Thursday, July 11, 2019

The second report---Deprivation and Dispair

As mentioned below there are two new important reports out. This is the second and it looks at the medical care of the detainees (or more precisely, the lack thereof) and the psychological trauma from the years of being imprisoned without charge and with no end in sight.
From the executive summary:

There have been many more such assertions in the intervening years and since. Following an in-depth review of publicly available information related to medical care at Guantánamo—both past and present—as well as consultations with independent civilian medical experts and detainees’ lawyers, the Center for Victims of Torture and Physicians for Human Rights have determined that none of those assertions is accurate. To the contrary, notwithstanding Guantánamo’s general inaccessibility to independent civilian medical professionals, over the years a handful of them have managed to access detainees, review medical records, and interface with Guantánamo’s medical care system to a degree sufficient to document a host of systemic and longstanding deficiencies in care. These include: • Medical needs are subordinated to security functions. For example, prosecutors in a military commission case told the judge explicitly that the commander of Guantánamo’s detention operations is free to disregard recommendations of Guantánamo’s senior medical officer. • Detainees’ medical records are devoid of physical and psychological trauma histories. This is largely a function of medical professionals’ inability or unwillingness to ask detainees about torture or other traumatic experiences during their time in the CIA’s rendition, detention, and interrogation program, or otherwise with respect to interrogations by U.S. forces—which has led to misdiagnoses and improper treatment. • In large part due to a history of medical complicity in torture, many detainees distrust military medical professionals which has led repeatedly to detainees reasonably refusing care that they need. DEPRIVATION AND DESPAIR: The Crisis of Medical Care at Guantánamo 4 • Guantánamo officials withhold from detainees their own medical records, including through improper classification. • Both expertise and equipment are increasingly insufficient to address detainees’ health needs. For example, a military cardiologist concluded that an obese detainee required testing for coronary artery disease, but that Guantánamo did not have the “means to test” him, and so the testing was not performed. With regard to mental health, effective torture rehabilitation services are not, and cannot be made, available at Guantánamo. • Detainees have been subjected to neglect. One detainee urgently required surgery for a condition he disclosed to Guantánamo medical personnel in 2007—and they diagnosed independently in 2010—but he did not receive surgery until 2018 and appears permanently damaged as a result. • Military medical professionals rotate rapidly in and out of Guantánamo, which has caused discontinuity of care. For example, one detainee recently had three primary care physicians in the course of three months. • Detainees’ access to medical care and, in some cases, their exposure to medical harm, turn substantially on their involvement in litigation. For example, it appears extremely difficult, if not impossible, for detainees who are not in active litigation to access independent civilian medical professionals, and for those who are to address a medical need that is not related to the litigation. For detainees charged before the military commissions, prosecution interests have superseded medical interests, as with a detainee who was forced to attend court proceedings on a gurney writhing in pain while recovering from surgery. These deficiencies are exacerbated by—and in some cases a direct result of—the damage that the men have endured, and continue to endure, from torture and prolonged indefinite detention.

h/o to Shelby

New reports....

There are several new reports that I want to bring to your attention. I hope to have a link to one other report relating to the health of detainees in the next day or so but meanwhile:

This report published at Common Dreams looks at the senate torture report -- which has still not been released (only a redacted summary):

In December 2014, the Bureau, alongside The Rendition Project, began a major project to trace the history of the RDI programme. The impetus for our investigation came from the long-awaited publication of a report into CIA torture by the US Senate Select Intelligence Committee. The authors of this report had high-level access to internal CIA documents, which they mined to produce a damning assessment of the torture programme's brutality, mismanagement and ineffectiveness. But they were compelled by the Obama administration, and by the CIA itself, to censor — "redact" — all parts of the report that could identify specific times and places where abuses had occurred.
This is important, because without being able to tie illegal activities to specific times and places, the quest for redress is hamstrung, and meaningful accountability — legal, public, historical — remains a mirage.
The Senate report did offer a crucial insight, however: the first complete list of prisoners held in the CIA's black sites. 119 names, each with a date of custody (redacted) and a record of how many days they were held (also partly redacted).
In the days after the publication of the Senate report, we set to work reconstructing this list to reveal the hidden dates. Figuring out a date often meant that we could match it to a flight record; matching to a flight record meant that we could determine where a prisoner was brought from or sent to. As we cross-correlated thousands of data points — from declassified government documents, footnotes in the Senate report, aviation data, records of corporate outsourcing of rendition flights, legal cases, media reporting and NGO investigations — the contours of the CIA's programme of secret detention and torture began to emerge more clearly. Rather than just understanding certain individual histories, we could begin to discern the entire scope of the programme's development.

Key Findings include

•         Identification of the 28 individuals whose renditions were facilitated using UK territory as crucial staging and refuelling posts. This includes the at least two individuals who were rendered using the British-owned island of Diego Garcia: Mohammed Iqbal Madni and Umar Faruq.
•         It identifies the individual to whom the ISC referred as the “unknown detainee” – Umar Faruq – believed to have been rendered through Diego Garcia in September 2002.
•         Included in this list of individuals rendered using UK territory or airspace is Abd Al-Rahim al-Nashiri, who was tortured in Thailand among other places while current CIA Director Gina Haspel allegedly ran the black site there.
•         This includes the use of Glasgow airport in the rendition of Ibn Sheikh al-Libi, whose torture in Egypt led to the false information which provided part of the case for the Iraq War. The ISC report revealed that an MI6 officer stood by and watched as he was rendered to Egypt in a coffin.
•         Among these detainees rendered with the assistance of UK territory or airspace was Saifullah Paracha, currently the oldest detainee in Guantanamo, who was rendered to torture and arbitrary detention for what has now been almost 19 years.
•         The report lists a total of 28 cases of UK territory or airspace being used for renditions, which compares with the 28 cases the ISC report identified in which it found the UK “suggested, planned or agreed to rendition operations proposed by others”. While the number itself may be a coincidence, the new report raises the question of whether the UK agreed to the use of its territory and airspace to facilitate these renditions as part of these plans and agreements.
•         The report names Mohammed Saad Iqbal Madni, who faced severe torture after his rendition to Egypt in January 2002, and who may be one of the “29 renditees” referred to in the ISC report as having been rendered to a country believed to be Egypt.


h/o to Robert

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

From Roger Fitch and our friends down under at Justinian

If only Barack Obama had possessed the cojones to prosecute and convict malefactors from the Bush administration for corruption and war crimes, lawless abuses of the "war on terror" and the CIA's torture regime, the Republican brand might have been so badly damaged that the party would have been unable to regroup and gain power under a Donald Trump. Leading party people would have been unavailable, in jail or tainted by disgrace.
The Obama DoJ's cautious approach was to conduct narrow investigations that declined to hold anyone responsible, and allowed Bush villains to emerge unscathed, claim vindication and hold high office again, along with sundry pardoned criminals from previous Republican administrations, e.g. odious neocons like Eliot Abrams.
The preferred instrument for these cosmetic inquiries has been John Durham, a career US Attorney who conducted superficial reviews of CIA misbehaviour at the behest of both the Bush and Obama attorneys general, each time conveniently absolving those involved.
Durham first considered the CIA's notorious destruction of torture tapes, a violation of various laws and court orders that was carefully carried out by the current CIA director, Gina Haspel. Durham's other absolution was even more shameful, letting the CIA off the hook for torture that led to death. The only CIA-related cover-up Durham didn't manage was the exculpation of the CIA's accomplices, the torture memo hacks in the Bush administration, carried out by a DoJ fixer in-house.  
Curiously, John Durham has now been selected by Donald Trump's AG to conduct an investigation where the government desires an incriminatory finding, and it involves both the CIA and FBI.  A cynic might say the CIA faces critical examination for - daring to investigate Trump
If Durham had found wrongdoing in his Bush/Obama investigations, any resulting prosecutions and convictions might have been erased by Trump. Under the uniquely-American practice of a single person setting up the whole government, the president could have proceeded to resolve all staffing problems by pardoning and rehabilitating party operatives that previous governments had convicted and put away.
As it is, Trump continues to pardon undeserving rightwing martyrs, and dodgy businessmen like Conrad Black, who perspicaciously penned an adulatory biography of the president. Having few convicted Republicans left to pardon, the president now seems set on a mischievous course of pardoning accused or convicted US war criminals. More here and here.  
He evidently admires their grit and determination, and has, as a model, Richard Nixon's "patriotic" intervention on behalf of William Calley. There's more history here, and a list of Trump's pardons for crimes he evidently finds acceptable or praiseworthy. 
*   *   *
READ THE REST OF FITCH HERE.




Friday, July 5, 2019

Not about Guantanamo...

In other news... when I am not representing my Gitmo client I am a civil rights attorney representing individuals who have had their civil rights violated by the government...a big issue here in the U S of A. On Sunday CNN headlines news channel will present the story of one of my clients... Nathson Fields. The show "death row stories" will air at 8pm eastern time (7 central). You can read a short story about this here.


Thursday, July 4, 2019

I don't hear freedom ring anymore....

Actually I have not heard freedom ring in many a year....
Happy 4th of July Amerika.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Rare court victory in the DC Circuit...

Attorney Tom Wilner and team had an important victory in the appellate court. For the first time the court has made clear that the detainees have some due process rights...
Read the decision here.

And a short summary here.

Tom Wilner gave a one sentence summary saying:
 "This decision," he explains, "tears down the major barrier that has prevented the Guantánamo detainees from receiving a fair hearing."

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Time off for torture....

During the more than three years he spent in C.I.A. prisons before being sent to Guantánamo Bay, Majid Khan says he was hung from his wrists, naked and hooded, for two straight days, causing wild hallucinations.
Mr. Khan, a confessed Qaeda courier, was held in almost total darkness for a year, fearing he would be drowned in an icy tub and isolated in a cell with bugs that bit him until he bled. In 2004, his second year of C.I.A. detention, the agency “infused” a purée of pasta, sauce, nuts, raisins and hummus up Mr. Khan’s rectum when he went on a hunger strike, according to a Senate Intelligence Committee report....
...As part of the sentencing process, his lawyers are arguing that the treatment Mr. Khan endured in C.I.A. custody also needs to be taken into account and are asking the military judge in the case to grant Mr. Khan time off his prison term as a form of credit for what the C.I.A. did to him.
Read the rest here..
h/o to friend Don

Friday, June 14, 2019

Hope for the future...

As Studs Terkel was fond of saying "hope dies last." It is with that saying in mind that I provide this link as to what my (democratic controlled) house of representatives is working on.

First this,
On Wednesday, the House Armed Services Committee sits down to markup the FY2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)—the must-pass legislation that determines defense policies and budget. In the markup process, the Committee will consider, debate, and vote on amendments to the draft bill, which was prepared by Chairman Adam Smith (D-WA). The baseline draft bill, which is also called the chairman’s mark, touches on key issues ranging from the militarization of the southern border to deterring Russia and reemphasizing the nation’s commitment to protecting human rights....

One of the big issues is Gitmo.
Guantanamo Bay
The chairman’s mark rescinds  restrictions on the president’s authority to transfer prisoners from Guantanamo Bay, bans bringing new detainees to Guantanamo for detention or trial by military commission, requires the Attorney General to submit a plan—other than continued law of war detention—for the remaining detainees, and expresses concern about the ability of the United States Government to provide adequate medical care for the aging detainee population.
The mark largely omits controversial restrictions on the president’s authority to transfer detainees from Guantanamo to third countries or to the United States. During the Bush administration, the president was able to transfer detainees both abroad and to the United States without Congressional restrictions and indeed transferred hundreds of detainees. During the Obama administration, however, Congress passed restrictions on transfers that infringed on the president’s authority to determine the appropriate disposition for law of war detainees by requiring an onerous certification process for foreign transfers and an outright ban on any transfers to the United States, even for a criminal prosecution or emergency medical treatment. Additionally, past defense authorizations have prevented the building or modification of facilities for housing detainees in the United States.
By contrast, Section 1032 of the Chairman’s mark largely reverts to the Bush-era policy of leaving maximum flexibility for the Commander in Chief by imposing no restrictions on transfers to the United States or on foreign country transfers other than a ban on transferring detainees to Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen.
Reflecting the strong consensus among national security leaders that Guantanamo is harmful to U.S. national security interests, Section 1033 prohibits transferring any additional detainees to Guantanamo for law of war detention or military commission proceedings who were not already detained at Guantanamo in law of war detention or military commission proceedings on or after May 2, 2018.
Section 1033 also requires the Attorney General, in consultation with the Secretary of Defense, to submit a disposition plan to the defense committees within 60 days of enactment identifying a disposition for each individual still detained at Guantanamo Bay as of the date of enactment other than simply continuing to hold the individuals in continued law of war detention indefinitely.
The Chairman’s mark (Section 1034) also contains a set of Findings and a Sense of Congress concerning the ability of the United States Government to meet its obligation to provide adequate medical care to detainees at Guantanamo given the limited medical facilities at the isolated military base, the logistics challenges of providing care on base, and the increased costs of providing care there—all of which will be exacerbated as the detainee population ages.  
The Chairman’s mark also directs the Comptroller General to provide an independent study to the defense committees no later than September 1, 2020 on the quality of detainee medical care at Guantanamo. The report must address several specific areas of concern, including the current state of health services, the medical needs of the detainee population, and any impediments to detainees receiving proper care at the facility. Notably absent from the Chairman’s mark is an authorization for the construction of an $88.5 million wheelchair accessible facility the Pentagon requested from Congress.   
Furthermore, the Chairman’s mark expresses concerns over the stalled repatriation process for detainees who have been cleared for transfer by either the Periodic Review Board or the Guantanamo Review Task Force. The mark notes that no detainees have been transferred since January 20, 2017, despite at least five detainees having previously been approved for transfer.
The bill orders an unclassified report to explain why none of the cleared detainees have been transferred and why the process has stalled. The mark also notes that the lack of transfers is not only problematic from a policy and human rights perspective but that it is also having a negative effect on the functioning of the ongoing periodic review board (PRB) process.

Read the rest here at Just Security.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Gitmo Detainees are still trapped in a legal black hole....

Following Justice Breyer's statement yesterday in an order denying the writ in Al-Awli's case the Los Angelos times, in an editorial, encourages the court to hear an appropriate case challenging the life-time detentions of the 40 remaining men without charge.

Read Justice Breyer's statement here ... unfortunately you have to scrowl down to page 9 in the list of orders.

Read the editorial at this Link.

Hope dies last and all.... My client Razak Ali's appeal is in the works.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

The Pardoning of War Criminals

Trump has announced that he is going to pardon various US war criminals. It is not surprising, given who he is. But it is disturbing.

The irony (well actually there are several ironies involved with this) is that he was planning on making that announcment on Memorial Day... He missed that deadline.

The only good news is that will make him a war criminal too (for what it is worth...).

Read more here.

And for those of you who think our congress does nothing....

They are busy thinking about whether or not detainees at Guantanamo who need medical care that is unavailable at Guantanamo should be allowed to come to the US for that care....

Read more here.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

John Walker Lindh

John Walker Lindh is about to be --- or has been --- released from prison.
He never should have been imprisoned -- partly his conviction was to justify -(or hide) the torture that we subjected the men who were in, or around, our "war" zones.

If Obama had any strength of conviction he would have pardoned John long before the end of his presidency. Obaama was (and is) a coward and he did not.

I hope that one day I will gather the strength to discuss the plight of this man, but for now all I can say is:

John, I am sorry for how our country treated you. You will never be the same, nor will any US citizen who has been paying attention to what happened to you (and so many others). I hope as you move on in life you will work to change this country. That is really all we can do. Change it...or leave.

Leaving is the easy way out.

Let us both work to change things.

Read more about John here.

Monday, May 13, 2019

From Roger Fitch and our Friends Down Under at Justinian....

*   *   *
Department of Justice, Washington: with protesters
Hopefully, some readers will have heard about a "no good, very bad day" for Guantánamo's military commissions, when the DC circuit threw out 460 written orders of a MC judge who presided over a case staffed and funded by the Justice Department, while he concealed, with prosecution assistance, his concurrent negotiations with DoJ for an immigration judge position.
Lawfare and Noah Feldman have more on the latest failure of the Pentagon's simulated justice
Other points of interest:

READ THE REST HERE.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

To Razak's Mother....

and the mothers of all of the disappeared....


Monday, April 29, 2019

Hospice care and the firing of the Gitmo Commander UPDATED

The current commander of Guantanamo, John Ring, was relieved of duty on friday -- two months before his tour of duty was to end. Why, you may ask? Well officially the answer is  "due to a loss of confidence in his ability to command."  Read the very short announcement here.

Some think his firing had something to do with his recent discussion about the aging of the Gitmo population... and the effects of that aging (ie -- gitmo as a nursing home).

You can almost hear the disgust in Commander's Ring's discussion about the medical problems and how he, as commander, is supposed to deal with those health problems. Clearly the military does not want this dirty laundry aired....

The Guardian has more on Commander Ring's firing.

And another look at the hospice care of men who are held indefinitely without charge.