Guantanamo Detention Camp anniversary

China Matters this week marked, here, the tenth anniversary of the U.S. Government’s founding of the Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp for illegal enemy combattants…

China Hand [Peter Lee] wrote in his blog post that “January 2012 marks the 10th melancholy anniversary of the US detention facility at Guantanamo Bay … Meanwhile, Guantanamo remains open and an embarrassing symbol, both of US reliance on extrajudicial detention and harsh interrogation (which will continue on US military bases and in black offshore prison no matter what happens to the flagship enterprise in Guantanamo) and American political gridlock”.

The post, published on 16 January, gives a brief but interesting account of how U.S. Presidential Candidate Newt Gingrich managed to ignite “the firestorm of criticism that prevented the public release of 17 Uighur captives from Guantanamo to Germany and the United States in early 2009″…

After reading that account, it would be interesting to compare it to this account of the release of one Uighur, “From Guantánamo to Palau: Exchanging One Prison for Another“, reported by Seema Saifee [a lawyer representing four Uighur detainees, including the one whose situation is described in this article], and published on 19 January on Spiegel Online here [found via a Tweet by the Miami Herald’s Guantanamo correspondent, Carol Rosenberg, @carolrosenberg]

Omar Khadr – in Guantanamo since age of 15 – is "full of rage"

According to a report by AP, Dr. Michael Welner, a forensic psychiatrist who has analyzed Omar Khadr, the now-24-year-old Canadian citizen who has been imprisoned in extreme conditions at Guantanamo Bay prison since he was captured in Afghanistan at the age of 15, “Khadr was an extremist when he was taken to Guantanamo, where he was ‘marinated in radical jihadism’ over eight years in custody and became a leader among prisoners. ‘He’s highly dangerous’, Welner told jurors. ‘He is full of rage’ … ‘He is very angry about being in custody’, he told the jury of seven military officers”…

Weltner was hired as an expert witness by U.S. military prosecutors. He reported interviewed Khadr for 7 hours over the summer — less than one hour for each year that Khadr has spent in captivity at facilities at the U.S. Naval Base on the coast of Cuba. This AP report is posted here

The AP report says that Khadr “pleaded guilty Monday to five war crimes charges as part of a plea deal that spared him from a possible life sentence and calls for sending him back to his homeland after one more year in Guantanamo. The jury cannot impose a sentence greater than the amount set by the agreement, reportedly eight years, but they can issue one that is more lenient … The testimony [by Dr. Weltner] was part of a prosecution attempt to show that Khadr, despite his guilty plea, has no remorse for his past”.

According to AP, “Nathan Whitling, an attorney for Khadr, said they disagree with the prosecution’s assessment and will counter Welner with their own expert testimony. Khadr pleaded guilty to charges that included murder for killing an American special forces medic with a grenade during a four-hour firefight at an al-Qaida compound in southeastern Afghanistan … Defenders said he was a child soldier pushed into militancy by his father, who was killed in Pakistan after his son’s capture, and that killing a soldier during a firefight does not amount to a war crime”.

Khadr entered his guilty plea on Monday, in a surprise move. The reason he did it, his lawyers indicated, is that the deal will get him out of Guantanamo within a year, and back to Canada where he will serve the rest of his sentence — reportedly, another seven more years in jail.

Carol Rosenberg, a journalist who is covering the court proceedings in Guantanamo and other military matters for the Miami Herald, here, has tweeted here, today, that “I still can’t report how many hundreds of thousands of dollars the war court paid Dr. Michael Welner. I’ve asked and asked. Still no reply”.

About Welner’s testimony earlier today, Rosenbert sent these tweets:
Welner just summed up #Khadr: “His future risk is actually more in his capacity to inspire and be incendiary” than to do violence himself.

Omar #Khadr to Pentagon-paid forensic psychiatrist in June at #Guantanamo: “I’m not going to lie to you. I have cursed at guards before.”

Yesterday, Dr. Welner testified #Khadr read Harry Potter and the Koran but had no interest in Western studies. Today we learn, on cross:
Doctor’s notes show these books too: Nelson Mandela: “Walk to Freedom,” Obama: “Dreams of My Father,” John Grisham, Danielle Steele novels.
Doctor’s notes show, at #Guantanamo, #Khadr also read, Ishmael Beah’s “A Long Way Gone: Memories of a Boy Soldier,” “Chronicles of Narnia.”

From Dr. Welner’s June interview of Omar #Khadr: Welner: “What do you think it would be like for you as a devout Muslim living in Canada?”
Omar Khadr: “I’d practice my religion and everyone would practice his own religion.”
Welner accuses defense of cherry picking. Welner said he didn’t ask #Khadr whether he could live with Christians. Khadr offered it up.