Thursday, May 25, 2023

The Queen is dead


Friday, May 12, 2023

From Roger Fitch and our friends down under at Justinian

 Clarence Thomas is a lucky fellow. 

Though born poor and black in a small Gullah community in Georgia, his first language Geechee, he's come a long way. 

Assisted, perhaps, by the liberal affirmative action policies he so despises, he made it to Yale Law School. After graduation, he, like all the conservative members of the present Supreme Court, worked in Republican administrations.

Despite an undistinguished record as the Reagan-appointed chair of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the then 43-year-old Thomas was appointed by George Bush père to a lifetime appeals court position. 

Then, after 19 months as an indifferent circuit judge, he was nominated for the supreme court seat of the retiring, and truly-distinguished, African-American lawyer Thurgood Marshall.

At this point Thomas's ascent hit turbulence, with numerous accusations of sexual improprieties during his spell at the EEOC, most notably, the complaint of one employee, the black lawyer Anita Hill.

Republicans played the colour-card to wedge him on the court, and the lucky judge squeaked in with the votes of 52 senators, at a time when there were 56 Democrats and only 44 Republicans. 

On the court, Thomas has pursued a legal philosophy so reactionary that, until recently, he seldom found himself in the majority and rarely were his dissents joined by other justices. He was a lonely figure who famously never spoke at oral arguments. 

Thomas did what he wanted ethically. He didn't report gifts or favours, as the law required, until 2004 when the LA Times disclosed his extraordinary gifts from Dallas developer Harlan Crow; thereafter, Thomas continued to receive Crow's favours, he just didn't disclose or report them - problem solved!

Clarence and Ginni Thomas: on the take

Now it seems Clarence Thomas's luck may have run out. A series of investigations by ProPublica has revealed that the connections of the justice and developer have only intensified over the years. 

Slate called it quid pro Crow. Now, evidence is emerging that Harlan Crow has actually benefited from his gifts.

It's not just hospitality and holiday, yacht cruises or stays at Crow's tacky retreat in the Adirondacks, but things of more material value, e.g real estate and cash contributions for family members, like his wife Virginia "Ginni" LampJustice Abe Fortas was forced-off the court for far less in 1969.

Thomas was only following in the footsteps of Nino Scalia, who chalked up 89 free hunting trips with rich donors (and litigants), and actually died in bed at an $800-a-night hunting lodge in Texas. 


Monday, May 1, 2023

Sweet dreams

 RiP. My favorite musician died today. 

The Talking Dog on my client's release

 As I have mentioned many times over the years- my friend the talking dog has long helped me on my Guantanamo cases. It was only fitting that he should be visiting my other friend historian Andy Worthington on the day my client was released. We shared a nice call as we celebrated Saeed's long awaited release. The dog shares some of his thoughts on the release of Saeed here.

My thanks to The Dog for his years of help in both Saeed's case and in Mr. al-Ghizzawi's case.

Saturday, April 29, 2023

U.N. panel calls for release of Guantanamo detainee

UN’s arbitrary detention group calls for immediate release of Palestinian Abu Zubaydah, saying detention has no basis in law.


The UN working group on arbitrary detention (UNWGAD), also declared the UK, among other countries, was “jointly responsible for the torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of Mr Zubaydah” over his more than 20 years in detention. [Of course the US is the main culprit.]

Read the whole article here.

Tuesday, April 25, 2023

RIP Harry


Sunday, April 23, 2023

Andy Worthington discusses my released client

 Historian Andy Worthington has covered Guantanamo since the beginning. Every attorney who has represented a man at Guantanamo has at least one copy of his book The Guantanamo Files (one for the office and the other to keep at the secure facility where we work on the cases). The book provided the known information on the men held at the prison and allowed us to figure out the connections (or lack thereof) of the men to each other. Andy has written about my client on several occasions over the years including this piece: Algerian Suffering from PTSD Mistakenly Identified as an Associate of Abu Zubaydah, Is Approved for Release from Guantánamo and now Andy has written the epilogue here. As far as any of us know Mr. Bakhouche is the only detainee that the military has never provided an accurate photo of. That lack of an accurate photo from the early days is exactly what caused Mr. Bakhouche to be held for more than 21 years. Unfortunately the military never had to explain how it could hold a man when the photo(s) they were using to identify him were of someone else. And of course the pathetic judge in Mr. Bakhouche's case could not have cared less.

Thursday, April 20, 2023

amazing how word gets around...


21 years later my remaining client goes home...


Pentagon’s Repatriation of Algerian Leaves 30 Prisoners at Guantánamo

The transfer was the sixth of a cleared prisoner in six months in a Biden administration

Top of Form

Bottom of Form

A person behind a locked wire door flips over a sign that says “prayer over.”

A prisoner at Guantánamo Bay’s detention center in 2019.Credit...Doug Mills/The New York Times


Carol Rosenberg

By Carol Rosenberg

April 20, 2023, 7:55 a.m. ET


GUANTÁNAMO BAY, Cuba — The U.S. military repatriated a prisoner to Algeria on Thursday who had been held at Guantánamo without charge for more than two decades, as the Biden administration continues its efforts to reduce the detainee population at the Navy base.

The prisoner, Said bin Brahim bin Umran Bakush, 52, was among about 20 suspected low-level fighters who were swept up by Pakistani security services in a 2002 raid in Faisalabad on dwellings believed to be Al Qaeda safe houses. The suspected fighters were ultimately taken to Guantánamo Bay.

His release leaves only one prisoner captured in the raid still at the Pentagon prison in Cuba. The others have been transferred or repatriated.

Lawyers who have tried to speak with Mr. Bakush described him as reclusive. He boycotted hearings where his suitability for release was reviewed and mostly stayed in his cell at Camp 6, the prison building where cooperative captives are held and allowed to eat, pray and watch television together.

H. Candace Gorman, a defense lawyer based in Chicago who has represented Mr. Bakush for the past 17 years, said he stopped meeting with her in 2017 or 2018.

He has never been married and has no children but may have distant family in Algeria, she said in an email. This year was his 22nd Ramadan in U.S. custody.

At first, U.S. forces identified the prisoner as a Libyan named Ali Abdul Razzaq, and that name appeared on his federal court filings. But in time, he identified himself as Said bin Brahim bin Umran Bakush and said he was Algerian.

By the time of his 2021 hearing, U.S. intelligence agencies had concluded he “probably attended basic and advanced training in Afghanistan and later served as an instructor at an extremist camp prior to his capture.”

A U.S. military officer representing Mr. Bakush’s interests said “he prefers to be alone and spends a lot of time in his cell,” adding that he has little education and aspired to

In 2018, lawyers tried to use his case to get federal courts to set a higher standard for evaluating the intelligence gathered against the men in the earliest days of Guantánamo Bay. But the effort failed.

They also argued that, as the detainees approached two decades in custody, the U.S. government should be required to prove the future dangerousness of a detainee in a manner more similar to a civil commitment for psychiatric reasons. The Supreme Court declined to take the case in 2021.

Mr. Bakush’s repatriation was the sixth transfer in six months by the Biden administration, which in statements has described each release as consistent with its goal of “responsibly reducing the detainee population and ultimately closing the Guantánamo Bay facility.”

Now, 16 of the 30 men held there are eligible for transfers, but require more complex diplomatic negotiations than the recent repatriations. They include 11 Yemenis, a Libyan and a Somali who, by law, cannot be returned to their homelands. Negotiations to find nations to take some of those men stretch back to the Obama administration.

In addition, lawyers for an admitted war criminal, Abd al-Hadi al-Iraqi, are searching for a nation to take him as part of a plea deal that would provide him with medical care. Mr. Hadi, who is in his 60s, is disabled from a deteriorating spine disease and has undergone six back and neck surgeries at Guantánamo Bay since 2017. Over the years, 780 men and boys have been held at Guantánamo Bay, with a maximum population of about 660 in 2003. All were brought there under the George W. Bush administration.

god speed Saeed


Friday, April 7, 2023


 Fitch just reminded me that I never posted a link to the U.N. Report on Guantanamo published on the 22nd anniversary of the opening of Guantanamo but only released in late March. You can read it here.

Also you can read Carol Rosenberg's report on the report here. (If you have a subscription to the NYT.)



 In the wake of the supreme court's dreadful Dobbs and Bruen decisions, there's a new demand for historians schooled in 18th century sexual practices, and weaponry, respectively. 

The results of Clarence Thomas's gun originalism are everywhere.

In US v Rahimi, a Fifth Circuit panel comprising Trumpistes James C Ho and Cory T Wilson and Reagan appointee Edith Jones put a horrifying gloss on Bruen.

In the initial opinion, written by Wilson, the court ruled threats of imminent domestic violence cannot deprive an offender of his weapon; in a revised opinion, Judge Ho dug the hole even deeper

Ho is a case-study in Republican judicial manipulation. He was appointed in 2017 to a seat on the 5th circuit vacant since 2013, when a Carter-appointee took senior status. Republicans blocked filling the seat until Trump could appoint a "movement" lawyer.

When Ho was appointed, the former Texas SG already had a reputation as an extreme right-wing lawyer with the Dallas-based First Liberty Institute, the "Christian conservative" legal group that employed Trump-appointed Texas federal judge Matthew J. Kacsmaryk.

Ho was vigorously opposed in the US Senate, not least for his part in the Torture Memos: he wrote a pro-torture memo for Assistant AG Jay Bybee (now a 9th circuit judge) in 2002 when both were employed by the Justice Department.

Ho's memo Possible Interpretations of Common Article 3 of the 1949 Geneva Convention Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War, falsely claimed the Convention Against Torture (CAT) "distinguishes between torture and other acts of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment".

This was cited by Bybee in his infamous memo, Standards of Conduct for Interrogation under [the US Torture Act].

Bybee's still-shocking memo (mostly by John Yoo) concluded that, notwithstanding US obligations under the CAT, the Torture Act reached only the most "extreme" and "heinous" acts, those causing pain "akin to that which accompanies physical injury such as death or organ failure".

This advice led directly to CIA torture overseas, while the US also failed to fulfil its CAT obligations at Guantánamoaccording to a newly-published review of detainee treatment by the UN Rapporteur


Tuesday, April 4, 2023

musical interlude


Wednesday, March 22, 2023

false rumor....

 but hope dies last. 

Monday, March 20, 2023