Wikileaks exposes US detention methods in "war on terror"

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Anti-war activists and supporters of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, gather outside Britain's Royal Courts of Justice in central London, Tuesday July 12, 2011. Assange's extradition appeal will be heard at the court for two concurrent days. (Photo: AP - Lefteris Pitarakis)

Published Thursday, October 25, 2012

Whistleblower website Wikileaks released Thursday more than 100 secret files from the US Defense Department detailing rules and procedures for detainees in US military custody at the height of its infamous “war on terror”.

The so-called “Detainee Policies” deal with Camp Bucca and Abu Ghraib in Iraq, Guantanamo Bay and European army prison facilities from 2002 to 2008. They prescribe ways to damage records of torture and make prisoners “disappear” from central records, leaving them with virtually no paper trail.

“The Detainee Policies show the anatomy of the beast that is post-9/11 detention, the carving out of a dark space where law and rights do not apply, where persons can be detained without a trace at the convenience of the US department of Defense,” said Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, currently holed up in London's Ecuadorian embassy where he has sought political asylum.

“It shows the excesses of the early days of war against an unknown 'enemy' and how these policies matured and evolved,” he added.

Prisons dealt with in the leaks have been at the epicenter of civil liberties and human rights debates about the United States because they have legally sidestepped Geneva conventions that give protections to prisoners of war. One of President Barack Obama's first executive orders was to shut the controversial Guantanamo Bay detention camp by the end of 2008, something that never materialized.

Wikileaks has dubbed these documents “policies of unaccountability”, discreetly building up the prison system so that the US might continue committing abuses while more expertly avoiding scrutiny.

An operation manual known as the 2008 Fragmentary Order minimizes record-keeping surrounding interrogations. Wikileaks says this is an attempt to prevent repeats of the 2004 Abu Ghraib prison scandal, where photographic evidence of gross sexual and physical abuse of Iraqi prisoners surfaced. The Order requires that records of interrogations in certain facilities be “purged within 30 days.” The policy was, however, reversed by the Obama administration.

Another document of note is the 2005 “Policy on Assigning Detainee Internment Serial Numbers”, which discreetly “disappears” detainees by systematically delaying the assignment of prisoner record numbers.

Assange was reported Wednesday to be in poor health, with his Ecuadorian hosts urging the UK to grant him safe passage to seek treatment.

“We have officially asked the UK for safe passage,”Vice Foreign Minister Marco Albuja Martinez told Russia Today.

“But we are concerned that while UK authorities mull over the decision, Julian Assange's health may break down completely.”

The UK Foreign Office says it will consider Ecuador's request.

Assange has lost a legal battle against extradition charges to Sweden where he has been accused of rape and molestation. He believes the charges to be baseless and politically motivated.



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