Tuesday, May 20, 2008
27,000 secret prisoners in America's worldwide gulag
Activists might want to expand their pressure beyond calling for the closing of Guantanamo. Clive Stafford Smith, lawyer for over fifty detainees in Guantanamo Bay, has revealed the existence of an American Gulag of immense size (consider all the people employed with jailing/torturing these people).
From yesterday's Democracy Now interview:
AMY GOODMAN: And the significance of the US military planning to build a new forty-acre prison complex in Afghanistan near Kabul, a $60 million dollar site replacing the makeshift prison at Bagram that apparently holds around 630 prisoners right now, a number of them held for more than five years without charge?
CLIVE STAFFORD SMITH: Well you know, one thing that my charity, Reprieve, out of London, we’ve been trying to do is track down the real ghost prisoners in this process. And if you look at Guantanamo Bay, 270, roughly, as you mentioned, prisoners in Guantanamo, but according to the most recent official figures, the United States is currently holding 27,000 secret prisoners around the world. So that means that 99 percent of these folk are not in Guantanamo Bay. Now they’re in other prisons elsewhere. And as you mentioned, Bagram has 680. But there’s a huge number of people being held in Iraq, and one of the intriguing aspects of this that doesn’t get much reporting is that the US is bringing people into Iraq from elsewhere to hold them there, simply because that keeps rather annoying people like you, Amy—I mean the media—and also annoying people like me, lawyers, away from the prisoners so they can’t get any sort of legal rights.
And when you look around the world, there’s a huge camp, Camp Lemonier in Djibouti, where a lot of people are being held. Diego Garcia, contrary to the past analysis of the British government, in the Indian Ocean has been used, in my belief, to hold people. And we’ve identified thirty-two prison ships, sort of prison hulks you used to read about in Victorian England, which have been converted to hold prisoners, and we’ve got pictures of them in Lisbon Harbor, for example. And these are holding prisoners around the world, as well. And there’s a bunch of proxy prisons—Morocco, Egypt and Jordan—where this stuff is going on. And this is a huge concern, because the world focus is on Guantanamo Bay, which really is a diversionary tactic in the whole war of terror or war on terror, whatever you’d like to call it. And actually, most of these people who have been severed from their legal rights are in these other secret prisons around the world.
Prison hulks??? We're talking about a huge worldwide military-prison-industrial complex here that is completely out of the public view.
Shutting down Guantanamo seems to be only one part of freeing the world of this network of gulags.
And we haven't even been able to do that.