Minors held, beaten at Gitmo?

Well, at least this makes the NY Times, even if they buried it on page 14. Thanks to TruthOut for forwarding it:

Some Held at Guantánamo Are Minors, Lawyers Say
By Neil A. Lewis
The New York Times

Monday 13 June 2005

Washington – Lawyers representing detainees at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, say that there still may be as many as six prisoners who were captured before their 18th birthday and that the military has sought to conceal the precise number of juveniles at the prison camp.

One lawyer said that his client, a Saudi of Chadian descent, was not yet 15 when he was captured and has told him that he was beaten regularly in his early days at Guantánamo, hanged by his wrists for hours at a time and that an interrogator pressed a burning cigarette into his arm.

The lawyer, Clive A. Stafford Smith, of London, said in an interview that the prisoner, who is now 18 and is identified by the initials M.C. in public documents, told him in a recent interview at Guantánamo that he was seized by local authorities in Pakistan about Oct. 21, 2001, a few months shy of his 15th birthday, and taken to Guantánamo at the beginning of 2002.

Barbara Olshansky, a senior lawyer at the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York, which is coordinating a program to match volunteer lawyers with detainees, said she believed he may be one of six current detainees who were imprisoned at Guantánamo before their 18th birthday.

Military authorities say the only juveniles at the detention center were the three who were kept in a separate facility from the main prison camp with more freedom and activities. They were released in January 2004.

The dispute is clouded by two issues: military authorities define a juvenile as someone younger than 16 years of age, not 18, as do most human rights groups. Further, the ages of the detainees brought to Guantánamo as enemy combatants cannot be determined with certainty, leaving officials to make estimates.

“They don’t come with birth certificates,” said Col. Brad K. Blackner, the chief public affairs officer at the detention camp. Col. David McWilliams, the chief spokesman for the United States Southern Command in Miami, which runs the prison operation, said that the authorities were fairly confident of their estimates. “We used bone scans in some cases and age was determined by medical evidence as best we could,” he said.

See our last post on Gitmo and other Pentagon detainment facilities.

  1. Gee thanks, Dick
    Cheney: US Not Aiming to Close Guantanamo
    By Marc Kaufman
    The Washington Post

    Monday 13 June 2005

    Other GOP leaders say prison is a liability.

    Vice President Cheney said yesterday that the administration has no plans to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as some prominent Democrats have recommended, but other Republicans said that reports of mistreatment of prisoners there have made the prison a growing global liability.

    Additional information about aggressive interrogation tactics at Guantanamo surfaced yesterday that could heighten the debate further.

    In remarks to be broadcast today on Fox News, Cheney said the administration was reviewing its options at the prison “on a continuous basis.” But he defended its track record, saying, “The important thing here to understand is that the people that are at Guantanamo are bad people.”

    But Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) said that the situation in Guantanamo is one reason the United States is “losing the image war around the world,” and that closing the prison could help in that contest.

    1. So what?
      who cares if they close it or not — they do the same stuff around the world, at the Bagram air base in Afghanistan, or in Jordanian and Egyptian jails. It reminds me of when the US proposed closing Abu Ghraib right after the abuse photos came out — like closing a specific prison will cure a twisted policy.