There is a video at the RT site that I hope you'll watch. Since it's not embeddable, all I can do is transcribe it.
My longtime buddy Lt. Col. Barry Wingard was interviewed about the hunger strike by detainees at Guantanamo Bay, and it deserves a lot more attention. It is getting next to none here in the U.S., so I'm doing what little I can to share it and I hope you will, too.
Barry is my dear friend Marcy Bruno's (R.I.P.) son, and the military attorney I've written about for years who represents Kuwaiti detainee Fayiz Al-Kandari. Fayiz is not a terrorist, yet he's been abused, held without charges, and imprisoned for eleven years, but has done nothing wrong. Barry stands by his innocence, and he is one very principled, extremely smart lawyer who knows what he's talking about.
This brief interview needs no further comment from me. Barry's own words speak volumes:
RT: I understand you do have access to your clients in Guantanamo, apparently. When was the last time you saw them and what state were they in?
Lt. Col Barry Wingard: The last time that I saw my clients was between the 25th of February and the 8th of March. I visited with them multiple times. I was shocked at the condition they're in. In fact, we were the first people who broke the story that the hunger strike had begun around February 6th or 7th and had continued on. My client at that point had lost 26 pounds and at this point it’s official that he has lost almost 40 pounds – one third of his body weight from 147 pounds. The hunger strike is still ongoing...
RT: How long can they go on like that?
Barry: I can imagine we’re getting near to the end when something serious is going to happen. The administration down in Guantanamo Bay initially denied the report that the hunger strike was occurring. They then said it was seven, then 14, then 21 [people]. They then said it wasn’t the largest hunger strike in history. Then they came out and said it’s 24, 25, and today 26. So the story is getting more and more accurate as we go, but we’re running out of time, as you point out.
RT: Do you think it really will take that?
Barry: Well, I’m here to tell you that after 11 1/2 years, these men that live in animal cages in America’s offshore prison in Guantanamo Bay, they ask for justice. They’ve been there 11 1/2 years. Ninety per cent of them have no charges. I can tell you having looked at my clients’ cases, they will never get a trial based upon the evidence that is against them, so if their home countries are not willing to intervene and do something, I don’t see it coming from Washington. Washington seems to take the position that we don’t have the time to deal with these 166 condemned men in our offshore prison.
RT: How’s Washington going to deal with the PR if someone does die?
Barry: Well, I mean, you’re going to have to answer that as far as a political question. I’m a lawyer. I’m here to look at the facts and tell you that I’ve reviewed these cases and I'm here to tell you that these guys will never get trials. If they’re never getting trials, then we have to go by what the president said in March of 2011, when he said indefinite detention will be implemented in Guantanamo Bay and will be the law of the United States. Forty-eight men will be condemned to die never being given a trial or given an opportunity to defend themselves. They are essentially dead men who just happen to breathe.
RT: For the people you’ve spoken to there – including your clients – what was their mindset? Is it the same as when they started 45-46 days ago, as it is now? Did they think they’d have to maybe take this through to the bitter end, or did they think something would give beforehand?
Barry: I can’t speak for what every man down there thought, but what I can tell you is the vast majority of people in Guantanamo Bay are cleared for release. They’re cleared to go home. The United States acknowledges that they’ve committed no crime, yet we still continue to house them in a penal colony in Guantanamo Bay. Imagine if the situation were reversed and the US had 166 citizens held in some other country’s offshore prison. I don’t want to go into what happened in the early years as far as enhanced interrogation, but the situation isn’t getting any better. These men have figured out that probably the only way for them to go home, cleared or not, is in a wooden box. I mean, 7 proceedings in...
RT: Do you take any comfort at all in this US military plan to spend $49 million upgrading the facility, making it more comfortable for the inmates?
Barry: This is not about soccer fields or food or anything else. This is about justice and freedom. This is a bigger concept. This is what the US stands for. Not more servings of food and not more soccer fields to play on. This is a matter of getting these men home or giving them trials. And that's the answer.
"These men have figured out that probably the only way for them to go home, cleared or not, is in a wooden box... This is not about soccer fields or food or anything else. This is about justice and freedom. This is a bigger concept. This is what the US stands for."
All my previous posts on this subject matter can be found here; That link includes one specific to only *Fayiz al-Kandari’s story here.
Lt. Col. Barry Wingard is a military attorney who represents Fayiz Al-Kandari in the Military Commission process and in no way represents the opinions of his home state. When not on active duty, Colonel Wingard is a public defender in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
If you’d like to see ways you can take action, go here and scroll down to the end of the article.
More of Fayiz’s story here, at Answers.com.