User:Brian McNeil/Wikinews questions Senior Counterterrorism Counsel of HRW on Camp Delta and more

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QUESTIONS SENT DO NOT ADD ANYMORE

December 7, 2007

HRW logo

In Wikinews' investigation and analysis of the leaked 2004 Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) from Guantanamo Bay's Camp Delta a number of organisations were contacted. USSOUTHCOM forwarded our query onto the PR officer at Camp Delta itself, and as quick a response as could be expected was forthcoming. They graciously stated that the manual from Wikileaks certainly "appeared" to be the genuine article, but in response to our list of questions we got a somewhat anticipated PR response explaining that for the security of their operations and personnel they couldn't go into details, and the current procedures were significantly different from those in place in 2004.

Former chaplain at Camp Delta, James Yee, responded a few days after receiving a copy of the 2004 manual, his email commented on the changes to the parts of the 2003 manual he wrote, "The newer version certainly restricts the role of the chaplain and chaplain's access to detainees. This would certainly leave open the door to continued violations of religious freedom and becomes an obstacle for the chaplain whose duty is to protect religious rights." James reminded us, "there is no Muslim chaplain at Guantanamo today".

Human Rights Watch (HRW) responded shortly after the Washington Post published their take on the leak, and we were passed contact details for their Senior Counterterrorism Counsel, Jennifer Daskal. A very rapid response was forthcoming when we forwarded on a copy of our "confirmation" email from Camp Delta. Jennifer graciously agreed to answer some questions for Wikinews, and we set out to find out a little more about their take on the latest leak, and the issue more press have their eye on - fighting for the detainees' rights before the Supreme Court of the United States.

Below are a few questions we put to Jennifer by email.

Questions[edit]

Wikinews

Before we dive into the thick of it, can we get you to give a brief introduction of yourself. Your contact details were forwarded in reaction to a query to HRW's press address, so a little background on how long you've been involved and what first got you interested would be nice. Might go in your Wikipedia bio too.

Jennifer Dascal: <response>

The 2003/2004 SOP leaks[edit]

Wikinews
The leak last month of the 2003 SOP got a lot of media attention. This latest leak, the 2004 SOP, was on page 19 of the Washington Post with nobody else doing anything significant on it to date. Do you have any thoughts on why this might be?

JD:

Wikinews
Do you think it is the right way for the press to be handling this, or do you think they should stick at it until the current manual is made public?

JD:

Wikinews
We emailed the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to ask them about this, other journalism organisations may know what the situation with them is - but we don't. Is it a waste of time to ask them for comments on things like that? Do they get documents like the SOP that puts them in a position where they really can't say anything to the press (or pretty much anyone else for that matter)?


Wikinews
What do you think of the restriction allowed by the manual with regards to visits by the ICRC and to the passing of mail ("AT NO TIME should ICRC reps pass any mail")? This was present in both the 2003 and 2004 SOP manuals

JD:

Wikinews
According to the analysis carried out by the habeas corpus lawyers in touch with Wikileaks there are explicit changes to prevent use of haircuts as a form of punishment. Yet, as the lawyers point out, "barbers are still present during searches", and those put in solitary confinement may face haircuts and shaving. How would Human Rights Watch characterise or describe this?

JD:


Wikinews
There is a typographical error in the 2004 SOP - "Personnel working at Camp Delta act in a manner that is disrespectful to any religion or religious practice". We highlight this in case you overlooked it (Section 16-2).  Any comment?

JD:

Wikinews
Do you believe that it is dangerous to leak, or support the leak of, military documents such as standard operating procedures? 

JD:

Comments on the various analyses of the changes[edit]

Wikinews
As you read through the differences between the 2003 and 2004 SOP one of the first big additions to hit you is the eight rules and the closing warning, "Your decision whether or not to be truthful and comply will directly affect your quality of life while in this camp." Would you expect a wording similar to that in a civilian prison?

JD:

Wikinews
Does the use of "guards" (a global replacement for use of MPs between the 2003 and 2004 manuals) suggest anything as concerning as the use of contract staff in the position, or do the unreplaced mentions of soldiers and troops make you inclined to believe the wording change is to make Camp Delta appear more like a "normal" prison?

JD:

Wikinews
What do you think about the fact that guards no longer have to carry the "US SOUTHCOM Human Rights Standing Orders" card on them at all times?

JD:

Due and fair process for detainees[edit]

Wikinews
What is your interpretation of the constitution such that you conclude the detainees are entitled to habeas corpus?

JD:

Wikinews
Jim Malone of the Voice of America made the observation "Waxman appeared to have little success in convincing some of the high court's more conservative justices that the Guantanamo detainees have a constitutional right to challenge their detentions in court.", do you agree with this opinion?

JD:

Wikinews
The BBC's report on Wednesday's proceedings states, "... Solicitor General Paul Clement said the prisoners at Guantanamo have more rights to contest their detention than foreigners held by the US outside its territory have had in the past.", is this (to paraphrase) "hey, we're not as bad as we used to be" defense something the court should even be taking seriously?

JD:

Wikinews
Would you agree with the way Wikipedia has dealt with the term 'concentration camp'? They have redirected the entry to Internment. If so, would you use the phrase to describe facilities at Guantanamo Bay?

JD:

Wikinews
Do you think the constitution's framers considered circumstances where something like Guantanamo could occur? Do you believe if the lawyers amongst them were on the Supreme Court they would be in favour of the detainees having habeas corpus rights? What about Chief Justice John Marshall, for or against?

JD:

Other work of HRW and misc. questions[edit]

Wikinews
In how many countries are you a registered organisation with offices?

JD:

Wikinews
Your title uses "counterterrorism", what do you do about terrorists and human rights violations they commit?

JD:

Wikinews
What sort of "counterterrorism" expertise do you have, if any, that would qualify you for your position? Have you served in the military or law enforcement?

JD:

Wikinews
Do you get a lot of people wanting to intern with you or get a position when fresh out of law school?

JD:

Wikinews
Human Rights Watch condemned anti-homosexual torture by the Egyptian government in a 2004 report. Have things improved in Egypt for gay people?  The Wikimedia Foundation selected Alexandria, Egypt for the 2008 Wikimania Conference; what is your view of Egypt's selection for a conference dedicated to open and free culture?  

JD(or answer from more qualified HRW staff member - named):

Wikinews
What's your - purely personal - take on projects like Wikipedia and Wikinews? Do you think their existence helps HRW's goals in any tangible way?

JD:

Wikinews
What makes HRW think that humans have any rights in the first place?

JD:

Wikinews
The About HRW page says HRW fights to make governments and those with power respect international law. However, the Global Issues page has a long list of rights, many of which are not covered by international law. How were these additional rights determined by HRW?

JD:

Wikinews
We'd like to thank you for taking the time to discuss these items with us and close with a final question; is there anything we didn't ask that you really think we should have asked?

JD:

Related news[edit]

Sources[edit]

Wikinews
This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.
Wikinews
This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.

External links[edit]

Category:United States Category:Crime and law Category:Human rights