tv Democracy Now LINKTV January 8, 2013 3:00pm-4:00pm PST
01/08/13 01/08/13 [captioning made possible by democracy now!] >> from pacifica, this is "democracy now!" >> in order to affect the corporate disposition of those detained by the department of defense at guantanamo, and promptly to close the detention facility at guantanamo consistent with national security and foreign policy of the united states and the interest of justice, i hereby order. >> four years after a bound to close guantanamo, president obama signs the national defense authorization act barring use of federal funds to transfer
guantanamo prisoners to u.s. soil. 166 prisoners remain in guantanamo, which opened 11 years ago this week. 86 of them have been cleared for release. today we look at the case of one man, al jazeera's sami al-hajj, the only journalist held at guantanamo. held by the u.s. military for more than six years without charge, sami al-hajj was reportedly tortured repeatedly tortured, attack by dogs, hung from the ceiling. in january 2007, he began a hunger strike that lasted 438 days until his release. >> i go on hunger strike for many reasons. we are held in guantanamo without charge, without cause. they did not give us a chance to go to court about our case.
>> today, a "democracy now!" exclusive, an extended broadcast interview with sami al-hajj from the headquarters of al jazeera in doha. all of that and more coming up. this is "democracy now!," democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. a u.s. drone attack has killed eight people in the pakistani region of north waziristan. pakistani officials said the dead are suspected militants, including an al qaeda operative. three people were injured. the attack follows another strike in pakistan that killed up to 18 people on sunday. speaking reuters, the former commander of u.s. troops in afghanistan, retired general stanley mcchrystal, issued his strongest criticism to date of the drone attacks saying --
meanwhile, a former adviser to obama and security issues has forcefully come out against drone warfare saying it is encouraging arms proliferation worldwide while causing unknown civilian casualties. writing in this month's issue of international affairs, michael boyle, an advisor on the obama campaign's counter-terrorism expert group in 2007, 2008, writes -- president obama has formally unveiled his second term
nominations for two key cabinet posts, a former republican senator chuck hagel for defense secretary and counterterrorism advisor john brennan to the helm the cia. they appeared with obama on monday at the white house. >> am also grateful for opportunity to help continue to strengthen our country and our alliances. in advance global freedom, decency, humanity. as we help build a better world for all mankind. i will always do my best for our country, for those are represented at the pentagon, and for all our citizens. >> if confirmed as director, i will make my mission to ensure the cia has the tools it needs to keep our nation safe and that its work always reflects the liberties, the freedoms, and the values that we hold so dear. >> senator hagel has faced criticism from rightwing foes over his positions on israel and
dealing with iran, as well as from progressive critics for making day -- denigrating comments in 1998 about gays in government, for which only recently apologized. some democrats have joined republicans in opposing him over his refusal to back unconditional support for israeli government policies. on monday, the ranking democrat at the house foreign affairs committee, eliot engel of new york, said he believes chuck hagel has a tictac endemic hostility toward israel." brennan was a rumored pick for the job when obama was first elected in 2008, but was forced to withdraw from consideration amidst protests over his role at the cia under the bush administration. brennan has publicly supported the cia's policies of so-called enhanced interrogation techniques and extraordinary rendition, and was a key proponent of drone strikes in obama's first term. as his nomination was announced, the activist group codepink gathered outside the white house
in protest. in a nod to the potential opposition he faces with hagel's nomination, president obama urged lawmakers to give his choices a speedy confirmation. >> i hope that the senate will act on his confirmation as promptly. and when it comes to national security, we don't like to leave a lot of gaps. between the time one set of leaders transitions out and another transitions in. we need to get moving quickly on this. >> the financial giant big of america has agreed to pay more than $11 billion to the government-backed mortgage finance company fannie mae for flooding it with toxic mortgages during the financial crisis. the justice to parvaz says bank of america executed a scheme that would blindly hand out mortgages without proper checks and then turn them around and sell the toxic loans to fannie
mae and freddie mac. while bank of america reaped a windfall, fannie and freddie were stuck with huge losses and foreclosed properties.
in another major settlement, bank of america and nine other major lenders have agreed to pay $8.5 billion to settle claims of wrongfully foreclosing on millions of american homeowners. the settlement covers a number of foreclosure abuses including flawed paperwork, robosigning, and wrongly modified loans. the settlement will end in and in a review of all foreclosures, meaning the banks could be avoiding billions of dollars in further penalties. diane thompson, a lawyer with the national consumer law center, criticized the deal, telling the associated press -- opposition activists in bahrain are vowing to continue protests despite the court's decision to uphold the
prison terms of 13 top dissidents. the activists were sentenced by military court in 2011, eight of
them to life behind bars after leading massive protests against bahrain's sunni monarchy. their terms were upheld by the top court on monday, ending 300 options. the brain and opposition party said protests will continue under deterred -- undeterred. >> demonstrations will continue following this type of ruling in the courts and this kind of ruling will further build the strength for the people who are seeking democracy. we hope a political solution emerges that gives priority to democracy, human rights, freedom that will benefit everyone in rain. >> bahrain is a key u.s. government ally, hosting the u.s. navy's fifth fleet. protests were held nationwide monday at the offices of the oil company transcanada in opposition to the keystone xl
tar sands pipeline. at least 50 activists with a group tar sands blockade gathered at transcanada's u.s. headquarters in houston, leading to two arrests. similar actions also held at transcanada offices in massachusetts, michigan, and wisconsin with another rally planned for today in new york. the protests came as a coalition of more than 70 environmental groups released an open letter urging president obama to meaningfully confront climate change in his second term. the letter urges obama to begin rejecting the keystone xl, saying -- speculation that obama will approve the pipeline has grown in recent weeks following the sudden resignation of
environmental protection agency head lisa jackson. a source reportedly close to jackson told the new york post she does not want to be at the epa when the pipeline is given the green light, saying -- "she will not be the epa head when obama supports keystone getting built." this is "democracy now!," democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. efforts to close the u.s. military prison at guantanamo bay were dealt another setback last week when president obama signed the national defense authorization act or ndaa. the bill bars the use of federal funds to transfer guantanamo prisoners to u.s. soil, even for criminal trial. it also includes restrictions on the executive branch's authority to transfer detainees to a foreign country. president obama says he signed the ndaa's renewal despite his objections to the guantanamo provisions. in a signing statement, he said the president has constitutional power to override these
restrictions. he made a similar kind any signed last year's version of the bill, but still not delivered on promises to close guantanamo. it was four years ago this month, just after his first inauguration in 2009, the president obama vowed to close the prison no more than a year later. >> in order to affect the proper disposition of individuals currently detained by the department of defense at guantanamo, and promptly to close the detention facility at guantanamo consistent with a national-security and foreign- policy interests of the united states and interest of justice, i hereby order. we then provide the process whereby at guantanamo will be closed no later than one year from now. >> four years later, 166 and remain locked up at the prison, 86 of them have been cleared for release. this week marks the 11th anniversary of the arrival of the first prisoners at
guantanamo bay. all of this comes as president obama nominates counter- terrorism advisor john brennan to the head of cia. brennan withdrew from consider recession -- consideration for the same job in 2008 amidst protests over his role of the cia under george w. bush. brennan had publicly supported the cia's policies of so-called enhanced interrogation techniques and extraordinary rendition. for more we go to baher azmy, legal director for the center for constitutional rights. welcome back to "democracy now!" talk about the sycophants of this four-year anniversary of obama saying he would close guantanamo, the 11th anniversary of the opening of guantanamo. >> they are two grim markers for 166 men, this represents 11 years of hopeless, brittle detention without realistic prospect of charge. thousands of miles away from
families, and is for a great number of men, producing sort of expected debilitating effects of detention.indefinite >> 86 and had been cleared for release? >> the guantanamo task force that obama initiated as part of this first year executive order brought together all of the relevant agencies to a body with the detainee's, defense, state, cia, nsa, and determined that a certain number of them, unanimously, should be cleared from guantanamo. 86 of those individuals remain. that is, with the conclusion they are no threat to the united states. it is a particularly grotesque moral failure to continue to detain people.
the jailer is still believes should no longer be detained. >> obama's signing statement casts the restrictions like forbidding federal trials for guantanamo captives as an encroachment on executive powers. he said the law he signed -- what does a signing statement mean? he still sign the bill. >> precisely. put this way, it is little more than a press release. these arguments have merit, but they should have been acted on in the form of a veto, which he threatened to do last year and failed to do so. he threatened again to do so this year, and failed to do. it is another example of a failure of his political will to take concrete steps to act on
his promise to close guantanamo. >> talk about the reauthorization of the nba, the national defense authorization act, overall. >> it is a defense department funding bill, which i think or which includes restrictions on the ability of the president to try people in the u.s. or transfer them to foreign countries. and the most problematic provisions with respect to closing guantanamo are restrictions on the ability of the president to transfer, for example, these 86 cleared man either to their home countries or third countries ready and willing to takg them. they include some provisions that will allow the president to certify that someone should be transferred home anyway, but like his failure to veto the bill, in the past year, hey has failed to act on that limited
authorization to return people who have been cleared. >> the significance of john brennan of being nominated to be head of the cia, when president obama was about to do that the first time, there was an outcry. at the time, he withdrew from consideration for the same job amidst protests over his role at the cia under george w. bush, publicly supported the cia's policies of so-called enhanced interrogation techniques, which others call torture, and extraordinary rendition. what has changed except we have moved from a republican president, george bush, to a democratic president? >> little or anything has changed. one of the most depressing things about this nomination, old simile we should not be surprised. so many areas obama as fully embraced the bush policies that he's so serious the criticized.
and the nomination of brennan, the head of the cia, is sort of an insult or adds insult to injury. the original injury was obama's statement or policy that he would not investigate seriously allegations of criminality, for torture of high level -- >> his colleagues. >> his colleagues, even predecessors. and now to nominate the head of the agency, the person partly responsible for these activities not only looks forward, that is a very clear signal that he has embraced in sort of immunized individuals for their conduct. >> for the rest of the broadcast, we are going to bring our audience an extended interview with sami al-hajj, the first time in the u.s. only journalist held at
guantanamo, held by the u.s. military for more than six years. picked up by the pakistanis in december 2001, then brought to kandahar, then back room, tortured, brought to guantanamo where he was held year after year. can you talk about the significance of his case? >> it is imporisnt that you are talking to him because i think he speaks very eloquently for what many hundreds of other detainees suffered who cannot tell this story. so he will speak very well about what he endured, but the listeners should note that this was not an exceptional case. setting aside the likelihood his detention was a vindictive because it was an al jazeera reporter, but the brutality he suffered in afghanistan, the fact he was turned over for
political reasons or for a bounty, the arbitrariness of detention in guantanamo, and the brutality of his treatment there has been or is a story that the replicated hundreds of times. people have less eloquent voices than his own. >> how do you think this story will change? still, 166 men are held at guantanamo. what will happen? they stay there until they die? >> the grim reality is, more people under the obama administration have died in recent years than have been charged or tried criminally. obama has offered no realistic prospects for taking either practical steps to release individual people who should be released, or ending this relate odious paradigm of indefinite detention. >> baher azmy, thank you for
being with us, legal director of the center for constitutional rights. when we come back, "democracy now!" exclusive, extended interview with al jazeera journalist sami al-hajj, held for more than six years by u.s. majority. the vast majority of that time was at guantanamo. stay with us. ♪ [music break]
>> david bowie, his new single released today on his birthday. this is "democracy now!," democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. "democracy now!" exclusive. as protesters march 11 anniversary of the openi of guantanamo, in this week of renewed discussions about bush- your policies carried over into the obama administration with the nomination of john brennan to head the cia, we turn to the story of one prisoner whose case
we have followed for years, sami al-hajj, the only journalist held at guantanamo. the u.s. military help him without charge in afghanistan and at guantanamo for more than six years. the al jazeera cameraman was arrested in pakistan in december 2001 while traveling to afghanistan on a work assignment. he was then transferred u.s. custody. first held a u.s. presence in kandahar and bagram, then six months later, transferred to guantanamo. at guantanamo, he was repeatedly beaten and tortured in both afghanistan and in guantanamo. he was attacked by dogs, who did, hung from the ceiling, prevented from sleeping for days. interrogators question him more than 100 times. and number of those interrogations' included questions about who his bosses
were al jazeera. in january 2007, sami al-hajj began a hunger strike to protest. he continued for 438 days until his release in may 2008. a few weeks ago when "democracy now!" was in doha to cover the u.n. climate change talks, we went over to al jazeera's headquarters so that i could sit down with sami al-hajj in person. sami al-hajj heads the al jazeera human rights and public liberties desk, a new position that they have created for him. he began by describing how he was arrested trying to cross the border from pakistan back into afghanistan. >> i was in kandahar for one
month, then we came back to pakistan. the situation was very bad in kandahar. people here in doha asked to cover the institutions' there. in december, me and my colleagues crossed into -- we are trying to cross the border. journalists came to cross the border to cover the situation in kandahar. myself only, they discovered me there. when i asked why, they told me some paper came from the region
from al jazeera. i think the guy who stopped me there, he told me, "i know you because you cross this border twice, i know you're a ."urnalist swi they told me there is some paper coming from u.s. people to stop a criminal man, sami al-hajj. later at guantanamo, even at bagram, when they asked me about my story, he said, "you came to this point -- [indiscernible]
us. i told him i would tell the whole world about what you're doing for detainees. in bagram, they torture people. they beat them. they did very, very bad things. >> sami al-hajj, were you tortured and bagram? >> yes. on january 7 in the morning, pakistan intelligence, me and these other people commit u.s. people, they searched at the airports. that put black bags on our heads and covered our eyes.
they put shackles on our hands and legs. the >> what did they put on your hands? >> shackles. >> you stayed at catarrh airport for three weeks? >> no, at three weeks i was in an intelligence officer. in a normal room, but i was not allowed to leave. after that, they passed me to his people in the airport. >> was a the americans to put the black bags on their heads and the shackles on your hands and feet? >> yes. and they searched me and took it with other people to the aircraft -- and took me with the other people to the aircraft. it was for canned goods, not for
human beings. there were no seats. they did not allow for us to speak or ask for anything like toilet or water or anything. if you ask about anything, they beat you and assault you a very bad words. >> how many of you were in this airplane? >> about 20, 25 people. the flight takes off from qatar. it stopped somewhere and it put on other people and continue to bagram. we arrive at bagram in early 2007 -- 2001 -- 2002. >> generous 7, 2002.
it is not exactly three months after the u.s. started bombing afghanistan. >> yes. >> and your bought -- brought to the bagram air force base. >> an it take about three hours or four hours. they take everybody down. we think the aircraft stops in bagram and they take one by one and when they reach the door of the aircraft, they pushed the people from their. at that point, they take out -- >> they take the shackles off your legs. >> it is far away by legs twist.
i fall down on the ground. january is very cold. the weather is under 0. so you hear the cry of people shouting and dogs. they start beating everyone. they asked me, why did you come to fight the usa? i said, i did not come to fight anybody, i am a journalist. they asked me from where? i say, sudan. he said, why you come to fight as from serbia? he started to beat me also. i bend my legs, so he beat me in
the same place. after that, they try to stand up everybody and put us in a line. they put ropes on the hands and pull us from front and from out. >> they tied your arms to each other, all of the people on the road in one line? but to understand it, they took off the shackles from your feet when they brought you to the opening of the plane, and then they push too out of the plane? >> yes. >> do you still have the black back on your head? >> yes. >> so you felt out of the plane and broke your legs? >> yes. some of the people cannot move. they beat them until they cannot
move. i hear the door go like that. remove 420 or 30 minutes, then they put us -- we move for 20 or 30 minutes, then they put us in a place. we feel like in that place. one by one, they took us inside a place -- it is not a building, but something for preparing the aircraft. >> like an airplane hangar. >> exactly. they took us one by one. at that time, they ask us to sit on our knees. one by one, they take five or 10 minutes and then take another one. my number is 35 at that time. they come and take me after i fall down. it is very cold.
my knees not help me. i don't want to go inside that place because i hear people are shouting and crying. in my mind, i think they are torturing them inside or use cold water for them or dogs. after that, they came and take me inside. it is not able for me to move. they take me by power. when i was inside that room, they took off my back. >> so they took the bag off your
head. >> someone was naked, without clothes. i have [indiscernible] to see that guy. then they put me in [indiscernible] everywhere there is someone. some of them have a gun, some of them have an m-16. >> your in the middle of a circle of soldiers and they have weapons pointed at you? >> yes. there is someone in front of me, he talked to me. he asked me, "don't move, don't do anything. you must follow our orders. if you try to do anything, we will kill you immediately."
so they asked me -- they opened my hands and asked me to take off my clothes piece by piece. i do all of that, but i keep my underwear. they asked me also to do that. i refused in the beginning, but they start to leave the dogs. >> they start to release the dogs on you. >> at that time, i understand i should do that. i do it and make a search of me. after that, they give me new clothes, the uniform. and they took me to another room and ask me, "what is your name and from which country?"
that asked, "y prefunding osama bin laden?" i said, i did not do that. i said i have my passport, my ticket, my camera and i work for al jazeera. they give me to blankets and put me -- ask me not to move. it is night. the light of morning is coming. i remember i forget to pray or do anything. i just sleep until afternoon when i hear the shouting from outside. so when i woke up in the
afternoon, i saw many, many detainee's with me at that place. all of them were sitting down in that place. soldiers were around us. >> how long did you stay at bagram? >> i stay 17 days. [indiscernible] after 10 days or 14 days when i arrive they start asking me about my name and nationality and ask, why are you filming osama bin laden? i told them i did not do that. i have approved. by ticket, also we have [indiscernible] an interview in kabul.
then he asked me [indiscernible] you did not allow us to go to a toilet, only three times in the day, morning, afternoon and evening, also not allow for us to stand up. there is no water. there is no place for us to pray. there is no food. they give us only one meal for a whole day. the weather is very cold. they did not give us enough blankets. even the bottle of water was light ice -- was like ice
because the weather was below zero. he said, what do you need me to help? and said, i need to attend to my family and i need some paper for al jazeera to tell them i was there for these days. he said, i cannot do that. now what do you need from me? i told him i needed a doctor because the problem of my legs and also more blankets. he gave me one blanket and promised me to bring a doctor, but no doctor to seen the end bagram. >> al jazeera journalist sami al-hajj transferred from bagram to guantanamo or he was held for six years without charge. we continue our interview in a moment. ♪ [music break]
>> this is "democracy now!," democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. we continue our broadcast exclusive with on jazeera journalist sami al-hajj, held for six years without charge at guantanamo, the only journalist held there. he describes his harrowing experience. >> as they put me in the kandahar airport [indiscernible]
from when i was born until they arrested me. they said, we never seem to to catarrh, we sent you to sedan. they agreed to write the papers that i was with them all these times. but they said, this is not for media. i said, ok. in june 2002, they shipped me to guantanamo. >> so they flee from kandahar to guantanamo, how? >> they took us with the black bags on our heads. this time also that also give
something to close off -- >> like headphones. >> yes. also some glasses. >> goggles? >> yes. and they give us gloves, only they have only one place for all fingers. >> it was >mitten. >> yes. they had special shackles for hands and around our -- >> so they shackled your hands around your waist and also your legs. >> yes, so we could not move. >> it made you bowed down because the chains were short. >> yes, short. they took us from kandahar on june 16, 2002, after four or
five hours and another plane, and we changed aircraft and continued to guantanamo without allowed for us to go to toilet, no food, no sleep. also there is no seats. >> you were just lying on the ground of the plane. >> on a wooden -- >> on a wooden pallet? >> yes. if you try to sleep, the soldiers started to beat you on your head from the back. >> how many of the prisoners were there? >> i think they took 40 people. >> this was at a point in kandahar when they had told you they were going to release you. >> yes. they told me they were going to release me. they told me they would release
me to sudan. i told them, no problem for me. anywhere. but i don't know why they changed their mind. later on in guantanamo, after they asked me about my whole story from one osborn into the arrested may, the interrogators, one from the fbi and one from the cia, one from the military -- >> 3 interrogators. >> and a translator. they told me your story is curious. you do not have -- you are now in guantanamo and we wait until
we get decisions from the pentagon to release you. until that time, we want you to be patient and to cooperate with our people. later on, someone came and they told me, you are here. cooperate. what that means, you said in kandahar you are ready to cooperate with us. i told him, yes, i said that, but i said great, to answer questions, not to work with the. he said, no, we understand you want to be with us, work with us. there would take care by family if i work with them and the cia to continue my job with the
jazeera as a journalist just to give them some information about the link between al jazeera and al qaeda and the terrorist people of the land. of course are refused to do that. i told them i was a journalist and as a journalist and never [indiscernible] in may they released me. during this time, they're using torture with everybody. you just have a number there. the soldiers saw me as the other people, the other detainees in guantanamo. in kandahar, we were there for
five months. we were not allowed to take a shower. the main things in guantanamo, there is a team that advises them how to torture us. [indiscernible] >> did you see them take the koran and flush it down the toilet? >> yes. many times. >> to you? >> yes, to me. >> and your koran? >> he said, i never come down into you answer my questions. they do anything they want.
>> how did they use dogs? >> they released the dogs. the dogs come to the detainee's. they put them in one of the interrogation rooms. >> did they do this to you? >> they do it for me, but before they reached me, the man stopped it. >> before the dogs reached you, they stopped it. so you were terrorized. >> a dog bit a man's fingers. that have been for many, many detainee is. it happen with other people, not with me, they used water. >> waterboarding. >> yes, but for other people, not me. many times the took all of our clothing and keep us in one
place. we went on hunger strike many times. if you do go on hunger strike, they leave you for 30 days without feeding. after that, they use -- >> a feeding tube. >> yes, a feeding tube. in the last year, i decided to go on hunger strike. >> this is after you had been at guantanamo for many years. >> many years without any judges or anything. so i decide and i continue my hunger strike for 480 days. >> when did you start the strike? >> in october 2007. >> 2007. >> yes, or i can remember. i remember it was 480 days until
i get my release. no judges, no nothing, just the military. they say they have a secret -- >> they say they have secret information about you but won't tell you. can you talk about the feeding tubes? when you're on hunger strike after 30 days, they would put these tubes in you come into your stomach. explain what would happen. >> they take you to the hospital after 30 days and do tests to make sure you did not eat anything. after that, they start feeding you in the hospital.
they put shackles on our legs and hands like that. they start putting a tube inside your nose. >> they shackle you to a bed, lying horizontal. >> this is the first time. >> and they stick a tube of your nose? >> they use force when they put the tube up your nose, not like that. that is why they go sometimes with hands and not the stomach. >> so they push with force and sometimes goes into your lawn, not your stomach? >> yes. and then water, you start coughing like that. >> because the water goes into your lungs. >> yes. after the first time, they
connect all the people on hunger strike at that time there were about 20 people. they have special chairs a. they see in the chairs and put shackles. like that. you would be like that. uribe two coming like that. >> they shackle you in the chair. and your legs to the chair legs. >> yes. and they put one here and one here. >> they put bands across your chin and forehead. >> yes. >> and pulling you back. >> yes.
some people were wearing military clothing from a doctor and nurse, and they start putting -- when you are on hunger strike, in your stomach would become smaller. they would give us [indiscernible] and water. >> into the tube and that goes down into your stomach first. >> but they give us about 20 things, and 24 bottles of water. and they give us more. >> they keep getting more water and you throw it up. >> we're throwing out. >> you said they sexually abused you at guantanamo.
how did they do that, sami al- hajj? >> they do that, not for me. they did for other detainees. they do sexual in front of me. in front of soldiers. they do it in front of me. they can mean to it in interrogator room. -- they take me into an interrogator room. sometimes with you they put or all of the room is dark. >> did they show the film to you? pornography? they show you a film? >> yes frit and magazines everywhere in the room -- yes, and magazines everywhere in the room. >> because she refused to answer
questions. >> they do that and leave you in the room for eight hours, nine hours like that. they take you back. >> you said they brought male and female soldiers in front of you. >> in front of me. >> what did they do? >> they do the whole sexual. >> you watch a man -- >> they're wearing clothes and they come and take me to my block after that. >> men and women together? >> yes. >> so you are watching men and women have sex in front of you? >> yes. after that, they go out. then they remove my shackles and take me to my block, the same soldiers. >> the soldiers who were having sex and then take you to our block. >> yes. >> did they ever strike your
face? >> yes, they beat me. beating was normal. they beat you and use force to come inside your room and beach you can search you. and many times they my head and beat me on the ground into the blood was coming. many, many times. it was normal for them to do it. >> the questions they asked you about al jazeera, they asked you about was there a link, who was the link with al qaeda? what else? did they ask about the heads of the organization? >> yes. they asked me who paid al jazeera and who helped found jazeera and what is the difference with al jazeera?