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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A "war" with no Geneva Conventions, 5 Feb. 2008
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This review is from: The Guantanamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America's Illegal Prison (Paperback)
British journalist Andy Worthington is probably the world's leading expert on Guantánamo Bay and its inmates. Basing his research mostly on the Pentagon's own documents, obtained under freedom of information legislation, Worthington has produced a unique compendium of individual histories, combining them with a narrative of events in the "war on terror". The overwhelming case made by the book is that, amongst the great numbers of prisoners who were swept up in Afghanistan, the majority were either completely innocent men caught in the wrong place at the wrong time, or were unimportant foot-soldiers whose involvement in an inter-Muslim civil war both pre-dated 9/11 and had no connection with it. The treatment of these captives has been wholly disproportionate.

Helpless men, of whom some have subsequently been released, were tortured before arriving at Guantánamo Bay, the torture producing forced - and untrue - confessions of their links with al-Qaeda. In a number of cases the torture was "outsourced" to selected countries. The conduct of the CIA and the US military towards their prisoners recalls in some instances the fate of prisoners at the hands of the Gestapo in World War Two. Not coincidentally, perhaps, the term adopted by the US authorities, "enhanced interrogation techniques", expresses in English the Nazis' identical euphemism for similar forms of torture.

Following rendition to Guantánamo Bay, prisoners receive brutal treatment in supermax lockdowns. The majority of US "detainees" in Guantánamo Bay are being kept isolated in long-term solitary confinement, in high-security facilities. While there appears to be no operational necessity for such long-term isolation, one consequence of it is permanent psychological damage. In plain language, the detainees are being driven insane by the conditions of their incarceration. According to the normal meaning of words this is "cruel punishment" which the eighth amendment to the US Constitution specifically prohibits. The US appears to think such revenge against captives in its war on terror to be its moral right. Unfortunately for the Guantánamo detainees, because they are not US citizens, and not held in "the sovereign United States", the US Constitution does not operate for their protection.

Medical opinion is that the incarceration of prisoners in indefinite long-term solitary is a form of mental torture. As such it is contrary to the 1984 Convention Against Torture ratified by the United States. The supermax prison at Guantánamo Bay has been described as "harsher than any of the Death Row prisons" on the US mainland.

On the evidence provided by Andy Worthington, the judgment has to be that the US just over-reacted to the events of 9/11. Quite apart from the perverse decision to go to war in Iraq, what other verdict could there be, considering its adoption of torture as a method of punishment, and torture as a technique for the gathering of faulty intelligence?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very important book, 9 Oct. 2011
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P. Mcconnell - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Guantanamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America's Illegal Prison (Paperback)
A very, very important book.

Andy Worthington definitively exposes the myths and falsehoods that surround those that were and still are imprisoned in the world's most notorious prison. From teachers, to humanitarian aid workers all kinds of innocent people spent their time in legal black hole that is Guantanamo Bay; far from the "worst of the worst" and the "bad men" that senior Bush administration figures boldly stated. Andy Worthington has painstakingly researched and told their stories, the results are often heartbraking.

Essential reading for those who care about human rights, and the path of modern society.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cool, measured and devastating, 16 Feb. 2011
This review is from: The Guantanamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America's Illegal Prison (Paperback)
It is hard to imagine what it must have been like writing this book. The author is evidently implacably opposed to the practices he writes about, but he has managed to stay cool, distanced and (given the material) amazingly objective.
Worthington very rarely gives in to the temptation to fulminate against the stupidity and cruelty of a process that saw so many innocent individuals incarcerated, tortured and in some cases murdered. Having said that, the text does provide clear narrative pointing out how self-deceiving and irresponsible were the CIA and army intelligence officers in Afghanistan immediately after the invasion. There are occasions when his representation of witness's stories seems a little credulous, but given that he is voicing the stories of men who have been imprisoned and tortured by a bureaucracy that refused to listen for about five years, it would be soulless now to question their word.
From Worthington's reports (gathered from the transcripts of US Tribunals and supplemented with first-hand accounts from prison guards, interrogators and prisoners) it seems as if the ferocious competence of the American military machine is matched only by the ferocious incompetence of the American military machine.
On arrival in Afghanistan the Americans assumed that anyone who was not either European or Afghan was necessarily a terrorist. They didn't recognise that there were many aid agencies and religious groups and just plain innocent individuals who had valid reasons for being in the country and, most importantly, it seems they didn't care.
They were happy to throw "Overwhelming Firepower" at the problem and capture anyone and everyone who had a finger of suspicion pointed at them. This, while understandable as an emotional response to 9/11, displayed a childish lack of discipline. It seems highly likely that members of Al-Qaeda and the Taliban removed local opponents by shopping them to the American authorities. Guileless, the US forces took every accusation at face value and shipped off local mayors, shopkeepers, aid workers and even employees of recognised charities and journalists.
It is understandable that the Americans offered a reward for delivering up foreign fighters, but they paid $5000 per person and then did nothing to check the validity of the accusations. So as a local warlord you could get rid of your opponents (courtesy of overwhelming US firepower) while making a handsome profit.
The people caught in this trap were then assumed to be guilty and they became the subject of US troops' hatred and anger. Their refusal to confess simply provoked more anger and torture inevitably followed. The American high-command believed its own propaganda and having claimed they had captured high-ranking Al-Qaeda operatives, they demanded results from the interrogations and approved increasingly extreme measures. False confessions and mutual false accusations only served to muddy the waters further so that there really could be no telling who in Guantánamo is guilty or of what.
Andy Worthington is to be commended for laying out this whole sorry tale of institutional stupidity and for doing so with remarkable restraint.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Quick delivery, 11 April 2014
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This review is from: The Guantanamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America's Illegal Prison (Paperback)
It was bought as a present so I haven't read the book myself but it arrived rapidly and was in good condition.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Guantanamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America's Illegal Prison, 9 Nov. 2010
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This review is from: The Guantanamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America's Illegal Prison (Paperback)
The book is a complete testimony of various people in America who have undergone malicious injustices and sufferings in detained prison camps. It diabolically gives you the pictures of the cruelty these innocent people went through in such vivid authorship......
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