody has been found to be an enemy combatant, many of them will be released because they will be of low intelligence value and low threat status.”
Either way, the Pentagon is planning to construct a permanent prison facility in Guantanamo–known as Camp Six. Some see it as a move to fortify the makeshift prison and ultimately place all remaining detainees in permanent structures.
One of those remaining detainees is British citizen Moazzam Begg. He was detained in Pakistan in 2001 and has been imprisoned without charge or trial in Guanatanmo after being transferred there from a base in Afghanistan. Since arriving in Guantanamo, Begg has had no contact with fellow prisoners and has been kept in solitary confinement for over 600 days. Last April, his father Azmat Begg joined us in our studio to talk about his son’s imprisonment. Here is some of what he had to say:
Azmat Begg, father of Moazzam Begg speaking on Democracy Now! April 2004.
Well, in Moazzam Begg’s latest letter revealed last Friday, he says he was tortured and abused during detention and that he witnessed U.S. soldiers kill two men in Afghanistan.
In the uncensored letter, Begg protested his innocence of any crime and demanded to know the reason for his detention. He said he was denied natural light and fresh food, had been held in solitary confinement, and was forced to sign and initial documents presented to him by U.S. officials. He also said he was physically abused, stripped and paraded in front of cameras held by U.S. personnel.
The letter came past the usual U.S. military censors, but it was the first communication from Moazzam Begg that was entirely unclassified. It was dated July 12 2004, and addressed to the military command at Guantanamo Bay. In it Begg requests that it be copied to his lawyers and US and British authorities.
From Guantanamo: Honor Bound to Defend Freedom, based on the actual transcripts of prisoners’ letters from Guantanamo, as well as their loved ones outside.