Jul 2013 15

by Blogbot

This Thursday July 18th on SuicideGirls Radio hosts Nicole Powers and Juturna Suicide, and guest co-host-in-residence Dell Cameron, will be joined in-studio by investigative journalist, truth seeker and news junkie Jason Leopold, who has reported extensively on Guantanamo Bay.

166 prisoners remain in indefinite limbo at the US military outpost, despite the fact that 86 of them have technically been cleared for release. Currently 81 are on hunger strike, with 45 of those being force fed – a horrific procedure which was graphically illustrated recently by Yasiin Bey a.k.a. Mos Def who volunteered to undergo it for a video produced by the human rights organization Reprieve UK [see above].

Despite campaigning on the promise of closing Guantanamo, conditions at the facility under Obama are worse than ever. A recent letter from Younous Chekkouri, an inmate who has been behind bars for more than 11 years, revealed that sexual abuse is commonly used as a deterrent to stop Guantanamo prisoners contacting their lawyers, family and friends (a claim that has been backed up by other inmates – see report below), and a FOIA request filed by Leopold exposed the fact that the Obama administration is aware that guards are routinely violating the military’s own Standard Operating Procedures.

Leopold has visited Guantanamo twice and therefore has a rare insight into what day-to-day life is like there. In an article entitled A Guantanamo Tour, which was published by Al Jazeera in January of this year, he reports:

Each cell has a bed, a metal sink and a metal toilet, leaving a functional living space little more than half the size of an average horse stall. Prisoners are allowed a Koran, as well as books and magazines to while away the years.

During a walk-through of an empty cellblock in Camp 5, we were led into the “media room,” about the size of a cell, where a dirty reclining chair faced a television set. At the foot of the recliner were leg shackles and next to the television set was a force-feeding kit, a grim reminder of the prolonged and widespread hunger strike that brought me here looking for answers.

All of the cells had surveillance cameras attached to the ceiling. Prison garb – white for compliant prisoners and orange for those who misbehave – was neatly laid out on a thin mattress pad along with toiletries provided to the inmates: toothbrush, toothpaste and soap.

Camp 5 is maximum security, holding the most troublesome prisoners in isolation 22 hours a day, with two hours out of their cells for showers and “recreation.”

Prisoners at Camp 6, on the other hand, were once allowed to leave their cells and mingle freely with other prisoners in a communal living arrangement where they shared meals, a recreation yard and gym privileges. There once was free access to satellite television, video games, DVDs, books and a wide range of comfort items.

That all changed two months into the hunger strike, when tensions flared and violence erupted, culminating in an April 13 pre-dawn raid by the guards. Since that time, occupants of Camp 6 have been confined to their cells in isolation, the same as residents of Camp 5. They are wakened as early as 3 a.m. for their two hours of recreation time.

The crackdown has done little to enhance relations between captors and captives, some of whom have spent more than a decade occupying this peculiar state of 8-by-10 limbo – untried, uncharged and with little hope of resolution.

Suicide attempts – some successful – have been documented among prisoners over the years. Now it seems the unprecedented hunger strike – a form of slow and deliberate mass suicide – is the only means of control at their disposal.

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About Jason Leopold | @JasonLeopold
Jason Leopold is an investigative reporter covering Guantanamo, counterterrorism, national security, human rights, open government and civil liberties issues. He’s been called a “FOIA Terrorist” by federal employees for his aggressive use of the Freedom of Information Act, which included suing the FBI and forcing the agency to changes its policies.

He’s the author of the national bestseller, News Junkie, and an investigative report, From Hopeful to Immigrant to FBI Informant: The Inside Story of the Other Abu Zubaidah, which was published in the form of an ebook. Leopold’s investigative reporting highlights includes “Revised Guantanamo Force-Feed Policy Exposed,” a story based on a military document he exclusively obtained, and “Sold Into ‘A Piece of Hell’: A Death of Innocence at Gitmo,” about the suspicious death in September 2012 of prisoner Adnan Latif. A radio documentary about Leopold’s life, based on his book News Junkie, was broadcast by the award-winning podcast, Love + Radio and featured on NPR.


ICYMI: Last night’s ‪#‎GITMO‬ To Go Show with investigative journalist, truth seeker and news junkie Jason Leopold, who has reported extensively on Guantanamo Bay.

Video streaming by Ustream

Here’s a link to the CNN “Names & Feces” CNN news/propaganda report Jason mentions during our conversation.